#117: Leading America’s Inner City Youth – Green Beret Project’s Adam Kramer, Jaylen Powell & Kaseem Cotton (CrossFit Games 2023 Series)

Tuesday September 19, 2023

Win the fight on the front lines of our inner cities. That’s the mission of the Green Beret Project. In every corner of the world America’s Green Berets win the fight on the front lines of battle, but what if we deployed that same power that builds and empowers foreign armies to empower, mentor, transform and grow leaders in our inner city youth. 

Fran Racioppi kicks off The Jedburgh Podcast coverage of the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games from the US Army Fitness Truck in Madison, WI with Adam Kramer, Jaylen Powell and Kaseem Cotton of the Green Beret Project. Adam serves as the executive director responsible for turning boys like Jaylen and Kaseem into responsible adults who understand the value of community, hard work and responsibility. 

Adam shares how his journey from a federal penitentiary has provided the credibility and experience needed to identify with underserved youth. Jaylen and Kaseem discuss how the program has kept them off the streets and provided an alternative option to crime, drugs and gangs as they prepare for college this fall. 

Learn more about Green Beret Project and empower the next generation of leaders. Subscribe to us and follow @jedburghpodcast on all social media. Watch the full video version on YouTube.

Leading America’s Inner City Youth – Green Beret Project’s Adam Kramer, Jaylen Powell & Kaseem Cotton (CrossFit Games 2023 Series)

Adam, Kaseem, and Jaylen, welcome to The Jedburgh Podcast.

Thank you for having us. Thanks for the invite.Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

We’re in CrossFit Games 2023 day one. It’s still a little slow but we got set up. He was kicking earlier. It’s cooled off a little bit. What’s it been like?

We’ve been connecting with a bunch of partners from the past Mayhem Mission, Yeti, and Nobull. It’s been cool to catch up with some folks and introduce these guys to some of the existing partners and people who have been helping us along the way.

Do you guys work out?


I’m going to fix that later on precursor. We are going to take care of that.

Burn some of that energy.

I can’t give them back to you in full of energy. Let’s talk about the Green Beret Project. I want to dig into this theme of, “Be all that you can be.” We’re on the US Army Fitness truck called FIT 1. The Army has embraced this for decades. They went away from it for a little bit and they’re back with this concept, “Be all that you can be.” Let’s think about what that means. It means something different for every person. It doesn’t mean that we all have to be elite athletes or be the best at what we do but can we develop ourselves to be the best version of ourselves and whatever that looks like?

We think about Green Berets. I spent thirteen years as a Green Beret in the Special Forces Group. Our mission is to work with and through indigenous organizations in foreign countries to find their strengths and weaknesses, build them up, partner with them, and then allow them to be the best version of themselves and whatever that might look like in the resources that they have to go off and do the things that are important to their mission, lives, and country. At the Green Beret Project, you’re partnering not with these foreign indigenous forces but with youth within our communities. Why has that become the mission of the Green Beret Project?

The mission identifies young males who need strong men in their lives. That’s my background. I did not have a super-strong male for many years of my life. I did until I was around 10 or 11 years old. After that, I did not. Many of us in the Green Beret Project, students, athletes, and myself, share that in common. We make it a mission to meet some of these young men who have a lot of talent and a bright future ahead of them.Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

Sometimes they have an uphill battle. We’re helping them along the way, answering their questions, not enabling them but helping them grow in their specific avenue of talent. Not just putting a one-stop program like, “This is it.” We don’t want to compartmentalize them. His talents are different than mine. They’re different from him and the other three guys we have. We have different strengths and weaknesses.

When you talk about the programs and the different things that you do with the individuals who are a part of the organization, what are they?

We have two CrossFit gyms, a mechanic shop, a carpenter shop, a landscape and company. We have a farm and a jiu-jitsu program. Within these different avenues, Jaylen’s strength might not be in the landscaping but the guy loves strength and condition. He likes to help people and teach other people how to get strong and healthy. Through that, he’s an athlete. He can fit in more so in the gym. He will work and he does some landscaping. He helps out around the community center but his main passion is over here, playing football, getting bigger, faster, and stronger, staying healthy, and helping others along the way including his family.Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

Kaseem likes to work with his hands. It was like, “Here’s a number of trades. We want you to play sports to be a part of a team but it doesn’t have to be the avenue. You don’t have to be a superstar athlete to make it. You could be a superstar carpenter.” We got a scholarship for carpentry. We’re helping cultivate that like, “There is an aspect of being on a team that will help you be a better carpenter as well. We do want to be a part of football or lacrosse.” He was part of that and even though he’s going to school for carpentry, he’s able to play lacrosse at college, which is pretty cool.

[bctt tweet=”You don’t have to be a superstar athlete to make it. You could be a superstar carpenter.” username=”talentwargroup”]

Let’s talk about coming into the organization. Adam laid out the focus of it, why it exists, and where it came from. How were you reached out to? Why did you see the value in the organization and want to become a part of it? Let’s start with you, Jaylen.

The first time I met Adam, I was twelve. My friend worked with Adam and did landscaping. He was like, “You should come work with this man.” I’m like, “Who is he? I’m not about to work with some random guy.” I come up to the car and it’s some bald White strong dude. He looks a little sketchy. We get to talk and he’s like, “We’re going to be cutting grass and pushing more. You’re sixteen, right?” I’m like, “No, I’m twelve.” He was like, “You could do to push more. I don’t think you can handle all this work.” I’m like, “I’m fine.” I did the whole day. We grass and everything. Throughout the whole week, I’m cutting grass.

When I get back home, it’s nothing to do. You go outside. In the apartment I live in, there’s nothing. There are people on the corner selling drugs. People on the other corner gangbanging and these are the people that I know. If you go outside and get in that environment, you’re going to become one of them. I’m like, “I don’t want to be that. I have a job working with some cool guy with my friend. I might as well keep working with them and keep the process going on.” He tells me about weightlifting and everything. I found out that I love weightlifting and learning about health and diet. I’m like, “This is my bread and butter right here. This is going to give me out the streets.”Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

What about you, Kaseem?

I met Adam through my school at Dover High Central Middle School. I went after-school program that I was doing because I didn’t like being in the house. I did 21st Century with him. That’s how I met Adam and Mr. Justin. I started working with them. We’ll play football or basketball. We started to get into lacrosse while we were over there. I used to get bullied a lot for being oversized by the kids. I was very angry with myself and other people bullying me. Adam put me to the side one day and was like, “If you want to get yourself in better shape and stop people talking about you, instead of you crying, do something to change it.”

After that, he told me to get in contact with him. I got my number to my mom when I got home. The next day, he and my mom met at my house. They talked about it. We signed liability forms and all the good things that you had to do to be in a non-profit or even in the program. Ever since then, I have been doing CrossFit and working out. I’ve never played a sport in my life. I have always been like a random kid. I wanted to be involved with everybody. I started getting evolved a lot more when I got into high school.

When I started, I was like, “I’m going to play football and lacrosse. I want to wrestle.” Adam was like, “I don’t think you should do that but if you do that, make sure you don’t quit.” His main thing was if I do something, make sure I finish it. Four years later, after I finished playing lacrosse and football, I started a couple of games for football. I never quit lacrosse. You have seen me being a second leader for the lacrosse team.

I’m also playing lacrosse in college. I have a big accomplishment in going through everything, doing CrossFit, football, and even wrestling. I was a wrestler for a little bit and lacrosse. It makes me become a man and have a bigger mentality than what I have before. I don’t get upset with somebody calls me fat or anything like that because the main thing I’ll say to you is, “I’ll look for you.”Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

Everybody likes to bully you. They get bullied as much as they want to. At the end of the day, I worked my ass off hardening anybody else ever. If you ever see me do anything, I’m always working my behind and making sure that I’m better. Even if I’m not the best one, I’m going to make sure somebody notices me. My main goal was when I go inside the gym or anything like that, I want somebody to be like, “This guy could do it. He likes doing stuff. He’s a hard worker.” That’s how I feel about it.

I always felt like I always had in my city or adversity around me how he is. I have a bad environment. It’s not like stuff you could do outside of my house. For me to even do this program, learn how to landscape, and do carpentry has made me become more of a man. I don’t have to rely on anybody to teach me how to change my tire or cut grass. I did that stuff by myself. At the age of eighteen, a lot of people don’t know how to do that.

I don’t know how to do that at any point in my life.

What a lot of people in our environment like to do is sell drugs and play with guns. For them to see us doing big things, it could change a lot of people even for the little kids. All their lives, all they see is their father going in and out of jail, their mom not being around, and they live with their grandparents or something like that. We’re their role models. We see JP doing football. Who would ever thought that you could make a D1 over Delaware? They see me do a carpentry. Whoever thought that I’d be doing carpentry and playing lacrosse?

A lot of stuff that we’re doing is helping a lot of other kids around the world and our environment. A lot of people look up to him. A lot of kids in the program live in his neighborhood. The first person he sees at the GBP right at the center is JP. “How do I get strong like JP? How do I look like JP?” There’s always something cool about the Green Beret Project and what goes put involving GBP.

We talk about credibility. You joked about Adam here. Coming up on him, you see this guy looking a little sketchy. You’re like, “Who is he?” You’re talking about the neighborhoods that you’ve grown up and lived in. These are tough areas for a lot of reasons. You talked about drugs, guns, and violence inside and outside of the home. Adam has a level of credibility that I would understand and probably resonate with you guys coming out of those environments.

Adam, let’s talk about your background a little bit. One of the things that you and I talked about before we said this up was I asked you the question, “Why did you come into this? Why would you want to take on this challenge?” You tell me why, “I spent 7 years in Federal prison because I was a drug dealer and I was making $12 million bucks at 27 selling drugs.” Talk about that background.

First, I like to say I didn’t have some horrible father. I have a very good relationship with him. I love him. We have a loving relationship. We’ve made amends and all that good stuff but before I was 10 or 11 years old, my mother and him didn’t have a good relationship. They divorced. I didn’t understand that as a young man and that made me super angry, rebellious, and disobedient. I always loved playing baseball, wrestling, and playing football to be a better baseball player. That’s what I was going to do. I had to get good grades to be a better baseball player. I understood that at a very young age.Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

In high school, D1 college was looking. I had friends who went off to D1 and friends who played in the major leagues but I slowly started creeping in with these other guys who didn’t have dads. We’re living in this blue-collar neighborhood with all these tough kids that didn’t have strong men teaching them the way. We flock together. We needed money. We wanted to do drugs. We figured out very quickly, “We can get 1 ounce cut grass and make $100. Get 1 ounce of weed and make $100. Get free weed.” We did that every day. I made $500 a week when I was 15 years old. On the weekends, I make $1,000 more.

That did not stop until I was 27 years old. We figured the game out. It just wasn’t me. I was in the manager role which is second in charge. There was another guy who was probably a little smarter than me. He was the Kingpin. He had strengths. I had strengths. We both had weaknesses and we played off on them. We were able to grow that organization. At least the Federal government said, “It’s time to get you out of here.” We’ll leave it at that.

He did his time. I did my time but one thing that every single inmate that I saw had in common no matter what culture they were from, race, or country, was we had daddy issues. There were Crips, Bloods, Hells Angels, Warlocks, Time Mob, and Russian Mob. Guys like me who were necessarily part of a mob had little gang going on but we all had father issues. At some point in our life, in all the stories that I heard in prison, we had issues with our dads. That became a passion of my life when I got out. I quickly started coaching at the Juvenile Detention Center but as an ex-offender, nobody wanted to listen to me.

How’d you get involved and meet the Green Beret Project?Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

I was coaching at Juvenile Hall and I was still on Federal probation, which was very helpful and instrumental in getting me inside the Juvenile Detention Hall. I spoke at this recidivism event and I told senators, the governor, and their cabinets about my State Federal probation. I said, “State probation is losing and Federal probation is winning.” I’m experiencing that because I’m ready to go back to jail. I can’t get work because I don’t have a driver’s license. State probation is going to put me back in jail for a violation of DUI.

My international drug trafficking charge and Federal probation are driving me to stay on probation. It doesn’t make sense. Senator’s office said, “We like the way you are articulating your message. We need to introduce you to this guy.” They didn’t introduce me. I kept calling the senator’s office once a week saying, “I know a bunch of gang members from Dover, Delaware. They’re going to get out shooting each other.” This is back in 2015. Looking retrospectively, this guy in classic Green Beret fashion called me and said, “This is Justin down from the FBI.” First, I’m like, “What did I do? Did they bring up an old case?” That’s what went into my head first.

He quickly identified himself, “I’m an FBI agent. I’m a Christian. I do CrossFit. I started a non-profit called Green Beret Project. I coach a bunch of kids in this environment, the same ones you are coaching in Juvenile Detention Hall.” I had my grandfather and uncles in Federal law enforcement and my cousins are military. I didn’t have that stigma against law enforcement because that’s my grandpa, my uncle, and my cousin. Maybe that would have been me if my dad and I had a good relationship through my teen years. That was the day that Justin from the third group started the Green Beret Project and I met. We’ve been off to the races ever since. I talked to him today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

You brought up law enforcement. You’re back on your family and working in law enforcement. In the areas where you guys live, I would assume law enforcement often is adversarial to so much of the community. I bring it up because one of the points that the Green Beret Project makes is that they partner not only with the communities and the kids but also with the cops. Why has that become the three demographics of people that you’re focused on working with?

Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit GamesThere’s a misconception that you could be an officer. We don’t know that but you’re just a man at the end of the day. We all got gym clothes on. We’re working out and we’re all just men with the same type of problems. Once you put that uniform on, there’s an automatic misconception. You have a pre-notion thought, “He has a uniform so that must mean he thinks a certain way.” That’s false. Working with the local PD helps break down barriers in the community. We’re helping local PDs work with the people in the community instead of being enemies with people in the community.

We work with the FBI, state police, and county police. When I say we work with them, there’s this one particular guy in Dover PD. He is a savage black belt jiu-jitsu dude. He’s 145 pounds. He happens to be the gang unit officer. He was a jiu-jitsu instructor. He’s like, “Can you instruct these two guys in the Green Beret Project?” You got all these guys rolling around on the mat at the gym and they become good friends. There’s a great relationship.

We’ve been at tournaments together. The Founder, Justin, is an FBI agent. These guys know that they could call Justin at 2:00 in the morning and he would do anything for them. At the end of the day, Justin loves these guys and wants to help them to be successful. He doesn’t want to come into the communities and just arrest everybody. Unfortunately, we do have some law enforcement like that. More than most, breaking down barriers and being able to build relationships with the local PD is super beneficial.

Kaseem, you talked about a lot of life skills that you’ve learned through the program, being on time to stop and being accountable for your actions. You talk a lot about accountability and responsibility. As you grow and mature, you understand, “As I get older, I have to take on a little bit less risk in my life.” Why has fitness become a staple of that? We’re here at the CrossFit Games. You guys have worked with a lot of different fitness-based organizations. What has fitness brought to you when you look at those life skills that are going to help you grow and become a man?

I wanted to get into fitness because I was being bullied but one of the first things that I’ve learned and I’m pretty sure JP learned at CrossFit over when we broke out there the first time that Adam had coaches before was integrity. The first thing that he wrote on the board is integrity, not cheating on a workout. A lot of what you do in Fitness revolves around life. If you want to do something good for somebody, make sure you do something good for somebody.

If I know that my mom has something else that don’t want me touching, I’m not going to touch it because that’s called integrity. A lot of these things that we do for fitness also play in real-life situations. I don’t even know. It’s weird to say, “It all comes together.” A lot of things that we’re doing also build into our real-life situations. It’s micro-moments.

[bctt tweet=”A lot of the things that we do for fitness also play in real life situations.” username=”talentwargroup”]

We talk about leadership a lot. You develop character and integrity is a big part of the character. Special Operations Forces use nine characteristics to assess, recruit, and develop talent. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to be a Green Beret, Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, MARSOC Raider, Air Force guys, or whatever they do. I was in the Army so I can say that. That’s what we use.

Integrity is one of those nine. We have to be able to trust what people do but integrity and character get built-in micro-moments and those little things. “Did I walk by the trash and pick it up in the gym? If I do it once, I’m probably going to do it again. If walk by at once, am I going to walk by it again?” Probably but that’s a micro-moment. Do I keep my stuff clean and dressed in my locker? I open up my locker and everything falls out.

Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit GamesDo I pick up the guy next to me after we practice and I give him a big head on the field? I pick him up, pat him on the back, give him a good job, get back out there, and say, “Let’s do it again. I’m not going on your ass next time.” When we do that over and over again consistently, that builds that pattern in our minds and bodies to do the right thing. Be a good person and operate with integrity so that when the big things come our way, the big decisions in life that we have to make, it becomes routine. There’s no thought process anymore. That’s what I think fitness is.

We go through something hard together. We showed up at this CrossFit gym together in Milwaukee and it was a 30-minute AMRAP of 6 double under, 400-meter runs, 20 burpees, and 10 back squats, 65%. We all did that and it was hard. Let’s say we did that work out the first week we ever met and then we’re dapping it up. We went through something hard together and it brought us a little bit closer. We’ve used that many times to bring the boys and girls to help build a relationship when you’re sweating next to each other and you’re like, “That was hard.” You talk about the workout or whatever the case may be but it opens up the lines of communication a little bit.

Let me break it out. For me, it gives me a positive move because I could be probably in the worst mode ever. I get done working out. I have this sparking adrenaline running into me like I did something. I feel better. My body is feeling good. There have been a lot of times where I’ve been tired multiple times and I don’t feel like working out. I’m complaining before the workout and next thing you know, you’re like, “ I think you are done doing the workout.” I’m like, “I feel good. I’m up now. I’m ready to go and do anything you want me to do.”

I feel like working out brings out the positivity and the good stuff in me. A lot of stuff that we come from were angry and upset with ourselves or somebody else. A lot of people hold everything in. For you to do something like a workout where you’re not engineering anybody and you’re doing something better in your body brings something out. That thing that you’re holding onto that’s soaking into for so long is all out in the weights, how much you live, and all that good thing.

There’s a physiological change that you go through when you work out. That emotional and mental aspect is equally as important. When I work out, that gives me time for separation. I’m older than you. I have three kids and a wife. When I get to go work out for 20, 30, or 45 minutes, whatever it is that day, I let my mind clear.

That let me have those moments where I’m focused on myself, becoming the best I can be, and being all that I can be in that moment for myself, mentally, emotionally, and physically. That changed my whole perspective. That fight that we had before I went out to the gym was usually about going to the gym, I forgot about it when I walked back in the door. They become a better person. You guys are going off to do a couple of great things. Jaylen, let’s talk about football. What’s the plan?

I wake up at 5:00 every single day.

Why are you wasting the other five hours of the day?

I don’t know. I wish I could wake up by 1:00 but I can’t. Lackawanna is a big JUCO school. That’s where people from Alabama and Ohio come all in from different schools. I’m happy to go against them. What drives me to be better is knowing that you’re better than me. If you show that you’re better than me, I’m going to be better than you. Nothing more drives me than someone who shows out.

I want to be better than you. That’s the only thing that drives me. If you’re better than me, I want to be better than you. If you do something, I’m going to do something better than you. If you put 5 pounds on something, I’m putting 10 pounds on something. I got to top you in every single thing that I do. It is a factor of mine that has driven me ever since I was a little kid.Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

I’ll give you two more of those characteristics. We talked about integrity and drive. When I list these, I’m not talking about drive first because we have to wake up every day with this desire to be better and do something. All those other characteristics that we have don’t matter if we don’t wake up every day and say, “I woke up to kick ass and do something meaningful.” I might not know what that is.

What I wake up to do might change a couple of times throughout the day but when I wake up and say, “I’m going to do something today,” anything is achievable. You also bring up some humility. We don’t make excuses. We can look at somebody and say, “That person is better than me. That’s okay but what’s going to happen? I’m going to work my ass off to get better than that for whatever that drive or whatever that reason is. That doesn’t matter.”

Your internal motivations are going to push you there but humility is so important to look around and say, “I might be good but they’re better. I can be better. How do I get better?” Have that internalization that someone is going to carry through for the rest of your life. You want to think about it all the time. You’re going to have some wake-up moments when you go to school. You might think you’re a badass on August 1 but let me tell you what’s going to happen on August 5.

Trust and believe. I’m going to wake up and be like, “Who’s the best person in this field?” I’m not going to say it out loud but I’m going to see who’s the best person on the field. Every single day, I’ll wake up at 5:00 and be like, “You got to be better to him.” It’s as simple as that. It’s awesome.

Kaseem, you are going to carpentry.Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

If you asked me before, I wouldn’t have known what I was doing. I hate school. School to me is boring. When I was in school, I listened to the teacher and fell asleep. I’m educated when it comes to math problems. I always know what I’m doing. In my mind, it’s like, “Why do I have to listen to them when I already know the answers to them?” They’ll try to call and ask me what the answers are. I already have the answers.

I want to do something with my hands. Adam was like, “This is what we are going to do.” I went to go to college. I didn’t want to stay in the house with my mom all my life and be with her. I love my mom but I got it here. Adam was like, “I got this good school.” We first started with interviews. They had interviews because it was stressful to get into. It’s over 128 kids a year.

I’m like, “I’m going to do something and do it right.” I’m talking to all these higher-up people. The president, principal, and vice principal were talking my way into the school. I have very good communication skills when talking about my life. What motivates me the most is my mother being sick, knowing that she can’t work and how she wants to work. She struggles with what’s the next meal or when she gets her unemployment check because she can’t work.

I’m like, “I went to get financially stable to the point where my mom doesn’t live in that bad house, Mom has a kidney, and all these good things.” For me, financially being stable and being successful. Lacrosse plays a big part in it because nobody here knows I was going to be playing lacrosse. I’m probably the most unathletic and uncoordinated person you’ll ever know.

He’s a lefty.

I fight a lot of adversity. That’s who I am. I might put you sometimes but when they come to me being on that field for lacrosse, a different mindset gets in my hand like if I miss a shot, I’m like, “I’m going to get it next time. I don’t even care about it. I’m going to get it.” For my coach, even believing in me and putting me on the field when he didn’t have to put me on the field is amazing to me.

If you look at me, I’m going to be playing a college sport. I never thought I’d be playing college sports. My main goal was to do carpentry and get enough money so I could be an entrepreneur. I’m excited about the future ahead of me and what I can do. I’m ready to get out there and do carpentry and lacrosse. I’m going to go far in life. I’m not going to say hope.

You got to have the mindset of doing something great like how JP said about being better. JP is stronger. We talked trash to each other all the time but one thing he can never say is that I never backed up from anything. He’s deadlifting. I’m deadlifting trying to deal with his. I’m not right there behind him but I’m trying to be right there behind him. I want to be on his level or stronger. I don’t want him to keep seeing that he is stronger than me. I can say to him in a couple of years, I have more money than you. He can say he is stronger than me but I got more money.Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

The program is amazing that I’m going to because a lot of people have kids like this. I come from a one-parent home. I know who my dad is. I just don’t have a good connection with him. For them to have this school, I get to do internships in the summer and all these good things. I learned how to build stuff. Being in the school, I could take this career so far and beyond. There’s nothing you can do about it. I’m a certified carpenter.

My parents are contractors and my dad is an architect. That’s a great career I’ve been around in my whole life. You learn a tremendous amount. You learn about detail and attention to detail. You talked about integrity. When we’re building things and putting things together, we have to think through, “This step that I’m doing, if I don’t do the foundation right from the start, what’s going to happen later on when I build this house?” All of a sudden, it’s going to break down.

That’s one thing a lot of people don’t know. A lot of kids in my school, their main goal is either to be a pro athlete or a gang banger. Trade is so rare in this world and economy. This is where you get the most money and a lot of people are not in it. You get a lot of money from doing carpentry or anything. That’s what my main goal is. I’m like, “I studied into the trade. I did welding. I know that the trade business is amazing.”Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

A lot of people are not in it and don’t understand it. The main thing I tell people is, “If you want to make money, do a trade. You’re always getting hired to do something for trades like if it’s construction, welding, carpentry, plumbing, or anything that’s all trade-in things.” For me to get into this, I’m going to be certified to make money and be able to take care of my family.

I have family and I want to take care of them. I want to be the head household and make sure that in a couple of years, my mom can say, “I’m proud of you. I’m glad you did this. I love you. I have a kidney now.” My motivation is my family. What drives me is to have my family and pay everybody back who helps me in my life to get better as a person.

It’s one of the best explanations of accountability and responsibility that I’ve ever heard. I interviewed a lot of people a lot older than you. You’ve given probably the best real-world example of what it means to demonstrate accountability and responsibility on a daily basis. Thank you. Adam, 250 kids have worked with and helped throughout this program. You range from age 1, and you talked about them being born into the program, to 25. Some people you work with are already incarcerated. What’s next for the organization?

We have grown from a bootstrap non-profit. It means we’re not dollar to dollar. We have a pretty substantial six-figure budget, getting the board members together. We have some more meetings about setting up tracking software which will help us track the funders better, which will make us look more professional. In turn, it makes us more strategic, build more strategic plans out to then build somewhat of a flip model to say, “You want to start Green Beret Project in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Beckley, West Virginia, Flint, Michigan, or somewhere else. Here’s at least a professional game plan of what we did here.”

We’re going to send Adam or some other board member with you. We’re going to help you set up in your hometown. One of the biggest questions we get is, “Is there going to be a Green Beret Project in my town, here, or there?” It’s like, “Maybe. We’re not in a hurry. If we’re only ever in Delaware for the rest of the non-profit’s life, then so be it. We want to do well with what we have here.” We are to the point where we’re gaining a lot of traction. We were speaking about, “I didn’t know what we were doing. Justin had no idea how to run a non-profit.”Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

We explain not to these guys all the time, “Put one foot forward. Somebody along the way is going to see you make a move and they want to be part of a winning team. They don’t want to be part of a team that’s not doing anything and just talking about it. We didn’t know how to write a grant. You got a bunch of meatheads sitting around, ex-offenders, and some Green Berets trying to figure out how to write grants. One thing we do know how to do is solve problems.”

[bctt tweet=”Just put one foot forward. Somebody along the way is going to see you make a move and they’re going to want to be part of a winning team.” username=”talentwargroup”]

It’s like, “There’s a grant. Other people know how to write grants. Why can’t we figure out how to write a grant?” We’re not going to be the best at it but we’re going to put one foot forward. I’m the one out there hustling the senator. Justin and some other guys are hammering away, writing a grant, putting a staple in the right place, dotting the I’s and crossing the Ts. We got money. We contracted a grant writer who’s a professional. I call her Nicole The Ninja because she is a ninja writing grants.

We got an accountant. We’re able to form more professionally with a great strategic plan, create the flip model, and get the software in place. At the end of the day, we don’t want to look bushley. We want to get the real money to support these guys and the future of the Green Beret Project. They’re training the trainer classic model. These kids are looking up more to them than me. That’s what we want. We want them trained. The young guys are here with us. Those young guys are training ten-year-olds.

We got 10-year-olds showing 5-year-olds what to do. We’re one big family. That’s next. We are building three pole barns. We have a mechanic shop that we’re constantly putting money into because a lot of these guys are not going to college but they’re very interested in being a gearhead. It’s an awesome trade to get into as well. We are continuing forward.

Before we get going, I have to ask you this question that I ask all the guests. The Jedburghs in World War II had to do three things every day to be successful. They had to be able to move, shoot, and communicate. Those were core life skills. If they could do those things with precision every day, they don’t have to think about it. They can focus on more complex challenges that come their way. Primarily, they were conducting sabotage and subversion operations against the German Army the days after D-Day. What are the three things that you wake up every day and do to set the conditions for success in your world and your life?

The first of the week calling me when I wake up is Adam. I probably talked to Adam or texted like, “What’s work today? What are we doing?” Besides that, I brush my teeth, think of what I’m going to be doing throughout the day, and get myself mentally ready for the day. I set up a workout with friends or Adam, one of those things. That’s pretty much it. I don’t have a lot of everyday things but those are the things that I mainly do every day. Adam probably wakes me up most of the day because I’m sleeping in the summer. I’m trying to live my summer life a little bit but he’ll call me and ask me what am I doing.Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

“I’m not doing anything in the house.” “I’ll come to get you in twenty minutes. Be ready. We’re cutting grass or cleaning the center.” That helped me a lot throughout my years of becoming a man because a lot of people don’t have that inner life to have someone checking on them. Adam said that a lot of people say sub to these kids or to us about what they’re going to do for us. For them, it’s a do-it mentality. That’s how GB has always been to me.

It’s never been, “I don’t know if I’m going to do it yet. I’m going to wait to do it.” It’s always been, “We’re going to do it. If you want to go to Louisville, let’s do it.” That’s how it is. It’s always quick, fast, and in a hurry to do something. They don’t BS. A lot of people BS in these non-profits or any program. They don’t help you with life. That’s the reason why a lot of people fail in our community because all they’re ever growing up to is BS.

To clarify, he’s on the payroll. He is looking for guidance in the summer on what work are we doing.

I’m going to rephrase you three because you laid them out and you did a good job. You work out and connect with others. You don’t BS. You get it done. Those three are important. If you could do those things every day, you’d be all right.

Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit GamesAfter I wake up, it’s time to be a man. That’s the first thing because I live in a house of 11 people and 10 of them are kids. It’s a four-bedroom house. The first thing is my mom says, “Go pick up the kids.” I have to go pick up either grocery shopping or mom needs something from the store like batteries, chargers, or anything. I’m the second to the oldest. My older sister just had a baby so she wasn’t able to do anything. Mom said, “She barely can do anything,” so I’m the oldest one.

My little cousin, he’s one. I had a little brother. My other little cousin is five. My little brother is sixteen. My other little sister was 13 or 14 and then I got an aunt that’s 12. I’m the head honcho. Everybody follows me. If they need anything or somebody to talk to, they call me. It’s a big task. I’ve been throwing into it since I was nine. My mom started bringing kids in because she wanted a house for my aunt, cousins, and everything.

Since nine years old, I’ve been taking care of my little sister, brothers, and everything. Off of wake up, it’s already being the head or man of the house. My mom has been sick for a long time. She can’t do a lot of things. She can’t work or do anything. Most of the time, you have to bring in the building and help her out. That’s mostly what I do off a wake-up. After that, at 5:00, I would call up Adam and say, “What you’re doing?” I won’t work out but I’ll go to the Dover CrossFit Gym or I’ll go to Planet Fitness and then that’s how my day ends every day.

Wake up and be a man. Take up responsibilities. Adam, what about you?

It usually starts the night before with me. I have my Bible laid out. Every single morning, I wake up, I am in bed reading my Bible, praying, and then strategizing what needs to be done that day. I’m trying to have my lens through the word of God. It has helped me navigate life providence. When you look even at the non-profit and you got an ex-offender working with an FBI agent every day, that’s got to be ordained to the Lord. “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you.” I went over that.Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

Some guys believe in God. Some don’t and I’m cool with that but that’s personal. My thing in my life is I wake up, read the Bible, pray, and make sure my wife is all right but strategize through the day on what needs to be done and navigate a lot of dicey relationships with the United States Government, United States Attorneys Office, FBI, local state, government, and local PD. These guys are gang members. I never know what’s going to happen. I’m a pretty wild character. I could say the most flippant crazy thing to the wrong person at any time. They have my mind washed through that helps me throughout the day.

Strategize, pray, and take care of others. Both of these guys said it. They’re talking to you first thing. I’m super impressed by what you’ve accomplished. I have no doubt of what you both said that if we had this conversation years ago for you, it would been a much different conversation without Adam and the Green Beret Project. You guys are off to do some incredible things. I look forward to watching it. I want to know what happens.

[bctt tweet=”Find the path that’s going to get you to where you want to be and take others with you.” username=”talentwargroup”]

This is the most exciting point in your life. It’s a major transition point. You worked your ass off to get there. We spent a lot of time in this country over the last couple of years talking about being a victim of where we started. It doesn’t matter where we start. We have an opportunity in front of us and we seize opportunity. What matters is where we’re going, whom we pull in with us, and how we’re going to take them with us.Green Beret Project on The Jedburgh Podcast from 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

There are eleven people in your family who look up to you and that’s just in your family. They taught you all about looking up to you and all the other people in the program who look up to you and these three guys out here. See where you start, find the path that’s going to get you to where you want to be, and take others with you. That’s what Adam’s done in his life. That’s what the organization’s done. That’s what you guys are going to go forth and do. I appreciate your time. Thanks for joining me here. A lot more to come at CrossFit Games 2023. This is only day one. It’s wrapping up but we have so much more. It’s about, “Be all that you can be,” and you are doing it, guys.

Thank you.


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