12 June 2011 - TEDx Talks

Time for Change: Scott Silverman at TEDxAmericasFinestCity 2011

Do what you have always done and you will get what you have always gotten. Scott Silverman President & Founder of Second Chance and the author of Tell Me ...

so in second grade my buddy has a broken

leg from a skiing accident he comes back after being gone two weeks we're hanging out together on the sand like we do in second grade he takes off his shoe and he welcomes himself back to mean he goes hey Scott it's good to see thee throws it at me what kids do so I picked it back up as his best friend and I threw it back at him but I rebe Roke his leg so on second grade I was escorted to the principal's office I was now famous at a very young age for all the wrong reasons and I remember they called my parents they all had to come down said your son has broken a kid's leg and my mom and dad they're working people's it how did he do that and they just described soup circumstances and bottom line was I was in trouble they said you know we've had some issues with your son we think it might be time for him to go another school so I move on to another school at third grade and my second day there my second day there the teacher says mr. Silverman it was one of those formal schools would you mind going to the map and pointing out the Pacific Ocean nothing if I can do this I have a 50-50 chance of getting it wrong so I go and point out the Atlantic I got it wrong

and everybody in the class started to laugh at me I don't know if that's ever happened to you but it happened to me and it felt like it went on for an hour I went back to my desk it was one of those schools were the old desk folded up and I broke all my pencils and I threw them at everybody in the classroom and from that day forward I said you know what I'm not gonna let kids laugh at me again when you're that young and you have to start thinking like that and you're hearing things like no you can't no you're not smart enough no you're not ready for this school you have to go to that school and why can't you be as smart to say this person or that person it starts to have an impact on you so I go through some testing like a lot of kids do and they find out that I have ADHD and I have an eight-second attention span which is really good for Ted X because you have to be able to do all that to handle all the multiple tasks that take place at one of these conferences so the good news is they had a diagnosis but back in those days they weren't sure what did with it so I continued to go on it got a little bit trouble time went on I got in

more trouble 5th grade I had a teacher actually had a heart attack they wanted to blame me yep I've always had special tension as a kid growing up anyway fast-forwarding I'm 17 years old they sent me to a psychologist and this guy says you know based in second session based on everything I've heard and read your parents we talk you're basically not doing really well on this planet correct I said you see just think I go to another plan I sell some days I feel like I was brought here how many of you who felt like you've been brought here from another planet you know this yeah it happens so anyway he says you know you're not doing really well you're basically a failure what you should do here's old what you should do is you should just be the best failure you can be and I thought shut the front door what me be the best failure you can be so I translated it to that that's it I'm done with this plan i'm going to start doing things my way and like a lot of young people I got involved with things I shouldn't have I'd like to say art and architecture and drawing but no it was more mr. marijuana and this cocaine and other things that I started to bring

into my system that helped me not feel the feelings so takes me to my next point I created a new hobby for myself and that was substance abuse around my heavy work that I did and being an addict if you will I get a chance to do a lot of great things to extremes and I get a lot of opportunity to do a lot of things in a short period of time because I'm compulsive obsessive and addictive unlike some of my co speakers here call mellow and easy to get along with so I have this issue is growing in my 20s is getting worse it's getting worse so I decided to try to dry out and substitute it that I got into food then I got in a methamphetamine but I tried art became a actually a metal artists which I just picked up recently and I'm very excited about it's very therapeutic and I took this trip it was a trip plan with the business I was involved with to go back to New York and to meet people and do our thing for a week but what happened for me was starting the second day I started drinking heavily and I went into a blackout for four days the last day of our trip I was picked up by the law enforcement New York's finest taken back to my hotel it was explained

to me when I called down i said hi this is mr. Silverman could you please tell me where my airline ticket is and my traveler's checks my ID I think I've been robbed and they go mr. so we're waiting for your call please come down as soon as you can security would like to speak with you so I go down they first they said graciously we would like to invite never ever come back to our hotel again law enforcement picked you up brought you and I was in a three-piece suit my London Fog rain coat passed out like a drunk does or did and that happened to me I won't ask how many hands that's happened to in the room today and I wasn't sure what to do they explained to me that this is what took place you're lucky you weren't put into jail the reason was I carried a badge during those days that Badgers gold and silver in there happened to be undercover law enforcement conference in Manhattan because i was literally picked up cross the train station so i put my last outfit on ahead the night before i went to this business meeting and bottom line was I had no idea I was going to explain to the 14 people i was traveling with where I've been for four days and

what I was going to explain to them as to what I was going to do next because everyone wondered where I'd been so I decided I need to get some air i'm on the 44th floor of this building downtown manhattan and i know i needed to get some air i was just joking bye pores were sweating alcohol and had been a couple of years of just horrible obsession of drinking and using but i was functional because i kept a job so it was kind of hidden if you will so i get to the windowsill and I'm thinking you know if I close my eyes if I lean back I can end all this pain it'll be over I'll be finished I won't have to explain to anybody more I wanted to make phone calls anymore my wife won't have to make apologies for me on sunday mornings after big events so I'm pushing myself to the edge of the window sill I closed my eyes I took a deep breath I kind of said goodbye to my family and as I'm right there at the edge but I knew an eight seconds it be over this guy walks in his office he's what are you doing you're gonna fall out the window you've heard of the term divine intervention my life started over at that second I said just give me a

second just getting some air I had an emotional breakdown I started to cry and called my wife and I said I'm ready friday nighta flew home next day I was put into rehab voluntarily if all goes well first week in June I'll be celebrating 26 and a half years of continuous sobriety I share that because the work that I do today is transformational with human beings as a matter of fact a couple years ago I was at a Rotary Club and I thought God I work with hard to serve individuals I work with people who've been unemployed i work with individuals coming out of prison i work with people who've never been employed and underemployed actually I even work with unlicensed pharmacist so it's a unique population and what I wanted to do is I thought you know what I'm going to speak up i'm going to say you know what folks i'm doing something different to feel the nonprofit work I'm actually a recycler I said really what do you recycle Oh human beings but I just learned a new turf one of my colleagues it'll be sharing today hoping as a minor you stirred I heard about up cycling you know recycling is taking something and

finding a different use for it up cycling is finding a not only material that needs to be used again but actually finding something that you can improve its use so that's really what I am today enough cycler if you will to be environmentally friendly because I wanted to stand out which he was oh you work in a nonprofit organization and I will tell you about that nonprofit organization I started 18 years ago I was working at a feeding kitchen on Sunday mornings and these people would come through every single week thousands and my people fit on Sunday because we were finished praying on Friday told you that earlier for those who can't put that together so anyway in Sunday morning five o'clock I'd get up go down and I'd feed people every single week and I see thousands and I said one day and why are these people here why aren't they getting a job they're not getting a job because they don't want one is what the volunteers told me so I started talking to a few the folks I said hey why aren't you working oh look at me no one will hire me I'm on parole I have a drug problem i'm on a 12-step program you know i have tattoos and said what

well I'll help you you will yeah what do I have to do I said you have to cut your hair shave this stuff off your face roll down your sleeves cover your tats and change your attitude what's wrong with my attitude I said that's it i'm walking i walked away bottom line is i'll say i'll see you next week because I'm not done talking to you I've married a while at the time I said well I'm done talking to you I know how to handle myself so he comes back you know and that he's being told no but I wasn't telling him no I was suggesting that some sort of simple change can end up making a big difference are you willing to do it and he finally came around and I didn't see him and he comes back a couple of months later I said what do you been he goes you're not gonna believe it I got a job I said really how'd you do that he goes everything you suggested work how can I help you and I said come here with me on Sunday afternoon to share your story share your story so a year goes by I'm doing this and I can't find a way to make this scalable how do I find a way to get a tool box if you will to help people is too hard 50 people every

Sunday I need a mechanism so I went to all the nonprofits in the community to look I like to partner with you and they said what do you mean I said well I'd like to help you I'll help provide the job expertise and the housing and you just do the rest of things you do oh wait a sec if you do that and our clients get jobs and they get access to affordable housing what will we do I said what I went home that night I had the worst case of the you know I promised I see one of my note says don't swear so I'm not going to say the worst case of the oh my gods replace that on your twitter any way you'd like and i said to my wife I'd like to start a non-profit she says you have no idea what you're talking about it should i know i know that means I have nothing I can really screw up because I have a baseline of zero knowledge again my no I get my know so I went to library opened up a book and how to start a non-profit that's how second chance got started because I believe everyone deserves a second chance so with that one I want to say is you know life ain't fair and ain't never gonna be fair eat it swallow it accept it and what that means to me

is I can't change yesterday you know I'm not God that job is taken so I started this agency I started helping people get back in the workforce three things that really work well evidence-based outcome field-tested which is slang for it don't mess with me because I got the data you help somebody and they get an address because you've got to have an address to get a job you've got to have a job to keep an address and you give them some support services for a longer period of time than more than 30 days it works so we have this model we want to grow and I want to figure out a way to do that and I'm going to do that hopefully it's going to start today with all of you no pressure but I am but I am a non-profit leader our job is to ask for your time you tell it your Treasury because that's what communities are all about you you're hearin it already this morning you're going to hear more of this afternoon and that's what I try to do I bring my time in my talent because my wife's new real estate so we've lost our treasury for now I only say that cuz she's got the day off and she's sitting up there not taking pictures and I asked her to so again like seemed to bump into

these knows all the time I know and part of my talk today is about how to get to yes how to get to your yes you know you have to make a commitment you really do and one of the things I love the most about I've got these five keys in this book I've created and one of them is learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable quick story about a guy named Dominic ludi I was called a few years back by the Padres they said Scott we'd like to have you throw out the first pitch talk about obesity I used to weighed 330 pounds this stage would not be holding me if I was here four years ago so I said you know I'm kind of not in good shape i don't think i should do it but I said one of our graduates actually worked for the Padres organization he's legally blind he comes to our classroom he says will you help me get a job I'm tired of living off the federal government and I said absolutely we get him this job he passes out the flyers at the bottom the escalator the old call calm stadium does an awesome job so I said you know what I'd like to see Dominic ludi come out and pitch but there's a problem they go what's that it was he's legally blind the front office

is the way the Padres are pitching he'll fit right in so Dominic didn't go throw the pitch I didn't either we pick somebody else Anthony Foster who you know after 14 years is still working so to be part of something that works to be part of something that we think is scalable and transformational I know we could take it the next level at the end of the day at the end of the day one of the things I think of myself as a social entrepreneur and I like to build human capital so I hope you'll join me and remember don't let anybody take your yes away tell me know I dare you

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