We had the good fortune of connecting with C.J. Stewart and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi C.J., we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
As a former athlete, I believe that taking strategic risks is liken to lifting weights. Lifting weights actually tears the muscles and with proper rest/recovery and a healthy diet, the muscles get bigger and stronger. If you aren’t taking strategic risks, you cannot become successful. To be strategic is to take into account where you want to go and work backwards. While working backwards I start with: – What experiences have I had that shape where I am today spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, and financially? – Who do I need to help me get to where I’m going? – Who will it help when I reach my goal? – Who will it hurt? – Then get going with courage. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. (Martin Luther King, Jr.) For me, courage is the proper response to fear when you know that you have been called to fulfill an assignment for the Lord.

What should our readers know about your business?
My wife, Kelli and I are co-founders of L.E.A.D., Inc. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) and Diamond Directors. L.E.A.D., Inc. was established in 2007 and is our non-profit organization and Diamond Directors is our for-profit and was established in 1998. L.E.A.D.’s mission is to empower an at-risk generation to lead and transform their city of Atlanta by using the sport of baseball to teach Black boys how to overcome three curveballs that threaten their success: crime, poverty and racism. At Diamond Directors, we provide the blueprint of success for diamond sport athletes. I believe that one of the things that sets our businesses apart from others is our virtuousness and our ability to use our platforms for social justice. I am proud of what we’ve done and doing and I am excited about how God will continue to use us to help people win at the game of life. We got to where we are today because of convicting experiences that lead us to our calling to use the sport of baseball to advocate for disenfranchised Black boys in Atlanta that are considered the “Counted Out” because of their race, gender, and socio-economic status. We started Diamond Directors in 1998 and have experienced a lot of success developing some of Major League Baseball’s top players such as Jason Heyward (Cubs), Dexter Fowler (Angels), Andrew McCutchen (Phillie), Peter Alonso (Mets), and Kyle Lewis (Mariners) to name a few. In 2007, the father of one of my Diamond Directors clients, Stan Conway, a white man, threw me a pitch that I initially swung and missed. He told me that there was a decline of Blacks in baseball and I wasn’t doing anything about it. Rather than feeling guilty and allowing that statement to paralyze me, I was convicted, empowered, and called to action. Fourteen years later, Kelli and I are hitting homeruns every time our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors graduate from high school and enter the workforce, college, or the military. Check out our impact stats at lead2legacy.org. I want the world to know that the brand of Kelli and I is one based on conviction, character, and competence. We are virtuous and we believe in making and keeping promises. We believe that success is what you have and significance is what you give. We are significant and we are living on purpose.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There is so much do, learn, and eat while visiting Atlanta. Just for fun * Main Event Atlanta * Hawks/Falcons/Braves Game * Six Flags * Top Golf * Cascade Family Skating Places to connect to visit * L.E.A.D. Center For Youth located in the Historic West End * Elizabeth Baptist Church * Alonzo Herndon Home * Atlanta History Center * Center for Civil and Human Rights * APEX Museum Places to eat * Slim & Husky’s Beeria * The Gathering Spot * Husker’s Cafe * Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen * Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours * LowCountry Steak They will have fun but they gon be tired.😂

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want this shoutout to be all about my amazing wife, Kelli. We celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary on November 23, 2021 and here is tribute to her. How I Feel About You 1. You are beautiful. 2. You are honest, and never apologize for it. 3. You are fiercely passionate and driven. 4. You encourage me and others. 5. You empower me and others. 6. You are loyal. 7. You are elegantly stubborn. 8. You stand up for those who don’t have a voice. 9. You keep only positive, uplifting people in your life. 10. You take responsibility for your own actions. 11. You inspire the people around you. 12. You know how to have fun. 13. You never settle for less than you deserve. 14. You developed an interest in baseball for me. 15. You care for my family. 16. You love me with all your heart. 17. You have the ability to give a direction to my “ego” 18. You make compromises for the betterment of our home. 19. You are sensitive, yet strong. 20. You avoid drama and you are not the jealous type. 21. You mean what you say and you say what you mean. 22. You forgive yourself and others and you don’t hold grudges. 23. You think deeply about things. How God Feels About Us Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

Website: iamcjstewart.com

Instagram: instagram.com/iamcjstewart

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/cjstewartatl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamcjstewart

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cj.stewart.773

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7eOFI92dJZPU7NWcf7x8gg

Image Credits
Rodney “iSmooth” Cofield Audra Starr Brad Jubin Eriel Dunnam Piers Lamb India Albritton

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