Eric Thomas is known for his “Truth” video that went viral a few years ago. In it he describes how to be successful: “When you want it succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” At age 40, Eric Thomas is successful. He serves as a pastor in Lansing, MI. He has Masters Degree and is working towards a PhD in Education Administration. He is a motivational speaker who has inspired Fortune 500 companies as well as inner city youth. He has been married for over 20 years and has two children.
But Eric Thomas wasn’t always successful. At 16, Eric was a high school dropout living on the streets of Detroit. Then one day he met a preacher who changed his life.
“He really just spoke life into me at a time when I was lost,” Thomas said. “He told me I had an untapped gift that if tapped into, would save lives!”
The preacher was right. Thomas got his GED and went to Michigan State to get his Bachelor’s Degree. It took him 12 years to earn that degree, but he never gave up because he knew too many people were counting on him to be successful. Thomas knew could not return home without his degree.
Thomas used a story once told to him about a general to keep himself motivated during those difficult moments in college.
“The general … came from England who claimed he burned the boat. So what he was telling his men was we either conquer or we die, but we are not going back.”
Even before earning his degree, he was making the preacher’s words come true. Thomas helped others get their GEDs and started the Advantage Program for black and at-risk undergrads after discovering only 31 out of 100 black students were graduating.
“The Advantage is successful because it is student lead and student driven,” he said. “Juniors and seniors helping out freshmen and sophomores. Who better to help you through your struggles than someone who was just in your shoes?”
Thomas also knows that everyone can’t be like him and meet a preacher who said that exact right thing at the exact right moment to help save their life, so he began Break The Cycle.
“The program is successful because it is in tune with the exact needs of the students,” Thomas said. “The messages are tailor made for them and their struggles so it tends to connect at a high rate.”
There are lots of reasons why kids are trapped in the cycle, one being absent fathers.
“The lack of a black father in the home has devastated the African American community,” he said. “Reasons why the father has been absent has been speculated upon for years and there is still no concrete answer as to why. Which is why I choose to focus on the solution. Helping fathers understand the importance of being in their child’s life has been a passion of mine since as far back as I can remember.”
This is why he boasts about the great relationship he has with his own family.
“I didn’t know who my real father was growing up and that hurt,” Thomas said. “My wife and two kids mean the world to me and to see how close we are makes me prouder than you could imagine.”
But what gives him life and inspires Thomas to breathe is to, “Just inspire people to greatness. I believe we all have God given gifts and talents but many of us struggle to tap into that gift. If I can inspire people to reach their maximum potential, I know I am making a difference”.
And Thomas is making a difference and continues to make a difference with his book SECRET TO SUCCESS.
“The book is a combination of my life story, mixed in with life lessons and principles. I have been overwhelmed by the response to the book,” he said. “I get hundreds of emails a day from people saying that the book has changed their life or their teenagers life. I have moms and dads emailing me telling me that they’re reading the book as a family, and principles telling me how much their students have benefited from the book. It has been amazing and life changing!”
However his ultimate goal is create a boarding academy where he could create an environment for growing successful students and leaders. Thomas said one of the reasons why he was successful is because “he didn’t go back to the streets where he grew up.” He removed himself into order to free himself. Thomas also dreams of making this academy a resource for teachers to learn better ways to inspire their students.
“Teachers are exhausted and need tools,” he said.
Just as that preacher touched Thomas, he believes teachers have the power to transform lives.
“That preacher changed my life and now I am transforming thousands of lives. Just think how many lives could be changed if each teacher just saved one life?”
Secrets to Success is available on hard copy at http://www.etthehiphoppreacher.com and the e-book is available on every reading device. MP3’s are available on iTunes by searching ET THE HIP HOP PREACHER. Also the app is available for Android and iPhone at ET THE HIP HOP PREACHER. You can also follow Eric on twitter @ericthomas