Second Chances With Andre Norman

TTD 28 | Second Chances


Bouncing back after being released from prison can be very difficult. Anyone who had been incarcerated would think that the general public would look at them with disdain. That alone can be very challenging for someone to rise from rock bottom. Our guest, Andre Norman, is one reason to believe in second chances. Known as “The Ambassador of Hope,” Andre was serving a prison sentence but managed to turn his life around. He walked out of prison in 1999, after serving 14 years out of the 100 he was originally sentenced to. He has since developed a transformational program called The Academy of Hope designed to reduce institutional violence in prisons by providing intervention and a positive environment for inmates and staff. In this episode, start believing in second chances again as Andre talks with Dr. Patty Ann Tublin about hope, change, and redemption.

Listen to the podcast here


Second Chances With Andre Norman

I have an interview in store for you that is going to blow you away. Before we go any further, make sure you like, share, comment, and subscribe to this show. Our guest personifies the concept of redemption. He is someone that went from prison to Harvard. Let me not hold you in suspense any longer, but I would suggest that you buckle up because Andre Norman is about to take us for a ride. Welcome, Andre. Thank you so much for being a guest on the show.

I’m happy to be here. I was not going to miss it for the world. I’ve been strapped in this chair. I have to do this. On my last call I was like, “No, I got to go.”

Thank you so much. I know that you will legally hold everybody hostage for however amount of generous time you’re about to share. Andre, I didn’t go into all your bio stuff because people I know are going to be looking you up after the interview. Don’t leave us yet. Please share with us your incredible story. I’ll have to get everybody to talk about your book later, Ambassador of Hope. You are a miracle in the flesh. Please share with us what you would like our readers to know.

I grew up in Boston. Everything’s right there. I’m working in the city. Mom had six kids and single. It was tough trying to manage six kids. I had high energy.

What number were you on the kids’ list?

Number five.

You were at the bottom.

Second to the bottom. It was tough. You get off track. You freak out that you’re poor so you stopped going to the park and had to stop school to make a couple of hours. I used to make $30 a day in the park, so I can buy clothes. I help the older kids sell weed. The other kids were selling weed and I was little. I was running across the street. I bought a little box of weed and I bring it back.

You’re the broker.

No, I was the runner. I started doing that so I can support myself then I started playing the trumpet in sixth grade. By the ninth grade, I was good at it. I’m going to band every day in high school. My friends convinced me to give it up.

I saw the trumpet in the background. For the people that are reading, Andre has a trumpet in the background. I wasn’t sure why that was there. You started when you were in sixth grade. I guess the school had a program.

I was in sixth grade when I started a band. I was in it. By high school, I was good at it. I’m in the band in high school and loved playing the trumpet. My friends convinced me it was stupid. It wasn’t cool. Black folks couldn’t do that. I gave up my trumpet and my dream. I drifted all the way through high school, getting in trouble. I ended up in court and they sent me to state prison. I got to state prison. I started running around and getting in trouble, fighting every day for six years. A prison is a place where you put a bunch of people who are disgruntled, unhappy and addicted to something, sitting in one big place and closing the door.

Good things are about to happen. That sounds like a great formula.

I woke up one day in solitary confinement. I’ve been in there for two and a half years.

I know what it means, but how does that work? What did you do?

If you commit a crime in prison, they can’t send you to prison because you’re already there, so they send you to solitary confinement.

No matter what the crime is.

Serious crimes. I had two attempted murders. I attempted to murder other people while I was in prison. That’s a lifestyle. That is what you do. You ask the guy at the bar why he drinks, that’s what he does. “Why did you get 2 drinks, 5 drinks, 10 drinks? He’s like, “I’m at the bar.” At the bar, you drink. In prison, it is a lot of violence.

You’re saying it as a matter of fact, but that’s heavy when you think about it.

[bctt tweet=”Prison isn’t a penitentiary. Prison is a state of mind that you’re locked in. ” username=””]

Prison is not a fun place. You have the most violent people in the country stuffed in one building and left to their own devices.

Not to be sarcastic, but after the first attempted murder, you were in solitary confinement.

It happened on the same day. I tried to kill multiple people.

It’s the morning and the afternoon.

It was the same time. It was a fight. A bunch of them and a bunch of us.

There’s the whole gang culture going on in the prison. If you’re not in a gang, you’re dead.

You’re a victim. You’ll be robbed, raped and extorted something, most likely. I’m sitting in solitary confinement and I realized something. I’m the king of nowhere. This whole life is make-believe and stupid. I decided I wanted to go home and be successful. I said, “I’m going to go home and be successful.” I figured I would go to college. I picked a school called Harvard University. I came out of my cell the next day. I got my gang together. I told them I’m going home. I’m going to Harvard. They told me, “No, Dre, you can’t do that.” They started telling me all the reasons I couldn’t go to Harvard.

Did they laugh in your face?

I stabbed people for a living. Nobody laughs at me. When they were telling me why I couldn’t go to Harvard, I didn’t even hear them. What I heard were my friends in the ninth grade who stole my trumpet. I had a dream once and my friends talked me out of it.

You let go of that dream as much as you would talk out of it.

I let it go. Here we are now about to make another bad decision because my friends think it’s stupid. The worst part about it was I could have come out of my cell and said, “We’re going to go attack the other game. We’re going to stab them.” They would say, “Yeah,” and ran with me. “We’re going to fight the guards.” They would say, “Yeah,” and ran with me. I said, “Let’s go home and be successful,” everybody said no.

I am in awe of this. I know every single word is true because I know you. If I didn’t know you, I might be listening to a little bit of Hollywood here. It’s nothing like Hollywood. You said you’re in prison. How many years were you serving at this point?

I was supposed to do 28.

You had how many years left in the 28? You’re not getting out there on good behavior.

I had six years in and a bunch more to go.

You’re in solitary confinement. I would imagine many times when somebody is in solitary confinement, they’re the victim. They’re angry and pissed off. They’re not thinking of lollipops and rainbows. Take us into your mindset where you had that shift. You might save many people’s lives with this answer. What was the shift in prison? Not with the best of society. That would be an understatement. All of a sudden, what was going on in your mind?

I was in solitary for trying to kill eight people. The day before, I had this concept to try and attack some more people. The thing in prison is every day, you got to fight. That’s how you live and make your name. When I wanted to attack these people, that’s when I came to realize that I was the king of nowhere. I’m about to become the king of this whole place. I’m about to become the number one ranking gang member in the state. What does it all mean? Nothing. It’s like The Wizard of Oz. When you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy comes and gets her team. She marches through the whole place of Oz. She gets to the end. She pulls the curtain back and it’s an old guy pulling up. It’s all fake. That’s how I felt. The crazy thing about The Wizard of Oz, nobody cared that the wizard was fake.

Watch the movie. Nobody cared. It wasn’t until Dorothy pulled the curtain back that they found out and the world still didn’t care. They were cool to have some fake guy pulling levers because people live in little sub-worlds that they’ve created. They don’t care about the larger world that they’re part of. When I saw the world for what it was, to be fake, it was my job to sit in that chair and be the wizard.

TTD 28 | Second Chances
Ambassador of Hope: Turning Poverty and Prison into a Purpose-Driven Life

I don’t want to do that. It’s stupid. I’m a rational person. I said, “I don’t want to stay here if that’s what this is all is.” The crazy thing is I committed my life to this madness. Now I had to make a full turn. I went back and I said first, “I wanted to be free.” I realized free doesn’t work because 75% of people who got free come back to prison.

That’s the recidivism rate.

Every state would tell you they have wonderful numbers. Seventy-five percent of people go back. I realized, “Who doesn’t come to jail. Successful people don’t come to jail. I want to be that.” Free is the parking lot. I want to be in the parking lot. I want to be successful. I want a big house and a nice car. I worked for the next 8 years, 20 hours a day. I taught myself how to read and the law. I went to anger management, groups, counseling, and self-help groups. I overturned my case on appeal. I went to every program I wasn’t nailed down.

Before you let yourself out, you tell your gang members you’re the king of nothing but to them, it’s still something. You want to go to Harvard. How did you survive that within the prison and your gang? I would imagine you were now out of it.

I was always a good friend.

We’re going back to relationships and trust. I love that. I knew you were going to get there.

When I was on my way up the ladder, I was a fair and decent guy. I was a psychopath but I was a fair psychopath. I never bullied people. I hated bullies. I used to be short as a kid. I treated everybody with respect. If I ever had a battle with you, it’s because you had it coming. It wasn’t that I randomly picked you out of the crowd. When I decided I didn’t want to be that guy anymore, it was 20,000 people wanting to be the boss of the prison. I became the advisor to the guy that replaced me.

You’re a trusted advisor.

Aside from being a trusted advisor, one guy came at me one time like, “Why are you keeping on the program? What’s going on?” I was like, “I’m trying to get my life together. My mind and life are messed up.” They said, “You’re the smartest guy here. You don’t have problems. What are you doing over there?” He’s challenging my integrity. I said, “I’m going to counsel. I got two options. I need to go in and talk about me and my dad and how we don’t get along and how it upsets me, or I’m going to get my knife, come back and stab you in the face and talk about how this guy tried to get in my way going to counsel. You pick it, but I’m going.”

He looked at me. He’s like, “I just poke the bear and I’m about to get my head chopped off.” I’m like, “If I got to chop your head off to go to counsel, then so be it. I prefer not to, but if that’s what you want, then I’ll chop your head off and go to counsel and talk about that. I’m going to counsel either way.” He was like, “You need to go talk about your dad.” He pulled up on me later and he said, “If you figure out what bothered you with your dad, let me know because I got the same problem.”

There are so many people in jail who have issues with their parents. There are so many people on drugs who have issues with their parents. There were so many people who are suicidal and depressed that have issues with their parents. There are so many people in bad relationships who have issues with their parents that are unresolved. Prison is a relative term. There are a lot of people who have been married for fourteen years that are in prison.

There are people who have crazy and wonderful jobs that are in prison. People have lives. I look at Prince and Michael Jackson. They had the greatest lives ever in prison. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, prison. You went down the list of people that we think have great lives from the outside. Prison isn’t a penitentiary. Prison is a state of mind that you’re locked in. Many people are locked in and are now in a cycle spiralling. They don’t know how to get out. There are people right now living in Hollywood, Scottsdale or New York who are stressed out. Their lives suck according to them.

Everything is relative. There are two things. One is sometimes people are in a prison of their own making because they have chosen to become a victim. They’re the victim. What’s being done to them, personified let’s say by their parents. Their parents fought that’s why everything is my fault. I do have to stop for a moment because when you mentioned Kate Spade and now you’re talking about depression, that’s not necessarily somebody that’s a victim. I feel like we have to be careful here.

I’m not talking about people being victims. She had a lifestyle that she couldn’t get out of. What she had was treatable. She didn’t know how to access help. Anthony Bourdain did not need to die. What he had was treatable. He couldn’t see the help. I’m not blaming him. He’s way supposed to be in a sense of he’s stuck. The people around him couldn’t connect to him and he couldn’t connect to the outside resources. The same with Kate Spade. She’s not a victim because of her parents. Whatever her reason for being in that hole, she couldn’t see her way out.

She couldn’t get out. Let’s bring that to you then. You have made lending your hand and having somebody be able to reach out. Many people have hands extended to them and they can’t accept and grab them. Let’s talk about what makes you so special. It’s not just Andre that you got out of prison, but you have saved many lives because of your gift of turning your life around. What is the magic that you bring where you can help save people? Talk about who you save and how you do it. It is incredible.

The magic is I know their pain. If not their specific pain, I know their pain. I have experienced trauma, torture, depression, loss and grief at extreme levels. I’m in a situation I never thought I would ever come up with. I’m locked in a basement of prison with shackles on my feet. My life is over. I had to find that thing in me to lift myself out. When I run into a person who’s depressed or suicidal or addicted, they can look at me and they connect, “He gets it. He’s been to a deeper and darker place than where I am right now.”

Being in the basement of a prison, locked in a cell with no sunlight for two and a half years is a dark place. I lived down there for a long time. Even though I came out of it, I had that mindset. When I sit with somebody in trauma, I don’t blame and judge them. I’m going to try to understand them. I’m going to embrace you and accept whatever you say the world is. If you say the world is awful. It’s not worth living, I agree. The world is not worth living, but explain it to me.

I don’t go against them, “You need to live.” “No, the world sucks. I get that. I’ve been there. Explain to me why you think the world sucks and you want to die.” The more they talk, the more you can hear them. You have to hear them. It’s not a directive, a mandate or a speech. You have to hear their pain and then speak to their pain. You can’t speak to their symptoms. Speak to their pain.

[bctt tweet=”Once you remove the why, the what changes.” username=””]

Give an example of that. I know you do that.

Let’s say they are depressed and they’re drinking a lot. They want to talk to the person about drinking, “Maybe you shouldn’t drink as much.” I was talking to somebody and they were like, “I’m off track. I’m drinking too much and going down the wrong way.” I’m like, “What are you doing with your life?” He said, “Nothing.” I said, “If you’re doing nothing, you should be drinking a lot,” which is the opposite of what he’s expecting. If you had to sit around doing nothing, drinking a lot comes with that.

I said, “Let’s work on not the drinking but the doing nothing. Let’s not work on addictions. Let’s work on the causality for the addiction.” Why do you feel that you need to escape? I don’t care where you’re running to because I can take all the drugs, the alcohol, and the bad relationships away. Denied access is not treatment. If I take you and walk you in the basement right now, I’ll let you out in five years. If you smoke cigarettes, you’re going to smoke again. If you drink alcohol, you’re going to drink again. If you got a bad relationship, you’re going to find another one. Denied access is not treatment. That’s why a lot of drug rehabs don’t work because they just take you to the mountains. They lock you in the cabin. You can’t get access to drugs, but they don’t treat the underlying symptoms. The why. Once you remove the why, the what changes.

The thing about drinking is amazing. People drink when they’re depressed but alcohol is a depressant. Initially, it might make you feel better, but then shortly thereafter you feel worse. It’s like, “I drink to go to sleep.” It will put you to sleep, but it will keep you asleep and you don’t get sleep. Somebody tells you, “I have nothing going on in my life. My parents suck. The world is terrible. Everything is stacked against me so I drink.”

I’m like, “That makes sense. I agree with you 100%. There’s a great reason to be drinking. It makes perfect sense to me why you are drinking.” They say you can’t help somebody who doesn’t want to be helped. That’s wrong. There is something before that, getting them ready to want to help. That’s where I come in. I embrace your space. Don’t judge, shame and challenge it. If I can get you to let me into your space, now there’s a positivity in your space where before you were alone. It was only darkness. If I can convince you to let me in your space, now there’s light in your space. I don’t try to pull you out. I try to bring light in.

You join with them and you start that process of creating trust.

Most people who were suicidal, depressed or addicted feel alone. If you allow me into your space, guess what? You’re not alone.

When you leave, you make somebody feel better. At that moment, I can feel that as you said that because you’re right. To feel alone in the world is incredibly lonely. As humans, we are wired to be connected. That’s one of the reasons why COVID was so difficult. People were alone. They were losing that connection. You create that connection with them, but then you can’t stay with them.

You don’t have to stay physically to be connected. Do you love me less because I’m on Zoom?



You get into their minds and hearts.

You’re looking forward to seeing me again.

I am, but we could argue whether I’m crazy or not too.

We’re all crazy. The gentleman I worked with came to me at a conference. He said, “My nephew is going to kill himself.” I got him up on the phone. I talked him off the ledge. I said I’m going to come to see him. We agreed that my coming to see him will be phenomenal. We’re going to do this big speech at his college. Guess what it gave him? Something to look forward to. When I showed up at his college, we did the presentation. I said, “This is going to be even better next year.” He has a whole year to plan something. When people started giving up, they stop letting go of things.

You gave him a reason to go forward.

He looked forward to the first event. Now he’s looking forward to the second event and it gives him purpose.

There’s such a ridiculous amount of money spent on programs that don’t work. Why?

TTD 28 | Second Chances
Second Chances: The more they talk, the more you can hear them. You have to hear their pain, then speak to their pain. You can’t speak to their symptoms; you speak to their pain.


Unfortunately, people monopolize and monetize your pain and suffering.

That’s horrible.

That’s what it is. For me, I’ll equate it to Black Lives Matter. When George Floyd died, the whole world called my phone. I had a lot of people calling me who were in turmoil, unease and unrest. How do they navigate? I’m having this phone call and I’m telling my Black friends, “We’ve waited 400 years for the phone to ring. Pick up the phone. Don’t try to shame them or beat them down or load this over their head because they’re trying to ask for help.” It’s been 400 years. You should have been there.

No. help people be better and it will help all to be better. When people go to treatment, there are two things you can do. You can find a way to make it work. You can find a way to make it not work. A lot of treatment centers are looking to exploit. There are people in the Black Lives Matter movement and the drug treatment center who are looking to exploit. There are people in every venture who are looking to exploit, and there are people who are looking to do better. I can tell you that there are good correctional guards, good police officers, and good White and Black people. The same token is the opposite on the other end.

In this place, for some people, it becomes the thing about money and money over people. I literally flew to San Francisco for twelve hours to go encourage the moms who are dealing with suicidal kids and stressed out. We’ve saved 1 life, 2 lives, and 3 lives. You got to show up. It can’t be about the money. It has got to be about the people.

You know they say if you want to save the world, you save one life.

That’s what we do.

I’m no Pollyanna here, but it’s so disheartening to think people are in so much pain and turmoil, and somebody looks at the dollars. That’s mind-blowing. Let’s go back a little bit. How many years are you in prison? How many years did it take you to get out?

Eight more years by the time I turned it around.

Did you enrol at Harvard? Did you go to Crimson and you’re like, “I’m here?”

This is the thing. The Law of Manifestation and Attraction works. I came home. I ended up at an agency where the entire staff had come from Harvard. They started taking me to Harvard early. I’m out of jail for six months and I’m on a campus doing lectures, going to seminars, and hanging out with my people because that’s where they came from. My wife has a degree from Harvard. We’re there all the time. She was one of the people I first met in this group.

What is this group?

There was a Christian group of students in the Ivy League. It was like 40 of them. When they graduated from college, they said, “What are we going to do with our faith? Are we going to go work for the companies or work for God?” We had these 40 PhD students move from Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, and Princeton into the city and started a nonprofit and started a church. When I came home, I ended up by chance meeting these folks and joining their nonprofit.

Did you do that because you are a member of their church?

I ended up being a member of their church, but I met them through the nonprofit first. I came into the nonprofit. There are these 40 PhDs and these geniuses. I’m hanging out with them every day. You are who your circle is. They made the connection for me and leveraged over. The work I was doing in Ferguson, Missouri around the protest in 2016 got me a fellowship at Harvard Law School. They called me and said they wanted to partner with me. Dr. Charles Ogletree who raise up Michelle and Barack Obama became my mentor/boss. I came to Harvard Law School in his department as a fellow.

What was the fellowship on? What was the subject matter?

Doing community engagement. The work I was doing in social justice around Ferguson, the work I was doing in communities around the world from Honduras, Guatemala, Sweden and West Africa. They like the work I was doing and they want a department.

How long is the program that you’re in for a fellowship, a year or two?

[bctt tweet=”When people go to treatment, there are two things they can do – find a way to make it work or find a way to make it not work.” username=””]

It was two years. There was no real timeframe. When Dr. Ogletree got sick, I had to step down. I was there with him. It’s like Joe’s Genius Network, “Am I staying?” “I don’t know.”

For the readers that don’t know, Andre and I met through Genius Network through Joe Polish, the incomparable founder of Genius Network. Between Joe and Andre, I don’t know how many millions of lives you guys have saved. Those are the people you want to keep company with, for sure.

If he left there, I’ll probably go with him.

You won’t stay if I stay?

I’ll come and visit.

Touche for you, Andre. I’m going with Joe too so I’m with you. You leave and you started the Academy of Hope. You’re literally an international figure. How did you build up all from such a place of appreciation, gratitude, and giving back?

I started helping people. I showed up with no expectations and helped people. Other people started seeing me. I got into international. I’m working in the city and there was a guy from London Business School, Jules Goddard. He said, “If he can do this with gang members and prostitutes, what can he do with businessmen?” They flew me to London and they put me in a room with Deutsche Bank and said, “We don’t know how this is going to go but do your thing.” I work with London Business School since 2001, Ericsson Mobile and British Petroleum.

These are with three-piece suits on.

I get along well with them. They used to throw me in dorms, now they’re throwing me in conference rooms. I started that and I came to Phoenix. I didn’t meet Joe. There was a guy named Mike Bernoff who called me. He told me he couldn’t meet me. We were supposed to meet. My friend tried to introduce us. He called me he couldn’t meet, so I say, “How can I help?” He said, “What do you do?” “I said, “Interventions.” Once he saw me do that, then he introduced me to Joe. When he called me, no expectations, never heard Joe Polish’s name. I said, “You can’t meet, but how can I help somebody?” My offering to help led me to Genius Network.

Those are the magic words for Joe, “How may I help?” How many years ago was that?

Several years ago.

I feel like you’re an institution. It seems like you’ve been involved forever because you go around the world.

People call me. I’ve been to over 24 countries. When Honduras had the highest murder rate, they called me. When Sweden had problems with drug addiction, they called me. When Liberia had child soldiers in the street, post-Civil War, we went. It’s the same in America. We go to Scottsdale, Helena, Montana, Salt Lake City, Compton, and Miami Beach. Wherever there’s a problem or somebody is in pain or need, they call and we show up.

I will ask how people can find out more about you, but I do want to know what is next for you? What’s on the horizon for Andre Norman?

I’m trying to digitize my business, courses, training, all that type of stuff, because once that’s done, then I can physically go help more people. I’m stuck having to go to work, even though my work is cool. I go to Genius and I go to the war room and scale-up. I go to great places but it still takes time. If I could digitize myself, then that money makes while I’m sitting. I can physically show up for the mom in Sarasota, Maine or Vegas. I got six people who ask me to come to help their kids one day. Six moms came crying. I can’t go because I got to work. I got to schedule them. I want to be able to go.

How do you choose then if there are six moms and they’re all over the world?

They’re all over the country, ideally. They’re all in America.

How do you choose?

TTD 28 | Second Chances
Second Chances: Denied access is not treatment. Many drug rehabs don’t work because they just take you to the mountains and lock you in a cabin with no access to drugs, but they don’t treat the underlying symptoms.


When I’m free. I’m looking at my schedule, when am I free? I try to schedule what part of the country they’re in. What can I get to 1st, 2nd and 3rd? I’m going to get to all six, but instead of walking out of that conference and flying straight to San Diego because I’m already in San Francisco, I would love to fly straight to San Diego. It was a 45-minute flight, but I had to come back East because I got stuff I have to do for work. Now, I’m sitting here looking at my calendar and I’m like, “I’m scheduling people’s lives around meetings, appointments and speeches. I don’t want to do that stuff.” When I can digitize my life or find some great sponsors that say, “Dre, go live your dream,” then I’ll leave that conference and went straight to San Diego and save myself.

Here’s a tough question for you, or maybe not. When you digitize and I understand the value of serving many, how was that replicating you joining with them so they feel you’re with them?

I’m not going to digitize my outreach, but I can create a course on a being motivational speaker, on the corporate stuff. Not my outreach. I want to digitize the other stuff, create a course, list or whatever so I can then physically go do that.

Last question on my end, what’s the last book you re-read?

Who Not How by Ben Hardy and Dan Sullivan.

You read you re-read that because why?

It works. I believe there was a guy who had $100,000 who I believe the book is based on because he went from $350,000 annual to some ungodly like $150 million annual, $200 million annual. It was based on Who Not How. I was sitting in a room and they were talking about it. He was there with Ben for Strategic Coach for years. He took Who Not How from $350,000 to $150 million using the principles. He’s the test case and it tested well.

Dre is talking about Dan Sullivan, the Founder of Strategic Coach. I wouldn’t even say and arguably the number one entrepreneurial coach in the world. I’ve had the privilege to have conversations with him. If you ever have the privilege to be in the same room with him, I highly suggest keeping your mouth shut and your ears open. Dr. Benjamin Hardy is a thought leader on Who Not How. He has a new book, Be Your Future Self Now. Two brilliant people that Dre and I have the pleasure of sitting in the same room with. Dre, how may people find out more about you?

That’s it. Thank you so much for your time. That concludes this episode. As I promised, Andre Norman took us for an incredible and unbelievable ride. Make sure before you leave, that you like, comment, share and subscribe to the show. Thank you so much, Andre. Until next time. Be well.


Important Links


About Andre Norman

Andre Norman is the reason to believe in second chances. His tenacity and passion for people led him to start his transformational program, The Academy of Hope, a program designed to reduce institutional violence in prisons by providing an intense level of intervention while also creating a positive environment for the inmate population and staff. But this wasn’t always his calling.

Nearly two decades ago, Norman was serving a 100-year sentence in prison, but he was no regular prisoner. A natural-born leader, he rose to be the top gang leader within the facility, running all the daily gang activity. After an epiphany in solitary confinement, Norman made the decision to turn his life around. He had a simple dream to attend Harvard University and become successful. Over the next 8 years, Andre worked 20-hour days to make this dream a reality. He taught himself how to read, then to study and understand the law, and then volunteered to participate in anger management groups. After winning his appeal and being armed with a GED and a dream, Andre walked out of prison in 1999, after serving 14 years.

Having survived rock bottom, Norman knew he could help others do the same. He pulled from his life experiences and created The Academy of Hope and set out on his mission to teach both individuals and corporations how to turn any situation around. His solution-based recovery efforts have impacted regions, including Honduras, Bahamas, Sweden, Guatemala, Liberia, and Trinidad. He has spoken on multiple TEDx stages. In addition, his innovative strategies against gang activity and inmate manipulation have improved correctional systems across the U.S.

Norman also superseded his goal to attend Harvard University. In 2015 — nearly 25 years after leaving prison —he was given a Fellowship at the prestigious institution. Soon, the doors were opened for him to become a lecturer there and beyond. Along with Harvard University, Norman has been a featured speaker at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Andre also collaborates with the London Business School Executive Education department to design unique experiential learning labs for some of its top clients, including: Prudential Insurance (UK), Bovis Lend Lease, (AUS), Deutsche Bank (Germany), British Petroleum, UK), Ericsson (Sweden), DANONE (France), KPMG and more.

Through his various notable affiliations — Genius Network and YPO, just to name a few — Norman continues to spread the word about how real transformation happens. In 2020, Norman released his first book titled “Ambassador of Hope: Turning Poverty and Prison into a Purpose-Driven Life.” He also is developing various training manuals to help better serve companies and corrections.

Book a free session

Book a free session