Piute County School District,

A couple weeks ago there was a guest speaker at one of my classes. The speaker was Joseph Grenny, one of the authors of the New York Times Bestseller Crucial Conversations. Joseph Grenny has also co-authored several other bestsellers including Influencer and Change Anything. Joseph also started one of the world's most respected corporate training companies, VitalSmarts. Joseph is in the business of providing training and education for the world’s top business executives.

One day Joseph was contacted by a prisoner at a Utah prison who had read his book Influencer. In the book Joseph talks about a place called Delancey Street in San Francisco. Delancey Street is a multi-million dollar non-profit business that only hires convicts that still have time to serve. There are no locked doors, no guards, and nothing to stop the convicts from walking out. The convicts are trained to work at the restaurant, the moving company, as contractors, and at other enterprises. Over many years Delancey Street has changed the lives of over 20,000 convicts. Joseph was challenged by this prisoner to create that opportunity for him.

Within just a few years Joseph had set up The Other Side Academy in Salt Lake City. The academy takes former gang members, drug dealers, and thieves and puts them to work. He recruited the help of graduates of Delancey Street. The Other Side Academy has been so successful that in just a few years the company has become a comparable multi-million dollar company receiving no government funding and they are now opening another location in Denver.

You might wonder how does Delancey Street and The Other Side Academy get that to work? They are able to do it with the power of influence. Most of the management is just former students. They influence by teaching them new vital behaviors. Gang members believe they need to look out for themselves and never tattletell on anyone. At these businesses they are first taught how to serve others and how to hold each other accountable. 

We have an amazing amount of influence on the next generation. It’s an important responsibility to recognize and use wisely. Influencing students to establish vital learning behaviors is critical to their growth and success.

Thank you for being an influence for good in our schools. Here goes week 12,


Video by the Director of The Other Side Academy explaining how it works.


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