Filmed on 13 April 2019 as part of TEDxUTK 2019 On Another Wavelength
at the Art and Architecture McCarty Auditorium in Knoxville, TN.
As a college professor and international leadership mentor, James Williams gives talks everyday, but when given the chance to speak at a TEDx event, he had to find a new approach.
Reflecting on stories from faith, experiences as kid, and struggles later in life, James reveals how the influences we grow up with often limit our perception of self-worth and our human potential.
Through his process of self-discovery, James learned that speaking true to your heart requires taking stock of who you are and what you're doing, moving beyond the limits others create, taking new risks, and finding inspiration from those closest to you.
Dr. Williams serves as an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee and is the owner of UNMASKYTP, LLC, training domestic and international leaders to dwell in joy while seeking curiosity in every endeavor. Dr. Williams is also a professional actor, performing as Uncle Tom in Into the Wilderness (SAG/movie) and starring as Waco Collins in Murder Chose Me. He wrote two books, From Thug to Scholar: An Odyssey to Unmask my True Potential and How to Get Abs like a Bodybuilder but Eat like a Fat boy. He has also published over 15 scholarly articles and delivered over 30 presentations on emotional intelligence, soft skills, sports, leadership, employee training, mentorship, hospitality pedagogy, human resource management, and personal and professional development.
Dr. Williams grew up masked, selling drugs at 13 years of age, and fathering two kids, dropping out of high school, and living on the streets by 17 years of age. He was affiliated with the street gang, BLOODS and attempted to shoot someone prior to removing his mask of suffering and mindfully living in heaven on Earth.
Dr. Williams earned six degrees (two doctorates), Ph.D. from Iowa State University. He honorably served the United States Air Force, winning Airman of the Year. He played professional arena football for the Raleigh Rebels (2005-2006). Dr. Williams has industry experience in the dental, banking, sales, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, hotels, and education. He is also a Certified Hospitality Educator and trainer. Dr. Williams has also spoke to over 100 unique audiences, and won numerous speech competitions for Toastmasters International. Dr. Williams was also recognized as the Top 15 Emerging Scholar of 2019 by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.