There’s only one difference between the hustlers in prisons across the world and you and me… they got caught breaking the law. That probably sounds like an overly dramatic statement to most readers of this blog, but the truth is that it’s the truth. Anthony’s guest on this episode is Cat Hoke, an amazing woman who’s working to see that the hustlers in prison who really want a second chance at life actually get their first chance ever, by rehabilitating and training them to use their natural propensity to hustle in legal ways – like entrepreneurship and business. This is an amazing conversation you’ll be glad you listened to, so be sure you do listen.
Cat Hoke works with EITs, Entrepreneurs in Training who are coming out of incarceration
Most of the people in prisons don’t live with any real sense of hope. When you are serving a life sentence, what is there to hope for? That mindset becomes a chain of defeat that hangs over them and the environment in which they live reminds them how hopeless their situation is every day of their lives. So when Cat Hoke and her team walk into a prison and begin spouting off things about hope and change, it’s a hard sell. But she’s one of the most convincing salespeople you’ll ever meet. Currently, her program, Defy Ventures is serving over 5000 EITs – entrepreneurs in training – and is teaching them not only what it means to hope, but what it means to be free from the chains of prison and emotional bondage. You’ve got to hear Cat’s story, on this episode of In The Arena.
Turning hustlers into Entrepreneurs with only a 3.2% recidivism rate
One of the main problems with the penal system in most countries is that they are not really about rehabilitation, they are only about punishment. The people inside know that and the culture and environment within the walls of the prison show it to be true. But the Defy Ventures team has made a significant difference in many prisons in the United States already. With only a 3.2% recidivism rate (release offenders going back to prison) they are undoubtedly having an impact. You can hear how the Defy team makes such a difference in the lives of people most of society considers beyond redemption, on this episode.
Cat’s father taught what not to be and empowered her in the process
Part of what Cat has come to realize is that the circumstances of her birth are really the only things that kept her off a path that leads to prison. As she’s met more and more of the people who are incarcerated she’s realized that many of them were born into circumstances where it was next to impossible to avoid eventual incarceration. Her father, for example, set her up for success through the things he taught and the intentional care he showed. He wouldn’t allow her to whine or complain and he challenged her with a form of “shark tank” around the dinner table, giving her entrepreneurial or business challenges to figure out. The realization of how much advantage she had compared to many others is what has driven her to a place of compassion rather than criticism. Learn what Cat is doing to help inmates break free of the chains that bind them, on this episode.
Cat helps hustlers face the pain so the past doesn’t repeat itself
Even when many hustlers who wind up in prison get out, they are still in chains. The things that drove them into prison in the first place – hurt, anger, neglect, abandonment – are still with them. The Defy Ventures program is not only about teaching job skills and business savvy, it’s about taking those individuals who have been incarcerated to a place where healing can begin. It’s a tough road that even the toughest people don’t easily walk, but when the journey is complete it’s a liberating thing – in more ways than one. Join Anthony and Cat as they discuss the impact Defy Ventures is having, on this episode of In The Arena.
Outline of this great episode
- [0:44] Cat Hoke: On a mission to transform hustlers into entrepreneurs
- [2:20] The exercise every volunteer and inmate has to go through at Cat’s events
- [9:10] How Cat discovered her own lack of compassion for those incarcerated
- [12:10] The role of luck and the circumstances of a person’s birth as they relate to a criminal history
- [16:30] Cat’s father taught her not to be these things… and empowered her in the process
- [22:10] The letter Cat sent to 7 people confessing her own sins – and the responses she received
- [33:38] A book so powerful it will stir up emotions you don’t know are there
- [40:26] Hope is everything. If you don’t have it, you give up or kill yourself
- [44:12] How 5000 people are learning to have hope in spite of being incarcerated
- [48:15] At defy, the commitment is to “love hard” and hold people accountable
- [53:05] Learn how to volunteer with Defy Ventures
Resources & Links mentioned in this episode
- Defy Ventures
- cat(at)defyventures.org – to order in bulk – all proceeds go to Defy Ventures
- Cat’s new book: A Second Chance
- Cat’s personal website
- Defy Ventures on Twitter
- Defy Ventures on Facebook
- Defy Ventures on LinkedIn
- BOOK: 12 Rules For Life
- Seth Godin
The theme song “Into the Arena” is written and produced by Chris Sernel. You can find it on Soundcloud
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