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“Life Gets Better.” With Ming Zhao & Clarence “KD” McNair, Jr

I, also, focus every single day on finding the value in everything that comes my way. Whether good or bad, I try to look at it in a positive light — — meaning sometimes in life, we perceive things that don’t go our way as a problem. However, once you realize that everything is perfectly […]

I, also, focus every single day on finding the value in everything that comes my way. Whether good or bad, I try to look at it in a positive light — — meaning sometimes in life, we perceive things that don’t go our way as a problem. However, once you realize that everything is perfectly aligned the way it supposed to be and that you can’t control everything, you start to see life totally different.


As a part of our series about Stars Making a Social Impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Clarence “KD” McNair, Jr.

Clarence McNair has just recently released his new book, “Give it One More Try,” which is McNair’s story of triumph after hitting rock bottom during his fall from success. The book underscores the importance of mental health, particularly in the African American community.

KD McNair is a former Motown Records recording artist (who was once part of the R&B group, “Prophet Jones”). After achieving career milestones, McNair suffered greatly from traumatic experiences, panic attacks and other difficulties.

The book details his road to recovery and McNair’s advice on how changing one’s perspective can lead to a restored way of living, despite the obstacles that get in the way.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Igrew up in the inner city of East Baltimore, Maryland. I landed a major record deal with Motown Records, with the help of my mother.

We spent many years working very hard to get our record deal, which took place shortly after I graduated from high school, in 1996. The rest is history: we formed a group by the name of Prophet Jones, an R&B soul group that blossomed in the 1990s.

I’m now an author, entrepreneur and brand architect.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? Can you share the story with us?

I was inspired by Michael Jackson. At the age of five, I would tell my mom that I was going to be a star and I would talk about living and working in Hollywood. One day, as I was dressed like Michael, my elementary school teacher noticed my stand-out personality and suggested that I enter my first talent show in elementary school. I won that very show. From that moment, both my mom and I started to take things seriously.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

The most interesting mistake I made is that I took on more than I could chew. I had so many brilliant ideas that could’ve been great, but I was taking on much more than I had the actual capacity to handle. Because of that, most of my great ideas and visions never actually happened.

The lesson I learned was that you cannot achieve real success trying to be a jack of all trades and committed to none.

In my work, I focus on how one can thrive in three areas, body, mind, and heart. I’d like to flesh this out with you. You are a very busy leader with a demanding schedule. Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

Every single day, I wake up and go and connect with nature — whether it’s near a lake, forest or field. I connect with nature, alone, just me and mother nature. This has been my routine for the past seven years.

I, also, focus every single day on finding the value in everything that comes my way. Whether good or bad, I try to look at it in a positive light — — meaning sometimes in life, we perceive things that don’t go our way as a problem. However, once you realize that everything is perfectly aligned the way it supposed to be and that you can’t control everything, you start to see life totally different.

This has helped me to minimize stress and anxiety and promote good mental health by having a realistic perspective on the day-to-day obstacles and challenges that we all face. In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff. It may sound cliché, but it’s true.

Ok super. Let’s now move to the main part of our discussion. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

Growing up in an environment filled with financial hardships, crime, drugs, broken families and mental health problems, I’ve always wanted to bring awareness to these very challenges.

I’ve just released my new book, “Give it One More Try,” which is my personal story of triumph after hitting rock bottom during my fall from success. The book details my road to recovery and offers my advice on how changing one’s perspective can lead to a restored way of living, despite the obstacles that get in the way. We are on a “Give It One More Try” movement that encourages people that “no matter what, it’s always worth it to give it one more try, no matter what you may be facing.”

With COVID-19 still spreading and people self-quarantining, a lot of people are in a panic over health issues, financial struggles, unemployment and more. Through the panic and anxiety, I’m looking to help others use this time of social distancing to reflect and do some, much needed, self-work.

I regularly support non-profits who focus on some of the challenges that I grew up around. I spent time talking to the youth, young adults and baby boomers about the importance of getting help.

I also partner with mental health experts, to offer resources to those in need, in communities that are underserved.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

I felt like I was put in a position to be a voice for the voiceless. After achieving career milestones, I suffered greatly from traumatic experiences, panic attacks, and other difficulties. I’m a living testimony.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

There’s a gentleman by the name of Diwee Sewell, who has an organization called the G.R.O.W program (Getting Ready for Obstacles in the World). He’s been a youth advocate for over ten years.

His company provides transportation, mentoring and extended day programs for schools and other youth facilities.

He changed his life from being a troubled youth to becoming a mentor, enabling him to turn his pain into his passion, which has become his purpose. He was impacted by my cause. Also, I’ve been a supporter of his for quite some time.

What are your 5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Get a Mentor/Proper Knowledge. You cannot start any business or career without having a mentor or getting proper knowledge in that field. When I first signed with Motown Records, my mom and I did not know the business and we did not know the contracts. That ended up hurting us in the end.
  2. Know Your Worth/Value. Coming up in the game, we did not understand how the legal process worked in the entertainment. All we knew was that getting signed was a big opportunity that we didn’t want to turn it down. Because of not knowing, I was not able to fully capitalize off of the opportunity and took major losses financially, mentally, and emotionally.
  3. Life Gets Better. After achieving career milestones, I suffered greatly from traumatic experiences, panic attacks and other difficulties. Even before those career milestones, I endured many traumatic experiences while growing up, including being born with a collapsed kidney. But right now, I’m a very successful, entrepreneur and father. You have just to believe and make the necessary steps in your life to achieve your dreams.
  4. Pay Attention to Mental Health. The interesting part is that before for social media, I didn’t really know what mental health was. Back then, people didn’t speak about mental health, “we were just taught ‘to pray on it, and you’ll be okay’.” I wish I had known more about this topic as a child. I’m now looking to teach others..
  5. Do the Work. Through the panic and anxiety going on right now, we all are suffering. I encourage everyone to take this time to work on themselves. This is something that I make sure I do every day. This didn’t start until later in life for me.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Outside of my “Give It One More Try” movement, I would like to start a national mentorship program that would have a mandatory rule, where each young person would get the guidance of a mentor in a particular field for at least 30 minutes.

This would be done before they start any major career.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Keep going, no matter what.” That is my favorite quote by Reginald F. Lewis.

Along this journey, I’ve had many ups and downs — — many moments where I really wanted to quit. From many deals and opportunities blowing up in my face to the late nights up wondering if I was moving in the right direction and so on.

However, I would think about this quote and start to push through it.

What are the best ways our readers can follow you online?

https://www.instagram.com/therealkdmcnair

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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