Eric Thomas The Hip Hop Preacher “The Secret to Success” Keynote at Affiliate Summit #ASW12 – Key Quotes

Motivational Speaker Eric Thomas (ET the Hip Hop Preacher) did an amazing inspiring keynote at Affiliate Summit West 2012 Las Vegas #ASW12 (I actually wrote this blog post waiting at San Francisco SFO Airport for my flight home to Australia). Eric had some great lessons and stories how he made it from a homeless dropout living on the streets in abandoned factories during cold Detroit winters to where he is today, a family man having graduated from University, doing his PhD and publishing a book “The Secret to Success”. My favourite quotes were:

““I may have been homeless, but my vision was not”

“It’s not an apple seed, in reality it’s an apple tree”


Here are my notes and some key points from Eric’s keynote:

Eric talks about the importance of environment that you surround yourself in


Eric says “Not how you start but how you finish that counts”

Was homeless, high school dropout, his mum got pregnant at 17 and was out of wedlock and grandmother had 14 children, so she got kicked out and was homeless

Eric was the first one in his family to go to College, took 12 years. Also close to finishing his PhD

“You can start from the bottom and you can still get to the top”

It may not happen in the timeframe you thought it would happen, but when you quit it definitely won’t happen

Eric says “I didn’t get here through academics, I got here because I refused to quit”

His daughter came home with news, she said she made the basketball team. He was thrilled but his daughter thought he would be disappointed as it was only the B team. Eric said Michael Jordan started from the B team, so starting at the same place Michael Jordan did and he made it, Jordan actually got kicked off his High School team, so she’s starting in a better place.

On the B team, you are going to stay hungry and thirsty until you go to A.


What is the first step in changing his life from homeless and a dropout – “seeing something I was not, before I was.”

Eric says – Somebody gave me vision, his Pastor told him – “you have something great in you, you can do it, where you are is temporary, you will not be there for the rest of his life.”

When his pastor told him this, Eric said he is just saying this to be nice, “it’s not possible, no way I will ever go to college, because my daddy and his father and his grandfather did not go to college, nobody in my family every went to college.”

Pastor said “That’s why they call it history, because it’s never been done before. You’re going to make history”

Eric says “Accomplishments came by him believing in me before I believed in myself”

As every time Eric came back to Church, he thought about it, and started thinking, “you know what, he might be right”

Every day you wake up you have to start with that vision

Have a mental picture of where you want to be, and what you want to do.

Eric says “Although my circumstance was homeless, my vision was not. I saw myself in a different place.”

He repeated “I may have been homeless, but my vision was not”


Seeing the Tree not the Seed

Eric shows an image of an apple seed and asks the audience “What do you see?” – People say seed, but it’s not an apple seed, in reality it’s an apple tree.

If you look at this seed and you believe it’s just a seed, that will be your outcome. But it has all the ingredients in there to be a tree, just in its beginning stages.

People get the seed confused with the tree. Some people just see the seed.

Was tough as Eric had a dream to speak and help people but Eric’s wife was an 8-5 working day person, and they had kids to feed and son has asthma so told Eric he needed a “real job” with benefits to look after the soon. But Eric believed this was just the beginning, he could see the tree, his wife could just see the seed. Although in the beginning he got discouraged, wanted to give up and quit.


Information changes situations – Need to have a vision

Passionate about information – a little information changed his life forever. Where he came from in Detroit, more people are in jail or 6 feet under than went to college, difference was he had information that they didn’t have

Eric knew that he needed some information to be successful that was not in that community, so he says “I needed to leave that community to get the information I was going to get.”

What inspired Eric was reading a book about a neurosurgeon who grew up in the same hood in Detroit and similar circumstances like Eric and “walked the same streets I walked”, he recognised all the stores and places in the book. Eric then believed “if he can do it coming from here, I can make it too”

That’s why on the front cover of his book Eric is wearing a Detroit Tigers Hat, so every kid from the hood from Detroit, when they walk past and see that book, they believe “that is somebody like me, that came from the same hood and same circumstances and same background that did it, so I can’t have a victim’s mentality”

What information do you need to know that you don’t know now?

Eric knew he had to hang around a different type of people. Even his brothers in the hood may have been there for him, but they weren’t going to take him where he wanted to go.

Needed to come out of his circle of influence. Use the skills you do have to get the skills you don’t have. Grown up in the hood so has deductive reasoning.

Was struggling in the program at Michigan State University, but saw this kid Todd in class would answer questions and the professor would light up. So Eric reached out to Todd and said where are you from? Todd was from Kansas. Eric said come and have a home cooked meal. Told Todd he really needed help as it was his dream to pass the program.

Todd says sit up front not up the back, as you may sit up the back as you are shy, but the teacher thinks that means you are not interested. Todd also said smile and nod your head when professor says things, also told him to change his outfit.

Todd also said their teacher has read 3 books, so read the books and remember a sentence from each, and when you come to class, question him about what he wrote. Eric asked the questions and the teacher would light up.

Teacher wrote – you are the most improved student in my class. Went from 2.5 to 3.5 and graduated with 3.7 in that class.


Failure is not an option

Say I am not going anywhere until I become successful. Rule called “the show up rule”.

“You can pretend that you care but you can’t pretend you are there”

Eric says “You will never be a failure if you show up every single day”

Come hell or high water, whatever I set out to do, at some point my dream is going to become a reality.

“I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 things that do not work” – Thomas Edison


Everybody has sight, but very few people have vision.

Eric’s vision for 2012 is written down, on paper, every day he spends 5 minutes watching himself putting on his robes and accepting his PhD.

You are not going to be able to make it happen unless you have a dream party every day. You have to see yourself doing it, feel yourself doing it.

Spend 5-10 minutes a day believing you can do it

And for every 1 minute you spend worrying and having a ‘pity party’ you need to offset that with a ‘success party’. So if you complain for 30 minutes, offset with an hour dreaming of what you can do


Working vs Wishing

When you talk about stuff that is one thing, even Eric took 10 years to write his book. He did all the dreaming, but not physically writing the book – the only thing he didn’t do was “work on it”.

Eric says lots of people come to him and say “Eric I want to be a motivational speaker like you and be successful and do what you do”, but Eric says no you don’t – “You want what I have, but you don’t want to do what I do”

If someone grows up in a fluent community, the advantage doesn’t work if he’s not working it

Eric says he may not have money, may not have connections, but I do have the ability to get up and work.

Eric said he was ashamed to tell that it only took 3 months to write the book.

There are things that come to workers that don’t come to people that just wish

The people are getting things is because they’re not spending 24hrs wishing, they are spending 24hrs working

If you didn’t have to work, and other people could get it without having to work hard, your degree would be worth nothing.

He knows great stuff is coming in 2012, as he put in so much work in first quarter 2011, second quarter 2011, all year 2011.


Position yourself

Eric’s favorite parts of Star Trek is when they beam people up, but to get beamed up you have to be in the right spot. Some things happen to people who just show up.

Eric was speaking to NFL players one week, on the days before/after his speech he wasn’t scheduled to do anything, he was just going around with his camera for youtube, when you position yourself properly stuff just happens. Certain opportunities don’t happen from your living room or hotel room.

As soon as he got the bottom of the stairs, the coach says “wow you are the guy from the video! We watch your videos all the time! we would love to have you on campus”

Position yourself rather than pouting. His son is always pouting, daughter is opposite, was crying one day at school as got a B in maths. Son comes home and says got all C’s, so passes all my classes, WOOHOO!

Tells son “You want the finest things, but you’re not willing to work for them”

“You’re not positioning yourself”

Position yourself, stop looking at what other people have and start looking at what they do.


Change not Chatter

You don’t get out of life what you want; you get out of life what you earn.

Whatever you are willing to earn you can get it

At 21, if you asked Eric “what do you want?” he didn’t really know, but he knew what he didn’t want, didn’t want to be in poverty.


You have to want it as bad as you want to breathe

Tells story of a young man, went to a Guru, said “I just want to be successful”

Guru says “Meet me at 5 O’clock”, he says no way, too early

Guru says “Do you REALLY want to be successful”, he says yes, so agrees to come.

Next days that Young Man shows up at 4.59, Sir I’m ready to be successful, the first principle I’m going to give you, we’re going out in the water to learn that principle. He says, I can’t swim, no way and walks away, but then turns around and says OK, I’ll do it.

He was afraid of change, afraid of new, afraid to go out in the deep. Every step he took into the water he was scared and wanted to go back. Then the guru held him underwater and he couldn’t breathe, he fought and fought, after a minute he was almost going to die, then the guru let him up.

Guru said “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful. When you are willing to get up early and to make every sacrifice, you will be successful.”

You can have everything, but you got to want it as bad as you want to breathe.

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