People often ask me about my path. How does a young black man transition from poverty in the inner city to become a published author, and successful businessman with a Ph.D. while maintaining a commitment to empowering our youth? I firmly believe that my foundation for success was built on the bank of a river, with a fishing rod in my hands and my grandfather’s wisdom in my ears.
Throughout my childhood and well into my early twenties, I went fishing with my grandfather almost every Sunday. At the time, I did not realize the enormous impact that putting a hook and line into the water would have on every aspect of my life. I had to work hard to pull in a big catch, which filled me with pride and elevated my self-esteem. As I grew older and more experienced, I targeted specific types of fish, which taught me how to set goals and develop strategies for accomplishing those goals. I also learned that success or failure rested in my own hands. While I focused on the task at hand and attentively tended to my fishing rods for the next bite, I learned how to be self-disciplined. Because I maintained my own fishing equipment so that I was prepared for the next trip, I learned a sense of responsibility. Guided by my grandfather’s wisdom, I learned many of life’s most important lessons during the times when I didn’t catch anything at all (fishermen call this “getting skunked”). It was at the end of those empty fishing trips that I learned how to handle disappointment, gained resilience, and developed an optimistic outlook on life. As my grandfather always said, “We’ll get ‘em next time.”
I firmly believe that these life lessons and critical coping skills continue to support my success as I face challenges in my personal and professional life. I also believe that the life lessons learned by fishing are universally vital to developing our young people and strengthening our families.
It is with this passion and vision, that I founded the We All Can Fish Academy (W.A.C.F.A.), to share with others what was shared with me. To encourage our children by giving them tools for success. To empower our families, make the natural world a better place, and bring a smile to the face of my grandfather.