The Journey From Incarceration To Entrepreneurship: A Compelling Story Of Persistence.

An enlightening interview with Aaron Smith.

Getting incarcerated is the last thing anyone wants for themselves, but living a life that involves any criminal activity keeps you just a wall away from getting caught. To the people who are partaking in such deeds, it's never too late to get back on the right track. Similarly, the people who think it's too late because they have already been incarcerated, we are here to tell you that it is never too late.


This story is about dedication, persistence, and the wonders that a change in perspective can bring about in any individual.


We will be discussing our engaging discussion with Harley Blakeman, the once incarcerated individual who turned the tide around from being someone with a record towards entrepreneurship and came up with the brilliant business known as Honest Jobs.


Any individual with a record knows that once they have an incarceration history, it's very tough to find the right job or any job for that matter. Specific organizations treat them differently, and even though they may be perfect for the job, the opportunity is given to someone else.


This is the very reason why Blakeman came up with Honest Jobs. The purpose was to provide individuals who are caught up in prison reforms a re-entry in the world of business and entrepreneurship. The purpose of his organization is to find them suitable jobs quickly so that they can work in a direction to start fresh and pave the route to success.


Harley Blakeman was part of a small family and has struggled to be where he is today. He moved out of his home at the young age of 16, soon after his father passed away. He was moving from couch to couch, with no permanent place to live.


He quickly slipped into the trap of drug dealing, despite never being that type of a person. Blakeman heavyheartedly said, "Like that's never who I was. I was never violent. I was never a thief, none of that", but we guess life sometimes puts you in a position where you do certain acts to make ends meet. Finally, Blakeman was apprehended when someone tipped him off. He received a 14-month jail term.


This is where things turned around; his time in prison was enlightening. He understood even more that he is different from the individuals around him; he is no gang member but just caught up in the wrong actions.


He read several books and highlights the importance of reading to expand our understanding and identify how to create the right network. After getting out, he had a completely different mindset; he went to a community college, then to Ohio state university to pursue his degree.

Right of the bat, we want to signify the prominence of having someone to discipline and support you when things go wary. "She gave me discipline in a way I probably never had in my life. When I moved down with her, she was like, here's a list of rules," as Blakeman says, indicating that it is always beneficial to have some around who would knock sense into you, and in his case, it was his aunt.


Another point to underline was that you could not quit your job and immediately start your own business. Instead, it would help if you kept a balance, work in the daytime, and work on your goal after you have completed your shift. "It is an ongoing struggle you have to deal with". This goes to show that we must stay independent and have a source of income at all times.


Another significant aspect we want to accentuate is the importance of networking. As Blakeman says, "I know like one of the best things you can do is go talk to people that you've never hung out with in the past". This showcases the importance of networking, and no matter how resistant you are; you should go out and connect with different people.


Go out and discuss your ideas; even if you don't get the reaction you expect, people will still remember you being there. As a result, you will eventually meet the right set of people who want to fuel your energy so that you kickstart your idea.


We also want to shed light on the numerous accelerators that are out there who want to nurture undeveloped ideas. They will connect you with the right people and give you the right direction. The best part is the people behind these accelerators come with experience and have already succeeded in pursuing their goals and want to do the same for you.


This is precisely what happened with Harley Blakeman. He kept refining his idea by going through minor setbacks, but that never stopped him. He kept meeting investors and eventually got in touch with an accelerator, which gave him the required funding that made his dream possible.


Harley Blakeman is now providing incarcerated people the opportunity to get jobs that they once thought were unattainable. He has 450 organizations on board that give people who have a record a second chance of hiring to work in a multitude of fields.


There are many opportunities out there. You need to be willing enough to take steps to turn your life around, read enlightening books, interact with the right individuals and never give up. Things will eventually fall into place.


Want to be the next feature interview? Email us at escapingtheoddspodcast@gmail.com.

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