Kevin Dorival seems to be everywhere, ever since he published The Courage to Believe, an inspirational, self-help book that chronicles his journey from an individual who lived—in his words—“the thug life”, to the marketing professional, author, and motivational speaker he has grown into today.
Dorival was born in Florida in the 1980s to Haitian parents. His mother, a single-parent, mindful of the bad influences in their neighborhood, encouraged her first-born to excel in school and attend church regularly.
Ironically, Dorival chose to rebel at the end of his teenage years, taking part in reckless behavior that earned him an eight-month stint in jail and five years of probation in the early 2000s. But manman didn’t raise no egare. Dorival felt he had too much potential as an individual to gift his life over to a destructive system. He was released early from his probation and continued his college education and in 2005 earned a Bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University.
After contemplating it for years, he said, he finally published his tome. Ten percent of the book’s sales will go towards supporting an orphanage in Haiti.
Now, aside from promoting his book and running his business, Dorival is out and about at institutions and at cultural events, speaking to people—young and old—about never giving up, and mustering up the courage to believe in themselves— the way he’s learned to.
Q & A
Your book is part self-help, part autobiography. Did you have some reservations about putting parts of your life out there for everyone to see?
Did I! [Laughter] Yes, of course! I’m a very private person so I had to come out of my shell in order to help my community. When the time came to actually make my first print run of books, I was like: “OMG, the whole world will know many of my most intimate moments!” However, by that point, I came too far to stop. The feeling was the equivalent of putting your diary online for everyone to see. We were actually practicing for the play, based from the book, before I actually had the first copy of the book.
Some writers begin books they never finish. How did you manage to write your book from beginning to end?
I’ve heard that story of authors giving up plenty of times. To be honest in order to become an author you have to be a disciplined writer and business minded. It took me five years from start to finish to get my book, The Courage To Believe to manifest. The drama with the editors, publishing, and life in general was making it impossible for me to finish. I literally had to go through four editors, which brought an immense amount of stress to my bank account and me.
In 2012, I didn’t make any New Year’s resolution. My only focus was to bring my book into fruition—point blank. I realized the dedication that I had in previous years didn’t suffice. I had to give this book my full, undivided attention. No dating, no clubs, no playing around. My mind was set on just church, work, and writing.
What was the publishing process like for you?
Good question. The publishing process was very enlightening. I learned so much about book sizes, book formatting, and printing, etc. Luckily I was already contacting printing company months before I was really ready to get my book printed. This gave me time to plan and shop around for the best prices and quality. Whenever you’re going to war, history shows us it’s usually the opponent that had more time to plan a strategic battle [who] almost always wins the war. I had the opportunity to study the business of publishing, which was in my mind a war that I had to win. Being on a limited budget, I decided to use my best weapon—reading. I love to read and I still do. I read books like The Complete Guide To Self-Publishing by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier and Publicizing Your Book by Jacqueline Deval. After six months of renting these informative books from the library, I finally decided to purchase them. There were a couple of other awesome books and blogs that convinced me to start my own book publishing and coaching business, Sky View Creative Circle. I joined forces with my fabulous editor and play director Ashley Beauchamp and my awesome web designer Gary Pierre to start the company.
In writing your book Courage to Believe, what message were you hoping to get across?
It doesn’t matter what your past was like, it doesn’t matter what it looks like or what they are saying about your family – You can win! Don’t ever give up! Keep moving forward! I’ve seen so many people give up on their dreams and it always bothered me to see my people live substandard lifestyles. We are all kings and queens and deserve the best in life. As you read my book, you’ll find out that I did eight months in jail and lived the thug life. However, I grew up like a rose from the concrete. If I can overcome all of those obstacles then so can anyone, else, but you have to really want it.
What has been your parents’ reaction regarding your accomplishments?
My mother Queen Rosette Pierre, was my biggest supporter. She was so happy to see work on the book, which would be my family’s first published book. Actually, I was also the first of many things in my family and I hope not the last. When my mom saw me walk across the stage at Florida Atlantic University’s graduation, it was a moment to remember. The fact that I almost died due to a brutal attack a year prior was a testimony in itself. I know that is what my mom was thinking about. My grandparents were so proud of me because I was the first to graduate college in my family. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and minor in Marketing.
You’re hoping to inspire a lot of people with your book, no doubt. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
The biggest influence in my life has to be my mom, Rosette Pierre. I watched this lady make a dollar out of fifteen cents—literally. She was a praying woman and a woman of her word. My mom never called herself a queen, but she carried herself as one. All my life she spoke victory over my life and set the standards high in our family. She was diagnosed with cancer in her spine, multiple myeloma in 2005 and passed away on May 26, 2008. Her strength was passed along to all her of five kids.
Do you remember the first time you went to Haiti?
Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Haiti. Whenever I tell people that their mouths drop and say, “You never been to Haiti! Why?” When I was growing up all I heard about Haiti frightened me. One morning my family and I were leaving for Haiti but I cried my butt off until my mom decided to let me stay. That was when I was about nine years old. In the spring of 2010, I planned on taking my vacation in Haiti but unfortunately the earthquake devastated our country. My family begged me not to go, literally. I’m anxious to go and once when God wants me to. I do know that when I finally go to Haiti it will be a major business trip. I want to see my parents’ families and enjoy the good food, but I mainly want to see where I can build a solid foundation. I planning on going around Christmas 2013. On my vacation.
At this point in your life, what are you most proud of?
In 2007, defeating the U.S. Army in the Washington, D.C. Trademark Office for my clothing line, One Man Army, Inc. That was a victory that is almost unheard of, especially, from a Haitian King. The United States Army felt that the name of my clothing line was too similar to their old slogan, “Army of One”. Everyone—including my family—was telling me to leave this battle alone. To think of it, they almost persuaded me to not pursue the case but I wasn’t doing anything illegal so I went for the gusto and won!
My most recent, proudest moment was when I was on the front cover of the Sun-Sentinel, Florida’s largest newspaper. The article went public online the day before my stage play, January 4, 2013 and was printed that Saturday and Sunday. The title was, “After 20 Years, Teacher Gets A Thank You To Remember.” The article gave me a huge recognition boost in South Florida. It was an honor to recognize my fifth grade teacher—Mrs. Wyche—for her hard work. I gave her a dozen roses while I was giving my speech after the play.
Some people lack the courage to believe in themselves, that they can make it, that they can do it. What advice do you have for them to make it through tough times?
People aren’t born with courage; it’s developed over a serious experiences, whether they were good or bad. Focus on what you have and not that you don’t have. There is so much that is going on in life than what you can see. It’s a spiritual battle. Read Ephesians 6:8-10. God will bless what you put your hands to, especially, if it will be a blessing to others. Reevaluate your life. Ask yourself, “How many positive people and things do I surround myself with? Are the words that are coming out of my mouth curse words, placing curses to your life and those around me? Are they positive? Words that are blessing those around you and a blessing to your own life?”
Get rid of as many negativity aspects out of your life as possible. Once you evaluate your life, environment and words then you can actively change your mindset to something conducive for victory, success, and increase. Be sure to take a piece of paper and divide them by what you consider positive and negative. If the negative side outweighs the positive, then you know what you must do.
You said you lived the thug life. What do you think led to that choice? What do you think contributed to that?
Lack of a male figure in my life and home. Most of the families in my neighborhood lived in single parent homes. We were left by our fathers to fend for ourselves. Boys growing up need a male role model because a woman can only do so much. I needed support at a time [when] no one was there to guide [me] to the right path—even though I knew the difference between right and wrong.
What did your family think of this?
I brought dishonor to my family. My mom was very disappointed and hurt that her brightest son fell into the system.
When did you see the light that you were destined for something else?
While I was locked up, I was able to witness how and why so many of our black men, many Haitians, gave up on their future. The fact that I was able to see both sides of the spectrum I knew that God wanted me to help stop the revolving door of prison and death.
What advice do you have for youths who “are about that life”?
My advice would be to tell them that those “Cowboy Days” are over with. The streets are only temporary and the grave is definite—if prison doesn’t catch up with you first. We all are kings and queens, and the streets will rob you of all your dreams and goals.
What’s next for you?
My book The Courage To Believe, is also a stage play and will be a movie so please look out for me. Will need my people to support this positive movement. My stage play crew will be touring around Florida and eventually the nation – God willing. We’ve received so many great reviews about the stage play that we just have to keep grinding it. I have to allocate the funds to make such a venture a reality but I believe that we will make it happen. I want to continue writing books and I’ve already started my next one; it’s a children fantasy story that I’m going to present to Disney. I get excited just thinking about it! Currently, I’m conducting a fundraiser to go on a two week-[long] tour of Ghana, West Africa to do research in order to complete the book. If you know of any investors or sponsors, have them contact me for more info or donate through my website. There is a comedy movie that is cooking in my head as well; people will love it because it’s based on a type of person that we all know personally.
Every other week, I am visiting a middle or high school or organization speaking with teens and young adults from the ages thirteen to twenty-eight. Other than that, I’m helping future authors with developing their books and marketing them as well. In due time, I’ll be able to leave my internet marketing job to pursue my dream of buying a corporate building where my marketing company will have its headquarters.