Stedman Graham: The “Athletes Against Drugs” Interview
with Kam Williams
Kam Williams: Hi Stedman, thanks so much for the time.
Stedman Graham: It’s my pleasure.
KW: I have a friend, Franklin Moore, who claims he’s a cousin of yours. Is that true or has the brother been making it up all these years?
SG: It’s true. he’s my closest cousin, my favorite cousin. Where do you know him from?
KW: His younger son, Joseph, and my son have been friends since they were in pre-school together.
SG: That’s great, Joseph’s my godson.
KW: Small world. Tell me what’s going on with Athletes Against Drugs?
SG: The focus of the organization, which is really known now as AAD Education, Health and Sports is the positive, not the negative. Being in this business for 25 years has taught us that it’s not about the drugs but about providing positive choices, keeping yourself active and keeping yourself busy with activities, the proper curriculum, and special events like taking kids to games. That’s how you keep our youth off drugs.
KW: Where is the organization located?
SG: We’re operating out of Chicago. That’s our home base. But we do programs all around the country in coordination with various teams and various athletes. We provide programming in the schools, class curriculum, tutoring, and sports field trips. And we have athletes come speak in the schools. We’ve done all that for years. So, we’re really strong in terms of programming.
KW: Didn’t you have a big event recently?
SG: Well, we had our annual golf tournament where we bring in a lot of athletes. It’s one of our fundraisers. This year was our 25th anniversary celebration.
KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you, and they sent in a lot of questions. FSU grad Laz Lyles says she heard that you teach at Full Sail University, which she says is an amazing arts college. She wants to know, what attracted you to this school, and what you’re teaching there?
SG: I teach identity education and development. I teach people how to find their passion. I do it using a nine step plan. I also teach them how to develop a bigger vision once they have that passion. The thing that attracted me to Full Sail is that they have their passion already. So, what they needed was the other eight steps.
The curriculum that I teach encompasses all that. It’s especially pertinent to folks who already have an identity in terms of their job, their future employment or career path. [For more info, see Stedman’s book, “You Can Make It Happen: A Nine Step Plan for Success.”
KW: Robin Beckham asks what’s happening with AAD, but you already answered that. She’s another person who says she knows you. She’s in public relations in Pittsburgh where she used to be a TV anchorwoman for one of the networks.
SG: Right, absolutely, yeah.
KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman who is vacationing on a vineyard in Vacqueyras, France as we speak, says, “I know you have a background in education. Do you support early childhood educational programs which help young African-American males bridge the achievement gap, even before the first grade?”
SG: Totally! I have a ten-week program in the high schools, which we’d like to push down to the middle and elementary schools. And we also have a program for parents and teachers. So, we’re very much proponents of helping kids develop an identity as early as possible in their lives.
KW: Ella Kegler from Lufkin, Texas asks, what is the lifestyle you see for yourself in ten years?
SG: I’d like to be able to travel around the world working with organizations and institutions to help educate as many people as possible about how to develop an identity for themselves, about how to find out who they are. And I’d like to teach them information making it relevant to their own development.
KW: Jersey boy Larry Greenberg asks, “Do you have any plans to come back to your hometown, Whitesboro, this summer?"
SG: I’ve been going back to Whitesboro, working in the community where I grew up, for the last 21 years. I haven’t missed a Labor Day celebration yet. And I don’t expect to this year.
KW: Filmmaker/author Hisani Dubose asks, what is your PR firm’s specialty?
SG: We have a marketing and management consulting business. What we do is focus on is the books that I’ve written and the content that I have, and other projects and ventures, including seminars, speaking engagements, online training and development, and on serving our strong existing client base to set up win-win situations.
KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks, what’s your goal for the future?
SG: My big goal is to develop a strong operational structure and alliances with our partners to build a better distribution network to deliver our content.
KW: Batala-Ra McFarlane asks, what advice do you have for those who’d like to start their own business in this challenging economic environment?
SG: I would say, make sure you focus on what you love and what you’re passionate about, so that when times get tough, you can overcome that obstacle.
KW: Marcia Evans asks are you still associated with Armstrong Williams and do you share his political perspective?
SG: I’ve known him for a number of years. He’s been a friend of mine. I try to not allow my personal relationship with him as a friend get mixed up with his political aspirations. Also, I don’t make judgments about people just because they may have a different point-of-view from mine.
KW: Reverend Florine Thonpson asks what is your most powerful, spiritual source of strength?
SG: My most powerful, spiritual source of strength is knowing that God is love. So, when I focus on love, and put that in my heart, then I have the power of a strong, spiritual base and foundation.
KW: Professor Mia Mask asks, do you think President Obama has handled the BP oil disaster well?
SG: I think Obama has done a great job, based on what he was handed at the start of his administration. I also believe that he needs the support of the whole country. There are so many people trying to tear him down. America needs to come together as a country to figure out how we can support him as the President, including the BP disaster
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
SG: No, but that’s the toughest question I’ve been asked.
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
SG: I try not to be.
KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
SG: Happier than I’ve ever been.
KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
SG: Just today.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In
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by Jim Collins
KW: Heather Covington asks, what are you listening to?
SG: The last thing I listened to was a CD that came with Success Magazine
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
SG: I see hope!
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
SG: For all the people who have dropped out of school and who don’t think they’re good enough to understand who they really are and that the process for success is the same for everybody, if you understand it.
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
SG: I was running in the backyard and scraped my leg against a sharp edge of a rusty chair that severed a big piece of meat out of it.
KW: The Tavis Smiley questions. First, how introspective are you?
SG: I’m a Pisces, so I’m all internal.
KW: Second, what do you want your legacy to be?
SG: That I succeeded in teaching people how to maximize their potential as human beings.
KW: Well, thanks again for the interview, Stedman.
SG: Thank you. This was fun. Man, you’re good!
KW: I get a lot of help. If you notice, most of my questions come from my readers and from celebrities.
SG: Well, you’re the conduit, so you gotta be good to organize it all. Take care./p>
Stedman Graham's Books
You Can Make It Happen: A Nine Step Plan for Success
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Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Free Press; 1st Fireside Ed edition (February 5, 1998)
Oprah Winfrey calls Stedman Graham, "a pillar of support in my life, not only in our relationship, but also as a trusted advisor."
To see Stedman Graham today, it may be hard to envision a time when he was held back by self-doubt. But he was.
He grappled, also, with his share of daunting obstacles to the success he has worked at length to enjoy. Graham explains, "You are not your circumstances; you are your possibilities." Drawing candidly on his experience as a professional athlete, Graham reveals his nine-step plan for success through revealing anecdotes from his own life and the experiences of others, explaining how the negative effects of a poor self-image can be incapacitating at worst, and limiting at best.
Step by step, You Can Make It Happen tells you how to:
Decide who you are
Create a vision
Take the high road even if it is the hard road
Build your support team
Step out of your comfort zone
Commit to your vision
Who Are You? A Success Process for Building Your Life’s Foundation
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Hardcover: 111 pages
Publisher: Hay House (April 1, 2005)
Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.1 x 0.3 inches
Most of us take years trying to figure out just who we are, but too many of us will never find out. If we fail to define ourselves, we risk being defined by the world we live in. We allow others to define us—by our race, our gender, our background, our environment. We buy into the labels that keep us in a box, and as a result of these limitations, we may never realize our greatest potential. So how do we break free of these patterns and out of the routine of doing the same things over and over? The answer is that we need to change the way we think about ourselves and our possibilities.
Educational systems don’t always teach us how to think. They teach us how to memorize and to take tests and then label us with a grade . . . and we soon forget most of what we learned. We leave with a degree, but little foundation for our ongoing development.
This book by best selling author and motivational speaker Stedman Graham provides a step-by-step process for building your life upon a foundation that’s consistent with your dreams and aspirations. His goal is to help you answer the question "Who are you?" The freedom that comes with finding out is a gift that allows you to pursue a life that is fulfilling, meaningful, and rewarding.
Diversity: Leaders, Not Labels: A New Plan for the 21st Century
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Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Free Press (September 19, 2006)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
Stedman Graham, bestselling author of You Can Make It Happen, teaches that in the 21st century your talent and skills above all else will define your value. In Diversity: Leaders Not Labels, Graham shows you how to break out of the box that keeps you from growing to your full potential, and reveals that success is truly based on results, performance, and excellence.
Diversity is literally changing the face of our nations. Workers of all backgrounds are merging into a global marketplace, while businesses are challenged by a shortage of talent and the need to integrate a wide range of cultures. In this global environment, diversity has become a permanent business characteristic; opportunities will be plentiful for both people and businesses. Graham indicates that we do not have to become a member of anyone else's culture to play a key role, but must maintain and assert our own identities while respecting others' uniqueness in our workforces and communities. He helps us to understand that developing leaders rather than accepting labels is ultimately the best way to preserve culture and create a legacy.
Diversity: Leaders Not Labels studies diversity as no one has before, exploring different cultures and their histories to help you understand that everyone has had challenges and that the transformation process is the same for each of us. Hard work, sacrifice, talent, and self-motivation are the tools you need for the future. By showcasing individuals who have successfully transcended labels to become leaders, Graham helps readers begin to move from their history to carving their own individual pathways to success, based on authenticity as well as the talents and skill they bring to the workforce.
"What is most important is breaking through labels and understanding who you are," says Graham. "Realize that everyone brings uniqueness, talents, and skills that add value to our experiences, work environments, businesses, and communities. When you operate from this perspective, you will emerge in the 21st century as a true leader to yourself, to others, and to society."
Build Your Own Life
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Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Free Press (April 30, 2002)
Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
Let bestselling author Stedman Graham show you how building your own "Life Brand" will result in a more successful and fulfilling life.
From traditional corporations to the Internet, from top executives to people striving every day in their communities, "branding" has become one of the most significant marketing practices in pop culture today. We all rely on our favorite brand-name products to provide us with a certain level of quality. Now Stedman Graham shows readers how applying branding strategies to their own lives can help them attain their greatest potential and value.
We all have talents, knowldge, and other gifts to share -- not just at work but with loved ones and everyone we meet. Putting these traits to work for you as part of your Life Brand will enable you to reach your highest goals and enrich the world around you. With entertaining and pointed insights on personal branding styles and step-by-step instructions for developing a brand of your own, Build Your Own Life Brand! will show you how to:
Teens Can Make It Happen: Nine
Steps for Success
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Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Fireside; Original edition (September 5, 2000)
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
The teenage years are filled with growth, promise, trials, and tribulations. During this time, one may be faced with life-changing decisions and challenges. And often these dilemmas are not easily answered. In Teens Can Make It Happen: Nine Steps to Success, prominent businessman and author Stedman Graham guides readers to a better understanding of themselves, their strengths, and their desires, while helping them to devise and achieve plans for realizing their visions. In an entertaining and interactive style, Graham bridges the gap between education and the real world, and provides teenagers with the means to boost self-esteem, avoid peer pressure, and handle the daily stresses that come with being a young adult. As founder of Athletes Against Drugs, an organization created to combat drug abuse and promote youth leadership, Graham knows how to talk to teenagers. Teens Can Make It Happen is filled with relevant and practical wisdom for today's young adults. Its hands-on approach and personal style make this engaging handbook a must-have for teens as well as for parents, grandparents, and anyone else who influences young people.