Dr. Joe Johnson went from struggling to get out of a bad neighborhood to speaking in front of thousands all across the country. When he first started public speaking, he never thought of it as a career, but now he sees it as even more than that. He uses his platform as a tool to impact lives and help people find their purpose. On this week’s episode of the WHOA GNV Podcast, Joe opens up to Collin Austin and Michael Dees about his path to success and the struggles he encountered on his way up.
Growing up, Joe was determined to get out of the bad neighborhood he was brought up in. He spent most of his childhood in Milwaukee, in an area that has the highest incarceration rate of black males in the US. He used sports as his way out, playing both basketball and football his first year in college. But eventually he realized the life of a professional athlete wasn’t for him, so he went on to get his master’s degree from Western Michigan University. This is where he got his start in public speaking.
As a graduate student, he participated in student organizations that would often bring in guest speakers. It was then he realized how lucrative public speaking could be, and he started to think of it as a real career path. At first he was only speaking in classrooms and churches, and he cringes when thinking about the first talk he ever gave.
“My grandfather has a church, and he let me speak about father’s day, and I was listening to it like ‘Get me off the mic right now,’” he laughs.
But he kept at it. He spoke for free for four years, and his first paycheck was only around $250. Needless to say, public speaking wasn’t paying the bills, at least not at first.
“A lot of people [get into public speaking] because they think they can make a lot of money right away, but the reality is if you don’t love it and it’s not in you, you’ll never be good at it,” he told Collin and Mike.
Public speaking is more than just a career for Joe. It’s a way to connect with people and impact their lives. He’s truly found his purpose, and he’s made it his mission to help others do the same.