What was your life like growing up? Did you enjoy a good meal around the family table? Did you play with abandonment? Did you have encouragement from your parents? Did you receive hugs and love every day? Were you happy?
Now imagine your life in a single-parent household. Your father is an alcoholic, diagnosed with schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. Your mother leaves. You are three years old. How do you comprehend that? Where do you go from there? What should have been the wonder years for Brad Kirkland were a nightmare.
“From the age of three I was mentally and physically abused and as a result of that I became a unique individual.”
Over the years, Brad’s home life resulted in anger leading him to steal drugs and other bad behavior. The kind that lands you in jail ‘boot camp’ by the age of 13.
When he got out of boot camp he beat up his Dad because he was tired of the physical abuse and animalistic behavior. It landed him in a Youth Detention Center for a year.
“My Dad passed away a few years later. It was a mixture of emotions from relief, to joy, and then sadness.”
He became even more rebellious but he also became smarter.
“Even then, I started to learn how to adapt and to study how people think and how they react.”
Brad was sent to a foster care program. He spent time afterward living on the streets and being homeless and was eventually placed in an Atlanta group home.
The saving grace
“I was ‘saved’ at the age of 20 but when I returned home, I got in trouble again and went to ‘grown up’ jail,” Brad explained, “but then everything started to change. This time when I was released from jail, it was onward and upward.”
Brad made a decision to either let the pain destroy him or to become productive. He chose to build a business, to make something of himself. Now, everything inspires him.
“Whether it’s a conversation or something in nature, I’m inspired. I look through a different set of glasses now on everything around me.”
Nothing in life has been easy for Brad Kirkland and the more he excels, the harder it gets.
“It’s a difficult task. Every single day. It’s not a cakewalk, the spiritual and the opposition is very real.”
God’s word guides him in everything he does. His favorite verses lead him in his next business projects. It’s not just about earning a living and providing for his family for Brad, it’s about treating people right and delivering a product beyond their expectations.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6
And Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
A renaissance man is one of many talents and that describes Brad Kirkland perfectly.
“I believe we are wired to be something bigger than we are. That motivates me.”
Whether working on rebuilding small engines, repairing a broken lawnmower, or creating a unique design for a logo or website, his goal is always the same, to understand how something works, learn to adapt, or in the case of his design businesses, taking clients thoughts and developing a powerful message.
“I love to take peoples thoughts and portray them into images. When I do that it becomes something that helps them and their business.”
The love for creating graphics and design stemmed from a vocational course he took while at a youth detention center. Sometimes great things come from not so great experiences.
While the creative process evolved from pain, it developed into something beautiful, at times, a work of art.
An array of talents. A skill for listening. A talent for finding a way to survive the unthinkable. Brad has found a way to change the course of events in his life and translate them in to a way to help others be successful.
Wired for success
Brad spends time learning from the success of people like Charles Stanley, Elon Musk, Napoleon Hill, and others through reading and listening to podcasts.
He explores, creates, and dreams, believing that getting inside your imagination and visualizing where you want to be is a key to success.
“I focus on making my life better and the life of others better.”
Making the future count
One of his driving forces is being able to help troubled youth by providing an alternative to joining gangs or facing a dead end street in life, to develop a “safe haven” for kids coming out of a transition like a detention center or jail.
“I believe I can change the course of events for many others because of my life experiences. I found a way to survive and I’m dedicated to developing a safe place for young people who are where I was as a kid.”
Brad envisions placing mentors with troubled kids and running it off a reward system as opposed to constant discipline.
“Discipline can breed rebellion. I believe the more accomplishments, the more rewards philosophy can create a successful path for kids who are living what I survived.”
Brad has three children and one on the way at Thanksgiving. He certainly has a lot to be thankful for. His fiancée comes from a big, loving family, the kind of family he always dreamed about.
“I believe this is what God meant in having abundant life. He had a better plan for my life even during the dark times.”
Pastor Robert Schuller said, “Turn your scars into stars.” Brad Kirkland has had the courage to do just that and his future shines bright.
Editor’s note: In the coming weeks, we will be introducing you to the “faces” behind the businesses supporting the Now Habersham membership program with coupons for discounts and free merchandise. Brad Kirkland’s newest venture, Business Card Depot, is offering a coupon for members that includes a 10% discount, free custom design, and free shipping for business cards.
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