“Do As The Experts Did, Not As They Say” Words Of Wisdom With Dr. Antonio Harrison
“So many of us spend thousands of dollars to hear people tell us about shifting our mindset. We get pumped up and ready for the world when leaving those seminars, watching those motivational videos, or reading that great book but it only last for the week before life hits back. We are left with being told to change the way we think, when really that is impossible. We cannot change the way we think but we can change what we think about. So, I stopped listening to their advice and started to do the things they did, which was simply a hard core audit of my life and priorities. I tried different approaches to self-exploration to answer the fundamental philosophical question of who am I? I kept what worked for me and tossed what did not. This experience is the main reason why when working with parents, all advice and suggestions are actual things one can do to improve their relationship with their children. It is not simply focusing on the Psychology of parenting and the mental effects. Rather it is about doing, the actual behavior and actions that lead to a successful relationship.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Antonio Harrison, founder of Renaissance Behavior and host of Doc’s Daily Dose for Dads. Dr. Harrison is on a mission to help as many parents as possible in building positive relationships with their children. He specifically focuses on the Father and Son relationship, where the intent is to foster positive relationships through honesty, respect, trust, and communication, eliminating today’s false notion of masculinity. Dr. Harrison provides workshops, talks, parent groups, one-on-one sessions, and hosts a daily YouTube show that shares tangible pieces of advice to enhance the bond between parents and children of all ages.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I grew up in the Los Angeles area during an era and culture that saw many parents become addicted to crack cocaine and face incarceration. My Father was no exception. Throughout my childhood, my Father was in and out of prison while fighting a losing battle to addiction. I saw things and went through events that no child should ever have to face, forcing me to grow up at a very young age. However, despite these unfortunate circumstances, the love of my Father spoke louder than any drug. He was honest, open, and took accountability for all his shortcomings. This truthful approach built a bond that calls us not only Father and Son today but best friends. After a brutal knee injury playing college football, I finished my undergraduate studies and went on to graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis. I began a career teaching that found me training graduate students after a few years of bouncing around different schools and grade levels. I also began to coach high school football. Following graduate school, I took a 36-week intensive radio broadcasting course and began to focus on the world of podcast. Yet, I still haven’t found my so called “calling.” Years went by of simply going through the motions. I was fortunate to marry a beautiful woman who put up with my wavering of passion and supported me in whatever challenges I pursued. We have three beautiful boys and it wasn’t until I became a father that I remembered Mrs. Russell from second grade. She asked me, as all teachers do at that age, what I wanted to be when I grew up? I responded, “A great dad and a basketball player.” Well, my athletic career was over, but I still had the opportunity to be the great father I always hoped. At that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I teach. I love kids and helping parents. I love speaking in front of crowds. I love being creative. I coach high school boys. I have the knowledge based on education and life experience. I had a rough but great childhood that created a wonderful relationship with my father. I have three boys. Hell, it named itself. That is when Renaissance Behavior and Doc’s Daily Dose for Dads was born. I feel as though I am the messenger for a new generation of parents. We all need help and guidance in raising today’s youth, including myself. The traditional notion of raising children is null and void in today’s world.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that has happened to you since you started your company?
When I first started the company, it had the Father-Son focus but I tried to do everything under the sun to earn revenue. Yeah, I was putting together the parent aspect, but I was also consulting for Autism agencies, trying to sell t-shirts and old used furniture, and adding a branch of photography. Every time I tried to explain what Renaissance Behavior was, I fumbled and flopped on a description. One day when stumbling through the description, a friend of mine said, “So you’re an unfocused renaissance man.” It forced me to stop and go back to the definition of a renaissance man; a person with many talents or areas of knowledge. I had that part down but those talents and areas of knowledge were not focused. This is where the journey took a huge stride forward and I went all in on the important topic of Father and Sons, where those talents and areas of knowledge converged. Thanks, friend!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I am the new parents. I look like you with all my tattoos. I sound like you. I live like you. Not everyone connects with the same messenger. The expert wearing the suit with the seemingly perfect life and background is not who I am. I am not perfect and have been through a lot in my life. The ability to connect with and understand the struggles of the parents of today is the company’s greatest strength. I once had a parent share with me that it was the tattoos and bald head that grabbed her attention. She couldn’t reconcile the image of me with my educational background. That intrigue forced her to listen and pay attention as I reminded her of family members. She told me, had I looked like the other speakers and experts, she would have tuned me out before I started speaking.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
One of the greatest men I ever knew was Coach Tom Fry. He did not directly help me with Renaissance Behavior as he passed away years before it was formed. However, the debt of gratitude and the vast amount of knowledge he shared through both conversations and observing his actions are invaluable to who I am today. Fry was my high school football coach who also acted as a second father. During my senior year, my father was locked up throughout the entire experience. Fry stepped up and was there to support me during one of the greatest and most difficult times in my life. Whether coaching me on the field, sitting and sharing his life experience, taking a stand with administration for me at school, or being a support system, Fry was always there. I was arrested at the age of 16 for a misdemeanor DUI and possession of marijuana. When I was released on bail at 3:30 a.m., Fry was sitting outside of the city jail with my mother waiting for me with open arms. Without that man, I would not be the man and father I am today. When my dad came home, one of the first things he did was thank Fry for being there when he couldn’t.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Currently, there are three projects in the works. The first is what I call a podbook. In trying to preserve my family history for my children, I asked my father to jump on the mic with me and share his story. What unfolded was a 27-episode podcast chronicling his life from birth to present day. It covers everything from living in the deep south with ten brothers and sisters while my Granny worked for a share cropper picking cotton to shooting the share cropper and having to flee his home at the age of twelve. It continues throughout his time in the streets, a life of crime, military, prison, drug addiction and eventually to present day with a family and grandchildren. The podbook is a transcription of those conversations with commentary from myself at the end of each episode / chapter. However, the podbook includes a USB flash drive of the podcast, so people can read the story and / or pop in the USB and listen to the conversation between a Father and Son.
We are also working on a documentary surrounding the concept of lost opportunities to share your feelings. The words, “I love you, thank you, and I am sorry,” are shared every day. Yet, many times we missed the chance or chose not to share these words with the people who really deserved to hear them. This documentary will surround my brutal knee injury playing college football. The story will be told, and we will travel to meet up with the three people who deserve to hear one of those phrases.
Lastly, we are putting together an intimate theatrical performance in a black box theater to highlight the importance of the Father-Son relationship. It is an honest, hard-hitting, and gut-wrenching production that forces parents to have a conversation about what they want for their children, their family, and themselves.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
By sharing my education, life experience, and purpose, it has produced positive beginnings and outcomes for parents and their relationship with their children. But the greatest way I have brought goodness to the world is by implementing the advice I share when dealing with my children and the kids I coach in football. I learn as much as I teach. I ensure, daily, that my boys and the football boys know how much I love them, how proud of them I am, and how great I think each one of them is in their own way.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
That is a tough question. I do read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich every year and implement many of the life hacks and strategies. However, the most influential book must be Salvation by Bell Hooks. It was given to me as a gift in college. When gifted, I said, “Thank you,” and threw it on my bed. The person who bought it for me knew that meant it probably would not get read and had the foresight to understand the potential impact this book could make in my life. So, she picked it up off my bed, sat me down, and read me the first chapter aloud. Bell Hooks had my attention. It spoke to the lack of self-love among Black people in America and forced me to open my eyes to the fact that I, myself, had fallen into that trap. Life was never the same. I still have the book and it seems to catch my eye every time I need it in my life.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Stop thinking and start doing — I spent so much time thinking about what my passion was or what I should be doing and how to make sure it was a success. All of that led me to more thinking and less doing. I did not make a move for multiple years because I was paralyzed but “what if” and “if, then” perspective. It wasn’t until I decided to simply do things I enjoyed and let my passion discover me that Renaissance Behavior was born in the blink of an eye.
2. Do as the experts did, not as they say — So many of us spend thousands of dollars to hear people tell us about shifting our mindset. We get pumped up and ready for the world when leaving those seminars, watching those motivational videos, or reading that great book but it only last for the week before life hits back. We are left with being told to change the way we think, when really that is impossible. We cannot change the way we think but we can change what we think about. So, I stopped listening to their advice and started to do the things they did, which was simply a hard core audit of my life and priorities. I tried different approaches to self-exploration to answer the fundamental philosophical question of who am I? I kept what worked for me and tossed what did not. This experience is the main reason why when working with parents or hosting Doc’s Daily Dose for Dads, all advice and suggestions are actual things one can do to improve their relationship with their children. It is not simply focusing on the Psychology of parenting and the mental effects. Rather it is about doing, the actual behavior and actions that lead to a successful relationship.
3. One size does not fit all — I cannot help everyone. I am not the messenger that everyone connects with and I am perfectly happy with that. You cannot expect to be able to connect with everyone or help everyone. Some people will want nothing to do with you for whatever reason and that is okay. Know who does connect with you and put twice as much effort in with them as opposed to wasting your effort where your voice falls on deaf ears.
4. Never stop learning and ask for help — I am constantly learning as much as possible. I know I do not have the answers to everything, especially in business. So, I learn as much as I can, understand my shortcomings, and work with people that strengthen my weaknesses. Asking for help is tough but it is the only way we thrive in this world.
5. Never stop searching for self — The journey in life is all about answering the fundamental philosophical question of, Who am I? I don’t think we will ever completely arrive at the answer but that is the point. It forces you to continually self-evaluate, reflect, and make changes in your life. As you do this, you become more and more comfortable with who you are and what you stand for in this world. That is a great feeling I wish everyone had the chance to contact. If you know yourself, you know where you are heading.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would want to share a meal with Earvin “Magic” Johnson. He was my favorite basketball player growing up and when he was forced to retire it broke my heart. It also was an all too familiar reason why, as the HIV virus was something I had to deal with directly in the lives of my family and community members. Seeing him take ownership of his faults, fighting back, coming back to the NBA, and then becoming a successful businessman who invested in his communities and people was inspiring and gave me hope at a young age that circumstances do not define who you are as a person.
The other person I would love to sit down with is Gary Vaynerchuk. Reason being is that he is constantly sharing great advice and though I would love to pick his brain about business, I am more interested in simply knowing more about who he is behind the scenes when he is with his family or friends hanging out at a BBQ. He is a fascinating visionary and someone who seems to have a true grasp of who he is and what he wants out of life. Excuse my language, but I just want to shoot the shit with him.
YouTube Channel: Doc’s Daily Dose For Dads https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaDYCB5WgxlSUMEhZbmDYkQ
Contact number: (626) 316–3622