Those were the words that really resonated in my mind. Those were the words that were given to me by the most respected person in my life. My grandfather. You see, my life wasn’t always the way it is now…

If you look at me now, you would have no idea where I was just a few short years ago. Now, I run a very successful private personal training facility (The Training Grounds 2595 East Henrietta Rd). I am an Expert Level Certified Personal Trainer, TLS Certified Weight Loss Expert and Certified Sports Nutritionist.

I own 10 rental properties, I own a home with no mortgage, no debt, volunteer for local charities and nonprofits. I try to help as many people as I possibly can. I’ve learned that the more people I help, the better my life becomes.

But, it wasn’t always this way, and it wasn’t so easy to get here. I was indicted in a multi count, international federal conspiracy case spanning several states. I was young, naïve, reckless, stupid. My behavior and decisions ended up costing me my freedom for many years.

I was sentenced to 121 months in the federal prison system, visiting 13 facilities in five different states before finally being released on federal supervision right here in Rochester New York. There were several influencers and mentors along my journey.

Some inmates, some officers, some family, even a judge. I paid attention, I listened intently, absorbing and soaking up information like a sponge. I read two to the three books a week, every week, wrote letters daily to people that I cared about. I had an unlimited amount of time to work on myself, get to know myself, reprogram myself. I suppose my rehabilitative journey started right when the 15th circuit task force and US Marshal service executed an arrest warrant at my home in Conway, South Carolina. It was painfully evident I had crossed over into “the big leagues”. Commander Bill Knowles leaned in close as I lay faced down on the cool tile floors of my home, having been flashbanged and cuffed and still somewhat delirious, “This ain’t my first rodeo boy, your in a whole world of trouble”. He was right and I knew it. Being able to take a negative and find positivity in it is something I’ve learned how to do.

For example, in the court room at sentencing. The Honorable Judge Norman Mordue, chief justice of the Northern District of New York addressed me directly at sentencing. “Mr. Williams, I’d like to say something to you and I’d like you to listen closely. You’re a bright young man, it’s very evident that you’re a very hard worker, you’re very crafty, you will have an opportunity to start your life over again. There is no doubt in my mind Mr. Williams, if you apply yourself into a legitimate business upon your release, you will be hugely successful. I wish you the very best of luck” what he said was short, to the point, but powerful for me.

I had wasted all this time and energy working so hard in an illegitimate business and ended up giving it all back, plus my freedom… I would say the person who influenced me the most, who really motivated me to be a good person, a successful person and to be kind and generous to other people, is my grandfather. My grandfather was a local Rochester entrepreneur. He built the first engineered landfill in New York State, owned the largest privately held garbage company in the state at one time, was an honorary member of Oak Hill, in the Edison tech Hall of Fame and the garbageman’s Hall of Fame for contributions to the waste industry. A loving husband to his wife of 65 years, a dedicated father to his children, a wonderful grandparent to his grandkids, he was truly one of a kind.

When my grandfather spoke, I listened. My grandfather and I were very close, and I had let him down. Seeing the hurt and disappointment in his eyes was more painful than any amount of time I ever could’ve done in prison.

My grandfather wrote me a letter back in 2007. “Brad, now more than ever, you must set goals for yourself, you must think and rethink your actions and involvement in various situations. If you cannot be proud of your behavior, rethink your actions.

Life has its ups and downs. During your downs, use your God-given strength to cope. Enjoy your ups, you’ve earned them. Real trouble will not find you. God gave you all the tools to succeed. Set your goals, but do not make them impossible to achieve.

Happiness is not making a fortune. You can live a happy life, a successful life by working hard, finding a loving mate and having family and friends. That is success! Earn It!” I still can’t read those words today without feeling an overwhelming wave of emotion. Those two words, continuously resonate in the back of my mind. I can hear his voice saying them. Earn it, has become my mantra. So that’s what I’m doing, I’m earning it. I’m working hard. I’m paying it all forward and thinking and rethinking my actions. My grandfather hit the nail on the head.

Life is tough, it has its ups and downs. You will have good days and bad, good months and bad months and possibly good years and bad years. The truth of the matter, no matter where you are in life, no matter what situation you find yourself in, no matter how low you think you’ve gone, it’s never too late to earn it. You earn it each and every day by working hard, making good choices and being proud of your actions. I wish all of you health and happiness for all the days of your life