TJ Bell has faced a lot of bricks in his life growing up in a single-parent household. He suffered from alcoholism and drug abuse as a teenager and young adult. He was involved in street gangs and served time in jail, but he turned his life around for himself and his family. He is now sober and has his podcast to help others follow their dreams. He reminds us to go after our dreams and keep trying. His story reminds us that it is never too late to change your life.
Ari: Welcome to this Whispers and Bricks My name is Avi Shonbrun. I’m your host. Today I have with me, TJ Bell. TJ. TJ is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who decided to finally turn his life around, not just for himself, but for his wife and four amazing children. He is now a top two or top rated podcast host in the entrepreneurship category, as well as a podcast coach, and is on a mission to help those that feel buried by self doubt and limiting beliefs have breakthroughs and win in life and in business. He shares his experience and lessons learned and building better habits, strengthening your mindset for success, as well as becoming the best version of yourself in all areas of life. It’s not claimed to have all the answers, but he’s determined to find them and share them with you. TJ bill is a man who was on a mission to prove that you can be successful in anything you want. Regardless of your upbringing, current situation, or lack of knowledge and or money. Please help me welcome TJ Bell. A TJ, how you doing?
TJ: I’m doing great, man. How are you?
Ari:I’m wonderful. Thank you. Thank you for agreeing to be on the show. Really appreciate it. Hey, thank you. So hey, my pleasure. All right. Let me let me just start off with with one easy question for you. What does TJ stand for?
TJ: Yeah, a lot of people ask that everyone thinks it’s like I’m a junior or something. No, it’s just not for Terrance Jordan. This is my name. I don’t know why. But you know, since I was born, that’s what everybody called me. I have no idea why, but it just stands for counts. Jordan.
Ari: Terence Jordan. Okay. Well by that. All right. Now, as you know, the name of this podcast is whispers and bricks, the whispers of those voices telling us what the right thing to do is, and they represent the good in life. The bricks represent the bad things we go through in life, God knows. We all get hit with bricks throughout our lives, some bigger, some smaller, some more, some less. But everybody has a story. Everybody goes through something. And that is why you’re here on this podcast. Because after I heard your story, you reach some really, really lows that most people would never get out of. You did. Now my audience needs to know that they will whispers out there that could save them as well. So I would like you to start by telling us your major brick stories, and how you survived. Now I know that you grew up in a single parent household, correct? Yes. All right. Where Where did you grow up?
TJ: I grew up in a small city called Prince Albert, Saskatchewan here in Canada. It’s one of those cities where it’s so small that I mean, it’s still considered a city. So it’s not, you know, like really small or anything, but it’s so small that where there’s no you know, for lack of a better term, there’s no good quote unquote, good area. You know what I mean? It’s kind of all rough. It’s, you know, it doesn’t matter where you live. I never really knew my dad growing up, you know, I mean, he left when I was a shoe, I don’t even know maybe one. He left in the middle of the night while we were sleeping, took all of my diapers, all my clothes, everything my mom woke up to nothing. And yeah, man. So it’s been a I mean, it’s been rough. But at the same time, there’s been a lot of blessings as well, man.
Ari: do you have siblings?
TJ: I do. I have five brothers and six sisters. But I only grew up with two sisters and one brother.
Ari: Kid or elaborate?
TJ: While the two sisters and one brother are from my mom. So I grew up with them. The others are from my dad’s side. I never really knew them. You know, as much as I know, the ones I grew up with. But, you know, I still have to consider, I mean, add them in the story because they’re, you know, they’re my family too. Right.
Ari: So I hear you. I hear you. So you lived in a pretty tough neighborhood. Life was pretty tough. And you kind of dealt with it the way the only way that you knew how. And by the time you were 15 years old, you became an alcoholic. Tell us about that. What was going on?
TJ: Well, I mean, it all started actually when I was 12. I was actually visiting at a friend’s house and he lived in a household where his parents they worked a lot so they were they weren’t around much. His mom worked at a casino and his dad I believe worked in a mine or something. So They were always gone. So we were just hanging out one day. And then there was this girl that I was hung out to that, you know, had a big crush on back then. So that’s why I was always there. And she, she handed me a cup. And she’s like, Here drink this. And I was like, Well, what is it she’s like, is juice or pop or something like that. So I took a sip. And it just a taste it was, it turned out to be a wine cooler. But I just remember like, Damn, that’s, that’s really good. And like, the more I drank, the better I felt, you know what I mean? And I just started getting, you know, at the time, I didn’t know, but I was getting drunk, right. And I just remember, I just felt really good. I felt felt powerful. I felt like nobody could stop me from doing anything, you know, like the most confident man in the world. And I ended up passing out in his little sister’s bedroom. And, you know, she was waking me up splashing water on me, hey, my mom’s gonna be home, you gotta leave, you gotta leave. So then I went home, fell asleep. And my mom was waking up, she say, Hey, is dinner, you’re gonna come eat? And I was like, no, no, I’m feeling sick or whatever. But she knew what was up. She just didn’t say anything. Because, you know, she had a very unique way of dealing with stuff like that. And you know, later on how to talk with me about, you know, the dangers of alcohol, because I come from a long line of, you know, alcoholics and stuff like that. And yeah, fast. I never drank after that. But fast forward to 15 My mom started dating a guy that owned a bar, just down the street from us. So she was always there, you know, getting extremely intoxicated and stuff like that she will come home with like, parties and stuff like that. And, you know, me I was I was a bigger kid, right. And growing up with only a mother, she always taught me to protect, you know, my siblings, my household and the women of the family and stuff like that. So when she would bring these people over, I felt the need to, you know, protect our household and stuff, because I didn’t know who these people were. So eventually, it got to a point where either tell these people to leave, or you’re gonna have to just include me in it, because this is really annoying, you know what I mean? So eventually, I just started drinking with them. Oh, yeah. And yeah, and then it just became, like, you know, once in a while, you know, then it was every weekend. And then as I got older, it just became more and more, you know, I mean, it eventually it became every day for like, five days straight. And, and I take like, a two month break. Fast forward to 2020, though, it started becoming like an everyday thing, because, you know, couldn’t go anywhere, couldn’t do anything, pandemic and stuff. And it’s just that 2020 was when, you know, it was really, really bad. And it was like, really a problem. You know what I mean? It was always a problem, but it was never really an extreme problem until about 2020.
Ari: So let me ask you this. How did that we I assume you were in school at the time, you were still you know, a minor? Did that affect you in any way that affects your grades or school? Or, you know, did you go to school? Did you cut Did you know what was going on? Well, as
TJ: a teenager, I was going to school. You know, as much as I hated school, I knew, you know, it was important, especially as a teenager so I never let you know the alcohol you know, affect my my schooling and stuff. I just kind of affected it on my own. I guess you could say I just I never did good in school. I never enjoyed being there. The only I guess the only class I liked was English. But ya know, I was a high school dropout. ended up graduating high school, though, at the age of 22. All right. Yeah. It’s never too late.
Ari: No, it never is. Now, from our prior conversation, I also learned that by the time we were 18, we were involved with street gangs.
TJ: Yeah, man. And that goes back to you know, single parent household man, I never had my dad around. So I always felt the need to fit in somewhere and also being half Native American and half white, or Caucasian, whatever you want to call it. I never fit in with the native, the native the native people, Native Americans, because, you know, they knew that I was half Native American, but they’re like, Oh, you’re white boy, get out of here. So then I go hang out with the quote unquote, white boys. And they say, Oh, well, you’re a native kid, get the hell out of here. You know, I mean, so I didn’t really fit in. Yeah, so by the time I was 18, I found a group of people who were just as pissed off as I was, and, you know, just wanted to, you know, for lack of a better term, get back at society or whatever, you know what I mean, and just kind of lash out and just do whatever. So I ended up joining a street gang. And very quickly realized that it wasn’t for me, because one of my best friends ended up getting stabbed to death. And, yeah, and I got to a point where, you know, people were threatening to come to my house and, you know, kill me and stuff like that. So I had my mom kicked me out, because my sister had just had a baby. So I was homeless for a while. And that’s when I met my, my wife, who I’m still with and she took me out of the city and brought me to her hometown to get away from all of that and yeah, ended up Getting out of it eventually.
Ari: Wow. I mean, that’s that’s a story that is rarely heard. You know, most of the time you hear about a story about a guy who winds up in the street gangs, and they just never get out. I mean, it’s just it’s a terrible situation, the fact that you were able to overcome is absolutely amazing. But I guess you had help with? Who is the person who was now your wife? That, do you think you could have done it without her? Do you think you would have managed to get out without her? Do you think that you know, she is the person that you know, if it wasn’t for, you’d still be there today? Or dead?
TJ: Dead? And yeah, if it wasn’t for her, I’d definitely be dead man. Because like I said, it’s a very small city. So there’s really no way you can hide, you know what I mean? Because everybody knows everybody, you know what I mean? And none of my family at the time, you know, understandably wanted me around their household because they knew, like, Well, hey, this kid has a target on his back. We have kids here. We can’t have that. You know what I mean? So, everywhere I went, nobody would let me you know, into their household and stuff like that. So yeah, if I never would have been able to go to her hometown. I don’t think I’d be around these days.
Ari: Wow, wow. But that didn’t happen right away. Because is, if memory serves me correct, things went from bad to worse. When you got addicted to hard drugs, and you ultimately wound up in jail. You want to tell us about that?
TJ: Yeah, that’s actually not funny. But it’s, it’s a weird story. So after I moved back to my hometown, well, Prince Albert from, you know, my old lady’s hometown and all the gang stuff cool down. This was years later, I left when I was 18. And this was when I was just graduating high school, actually, just after I graduated high school at 22. We had moved back to my hometown because you know where she’s from. It’s a very, very small community. There’s not much for jobs and stuff there. So we went back to my hometown Prince Albert, and yeah, I was, I was just hanging out, we got out, we had got our first apartment together. And my friend came over and he’s like, Hey, man, I found this big bag in the middle of the road. And I was like, okay, so he opened it up. And, you know, we had thought that it was, you know, cocaine. So then, you know, him hit him right away. He’s like, Oh, we could sell it, man. I was like, No, I was like, just get that get rid of it. Like we don’t, you know, we don’t need that. It’s like, let’s just test it out. So then, you know, we’re gonna go test it out. But after testing it, I was awake for three days. And didn’t even realize it went, like went so it went by so quick. It turns out, we were doing, you know, crystal meth and stuff like that. We just didn’t realize it because we were young and dumb. And he took it to his mother in law, and his mother in law just immediately smacked him took it from him and said, What the hell are you doing? I hope you guys didn’t do any of this. And, you know, she looked took a good look at us and realize we were messed up and, you know, got extremely mad at us. And, yeah, and, and so I was like, and I knew the dangers of because I had some family members that have been on air before. So I was like, I’m never touching that again, man. And so one night, I was, I was having a drink by myself, you know, just kind of trying to wind down and stuff. And I caught myself craving something like really, really strongly. And I just, I never knew what it was, until I went to go see my friend, because at this point, I haven’t hung out with him and like, a couple of weeks, and he was smoking that stuff. And then as soon as I smelt it, you know, when I was in his house, I immediately knew that that’s what I was craving. So then we just started, you know, smoking it and stuff. And yeah, it’s kind of a weird way to get hooked on hard drugs. But um, yeah, I was hooked on that for about a year and a half. And then my second child was about to be born. And the night that I got arrested well, because at this point, you know, because I got picked up for like drug charges and stuff like that during this year and a year and a half, and kept missing court, you know, failing on my probation, stuff like that. So I was on the most wanted list in my hometown, and ended up getting arrested. I had an opportunity to run, but I knew, you know, I was like, hey, if I’m gonna get off of this stuff, you know, I think this is my opportunity. So I took it. I just let them take me. And yeah, so the night that I got arrested was the night that my daughter was actually born. I just I didn’t realize it until like, a couple of weeks later. And yeah, they were trying to give me two years, you know, because it was drug charges. It was like a federal crime or whatever. But I ended up ended up only getting four months. So I did three and a half for good behavior. And yeah, and just coming out of jail like that after just like it wasn’t a very long time, you know, but it was enough time for me. And then seeing my daughter and just seeing the look in her face of her not knowing who the hell I am. And this is my child. You know what I mean? That right, there was what really, you know, kept me off of the drugs for good.
Ari: I find it amazing that, you know, were there any The issues between you and your wife during this period of time. I mean, you know, she’s pregnant having a baby and you’re in jail, you wind up in jail. I mean, you know, what was her feeling? What was? I mean? Was she just, like, very supportive of you? Or was she ticked at you? Or what was? What was the dynamics there?
TJ: Yeah. I mean, while I was in jail, she was obviously, you know, pissed off at me, but, you know, supportive because she knew that if I had, you know, a good support system coming out, like a place to stay, you know, a roof over my head, stuff like that, that I would do a lot better than I would if she just said, Nah, Screw him and left me, you know, like, homeless and stuff. But um, you know, during the time when I was on the drugs, I mean, she was very angry, like, but really just wanted me to be home. I don’t know, I still I still asked her that to this day. Like, why did any woman in a right mind would have left immediately. But yeah,
I mean, that’s, without saying that that’s exactly what I was alluding to, you know, why did she Why did she stay?
TJ: I have no idea. Man, I still ask her to this day. And she doesn’t know all she says is because I love you. And you know, and it’s, I don’t know, she was like, my ultimate blessing through all of this. She’s been with me, you know, before the drugs after the drugs, journey, alcohol, you know, losing all my friends to death, and you know, drugs and alcohol and stuff like that. And she’s just been with me the whole way through, man. So I’m Wow.
Ari: Wow. So. So what did you do when you got out of jail?
TJ: Well, she was back home in her hometown, you know, with her family, so they could help her out and stuff because obviously, I wasn’t there. And I actually forgot to mention this when I was 11 years old, I started writing hip hop music and stuff like that as a form of like therapy and stuff. started recording at like, 15. But my mom blacked out drunk one night smashed my entire studio when I was 15. So I never recorded until I got out of jail. I met up with an old friend of mine who makes music. And he said, Well, hey, why don’t we just bring my studio over to your house, and we can, you know, get back into music give you something positive to do, you know, since I was just fresh off the drugs, fresh out of jail, stuff like that. So So I started making music again. And I met up with my friend crossed the page, who invited invited me and my friend Aaron into his music group, which is called Pro revolution. And he got us doing shows, you got us radio interviews. Yeah, he had us on TV at one point. And yeah, man, and just those group of guys there. You know, I think there was five of us that started it. And now there’s like 14 of us. Yeah, so we just started making music and doing all of that. But now, you know, my mission in life has kind of changed. And I feel like music because I want to help people, right. And for me, the type of music I made, it was difficult to help people from just for me anyways. So I still kind of do that, but not as much these days. And now, you know, the podcasting is where, where I can help people, you know,
Ari: so what are you doing now? Is podcasting? Yeah, I’m
TJ: doing podcasting. I have my own podcast called underground reach. And what I do there is I interview you know, successful, very successful entrepreneurs in various different industries, you know, to, for one, help people find what it is they’re passionate about in life. Because my entire life I my entire life, I felt lost, I didn’t know what to do. And now I found my thing, which is podcasting. So that’s my mission is to help other people find their thing, or at least hear these entrepreneurs stories and realize, Damn, that guy came from a bad place to now he’s a multimillionaire. So if he could do I could do it, you know, what I mean? It’s kind of smash those limiting beliefs and, and that self doubt and stuff and just kind of help them, you know, be successful and stuff like that. And whatever it is they want to do.
Ari: Right? Well, it’s kind of like your story. Also. I mean, you were getting hit with brick after brick, whether it was the alcohol, whether it was the drugs, whether it was chair, whatever it was. And then finally, you know, you get out of jail, and you go, like, you start listening to whispers and you’re going like, I’m not going to do this anymore. I don’t need you know, are you getting hit with these bricks? You know, let me listen to the whispers let me do the right thing. And that’s where it appears as if you’ve straightened yourself out. You got off the drugs, you got off the alcohol, and now you’re doing something very, very meaningful, helping others to get through. Let me ask you something. Did you were you ever at a point so low in your life that you were going to cash in your chips and go like, you know what, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t you know, I’m done. Yeah, man. And if you were, how did you? You know, how did you conquer that? How did you get out of that?
TJ: Yeah, I love that question, man. It’s a dark question, but I feel like it’s a question that people need to hear the answer to these days, especially with these difficult times. For me, it was back in 2020, man, like I said, that’s when my drinking hit an all time low or an all time high, I guess. All I was doing is playing video games. and getting drunk. And it was to the point where I’d get on the video game and start drinking, right? And then my old lady would wake up the next day and I’d still be drinking, I, you know, somehow get another bottle and I’d be drinking right until that night, you know what I mean? So and then in late 2020s, mid to late 2020, my best friend who, you know, I make music with and stuff ended up passing away from drinking. And he was really the only dude like if I ever, you know, needed somebody to talk to or like, if I’m just having a hard time he would be the one that I will call, you know what I mean? And I’ll actually have them on my my sweater here, but But yeah, he ended up passing away from alcohol. And then, like, literally a month later, my older brother ended up dying of a fentanyl overdose. Yeah, man. So then my drinking really just took a turn for the worst after that, like further I just kept digging myself deeper and deeper into that pit. And it for me, it was really life or death, man, like it was either like you said cash into chips or figured out a way to turn this around man and and Christmas, Christmas of 2021. Or no Christmas of 2020 story. And I’ll never forget this man, I was awake, you know, from the night before still drinking, trying to help my kids open their Christmas gifts, man. And I don’t know, the next day like, the day after Christmas after I sobered up and stuff. I just I was thinking about that trying to help my kids open at Christmas gifts, and I’m completely wasted. And just them seeing me like that. You know what I mean? And then like that being a memory, like, I remember, like, every Christmas, my dad was drunken, you know what I mean? And I just, that’s really what like, key, you know, I need to I need to change this map, because I don’t want my kids to remember me being that, you know that dad that was always drunk, you know what I mean? And then when I would think about those times where I wanted to just end it all, I would think about what people would say at my funeral. You know what I mean? I just started thinking of that, like planning the whole thing out. And it got to a point where I imagined my old lady at my funeral saying he was a good guy he tried. But he didn’t really do anything with his life. You know what I mean? He was drunk all the time. So like, that’s where the, that’s really where the switch happened. You know what I mean? I was like, alright, Screw this, I gotta, you know, I got to do something different here. So may 3 of last year, you know, I put the bottle down for good. And I never looked back. And people always ask, like, was it hard? For me? No, it was actually really easy to become sober. Because I just wanted it that bad. You know what I mean? Because yeah, man.
Ari: Wow. So I guess, well, we’ll get to that in a minute. But who is the one person in your life that you would point to that, that you would say had the most influence in your life? And why?
TJ: Man, that’s kind of a difficult one. Because, you know, use used to be my mother when I was young, because she was pretty much like my dad, you know what I mean? But, you know, her life is kind of different now. But um, I don’t know, I really don’t I don’t know how to answer them. And I look towards I just, like, tried to find mentors and stuff. Like my mentor who taught me how to podcast and stuff, I really look up to him because he comes from a similar background, you know, he’s done to drugs and alcohol. He’s he actually went to prison for like, seven years. And now he’s, you know, a very successful businessman. And so I just kind of looked at people like that, because in my immediate environment, there really is nobody, there is really is no positive influence that I’ve met personally, that has helped me on my journey other than, you know, the people that I’ve met online and stuff like that. So yeah, what about your wife? Well, yeah, definitely my wife. Yeah. Okay.
Ari: Let’s not forget her. Yeah. She’s the one who stopped by you.
TJ: Yeah, definitely, man. I can’t forget about her. Yeah, just her to like just her. I don’t know her perseverance. And you know, her work ethic and her level of patience, to me is truly inspiring. Just putting up with all my BS over all the years. We actually met when I was 15. were the same age. So we were both 15. And, you know, decided to get together when you’re 18. And, yeah, so definitely. Thank you for that. Thank you for reminding me for that.
Ari: All right, let me ask you before we go, do you have any words of wisdom words of advice for my audience, something they can take away with them?
TJ: Yeah, man. If there’s anything that you’re wanting to do in life, just do it. Just start I know, you’ve probably heard it a million times. And honestly, I was sick of hearing it until I did it. And my life changed almost instantly man. Or if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, just try everything. Whatever, even if People think it’s stupid. If people don’t believe in it, you know, just try try everything. That’s what I did to get, you know, to find my thing. I just tried everything relentlessly. And be patient. Trust the process, man. It sounds cliche, it sounds cliche, but trust me it, it really helps because I never believed that either. But I finally did it. And it completely changed my life, man.
Ari: So if people want to get a hold of you, they want to talk to you, they need help with whatever it is they’re doing now, or, you know, they just want a you know, they just want somebody a shoulder to lean on, whatever, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?
TJ: The best way man would just go to my website underground. reached.com you can contact me there, check out my show. Follow me on social media, wherever everything is on my website. It’s very easy to find. So yeah, go check it out there underground. reach.com.
Ari: And you have a you have an email there. Yeah,
TJ: I have a contact page that goes straight to my email and everything else. Great.
Ari: Okay. TJ, thanks so much for sharing your story with my audience. I’m sure you’ve touched the hearts of many of my audience. Good luck going forward. Keep up the good work. Keep doing what you’re doing. You know. There are a lot of people out there that are very proud of you. All right, me being one of them. All right, so just keep it up. Keep up the good work. You been listening to his present works. I’m your host Ira Schoenberger. Remember if you feel like you’re stuck in the mud, like you’re spinning your wheels, wasting time, your career, your business your life. If you know you’re not enjoying all the success, satisfaction and significance that you desire, then it’s time for you to book a call with me at cole with ari.com. Check out my whispers in bricks Coaching Academy and until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.