Going to prison is a serious, at some points depressing, form of solitary confinement. It is commonly seen as a depressing community, and released inmates are usually discriminated against, if not entirely rejected by society. But in reality, prison time can provide the needed reinvention one truly needs. In this episode, new entrepreneur William Snoddy joins us to discuss his life leading up to and including his entrepreneurial journey. After going to prison several times, William is now getting a trucking business off the ground. He and Gary Schoeniger talk about the books and the people that inspired him, the lessons he learned while in prison, and the power of a compelling goal.
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William Snoddy: From Solitary Confinement To Budding Entrepreneur
I’m speaking with William Snoddy, a formerly incarcerated felon who became an unlikely entrepreneur. I found William’s story to be particularly compelling not because of what he’s accomplished as an entrepreneur but because of his willingness to reinvent himself as an entrepreneur. As a young boy, William struggled in school. Unable to sit still and unable to focus, he dropped out in the eighth grade. As with so many others, he turned to the streets.
By the time he was eighteen, he was incarcerated and sentenced to 23 years. Although William’s entrepreneurial journey is getting underway, his story is a great example of the power of entrepreneurship to reorient the mind. In this episode, we talk about the books and the people that inspired him, the lessons he learned while in solitary confinement, and the power of a compelling goal. We talk about the importance of positive self-talk to overcome self-doubt and to surround ourselves with people who want us to win. We also talk about the stumbles he made along the way.
To me, this is a story of redemption, one that provides a rare glimpse into the life of a person who’s striving to overcome the challenges of his past, rebuild, and create a better future for himself and his family while also creating a sense of meaning and purpose in his life. Without any further ado, I hope you enjoy my conversation with William Snoddy.
William, welcome to the show.
How are you doing?
I’m glad to be here.
I’m happy to have you here. We chatted and I’ve got a little bit of sense of your story. I can’t wait to dig in and learn a little bit more about your entrepreneurial ventures and the backstory behind them. I want to start by asking you what got you on an entrepreneurial journey. Were there people in your life that were entrepreneurial? Were you one of those guys who were selling candy when you were eight years old? How did you get on this path?
Growing up, my upbringing never had any entrepreneurs so it wasn’t like that. It was more of wanting a better situation, a better life or whatever it was. Once I had kids, it’s like, “I want to be able to give them a life that I always yearned for,” as far as the type of life that I wanted that I didn’t have. I’m not saying that I had a messed-up background as far as growing up. I come from a good household but at the same time, I always wanted more. I don’t know if it was greediness.
Growing up, I always admired people that had a little bit more. I’m like, “I wish I was in that position.” Once I came into my situation as far as where I ended up, and then when I had kids, I was like, “I would definitely want my kids to be in a better position than I had.” That was part of the motivation to start pursuing my entrepreneurship. I have always had a mind-frame of trying to get out there and get it.
Let me dig into that a little bit. You said a lot and I want to unpack it. William, the first thing I want to ask you is, you said you wanted more and that was greedy but I don’t see it that way. I wanted you to unpack that. What do you mean when you said, “I wanted more?” Do you want more money or a different life?
All around. The reason why I say it was greed is that I came from a good home. I have my mom and father active in my life in the same household. At the same time, I say it was greed because as a child, you’ve got surroundings, you are seeing things, and still growing up adapting to life. Other kids who have certain things that when you are a kid, you want those things.
It’s like when you have two kids at the daycare playing with one toy, both of them are going to feel like this is their toy. When the other gets the toy that belongs to him, the other kid is going to want to play with it or grab it and feel like it’s theirs. That’s where I came up with the term greed as a kid going through adolescence. When I’ve got older, it became more of wanting better for my kids so they didn’t have to go through the hardships of making poor choices like I did when I grew up.
Tell me a little bit about growing up. You grew up in a stable household, and mom and dad are both there. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in North Omar. Both my parents worked hard. My dad was a construction worker before I was even born, 30-plus years. My mom was always a hard worker. She had multiple hustles on a legitimate basis. When I say hustle, she worked and had a full-time job. She sold Avon on the side, perfume and stuff like that. Still to this day, I talk to my mom and she would be proud of me. I say, “Mom, you get credit for where I’m at now because you embedded that in me and my siblings growing up.” From seeing her being a hard worker and trying to make a better life for us, that’s where I’ve got a lot of that from.
You did see an entrepreneurial activity in your family. Your mom was side hustling and you saw that.
If we would put it like that, yes. As far as someone that would have a business, we never had anybody who we could say on their own. At the same time, my mom was definitely a legitimate hustler as far as doing hair. She had her cosmetology license. She did all that. She always did something to put us in a better position in life.
Your parents are striving for something more also. Where did the wheels fall off the wagon when you were growing up?
Choosing to start hanging around the wrong crowd. They would be saying, “Birds of the same feather flock together.” That’s not necessarily true. If you choose to be around certain crowds, you tend to adapt their characteristics and behavior. You start picking up on certain things. I didn’t come from a household where people would have thought I would have ended up down the path I went. I had my mom and my father. Both of them worked hard. I had a structure in my household. I had a choice and I made a poor one and chose the wrong crowd.
What do you think was driving those choices? Do you look back on it and think what was driving it?
I never thought about that. That’s something I probably need to reflect on so I could be able to relate to my kids more. We are going through some times where there’s a high rate of violence going on with the kids in the city. I want to make sure I will be able to relate to my kids and see what will cause them to make some type of decisions like that as far as pulling towards street life or whatever.
Is that what happened to you? Did you fall into the street life?
Most definitely. I made some poor decisions. I chose the wrong crowd. Eventually, it caused me to get sentenced to a lot of time. I ended up doing 20 to 27 years when I was eighteen years old. When I went through that, it had me realize I went down the wrong path. I knew I went down the wrong path. Once you get that type of time, what do you tell a kid that’s eighteen years old? You could say, “It’s going to be all good. It’s going to be all right.” At the same time, that kid got to go through a lot at eighteen to do ten years even to consider the road.
That’s where the system is failing, too. “Give them some time.” It’s not about giving somebody time. Where’s the Rehabilitation Act? I went through Corning and all of that but there was no rehabilitation in that. The system housed you to get locked up, and then they expect you to change when you get out but yet, where’s the Rehabilitation Act? That’s what the system is supposed to be designed for but it failed at that.
I don’t want to get too far ahead too quickly. I don’t want to put words in your mouth but it seems like once you found yourself in prison, you realized you had made some bad choices. You weren’t telling yourself like, “Somebody else did this to me.” When you were locked up, did you see people that were taking responsibility and some people that were thinking, “Somebody did this to me. It’s not fair?”
Yes. People think of prison as this place where a bunch of animals is but you’ve got good people in prison. You’ve got some people who went in as kids. They hit their twenties and become mature enough to realize the decisions they are making and stuff like that. They would be stuck in there forever because of a poor decision they made when they didn’t understand life in general. You definitely need some good people there. If they were able to get out, they would probably be the key to stop most of this violence that’s going on in the city. At the same time, it’s hindering them because they have made a poor decision.
I have done some work in a maximum-security prison. I saw it. I know exactly what you are talking about. Were you a good student in school? What was school like?
I hated school. I’m not going to candy-coat it. I couldn’t pay attention in school like that. I’ve always got in trouble, sent home and expelled. My mom didn’t play it, though. I couldn’t focus in school like that. They disciplined me on that. I have made it to seventh grade. It’s the highest grade I completed. Most people wouldn’t know that because through that journey I took, I went through a lot in prison. There came a time where I told myself I needed to stop all the stuff that I was doing as far as stopping my growth while I was in prison. I was adapting to prison life.
I went in at eighteen. In my young mind, I thought, “These are the streets now. I’m going to start living a street life in prison.” I went through a lot. I found myself in isolation for 24 months, two years in a cell, 23-hour lockdown type of stuff. I went through a lot. I lost my only brother, my grandma, and also a close friend of mine repeatedly back-to-back.
That was more of a wake-up like, “I’m stuck in prison for 20 to 27 years. You need to get over that and start doing what you need to do and educate yourself so you get home to your family.” I’m having phone calls home and I’m like, “I need to be there for my mom.” That’s what I chose. I need to start educating myself and start ordering books off of Bargain Books. Have you ever heard of them?
It was a catalog. That’s where that entrepreneurship came from. I first read a book, Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z. I was in a cell for 24 months for poor decisions that I made in prison. Jay-Z was saying that everything he wanted to be in life and the things that he wanted to do, whether reading up something, educating himself or going around people that he knew had the game that he wanted, he would take that and mold himself. He will take that game to the next level and keep repeating it. He was molding himself to be where he’s at now. I admire Jay-Z’s entrepreneurship all around. When you asked me, “Where did that entrepreneurship come from?” That was my start right there.
That was the catalyst that got you thinking like that. I want to back up one step, William. I know what it feels like to not do well in school. I will speak for myself. I did all right up until 6th or 7th grade but in middle school, the wheels started to fall off the wagon. I couldn’t pay attention. I didn’t understand why they were making me read this Greek story or why N over Z minus 2 times 4 is important. I couldn’t learn that way. I became depressed. I felt like, “I don’t fit in here.” There must be something wrong with me is the way I internalized it. I saw my mates keeping up, going on with it and I’m falling behind. I wonder if that was a part of your story about how you’ve got in with the wrong crowd.
As far as the studies go, I can’t even remember a time where I took the study seriously as far as understanding it. I don’t know if I didn’t have the patience for it at that time. I didn’t have the patience to understand the work. Maybe this is not for me or maybe I’m not good enough for school. A lot of that played. You touch on some real stuff. I didn’t have thoughts like, “Maybe I’m not smart enough for school.” It never even gave me a chance. Once the work was finally presented to me, I was like, “I don’t understand that.” It’s like when a child is embarrassed. They act out to cover up that embarrassment. I definitely could relate to that as far as schooling for me. It’s crazy as a child to be even thinking like that.
For a lot of us, that forces us to become entrepreneurs because we are not getting a good job. That’s not happening. I’ve barely got out of high school. I do have a high school diploma but still, you are talking about a minimum wage job, $10, $12 an hour. You’ve got to figure out how to be entrepreneurial. Maybe that’s what got you into the wrong crowd. You are trying to figure out some other way to make it in the world.
I didn’t join the street life to look for a family. I had a good family and a good upbringing but it was more of my environment and the guys who I grew up around. Once I ended up seeing the behaviors, like an immature child, I was excited about that behavior. This is what excites me. I started pulling towards it and wanting it. I want that same type of lifestyle. I ended up making my own choices. I ended up getting involved in gang life and all that. It was definitely a poor decision as far as the things that I did, being a part of that life.
It got me 20 to 27 years when it’s all said and done. Still to this day, I reflect on when I was locked up like, “What if I never end up being in a gang? What if I never made the decision to start going towards that crowd?” In the environment I grew up in, I had some other friends that never went down that road but I chose to go down that road.
Your parents are probably trying to put the brakes on it. I can only imagine. Have you had moments of your own reflection, decision points like, “I’m either going to do X or Y?”
As far as with my parents?
You dropped out of school in eighth grade and you are out on the streets at fifteen years old. That had to cause your parents a lot of anxiety and grief.
My mom and dad always wanted better for me, they always did. My father would try disciplining me and stuff like that. My mom would voice her opinion and stuff like that. As the type of a child I was, I was stuck in my ways. Even if I did get discipline, yelled at or whatever, I’m still going to continue to do the same thing. It was like with the school. I could remember I was getting kicked out of school repeatedly. I would get a whooping. My father would be like, “You better not go back to school. If you go back, you better get your act together.” I couldn’t help going to school and not getting in trouble.
Do you think you had a learning disability like ADHD or whatever?
I don’t know. With ADHD, you can’t sit still and you can’t pay attention for too long. I’m always telling myself, “I’ve got ADHD.” I will say it as a joke. At the same time, it was a joke to be like, “Move around. I’ve got ADHD.” I’m not about to entertain that for too long. When I look at it, I definitely have some of the traits. I couldn’t stay still in school and I couldn’t pay attention for too long. That’s where all that misbehavior came where I was misbehaving.
I don’t want to go somewhere you are not comfortable going but I want you to walk me through the descent from dropping out in eighth grade and getting into gang life. Can you walk me through what that looked like? Were you ever having second doubts? Were you ever thinking, “Maybe I’m going too far? Maybe I’m coming too close to stuff.”
You were all in.
The people that choose that life don’t sit there and think, “I’m going too far or maybe I’m over my head.” The person that’s choosing that life already feels like, “I’m choosing that life because this is what I want.” If they choose life in that lifestyle, maybe I’m over their head but they fake it and weren’t supposed to be part of that life.
You had to be all in. How old were you when you went to prison?
I was eighteen years old. I turned nineteen and I spent it in the county for the charge that I was in there for. I was in there for a robbery and the use of a weapon. A lot of the time, I had a messed-up record. As a juvenile, I was going through that life and I was consistently getting caught with firearms. Back then, they were misdemeanors. As long as they weren’t stolen or anything like that, you could call it a firearm. Back then, it was a misdemeanor. I had a lot of them on my record to where the system was seeing that. I was on the run from probation when I caught my case. I had a drug case pending.
I remember the judge was saying, “You think you could come in here and make a mockery of the system?” It’s because I kept coming repeatedly. This was when I was probably sixteen. They gave me a choice to do a drug court or fight the case but I was going to fight the case. When I went, they were saying I needed to pay for certain things and I was like, “I’m not going to do drug court again.”
I went back in front of the judge and it so happened that it was the same judge, one of my judges down the line when I ended up getting into all this trouble. I was like, “She already knew my history.” When I’ve got sentenced, I can remember the judge saying, “I feel you are a threat to society and a threat to yourself.” She gets to tell me these numbers of what she’s sentencing me and I thought, “This can’t be real.”
You were shocked. What were you expecting to get? A couple of years or something?
When I was going through the time, I have friends who dumped into stuff, too. I can remember one of my friends from the neighborhood I grew up in. I was like, “I went through this as my case.” I’m telling him and he’s like, “You will get about five years. You will be out by the time you are 22.” I’m like, “I’m nineteen now. That’s forever.” I was looking at that a lot of time but it’s crazy how I say that. Those types of conversations, the people that grow up in that lifestyle don’t look at it, “Maybe I’m over my head.”
I had a friend telling me, “You are going to be all right. You are just going to probably do five years at the most,” but who wants to go do five years? In my mind, I would tell somebody, “You don’t want to do no time in prison.” At that time, you are looking at it like, “It’s only five years. That’s nothing.” Who thinks like that? It’s definitely a problem that’s still going on. It wasn’t just my generation. Looking at the generation now, it’s way worse.
Had you been locked up before as a juvenile?
Yes, I went to Corning before. They say it’s a rehabilitation center. I went there for a stolen car. That’s when I end up dropping out of school. I’ve got out of there and started pursuing to get a GED but I couldn’t understand the work like that so I stopped doing that. That’s when I end up going on the run. I went to the Youth Center a trillion times. At that time, I was going to go into jail back and forth as a juvenile and I was telling myself in my head like, “Why do I keep going to jail?” I thought I was cursed or something.
It was just happening to you.
I knew it was happening to other people. I was like, “Is this what my life is meant to be just going to jail?” I can remember times where I would be in jail on certain holidays or something in the past, and then when I get out, I would either be on house arrest and ankle monitoring. Even when I caught my case, back then, I was like, “I remember going through this.”
What’s crazy is, when I was in it in the third grade, I always had a problem in a school where I couldn’t stay still and couldn’t behave myself. I remember one of the teachers was like, “You are going to either wind up dead or in jail when you get older.” Now when I’m older, I’m like, “Why will she even say something like that? Maybe she cursed me.”
I know it was the decision but it’s like, “Was I that bad for a teacher to say something like that to me?” I remember that. I never went home and told my mom, “This lady said that during school.” I took it in and left it at that. At the time, it didn’t bother me. It’s like, “What will make a teacher say that? Was I that bad in school?”
William, did you say you’ve got sentenced to twenty years?
Yes, 20 to 27 years.
That was a wake-up call. Do you remember your first day in prison? What was that like?
I’m a straight, honest person. I will keep it real. At that time, I wouldn’t say scared but more nervous. I remember a couple of my friends who already went through that process. We probably did 5 to 10 years already and got out but was on the violation and were coming back. I remember saying it to one of my friends. He was my cellmate, “I won’t be able to do that time. It was too much.” All that time, 20 to 27 years, how do you tell a kid to go lay the rest of his life down in his 20s all the way to 30? He’s like, “Trust me, you won’t be able to do it.”
I remember he was telling me stories and I will always ask, “What is it like?” He just came from this place. These people went in as kids. I was like, “What is it like up in there? Where do you think I should go? Where are they going to send me?” I’m asking numerous questions out of that nervousness. I’m like, “Where’s my life about to go?” Back then, we saw movies about prison life and all that. At the same time, I’m preparing myself to go into this big battle. “How do I get up there?”
I was getting schooled on how to survive prison life. It’s crazy because it’s the same way. When you choose the streets, you are getting schooled on how to conduct yourself as street life, too. You have been trained by your peers on how to conduct yourself the proper way. When you end up taking a fall and catch that case, your peers are grooming you to be able to go ahead and handle your business in jail, getting you ready for that life. It’s crazy how it’s to be but that’s all part of that environment.
When you were telling your friends like, “I can’t do this time,” were you thinking you are going to take your own life? What were you thinking?
I’m going to keep it real. I couldn’t take my own life. At that same time, I was definitely like, “I won’t be able to do it this time. I might pass away from having to do that time.” I can’t do that. What do they expect? If you could reflect back on how you were thinking at that time, eighteen years old, what would you think when somebody tells you, “You’ve got to be locked up for twenty years?”
That’s more than half the time you have already been alive.
How can a judge even tell a kid, “I’m going to send you away for this amount of time for a robbery and use of a weapon?” True enough, it’s a crime and all that, and crimes need to be held with. They say you don’t even reach a maturity level as far as understanding life until you are 25 or something. At the time, I’m eighteen. How can you tell a kid, “Here are 20 to 27 years? Hopefully, you understand that you can’t hurt people or commit crimes. We will find you trade by the time you are 30.”
William, I’ve got a good friend. Years ago, he lived in the suburb of Cleveland, in an urban neighborhood called Fremont. He was out walking around and smoking a cigar on Saturday night after dinner. These two young kids came up, put a pistol in him, and took $8 from him and an iPhone. The police caught these kids in fifteen minutes. My friend, Jack, went to the kid. The kid with the pistol had the scholarship to go to college. He had a full-ride scholarship and he was messing around with his cousins or something.
My friend, Jack, found out about that and he showed up. He was part of the trial. Before they sent the kid, my friend said, “Why don’t you let me mentor this kid? Let me take this kid under my wing and try to help him.” A judge winds up reprimanding him, telling him he’s not the victim and society is the victim. I understand that perspective but the news media was there. She’s trying to be tough on crime or whatever. They gave the 17 or 18-year-old kid eight years. Take me back. You said you get in prison and you are shocked at first like, “How am I going to do twenty years?”
I was in the county since probably the same days when I was asking those questions, when I told my friend, “I’m not going to be able to do this time. That’s a lot of time.” When you first go into prison and transition into that, you go through a DNE stage as far as reevaluating yourself and getting you ready where you are going to go. I was already in the mix of adapting myself.
By the time I’ve got done with that, it’s like, “I was ready to go do my time.” I committed to that now. I said, “I was living this lifestyle industry and this is about to be my street.” That became my choice. I didn’t start off coming to the door to rehabilitating myself. When I went in there, I’m causing a lot of problems and it was hurting me in the end because I was always finding myself isolated in a hole for a long time and restricted from calling home, from visits and stuff like that.
William, I’m trying to put myself in your shoes. When I was eighteen, I didn’t even know I was making choices. I was just reacting. There’s no conscious choice, it seems, a lot of times. You figured, “I’m going to take my street life attitude inside here. I’m going to continue living the way I have been living and that’s going to be how I survive in here.” What changed for you? Why did it change?
I was in the hole for 24 months and I ended up getting involved in a gang. At this time, it caused me to be in a hole for that long because I previously had a bunch of fights on my record in prison. It’s like the streets. If you’ve got a record and you go in front of the judge, you are going to get a lot more time. Out of the group that I was in, as far as the fight, the riot or whatever, I ended up getting the most time because I already had a previous record. They were still coming to prison when that happened.
At that time, I remember being in the hole. I lost my grandma and my brother. I lost my brother first, and then probably about a month or so later, I lost my grandma. That same month, I lost a close friend of mine. We grew up in the same neighborhood. At that time, I was like, “This is all bad.” That’s when I start saying, “I need to get out.” I remember calling home. They were giving me phone calls to contact my mom and all that to be with my grandma and my brother’s passing, and they were like, “Stop doing what you are doing. You need to get out here.”
I remember talking to a couple of my homeboys when I called to check up on my friend and they are like, “Stop going to the hole. Forget that life. You need to be out here with all of us.” I considered that. At the time, I’m in the hole and I’m not going to do so. I was reading that book Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z. That’s where it all caused me to be like, “I want something better.” Once I read that quote that he said about molding himself into the character that he wanted to be and what he wanted to be on, I started doing that.
I have had a reflection on, “What do I want?” I said, “I want to be my own boss. I want to be doing my own thing,” because I don’t have the patience to be working under somebody or something like that. I’ve got to run my own show. That’s when I start ordering books out of Bargain Books. The first book I ordered was How to Start and Run a Business? It was a big book. It was probably over 400 some pages It was a good book. That was my first book.
Let me ask you this question. It’s interesting to me and I wonder if we shared this. I hated school. In tenth grade, I was showing up physically but I had dropped out mentally. As an entrepreneur, after I’ve got out of school, I found out that I love to learn when I’m able to learn what I care about. That’s interesting because you said you couldn’t sit still in school but you are reading all these 400-page books.
I have read that twice.
It’s so interesting to me, William. I’ve got one of Jay-Z’s books on my shelf, his biography. My wife and I watched him interviewed on David Letterman. He’s a deep thinker. I appreciate that guy. Jay-Z exposed you to the idea that you could choose a different path and you had control. Is that fair to say that that’s what was going on?
That’s what got you on the entrepreneur path for real. You saw your mom hustling that’s informing you at some level. Who knows? You started reading books about entrepreneurship but you’ve still got some time ahead of you.
I went to prison in ‘03. When I caught that two years in a hole, it was close to 2009 because my brother in Oregon passed away in 2008. I have five-plus years in already.
Nowhere on your horizon if you are spending twenty years?
No, I’m not even eligible for parole until 2013 at that time. They say after your first five years, time flies by. When I was in 2008 or 2009, I knew I needed to start preparing myself to get out because 2013 was going to be quick. That’s when I start realizing, “I want to be my own boss. I want to do this. I want to do that.” I didn’t even have my education at this time. That’s when I said, “When I get out this hole, I’m going to get my GED.” When they finally released me out of the hole, I signed up for my GED. I was determined. That’s when I finally realized, “All this time, I was always smart.”
I hated school. I went every day at a point in time, and then I ended up stop going. They were threatening my mama for truancy for kids not going to school. They sent me to a group home to do a valuation. I remember going through all those processes as a kid. They have seen that I came from a good upbringing, so they ended up letting me go back home. At that time, I said, “I’m determined to get out, get my GED.” I’ve got it in probably less than 90 days. That’s when I was like, “I was proud of that.”
You have figured it out. You have learned how to learn between the GED thing and reading 400-page books two times.
Once I’ve got out of the hole, my peers started looking at me differently like, “He was part of this gang but he moved a little different.” They start asking certain things. When I was in prison, I always was able to pull my peers my age who were still doing that gang life up in the area were quick to ask questions if they needed to know about a business or something.
I’ve got a friend who got out of Federal prison and I’m telling him all the things that I’m doing. He was in prison at this time. He was like, “I always knew you were going to be your own boss because of the way you were moving behind the walls.” I was always studying. Once I committed to it, I was all in. I was going to the law library. At a point in time, I was trying to get out and be a paralegal. I was trying to find myself along that journey as far as, “Where do I belong in this entrepreneurship life? What do I want to do? I knew I wanted to own my own but what do I want to own exactly?”
“How am I going to contribute?”
Still to this day, my friends would be like, “You are smart.” A lot of people don’t know I did not even make it to the seventh grade. I’m just self-educated. That’s where it comes in. Hopefully, if a kid is reading this or whatever, some kids are probably going through some now like, “I hate school or I can’t pay attention.” It’s all about choosing one. What do you want? What do you choose?
That’s part of the power of entrepreneurship, William. It’s compelling. The need for autonomy is powerful. The need to direct our own lives is powerful. There’s another powerful need here, which people don’t recognize. The need to fulfill human needs through our own effort is also a powerful force.
When you fulfill a need, it’s even better like, “I did that.” At least for me, you glorify yourself and you feed off that energy. Once you complete once, it’s like, “I did that.” I’ve got my GED and I was like, “I did that.” I was rolling from there. I was reading and studying.
That was like the GED thing. You surprised yourself.
When I signed up for it, I was like, “I’m not going to be able to do this be.” When I was a kid, I was like, “Schooling is not for me. I can’t learn this stuff.” It’s surprising and I’ve got it quick. Not every test that I took, I passed it on the first one. That’s when I realized, “All it is, is sitting in a beam.” I remember a teacher. I will give her a big shout-out because she was helpful and she was genuine. They had a lot of help with it, too. Some of us were still kids at that time. I was in my early twenties but some of them were kids. She genuinely wanted us all to get our GED. She cared. I could tell she was genuine about it.
When she was helping me one day, I was like, “I’ve got to answer.” She was like, “Always remember, every answer is in the book. Just read it.” It was with reading. You’ve got to do your reading test. When she told me that, I was like, “Every answer is in there. You have to find it.” That caused me to always know that if it is not Math, anything else is there. You just have to read it. That’s what caused me to pay attention. Now I’m paying attention, reading and trying to understand.
You are also motivated.
Once I passed the pre-test, it’s like, “I passed the test.” I couldn’t even tell you a time where I even took a test in school. They had them but I never took the test. I will probably get two questions in and the next thing I know. I’m sitting in my chair. Other kids are doing a test and the teacher is looking at me like, “Mr. Snoddy, what’s going on?” I will go back to like I’m doing the work but I’m not even paying attention. I’m just passing on time.
That’s a terrible feeling. I know what that feels like. The interesting thing here, William, is this is part of a theory I have. You are in prison and still looking at maybe another ten years or more. You don’t know. Once you’ve got it in your mind that there’s something you are striving for like you are going to do your own business, that compelling goal. Tell me if this makes sense to you. Part of my theory here is that the goal acts on the individual. You feel compelled towards doing this thing and it causes you to focus. It makes it easier for you to say no to other things that are part of that goal. The goal is acting on you.
I like that theory because I could relate to that. That’s why I’m at where I’m at now. As far as I’m able to say, “I finally did it. I’m my own boss. I’m the CEO of Snoddy’s Logistics.” I could say that because I made those choices to be like, “I don’t have anything to do with what I’m trying to do. This thing has got nothing to do with what I’m trying to do as far as what am I going to entertain it for. I still have friends.
If someone else friend is probably entertaining certain things that they shouldn’t, do I let that intervene with what I’ve got going on? I could easily be like, “I want to go be a part of this or do this.” Even just hanging out. When you are in that life as far as trying to start your own and do that, you have no time for hanging out. That goal is acting on you.
It’s funny you say that because I remember at some point in my own entrepreneurial journey being aware of its social functions. People that have 9:00 to 5:00 jobs don’t want to talk about their work outside of work. They want to talk about news, weather, and sports. I don’t have the time for that. I want to find the other entrepreneur in the room. I want to talk about ideas. I want to network. I want to learn from you. I want a little piece of information that can help me. I went up to a corner with my phone because I didn’t want to talk about baseball or football.
You’ve got a hunger for growth.
I ask people all the time and I give lectures to kids like, “Do you have a compelling goal? If not, why not?” It gets you thinking for a minute. It’s the striving towards something that enables us to become fully human. It’s the striving towards something meaningful. I won’t belabor this story, William, but I did some work with our Ice House Program inside a maximum-security prison in Mississippi. There are about 110 inmates. Probably 100 of them were never going to see the light of day, life without parole. These guys raised money through their own family networks, through a student group at Ole Miss, and their own accounts. They raised $22,000 to buy the ingredients to package meals to feed starving kids in Africa and Haiti.
I spent the whole day with these guys. They had these little assembly line setups where we are putting dried vegetables, rice, and protein powder packaged away and put in boxes. They showed us a video at the end of the day. We packaged 100,000 meals in eight hours. We had to feed 250 kids for a whole year. They showed us a video at the end of a typical kid. They show a kid with skin and bones, his belly has all distended flies on them, sitting in a mud puddle somewhere, and then they showed the same kid a year later. He’s got a school uniform on. He’s climbing around on a jungle gym or something. I swear to you, William, half the guys in that room were crying like little babies. It was one of the most profound experiences I have ever had in my life. The need to do something meaningful that contributes is powerful. Entrepreneurship is not all about making money. It’s about a purpose-driven goal.
Giving back. That’s what makes a great entrepreneur. Not only does he got that vision as far as how to run a company and make it expand because that’s what entrepreneurs do. He has a vision. That’s what creates businesses, that entrepreneur mindset. That’s what you went to the Ice House. You’ve got to have that vision and be able to keep going. It’s like this book I’m reading. He’s talking about the three personalities.
You are talking about E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. You’ve got the entrepreneur, manager, and laborer. You’ve got to be all three. You’ve got to do the work.
You’ve got to know how to balance them. That’s where a lot of people go wrong where businesses fail because, either they don’t have that entrepreneurial mindset to where they could create their own visions to move forward in their mind, and then put a recipe down. They don’t have that management. They don’t know how to balance that out because they don’t know how to keep things organized, how to orchestrate the business or whatever. The worker doesn’t know how to put the work in. It’s a balance. You’ve got to have all three.
We were talking about this. Where there is no vision, people perish. That’s a biblical quote.
Something you said when we were on the phone, I was like, “I need to remember what he said.” This was the same subject. It was a biblical quote. I can’t remember exactly what it was but it was deep. It had me thinking for at least twenty minutes once we’ve got off that phone. That vision is heavy. If you stop thinking, how can you move forward?
Here’s what’s interesting, William. Let me drop this on you. I have looked at neurological research. When you are striving to accomplish something that means something to you and you are compelled, which means to be drawn irresistibly, you get access to problem-solving abilities that you don’t have access to. You are not trying to solve problems and you are engaged in more routinized behavior.
That’s the whole story. I hated school. There was no way for me to learn.
Part of what messed me up in school is somebody else’s dream. It’s not mine. Somebody else has figured out what I need to do. They don’t know me like that. This doesn’t fit me. This is a system for me to conform myself to the system.
Not for the next person.
It was ignoring who I am as a person and what I needed.
You definitely put it in a good term. I like that logic because I can relate to it. If that was for me, I will be doing that type of stuff now, going to school and then doing this. I’m more like, “This is what I want to do. I want to own my own.” The things that you are drawn to and that you enjoy, it’s easier to learn. This is for you.
The other part of it, I want people to understand what you miss is that learning isn’t drudgery. It’s something that satisfies you. Many of us equate learning to school. It’s a necessary evil. It’s something we’ve got to endure like a punishment almost. The same is true for work. Many people I see walking around as Thoreau talked about, are living lives of quiet desperation. They feel like they are stuck and they think, “I don’t want to go to work now. On Monday, I’ve got to drink all this coffee. On Sunday night, I’m getting drunk.”
What happens to a human being when learning and work become a source of joy, meaning, purpose and fulfillment? You can have two people who have exactly the same IQ and same qualities. If one of them isn’t engaged in learning or engaged in work, they can’t go anywhere. That’s where a lot of people get stuck. They have come to believe that learning and work are just misery.
What I’m trying to help people understand is when you are doing your own thing, pursuing your own interests, and your own abilities in ways that benefit other humans, you become optimally engaged. That’s how you become fully human. What I was trying to get at is greed. A lot of people look at entrepreneurs and say, “They are just trying to make money.” I would be careful how you make that judgment too quickly. It’s not all about the money.
All humans are like any other living thing. We all have within us the innate organismic tendency to learn everything we need to learn in order to adapt and thrive in our environment. You could walk outside your house now and you can see a little plant growing up into asphalt. That same tendency is in every human, William. We are all like acorns. Built-in that acorn is the potential and a desire to become a mighty Oak tree.
When I hear your story, I see a human organism. I’m looking at William Snoddy but what I’m looking at is a human organism trying to self-actualize. That self-actualizing tendency is in every human being but it gets thwarted pretty easily. That’s the path you are on. When you said there’s something else out there, that’s that tendency to speak to you from within.
When they tap into that, the next thing is to put in the work. That’s what got me to where I’m at now. I’m tapping into that where I’m like, “This is what I want. I’ve got a desire to have this.” It caused me to put the work into wanting to read 400 pages twice. It wasn’t boring to me anymore. Learning the things I needed to learn got me to where I’m at now. It was fun.
The learning that I’m doing now to expand is fun. Once it becomes compelled on you, once you are in tune with it and this is something that you desire or want, and you take that to a whole other level, it’s no longer miserable or anything like that. You can’t say what’s right or wrong for somebody to do. It’s on that person to do what they want to do.
Once they find out what they want in life, that’s what puts people in a better position. Once you find out what you want to do, pursue it. Some people now are working in a job that they don’t want to do. They do it because they have to do it and they are miserable about it. If they want to work, go ahead and work. If they want to own a home, go ahead and own your home. Do what you want to do that you’ve got a desire for and you are going to be happy about it.
You said that desire comes from tapping into it. I love that phrase because that’s what it is. It’s right there. It’s within you but you have to tap into it. I can’t help but ask you this, William. It seems to get our attention and be able to tap into it, we’ve got to go pretty dark and low.
You sometimes have to reach rock bottom.
It’s that darkness that becomes the source of our light. I’m not trying to sound like a mystic or anything but adversity becomes an advantage.
There’s light after every dark tunnel. Look at it like that. Look at my situation. Who’s to say where I would be if I didn’t get that time? Who’s to say what it would be like? I had reached the point, 20 to 27 years and I’m like, “I went from 18 to 28. What am I supposed to do?” I’m not going to be able to say, “I graduated from high school.” That’s the way it went. It’s like, “What am I going to do?” I was at a point where I was in a situation where I could sit in prison from eighteen to however many years it takes for me to get out for parole, which will be in my 30s, 28 to 30. It’s like, “I can sit here and continue to live this prison life but when it’s time to go home, what am I going to do? Who am I?”
You did 23 months of solitary confinement and you started reading Jay-Z. You started realizing you could learn. You took your GED. You surprised yourself, you passed the GED. Now you’ve got a vision, “I’m going to have my own thing. I’m going to mold myself the way Jay-Z did. I’m going to create my own thing. I’m going to become who I want to become.” People started noticing you in the yard. They started noticing that you changed a little bit. How did that affect the rest of your time in prison?
I was always the type of person who people wanted to be around, whether it was for the bad or good. Even when I was doing bad, people wanted to be around. It’s crazy how that lifestyle is. The people who are doing bad say, “He’s a stand-up dude. He’s 100.” It’s basically glorifying that life. I was locked in. When I say locked in, I already had a bond with certain individuals because of the bad things I was doing. That’s how it is out there.
Once I transition and start wanting better for myself and people will be able to see that, that energy starts rubbing off on some of those people, some of my peers. They were asking questions, “What book?” A couple of my friends started reading books there. I’m like, “Read this.” They come to ask questions. They wanted to have that same lingo.
A friend, it was a group of us. One of my friends passed away. Rest in peace to him. We were all in there and we all had that entrepreneur mindset. We were always taking days out to go to the gym. I had a certain time where we would meet up in the gym with our books. At this time, we were talking about starting a nonprofit organization. We will go in there and keep gaining on that.
I remember stuff like that and how other people would see us walking across the yard with our books headed to the gym. At this time, I’m probably 25 or 26. The younger crowd was looking. After that, they started coming, wanted to talk and ask questions. They are trying to show me certain things. They were like, “What do you think about this?” It was a motivation for everybody. The older crowd was like, “What’s going on?” It was more respectful. That’s what made me feel even more. I saw what came with that. We are living that on a positive. You are on to something now.
That was validation of a new trajectory right away. That’s cool.
That’s how it is. When you choose that street life, when you first get in there, you start to do certain things in the streets. Now, my peers acknowledge me. They want to hang with you more because you are known for being this type of dude. I’m validated. That’s what caused me to continue to want to live that street life. Sometimes people go through that trying to be validated to the streets. Look at where they are going, in prison.
I took that same type of energy and it fed that same type of thing. I have been driving it ever since. I feed off that. I feed off somebody who comes and asks me, “What do you think about this?” I love that. Not only do I love it for validating where I need to be but at the same time, I love the fact that I could help somebody understand what they want to do in life. I could give them some input on something. I love that.
Was there any blowback? Were people who were on the wrong side of things giving you any grief for changing your ways?
No. Some people look at prisoners like animals. You were there. People start crying and you are like, “I made these meals.” There are some real humble dudes there. The visual is they are a victim of circumstances and they don’t have a second chance. It was always respect and love. Once you are in that situation, you don’t want anybody to go into that situation. You see what prison life is. You saw what it could do to the mind. It could tear a mind down or it could build it up. You don’t want anybody to go through that. When I was transitioning into an entrepreneur, everybody was like, “Keep doing what you are doing. You are going to be cool when you get out.” It was motivating.
I remember when I was at that private prison in Mississippi. I forgot the name of it. I gave a book talk the day before we did a meal thing to maybe 25 guys or whatever. This one dude came right up to me and pulled me aside but got up in my face, and he said something in a way I will never forget. He looked at me and said, “I hope you are getting these ideas in the minds of young kids, so they don’t wind up here.” There was a seriousness in his gaze, in his demeanor. I took that seriously. He was coming from a place of passion. He was genuine. You had this shift in mindset after reading the Jay-Z book on this entrepreneurial path. When did you get out of prison?
In 2011, I’ve got accepted to go for a work release. It was December of 2011 when they sent me over there. I wasn’t eligible for parole until 2013. I had two years to get on my feet. Once you get a work release, you start getting furloughs, which is going home on the weekends and stuff like that. You start being able to go to the community, get a job and stuff like that. At this time, I was working at Taco Bell in Nebraska. That was my first job when I’ve got out.
How old were you?
At this time, I was probably 27 or 28. I had a job when I was younger. I worked at Target when I was sixteen or something but it didn’t last long. I had a job. I always wanted to get some type of money. I always knew that I had to have money to either take care of what I needed to take care of or have the life I wanted. I was working at a Taco Bell in this work release. I was there for a while. I then transferred to Omaha for work release. By the end, I’m back hanging out with the fellas and old childhood friends because I have been gone for so long.
Even at this time, I wouldn’t say I gave up on pursuing what I wanted to do but I ended up pulling back into the street life. I wasn’t an active gang member. You’ve got a gang member who’s active. You’ve got people who are from the gang who aren’t active. I was more of going around. I wasn’t active in doing gang activities but I was still going around and hanging out with my friends and stuff.
In the center, I will go on my furloughs and stuff like that. One day, I went on a pass and I ended up having a few drinks. I came back because it was only a four-hour pass. It was two weeks before I was supposed to be parole out. It’s the most embarrassing thing. How do you call and tell your mom, “I’m going back in the yard because I was drinking?”
They breathalyzed me when I came back from a four-hour pass and I blew it. It showed that I had alcohol in my system. They sent me back. Two weeks out, I went in front of the board. Luckily, they let me go. They paroled me because they have seen a change in me. They did tell me about myself for doing that.
I paroled out. Two weeks later, I’m involved in some stuff I shouldn’t be. I’m riding in my car. My son was born on June 13th, 2013. I paroled out September of ‘13. My son was probably a few months old. Two weeks after I was paroled out, I ended up getting pulled over. My son’s mom had some stuff in the car I shouldn’t have. I ended up taking the police on a high-speed chase. I had an ankle bracelet on. When I came to it and realized, “I ran from the police. They’ve got my license and all that.” I left all of that on the scene. I cut my ankle bracelet and went on the run. It’s another embarrassing moment.
Everybody was like, “You’ve got out. You did ten years.” I went on the run two weeks after doing ten years straight. It was embarrassing. I never told them that it was embarrassing. At the end of the day, it was definitely embarrassing. How can you tell your mom, who has been missing you all these years, “Mom, I’m on the run?” How can you do that?
At this time, I had my son. I remember having him and his mom come because I couldn’t go to the house because my parole was there. I used to have his mom come to my neighborhood or meet me somewhere so I could see my son or I would go down to my sister’s house but would have to sneak up in the house to visit with my son. I remember all that.
I ended up going back into prison after I was caught. I went through all that. Once I go to prison, I already know how to program. I know what I need to do as far as a remit. That’s where I will be having my strongest peak of studying it. It’s crazy how they say, “Where are you good at studying that?” I study every day here and watch YouTube. When I’m in prison or something, I will tap into something tremendously where I study hard.
At this time, I’m there doing that. I run to one guy who’s into NDNE. He’s writing a book. I didn’t know he was writing the book. He was writing on paper like kites. Kites are where you put your request. I asked him, “What do you keep asking for these kites? What do you write?” He goes, “I’m writing a book.” I’m like, “What type of book are you writing?” He liked urban novels. I said, “Are you writing your own?” He’s like, “Yes.” I said, “You went to school for this?” He’s like, “I never went to school for this.” I’m like, “Did you take a class?” He’s like, “No.” I’m like, “I always wanted to write an urban novel.” He’s like, “Go ahead. You could write one.” I thought you had to go to school to do stuff like this.
You needed permission.
A validation. A certificate. It’s crazy how all that happened. I went in there and started writing. I told myself, “I’m going to get out and I’m going to get this book together.” He will be reading over it. There are good dudes in prison. People want you to do good in there. A real human doesn’t want anybody to be out there doing badly. He was always checking over. He’s like, “You are doing good.”
I started reading up on it. Jay-Z was saying in the book that anything he wants to do, he will read up on it. He will go ask questions. He will go around to the people and soak their game up. I was doing that at this time and I’m like, “How do I start a publishing company?” I get to do that and read up on it. I already knew how to start a business because I had their books but I’m still reading more of those. When I get out, I’m dedicated to this book. I’m writing that and doing that every night. I ended up publishing my own book. I started a publishing company, Straight Grade Publishing. That was 2016 or 2017. In 2018, I’ve got my CDLs.
What are CDLs?
Commercial Driver’s License when you drive semis or whatever. What I did was I’ve got my CDLs for a backup plan in case the publishing company didn’t go together. I was trying to be steps ahead. When I ended up getting my CDLs at JTL for about four weeks, I published my book in December of 2017. I was doing good with the book.
That entrepreneur, selling out of the trunk, do Facebook and stuff like that, I was doing good on that but I ended up having a backslide. In 2018, I’ve got pulled over and caught with a firearm in my vehicle. I was going through the process of that. I was down about it. Everybody was saluting about this book and saying, “You did that.” Now I’m on the way back to prison because I’ve got caught with a firearm. There was no getting around that. The gun was in my car. How can you get around that?
It was another blow man. It was another embarrassing moment. It’s like, “I came all this way and got this far. I’ve got the publishing company doing this. Everybody was happy. Now look at me, I’m back in prison.” At that time, 2018, I was sick about it. I kept searching for answers trying to beat my case. I grew up in a Christian upbringing. My mom and everybody believed in Jesus. At this time, I started praying a lot and talking to God, “Help me get through this.”
One day, I’m searching for answers. To keep it short, I’m paying four figures in all this. I’m paying for lawyers. I’m trying to make them beat the case. The spirit told me, “Leave it to God.” I’m reading the Bible every day and I start going to a man’s meeting every Tuesday night. I started dedicating myself to that. I would go there every Tuesday to sit and vibe. It was a good feeling to have that positive energy back in my life.
Positive peers. Once in my life, I want to help other people. On October 7 of that year, I ended up giving my life to God. I confessed and I did it in front of a mission church. It was a good feeling. Once I did that, I wasn’t worried about the case that I was fighting anymore. I wasn’t worried about any of that. October, my lawyer called and was like, “The state dropped your case but the Feds picked it up.” I’m like, “How am I indicted?” They indicted me over.
I felt like it was a backslide and getting positive about the whole situation because I was going to turn myself into the Feds and I ended up going back to jail. I was like, “This is crazy.” I was having talks with God. I was doing good. I’m indicted. It’s crazy I’m big on faith. I keep my faith. I think of my family. I was always big on that.
I remember sitting there like, “God, I was doing everything right. I was living my life.” I was cussing God out. I was like, “You know where I came from. How can you give me back in this situation?” I remember telling people, “I was facing 50 years in the state and now I’m indicted. I’m at a 0 to 10. They should have kept it in the state. They would have got more time on it.” I start thinking to myself, “I was praying to God to help me get through this.” Here it is. I’ve got a 0 to 10 from a mandatory 3 to 15. I’m like, “That’s God working with him.”
I took it and ran with it. That’s God answering my prayers. I know for a fact that’s what it was. That’s what caused me to continue to stay on that positive role and don’t get discouraged because I caught a pistol case. I was like, “No matter what I go through when I get out, I know what I’m going on.” I said, “I’m starting a trucking company.”
I ended up getting affairs. Pick the case up so I was talking to God. I was angry about it. How do you end up letting this happen but they were not looking at it? I’m telling people, “I’m facing 0 to 10 years. I was in the state facing a mandatory 3 to 15.” I’m like, “They should have kept it in the state. They would have got more time on him.” When I kept saying it, I realized God was working with me. That’s what caused me to look at a whole different outlook. I’m like, “I’ve got this going on. I’ve got my CEO.” True enough, I’m backing here. I said, “These are thoughts that I’m going through. I’m not going to let this determine the outcome with this. I’m going to get out.”
That’s when I made a decision that I was going to have my own trucking company when I get out. I’m about to go in here. There are still people in prison. I’m going here and I would pick people’s brains, and figure out what they know. I will surround myself with people that are where I’m trying to go. Ask questions and read books. I’ve got to have people send me books. I’m telling my son, “Send me this book.” I’m telling my sister, “Sent me this book. I need you to send this.” I’m back on a school basis. I’m figuring it all out like how to do trucking and all that. I’ve finally got out of Federal prison in August of 2020. When I’ve got out, I was on an ankle bracelet and COVID was going on and all that. It reminded me that I was in there when COVID started going.
I’m going to keep it real. When it first hit the news, I was like, “What’s going on out in the world?” You see people talking about people dying and they don’t know what’s going on. The prison was keeping us locked down, so it was like, “What’s going on? We are about to come to when.” Is it a terrorist attack? Did somebody say something over here? That was a scary feeling.
Here I am in prison and all this stuff is going on. I can’t even get out to my people. That right there made me realize like, “I’m done with going back and forth to prison. I’m done with this.” It shows me how real it can get. You can be in prison and anything can happen, and you have no control over anything. You can get your people. It made me appreciate the opportunity to get out and do what’s right, even that much better.
We haven’t talked about your trucking company yet.
That’s where I was getting to.
I love this conversation. Don’t get me wrong. I want folks to understand where you are going now and how you made this all happen. You’ve got out of prison in 2020 and I can’t imagine. You don’t have any money. You are starting from scratch.
I’ve got out in August 2020 but I had some bond money and all that stuff when I paid all these bonds to get out. Somebody saved up money while I was in there, so I ended up getting out and went to the halfway house. They sent me home on an ankle bracelet because COVID was going and somebody had a couple of cases down there, so I come home on home confinement and I’m working a job. I instantly get a job utilizing my CDLs. I was working at a company transporting steel across to different parts of Iowa, Corning, and Nebraska.
I’m doing this and I’m getting my experience. Remind you, I’ve got my CDLs in 2017 but I never utilize them. Now I’m getting some experience under my belt. A couple of friends of mine, one had his own trucking company and the other one had his own truck. They do their thing with it. I also had a couple of friends who got dump trucks and stuff like that. I asked, “How did you do this and that?” They telling, “All you have to do is this. This is all you do. This is how you are going to do it.”
Once again I’m taking down jewels. When I say jewels, it’s a gang from Jay-Z. When I read that book, he asked some questions, soak up that gang, and put it down in your life how you want it. Now, I’m back at that stage of learning. Even though I’m at home, I’m still learning. How to do that? I tell them, “I’m watching YouTube videos every day.” I started doing stuff like that. It’s because of YouTube, I’m thinking more about repairing my credit. You need your credit when you want to try your first truck. I’m trying to repair my credit. I’m looking up certain stuff with my credit score isn’t. I never established any credit.
You are learning how to learn now on your own.
I’m dedicated. I didn’t go to college to do all of this. I’m sitting and watching YouTube. YouTube tells you everything you need to know. I will tell people, “You can call me the YouTube King or the Google King.” Anytime we have a debate about something, google it.
It’s interesting because a couple of hundred years ago, knowledge was scarce. Now, it’s everywhere. What’s scarce is the desire. The desire to learn is what we lost.
I was doing too much. I had a trucking company and I was also working on a clothing line. I’m hitting Myron and I’m like, “What do you know about clothing lines? What’s about how to do this?” I’m hitting different people on clothing lines. I’ve got a friend that’s in Lincoln and he started his clothing line, so I’m hitting him up. I’m like, “I see that you’ve got your clothing line. How did you go about it?”
He’s trying to tell them the resources and stuff like that but at the same time, I’m still trying to put this trucking together, too. I concluded because I found myself paying for all this money that I was saving and things that are not working out. I’m paying for logos to be made for the shirt. I’m paying for certain things. I’m driving this clothing company and it’s not coming together how I wanted them because I was wearing an ankle bracelet. I couldn’t move around and network with anybody. I tell myself, “I’m going to focus on one thing and get this trucking company going.”
I start doing stuff out. I was still working at the company and I had quit that job over a bonus or something. The whole time, I’m like, “I’m about to quit and I’m going to start this trucking company anyway.” I was telling a couple of guys there and they were looking at me like, “How are you going to start a trucking company? Didn’t you just get out of prison?” They couldn’t believe it. That’s a lot of people’s problems. They can’t see past certain levels of life where things are unbelievable. Once you can tap in and know that, you can do whatever you want in life. It’s the decisions you make.
To the outsider, it looks like you are irrational. Maybe it is a little bit irrational but that irrationality works in your favor because you can’t be sitting at home telling yourself that, on the one hand, they are right you’ve got out of prison. You don’t have any money. How are you going to start a trucking company? You can’t be telling yourself that story because you won’t get anywhere.
You owe yourself that. That’s what I was saying. I’m a true believer and I say it all the time. The things you do today are going to determine tomorrow’s future. If you strive for greatness, do great things today, do whatever you are trying to do, it’s going to pave the way.
What you are saying if I understand you, is you are trying to tell yourself that it’s delayed gratification. I’ve got to put in some time now to do this thing that’s going to pay me dividends in the future. It’s not going to be immediate.
That’s delayed gratification. That’s definitely what it is. Sometimes you’ve got to work hard for that delayed gratification. That is why I’m studying and watching YouTube. I’m doing that when people are hitting my phone. They were like, “What are you doing up?” I’m like, “I’m studying now.” They like that and it motivates a lot of my friends. That’s the good thing about it. We graduated shift. Let me get into that. Remind you, I ended up stopping a job in December and I get off the ankle bracelet. I’m going all-in.
I tell my supervisor, police lady, “What did you think about me owning my own company while I’m on papers, supervised release?” She’s like, “I don’t have no problem with it as long as it’s legit and you show me your EIN.” That gave me the green light. I’m like, “Could I be on papers and own my own.” She’s like, “Yes.” I’m like, “This is what I’m going to do.” At this time now and I’m like, “I need to start going back to the men’s meeting.” I called Myron up in April, “Do you still have the men’s meeting going on?” He’s like, “We still do that. We had scooters.” I said, “Yes. 7:00 AM.” I’m there. I start going to the men’s meetings a lot. That’s how I ended up in that circle again.
I’m going to a men’s meeting and waking up every day at 7:00 AM studying. Myron and Amor, I don’t know if you are familiar with Amor but he’s another friend of Myron’s and I but he’s like, “Are we doing this shift? What is that shift program about?” He’s like, “It’s about this guy.” They tell me about it and I’m like, “What do we do?” He said, “It helps you get in that entrepreneur mindset.” I’m like, “For real? I need to get in there.” He’s like, “The class has already started. It’s three weeks ahead.” They see the hunger.
I remember Amor and he’s like, “Myron, this is the type of drive we need. He’s determined. He’s hungry. Let him in.” Myron is like, “I’m going to go see who I can talk to.” He called me and he’s like, “You can get in but you’ve got three weeks to catch up.” I said, “I’m going to catch up.” That’s what I did. I was still determined to catch up, get that work done, and at the same time, studying how to own your own trucking company.
Through that time, the program shifted to Omaha. It’s a great program. As we go into it, I’m studying and seeking knowledge. They say seeking knowledge first. The reason why I do so much seeking knowledge is that you could know how to run a business or you could say, “I’ve got this business,” or whatever but do you know the proper way to run it and make it successful? The only way to do that is by seeking knowledge on how to be successful in this company.
It’s like food. It’s like lasagna. I could tell you how to make lasagna. I can say, “These are the ingredients.” I can hand you the ingredients but do you know the steps to it? There are steps to everything. If you take the lasagna and you throw the hamburger meat down first, throw the noodles and you mix it all up, how can you say it’s not going to fulfill that space? It’s going to be the same lasagna. You take that same perspective into entrepreneurship and you would be like, “What are the steps I need to take to put this trucking company all the way out?”
It’s important to point out to readers here that you put yourself in a group of people who were positively like-minded and put yourself in a positive peer group on purpose. That’s a superpower right there. That’s available to anyone, you could go out and find mentors. That’s so a super common thing I hear in entrepreneurs. Most people are hanging around people that think that we have a default setting. We hang around people think and act as we do. When you’ve got the dream, a vision, you put yourself in different situations.
Sometimes they would be intimidating or uncomfortable situations. You have to have that comfort zone. That’s what I did. I jumped up that comfort zone and for every challenge that comes my way, I will be determined to win at it. It’s like when you say, “You’ve got three weeks behind.” I could have let that fold. I could have been like, “Never mind. I will take the one in August.” I’m like, “I’m going to do that. Let me in there.” I’m doing that man a steady studying and making sure my homework is done. I’m catching up and doing that. I finally ended up still going to the men’s meeting every Saturday.
The program is so good that I’m still in that mindset of seeking knowledge and save up as much money as I can. I remember we broke up in groups and they were like, “Will, you are trying to start a trucking company. Let’s start with what pages you are at. Where are you at?” I’m like, “Now, I’m saving up money and seeking all the knowledge.”
They were like, “What do I do to start your company?” I’m telling them, “I just need a truck.” They were like, “How much is the truck?” I tell him the numbers and they were like, “That’s what you are waiting on?” They were like, “Will, next week, your goal is to come in here and tell us that you have your EIN number, your LLC and all forms. Contact this person.” They tell me to do all this stuff and the following week, I had an EIN number, my LLC form and all that.
Do you think you were procrastinating out of fear, self-doubt or do you not know what to do?
That’s what I’m saying. It was getting more out of that comfort zone. It’s taking that first step like fear. “I’m not going to succeed,” so fear was making me think I needed to keep seeking all this now.
“I need to have everything perfect before I go.”
What point did you seek out? That was the fear to have me doing that because I’m like, “I want to succeed when I kick it off so I’m trying to get everything perfect.” That’s what slows a lot of people down. It’s that fear. They don’t take that first step because they think it has to be perfect. No, get out there.
These guys shoved you outside your comfort zone. They gave you a little shove. They said, “You’ve got to come back in a week, you’ve got to have your ENI, Employer Identification Number and an LLC form.”
It takes some time for your LLC to come back. It showed that I fell for it and did all that. The following week I let them know, “I did it. I waited for stuff to come back.” It was a round of applause and everybody was happy. You want to surround yourself with people who mean you good, who are genuine. Not only do you want to surround yourself with people like that but you also want to give acknowledgment to your peers, your friends when they do some good because that could go a long way. That’s going to take them to the next level, whether people know it or not. It’s got to be genuine. Every chance that I get to acknowledge somebody or salute a man, I do that. I will be like, “Good job,” or whatever it is. I could go a long way with that person.
You’ve got your permits, the LLC set up and your EIN, what did you do next?
At that time, I’m sitting, you are trying to prepare credit and trying to seek out who I could get a truck from? I was doing this and that. It’s crazy because I end up asking my friends, “Who did you all get your trucks from?” They were like, “This company in Missouri financed it,” or whatever. I contacted them and it had me pumped. It’s like, “This is what you are going to need to bring.”
About two weeks later, I’m waiting and thinking I’m getting the truck. The next thing I know he called and he’s like, “We have bad news. We aren’t going to be able to finance you.” I’m like, “Why not?” They were like, “The banks said that you are a ghost. Your credit is shot. You never established any credit.” I’m like, “Not that I’ve got bad credit. I never established it.” I’m like, “Are you sure?”
Remind you, I’ve got a bank account, so I’ve got a bit of business thing. I want to open all that up. I’m set, ready to go. I did the process and ended up saying, “I have no financing.” They were like, “That will work. If you could do that, go ahead.” I go and had a sit down with the bank. I go in there and let them know what I’m trying to do. I let them know off the top that I never established my credit but if they work with me and I’m letting them know my business plan and all that.
They had me thinking that was how it was. About a week or so later, he shot me down, too. Are we seeing the same thing they saw? Is this for me? Am I going to make it? I’m like, “Am I ever going to accomplish this?” I already set out and got my file from my own authority. I had $2,000 on my savings when I had this job saving up. I’m like, “Did I just blow all my money?”
“I just flushed $2,000.”
It was in a month. Someone kept telling me to keep going. I kept my faith. Talking about it, that’s what got me through here. That’s crazy. It’s faith for doing it. I’m going through that process and I’m like, “Is this going to work out?” He shut me down and I ended up like, “I’m going to have to get it myself. I’ve got to find me a truck.” I couldn’t let it knock me down. I’m on the marketplace looking for trucks that I can afford. They are cheap ones but you’ve got to start somewhere.
I’m determined. That’s what got me through it all and it made me to where I’m at now. It was that determination. I was determined. Steady people are knocking me down and I’m like, “I can’t accept a note.” If they didn’t want to give me, I’m going to go and get it. I’m going to get it, so I’m trying to find one. I’m calling people, private owners like, “Do you want to sell that truck? What do you want for the truck?” They were like, “I will sell it.”
Long story short, my patience, I’m calling looking for trailers and I’m like, “If I get a truck and I have to get a trailer, my money isn’t all that good, so I’m going to have to rent a trailer or something at least once. I’m like, “That’s why I wanted to do with leasing.” I contacted this guy. Some are telling me to have patience, “Don’t rush into any truck,” because it was a couple of trucks but I’m like, “I see what this guy is talking about because he said he had one and he’s coming back the next week.”
I’m so happy now that my patients in that week came. I’m talking to the gentleman. I’m like, “Did you get the truck ready at all?” He’s like, “I’ve got it ready. How much are you trying to spend?” I said, “I wanted to finance by telling you my story about going to the banks and getting shut down. Do you know who owns this trucking company place out there?” He’s like, “I’m familiar with that. I do some business with them.” I’m like, “That’s who was trying to get me a truck but they shut me down. Do you know Bray?” He’s like, “I’m familiar with him. That’s my salesman.”
I have been praying to God to show me the way into tools and connecting with the people I need to connect with. He’s like, “Bray’s my salesman.” I’m like, “He was trying to get me the truck finance but he couldn’t because of my credit.” He said, “The truck that I’ve got, I’m willing to finance it.” I’m like, “If I was to finance this truck, how would it work? What qualifications do I need? What do you all want?” I told you how I’ve got shut down already over my credit at the bank. He was like, “I do my own finance.” I’m like, “Yes.”
He told me, “Come up with the money and you could get the truck and all that.” I’m like, “I’m pumped but it’s too good to believe. I hope this dude isn’t telling me anything.” He would get me down and the next thing you know he was running my credit and all this, and I can’t even get it down. He is in the trucking business, so I asked him if he was familiar with the power of your own globes. Power only means that you’ve got the tractor and you are going to transport other people’s trailers. I asked him, “What do you know about it?”
He was like, “I can’t get a trailer. There has been a shortage. As a matter of fact, I’ve got a trailer for you, too. If you want, you can buy it or you can rent it. I was like, “This is too good to be true. Did God answer all my prayers back to back like this? It was definitely God’s work. It was a blessing for me to end up going out there and get the truck, get the trailer all that.
I’m officially the CEO of Snoddy’s Logistics. It has been a blessing this whole journey going in. I finally could say that. Not only do I have something to leave behind to my kids now and some foundation. Now they get to sit back and see, “I know what it is to be an entrepreneur. My father was an entrepreneur. I know how to run a company because my father was running this company. He showed me how to do this. He showed me how to keep track of books, account work and all that.”
Not only that, but I could give people jobs back and give back to the community that I once was a problem with the problems we are having now. I once was that problem, so it’s a good feeling all around to be able to say that I could do that. Hopefully, it can be motivated for the next individual coming up thinking about getting into trucking game or whatever they think about and probably came from the struggle that I came from.
They are sitting down, not having that hope. They are sitting there feeling fatigued or whatever they are going through. I’m not saying that I’m a terrible individual but I came from a lot. You’ve got to think 20 to 27 years at 18, in and out of prison, never completed high school. It was none of that. Seventh-grade education was the highest education. Choosing a game life and now he’s CEO of his own company, Snoddy’s Logistics.
I love this story, William, you kept getting turned down. What’s the story you are telling yourself? On the one hand, I could imagine you are thinking, “Maybe my dream is going to fall apart? Maybe I’m dreaming here.” Are you aware of your self-talk? Tell me a little bit about that.
I was like, “Is this for me?” That’s why it’s so powerful to watch the things you consume and the things you intake in life.
Intake in your mind, you mean?
Yes. When you integrate that, it becomes your thought process. That’s why I continue to watch YouTube videos. I continue to do that through that whole process of feeling defeated because it defeated that. It defeated those thoughts and replaced them. You are only human at a point in time. You are going to think, “Is this meant for me?” If you continue to intake positive thoughts and surround yourself with positive people who want you to win, you can’t do anything but win. You outbalance that. It’s negative and positive.
What you are saying is, if I understand you, you are aware of your self-talk. You are aware when it goes negative, you’ve got to switch it up to positive.
That’s the thing. That’s why I said that I continue to watch those videos and put that into me, so I can switch those thoughts or convert them. I could constantly sit there and be caught up in certain thoughts, and move around with a bunch of negativity. What’s going to happen? Those thoughts are going to outweigh and outplay my life. Now, I would never be able to say, “How is Snoddy’s Logistics going?” I would never be able to do that. God has definitely been good.
Faith without works is dead.
It’s crazy. This thing being rolled in there, I saw our faith and I have been planning to go over the road. I’m going to tighten up some things. I went to church and ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen since I caught that case. I ran into him at church and I ended up leaving the church and called Myron. He’s like, “Do you have his number with you?” I’m like, “No, I don’t have his number. Texted it to me.” He’s like, “As a matter of fact, he’s right here. Hold on. I want to put him on the phone.” He gets on the phone and he’s like, “What’s up? I haven’t seen you since. I love you.” I’m like, “I love you, too.”
He’s like, “I didn’t know you were doing all that.” I was like, “Yes.” He’s like, “You’ve got your own truck.” I’m like, “I’ve got my own truck and I’m trading on it.” He’s like, “Is it insured?” He’s up there in his job. He’s like, “I need you. We don’t need you to work. Our company is short on workers.” We need to give contracts out to owners who’s got their own trucks. I’m like, “Yes.” He’s like, “I could give you a contract in my job. Call me tomorrow. We were going to give it to this other guy but I’m going to go talk to my supervisor. I’m going to call you in and I want you to come to get the contract. You already know the business.”
I’m like, “For real?” He’s like, “Call me tomorrow. I’ve got that contract for you. I told my girl and I’m like, “Do you see how good of a guy works?” I’m like, “We just left the church and surrounding ourselves with positive energy. It’s everything coming through prayer and faith. It’s knowing that I didn’t have contracts. I’m planning to go into the lower board.
You step out into the universe and you tell the universe what you are trying to do and the universe opens up around you. It doesn’t happen when you are sitting at home planning it. You’ve got to step out into the arena and that’s where people get stuck. Once you step into the arena, stuff starts. I’m thinking back to when Myron told you, “What are you waiting for?” He pushed you out into the arena. I’m interested in an entrepreneurial mindset and I’m thinking about when you’ve got the EIN and you’ve got the LLC, that even started to make it real for you, in your own mind.
It’s seeing your name.
You start to see it and so you take the next step. It was Martin Luther King. He said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. You’ve got to take the first step.”
Once you take that first step, everything is stored on the phone. I know that you are going to feed off that energy. You pick your momentum up as you go. You’ve got your LLC and now you are getting more excited than the next one. It’s slowly bringing you into life.
You can’t see it when you start. I told you this when we were talking. In the 1980s, I took a borrowed ladder strapped on the roof of my car, went up in rich neighborhoods, knocking on doors and cleaning gutters. Twelve years later, I was doing $5 million a year in revenue. I couldn’t see it when I started. When I started, I was broke and hungry. Trying to make $100 a day but you are trying to figure it out.
I was like you. I was going to the library. There was no internet. I was reading books. People ask me, “Can you fix this or that?” I figure out how to do it. You can’t see it. You’ve got to step into the arena. You’ve got to take that first step. William, I’m so grateful for you sharing your story with us. This is a fabulous start. We need to do a whole series about people, returning citizens that are doing it through entrepreneurship. I love this story. Thank you for sharing that with us.
It was an honor to coming on. I hopefully reached out to somebody who needs that drive or whatever it might be. Maybe they don’t know how to get off. Take that first step. Don’t let your past hinder you. A lot of people who are coming out of prison don’t know where to start. Start where you are at. My advice would be to surround yourself with people that show positive things. People are so caught up in the mindset of at least saying to the urban community, “I don’t need new friends.”
You will never win if you don’t create new friends, especially if you lost in the beginning with those friends that you saying you don’t want to create more new friends. You are going to have to build bridges. You are only going to make it so far in life based around the bridges you build. If I tell you to walk to Florida now what do you have to cross? You are going to cross bridges. If those bridges were not there, it’s not happening. There’s water under those bridges. Fall in that water and eventually, you are going to try swimming all the way to Florida but what’s not happening, you can be fatigued. You are going to ask for help, “Somebody throw me a life jacket.” That’s why you need bridges.
That’s why you need the right friends. That’s good, William. Thank you.
It has been an honor.
Thank you. You are an amazing leader. The story is going to help a lot of folks.
I appreciate it.
I appreciate you.