Thursday, June 16, 2011

In previous blogs I wrote about the importance of attitude and aspiration. Those attributes of the Straight-A Guide don’t mean anything without action. In Michael Cade, one of the newest members of the Straight-A Guide, we have the embodiment of what it means to take incremental action steps.

Michael’s profile describes the difficult background in which he grew up. Now he embraces the Straight-A Guide and he recently wrote me a speech describing how he uses his background to help at-risk youth. His speech represents efforts he makes to show them how to make better decisions. It follows:

“When I grew up on the streets of East Palo Alto, people called me Rogue. I wonder whether any of you know what Rogue means. A Rogue is someone who is mischevious, looking for trouble. I was a rogue.

I dropped out of school when I was 16. I joined the streets, hanging out with the gangsters and hustlers. They took me under their wing and it wasn’t long before I was hustling on my own. I sold dime bags on the corner with dreams of becoming some big-time D boy. Where do you think that got me?

By trying to live as the D boy, all I brought was attention from detectives and the five-o, the poe-poe. It wasn’t no joke. I was locked up. Guards stripped me down like an animal in a cage. I got sent up for a 10-year bid.

I learned what it means to be a prisoner–a life I don’t want any of you to have to suffer. Anyone who lives as a rogue can expect the same. I’m urging you to listen to your parents. Live your life in ways that won’t bring you to prison. You don’t want any part of this.

I’ve got guards breathing down the back of my neck all day, 24-7. They’re telling me to tuck my shirt in, how to make my bed, what to eat, how much I can eat. They’re even dictating when I’m supposed to use the bathroom. It ain’t no life for a man, and that’s why I don’t want you to make bad decisions, living like a rogue, doing wrong in ways that can get you locked up. Those were mistakes I made; too many of our people make the same bad decisions.

Now I’m totally focused on preparing my life for the challenges I’m going to face when I get out. I use the Straight-A Guide. I embrace the right attitude, 100 percent committed to succeeding. That’s the attitude from which I make all of my decisions.

I have a clear aspiration of what I want to become. I want to be the best in the world at helping young people make better decisions. That’s not a fantasy. Without action steps, I’ll never turn that aspiration into a reality.

So what are the action steps I’m taking? I’ve just past my GED. Now I’m sharing my story with young people. I’m developing my speaking, writing, and reading skills. I’ve got four years left, and I’m working to ensure that when I walk out of prison, I walk out strong, with my dignity intact and my resources ready, pockets on swollen.

I’ve got to hold myself accountable. That means I develop my skills every day. I say exactly how much time I’m going to practice, study, read, write. And I crush those goals because I’m about my business. I ain’t no slick-talking fool that ain’t never going to amount to nothing. Got to hold myself accountable. That’s what’s up!

I keep myself aware of all opportunities so that I can seize them. When there aren’t no opportunities, I create them. I not only become aware of what I’m doing, I also make others aware of me. That’s what I’m learning through the Straight-A Guide.

And I achieve. I kill it. I slay it. I’m a winner, a real p-i-m-p, on top of my game. That’s what I’m about. Being ready for whatever. That’s why I invite you to join me and be a part of the Straight-A Guide. Don’t be no punk. Be a man. That’s what I am.”

After receiving Michael Cade’s speech, I felt proud to help his efforts to emerge successfully. He’s a reason I invite you to join me in expanding this transformational program. To learn more about our program, including sponsorship, please visit or call 818.424.2220.

It is never too late to start preparing…Download Lessons From Prison Now to discover what is truly possible in federal prison.

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