“Michael, you really should write a book.”


I heard it many times over a ten-year period from a variety of people. Yet I hesitated––first, weighing over and over whether anyone would be interested in what I had to say. Second, wondering if people would misinterpret my motives as some far-fetched ego trip. Finally I relented

––but not for the reasons you might think.

First, I needed to travel back in time to my childhood of poverty, starvation and despair. My prospects then were dim. But somehow I rallied, secure in the certainty that God would not leave me in that bottomless pit forever. Over time I grew stronger. Today I am successful enough to be not only generous, but also an inspiration. My own early nightmarish existence proves beyond any doubt that people can overcome just about anything.

So my primary aim in telling my life story was to show readers that no one else can take neither the blame nor the credit for how they turn out. Those rough times and difficult choices are theirs alone. How they react and move on is what matters; challenges teach us a great deal about our own resilience.

The people whom I love, however–-Melbourne Folkes, Clementina Folkes, George Folkes and Sheron Folkes––certainly deserve to be lauded for their loyalty and encouragement. I will never forget what they gave me.

Here are my messages: So many leaders nowadays preach only anger, rebellion and entitlement. Such wasted energy! I have learned that far more people encourage your success than plot your failure. Why not seize that? Your own empowerment, the kind that contributes to the betterment of mankind, will always rise higher and faster than any hate speech.

All notoriety and financial gains should in part provide inspiration, motivation, hope, liberation and forgiveness––so that others’ lives can become more purposeful and fulfilling. A business should be for-profit. A Foundation should be non-profit and teach self-sustenance––a leg up, not a handout.

People must continually ask themselves, “What have I accomplished thus far with my precious gift of life? Am I living on purpose, allowing myself the opportunities I deserve to become all I can be? Am I passing along everything I have learned to others so they too can soar on their own success?

And if not…why not?”

As my book’s title states, I was once Driven By Desperation. Today I am driven by a desire to share everything I have attained––and to encourage others to do the same.



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