A full mindset shift is needed to get through the most challenging moments of your life. Without this life-changing process, you cannot unlock a more positive version of yourself. Our guest today is Trent Wallace, an up-and-coming entrepreneur from the streets of North Omaha, Nebraska. In this episode, we discuss his struggle to overcome the challenges of his past, the lessons he learned at Boys Town, and embracing an entrepreneurial mindset to become a force for good. Meanwhile, host Gary Schoeniger discusses the power of optimism and the concept of future positive orientation to access problem-solving abilities in the brain that are not otherwise available to you.
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“My Purpose Is Bigger Than My Problems” With Trent Wallace
I’m speaking with Trent Wallace, who’s an up-and-coming young entrepreneur from the streets of North Omaha. This conversation opened my eyes to a world that I can barely comprehend. As a child struggling with unimaginable trauma, Trent grew up fast on the streets. Like many of the entrepreneurs we have interviewed, he somehow sensed that the future could somehow be different, yet the life he knew kept pulling him back. After being shot and left for dead at the age of 22, he knew things had to change.
In this episode, we discussed his struggle to overcome the challenges of his past, the lessons he learned at Boys Town, and the importance of embracing an entrepreneurial mindset as a way to become a force for good. To me, Trent’s story captures the tension between the belief that a better life is out there and striving for something better against the pull of what is comfortable and familiar. Without any further ado, I hope you enjoy my conversation with Trent Wallace.
Trent, welcome to the show.
How are you doing? I’m glad to be here. It’s an honor and a pleasure.
Trent, thank you for doing this. I appreciate your time. I’m excited to get your story. I met you for the first time in Omaha. We were having pizza. I didn’t know at the time. We were sitting next to each other eating pizza. I didn’t know you had been through the Ice House program. You started asking me about which of the lessons I thought was the most important. I remember the conversation because I said, “It’s the choice.” You said, “It’s the brand.” We could get back into that conversation down the line. I want to start the conversation with a question that I ask folks a lot. What got you on this entrepreneurial path?
Coming from North Omaha, Nebraska, I come from an urban area where there’s gang violence, drug abuse, and all of the things that come with an urban area. I’ve seen a lot of action and things doing a lot. I grew up fast. I come from a family of nine kids. I’m the last boy of nine kids. I’ve got 6 brothers and 3 sisters. I was very observant. I saw a lot of things going on at an early age. My mom did her best to provide for me but more or less, my brothers were my father figures. My dad was in and out of the house. He had an addiction to crack cocaine. I saw pretty much everything that the streets had to offer early in life. I got involved with the little things because of my friends. I was heavily influenced by it.
I want to go back. Can you give me an example? You grew up fast. You saw a lot of things. Is there one incident or one example?
I’ll give you raw and uncut information. I was eleven years old when there was a killing that happened. I’ve seen my brother get killed at the age of eleven. I witnessed it. It was an argument with my other brother. It was my brothers that killed my brother. I’ve seen that at the age of eleven. It was very traumatizing. It’s the first thing I’ve ever experienced like that up close. I’ve heard about it. I’ve seen friends before leading up to the age of eleven where people got shot but that was my brother that did it to my brother.
You lost two brothers at once.
One did some time. He’s doing time now. He got out for that but got into some other troubles. That’s another story. That was the first thing that I experienced when I was eleven years young.
That’s a powerful example. You grew up fast. You saw a lot of things about what the urban community had to offer.
It was like that. I saw my brother get killed. That caused me to sit there. Before I began to wild out, it made me realize that life was short and I didn’t have much time. At any moment, anything can happen because it happened in my face and at the hands of somebody I didn’t expect. I started to wild out. I got into foster care. I was twelve at the time that I got in trouble. I didn’t do too much. I was smoking some weed at school. I started selling weed.
I already knew what to do but at the time, I didn’t care because my brother had got killed. My family was distraught. I started to get myself into trouble to get some attention. At the time, I didn’t know I was wanting attention but I needed that attention. Even then, while I was getting in trouble, my friends and I used to steal candy from the dollar store and sell candy. We used to steal bikes and sell bikes. We had the motion and the understanding of selling, trading, and buying things early on, even in the midst of all of my trials and tribulation.
My mom couldn’t always do things. I couldn’t ask my people for stuff. My brothers always had hand-me-downs. We learned how to steal and do a life of crime. The life of crime helped me understand selling and trading, how you purchase goods, and different things. At that time, that was when my morale was kicking in. I started to learn what right and wrong were. I started to understand what the difference was.
Did you come to that on your own? Did you have a mentor or somebody come into your life that helped you think in that way? Did that evolve naturally?
Both because it was a lack thereof. Even when I was in the streets, there were some people who would say some good things to me but in the midst of the system of being in foster care and going through different schools, I did have some mentors and counselors who did help me, whom I built relationships with, and who I still have relationships with. First, I wanted to play the system and say, “I’ve learned the system so that I can play and take advantage,” but then I got into some more trouble. I started to accept where I was and make changes. I had to change my mindset. I knew I wanted more than street life. I knew that there was more out there for me than street life.
How did you get that idea? Do you remember how that idea came about?
It came about because I had been in the system. I went into the system and got out of the system. From 12 to 14, I got in and out of the system for the first time. I learned the system. I understood what it was because I was street-savvy. I tried to outsmart the system but I got into some more trouble. You asked about mentorship. I had made a promise to my counselor that I was being counseled by at the time I was thirteen. I made a promise to her. She had seen that one of my brothers went to Boys Town and then graduated.
She had a couple of success stories of people who went to Boys Town High School. For people who don’t know what Boys Town High School is, it’s a group home for both boys and girls or troubled youth to get some education and set themselves up for success. I didn’t want to go to Boys Town but because I had that mentor and I had developed a strong relationship with her. I made a promise to her. I said, “I promise you that if I get in any more trouble, then I would go to Boys Town.” That same night, I violated probation. I almost got caught with a twelve-gauge shotgun. I got caught with an ounce of weed.
I was with a whole bunch of gang members. I was about to go ahead and ride on some enemies. I knew then and there that I had to change my life. I had to go to Boys Town because I made a promise to a mentor of mine or an advisor. I didn’t want to go down that path. There were so many opportunities for me to do that. I got caught right there in my neighborhood by the same cops who patrolled the neighborhood and knew everything that was going on. I wanted to escape. My opportunity to escape from there was Boys Town. That was my only opportunity.
That’s a fascinating story. I’m assuming that when you lost your brother, your family exploded. That destroyed the family that was already struggling. It blew everything up but it’s also interesting to me that you somehow got a vision that it could be different. That’s an important point. I’m not sure where that came from or how you got that because that’s important. If you can’t see it, you’re not going to go for it.
I failed to mention that I’ve always been talented. I’ve always had a desire for music. I also used to break dance when I was little. My apologies to you and everybody. I was very entertaining. My whole community knows it. I used to watch Michael Jackson a lot. I used to watch artist entertainment. I even participated in talent shows when I went to the Boys & Girls Club. I used to always seek to do positive things no matter the negativity I was involved with.
That’s something that I didn’t know. I didn’t realize how much I desired to do positive things despite the negativity I was dealing with. I used to always go to talent shows. I used to break dance. I used to go to kids’ parties and barbecues. Everyone knew that I would be the young dude that’s going to break dance or do something entertaining and take the show. I was the life of the party as a kid. That was one of the things that gave me the vision that there’s so much more because I was always talented. I was very deep and well-spoken.
People would say nice things about you even though you’re in a bad situation. Is that what you’re relating to? People saw in you some potential and talent. That’s super interesting because, without that, it’s hard. It takes somebody else recognizing ourselves that we don’t always see. You’re realizing that there could be another way, “I’ve got talents and skills.” I’m also fascinated by what you’re saying, “I’m still trying to do good even though my day-to-day life might be involved in negativity or criminal behavior.” That’s a super important point I want to touch on for a second. People don’t realize that the desire to fulfill human needs through our effort is powerful.
It takes a lot of courage. I had to muster up the courage to do this because I come from fighting. Growing up, I had to fight all my friends. My brothers used to make sure that I was rough. There was so much violence for me coming up. I had to fight almost every day. My brothers, people everywhere, and everybody had to fight. There’s gun violence. This is before I knew it. This was when I realized that I was somewhat of a small genius.
I had to convert the energy that I took from fighting and wanted to blast out and concentrated on doing positive things before anyone gave me the information. I started to do that and say, “I’m not going to go with them. I’m going to go over here and play some basketball. I’m going to do this.” Even though I still got into trouble and did some things, those small habits that I started to create for myself led me into better circumstances and led me around different people.
This was before when I went to Boys Town. When I went to Boys Town, it was then that I got the opportunity to exercise excellence. My GPA skyrocketed. I started to realize that I’m not smarter than anyone but I can concentrate. I can focus. The environment that I came from, in my neighborhood, is full of gang violence, drugs, and all of the dumb stuff that we know. In Boys Town, I can concentrate. I had the opportunity to earn my privileges.
People look at group homes, places, or institutions for kids as bad places. I didn’t look at it like that. I looked at it like it was an opportunity for me to escape my perpetual system and for me to create myself. That’s exactly what happened. I ended up learning how to gain my privileges. I had freedom on the Boys Town campus. They have seen that I was a bright person.
I already had skills coming into Boys Town. I sharpened my skills and learned the system there. I already knew how to learn systems. I learned the system there and started to work on that thing. In my senior year, I was playing sports. I played football. I ended up being the JROTC Second-in-Command. I was a vice mayor. I was a tour guide. I ended up having a 4.0 GPA. I was the man at Boys Town. I graduated with flying colors. I’m documented. They got me in there as the Vice Mayor of Boys Town.
I learned then that I could succeed and that there are alternative lifestyles because my mindset had changed. I understood what a routine was. I understood what time management was. I understood what responsibility was and how to be the young man I always wanted to be. I understood leadership. It was then that I realized all that stuff that I learned from the streets, everything from the streets that I have, and all the skills can be used for positive things and can be used to serve me and others.
That was where all of the entrepreneurial stuff came from. That was when I went to college to Nebraska Christian College. I went to Grace University and learned some business stuff and ministry. I learned a little bit about Bible school. I studied the Bible in college and got distracted into the streets. Here I am getting bigheaded thinking, “I graduated from Boys Town. I’ve been confined.”
I’m still young and immature. I let my wisdom get to my head and caught myself back into the streets trying to do some dumb stuff. I ended up in the wrong place at the right time. I call it the wrong place at the right time because if this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have been propelled to what was going to happen next. At the age of 22, I ended up getting involved with some wrong people trying to outsmart the system and do the same things I’ve done before.
I ended up getting shot. I got shot twice. It was a very detrimental situation. I died. I bled to death. I was left for dead. I had to call the ambulance myself. They came and got me. I died on the spot. I was DOA from there. When that happened, the influence that I had developed from the changes that I made in Boys Town was shocking to the city and everybody. It was huge in Omaha. It was 2014, May 23rd.
It was a crazy thing. They were like, “Trent got shot.” They were hearing all these different stories. I was unconscious for about 10 to 20 days. It was a crazy situation. When I came back to consciousness, I got my phone back. I’ve seen all of the Facebook love. Everybody was explaining. It was like, “You don’t understand what type of influence you have. People are dependent on you to be the positive change that we need.” There were thousands of people saying, “Team Trent. Get well, Trent.”
It was then when I was like, “I can’t give up on what God put me here to do.” I started getting my health back. It was three years before I got shot when Myron and I got together. Myron and I had developed a great relationship before I got shot. When I got shot, he was out in Denver. He came back. Since he came back, we have been rocking ever since. We have been putting together our entrepreneur things.
I got together with my partner, Gretzky or Lawrence Frazier. He’s a person whom I met in the midst of high school and my transition. He had some business plans. He understood what type of person I was at the time when I got shot. I had another brother that got killed. I had three brothers dead and gone. Around the time when I went to foster care, I had a second brother that got killed and died in a car accident. Right after I got shot, I got a third brother that got killed.
It was then that I got with my brother Gretzky or Lawrence Frazier. He’s my business partner whom I’m doing business with. He took me in and said, “Come live with me. I see what you’re going through.” He and I developed a bond. We started going to Metropolitan Community College and then ended up doing videography because he went to Atlanta and came back with a camera.
That was when videography and photography came up because I was recovering from being shot. My brother got killed. He left Atlanta and came back. His dad had passed away. We were dealing with a lot of different things. Life was punching us. We were fighting back. It just so happened that there was an entrepreneurial spirit during all of these times. I’m still young. I turned 30. I’m only 30 years young.
While all of this is happening, we got this camera. We’re developing our skills. I know all of the people. I already know how to talk to people about business, numbers, and all of these different things. In the transition of healing from being shot and him having a camera, we developed a business. It’s called Frazier Productions. As a director, I’ve had to learn what it was to be a director and what it means to be an editor and a business partner. It has been a blast. We have been in business for years now.
It’s interesting. You kept talking about how you’re good at figuring out systems. That’s an important piece of the puzzle. A lot of folks don’t come out of the system to see the whole system. They’re dumped down in it. They can’t see the forest for the trees. Your ability to figure out what’s going on is an important aspect of an entrepreneurial mindset.
Once you understand why things are happening and who the players are in a system, I don’t think you need to be a genius to do that, either. Here’s what I think about this stuff. It’s 99% mindset. I could write a whole book about mindset and never talk about entrepreneurship. People don’t realize how our deeply held beliefs and taken-for-granted assumptions influence our behavior in ways that we have no clue about.
I believe that my mindset is always what separated me from the masses, the people I grew up around, and the circumstances. I remember looking in the mirror and being a teenager. Even before I was a teenager, I was telling myself, “I don’t want to think how they think. I don’t want to do what they do even though I come from where they come and even though I’m related to them. These are my people.” I remember saying, “I don’t want to kill my people. I don’t want to think with those thoughts.”
I remember talking to people with this mindset rubbing off and influencing people. What you’re saying is correct because I didn’t ever realize how much of an entrepreneur I was until I stepped into the field, and my mindset told me, “I’m going to be courageous and step forth as I always have.” I’ve always been a courageous person. I go forward and accept the discipline that comes with making a decision.
Myron came up with the Shift program. It was the Shift program with the Ice House program. It was then that I realized that I’ve been an entrepreneur this whole time, even as an employee working at McDonald’s and Taco Bell. Even when I worked other jobs, my mindset is the reason that I excelled and learned the systems at these different places where they wanted me to be the manager.
They’re like, “You’re going to climb up.” I realized, “I can’t use this all for myself.” That was when I realized the mindset. I think in a certain way. With the things that I learned with the Shift program and Ice House and the things that they taught me, it was like, “I can use the things that I’ve been using to help build these other companies for myself. It’s going to help everyone and myself.”
I want to come back to the Taco Bell thing. I interviewed an entrepreneur. She became a good friend of mine. Sirena Moore-Thomas was a single mom at seventeen years old with twins living in the projects. She got a job at McDonald’s. She said, “People think I don’t want to work this job. I looked at it as a learning experience. I knew how to count money and talk to customers. I was learning all these things.” That’s the right way to look at it but what you said is also interesting.
When you’re working these jobs, you’re bringing yourself to the work. I want to talk about what that means and what the underlying beliefs are. You’re bringing yourself to whatever job you got. It might be a crappy job at Taco Bell but you’re bringing yourself. People see you. They’re like, “You have potential here. You could rise and become something.” You’re interpreting that as feedback, not that I want to be an employee necessarily but it’s feedback. People are believing in you. You realize that you could apply that same attitude to your thing, not someone else’s.
I’m thinking about this a lot lately. People called it a work ethic but underneath it, there’s this entrepreneurial assumption, “I have to figure out how to make myself as useful as possible within whatever situation I’m in.” In its raw form, that’s the entrepreneurial mindset. It doesn’t matter where you are. It’s something you started our conversation with earlier. You’re trying to bring some positivity and create value in a situation. That’s what I want people to understand.
I’ve said this over and over. You could strip me of everything I own and drop me out of an airplane with a parachute anywhere in the world. I’ll find my way back to where I’m at because it’s up to me to figure out how to make myself useful. You could give me any crappy little job. That’s what I keep hearing over and over from these entrepreneurs. Sirena’s dad created a cleaning business doing well over $1 million a year in revenue. They started with $200 in the spare bedroom. You’ve got that attitude.
It’s making yourself useful because if you’re not useful, you are useless. I come from an environment where if you’re not getting it, then you are going to be stuck. I don’t want to be stuck. I’ve seen people get down dirty. I’m striving to change the game and realizing I’m a game-changer by how I think. I’m realizing that, first and foremost, it can be done. No matter how big it is and despite what we have been through, it can be done.
That’s the value that I provide. It’s creating positivity in these environments. That’s when people would notice it. People are dealing with the craziness of these environments. I’ve dealt with crazier and heavier issues. I’m like, “Calm down.” That happened numerous times, “Let’s calm down.” I’m good under pressure. I like to put myself in places where I’m good under pressure. It oozes out to where I can show entrepreneurial skills.
That’s one of the things. I believe that I can accomplish big things because I’ve done some stuff. I look back. I encourage other people, “Don’t think that way.” I say it every day, “We have to think that it can be done despite how it looks and how it feels. You need to continue to stand on it and exercise it.” That takes discipline. I’m a firm believer in being optimistic no matter what.
I feel like that’s something you have to train because we live in a world where we are easily distracted and easily influenced to be negative and complain. In Boys Town, I’ve been in these systems. I’m glad you said that because I wasn’t aware of these different systems that I’ve overcome and conquered. The system has caused people to think this way.Being optimistic is an ability that you have to train. We live in a world where we are easily distracted and influenced to be negative. Click To Tweet
Mindset is culture. Mindset is to a person what culture is to a group. Culture influences our mindset. Our mindset can influence culture also. That’s what you’re all about. When you woke up from a coma after you were shot, you realized that your mindset was changing the culture. That’s huge.
It’s huge because I was talking to some young dudes and teenagers. They came by the office. I’m like, “Why aren’t you at school?” They told me excuses. Other young dudes wanted to do some things. I started telling them, “You want to get some fast money. You want to hurry and everything but you have to get that education.” I started to influence them, “If you don’t know how to solve a problem, how are you going to solve the problems you want to solve? You need the information to solve problems and information to change the situation.”If you want to get some fast money, go get that education. You cannot solve problems if you don’t have the information to change the situation. Click To Tweet
I’m like, “You may think that these teachers aren’t teaching you. They’re not. It’s your job to learn, suck it out of them, and show them how much you value yourselves.” They were so intrigued by my sharing that with them. I talk to kids a lot. I talk to a lot of these teenagers and young thugs. I strive to talk to them as much as possible but I’m realizing that mindset is the ultimatum when it comes to what I do. I didn’t realize that because I do a lot of working out stuff. I do the videography stuff. I’m working on a book. I’ve got a clothing line. I do a lot of entrepreneurial stuff but it’s the mindset that I’m pushing. I’m realizing it is the mindset and the attitude.
Myron calls it belief management. That’s the name of the interview I did with Myron, Belief Management. It’s all there. I want to come back to the optimism you talked about. There’s a hereditary component that I believe you and I were both born with. I’m a little more optimistic than the average Joe. I have to be fair. There is a hereditary component to that.
It makes sense too.
There’s a whole field of positive psychology that was created by a psychologist who describes himself as a natural-born depressive. He has written extensively about this. He wrote a book. I describe it as the best $7 I’ve ever spent. I bought it at Audible. It’s called Learned Optimism. From a clinical research-based perspective, it’s difficult to overstate the power of optimism.
Let me lay this out for you. This guy did an experiment where he took a group of rats and put the first group of rats in some adverse situation, like they were getting shocked or something. There’s a little apparatus the rat can figure out to stop the shock. The first group of rats perceives adversity as controllable. They put the second group of rats in the same situation, only that the lever doesn’t do anything to control the shock.
That second group of rats perceives adversity as uncontrollable. You’ve got these two groups of rats. They inject these rats with cancer cells with a known mortality rate of 50%. The rats that were in the controllable situation or the first situation only had a 25% death rate or half the normal. 75% of the rats that were in the uncontrollable died twice the normal rate.
That’s what you described. You were in an adverse circumstance but you figured out that it’s controllable. That’s all happening at the subconscious level. One of the things I think about a lot is that in psychology, they call it the perceived locus of control. This is a deeply held and mostly unconscious belief. Do I believe that I’m in control of my destiny? Do I believe that fate, luck, circumstances, or powerful others control my destiny?
That makes a huge difference in the goals we set for ourselves and our behavior but we’re not even aware of it. I’m not walking around and saying, “How are you doing? My name is Gary. I have an external locus of control,” but you can tell because I’m making excuses and complaining all the time. You can see it in my behavior. Never mind what I say. That’s how a mindset works. What shows up on the surface is not about what you say. It’s about the unconscious.
It’s how you act. It’s the behavior.
That’s what a lot of our work is about. We can help folks realize, “You have a mindset. Your mindset is creating the outcomes in your life. If you don’t like the outcomes, let’s open up the hood, look underneath the hood, and look at the mindset.” That’s what you described as your journey.
I had to unlearn some things. I was miseducated on a lot of things. I knew I was miseducated as well. Being miseducated and misinformed, you have to unlearn. That takes us having to be honest with ourselves. It takes discipline. It takes truth. It hurts a lot of us, especially for the Black community or people of my color, because when you take those harsh truths and swallow them, people are afraid of what’s on the other side.It is not easy to swallow harsh truths. People are afraid of what they will find on the other side. Click To Tweet
I’m on the other side over here. I’m enjoying life but people are afraid to swallow that truth. A lot of us are afraid to accept that we have been thinking wrong and that we have been jealous or envious of low frequencies. That’s why I don’t mind going on social media. I don’t mind talking to people and addressing it because it needs to be addressed.
You’re speaking my language. Years ago, I quit drinking and drugging.
Congratulations. Good job.
Thank you. I took my last drink in 1985.
I wish I could have a shot but you are not going to have a shot. That’s great.
I remember a guy told me early on, “Your best thinking got you here.” I got what you said because he was like, “You did this to yourself. No one did this to you.” It is a bitter pill but the moment you swallow that bitter pill, you are free. That’s what happened to me. I went, “The dude is right. If I did this to myself, I could undo it to myself.” If you’re not willing to accept that, the mindset tries to prevent you from accepting that.
That’s when the pain comes in. You deal with that pain. You eat it up. You cry tears and go through the emotions. Deal with it. You had to go through it.
Let me get back on track with your story. You wake up after a couple of weeks in a coma in a hospital. You realize that people are showering all this love on you from social media. You realize, “I’m a force for good more than I realized.” You were already trying to go in that direction but you didn’t realize to what extent you were impacting people. That was a pivotal moment for you. Take me from there. What’s next?
I woke up. I had a breathing tube in my throat. I have a machine on the side of my lung because I believe my lung collapsed, 1 of the 2. They had to come inside my lungs. I got metal stitches all over my legs. Machines were all over me. I couldn’t talk because the machine was in my mouth. A nurse is there. I couldn’t say anything. I was looking and trying to ask what was going on because I didn’t know what was going on. She said, “You asked me what happened. You’ve been shot twice. We have revived you twice. You’ve been unconscious for the last twenty days. You’ve been here since.” She told me the dates and all of that.
It was when I realized my purpose is bigger than my problems. I had to realize that my purpose was to serve the community and to serve righteousness and positivity. I almost allowed my purpose to be slipped away by being greedy, derailed by the stuff of low frequencies, and distracted by girls who didn’t mean me any good and believing in lies. I recognized that I knew better. I recognized I had been given opportunities where I had information that changed my situation but here I am in this bed, shot up and going through the motions of a victim who have been shot. I’m traumatized.
At first, I didn’t remember everything that happened but as I’m healing up, the memories come back to me. I’m faced with being the person that I said I was before I got shot. I have the opportunity to show street dudes how to not retaliate. I have the opportunity to share my testimony on a different level. I’m a victim who has been shot and left for dead with blood on the streets. I have way more power when it comes to talking to the streets because before, they say, “You’ve got brothers dead and gone. You may have been through some things but you have never been shot before. You never knew how I felt to have to say no to those things but I did.”
I knew who shot me. I knew all of these different circumstances and streets that were deadly. I’m having nightmares about going to shoot these people up. I’m having nightmares about them shooting me up. I’m having ghosts pop up and all of the things that you can imagine, but I’m fighting the good fight of faith. I remember reading the Scriptures. I had to walk it out and be what I said I was. As I was healing up, I had to call my cousin, who left me for dead and tell him, “I forgive you. God put it on my heart to forgive you because I can’t be forgiven if I don’t forgive people.”
It became so real. I’m like, “Come to my church.” I introduced him to Myron. This was before the mission. It was then that I realized that I can use all of this for my benefit. I’m not about to let the devil win. I’m not about to allow the old lifestyle that I was introduced to and indoctrinated to suck me in because it was that close to doing that. I tasted death. I know what death tastes like now. I have more literature and more things to talk about. When I got shot, no matter who I talked to and no matter how many people, race, or ethnicity, they all want to know what happened.
You’re getting ready to write your story.
It’s in the process. My book is coming. It’s called REAL Saliva.
I mean that metaphorically. You decide, “I’m not letting these circumstances get me.”
Life didn’t happen to me. It happened for me. I made the decision. I had the opportunity to talk to the streets, my family, and these kids to say, “I made a decision. I made the choice to do that stupid stuff out there, which led me to get the shot, which could have derailed the whole purpose of doing what I’m doing.”
How come you don’t think the choice is the most important lesson in that book?
I never said it wasn’t.
I’m messing with you.
That’s why I’m intriguing you to read the whole book. I was going to tell you that’s why choice is number one. I agree that choice is but the reason I say branding is that after you made the choice, then you have to concede to make that choice again. That brand is what makes your reputation because your reputation is your character. It’s on display everywhere you go. You have to make choices that line up with your brand. That’s why I was like, “It’s the brand. I want to make decisions that line up with where I want to go and what I represent.”Your brand makes your reputation, and your reputation is your character. Click To Tweet
I’m so moved by this story. Many people need to hear this. You’ve got so much potential to do good in the world. I’m blown away. What I want to come back to real quick is that you said something that I hear a lot. I want to point that out to our readers. You said something, “All that happened to me is going to work to my advantage.” You said something to that effect. In psychology, they call that an optimistic interpretation. That’s the fundamental difference I want people to hear. What happens to us matters far less than how we interpret it.
It’s how we perceive it.
The technical term is construal. It’s how we construe the situation. That’s what I hear from entrepreneurs over and over again. The research supports this. People who learn to interpret adversity optimistically become healthier, happier, and stronger than people who have never suffered adversity in the first place.
That’s real survival.
The adversity becomes an advantage.
When I got shot, I was at the wrong place at the right time. That’s what I meant. At first, I used to regret it. It has been years now since this happened. I realized that if this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be so focused, and I wouldn’t appreciate all of the lessons and everything that I went through.
I still sponsor people in recovery. Somebody told me this when I was new, “You’re going to be glad you’re an alcoholic.” I was like, “What are you talking about? That doesn’t make any sense at all.” My life was completely messed up but a year later, I understood what he said. That’s what you said. I’m glad all this stuff happened to me.
I didn’t suffer nearly what you suffered but it becomes an advantage. It’s a superpower. I’ve said to people before, “I feel sorry for people that aren’t alcoholics because I feel like I had this terminal disease that I was able to come right up against the edge and pull back from. I have gratitude for waking up every day that a person that hasn’t suffered like that doesn’t.” That’s what you’re talking about.
It’s a feeling that only the survivors can feel. It’s deep in your heart. Your heart drops when you know what you’ve overcome and what you’re overcoming. It’s the fact that you’re still ticking. Every day you feel that. I’m over here being aware of that and knowing you feel that. You know how it felt to be on the other side and to allow that bottle to think for you.
I went inside a maximum security prison with the Ice House program. We were doing a project in Mississippi. I gave a talk to these inmates. Most of them were life without parole. I started by telling these guys, “I’m all buttoned up but it wasn’t always that way. I’m not saying I came from where you came from but I know what it feels like to be on the wrong side of things. Let me put it that way.”
We don’t have to compare. It’s not about comparing. It’s the fact that we all go through it. Nobody is exempt from the rules of life or the struggles of life, especially if you’re striving to be successful. You’re going to feel it when you’re doing that. You were in a prison. What were you saying to them?
I was giving a talk about Ice House, the book, but when I started, I was like, “You are seeing this older dude all buttoned up in nice clothes and stuff but it wasn’t always like that for me. I’m trying to move from this to this. I’m trying to move from the hierarchy. I’m above you but I understand you.” The point I don’t want to be lost here is that I’ve interviewed hundreds of what I call underdog entrepreneurs, people who start with nothing.
What I hear again and again has led me to believe that, in some twisted way, adversity winds up being an advantage. It has to be interpreted as such. It all comes down to how you interpret it. If you interpret it as, “I can never get ahead because I came from a rough childhood or a broken family,” you could say that too. You’re not going to go anywhere. It’s belief management.
We go back to the choice. We have to make the choice ourselves. What do we want to be? How do we want to think? What results do we want to have? Before we think about physical results, we have to realize the emotional and spiritual results of having a sound mind and self-control. A lot of times, people don’t realize how important peace is until they don’t have peace. A lot of times, people don’t understand how important the basic things are until they’re taken away from them.Many people don’t realize how important peace is until they don’t have it. Click To Tweet
You talk to the people in prison. I’ve got a lot of people in prison that call my phone. I send them money a lot. There are a lot of people in jail and these mental prisons out here. I’m always telling them, “The choice is yours. We’ve got so many opportunities and influences but you have to make the decision yourself. You have to do it for yourself.” You did it for yourself. I’m doing it for myself.
To your point, things had to get worse before I was ready to get off that train and make some different choices. You wake up from a coma. You have this awareness, “I need to do some good in the world.” Talk to me about how that put you on an entrepreneurial path. Before you go into the answer, I’m assuming that you’re going back to childhood. You learn how to hustle on the streets.
I want to point that out to the reader. I hear this over and over again. In some form, entrepreneurs will say, “When I was a kid, I was selling Girl Scout cookies. I was helping my mom do this. I had some exposure to this.” Whether it’s legal or not is not the point. You learn how to make stuff happen. You’re learning the idea of self-efficacy, “I can make stuff happen.” I didn’t want that to get lost.
I’ve always been a go-getter. This is something I never realized until a couple of years back. I used to sell candy. My friends and I used to steal stuff, sell it, and do all types of stuff. As you can see, I love jewelry. I used to always have jewelry. I understood the assets of jewelry and how jewelry was worth something. I realized a lot of different things. It propelled me because I don’t like asking people for stuff. A lot of times, people use that against you.
It’s when I started to be more self-sufficient as a kid growing up and learning the systems and different things. I’ve learned how to be influential, get paid for it, and in a positive way, manipulate the system. I’ve learned to be a good dude and be good at what I’m doing, whatever it was. I knew that I was going to get some money, whether it was a little or a lot. It’s a psychological way of thinking. I’m like, “I can’t sit here and make excuses. I’m not going to make excuses because I know too many people for one.”
I remember being a kid throughout the seasons. In Omaha, Nebraska, they get cold here. We looked at the snow like it was snowing money. Once it starts snowing, we’re like, “We got some money coming because we can’t go to houses. We know nobody is going to shovel their yard. Come give us $15 to $20.” We would go to the people who we know don’t have contracts with people who come in to shovel their yards. Being from the hood, we were like, “That’s our money right there. Let’s get that money.”
We would come home with $200 each. Three or four of us all got $100 from shoveling snow. That’s the way that I as a young hustler, interpreted that. I understood that adversity. With every adversity, there was a solution. You had to look for it. I’ve always looked for them. I always found them. I had a greater chance of finding it. If I didn’t find it because I influenced the people around me, they would. That’s what led me up even more.
That’s lesson seven.
That flywheel starts to go. What was your first legit business? You’re coming out of this hospital situation. You come out of a coma, you have to feed yourself. You’re an adult now. What world are you coming into? How is that manifesting in your life?
I worked a job as a janitor. I was going to Metro. I made a promise to the church that if I did these two things, they were going to put me in a lighthouse. That didn’t happen as we agreed. That’s neither here nor there but when I first started to heal up, my dedication was to get a job and to go to school. I got back to Metropolitan and took the bus to my job as a janitor. I was working with FBG Cleaning Services. I worked a night shift. I went to school throughout the day.
This was before I was a dad. I’ve got two kids now. I was going to school throughout the day and taking the bus at night. I had a lady friend at the time. She would give me a ride to work. I concentrated. I healed up fast. I started to save my money. That was around the time when me and Lawrence or Gretzky, my business partner, got together. He noticed how I went to work and how I was consistent with what I liked to do. I got a car. I worked and got myself together.
I like jewelry. I started to get my jewelry back together. I was helping my mom with bills. This was being consistent and persistent. That’s the word that I want to use, not consistent. I didn’t always keep a job. I kept income for a certain amount of time to where it will take care of certain things for the next job. That was when I realized, “I can work a good job but I’m not good at working for people. I work to a certain extent. I have to create a career and stop looking for jobs.”
I realized that I like to take pictures. I love taking pictures. Every time, I capture the moment. With my partner, Gretzky, we realized that we were good with photography and videography. We combined that and put the business plan together with the LLC. We put all of that together. I said, “I don’t want to work. I’m not going to work any more jobs.”
We have been rocking ever since. This is the first legitimate business of my own since I got shot. It has been with Frazier Productions. After working with him for two years, it was then that I saved up and worked up enough money to make the first order for my clothing line. I’ve got a clothing line called REAL Saliva. I’m working on the second order for my clothes.
Tell me a little bit more about that. How do you start that?
In the Shift program and the Ice House program, they have a couple of different resources. I talked to Myron about what I wanted to do with REAL Saliva. I go on Facebook and all of my social media platforms and hashtag #REALSaliva. That’s my hashtag. I post quotes and knowledge sayings. I say some things that are thought-provoking and then hashtag #REALSaliva. Myron made the idea and said, “Why don’t you make your clothing line or do something with REAL Saliva?” I said, “You’re right.”
I took his information and his encouragement with REAL Saliva and talked to some designers with Reparations Inc. They said that they would make me a design for a logo for free and told me, “Don’t worry about money.” I told them what I liked and how I wanted to look. They gave me a couple of different examples. I liked the one with the lion on it and how the letters were spelled.
We were working on that for about two months. It came about because I was working with Gretzky, and a large lump sum of money came about with us working. That came in. I said, “I know what I’m about to do with this money. I’m going to take it to invest in this clothing line or this idea.” I already had the logo and the ideas. I had everything laid out. I just didn’t have the money.
You said something important I want to touch on. You’ve got a vision for something bigger. I don’t want that to get lost in this conversation. Bruce Lee said something once, “The successful warrior is nothing more than a common man with a laser focus.” I said, “The successful entrepreneur is nothing more than a common man with a compelling goal.” The thing that distinguishes an entrepreneur from a non-entrepreneur is whether they have a goal they’re shooting for because the goal is acting on you. That positive future orientation is pulling out of you.
It isn’t going to come out any other way if you’re going to a job if you don’t have some bigger vision for yourself, which is a choice ultimately. Here’s what I’m also trying to say here. This goes back to mindset. People go to their jobs. They’re beaten down justifiably but they’re beaten down in part because they don’t have a bigger vision. There’s nothing to look forward to.
They’re going to that job, and they’re beaten down. They’re not investing whatever little money they have left over. They’re spending it on recreation and leisure. We’re trying to fill the hole in our souls that isn’t getting filled otherwise. You get caught in a trap. You’re over here saying, “I’ve got a bigger vision. I’m churning away. I’ve got two different things going. One of them starts to work. I’ve got a little extra money. I’m not going to buy a new TV, a nicer car, or something. I’m going to push my ball forward.”
That’s exactly what I did. I hear entrepreneurs. I study them. I’ve been a student. I’m listening to other entrepreneurs and seeing the blueprints that other successful people have made for themselves and examples. I’m like, “I can’t be the only one that’s feeling this.” As soon as it happened, it was divine. I was like, “I know that this is what this money is for.”
I could have gone and bought a new car, a whole bunch of jewelry, a whole new wardrobe, or a whole bunch of stuff, but at that moment, I knew. I was like, “This is the sacrifice or the investment.” I don’t even like to use the word sacrifice anymore. I’ve learned to use the word investment instead. I realized that was time to make the investment. If I didn’t start then and if I didn’t do it then, I wouldn’t start doing it. I created the habit for myself to continue to invest in that.
That’s how it works. Many people get stuck in that trap. They don’t see that it’s all mindset. I’m not talking about people that are stuck in the inner city either. A lot of people are making $200,000 to $300,000 a year that are stuck in that same trap. It’s a trap. It’s so easy to get caught in it. You and I can help promote this idea that learning can be fun. Work can be fun. Most people think that learning and work are a necessary evil, “I have to do this but I don’t want to do it.”
If people can experience what to build their thing and build something that other people want and need, that work is no longer work. I can imagine you’re not sitting around and thinking, “Thank God it’s Friday.” You’re probably thinking, “Thank God it’s Monday.” You look forward to working. There’s something you said earlier about constantly learning, unlearning, and relearning as part of the conversation.
I want to ask you another question. There’s a lot of gravitational pull trying to pull you back from where you came from. Every day you’re waking up and talking about being aware of the thoughts you allow yourself to think. Those are all choices but you have to be aware of them. It seems like that’s what you’re saying. Do you ever have bad days? Do you ever catch yourself in a beat-down mode? If you do, what does that look like? What are the techniques and strategies you have for pulling yourself out of it?
I have more good days than I have beat-down days but I’ve had more beat-down days than I express or give off. What I do when I have those moments is turn my phone off and give it space where I’m not on social media as much. I’ll read my Bible and pray with the time that I have. A lot of times when I’m dealing with a lot of stuff, it’s chaotic because all of the things are all over the place. I have to sit still and meditate in most cases.
This is a quote that I always tell myself when I’m dealing with things because I already knew with the things that I’ve faced up to this point that my purpose is bigger than my problem. I get a feeling of joy in the midst of the trial and tribulation. I feel like my purpose is transcending this problem, whatever it is that’s tripping me up, whatever got me uneasy, or whatever I’m dealing with.
I give myself space and grace. I do a lot of working out. I have my push-ups. I go to the gym. I have alternatives. I do things. It serves me and everybody else. What I mean by that is when I go to the gym, I’m working my anger out and my health. I’m doing it therapeutically so I don’t flip out on somebody. It’s serving other people because I used to have a real anger issue coming up and seeing all of this stuff, fighting, and everything.
I was like, “I need to do something that’s going to serve me and others.” That was working out. I work out like crazy. I work out about four times a week. I meditate in a steam room. I wake up early and get straight to it. I have boundaries set up. I have a routine. That won’t allow me to succumb to depression and bottle it in. I have people set up to where I can talk to them and counsel, and they can counsel me.
I have my Myron, Ron Smith, and business partners. I have some spiritual brothers who have been working with me in the trenches of the streets that understand my struggle. They understand that I could be tempted to ride and do some dumb stuff. I have people that hold me accountable, people that give me grace, and people that let me express my feelings without judging me. I give that same thing. That’s something I do as well. I have boundaries set up where I can’t lose them.
I think about my sons. I get my kids three days a week. I have to be responsible for these two little boys. Their mom and I are not together. I have a lady. We moved into our new place. God is good. We moved out of our apartment into a home. I’m always setting goals. I’m sincere about goal-setting and making plans. I’m always looking at my calendar and being productive. I’m not busy. I’m productive.
It’s interesting. The literature in psychology is an emerging field of psychology called prospection theory.
Hit me with some information.
What this guy is saying is what distinguishes man from every other animal is our ability to look into the future and contemplate a future. This is the same guy that was studying rats I told you about before. We have a time orientation in our brains. For some people, it’s present hedonistic, “I’m going to party because I don’t care about the future.” That’s the present hedonism. Some people have past regret. They’re always grinding on all the mistakes they made and how they messed up. Some people have a past nostalgia, “Those were the good old days.”
They can’t stop talking about the old days, “Do you remember this or that?”
They call it past nostalgia. Some people have a future anxious orientation, “The future is scary. It makes me anxious.” The last category is the future positive orientation. That is what separates the entrepreneur from the non-entrepreneur. The clinical definition of hope is the belief that the future will be better than the present coupled with the belief that I have the power to make it. What this guy is saying is that future positive orientation allows us to access problem-solving abilities in our brains that are not otherwise available to us.
That reminds me of the infinite intelligence that I learned from Think and Grow Rich. It’s being positive and thinking positively about the future. Information and solutions come to you naturally because you’re focusing on the right stuff.
That’s exactly it but this is putting science to it. One example the guy gave with this is that he put these rats in a T-shaped maze. The rat learns it has to turn right to get to the food or the reward. They do something to the rat’s brain. They oblate the left hemisphere of the rat’s brain chemically or electronically so the rat can no longer turn right. The rat gets to the T-maze and figures out how to turn 270 degrees to the left to go right.
The rat never saw another rat do this. There’s no rat textbook that told him to do this. He gets access to problem-solving abilities that are not otherwise available. It’s because he knows there’s a reward down there. That’s the secret to understanding entrepreneurs. What I want people to understand about Trent is that when a human being is able to pursue his interest and develop his abilities in ways that contribute to the greater good, they tap into the most potent form of human motivation known to man. It’s called intrinsic motivation.
That’s the word. I’m taking that.
Extrinsic motivation is when you’re doing something for a reward. You’re doing it for the money. You’re doing it because somebody told you to do it. You’re doing it because you want to look good to somebody else. Those are extrinsic rewards. Intrinsic reward is the purpose component you keep talking about. You said it over and over again, “My purpose is bigger than my problems.”
What you figured out, and you probably don’t even know this, is that you’ve tapped into the most potent form of human motivation. I’m bringing this whole conversation full circle. People started noticing what you have and what’s unique to you when you were a little kid. You found out through a near-death experience how to use your gifts in a way that benefits other humans. That’s where human flourishing occurs. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about, in my view.
It explains a lot of the hunches, the breaks, and the different things that I’ve been dealing with in life. I’m staying positive. They come to me. It’s the law of attraction. I’m staying faithful. Even when the negative things come, I’m always reminded, “This is not going to be the end. This is temporary.”
That’s the belief management stuff. This has been such a great conversation. I love that you’re transparent, “I have a lot of bad days.” This is not about toxic positivity. You’re a human being. On some days, shit goes wrong, and it’s not fun. The point is that you have techniques, people, and processes in place. I do the same thing. I go to the gym, get in the pool, and swim a couple of miles. It’s the same thing. It’s the meditation, the heart rate, and the exercise. I try to eat, manage my sleep, and make sure I’m surrounded by people that are positive thinkers.
It is obvious, too, because, in my city, I do things on purpose to build the audience because, as a young entrepreneur and motivational speaker, I’m aware that people are watching and looking because I’m looking and watching. Everybody is looking. I’m like, “I want to make sure that I’m posting and putting things up to show that I’m routine-oriented and that I have techniques set up.” I get better with them. They’re only getting better because I do that. I’ll post, “I have to show them that.” I don’t care about the likes or going viral and all of that. I’m serving my purpose.
I feel like I’m doing the same thing with this show. I’m putting it out there. I don’t care who reads it. I’m trying to say, “Hey, world. Everybody is all enamored with the Mark Zuckerbergs and Elon Musks. Hold on a minute. Let’s find the Trents in this world.” Every day, unlikely entrepreneurs are in every city and community but we’re ignoring them. The world needs to hear your stories and these stories. I’m grateful for you sharing this story. You’re going places. It’s all good.
Thank you for the opportunity, Gary, because your literature, your book, my applying myself with the people that I have, and the boundaries and the techniques that I’ve got were what led me to you and what led us to build our relationship.
Positive begets positive. That’s lesson seven in Ice House. We learned to surround ourselves with, “Rising tide lifts all the boats.” This is good. How can people connect with you on social media?
They can connect with me on Instagram. They can follow me on Instagram @REALSaliva_. They can also follow me on Twitter @SmoovYungBrutha. On Facebook, I’m Trent Tukka. Those are the names that I go by. Smoov Yung Brutha is what I identify with. It’s more or less me being true to myself, being who I want to be, and not allowing the world to create somebody that I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be who they want me to be. I want to be who I want to be. I put my name as Smoov Yung Brutha because I’ve been through a lot of tough times. People are going through tough things but I want to influence people to be smooth and to say that the rougher the times are, the smoother they will be.
That’s where the REAL Saliva comes from. I got the information and the conversation that could change situations. I want to encourage people to follow me on all these platforms because I’m posting stuff every day. I’m working hard every day. I don’t think I can work hard enough to share the positivity and the influence. I’m always sharing scriptures and giving information that can change the situation. Please follow me on those. I would appreciate that.
I can’t wait to share this story with the world. Thank you.
Thank you, Gary. I appreciate you so much.
- Trent Wallace – Facebook
- Boys Town
- Ice House
- Myron Pierce
- Frazier Productions – Facebook
- Sirena Moore-Thomas – Previous episode
- Belief Management – Previous episode
- Learned Optimism
- Ice House
- REAL Saliva – Facebook
- Reparations Inc – Instagram
- Think and Grow Rich
- @REALSaliva_ – Instagram
- @SmoovYungBrutha – Twitter
About Trent Wallace
🤴🏽Home town of Malcom X, Soul Survivor, Motivational Speaker🔊