For me, one of the best parts about being a TEDx speaker was the opportunity to meet fascinating human beings and hear their stories, up close.
Charles Hunt has the kind of story I will never forget. He was raised on welfare in a drug house in the projects of Oakland, California. His mother was a drug addict. His father was a criminal who was murdered when he was just 10. The odds that he would go the same way as his friends and family were overwhelming.
But Charles created a very different story for his life, what he calls “rewiring your DNA.” He would become the first college graduate in his family, eventually earning an MBA.
He would realize his life’s purpose by founding The Audacity Firm, LLC, which provides development and coaching to equip clients with financial literacy, workforce readiness, professional development, and career planning strategies to prepare for a huge life.
Recently Charles sat down with me to talk about his journey as an entrepreneur who has harnessed his own victory story to help others.
You’ve found a calling by using what you learned while overcoming your own adversity. How did that happen?
Mine actually came from an epiphany, then an opportunity wrapped in a traumatic experience.
The epiphany was that in my early 30s I realized that the predominant goal I had as a youth up until that point, to be financially comfortable had been attained (not necessarily rich but not having to worry about where paychecks, meals, or stability/security was coming from). Upon realizing this I then started pondering what’s next, and wading through the next few years while earning a good living. Well all of a sudden, with no advance warning….I lost my job! Talk about a traumatic jolt!
While my base was initially shaken, I soon righted myself and recognized the opportunity that this misfortune had afforded me. I realized that this trauma, along with the many others I’d experienced in my life, combined with the experience and skill sets that I had, provided an exceptional opportunity that I was uniquely qualified and prepared to walk into if I was bold enough to try.
What have you learned about yourself in the process of telling your story?
I’ve learned that I haven’t arrived and have to be willing to continue to dive deeper if I’m going to truly heal and put back together the pieces of a broken past.
I think I’ve done relatively well to have emerged from such traumatic circumstances with relatively sound physical, mental, spiritual, and financial resources in tact.
But there’s so much more that I have to do to reach my potential and get where I’m supposed to be. I’m very much still a work in process.
What is the best part of the experience of telling your story?
That’s easy…being able to help someone. I truly do feel an extra pep in my step when I’ve done something that directly helps someone live, do, or be better. Me being able to tell my story or impart some wisdom not only gives my trauma a purpose but it also makes me feel like I’m walking IN my purpose.
While my base was initially shaken, I soon righted myself and recognized the opportunity that this misfortune had afforded me.
What is the current “chapter” teaching you?
It has been a bit of a validation that I’m on the right track…that I do have something to offer, that many people can relate to having adversity yet overcoming it, whether it’s in their careers, academically, economically, relationships, or just life in general.
By continuing on a path of leveraging my story of resilience, while providing practical tips, tools, and strategies that help others overcome their obstacles, I can have more satisfaction and impact than I ever could have imagined while being comfortable behind a corporate desk.
Charles and I agree on the power of story to not only make sense of life but to empower other people who can gain insight from our experience. Great hardship is not necessary, since joy can be transformative too. What’s important is that we give voice to what our life is teaching us.