Once again we have searched the social stratosphere and have unearthed another diamond in the rough.  This week’s visionary is using his life to inspire and empower countless others in a very unique way and on multiple levels. One would think that after surviving a challenging young life in a neighbourhood and environment that most of us have had the blessings of avoiding due to financial, geographical and arguably most importantly family support, that the setbacks would be quite frankly overwhelming and catastrophic. However, this visionary was resilient and had an epiphany about how to turn his obstacles into possible. And as a result, he learned some inviable life lessons and as we like to say, “Now the student has become the teacher” in this journey we call life.  Let us now open our minds and spirits as we are allowed the privilege of an honest conversation with a man who has attained the level of corporate attorney, motivational speaker, and coach.  A man who has befriended millionaires, billionaires and just as important the folks at the grassroots level who reside in those neighbourhoods that we all can identify with in one way or another.  Ladies and gentlemen allow me to introduce you to Mr. Keithan Hedrick.

HoC : There is a quote taken from the movie, “The Day The Earth Stood Still” that goes; “It’s only on the brink that people find the will to change.  Only at the precipice do we evolve.”  Was there a so-called “precipice” moment for you and can you describe those sets of events that redirected your path towards evolving into the man of vision you have become?

KH:  Pressure makes diamonds, I was a good football player in H.S. I befriended a fellow teammate and visited his family home.  It was a home that was built upon wealth housed in a wealthy gated community and the father of that household was a successful kidney surgeon.  I had only been exposed to the concept of money and status attained through what I saw in my own neighbourhood and from the media outlets I was exposed to which meant being a baller, an entertainer/performer, getting by on the streets by any means necessary.  Now I was in a totally different environment where the narratives of being successful were based upon sheer intellect by way of a higher education.  It was at that very moment when I saw the father of my teammate and what he had built through a solid educational foundation that I saw the possibilities of a pathway forward within myself.

HoC:  Keithan, you use your platform to instruct, empower and encourage thousands of people across the globe, is that the narrative of your legacy and how do you see your vision evolving?

KH:  I want my legacy to be built upon empowering the kids from our neighbourhoods across the landscape.  I want them to know that there is something different, the mission is to be a voice from the hood but because of my exposure early on in my life, it has broadened my horizons and now I strive to use that gained knowledge in a transparent way.  As a teacher the knowledge attained is not just for my benefit but to be used to evolve the consciousness of those that I have been given the privilege to serve.  My mission and message will evolve through the social dynamics of the interactions that my platform allows me to expand and thereby it becomes a reciprocal process because I continue to evolve into a more powerful visionary.

HoC:  I was both surprised and humbled when I read your bio and learned that at the age of 19yrs old while you were still a sophomore in college, you adopted your 14 and 15yr old brothers.  Can you describe that period in your life and what impact that decision had on the choices you made for your own personal and professional development?

KH:  I have always been a parental figure for my brothers, but when I left to go to college in 2009, we did not have running water at my house. It was tough for me to leave because I wanted to help my mother provide. I dealt with guilt my entire freshman year in college, because I knew that my family was struggling, while I was living out my dreams.

I had a week off in the summer of 2010 between the end of summer football camp, and the beginning of fall football camp. I had just turned 19 that week. On the last day that I was home before heading back to school I just made the call. I told my brothers to pack everything that had, and that they were moving with me. I told my mother, and though she did not want to let me do it, in her heart of hearts, she knew it was best.

I knew what it took for me to make it out of my neighbourhood, and I did not want my brothers to be faced with the daily decisions that I was. This was my opportunity to give them an environment where they could just be kids, and focus on school.

HoC:  You graduated “Cum Laude” from law school,  I can imagine that was a pinnacle moment in your life.  That being said, is there an equation that you use in your motivational speeches that perhaps pushes your audience to reach their own personal pinnacle moments?

KH: The human mind and body are powerful things, and it is unbelievable how much they can endure. I am simply trying to get people to understand the limitless nature of themselves. I want them to understand that when they think that they don’t have anything left to give, they still have a lot more, but you only discover that once you push yourself past your comfort zone.

HoC:  Through the narratives of the national media we hear so many negative stories about the city of Chicago.  You grew up in some of the worst conditions and was dealt a series of challenging circumstances as you navigated through a concrete jungle, growing up on those same south suburban neighbourhoods that have been used as rhetorical leverage from the highest political offices and social constructs to support a broad range of agendas.  Can you elaborate on what life was actually like and is like for thousands of other younger and older adults not just in Chicago but how that resonates with a similar cities across our nation?

KH:  As a keynote speaker, I tell people that as a kid you don’t know that you and those around you are struggling.  That is the beauty of not realizing the difficulties of the real struggle at such a young age. You are just a kid being a kid. It wasn’t until I got much older that I realised how I was living relative to people in other neighbourhoods. That is when I started to pay close attention to who I hung around.  I had to start monitoring who I hung around and realize that our social constructs in a large part revolve around our conversations and what stimulates our interests within the group dynamics that we choose for a myriad of reasons. Whether it be for reasons of having a semblance of a family or close ties that we may not have in our households.  We respond in-kind to what is cool within our culture. People gravitate to what they believe is cool, and I was fortunate enough to gravitate to guys that thought going to college to play ball, and living a LEGAL comfortable life was cool. That was the key to why I was able to progress with success, I had like minded people around me.

HoC:  I love the powerful phrase that you use in your videos and motivational speaking engagements, “You have to see one….to be one,” What does that mean to you and is that your life’s philosophy?

KH:  Yes, it is my life’s philosophy; it means exposure is the key to success.  Go out and see something different, vision reciprocates. That is what triggered my shift in focus in life, I saw something different that made me view my goals differently. It not only changed my life, but it also changed the lives of everyone around me.

HoC:  I can only imagine the many icons from business leaders to entertainment moguls of our present age that you have crossed paths with but what person would you say has had a resounding presence in your life as a mentor or coach?

KH:  My mother is by far the person who has had the most impact upon my life.  She did much with the little she had. She set the tone for what hard work was, and she showed me what true perseverance looked like.  She was a single parent raising me and my six siblings. I witnessed the true power of what a human is capable of if they just keep pushing themselves.

The other person is Jay Z because he epitomises being successful in the corporate arena, but staying true to your cultural roots. You’ll see him in a tailored suit with the president one day, and with a Yankee fitted, and retro Jordans the next. I love that versatility, because for so many African-Americans chasing corporate success, we believe that we have to suppress our culture to advance our careers, he shows me that isn’t so.

HoC:  Courage, leadership, conscious awareness, the ability to understand one’s true purpose and uses those inherent gifts to usher in positive change on a social and economic scale, are in my humble opinion some of the qualities of a true visionary.  What qualities define you as a visionary?

KH:  For me the number one quality is integrity.  I am a good person and I am conscious of that mindset 24/7.  I believe karma is real, whatever I put out I receive, I am always trying to operate at my highest self.  I am a cause and effect person, doing what is ethical.

HoC:  We here at the Visionary’s Manifesto salute your life’s work and commitment towards excellence and empowerment on a grass roots and global scale.  I would be honored if you could have the last word and bestow upon our audience a takeaway from the totality of this heartfelt and insightful conversation.

KH:  First I appreciate The Visionary’s Manifesto and Heart of Cool for reaching out to me and allowing me another platform to spread my message of self-identification and empowerment.  As humans we have the capacity to do whatever we conceive.  I encourage all of the readers to visit my website at www.KeithanHedrick.com to stay current on my videos and content.

Blessings!

Eric Simms

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