Poet Ali Discusses Chain Reaction Movement

May 12, 2015

[Written by Kristen Taylor]

On Thursday, April 23, 2015, I got to sit down with Poet Ali and ask him some questions about what made him take on motivational speaking and how it has affected his own life.

After experiencing for myself, the energetic stage presence of Poet Ali and the magnetism of his performance at the last assembly of the school year for Chain Reaction Movement at Cedarbridge Academy, I wanted to ask him how he got started and how it happened that he ended up speaking to an auditorium of S1 and S2 Bermudian students today.

He told me that he is a hip hop artist, dancer and producer then he started working five and half years ago for Rachel’s Challenge, Chain Reaction Movement’s affiliate, whose goal is to promote kindness in schools and prevent bullying after the devastating Columbine shootings in Colorado in April, 1999.

He said that Rachel’s Challenge was “very powerful, very impactful in my life” and really meshed with his ideals. He started working with Rachel’s Challenge “and I also shortly after that was asked to do a TED Talk and it was those two things.”

“After that I was asked to do a second TED Talk and this is the one that I feel was the catalyst for a lot of things. The title of it is ‘The Most Important Language You Will Ever Learn’ and it seems to be about linguistics, but then as you watch it, you realize it’s about a little more than that.

“People started reaching out to me, asking me to speak and develop content for particular conferences or a particular cause, and being tied into Rachel’s Challenge and the core message being about kindness and compassion…through her story, has made a major impact on my life and has afforded me amazing opportunities including being here in Bermuda.”

As Rachel’s Challenge began to work with Chain Reaction to develop assemblies and mentor students, Poet was invited to visit Bermuda to perform his “Music and Motivation” tour for the students.

Poet & Flip

In speaking about visiting and performing in Bermuda and how often he comes down he humbly says, “I’ve been very, very lucky to continue to come and continue to challenge myself because my thought is…I put a lot of pressure on myself in the terms that kids, staff, anyone, can get burnt out on anything—no matter how powerful the story is. If you see a movie, even if it’s your favourite movie, it can lose its power.

For me, the important part has been consistently challenging myself to come with content that is new, that is different, that excites them, that is entertaining—but I always try to make the entertainment tied in to something that you pull from. That’s the behind the scenes, the kids just think they’re getting the hip hop but really the only reason that’s there is to get their attention and reference that as it pertains to something bigger than just the ear candy.”

This past assembly focused on “Excellence” and how to obtain it. The students listened to Poet and guest speaker Flip Rodriguez, a professional athlete and competitor on American Ninja Warrior, as they spoke about how we need to believe in our potential in order to realize it.

Poet said that he chose to bring Flip down this time because he could speak to the students about success and failure; working hard and believing in one’s abilities from his own personal story. “Yes, the fame and everything is exciting but it took being considered a little different or a little weird or a loner. I wanted the kids to see what it took to get from point A to point B in a very physically challenging career like Flip’s.

Flip spoke about how he wears a mask on his face during the competitions and the two sides of the mask challenge him to remember “all I’ve overcome and all I can become.”

Poet Ali’s TedTalk, ‘The Most Important Language You Will Ever Learn:

Poet also told me about the hat he was wearing that day; it said “I am the Greatest” [a Mohammed Ali quote].

He said “I wore this hat today b/c Mohammed Ali is a big inspiration for me. One of my favourite quotes that he has is ‘I said I was the greatest even before I knew I was’ and I feel like that’s so important for the kids.”

He also paraphrased a quote by Marianne Williamson “don’t be afraid to be brilliant…in doing so, you are silently giving others permission to do the same.”

He definitely seems to live his message in his everyday life. He lives big and uses every opportunity to genuinely encourage others to do the same.

Poet Ali speaks for Chain Reaction Assemblies as well as performing on tour in his “Music and Motivation” production across America. You can also check out his TED Talks on YouTube and Facebook.

For more information on the Chain Reaction Movement and to see videos of all guests, visit the website.

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Category: All, Entertainment, Music