DiscoverPlaymakers: On PurposeFrom the Prison Yard to the Harvard Yard (ft. Andre Norman, Speaker & Founder of The Academy of Hope)
From the Prison Yard to the Harvard Yard (ft. Andre Norman, Speaker & Founder of The Academy of Hope)

From the Prison Yard to the Harvard Yard (ft. Andre Norman, Speaker & Founder of The Academy of Hope)

Update: 2022-06-1511


From the Prison Yard to the Harvard Yard (ft. Andre Norman)

From a 14-year prison stint to a life of meaning and impact


“If you can't line it up on your tombstone, it is just something you picked up along the way. So everything that I'm doing lines up with my tombstone because when it's all said and done, that stone is going to say who you were.”

—Andre Norman


International speaker and change agent Andre Norman is the founder of The Academy of Hope, a program designed to reduce institutional violence in prisons by providing an intense level of intervention while also creating a positive environment for the inmate population and staff. His tenacity and passion for people are tools that he’s used to help redevelop global communities, repair families in crisis, and reduce prison re-entry. Norman’s solution-based recovery efforts have impacted regions, such as Honduras, Bahamas, Sweden, Guatemala, Liberia, and Trinidad. He has lectured on multiple TEDx stages, as well as Harvard University and London Business School. And, his innovative strategies and personal experience with gang activity and inmate manipulation has improved correctional systems across the U.S.



[10:12 ] - Don’t Play the Tapes

The messages we tell ourselves to hold us back

Andre shares how each of us has a series of ‘tapes’ that play in our heads when we want to pursue something— ‘’You can’t do that. You’re not capable. You’re X, Y, and Z.” But there’s no guard at the gate but you. You’re the only one stopping yourself.

[19:15 ] - Control vs. Influence

Controlling a paycheck isn’t influence

Andre draws the distinction between control and influence. Just because you're someone’s ‘superior’ or boss doesn’t mean you have influence over them— only control. True leadership is connecting with people, not embracing the ‘dog eat dog’ ethos that doesn’t serve anyone or anything, not even the bottom line.

[27:18 ] - A Vision for Service

Where do you focus your desire to give?

If you have a desire to serve and give of yourself, where do you begin? Andre advises starting with a checklist. What do you love? What are you most passionate about? Start there. In Andre’s words, “Everybody’s not for everything. We need to build something that’s going to sustain, not just fill a gap.”

[38:29 ] - Mentors in the Pages

Don’t have a personal mentor? Find one in books

One of Andre Norman’s first mentors was James Allen, author of As a Man Thinketh. Norman estimates he read that book 50 times, going deep on the concepts within. He says that if you don’t have someone in your life that can be your in-person mentor, find a figure such as an author with a message that you connect with, then internalize that message. Let it help guide you forward.

[44:44 ] - The Tombstone

Start writing your epitaph with your actions

Want to live a life of purpose? Ask yourself what you want written on your tombstone— because there won’t be a lot of space there. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone all of your life, focus on what value you have to bring to this world, what passion you can inspire in others. Let those things guide your purpose, and let that purpose guide your actions.


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The WHY Institute

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The best part? It’s completely free for Playmakers listeners. Are you ready to find our WHY in just five minutes? Take your assessment now.



Paul Epstein may not be a hard charging running back on the actual football field, but his list of high-profile wins in the world of sports will have you thinking that he could be.

Paul has spent nearly 15 years as a pro sports executive for multiple NFL and NBA teams, a global sports agency, and the NFL league office. He’s transformed numerous NBA teams from the absolute bottom in league revenue to top-two in financial performance. He’s broken every premium revenue metric in Super Bowl history as the NFL’s sales leader. He opened a billion-dollar stadium, helped save the New Orleans NBA franchise, and founded the San Francisco 49ers Talent Academy.

He's since installed his leadership and high-performance playbook with Fortune 500 leaders, Founders and CEOs, MBAs, and professional athletes.

Now, as a global keynote speaker, #1 bestselling author, personal transformation expert, turned senior leader and advisor to PurposePoint and the Why Institute, and host of the Playmakers: On Purpose podcast, Paul explores how living and working with a focus on leadership, culture, and purpose can transform organizations and individuals anywhere to unleash their full potential.

Learn more about Paul at


The Playmakers: On Purpose podcast is an all-access pass to a purpose-centered tribe of leaders in business, sports, and life who are on a mission of meaning and impact. The show takes purpose from an out of reach North Star to a practical and tactical exploration of how we can step into each day, ON PURPOSE, where life no longer happens “to us”, it begins to happen “for us”. 

From the Why Coach of the San Francisco 49ers to your coach, take a seat at the table with sports industry executive, #1 bestselling author, personal transformation expert, turned senior leader and advisor to PurposePoint and the Why Institute, Paul Epstein, in this inspiring, yet immediately actionable podcast. 

From formative stories pre-purpose to personal and professional transformation’s post-purpose, each show will share a high-energy, prescriptive blueprint to ignite impact and drive inner success, fulfillment, and purpose no matter your starting point. It’s time to meet Paul at the 50 and get ready to live and lead ON PURPOSE.

Learn more at:


In Detroit, history was made when Barry Gordy opened Motown Records back in 1960. More than just discovering great talent, Gordy built a systematic approach to launching superstars. His rigorous processes, technology, and development methods were the secret sauce behind legendary acts such as The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

As a nod to the past, Detroit Podcast Studios leverages modern versions of Motown’s processes to launch today’s most compelling podcasts. What Motown was to musical artists, Detroit Podcast Studios is to podcast artists today. 

With over 75 combined years of experience in content development, audio production, music scoring, storytelling, and digital marketing, Detroit Podcast Studios provides full-service development, training, and production capabilities to take podcasts from messy ideas to finely tuned hits. Here’s to making (podcast) history together.

Learn more at: <a href="https://detroitpodcaststu

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From the Prison Yard to the Harvard Yard (ft. Andre Norman, Speaker & Founder of The Academy of Hope)

From the Prison Yard to the Harvard Yard (ft. Andre Norman, Speaker & Founder of The Academy of Hope)

Andre Norman, Connor Trombley, Detroit Podcast Studios, Paul Epstein