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Life can take you down many different paths. If you want to change your path and walk a different, brighter one, then you need education and mindset. Join our host, Shannon Robnett, as he sits down and interviews real estate agent and social change agent, Edwin Ballard Jr. Here, Edwin talks about personal improvement and transformations. He remembers his rocky childhood and young adulthood and thinks about the day he decided to turn his life around. Tune in for an inspiring story for everyone.

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Education And Mindset: Tools To Change Your Life With Edwin Ballard Jr.

I am super excited to be with a guy that I can call a friend of mine. I've gotten to know him over a few weeks and I got to tell you, this guy is a gem because of what he's done. He's a gem because of where he's been. What he's got for you are some mindset tips that are going to blow your mind. When you hear his story and where he's come from, and the things that he's accomplished through the adversity that's been in his life, you are going to want to listen to what he's got to say about how to get from A to Z, where your dreams are going to take you. You're going to want to tune in as I talk to Edwin Ballard Jr. about how to control your mindset, to control your trajectory, to control your destiny, and to get what you want to win in life. You're going to love it.
I am excited you guys are with us. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce a guy that I have gotten to know in a way that I don't get to know a lot of my guests. I've spent quite a bit of time with this guy and he is full of inspirational things to say. You are going to love what's going to happen here on the show. I'm going to introduce my guest, Edwin Ballard Jr. How are you?
I'm great. Thank you. It's an honor.
I know you are active in real estate in the Atlanta area and you've been there for a while. Your story starts way back and your passion comes from your story. Tell the people a little bit about your story. How you grew up, how you got started, and what brought you to present-day Edwin Ballard Jr.
I was born into two military parents. It was a rough environment that my family was from. My mom sheltered me a lot, and then around the age of fourteen, she made me go stay with my dad because I made some dumb decisions. I got my first criminal charge at fourteen and there was a lot of stuff in and out of that. I was guided at a young age.
I found this group Young Life in a program I was in that my mom made me enrolled. That gave me a springboard that life can be different. That was the first time I had ever been in a luxury home as a teen and some other things like that. The last time I was incarcerated several years ago, I prayed to God and I asked him, "If I'm supposed to be doing something different with my life, please give me a sign." The sign was my brother going to Federal prison. I threw my hands up and I was like, "I got to do something different. There’s got to be more to life. How do I find it?”
The next thing you know, I'm on YouTube watching motivational videos. I found Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Tony Robbins, and all these guys saying, "If I can do it, you can do it. Change your mind, change your life." I started taking action and my life started changing. I saw more positive and it made me want to be more positive, and then I'm even more cognitive. I'm reading another book Think and Grow Rich, The Science of Getting Rich. I felt the same way that most motivational speakers feel. If I can do it, then you can do it.
It's so easy if you do it and if you're involved with your growth process. I'm not trying to take anything away from you. You came from a rough background, but you're able to change that. You are able to get ahold of that with accountability, with being able to face your mistakes, face your present, and look at what your future is. What was it that you were able to grasp at that moment when you started to see change happen? When you started to see things go the way you wanted them to go, what was it that you looked at and said, "This is not that hard?"
You can build nice fancy buildings, but that doesn't necessarily affect the community.
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Honestly, a lot of it was Jim Rohn. All of his advice was simple. It was plain. It wasn't rocket science to understand. Things like work harder on yourself than you do on your job.
It's so funny because a lot of people look at other people to change them. That's one of the things that every time I've talked with you, I've come away inspired and feeling better about what I'm doing because I am seeing that from my place, I've made changes that are reflective of what you're saying I should make. You've made more changes in your life and come from a much more difficult situation to a much more positive situation than I've done. I'm sitting there reflecting on that going, "If Edwin can do it, I can do it," because the reality is you're getting the same advice I got.
I love Jim Rohn. I love listening to the stuff he's got to say. I did a Tony Robbins event. What a life changer that was. Because you're plugging into people who are saying the same things, they're echoing that sentiment of “You can do it.” Fast forward, you started to see those things changing and everything's starting to get better, and you're moving forward with that. What starts to click in your professional life as far as things go with that? What took you into the real estate field?
That's a funny story. I had a commercial cleaning company. I have about three businesses prior to real estate. One was an executive corporate reward type marketing promotions business. It closed down when my grandpa died. This first business, I didn't know what we were doing. It failed. Moving forward, I went through the music production business when I came back to Atlanta. In 2014, I said, "Maybe I'll start a commercial cleaning company."
I can get out and be something. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. One of the marketing ideas they mentioned was taking food and marketing materials to the realtor's office. For some reason, I don't know why the universe, God or whatever you believe in works like this. I had a thought. I was like, "I know nothing about real estate," because I always want to have some level of being able to have a competent conversation with somebody.
I wanted to learn about real estate. I found out about wholesaling and all this other stuff. I'm like, "I want to take a course." I decided to invest in myself. In that one year, I got my income tax. Instead of buying a new TV, I spent $600 on a real estate license course and fell in love by accident. It was accidental, but then I've seen the power of real estate and how it's everything. Since then, I've been rocking with real estate.
My story is I grew up in the real estate, so I haven't known anything different. It's amazing to me how most people that finished their careers in real estate started somewhere else. The power of real estate and what it can be and what it can do is a draw. People tend to gravitate where it sounds like a lot of your jobs had sales orientated backgrounds to them where you were doing this and doing that with sales. Now you're selling the granddaddy of it all. You're selling houses and commercial properties. What was it when you were doing your first real estate deal from that time you were in the office looking at it going, "Maybe I can do real estate,” to the time you were done with your first real estate deal? What was the thing you took away from it that you said, "This is what real estate is going to require from me?"
I got beat up. The first couple of deals fell through and I had already counted the money.
I'm laughing because this is everybody's story. Everybody thinks real estate is so easy.
It’s not for the faint of heart.
I don't mean to interrupt but it's funny because I hear this story again and again, but you stuck with it. After you counted the money that didn't come in, what did you do?
I went back and educated myself even more. I took back to going back to the things that I learned from the mindset in general and whatnot. I realized that I'm the average of the five people that I spend the most time around. I tried to change my network. I started volunteering to do work for other agents. I started immersing myself in podcasts and information, and just wanting to learn how to master my craft.
I've been told off and I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I'm starting to see a theme with you. When you run into a problem, you educate yourself. When you run to another problem you can't figure out, you educate yourself until you get the knowledge to attack it from a different angle and solve the problem. The thing that most people don't associate with realtors is you're solving problems. People want to sell a house or buy a house and you're solving that problem, but that's only got you so far. That's got you to the present. That's been a four-year journey doing that. What is your new problem? What are you trying to solve now? How does that tie in with your past?
Believe it or not, here we go with this universe, God thing, whatever you choose to believe in, there is something out there. I had a thought. It was almost like a vision or a dream. I don't know if you've ever had something coming to your thought process like that. It was like, "What if we could build some apartments like the projects you used to live in when you were fourteen?" If you can change them, maybe you can change people because you relate to them.
What if instead of doing Section 8, and they have to go to work and do all of this type of stuff like volunteering, we made a personal development program that went along with the subsidy to twist some arms into personal development? Maybe they might like it and hopefully, it could work. I came up with an idea. It's pretty farfetched, but I have a vision of building communities and having the personal development program go along with that. I've seen developers come in and build new buildings and it's not changing the people. You can build nice fancy buildings but that doesn't necessarily affect the community. Because I come from that environment, I just wanted to make a change. That is the problem that I'm trying to solve right now.
Help me to understand this. You want to take and create an apartment. You want to turn buildings into communities. You want to take those communities and make financially knowledgeable people out of the residents of those communities. Is that what I'm hearing you say?
Yes but not only financially. It’s something deeper than that because we all know money is not the fix for everything, but just for people to be able to find more of themselves. Whatever it takes for somebody to become the best version of themselves, but it starts with financial because you have to fill those basic human needs and it takes money to do that.
That would have to be a vision. That's not a thought process. That's too evolved to be a thought process. I have thought processes all the time. My thought process right now is I'm hungry, at least we're on the same way back there, but that thought process ends with a very short small thing. This is not a small thing. You're saying that you want to build a building that houses people that creates a community that creates change.
Whatever you have to do to get it done, you have to be willing to do it—either climb this mountain or die trying. That's the mindset.
That's the end result. I want to change the world.
That comes from where?
Feeling better about myself because I got off to a rough start and I made it out. A lot of people, my friends and family members didn't. I wanted to see if I can do it, then I know that maybe I can teach somebody else to do it, which is why I'm intense on education.
I can see the passion in you right now. I can see the emotion that's right behind your eyes about what you feel, and that's the intensity that changes the world. That's the intensity that makes things happen. Where there appears to be no way, you create one. The reality of the thing that I've experienced by spending some time with you over the last couple of months is the intensity of you as an entrepreneur in this bane. I have no doubt that this is going to come to fruition and that I'm going to watch this happen in your life. Hopefully, I'm going to be able to participate with you as well, because I'm loving the vision. I see where you have such an intensity that it's not a thought. It has to come from somewhere deeper than thought.
Your goal is to group some investors together that want an ROI, which is not necessarily a return on investment, but it's a return on the investment in people, the investment in something bigger than that. It's seeing that you're getting the return not just in money, but you're getting the return and changed communities. We hear all this stuff on TV and I'm not going to make this political at all, but we hear all this stuff about the Democrats are going to do this, the Republicans are going to do that, and the government is going to do this. What I hear you saying is that you believe that the easiest and the most effective way to change the communities is from the inside out with the people in, and to become educated about who they are and who they can be. Is that what I hear you saying?
Absolutely, one by one.
Not to be politically motivated at all, that's not Democrat or Republican. That's not anything. That's just love for your fellow man.
That is true.
Guys, you can understand why I stand here, looking at this gentleman and the vision that he has and I'm amazed. I can't wait to see how this unfolds. You're getting that from your past and where your history has brought you. How are you going to do this?
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Education And Mindset: Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.
I'm trying to find like-minded people. I'm talking to a couple of different companies as far as financial and also different types of community service organizations. I've been reaching out to some people, and by finding like-minded people who want to change the world like me, who love human beings as much as I do, and who want to see as many of us happy as they can.
When you watch the news, I don't believe anybody likes anybody.
I don't watch the news.
You're saying that there are people out there that want to help people.
I believe so. Look at all the different organizations around.
What's your engagement level with them? How are you approaching them? What are you looking to partner with them on? How can people see that model that you're rolling out and make that a model of their own?
I'm in process of solidifying everything but it'll start with financial education. I'm thinking about including a book club. I'm also talking to a couple of copywriters to make sure. I want this program to be legit. I don't even want it to be some cookie-cutter type thing.
Instead of going out and creating all your own brand-new curriculum, you're going to partner with other people that have already built it out that are looking for a platform. You're going to bring the platform. You're going to be the great connector. That’s what you're going to do. You're going to take people who need a place to live and the desire to change their lives. Connect them with people that have the tools, tips and tricks to do that. Facilitate that to happen so that people can come out of that experience completely different.
I did not think I would be the guy that I am now. I had no idea.
If you continue to fight, it will get better.
I've heard more of your story and I'm constantly amazed. The reality is we all come from a place of an environmental struggle, where we'd wrap in our environment with our knowledge of what's going on and the people around us, and then in our DNA and what we have there. We bring in all that stuff and we slam in our socioeconomic status. All of that rolls into this big ball of who we are, and yet you've defied all those. You've gone from prison to entrepreneur. That's not easy. Most people go from entrepreneur to prison because they did it wrong. How do you handle that with your mindset? You're looking at a massive mountain. How do you keep your mindset telling yourself, "We can climb Kilimanjaro because we got to climb Kilimanjaro to get ready for Everest?"
I will say just quick error correction. I've never been to prison. I just went in and out of jail a lot. I've done enough time in jail and it could have been a prison term, but my brother has been and that was enough for me.
How do you keep your mindset right? How do you get up every day and know that you're going to tackle this mountain and it's going to work?
That's a fight. I'm a fighter. I've been called a hyper-aggressive sometimes. I know that it's a fight and already having gone through the struggle of trying to get myself together. I won't quit. I'm stubborn like a lot of men. We fight until the end. I'm a warrior. Whatever I have to do to get it done, I'm willing to do it. I either climb this mountain or I die trying. That's my mindset.
When you look at the twenty-year-old Edwin and Edwin now, you're still a fighter. You're fighting for a cause. What's different inside of you?
I have more empathy for people. I have a greater understanding of what the world is about. Honestly, not to get too religious or anything, I feel like God touched my heart. I don't know, I saw the world with different compassion. I'm extremely compassionate and empathetic towards any human being because I'm a human and I know how I've been through my struggles. I don't know what anybody has been through in their lives but I know that if you continue to fight, it will get better.
I hear your whole story and your whole story fast forward from when you decided to make that change went from self-centered to other-centered. It went from self-gratification to self-improvement. It went from Edwin doing what Edwin did at the cost to other people to what can Edwin do to improve other people. How can Edwin make it something that others can benefit from his work?
In summation, it’s instead of me being served to serving others. I'm completely dedicated to being a servant.
We live in a world that doesn't honor and glorify that. We live in a world that's take and take. You've divided yourself away from that world and said, "I'm going to be different and I'm going to do it in a way that's going to change the world." That's a statement that I've not heard from anybody in years, "I'm going to change the world." For you to say it with such confidence, I know that your mindset is locked in behind that. People can say everything they want, "I'm going to do this." I've heard you say it more than once, and every time I get more and more convinced that you are going to change the world.
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Education And Mindset: We all know money is not the fix for everything but for people to be able to find more of themselves, whatever it takes for somebody to become the best version of themselves.
I want to ask you a couple more follow-up questions. This is getting into stuff that I love because I know that anybody can do anything. You're proof of it. I'm proof of it. I didn't graduate high school with great grades. I didn't go to college. I had some mentorship opportunities with people, my father and my mother, but I was able to do things based on people believing in me. That's not your story. You didn't have people that believed in you all the time. How are you keeping your mindset from letting those thoughts creep in and beat you up?
A few years ago, I came across Hal Elrod's book The Miracle Morning. It was quite impressive. I started doing those things. I’m sitting in silence in the morning and doing affirmations, visualizing the life that I wanted to live in a world that I wanted to see myself and see my kids living in. I’m exercising and getting physical to get everything together and get that mental stress off. I’m reading more and more, and then I write. I use my journal a lot and that was something I got from Jim too. I want to say that every day is still a struggle, but I have the tools available.
What I hear you saying and I want to reiterate it back to you to make sure that I'm saying it right. What you're doing is you're creating habits that set you up for success before you walk out your front door.
How we start our day is how we end it.
When you walk out the front door and get hit in the head with a frying pan, you've already had a good part of the day. You've had that time for yourself. Your mind is focused and you're able to walk past that and keep going.
Yes. Go grab the ice.
You don't think this stuff is weebie jeebie. You don't think that these beliefs, these things you tell yourself, and these edifications are all just in your head. Do you think it's on your head and that's the point?
It is yes and yes. I used to think it was all in my head, but then I figured out that it is all in my head. Everything that we think, we can bring into fruition into this part of our lives. If you look around everything that we look at, it was a thought before it became real. Another one of the things that helped me keep inspired is a few years ago, I watched the movie, Gandhi. I didn't know a lot about Gandhi. I'd heard the name but when I saw how dedicated he was, how much suffering he put his self through for his country, but a better way to be treated. The sacrifice was amazing. He was completely impressive. I'm trying to not be Gandhi but close.
I know that my mindset dictates where I'm going to go. My attitude dictates my altitude. That's a little bit of a play on pilot stuff because they call it the altitude indicator in your airplane. If your altitude indicator is pointing to the ground, you're going to go to the ground. If the altitude indicator is pointing to the sky, you're going to go to the sky.
As entrepreneurs, it's not what happens to you. It's what you are going to do about it. 
That's true in life. If your altitude is not where you want it to be, you need to look at your attitude. If your attitude is right, it doesn't matter your altitude because you're enjoying yourself. We all want to be around the positive person, we all want to be around the guy that's going to be uplifting and say nice things about us rather than wondering, “Why did you dress like that? What are you wearing that for? What's wrong with you?”
We all have that person in our lives and we need to look at it like you did and like I did. We need to look at it and go, "I'm the sum of the five people around me. Are they all positive? Are they all feeding me or they're taking away from me?” You've got an incredible story, drive and vision. How can people take what they feel is their handicap? When they feel that life hasn't been fair, hurt them, or disadvantaged in this way, I haven't heard you say any of those things, but how do people take that and make that their fuel?
I can't remember who quoted these words but everybody knows this especially as entrepreneurs. It's not what happens to you. It’s what are you going to do about it? You have a choice at that moment. When I walk out the door and somebody hit me with that frying pan, I can focus on the problem or I can become solution-oriented. Some people would just be like, "Who hit me with this frying pan? Where did they come from? What kind of pan was that? I got a knot on my head." My first thought after I get hit with the pan was, "That hurt. Let's go get some ice. Where's the ice?" I find the solutions. A lot of people tend to have a victim mentality. Stuff happens to everybody.
When you change that victim mentality to a victor mentality or a fighter mentality, you go into that fight or flight mode and now you're looking at, "I got to solve this problem. I got to make this happen for me, my family and the next generation. What is it that pushes you to elevate that? What is it that you look back in, you unlock that thing inside of you, and adds the nitrous to Edwin?
Honestly, I revisit past trauma sometimes because I'm honestly still processing it. I'm still a young gun.
I appreciate you're saying that.
The 85-year-old told me, "You're a baby." I think a lot about some of the experiences I've had and some of the things I saw in the community coming up. I don't think a lot of people should be dealing with that stuff. I keep thinking about other people and not me. It's not for me.
It's hard for a lot of people to process that passion and drive but it's the purest drive. It's the part that says, "I am going to accomplish this because it's not about ego. It's about will. It's about what's right.” It's processing that in the purest way and going, "I got to do this so that future generations don't have to deal with what I did." Guys, if you haven't picked up a ton of information from this show, you need to go check your pulse. This thing has been full of valuable information. Edwin, you're speaking from your heart. I truly appreciate you as a human being, the wisdom and the tenacity that you bring. How can people reach out to you? How can people get involved with you? Where can we find you?
You can find me on LinkedIn, my full name is Edwin L. Ballard Jr. and also on Instagram @DecaturEdwin. Those are the two places I'm at most.
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Education And Mindset: It's all in your head. Everything that we think we can bring into fruition in this part of our lives.
We want you to know that you can reach out to us. We encourage you to reach out all the time as you tune in to the show. We sure appreciate you. We love your comments. Send us a comment. Like the show, recommend it to friends, and all those things. They're going to love what Edwin has got to say. I hope you have too. I hope you'll join us next time here on the show. Edwin, thank you so much for being my guest, my friend, and my future business partner. I look forward to seeing what the future brings for both of us.
I appreciate it.
That was Edwin Ballard Jr. We will see you next time.


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About Edwin Ballard Jr.

Edwin ballard jr.
I'm passionate about being a social change agent through real estate and providing the greatest service possible to my fellow man.

Realtor and former medical industry. Also, owner of three previous businesses which included a boutique multi-service marketing company, a barber company, and a commercial cleaning company. Over 20 years of customer service experience in various industries. Also, many years as a general laborer on various construction sites and one skilled trade by way of being a unionized electrician’s helper.