Today on shapes of success we are talking with Monti Washington, who I had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago! He gave a killer speech and it really spoke to me and MANY in the audience so I figured you KCM readers would love it! Monti is an author of the book From the streets to the stage, which is ALLLL about Monti and how his childhood shaped him into the person he is today. I mean let's be honest he is a trifecta - author, speaker, and coach! I am going to shut up now and let Monti talk because I know that's what you have all been waiting for.
KCM: So Monti lets get the low down. The readers did not get the inside scoop about those specific life moments you shared with us at Together. Can you talk a little about your childhood and how that lead you into your life now. My favorite quote you said "we do not look like our story" ( KCM crew, you know I love quotes people and legit want to make this one a t-shirt).
MT: Conceived in a hotel room, a product of a one night stand, my passion for helping people stems from the adversity I faced early on in life. I was forced to live in poverty due to my mother’s drug addiction from as far back as I could remember. I grew up sleeping on cardboard boxes in dirty fields because I had nowhere to live. I lived in parks for weeks at a time along with sleeping in crack houses and abandoned buildings. I was abused by foster parent after foster parent and even hospitalized on a couple of occasions. Until 8th grade I was in special Ed. Classes and was held back on two separate occasions. Despite all of this, I would go on to obtain two college degrees, become a state basketball champion, award winning poet, one of the top motivational speakers, and a nationally recognized actor.
KCM: Was there a specific moment when you decided you should share your experiences with others? I know people have such a hard time with vulnerability because it is scary! I always say you have to get uncomfortable to get comfortable. Do you have any tips for people who want to dip their toes into being more vulnerable with their partner or people in their life?
MT: I started sharing my experience through my poetry in college because at the time that was the best way for me to express myself. During that time, no one knew of my struggles. I was always the popular guy and jock, so people thought I had it together. But once I started sharing my poetry and saw the response it elicited, it encouraged me to continue to share. I then had to take a public speaking class and that was the first time I kept it real and shared my struggles full on. I saw they way so many people resonated with what I was saying that it encouraged me to do more and more.
Know your going to be judged rather you share your truth or not. Fear is why people hesitate to be more open and honest with themselves and their partners. That’s why you must find a creative way of doing it!
Like what I did with my poetry I feel anyone can do the same in their own unique way. Through dance, writing a blog post, painting, or just straight out speaking! One of my coaching clients can’t express himself verbally very well to his partner. So, I have write letters to his wife because that’s the best way for him to communicate his feelings. Another one of my clients is a beautiful painter and her vulnerability is clear in her paintings. To be honest I went through a very emotional time 3 years ago where I got back in touch with my biological family after almost 20 years. I went into a real depression for a few months and I was an emotional wreck and a half! The only way I could express myself was to pick up painting. I was horrible at it! But it became so therapeutic for me for some reason. Basically, there are hundreds of ways to express yourself and share your story. Find the way the makes you most comfortable!
KCM: I know when we talked you mentioned you speak primarily in schools addressing a younger audience. How did that come about? Did you just reach out to schools or did they reach out to you?
MT: I speak to colleges primarily. And instead of reaching out they rejected me! I got no response from emails and the phone slammed on my face several times! It took a could years and joining a speaking agent before things really started to take off. This all came about because that was WHO I WANTED TO SPEAK TO! I knew who I wanted to reach and I was just intentional about the moves I was making! I love the college stage of life because outside of early childhood it’s a transition phase. Your away from home and you’re in charge of all the decisions you make. And I feel my talks really help with students learning to find themselves.
KCM: For people who want to get into public speaking what are some tips? I literally had such bad anxiety from speaking in high school and sometimes I still get frazzled before I speak. It can be terrifying, but also SUPER liberating to get up and speak to a room full of people .
1. Know what you really want to say?
2. Know why you want to say it?
3. Know who will benefit most from your message?
4. Make sure its your own voice and not an imitation of anothers.
5. LASTLY, JUST DO IT! Do it as often as you can for whoever is willing to listen!
KCM: Is it hard to ALWAYS be motivational? What do you do when you are feeling down or off? Is there a process you go through to just regroup and start fresh?
MT: I have my rough times but I don’t allow them to last long because I have shit to do! Its not hard for me anymore because im good at putting things into perspective and surrounding myself with people who are the shit! What I do when im feeling down is:
1. I help someone else to get out of my own head. I find when im helping someone else I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself.
2. I go out on a date by myself and spoil myself with a spa day or something just for me. I must remind myself that I am worth everything that I desire.
3. I keep track in a journal of all my accomplishments and wins on the regular. When im down I make sure I read through all of that to make sure Im reminded of all that I have accomplished. I feel like to many times we brush off good shit in our life and focus on the bad stuff way to often! It can be dangerous to your confidence if you’re not careful.
4. Also having DOPE ASS PEOPLE around, you in these moments are critical! Having friends to have your back is everything let me tell you! It’s hard to be positive all alone all of the time.
KCM: Being in the speaking industry is there people that you look to for guidance? I feel like there isn't really a guide for success, it is just trying and pivoting. What have you learned?
MT: I feel you overall there is no real guide. I’m working on changing that myself now to help people. But like any entrepreneurial endeavor, you must just put in the work. The path is going to be different for everyone because of our the business. But as far as people I follow who inspire me? Right now, Jay Shetty and Tom Bilyeu because of the impact their having. Their speaking style and presentation is completely different from mine. But they seem to be real about what they’re doing and their impact. The best thing to do is to watch people social media. What content are they putting out? How often? How does it look? I learn best from just consistently watching how people operate because that gives you more truth than just their words!
KCM: How do you balance your life in acting, speaking, and everything in between? I am super into time blocking and have a strict morning routine. What do you do to balance that personal and work time (STILL figuring this out).
MT: Well I suck with balance! I’m a very unorganized person and work chaotically lol. I believe in harmony more than balance. Harmony is about making sure thing works with each other in the end. Balance is more about things being equal and that doesn’t work for me. And right now Acting and speaking does clash and I’m figuring out a way to make it all work together at the moment so ill get back to you once I find my flow on that one lol. I do have a morning routine that I do more than not, but im an artist more than anything and work off my mood. I have a morning routine of prayer, affirmations, and mediation that I stick to. But other than that, I just get up and go! I find having a quota and a set date of when I need to get things done works much better for me. That allows me to get a lot done when im inspired and not beat myself up on the lazy days.
KCM: Tell us about the process of your writing this book? Did you have a ghost writer? How long did it get take to get published? I am just so interested tell me all the details about the steps.
MT: NEVER A GHOST WRITER EVER! I don’t like that I think you can’t claim the book is yours if you go that route! I self-published through createspace which is an Amazon company. It was not to bad its much simpler than most people think when you self-publish. That website is easy to work with it. As far as the technical side, their great with that. The biggest part is just writing what you want to say and finishing it! I went the self-help route so its easy to find exaples of how the layout of the book is. ITS REALLY THAT EASY! I spent a few days in Barnes and nobles looking at books to get ideas and went with it! Here are a few impromptu steps:
1. Have a catchy title
2. Great book cover.
3. Great bio on the back.
4. Get a few people to write some testimonials or recommendations to put in the book.
5. Use cretaespace to get it physically done.
6. Have a great book lauch party.
7. THEN PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE!
It’s pretty simple to be honest I got it all done in just a few months!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all these questions! I am sure the KCM crew will love this!
Make sure to add your handles so all the babes can can stalk you!!