“A word of encouragement is life changing as it can take someone from the bottom to the top in seconds, and for over 20 years I have had the opportunity to uplift, motivate and empower people all over the world.” – Derrick Hayes, USA

Teaching was the last profession Derrick Hayes thought he’d pursue. “My father was a legendary teacher,” he says, “so I tried to run from the classroom so that I could be out of his shadow and concentrate on doing my own thing.” As it turned out, Hayes’s “thing” was very much about teaching – just not in the conventional way of his educator dad. 

Hayes, who gave himself the unique title of “Encouragement Speaker,” has dedicated his career to helping students and others succeed, through proven motivational tools like Derricknyms, which show off his talent for turning names and words into positive messages on the fly. He’s a sought-after speaker and has also published a number of popular e-books.

As a freshman entrepreneur at Tennessee State University, Hayes started his first business selling hot dogs to hungry students. This helped pay his way through college, and Hayes was inspired to teach others how to run a business. When he realized that some students were not able to finish school due to financial hardship, he helped start his school’s Wall of Excellence Scholarship and Development Fund, which has since raised over $500,000 so that business students can complete their education.

“One of my greatest gifts,” Hayes says, “is to show others that you can make a difference.” When I wrote a book, it opened doors to others like me that never thought they would ever write a book. In the last few years I shared my story through apps and now others know that they can close the technology gap and become a leader of the pack.” 

Educators don’t fit a single mold, and they can take many different routes to get to a positive outcome for their students. Derrick Hayes is proving that encouragement is as important to a good education as are the teachers, tools and curriculum. Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure! 

What drew you to the field of education?

As a senior at Tennessee State University, Andre Lee and I were in a partnership called Hayes & Lee Creative Relations. One summer, we wanted to do business with the Nashville Urban League (NUL) and we called to ask for an opportunity meeting.  

During our discussions with NUL, they suggested that it would look good before their board if we had volunteered and provided help to one of their programs. Since we were young entrepreneurs, Andre and I were asked (with one day’s notice) to develop and present a [youth training] motivational program. At first we laughed because we just wanted to make money and never really thought of motivational speaking as a career option. We accepted the challenge and gave back through our first presentation titled, “If I Can, You Can, We Can.”  

In “If I Can, You Can, We Can” we used the game of UNO to teach youth about how to use the cards that they are dealt with in life, and that you may not win the first time but if you keep playing the game of life, eventually things will fall in place for you. When we finished, the youth — along with the administrators of NUL — gave us positive feedback. This is the moment that I realized I could uplift and encourage lives as a motivational speaker.  

Why is it important to you?

It’s important because I learned I could make a difference in and outside of the classroom by giving back and paying it forward to others.  

Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?

As a student in the College of Business at Tennessee State University, I met Dr. Millicent Lownes-Jackson, my professor for my entrepreneurship class. I could relate to her as she not only taught us, but also had a business and non-profit organization called ISOA (Interdenominational Services Organization of America) established so that we could see how it is done outside of the classroom.  

Not only did I stay in touch with Dr. Lownes-Jackson, but I met her son and we became such good of friends that he asked me to be the best man in his wedding.  

With her encouragement for inspiration, as a student I came up with the concept for the College of Business Wall of Excellence Scholarship and Development Fund, which showcases companies and individuals who have donated scholarship dollars to assist students. After 20 years, the Wall Of Excellence still is located on the Avon Williams Campus of Tennessee State University and has helped raise over a half million dollars for scholarships and student support. 

Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?

The complete impact of how my achievements have advanced innovation in education may never ever be fully known. When I was in school, I realized that some students may never get to finish school because of funding, and the Wall of Excellence Scholarship and Development Fund has helped keep dreams alive that could possibly invent life-changing products and services. When you have a chance to learn, it keeps your light on.  

A word of encouragement is life-changing as it can take someone from the bottom to the top in seconds, and for over 20 years I have had the opportunity to uplift, motivate and empower people all over the world.  

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

I learned that people were looking for something positive to help them start their day, and with research I found out that there are five-times more mobile phone users than there are Internet users. The title “Motivation to Your Mobile” came to me after combining these two thoughts together. Motivation to Your Mobile is a free download on Android and iPhones where each subscriber receives an original quote from me each day right to their mobile device. The application was developed with the help of my longtime friend Joe Kuryla of Protify.  

In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?

I think the use of technology in school linked with technology use in the home is the most innovative thing happening today. School systems have embraced the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model so that every student can have the access of technology in school as well as in the home.  

How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?

Teachers, parents and students must care about education and standardized tests have to stop being the measure. Also, more learning analytics need to take place so we can use the data to promote personalized learning for each student. 

About Derrick Hayes, Encouragement Speaker, Word of Encouragement Enterprises
Georgia, USA
@encouragement4u and @todayshonoree

  • Birthplace: Rantoul, Illinois
  • Current residence: Columbus, Georgia
  • Education: B.A. in Business Administration from Tennessee State University
  • Websites I check every day: DerrickHayes.com, EncouragementSpeaker.com, TodaysHonoree.com, Twitter.com, Facebook.com, LinkedIn.com, and Google.com.
  • Person who inspires me most: My Dad,James Hayes, Jr., is over 80 years old and is still making it happen. My dad retired from the military with a Master’s degree in education and went on to retire from the school system as a Teacher. “Jimmy” served 12 years as Alderman in the city of Urbana, Illinois. His hobbies include singing in the chorale and making honey from his bee hives. The greatest accomplishment I witnessed was when the stock market crashed, he said “I already knew it was going to happen. I did not lose anything.” Why? He watches the stock market on TV like I watch ESPN.
  • Favorite childhood memory: One of my favorite childhood memories is scoring six touchdowns in a game against our rival.
  • Next travel destination (work or pleasure): A few places that I would like to visit in the U.S. are Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, and outside of the country would love to visit England, Africa and Australia.
  • When was the last time you laughed? Why? I laugh every day because it is therapeutic. I grew up in a small town, where everyone talked about each other, so you learned to find humor in the smallest things. If you never learned to make anyone laugh, the joke would always be on you.
  • Favorite music: My favorite music growing up was hip-hop and it helped inspire my creative gifts. A few years ago I was working as a Juvenile Corrections Officer and the youth in lock up started talking about the way that I walk and talk. I thought about how youth are getting bullied all over the country and I used my gift of poetry and rhyme that I learned through my love of music and turned this moment into a dance song titled “Do The Mr. Hayes” and here is a video to teach you how to do it http://youtu.be/ll-mzkRnPuQ

To learn more about Derrick Hayes’s unique approach to motivation, and his books (including Derricknyms From A to Z), check out his website.

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2 Responses to “A word of encouragement is life changing as it can take someone from the bottom to the top in seconds, and for over 20 years I have had the opportunity to uplift, motivate and empower people all over the world.” – Derrick Hayes, USA

  1. Anne Ngugi says:

    Very good. Some people live miserable lives and fail to succeed in life because noone is there to give them hope and encouragement. Children need encouragement and support inoder to live up to their full potential and realise their dreams…. Good work Hayes.

  2. Pingback: Global Hero in Education Develops WEEKEND Program to Uplift Youth | Change and Transform Through Encouragement

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