Interview Series: Charles Randolph speaks about Poverty to Success

One of my core beliefs is that if you don’t plan your life, there will be someone who will be more than ready to make plans for you.  When I arrived at my favorite Starbucks on 40 Highway near Walmart, Charles Randolph was seated at a table with his blue planner open before him.  He was looking at his goals and plans for life.  Charles is a man who lives by his priorities like few people I know.

I have another value that was instilled by my father and by early work associates.  The best leadership is leadership by example.  I greatly appreciate how Charles does just that.  He is a job coach for Community Services League in Independence, Missouri.  He helps people who live on the margins of society obtain employment and self-sufficiency. 

Many job offerings for his clients are entry-level.  Cleaning Arrowhead Stadium and the parking lot after a Chief’s game is hard, low-paying work.  Recently, one of Charles’ clients was working at Arrowhead.  Guess who was working right beside him?  You’re right.  Charles was there, too.  He doesn’t ask his clients to do what he is unwilling to do.  He works right alongside of them.

I hope you enjoy the interview with Charles Randolph.  I also hope you are inspired by his example.

Bob: Charles, you are a hard worker.  How many jobs are you currently working?

Charles: I currently work full-time for Community Services League as an Employment Specialist.  I also work part-time for Rally House, selling sports apparel.  And, I’m a sweeper at Arrowhead Stadium.

Bob: Why are you so work focused?

Charles: I believe there are bridges out of poverty.  Many poor people live day-to-day.  They don’t set goals and make plans to reach them.  To get out of poverty people must think years in advance.  I have goals in several areas of my life.  One of them is financial.  I am working hard to reach my financial goals.

Bob: That’s great, but how do you balance your life between work and the most important people in your life?

Charles: I use my planner.  I schedule work related tasks in my planner, but I also schedule in friends and family.  This meeting with you is written down in my planner.  The same is true for my girlfriend and family members.  It is amazing how well life works when you do what is planned and not just what you allow to happen to you.

Bob: You work with the Community Services League “Work Express” program.  What is that program?

Charles: I help clients, many of them homeless, to be able to find work.  My goal is to help them find work not just for a week or two, but to help them find careers.  I assist with resume writing, searching for jobs on the internet, and making contacts with staffing agencies.

Bob: What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

Charles: Seeing transformation.  When a homeless person gets to work and becomes successful, it is a powerful rush.  When someone sits in my office crying out of desperation and they return crying with joy, I am truly fulfilled.

Bob: You work at improving yourself daily.  What is your current new goal?

Charles: I have a professional goal to save $4,000 by March.  I want to have my own home within three years.  On another level, I want to visit my brother in Philadelphia in July of next year.  I have many other goals.  Some are personal and others are professional.  I try to live my life by setting goals and by planning ways to reach them.

Bob: What has been one of the most difficult times in your life?

Charles: During the second half of 2013, I was trying hard to find work.  I had no money and I hated sitting around with nothing to do.  I was putting in applications, but getting no results.  I called a staffing agency and didn’t get any encouragement.  This was a big learning experience for me.  When someone sits in my office, I always give them encouragement. 

Bob: Have you ever thought about giving up on work or some other aspect of your life?

Charles: No!  There is no reason to.  People give up when they see no solution.  I know there is a solution if I keep at it.

Bob: If someone came to you and said, “How can I reset my life,” how would you counsel that person?

Charles: Go to church, pray and read your Bible.  When I was having such a hard time finding work, I came to Maywood Baptist Church.  I prayed with Kathleen Wright.  God heard our prayers and I got a job shortly after that prayer.

Bob: What is the biggest value in following Jesus Christ?

Charles: Heaven and seeing my family members in heaven is immensely important to me.  I also receive guidance from reading the Bible and praying.  Living with Jesus gives me freedom from worry about what I cannot control.  It takes the pressure off.  I also get to help people.  I serve preschool children at the church on a regular basis.  I enjoy seeing some of our youngest church people learning about Jesus.

There are two big thoughts that I take away from this visit with Charles Randolph.  First, is to plan your life.  Give it a try.  Take some time to ask yourself this question: “What do I really want to be, to do, and to have in life?”  Write down your answers. 

Next, get a calendar and ask a very crucial question.  “When am I going to DO the things that will enable me to be, to do, and to have what I want?”  Like Charles, spend some time every day working on your goals.  See what you can accomplish.

Another profound lesson from Charles is to lead by example.  Charles coaches people to go from poverty to success.  However, he often works alongside of his clients and shows them a powerful work ethic.

If you have any thoughts about this interview, please include them in the “reply” section of the blog.

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