J. L. FORD: AUTHOR- COACH - CONSULTANT - RELATIONSHIP EXPERT
I was born here in Orlando and raised in Webster Fl., a small country town rife with poverty, drugs, gangs, and divided by race; yet sheltered as much as possible by my parents, who were the leaders of a church, and the small Godly circle that acted as a light for the rest of the community. I began working at the age of 9; toiling under the hot Florida sun in produce fields through the summer, and unloading trucks at the market throughout the year.
I’m the eldest of seven, all of whom (including myself) are adoptees. We all did our part to help keep food on the table. I was a repeat failure in school, who decided to make a change in my life. When I realized that nothing was going to be given, I decided to make my own opportunities. I switched schools, brought a 1.2 GPA up to a 2.0 and graduated by the grace of God. I then went on to the military where I toured all over Europe and served two years at war. I left after four years to pursue an education. I’ve since studied Sociology, Women Studies, Creative Writing and Public Administration, receiving honors in all areas. I am currently working towards a Ph.D. in Sociology with a concentration in relationships and finishing up my third book.
What is your greatest strength?
My past continuously motivates me to do more than what was expected of me, which has given me this drive to keep pushing. Whenever I achieve something I place it in my past and keep moving forward with the next thing. I believe there are more miracles destined for our lives than our birth, but they don’t often come without work.
What is your greatest weakness?
I’m very kind-hearted, and to succeed in this world you have to be able to step on toes. But one thing I’ve learned on this journey is this, there is a way around everything. I will never have the heart to say no, but my manager does, and she is great at it! Yes, a woman fights my battles (laughs), and I love her for it.
What’s the best thing about being a coach/consultant?
I believe in finding that one, love, and healthy relationship—with others as well as ourselves. Bringing a peace of mind or hope for a troubled relationship means the world to me, and saving someone from hurt and necessary pain means even more. I’ve been through it all, abuse, infidelity, lies, disappointments, heartbreaks, I mean everything.
Everyone has a story, and because of that the possibility of making the next person’s story a little easier. That’s what I’m here for, that’s what I love to do.
I would tell him, take what’s yours. Things don’t come easy, especially those things worth having. The world is a hard place, ready to devour dreams and drain you of your potential. When you are going after what you desire, your mentality can’t be “Whose going to let me?” it has to be “Whose going to stop me?!”
Have you ever helped someone that felt they were going downhill and wanted to give up completely?
I have a friend that I’ve always seen so much potential in, but for the longest he suffered from a problem that so many do, he couldn’t see it for himself. I remember him at his lowest point, in tears, discouraged by the depressing thoughts of no one recognizing his talents and success not coming fast enough. I encouraged him to move forward and did all I could to support him. I don’t know if it was my words or his own thoughts that led him to press on, but he did, and now he is an internet sensation. I couldn’t be more proud.
What are your views on marriage?
Marriage is beautiful, but seemingly something this generation ill-equipped for. This block of time has been characterized as the microwave generation, black men are being exposed as mentally weak, black women are being raised to be independent, and we’ve evolved into a society that accept divorce, in fact, It seems divorce has become the new marriage.
I hate to sound pessimistic, but it seems these days, people are wedding but not marrying; dreaming of a sky-scraping relationship without the will and strength to build. The idea of Marriage is beautiful, but we have to get back to that old school of thought that says the best part of a relationship comes after the hardest part.
What are your thoughts on philanthropy?
One of the true keys to success is in giving. I encourage all who are successful to think of this, anytime you feel the find yourself delighting in your success, think about the person who is starving at that very moment. I believe those who are blessed with the ability to do so, should commit to giving. Not giving back, but just giving.
We rarely know the seeds we plant when we bless another; the remarkable thing about that is the fact that what we may perceive as the smallest seed could sprout into something that changes the world for the better.
What’s the best advice you can give an entrepreneur in any industry?
It can’t be all about the money. As hard as we may run to get away from poverty, or whatever disparaging circumstances we grew up in, it’s not success if we are crossing the finish line alone.
I can’t say that I have an actual pastime right now; my life is about my work. However, I do enjoy the Wendy endorsed shows i.e., Desperate Housewives, Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Braxtons, Basketball Wives, and Single ladies… which is really only a step up from the BET version of The Game. I have a thing for shows revolving around women issues. Don’t get me wrong though, I love action just like the next guy and sports as well, I NEVER miss a Florida St. Seminole football game.
What’s your vision when it comes to building your legacy?
I haven’t given a whole lot of thought to what my legacy will look like but I can tell you this, I want to be my father’s greatest accomplishment and a great husband and father (when I get there). I want to be known as a person that had something unique, beautiful, and insightful to give to the world and did so freely. And I want to be accepted by God as a faithful servant and friend.
In 2007, you wrote “I’m a DOG because…the truth about doggish men from their own words”, what’s the latest project you are working on and what can we expect from you within the next few years?
How important of a role did education play in making you the expert that you are today when it comes to relationships?
Education played a pretty significant role. Most people that do what I do may choose to go into phycology, or counseling, but I chose Sociology because I am more interested in how our ever-changing environment affects how we behave in relationships. I also took up Women Studies, which had little to do with relationships, but its lessons gave me a real soft spot from women.
Still, most of what I have learned has come from other coaches, listening and coaching individuals, reading mountains of books, and of course my own experience. I’ve dated (and I do mean dated) well over 300 women (experimentally) most of which for the sole purpose of learning how they think. Sounds bad I know, but when you’re interested in something, you do your research.
I work from home, so the first thing people should know is if you don’t have a 9-5, you definitely have a 24-7. I have a morning regiment of tea, water, work-out, breakfast, and then vitamins. After which I move on to checking e-mails, tweeting, making calls, promoting, selling, and best of all, writing; all while watching the news. That goes on until I fall asleep at about 4am. Then of course, I get up in the morning and do it all over again. Sounds boring, but that’s the grind.
Do you think that career focused individuals should have a serious relationship or wait until they reach their personal goals?
When this is all said and done, and we well into age looking back on life, I think we will find that two decisions we vastly more important than all the rest; who we chose to be in our heart, and who we chose to be by our side. One will be with us for us for life, and the other we will be with for eternity. I think our top personal goal should be to love, because in the end, that’s all that really matters.
My biological brothers. As far as I know I have two of them. I would love to meet them, to compare physical features, life experiences and our general differences.
Tell me something about you that no one would believe?
I can be shy and I’m pretty introverted. Those who know of me would be hesitant to believe that because of what I do, and because I often become the center of attention at social gatherings. Early on I learned that the only things that could hold me back from reaching my potential were those two things. They are still there, I simply had to come up with things to get around them.
If you made the front of a magazine cover, what magazine would it be and what would the subtitle/subtitle say?
Essence “J.L.Ford, finally, a REAL relationship coach”
If you had your own brand of fortune cookies and was only allowed one statement that would be read by billions, what would it say?
“You are the Author of your own story, make it a great read!”
What do you think the biggest mistakes that individuals make in relationships?
Entering into them pre-maturely. That includes not knowing or having the true love for themselves, still suffering from a damaging past relationship, settling because of fear or the feeling of loneliness, and/or not having a true understanding of love, trust, commitment, and communication.
Do you believe in soul mates?
I can’t say that I believe in them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if such a thing existed. However, the idea that two people would simply come together and fit perfectly, I think, is far from reality. No matter who we date it’s going to be someone from outside of the household in which we were raised; that means a different culture and value system. These are two people who will have to suffer the fate of tug and war, give and take, and push and pull while growing together, just like everyone else.
What three things do you think attributed to your success?
Vision, persistence, and the stomach to invest everything I have into my dream.
What is your greatest belief?
That the only thing that can stand in our way of reaching our potential is, in fact, our selves.
After reading this interview you too should find a great respect for J.L. Ford. Through everything he is still conquering his dreams and defeating all odds. You should take nothing for granted and pursue through adversity. In life you can't seek immediate results because life is a journey, an experience. Ambition will always be the key to growth and J.L. Ford has demonstrated how perserverance can take you to greater heights!
Order your copies today of his books so you too can start on your way to having fulfilling relationships, conquering adversity and making a reality out of your visions!