Motivational speaker and author, corporate trainer and education ambassador, Andre Norman has committed his life to influence others to make positive changes in their own lives.
His life didn’t start out that way, however.
Norman grew up in a home with an abusive father who eventually left his mother to raise him and his siblings on her own. A high school drop out, Norman began making bad choices that led to his arrest and imprisonment.
While in prison, he became a well-known prison gang leader, but all it took was meeting a mentor who inspired his mindset change to set him on the right course. In that moment, he overcame the abuse, illiteracy, gangs and prison of his past using it to inspire others.
Invited by the Rotary Club of Abaco, the dynamic speaker arrived on Abaco on Oct. 22 visiting with students from Oct. 23-24. While on Abaco, he also met with Department of Social Services probationers, and travelled to a Corporate Leadership Conference at The Abaco Club on Winding Bay.
His visit to The Bahamas also took him to the nation’s capital to meet with Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson and key officers, followed by a seminar with police gang units.
It was at Every Child Counts that ‘The Abaconian’ caught up with Norman to hear what he had to share with the students there. Several students from Wesley College were also in attendance.
Accompanied by Carrie Lowe and Jason Carlie, Norman began with a brief history of where blacks came from and how they ended up in different parts of the world. Using History, Money and Respect as headings, he promised to show the students how they could come up with a business idea to create a company that produces gross revenues of $600,000 a year.
In fact, he shared how he assisted a team of four young people no older than 25 in making $1 million last year.
“I’ve worked with presidents and world leaders, but I’m here because you’re just as important as children anywhere in the world.”
Sharing his background, Norman told the students that all anyone needs in life is a chance. He made a promise to never make his mother ashamed to call his name again. He told them how he applied at Harvard University for a job, and was selected from among thousands of candidates.
“Don’t tell me you can’t,” he advised. “There is no ‘I can’t;’ there’s only I won’t.”
He shared key points in an interactive exercise with the students to demonstrate how they could come up with creating a video to discourage teenagers from using drugs. With the right focus group and information, the video could be sold to churches, schools and universities around the world to make money.
“If someone watches your video, you saved their life. What is a better job on the planet than saving lives?” Norman questioned.
“Who you are today, right in this moment, you are enough!”
His presentation ended in a session to hype the students.
“Why are we here?” Norman asked
“To learn,” the students responded with 10 synchronized claps.
“Us,” they chorused with 20 claps.
“What do we represent?”
“The Bahamas,” they answered ending with 50 claps.
According to Norman’s biography, he launched his program, Project Footprints, in 1999 “to teach corporate audiences how focus, purpose, resilience and effective planning can overcome even the most daunting challenges in the business world.”
In 2009, he presented at the Young Presidents Organization – World Presidents Organization (YPO – WPO) Global Leadership Conference in Miami and also participated in the 2010 GLC in Barcelona, Spain. Norman has had the opportunity to lecture at several prestigious universities, including Harvard University School of Law, as a featured speaker at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning as well as the London Business School’s Sloan Fellowship.
His life experience has allowed him to speak on a wide range of topics inclusive of substance abuse, gangs, families in crisis, and mentoring by travelling to schools, churches and community centers around the world. He works with social risk groups in Honduras, Sweden, Guatemala, Liberia, Trinidad and The Bahamas.
Norman is an Ambassador of Hope, and he shares his gifts with those whom he comes in contact with. Overall, his mission is to save lives and inspire hope through collaboration.
Norman lives in Boston.