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“Why are you here? … What are you doing in this place?” – Keynote @ Portage Atlantic

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“Why are you here? … What are you doing here?”

Those are the 2 questions Brian asked me.

… Brian.

Brian was one of the guards in the Saint John Regional Correctional Facility where I was doing an eleven-month sentence for the severity of my crimes.

I was 16… And Brian was the guard who got me out of the room where I spent 3 days in solitary confinement (aka The Hole), because of a fight.

At the time Brian was already working in the facility for almost 10 years. He was a stern but fair person. And a person inmates held a deep respect for.

… and his question – to which I had no adequate answer for at the time – and his following statement was a turning point in my life.

“You don’t belong here.”, he said “You’re different. You’re a good kid.” … And he talked to me for a few more minutes.

I was baffled… I’m sure other people in my life had said something similar to me before. But Brian was the one who had a profound impact on me.

That conversation cracked me wide open and helped me see things differently…

For many reasons, but the big one was that I had someone who believed in me in a way I could never believe in myself…

And here I am. 22 years after that moment and after doing another 11 months in Portage – a therapeutic center for adolescents with drug addiction.

I’m crazy thankful to all the people that helped me get to where I am now. The life I get to live, and for my family and friends who’ve supported me along the way.

I shared my story last week at the Portage Atlantic Fundraiser… and would love to share it with you.

You can watch it here.

  • The beginning & the downfall
  • Saint John & Brian
  • Portage New Brunswick & first steps in programming
  • The special gift & our obligation as adults
  • Creating success stories

I end by sharing a quote from my good friend Josh Shipp (who has an incredible story himself when his Foster Father challenged him and showed up to support):

“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.”

And me being here, doing what I am doing, I consider this a somewhat success story that’s still being written because I’m only getting started 🙂

I’m crazy grateful to all the caring adults that helped me get here.

So with that, I want to let you know that I believe in you. I can say that because you’re reading this. It shows me you’re the kind of person that believes in betterment and pushing yourself to be a better version of who you are.

Very few people do that, and you should give yourself credit for being one of them.

So lean on me… if there’s anything I can ever do to help, just ask.

We are all trying to figure it all out but I believe in the power of positive peer pressure… and TOGETHER we will figure it all out!

So here’s my ask of you:

Dream Big
Take Action
Be Grateful

An incredible life can actually live on the other side of those simple steps.

Insanely grateful.

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