Interview with Dr. Oliver T. Reid, motivational speaker and author of bestseller, Don't Press Fast Forward: Prophetic Blueprints to Weathering the Storm.
Today on Your Voices, we have Man of God, Dr. Oliver T. Reid. Following an incident he went through in 1995 while in college, Dr. Reid has dedicated his life to empowering others. He has spoken on a lot of platforms in the country and worldwide and has written several books that go beyond cultural barriers and teach people how to overcome various obstacles in life. We talked to Dr. Reid about his work as a counselor and motivational speaker as well as how he’s using his message to empower people. He also gives us his take on how we can come together and fight the common issues that affect us.
Hi, Dr. Reid. It’s a pleasure talking to you today. Before we begin, can you help me introduce you to our readers?
Yes. I’m Dr. Oliver T. Reid, life coach, motivational speaker and also a philanthropist, a bestselling author and an international motivational speaker. I speak in different places around the world, I’m a father, a husband, all those things.
As far as I understand, something happened to you in 1995, and this led you to change your vision. You once said that since then, you started living and not existing. Can you elaborate more on that?
Yes. In 1995, I was in college and I went through an episode where I was very depressed. I come from a preacher background, but I became extremely depressed at that time and tried to commit suicide, and I was blessed to live through it. I overdosed on some pills, and had to be rushed to the ER and different things happened, but out of that came a turning point. I stopped just living and existing. I realized my divine purpose for life, and that’s helping to empower others.
You’re a motivational speaker and you give speeches to audiences all over the world. What do you speak about at your seminars?
I speak about becoming the solution and not the problem. I also speak on a lot of empowerment. I’m really solution focused, I help people uncover the solution inside of them. I believe that everybody on planet earth has an answer to something, so I really try to uncover and motivate people to find out what’s the one thing or multiple things inside of them that they can solve or what they bring to the earth.
You also provide mental health counseling. What do you think are some of the social issues which mentally ill people have?
A lot of them are definitely being misrepresented. The main thing is really people not understanding that they have a sickness, that they have a disease. People tend to focus more on their behavior rather than the root of the matter: what causes the behavior; the environment; the social makeup. Even the social stratification that occurs with someone on the streets with a disability, or an issue of being mentally challenged. What I really see that they face a lot of times is an issue of being misunderstood.
You’ve written several books. One thing I’ve noticed is that your books seem to have a lot of energy. Who are they directed to?
They go to people beyond color lines. I always speak about the universal laws or universal truth that everybody goes through. They focus on people that have been through pain, rejection, divorce, suicide, victory, and mostly, defeat. They’re about challenges as well as pinnacles, so it’s really well rounded and always empowering to read and live through them. You can’t stop the storm but you can live through the rain.
Who’s your audience when you give your motivational speeches?
It’s the youth, it’s churches, it’s business owners, business leaders, pastors and ministries’ leaders, and also the homeless. I actually work as a director of community services for a non-profit in Northern Virginia, a homeless organization, where we empower people who are homeless. So I’m speaking to their clients, I’m speaking to legislation, and also to county, government, and city officials.
Are you involved in any Black rights movement?
Yes. I actually am really pushing. I’m a member of a number of organizations here in Northern Virginia and just across the board where I push Black authors and entrepreneurs to really go for their dreams and to really be an advocate.
Being a man of God and a motivational speaker, how do you think people should fight for their rights?
I encourage and do a lot of social media, and I speak a lot on those injustices that have been happening in our nation. I’ve been telling people to think instead of just feel. And I’ve been telling people not to really get down by sensationalism, because when you get down by sensationalism, you tend to feel before you think. So using our minds to organize, using our minds to strategize, is what I’ve been preaching and teaching and motivating young people to do across America and even in other countries. I actually went to Liberia a couple of years ago and shared with the council of churches there the same thing. In Liberia, there were years of civil war and rebuilding, so I spoke really from the same point of using your mind as a weapon, using organization. We’re hurt, but how do we strategize and at what momentum, so that we can be heard in a non-violent way. There’s been many protests, there have been marches, and people have lost their lives. And when people lose their lives it’s for a reason. What is the greater cause, and how do we milk this crisis? And when I say milk the crisis, that is, to find the message that may come out of the crisis. Then after we find the message, we need to implement what we’ve learned, get a lesson plan, and then break it down to pieces so that people can follow. Because anger and discontent is one thing, but if we can get a lesson plan out of it, then we can get a strategy out of it. And then the key is the knowledge. Now that we have a lesson plan, we have the message, and we have the knowledge. And then we can assimilate that knowledge because we’ve had meetings, we’ve written it down. I always tell people to embrace the moment. The writers can write songs, the actors need to act, the athletes need to do their part, the politicians need to do their part. And at the end of the day, we articulate the same message of the movement.
Do you personally participate in these rallies and protests against police brutality and racism?
No, not directly. I do a lot of counseling and life coaching to people who are (protesting against injustice) and I do actually write about it.
Thanks for spending some time with us today. Do you have any final words for our readers?
I would say that it’s very important what we do, because we are making history, everything we do in this moment in time is going to be recorded. So I think people need to look at it through the lens and understand that we are present history, and we’re making history. And unlike it was before, where things would happen, somebody writes and then people will hear about it years later, we have social media. So the moment we do something, it is now history. I also want to add that, your now can never be later, so we need to understand that what we do in our now, how we react, is so important. Our sons and daughters will not only see it later, but they will see it immediately and replicate what we do, bad, wrong or indifferent. So we have to give it a lot of thought. Black lives matter because of what we do. We have people watching us, and people dance to the stage that we set. So we no longer need to dwell in darkness and a lack of knowledge, we really have to make history now. And if we take that word ‘now’, and flip it, and we are really making our ‘now’ important, then we’ll see that we won.