The movement I am presently most passionate about inspiring is the, “Fathers not Farther” movement. For I believe when Men of Purpose are committed to the positive growth of their children, our families will be healthier overall. Furthermore, I believe when we MENtor those whose fathers are not present, we are living at the height of servant leadership. When men of purpose show up and are committed, the atmosphere changes for the better.
As part of my series about “companies and organizations making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keith L. Brown. Keith empowers hundreds of thousands of people annually, in school systems and faith based Institutions. He has served as a “Client Referral Consultant,” on A&E’s hit television series,” Beyond Scared Straight,”. Keith is a frequent guest on I-Heart and Sirius XM Radio, often serving as an expert on Youth and Family Enhancement, and educational and social justice. His curriculum, “Not impossible-I’M POSSIBLE: A Relevant Guide on Leadership and Life Skills for Students and Families,” is being read and studied nationally and globally. His community service and philanthropic work includes: The Sickle Cell Foundation, National Lighthouse Foundation, Omega Mentoring Program and the South Fulton Arrow Youth Council. Keith and his lovely wife Wakea, an Elementary School Principal and Child and Family Advocate, are the proud parents of one sensational son, Keon.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Keith! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a child I was labeled, “Special-Ed” primarily because I was extremely talkative and wanted to give all the answers. I remember how it felt to be sitting in a class of 25 then being removed at some point in the day and transferred to a class of five. I felt small and different. As I overcame this label, I made it a priority to always advocate for others, especially those viewed as, “At Risk,” “Inferior” and later the underserved. Even as a former Educator, I Empowered pupils in a Rural School District, who were extremely gifted, even as many lived in a low socio-economic bracket. Poverty is NOT a learning disability. When I pursued my enhanced purpose of Professional Speaking in 2000, I made certain I was a Staunch Advocate for Educational and Social Justice- and in my present calling as Principal Speaker and Lead Consultant of 2020 Enterprises, I serve School Districts, Family Advocacy Agencies, Foundations and Organizations that primarily serve those whose voices have been minimized and marginalized!!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your organization?
The most interesting story that happened to me since leading my company occurred on August 10, 2014- the day after the fatal shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. My team and I left the Hickman Mills C-1 School District after my Keynote Address to thousands of Pupils, Educators and Parents and drove into Ferguson to bring comfort to the family of Mike Brown and the community as a whole. When we arrived, there was a circle of nearly one hundred people who had assembled to pray and peacefully march. Out of nowhere, this African American woman with so much conviction in her voice said to me, “Lead us in prayer and a word of comfort.” I said, “I’m a visitor simply here to support.” She said, “We want YOU to speak NOW!!” I was humbled by her request- and I prayed and inspired and encouraged and held weeping Black mothers in my arms. This one powerful poignant occurrence taught me it doesn’t matter if you were the scheduled speaker or not- when the people call- you must answer. I answered the call and brought healing on that day, and as I wept uncontrollably, as I realized Mike Brown could have very well been Keon Brown, my son. So this was interesting and inspiring and life changing all at once.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I made occurred in the Fall of 2000. I was hired by, “Nutrition Services” in a school district to be the opening plenary speaker for its back to school In-Service event. As hundreds sat in the audience, I sat behind stage in my dressing room, not once scanning the audience like I should have. This was one of my first major speeches as a Professional Speaker. I was overconfident, and on the brink of arrogance. The Director introduced me, and the curtains opened and I came out to the rap song, “Shake it Fast,” by rap artist, “Mystikal.” The crowd, made up of mostly Elderly women sat quietly in shock as I danced to this inappropriate song. Needless to say, it went downhill from there. While it was definitely a learning experience and not at all funny to the client- the looks on the faces of most of those in attendance would have been a hit on social media today and, “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Two years later- I was hired by the same client (under a new administration of course)- and I opened with the song YMCA and everyone was up doing it with me. Afterwards, a woman in her 60’s came up to me and said, “Son you were much better this time,” as she laughed, hugged my neck and bought a copy of my first book. Since then, I’ve ALWAYS made certain I knew the audience demographics beforehand and peered out at the audience prior to my speech.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
As the Principal Speaker and Lead Consultant of 2020 Enterprises, I was awarded a, “Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award,” for my Servant Leadership and Community Service. Our P.E.P. Rally Plan ( Pupils, Educators, and Parents) has been utilized in hundreds of Schools in America, the Dutch Caribbean, England, Barbados, and the Virgin Islands- and has been a catalyst for change in, “At Risk Youth,” and the underserved- serving children and youth from Head Start through their Freshman Year in College. The P.E.P. Rally plan promotes College and Career Readiness, and each year 2020 Enterprises provides Scholarships for underserved youth who attend 4 year Colleges and Universities, Technical and Community Colleges and Trade Colleges/Schools. In addition, our outreach and advocacy includes empowering hundreds of youth and families via partnerships with the South Fulton Arrow Youth Council in Metro Atlanta, the Omega Mentoring Organization in Metro Atlanta, and the National Lighthouse Foundation in Metro Atlanta via its Mentoring programs in Schools across the Nation. Furthermore, for the past two years, we’ve worked with several Head Start Organizations in piloting our, “Fathers not fathers,” initiative, which endeavors to provide tangible tools to Fathers in general and younger fathers in particular- who are often isolated from their children for various reasons. Our goal at 2020 Enterprises is to take the broaden the Initiative and partner with organizations and agencies that promote empowerment for fathers for the betterment of their children and healthy relationships with their children. As many have had to march after the senseless killings of young black males at the hands of negative law enforcement officials, I endeavor to prevent those marches by fostering a climate and, “Culture of Caring,” towards young black males- who are definitely, “God’s Children- and America’s Orphans.” By transforming the lives of thousands of children, youth and families annually- I am making significant social impact and using my influence to ensure those I serve receive Educational Equity, Educational and Social Justice, and are able to at least be benefactors of, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” A large segment of those I inspire also includes disenfranchised Caucasian, Latino, Asian and Native American youth- for the system in America has overwhelmingly been historically biased towards its citizens who are not economically affluent in most cases.
Wow! Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?
Absolutely. In the mid to late nineties I served as a Mentor for a young man named Reginald McClendon, who was raised in Middle, Georgia in a small loving family oriented town called Dublin. I was his English teacher and worked hard to ensure he and others like him were exposed to many Cultural aspects of life. Reggie lived in what was thought of as one of the roughest areas in town; however, he refused to be a part of the negative stigmas that went along with that part of town. There were many good people there; however, they were systematically stereotyped- and even ostracized by other Middle Class African American citizens, as is sadly the case in many communities in America. Reggie graduated with honors from East Laurens High School, matriculate and graduated with honors from Morehouse College in Atlanta ( Alma Mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many other great leaders)- and graduated from Law School as well. He is now a practicing Attorney, who is also an advocate for initiatives that support At Risk Youth and underserved families. Although he often credits me with being instrumental in his growth- he was VERY instrumental in mine. Another individual who has blossomed nationally is another former scholar and mentee of mine, Ms. Brenda Waters Cotton- who, like Reggie, did not grow up in an economically affluent family- but had a loving nurturing family. I fondly recall telling Brenda’s father ( against his wishes initially) she was going to be a contestant in the, “Miss Black Festival” Pageant. Once he agreed and she entered- she won many categories, including best speaker and most talented. She was one of my actresses as well in, “One-Act Play,” so I knew she would excel. Today Brenda is a Nationally known Cosmetologist, Salon Owner, Business Coach and Consultant, who has appeared on Oxygen Network, VH-1 and other national media for her innovative influence in the Image Consulting Industry. She often says encouraging her to be in that pageant was the catalyst for her thinking beyond her local environment. These are just two examples of how my social impact and the impact of 2020 Enterprises has inspired others to go from seemingly impossible to, “I’M POSSIBLE.”
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Yes. Politicians can introduce and pass legislation to ensure there is Educational Equity and Educational and Social Justice in America. Politicians can also expand Civil Rights legislation and vastly improve the present Voting Inequities in America, for there are many whose votes are not counted, thus producing mass voter fraud and giving victories to many candidates whose policies promote the very Injustices and Inequalities I Advocate for daily. Communities must be more committed to nurturing its children and youth locally and being more active in the Educational Process of its children and youth- I sincerely believe if parents and communities can fill football stadiums on Friday nights, they can fill PTA meetings during the week. That is one of the main goals of the, “P.E.P. Rally” plan- to increase parental and community involvement in our nation’s schools- for more than just Athletic events. I am a huge Sports fan; however, I am not a fan of parents only showing up when their children are academically behind. As a society we have to be more pro-active as it relates to the overall welfare of our children and youth. The root of the problem is a break down in the family structure. We are more concerned with giving our children and youth more valuables than values- and it is creating generations of children and youth who are misguided. So I’d love to see more emphasis on improving the overall Family Structure in America, which is why our, “Fathers not farther,” and other initiatives are so relevant and vital.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I define Leadership as a way of life where individuals are first willing to be Servants to and for others. I strongly believe the greatest leaders are those who have others following them NOT because they are imitated but because they are inspired. Leadership is all about elevating others from their present state to realms never even imagined. Leadership is about serving, bridging, and using one’s platform to create positive change, which enhances the lives of others. Leading from a place of instilling fear in others it not Leadership- it’s a twisted example of Dictatorship!!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
When I first started this journey of Professional Speaking- I wish someone would have told me Entrepreneurship is much more difficult than working for others. As an Entrepreneur people often see me as one who controls my every move; however, in my former career as an Educator, I worked very hard but NEVER as hard and as long as I work now ( hours). As an employee- I only had to know HOW to complete a task in order to be successful. As an Entrepreneur- I have to know WHY the task must be completed. As an Entrepreneur, I am ultimately accountable for all that goes wrong in our organization, even if other team members were at fault. As an employee- I was held accountable for my mistakes; however, I wasn’t the sole source of the accountability. I wish someone would have told me I needed a coach/mentor immediately. I began in 2000 and did not have a coach until 2003 when Les Brown became my mentor/coach. I could have avoided many pitfalls if I had a coach within the first 6 months of starting out. I wish someone had told me having a publicist is a plus. I did not have my first publicist until well over a decade- and while my two former publicists were gifted, they weren’t a great fit for my brand. My present PR Agency- “I’m Promoting You,” Agency has worked diligently to enhance my brand, while authentically telling my story and expanding my impact and influence. I wish someone had told me choosing the right team is key. Early on- I remember working with and partnering with those, “I liked,” more so than based on their level of competence. Years later I learned working with and partnering with those who are competent, efficient and exhibited high levels of integrity are far more important than working with individuals, just because you like or vibe with them. Furthermore, I have learned if you have ONE loyal team member who is an innovative thinker and whose strengths elevate your weaknesses and vice versa- you’re going to excel. Finally, I wish someone had told me you have to constantly and consistently re-invent yourself to remain relevant. I have learned through the years to make sure I am on the pulse of those I serve, primarily our Youth and Young Adults- so I am VERY active on Social Media and my content speaks directly to the hearts, minds and spirits of our youth and young adults, as well as those who Educate and Empower youth and young adults.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂
The movement I am presently most passionate about inspiring is the, “Fathers not farther” Movement. For I believe when Men of Purpose are committed to the positive growth of their children, our families will be healthier overall.
Furthermore, I believe when we MENtor those whose fathers are not present, we are living at the height of servant leadership. When men of purpose show up and are committed, the atmosphere changes for the better.
I speak to and encourage countless numbers of Youth, Young Adults and Adults in penal institutions annually- and even when I was a Client Referral Consultant on A&E’s, “Beyond Scared Straight,” the narratives were always the same: Fathers were Father, which moved those incarcerated closer to a life of crime and mental/emotional instability. While I know Fathers being present and intentional about creating positive legacy is not the ONLY answer- I sincerely believe it is vital for our children and youth to see men of compassion who exhibit positive emotions like crying when they’re saddened by life’s tragic events or simply when they’re hurt.
When a segment of society tells young men of color in particular- “Real Men Don’t Cry,” it is in essence dehumanizing those young men, many of whom grow up keeping their human emotions bottled up- and those emotions often rear their ugly heads through violence/domestic violence, and other societal ills, which destroy families and communities. So I am passionate about Men stepping up and being present in the lives of their children, other children, the community and our nation. When that happens, my work in Schools, Colleges, Family Advocacy Agencies, Faith Based Institutions and even as a Mentor in the Entertainment Industry will be even more meaningful.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is actually one of our company mottos: not impossible- I’M POSSIBLE!!! This quote has been relevant since I began my Professional Speaking Odyssey and Advocacy in 2000. It is life affirming, and I have used it to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals nationally and globally since then. I see it as a transformational walk from impossible to it’s possible( often quoted by my dear mentor and colleague Les Brown) and finally, “I’M POSSIBLE.” Impossible basically means it can’t be done- which in itself is toxic and predicts people should not even attempt to reach their goals and dreams, as they’re bound to fail. Many people live with this mindset. So I show them how to go from impossible to it’s possible, which means there is hope and dreams and goals can be attained. While the term, “It’s Possible,” is positive- it still leaves our destiny and purpose up to chance. So as I speak the “Life Lesson” quote of, “not impossible-I’M POSSIBLE,” I’m taking the masses to the final phase, one which causes them to embrace the, “I’M POSSIBILITIES,” while holding themselves accountable for their Success and Significance. This is WHY the quote has been so relevant in my life. It has empowered me to look within in the midst of obstacles, both professional and personal. When youth in the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia began calling me, “Mr. I’M POSSIBLE” years ago- it became my moniker and I live it daily- so I encourage all those I inspire to wake up daily saying, “not impossible- I’M POSSIBLE.”
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-).
I’d love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, Mr. Tyler Perry- as he is such a spirited giver whose life’s work has promoted elevating the underserved. I would love to know what makes him be so giving in an industry that is notorious for, “Me and Mine Only.” I don’t want his autograph, for I already have it- as his example is an autograph we can all learn and grow from. And whether it’s via his Motion Pictures, Plays or Advocacy- he is clearly an individual who is committed to making certain the voices of the minimized are heard and ultimately valued. Finally, I am a thespian at heart, as is he. He is passionate about writing, directing, and acting, and I am passionate about Writing, Acting and Speaking. I believe our private breakfast would extend into lunch, for there would be a purging of emotions and innovative ideas to inspire and enhance the masses.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Your readers may follow me on Social Media via keithlbrown1911 on twitter, keithlbrown_ on Instagram, keithlbrown1911 and mriampossible on Facebook.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!
You are more than welcome and THANK YOU for being a beacon of light in a world often filled with darkness. Continue to live your purpose with purpose on purpose.