Ben Brooks is an international speaker, management consultant, and he was one of the first African-Americans to enlist in the Pennsylvania State Police rising to the rank of Major. He defies the typical stereotype of the hardened state trooper. He can be very serious when the situation demands it or he can be very warm and caring when it's appropriate. Through personal anecdotes, humor, charm, passion and his highly energized, interactive style, Ben is able to convey the most serious of messages.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 170
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Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars[01:56] Tom's introduction to Ben Brooks [03:21] Being a State Policeman was the furthest thing from his mind [09:59] Thirty years as a Trooper and lots of experiences [14:07] Transitioning to an international speaker and consultant
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Episode 170 – Ben Brooks
[00:00:09] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.
[00:00:24] Hey, everybody it's Tom here with episode 170 of Screw the Commute podcast, we got a very special guest. I've known this guy for a hundred years and he's a little bit different than are our normal fare here where you're going to really love to hear this guy's story his name is Ben Brooks. It's major ben. And I'll bring him on in a minute. Also, make sure you check out our podcast app in the iTunes store and you go to screwthecommute.com/app. It has instructions on how to download it and do all the fancy stuff it'll do and then catch your freebie. I've got a freebie. A 27 dollar e-book called How to Automate Your Business at ScrewtheCommute.com/automatefree. And this book has saved me millions of keystrokes. Let me handle tons and tons of customers. So you'll really like it. then also, check out my mentor program, the great Internet Marketing Retreat and joint venture program where it's unique. It's the longest running ever and most successful in the Internet Marketing Arena Mentor program. And it's got some very unique features like your immersion weekend here at the Retreat Center and your scholarship to my license dedicated Internet marketing school and one on one tutoring and help from myself and all the staff here so nobody else can compete with this program. So check it out at greatinternetmarketingtraining.com. We'll have that all in the show notes.
[00:02:01] All right. Let's bring on the main event. Ben Brooks is an international speaker, management consultant, and he was one of the first African-Americans to enlist in the Pennsylvania State Police. And he rose to the rank of major hence major ben. He defies the typical stereotype of the hardened state trooper. He can be very serious when the situation demands it or he can be very warm and caring when it's appropriate. Through personal anecdotes, humor, charm and passion and his highly energized, interactive style. Ben is able to convey the most serious of messages. Ben, are you ready to screw. The commute.
[00:02:42] Yes. Yes.
[00:02:44] How are you doing, man? It's been so long since I talked to you.
[00:02:48] I'm doing I'm doing well. Doing well.
[00:02:50] You're doing good. Well, we're going to do is tell everybody what you're doing now and then we'll take you back to those days when you were coming up through the ranks. How about that?
[00:03:01] Yeah, well, right now, I'm a director of security for a medical cannabis facility, and that's so sought after after I did most of my consulting stuff, you know. So that's kind of keeping me busy. Right. Right now.
[00:03:14] Yeah, I'll bet. I always ask, did you catch any bad guys today trying to sneak out some product out the door?
[00:03:21] No, no, no. We haven't had that happen yet.
[00:03:25] So let's take you way back to the beginning. Like even when you were a kid, though, what did you always want to be a state policeman or what was it like growing up when you grew up?
[00:03:36] No. Well, I grew up in North Carolina during the 30s, 40s and 50s. That was the furthest thing from my mind. I grew up in school because recognizing that that is an era of Jim Crow. A lot of segregation going on. And quite frankly, the only thing that we could aspire to at that time would be a teacher or preacher. Yeah. So the law enforcement thing never, never entered my mind. We we saw police officers, you know, but we have. There was no real connection with them. We we saw them as someone to be feared rather then the cop I respect.
[00:04:17] And rightfully so at that time.
[00:04:21] Oh, yes. Yes. You know, we were in a segregated society. The only thing any time we had any contact with them was when relatives of someone had run afoul of the law. But other than other than that, there was no daily weekly interaction with them.
[00:04:38] I see. All right. So then how did you come up that you that you have jobs that you're growing up?
[00:04:44] Well, I worked on a on farm problem pretty much. I'm doing my early in already years in high school. I had a job. I was a school bus driver. And in North Carolina at that time, once you hit 16, most of the bus on bus drivers were students.
[00:05:01] You were 16 driving a school bus.
[00:05:05] Well, yes, that's what it was. We drove the school bus and we were they were paying us like 22.50 a month, which was okay, because I as a school bus driver, I was never late.
[00:05:20] Twenty two dollars and fifty cents a month.
[00:05:27] Yes. That that was it. Was it. The other work all the work we did was work on on on the farm. We had a small farm and we raised tobacco, peanuts, corn and a little cotton. Or we would work for other people who are doing doing the harvest season. So those are the only jobs that we had growing up until I graduated high school.
[00:05:49] All right. Then what? Then what?
[00:05:51] Well, I graduate from high school and my buddy and I, Richard McDowell, we both came to Philadelphia and wanted to look for a better life. They came to Philadelphia and we therefore they 1957. And so we were looking for jobs. And so we decided in early January 58 that we would join the military. So we joined the Army and the buddy system and we went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for the first and second eight weeks. And after that, I went to the hundred first airborne and he went overseas to engineering. So I spent three years as a paratrooper and we both came out of the out in service in nineteen sixty one. We came out looking for jobs at that time because I figured I was I had attained the rank of sergeant and so I felt that I had some marketable skills. But lo and behold, as I went looking for many, many jobs, nothing was forthcoming. So in the meantime we signed up for IBM School and we dealt with that for a while. The early phases of computers.
[00:07:05] Oh, I see. Okay. So what's with IBM? Intercontinental ballistic missile.
[00:07:13] International Business Machines. That was the beginning of the computers because they had us tap into wiring. The course that we had taken and basic key punch and stuff. And so we dealt with that. But in the meantime, we were roaming around and trying to decide what we wanted to do. And so we had seen a couple of troopers on the expressway. We kind of liked the uniforms. And so we were riding out one day past the barracks at Norman Avenue and sort of Science Pennsylvania State Police. So we said, well, let's go in to see what kind of excuse they give us for not hiring. First Sergeant Mays, did the interview. And after we did the interview, next thing we knew, we got a letter to take the exam and we took the exam. And then we were informed that we had been selected. And we then arrived in the state academy night, September 7th, 1961. At that time, as two of the first African Americans to join that the Pennsylvania state ranks. So that's how that whole thing got started. Now, during my whole lifetime as a child, law enforcement was the furthest right from my mind. And then when I when I got there and I saw the opportunities, it changed everything, you know. And it was it was it was it was a very good move, you know, because I think it started me on a very, very long and illustrious career.
[00:08:50] Wow. And so you changed your attitude about what law enforcement was about?
[00:08:55] Well, I didn't have a negative attitude toward them. It was just neutral. Yeah, because I couldn't say yay or nay, because the experiences that I had with them where we're not on any kind of confrontational basis. And it was because my mom my mom did some housework for a guy who was who was a trooper on North Carolina Highway Patrol at that time. You know, Mr. Richardson. And so that's the only way. There was a good relationship there because she worked. She worked for them. But in terms of any other interaction there was none.
[00:09:30] But she raised you good, right?
[00:09:36] Well, yeah. But you know, it's interesting. And she was working there and she was only making three dollars a day. Which was which was crazy, you know. She did on a back breaking work and you know. And you think back during during that time. Well, you could do a lot. What? Like with three dollars. But this just the idea of doing backbreaking work for somebody and they're paying such a paltry amount of money.
[00:10:00] Oh, my goodness, it's crazy. How long were you a trooper?
[00:10:06] Thirty and a half years.
[00:10:07] Wow, 30 and a half. Tell us of your experiences there.
[00:10:14] Well, one of the one of the biggest experiences that we had is that in 1964 we had three of our troopers shot on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And that was very, very, very traumatic because these guys were running radar that at that time and they stopped the car from there was in Minnesota. I guess it was the three guys in there. So they asked for the operator's license. The guy saw the operator's license and asked for the registration. So the guy said got out. And he says while the sub is in my trunk. I did. That trooper followed him back there and he opened the trunk and pulled out a gun and started shooting. So he shot the one guy in the mouth, you know. So he was in rehab for quite some time. One guy was shot in the leg and the third guy, ironically, was handcuffed to a tree. And what this was, it was really crazy. So I look back at that experience and I have my my keynote keynote address is that if your life has you handcuffed. Let me share my keys. And I talk about attitudes, self-esteem, motivation, goal setting and commitment. Now, that grew out of that incident with that trooper, because the question you would ask I ask myself, these guys shot those two guys. But they handcuffed the one guy to a tree. The question is why did they shoot the other two and why didn't they shoot him? They just handcuffed him, that tree and then look at that. And that whole drama caused me to look at this in a very serious way in terms of how can I parlay that experience into something that's going to help people who are locked into a particular mindset, if you will. You know, what kind of keys do we have that we can begin to unlock our potential?
[00:12:08] Something very eerie right at this moment. Ben. My big screen is on the on the wall over there with the sound off while we're recording. And there in California today, a California Highway Patrol officer was gunned down by a guy on a stop and they were going to impound his vehicle and he reached around, got a high powered rifle. There's a big shootout, killed one of them. Yeah, that's pretty eerie that came on the same time you told me that story. But they are very pro law enforcement. You know, they used to always want to do a ride along. But now I'm like, man. You know, people are there's so much anti police sentiment in their targets. You know, I don't want to go any more, but I'm very pro law enforcement.
[00:12:56] But while I think I think I think if you if you get the opportunity to take advantage of it, because you really don't know what happens unless you are there. I would say that as you look around the country right now and you see law enforcement officers are getting involved in such a way in shootouts and things like this. And if and if you think about, you know, 99 percent of the guys out there are really good officers. You know what? Sometimes you get somebody out there who may not follow the rules or regulations and some of that. And some of these people sometimes create animosity among the citizenry. Many of these officers who are shot and killed, you look at that. They did nothing to to do justify the bullet that they took. Sometimes they took a bullet because of the aberrant behavior of somebody that they didn't even know that that's that is the that is that that is the tough part. Part of it. Because when you are there, you never know what's going to happen, you know. And so you have to always be on your P's and Q's, because right now, with the proliferation of guns, as we have right now, you know, you've got to be super, super cautious when you stop it.
[00:14:10] Sure. So 30 years there, then how did you transition into the speaking world and consulting?
[00:14:16] When I was when I was a young trooper, I spent maybe let's see from sixty one to nineteen seventy six. Pretty much on the road. Well now now 61 to sixty seven because I came off the road in 1967 and I joined about six other troopers and a major and a lieutenant to start the Pennsylvania Crime Commission, which has now morphed into the Pennsylvania Commission of Crime and Delinquency, which was a big agency now. So that meant I was doing a lot of research type stuff, you know, away from the road. And when I came, I left that detail. I came back and I started doing criminal investigations. And I did criminal investigations up until nineteen seventy six, at which time I was promoted to corporal and I went down to my stations as a patrol supervisor. So that meant I was off the road at that time because basically what I was doing is inside work at the desk as an administrator from the from them from the corporal now to sergeant, I was went to another station and at that time I was a station sergeant which again was responsible for the administrative part. So there was very little contact that I had with the patrol function. Well, when I got promoted from some sergeant to lieutenant, again, there was a little administrative post. You know what I had transferred from just a county in Pennsylvania up to Philadelphia. I was there for four nineteen eighty nineteen 80 to 90, 82. When I became the first African-Americans to be promoted to the rank of captain and at the same time assigned as a troop commander, so all of these were administrative functions for me. When I made it through commanders from nineteen eighty two to nineteen eighty seven and when I was transferred into. So when I got to Harrisburg I was in charge of the affirmative action contract compliance, which was a very another administrative post in that capacity. Then I developed the sexual harassment policies and procedures and also the training fought for the Pennsylvania State Police. I was also involved in an interagency task force doing affirmative action in relation to hate crimes and diversity. And that was a pretty interesting piece. Then I guess early on. I got involved with the American Seminar Leaders Association. And I work with the young lad. They're going up to New York back and forth in through the American Seminar Leaders Association. He advised me to take a look at the National Speakers Association. So I came down in July, joined the national speakers associated with the fellow after the library about shop in Philadelphia. While that was quite, quite interesting. Let's see, that was ninety ninety two.
[00:17:30] I think I was joined in ninety one.
[00:17:33] Yeah. Marilyn Sherman and I came and came in together, you know. So I came down with joined National Speakers Association and then I recognized them. And that was a great opportunity. And I had my first keynote address, our recommendation by Ralph Archibald right now.
[00:17:53] Who was the Franklin for you? Yeah. A very dear, dear friend of mine.
[00:17:58] He fell in, right? No, no. Ralph passed out about two year or two years. You know, ironically, when Ralph got married a few years ago, his wife made Betsy Ross. Oh, so that was quite a guy. So then I joined the National Speakers Association and in 92. And it's been a great ride for me because I did a lot of speaking, training and consulting. When I when I retired from the state police in 92, I January 92, I sighs, I retired. And the 29th, January 22nd, I had my first gig. And basically there has been a great career because most of the work that I've done has been the word of mouth. Very, very little official marketing, if you will, have those people say, what? I heard you speak here and I heard you did this. And so it was very, very interesting. For example, I wound up doing sexual harassment training for the entire Department of Transportation for Pennsylvania. We did the entire Philadelphia Police Department in that area and in 1994, 1997. So it was a great ride for me because we had a tremendous group that I was working with and we got some great reviews. And it was very is one of the thing that sustained my career up and up until I, you know, kind of wound down.
[00:19:19] Well, I'll tell you what, I remember hearing you and it was very inspiring and. Yeah. It's no wonder you got so much word of mouth. So in those years now, I know you took this. You were in retirement that you did. You weren't looking for this job yet now, right?
[00:19:34] No, I wasn't looking for it. But I made it clear. But I thought, here's a situation where I had spent my career on the other side of the table. For the enforcement part up there. And then to look at this and and recognize the potential here, because here's an opportunity to deal with the medical part of this visit, because there are so many people out who are hurting who really could use the the services that we are providing. And so there was a seismic shift then from a law enforcement to policing then, which has to do basically with the quality of life. And so that was the thing that propelled me to take a look at that. And also and part of what I do is like community outreach is to look at how how this thing impacts or benefits people, because everybody we know is a either a caretaker or a caregiver. And when you can talk to someone who you can share with them that basically you have an antidote for the opioid crisis, that's very important for someone who has been racked with pain and you can talk to them about having a pain free, non addictive existence. You know, that was very, very appealing to me.
[00:20:53] And I saw some statistics last night that it's just unbelievable the number of opioid pills or opiate pills that are sold in this country. I mean, it was I don't know, it was something like so many billion and, you know, even some little crappy communities and, you know, places where they have 3000 people that, you know, they sold. One hundred thousand opioid pills. I mean. Something's gone wrong somewhere. So it's great that you could you could do that. So so we're thrilled that you could take the time to talk those very inspiring stories. I mean I didn't know about coming up in your youth and all the stuff driving a bus at 16. That kinda cracked me up. I never heard such a thing for twenty two dollars and 50 cents a month.
[00:21:52] Well, what is that? That was interesting. Because even as a child growing up and we would work on farms and stuff like this. And basically it was like five bucks a day.
[00:22:01] Yeah. Really. Well, that was more than your mother was making even.
[00:22:05] Yes. Yes, it was. I mean, it they talk about pay equity during that time. Women who were doing the same jobs as men at that time. Guys will make it five dollars a day and women were making four dollars.
[00:22:15] Oh, wow. So, I mean, they wouldn't get much out of me. I'd probably pass out. Anyway, thanks so much for taking the time to tell your inspiring story and all the great things you did in law enforcement and inspiring people around the world. Sexual harassment stuff. You lived three or four lives already helping people.
[00:22:40] Well, you when you when you're out here, you begin to recognize that your job basically is to do what you possibly can for humanity. And if that's not where you are, then I say, what's what? What's the point?
[00:22:53] Very well. Very well said. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. I know it's going to inspire a lot of people out there to step up and do the right things. So thanks everyone and catch y'all on the next episode.
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