From "At-Risk" to "At-Promise"
This is one person's journey from abject poverty to a doctorate, a celebrated master teacher, a devoted husband, doting father of eight wonderful human-beings, and a classic introvert. I am proof that great things can happen to ordinary people by having faith, working hard and NEVER giving up! I was an underdog who fought for everything I am and have, and still have a big smile despite those hardships. I learned early on that 'you get out of life what you put into it.' Some people espouse they have come from humble beginnings; I was destitute, from “the bottom of life.” The photo to the right is a creative depiction of how we played basketball as children. I was one of many at-risk students in public school and briefly labeled as a high risk gang-involved youth in my community. I was reared by a single-parent mother in an inner-city housing project with the help of before and after-school programs and help during the summer months from my rural farming grandparents. In the projects, I often witnessed and was often a part of intense violence. My oldest sibling and only brother attempted to escape the perils of our community and enlisted in the United States Army. He was killed when I was only eleven years old.
I did not meet my father until I ventured to find him when I was 18 years old. I was homeless. I experienced severe poverty. I was a wayward juvenile delinquent. In school, I had one foot in gifted education and the other foot in alternative education. I was lost, but I was hungry. I had a genuine hunger for "something greater" as I was struggling for the correct path.
I may have been from “the bottom of life,” but I was growing up under the influence and tutelage of education and social justice advocates. My mother, my grandfather, uncle Andrew and my special auntie Lorraine taught me the importance of helping vulnerable groups. It is as a direct result of these individuals and a "village" of caring business, education (especially Head Start, school librarians, school nurses, bus drivers, cafeteria and custodial staff) and community members that I decided to "change the narrative" and I became the first person in my family of five to graduate from high school. I was also the first of my family members to attend college..and the list goes on! When you are smart, black and from the projects, everyone tells you to be a doctor or a lawyer. No one suggests that you become a teacher or a business owner. I wanted to be an entrepreneur and a teacher. As a former special education teacher, alternative education teacher and juvenile justice psychologist, I saw firsthand that the "school-to-prison" pipeline was best avoided in the classroom. As a lifelong social justice advocate it was only fitting to do my graduate research in the areas of racial justice and social reform. My master's theses were titled "Dismantling The School to Prison Pipeline," and "The Effects of Communicator Similarity on Healthcare Recommendations," and my doctoral dissertation was titled l"African American Males Perception of Law Enforcement: A Psychophysiological Perspective." https://digitalcommons.odu.edu/psychology_etds/253/ These were critical subjects then, and are still quite relevant today. As a young professor, my newly coined terms of "the empathy gap, contact/connect theory, and the racism reaction" were used frequently to explain various human relations and offer useful strategies to improve them. Unconscious implicit bias, diversity, inclusion, equity training, human perceptions & expectations, contact theory, and the Empathy Gap became my forte and master classes, professional development, and training requests came from all over the world. Nowadays, from troubled child to successful man - a corporate executive, professor, education and clinical psychologist, author, television talk show host, top youth motivational speaker, master teacher and philanthropist whereby most of my charitable work has never been publicized, I share an inspiring story of my upbringing coupled with research best practices with both humor and gravity. Although I spend much time on stages, I prefer to positively shine the spotlight on others and provide them with the essential tools and resources to transcend a life of “mediocrity” to a life filled with supernatural success and joy. Whether from the stage or as a program consultant, I inspire EXCELLENCE for all...from troubled youth to status quo corporations and Priority, Focus & Title I schools.
Life isn’t about getting through the storms, it’s about dancing in the rain! It’s about staying positive even in tough times. We must continue to remember, "It is not how you start, but how you finish that matters!" I consider myself "Good Medicine." As one of the many business motivational speakers & educational consultants, I'm unique in that I inspire others to "Learn, Laugh & Lead !™" wherever I go while spreading LOVE, LIGHT, & INSIGHT along the way. I am a behavioral scientist by education, a servant leader in my heart, an undercover comedian since birth, "Bizarre" by design and a "good guy" by choice..And I always run topics through my mental and spiritual filter of Christ inside me.
My real "Backstory" is in the word that embodies how I live - “Enthusiastically.” Enthusiasm originally meant “God in you.” This meaning still applies to my life. My belief in God grounds me and my fear of God keeps me humble.
Love Without Limits!
Dr. Adolph Brown, III
U.S. Secretary of Inspiration / Mover of Mountains
Adolph is a "quiet doer" and it could be pretty hard to get a clear picture of him. In essence, Adolph was "the stone that the builder refused," who eventually became the capstone. To start, Adolph is special. He was special when we met back as undergraduate students at the College of William and Mary. He was always a bit challenging to understand, but always easy to love. I found him to have incredible work ethic supported by his keen self-discipline and self-confidence. I also found him to have an amazing sense of humor, and to be a brilliantly strange deep thinker - but in a uniquely adorable kind of way. Today, he continues to display unprecedented leaps of creativity and insight. Most would not know the depths of his research as he now writes to be useful and not to sound smart. Some may be surprised to find out about his numerous business endeavors prior to becoming an educator. He is also featured in the comic book series "The Real Adventures of Captain 85" as Professor B, a scientific genius, mentor and advisor to Captain 85. Many are surprised to learn that Adolph left his community in search of a better life, and returned to help others do the same. We live 3 blocks from the projects where Adolph was reared. Adolph has always been an extremely committed high performing educator, a passionate social justice advocate, a brilliant entrepreneur and a fun loving husband and father. He continues to demonstrate that he can handle any situation with great poise, maturity, and exceptional intellectual ability, and often coupled with hilarious anecdotes. Adolph meets each challenge head on and refuses to quit! He does not let the fame or the pressure weigh him down. In fact, Adolph is least interested in fame and glory as we quite frequently turn down "Reality Shows" and other televised talk-show host offers. He enjoys working outside of his introvert comfort zone, but not so much as to compromise his integrity or value system. Adolph doesn't carry his mission on his shoulders. He's modest about it. He is built for this! I've learned so much from him. I look at him everyday, and he inspires me. I knew he would be a great husband, father and provider when he told me that he would only love God more than me. I've never had anyone who supported me so much. He is also always the first to say thank you and the first to say sorry. I feel so blessed. Adolph is the best thought leader speaker most have ever heard, however he is an even more phenomenal listener. He has worked with clients from around the world and from ALL walks of life as a much sought-after and highly skilled performance coach. Very few are aware that of utmost importance to Adolph and our entire staff is the establishment of a million dollars scholarship endowment for hardworking young people, whereby Adolph contributes 1/3 of all consultation fees to its development. You can see he absolutely loves life and people. Truth is, his soul is most pleased when he is pouring out inspiration and information to others, and his soul is healed when he is working with children and the elderly. I have found that fans appreciate Adolph no matter what. Maybe, it's the zest evident in the way he views life and carries himself through life. Or, maybe, it's because he is so authentic, warm, and approachable. Regardless of what Adolph is going through personally or professionally, he walks his talk...DANCING THROUGH THE STORMS of life with a smile on his face and joy in his heart. Adolph is a magnificent bridge-builder and an extremely giving person. He is always looking for ways to make life better for others. If you haven't yet booked Adolph, I hope you will soon! His goal is not to do more engagements around the world, but to create LASTING positive change wherever he does an engagement.
Doc's Best Half
When Adolph was a child, he was often picked on and teased for being poor, not having a father present and growing up in the projects with the name "Adolph." This was made worse as Adolph's hero, his oldest sibling and only brother Oscar was murdered when Adolph was only 11 years old. Adolph idolized his brother and learned many great lessons from him. One lesson was his brother's strong character and work ethic. As a family, we all pitched in to help Oscar with his newspaper route. Adolph would often proudly imitate being a "paperboy" by draping his brother's newspaper bag across his shoulder. As a teenager, Adolph was briefly involved in a gang. I would often remind Adolph of two very important statements that he would eventually internalize: 1. "You are the 'Adolph' who inspires the BEST in others!" and 2. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." -Proverbs 3:5-6. As he began to make better choices and become a leader in our community and in his school, Adolph adopted the life attitude of "Hurl at me what you will, I will not go down!" Adolph never asked why has this happened to me. He began to ask how could he help those who had unfortunate events happen to them. Adolph has always loved challenges - big and small. He is a gracious and humble "silent winner" in competitions. He has always been an intelligent quiet achiever. Today, he is quite successful at helping others allow nothing to stand in between themselves and their dreams. He is a powerful youth leadership speaker, education consultant, diversity & inclusion expert and motivational business speaker. We are proud of him, and his mission. It is no wonder that he is known as "The U.S. Secretary of Inspiration." His public school teachers would often describe him as "delightfully different." All that Adolph talks about is evident in his life. He is more than our community's "local boy done good" rags to riches story. He makes people better wherever he goes! Adolph donates 1/3 of his consultation fees to scholarships for deserving young people. He is not only a top African American keynote speaker or one of the most famous and influential black history month speakers, he is a HUMANKIND speaker for ALL people. His kind spirit is often seen when he frequently pays for the groceries of those standing in front of him in grocery lines or by the countless donations he unselfishly contributes to those in need. Adolph was reared as a Christian to love himself and ALL others respectively. Adolph continues to have a quicksilver expressiveness - when he smiles, he lights up the world. In so many ways, he epitomizes the quiet strength, humility and effectiveness of a true servant leader. I'm often asked how Adolph is able to spend the incredible amount of time and energy he does with his family, his work and on himself, I share that the answer is clear, he has the secret weapons in his partner, teammate and wife, Marla, by his side and the love of God in his heart.
Virginia M. Brown - AKA Mama Brown
Brown Kids' Secrets About Dad
"Dad is an incessant reader, reading 3-4 books a month."
"He loves the smell of books."
"My dad pays for other people's groceries at the store sometimes. He also buys food for strangers."
"Dad likes to hear us pray."
"He is 'Big Silly' to us."
"Daddy loves seafood, sushi, and pho."
"Dad is cranky when he is awakened."
"He is afraid of mom."
"He likes naps. And pajamas and sweats are his favorite clothes at home."
"He loves PBR."
"Dad likes IMPROV - when the audience interaction is unpredictable."
"We are taught not to ever judge anyone, but to attempt to be role models for everyone."
"Dad is a VERY accomplished amateur boxer, martial artist & pole vaulter."
"Dad is a historian."
"Dad is a huge protector of civil rights and animal rights."
"My dad's professional comedian friends say he would be a hit at stand-up. He's funny without even trying."
"My dad lived in poor housing apartment projects as a kid, and worked very hard as a student so he was able to buy his first apartment complex when he was 33 years old."
"Dad is not really a motivational speaker, he is a teacher speaker."
"Daddy waves at everybody...policemen, schoolbus drivers, joggers,.."
"We know dad works hard when he snores."
"Daddy loves to eat Reese's Pieces"
"He loves cirque du soleil productions!"
"My dad knows many famous people who come to our home often for my mom's good cooking."
"Dad loves God."
"Dad is a deeply spiritual man."
"Dad can be considered a religious studies scholar, but he says he is spiritual and that 'love' is the common thread for all beliefs."
"Dad loves to eat chocolate covered strawberries & gift them to his favorite businesses."
"Daddy sings very loudly and off key!"
"Dad's nicknames are Doc, Dolph, A, and AB. AB is his fav. He signs it in lowercase ab as he says he prefers to stay low."
"My dad's relatives call him "Happy Feet."
"Dad will sometimes pay for people's groceries in the stores and their food in drive-thru's."
"Dad sees himself as an urban farmer giving tribute to our great grandfather."
"Dad was in ROTC in college and considered active duty before we came along."
"My dad loves to tinker and repair stuff. I sometimes like to help him."
"Dad has a goal to give away 1 million dollars in scholarship awards every year."
He says "Happy Heart + Happy Thoughts = Happy Feet!"
"Dad does not like when his name is incorrectly spelled with a "f" as Adolf."
"Most don't know that our Dad is really an introvert."
"Daddy dislikes meetings. He says most are just intellectual exercises."
"Think he is hilarious on stage. At home he is outrageous..way too much energy!"
"Dad was born twice and we followed."
"Dad uses alot of his money to give away scholarships to kids who need money help. And he gets really excited every year when we gives away the scholarships"
"Dad is firm, fair, and especially fun. He loves live music and dancing with us."
"He snores when he is really tired, loves yard work (which we avoid like the plague), and most importantly our father loves us and he is in love with our mother."
Great Aunt Lorraine "Auntie" Moore
Sunrise May 5, 1925 - Sunset May 23, 2011
Auntie, thank you for your unselfish love and understanding, your loyalty and generosity, your constant encouragement and concern. You were the true source of "REAL TALK!" I may not have had a father present like many of my peers while growing up, but you always reminded me that I had two mothers. Thank you for reinforcing my mother's lessons, coupled with many of your very own. I will never forget the lessons you taught me about the importance of having "grit." Death of a loved one leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves a memory no one can steal.