How I learned to read — and trade stocks — in prison | Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll

How I learned to read — and trade stocks — in prison | Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll

I was 14 years old inside of a bowling alley, burglarizing an arcade game, and upon exiting the building a security guard grabbed my arm, so I ran. I ran down the street,
and I jumped on top of a fence. And when I got to the top, the weight of 3,000 quarters
in my book bag pulled me back down to the ground. So when I came to, the security guard
was standing on top of me, and he said, “Next time you little punks
steal something you can carry.” (Laughter) I was taken to juvenile hall and when I was released
into the custody of my mother, the first words my uncle said was,
“How’d you get caught?” I said, “Man, the book bag was too heavy.” He said, “Man, you weren’t supposed
to take all the quarters.” I said, “Man, they were small.
What am I supposed to do?” And 10 minutes later, he took me
to burglarize another arcade game. We needed gas money to get home. That was my life. I grew up in Oakland, California, with my mother and members
of my immediate family addicted to crack cocaine. My environment consisted
of living with family, friends, and homeless shelters. Oftentimes, dinner was served
in breadlines and soup kitchens. The big homey told me this: money rules the world and everything in it. And in these streets, money is king. And if you follow the money, it’ll lead you to the bad guy
or the good guy. Soon after, I committed my first crime, and it was the first time
that I was told that I had potential and felt like somebody believed in me. Nobody ever told me
that I could be a lawyer, doctor or engineer. I mean, how was I supposed to do that?
I couldn’t read, write or spell. I was illiterate. So I always thought
crime was my way to go. And then one day I was talking to somebody and he was telling me
about this robbery that we could do. And we did it. The reality was that I was growing up in the strongest
financial nation in the world, the United States of America, while I watched my mother
stand in line at a blood bank to sell her blood for 40 dollars
just to try to feed her kids. She still has the needle marks
on her arms to day to show for that. So I never cared about my community. They didn’t care about my life. Everybody there was doing what they
were doing to take what they wanted, the drug dealers,
the robbers, the blood bank. Everybody was taking blood money. So I got mine by any means necessary. I got mine. Financial literacy
really did rule the world, and I was a child slave to it following the bad guy. At 17 years old, I was arrested
for robbery and murder and I soon learned that finances in prison
rule more than they did on the streets, so I wanted in. One day, I rushed to grab
the sports page of the newspaper so my cellie could read it to me, and I accidentally
picked up the business section. And this old man said,
“Hey youngster, you pick stocks?” And I said, “What’s that?” He said, “That’s the place
where white folks keep all their money.” (Laughter) And it was the first time
that I saw a glimpse of hope, a future. He gave me this brief description
of what stocks were, but it was just a glimpse. I mean, how was I supposed to do it? I couldn’t read, write or spell. The skills that I had developed
to hide my illiteracy no longer worked in this environment. I was trapped in a cage,
prey among predators, fighting for freedom I never had. I was lost, tired, and I was out of options. So at 20 years old, I did the hardest thing
I’d ever done in my life. I picked up a book, and it was the most agonizing
time of my life, trying to learn how to read, the ostracizing from my family, the homeys. It was rough, man. It was a struggle. But little did I know I was receiving the greatest gifts
I had ever dreamed of: self-worth, knowledge, discipline. I was so excited to be reading that I read
everything I could get my hands on: candy wrappers, clothing logos,
street signs, everything. I was just reading stuff! (Applause) Just reading stuff. I was so excited to know how to read
and know how to spell. The homey came up, said,
“Man, what you eating?” I said, “C-A-N-D-Y, candy.” (Laughter) He said, “Let me get some.”
I said, “N-O. No.” (Laughter) It was awesome. I mean, I can actually now
for the first time in my life read. The feeling that I got
from it was amazing. And then at 22, feeling myself, feeling confident, I remembered what the OG told me. So I picked up the business section
of the newspaper. I wanted to find these rich white folks. (Laughter) So I looked for that glimpse. As I furthered my career in teaching others how to
financially manage money and invest, I soon learned that I had to take
responsibility for my own actions. True, I grew up
in a very complex environment, but I chose to commit crimes, and I had to own up to that. I had to take responsibility
for that, and I did. I was building a curriculum
that could teach incarcerated men how to manage money
through prison employments. Properly managing our lifestyle
would provide transferrable tools that we can use to manage money
when we reenter society, like the majority of people did
who didn’t commit crimes. Then I discovered that according to MarketWatch, over 60 percent of the American population has under 1,000 dollars in savings. Sports Illustrated said that
over 60 percent of NBA players and NFL players go broke. 40 percent of marital problems
derive from financial issues. What the hell? (Laughter) You mean to tell me
that people worked their whole lives, buying cars, clothes,
homes and material stuff but were living check to check? How in the world were members of society
going to help incarcerated individuals back into society if they couldn’t manage they own stuff? We screwed. (Laughter) I needed a better plan. This is not going to work out too well. So … I thought. I now had an obligation
to meet those on the path and help, and it was crazy because
I now cared about my community. Wow, imagine that.
I cared about my community. Financial illiteracy is a disease that has crippled minorities
and the lower class in our society for generations and generations, and we should be furious about that. Ask yourselves this: How can 50 percent
of the American population be financially illiterate in a nation
driven by financial prosperity? Our access to justice, our social status, living conditions, transportation and food are all dependent on money
that most people can’t manage. It’s crazy! It’s an epidemic and a bigger danger to public safety
than any other issue. According to the California
Department of Corrections, over 70 percent of those incarcerated have committed or have been charged
with money-related crimes: robberies, burglaries,
fraud, larceny, extortion — and the list goes on. Check this out: a typical incarcerated person would enter the California prison system with no financial education, earn 30 cents an hour, over 800 dollars a year, with no real expenses and save no money. Upon his parole, he will be given
200 dollars gate money and told, “Hey, good luck, stay out of trouble.
Don’t come back to prison.” With no meaningful preparation
or long-term financial plan, what does he do … ? At 60? Get a good job, or go back to the very criminal behavior
that led him to prison in the first place? You taxpayers, you choose. Well, his education
already chose for him, probably. So how do we cure this disease? I cofounded a program that we call Financial Empowerment
Emotional Literacy. We call it FEEL, and it teaches how do you separate
your emotional decisions from your financial decisions, and the four timeless rules
to personal finance: the proper way to save, control your cost of living, borrow money effectively and diversify your finances
by allowing your money to work for you instead of you working for it. Incarcerated people need these life skills
before we reenter society. You can’t have full rehabilitation
without these life skills. This idea that only professionals
can invest and manage money is absolutely ridiculous, and whoever told you that is lying. (Applause) A professional is a person who knows his craft better than most, and nobody knows how much money
you need, have or want better than you, which means you are the professional. Financial literacy is not a skill,
ladies and gentlemen. It’s a lifestyle. Financial stability is a byproduct
of a proper lifestyle. A financially sound incarcerated person
can become a taxpaying citizen, and a financially sound
taxpaying citizen can remain one. This allows us to create a bridge
between those people who we influence: family, friends and those young people who still believe
that crime and money are related. So let’s lose the fear and anxiety of all the big financial words and all that other nonsense
that you’ve been out there hearing. And let’s get to the heart
of what’s been crippling our society from taking care of your responsibility
to be better life managers. And let’s provide a simple
and easy to use curriculum that gets to the heart, the heart of what financial empowerment
and emotional literacy really is. Now, if you’re sitting out here
in the audience and you said, “Oh yeah, well, that ain’t me
and I don’t buy it,” then come take my class — (Laughter) so I can show you how much money
it costs you every time you get emotional. (Applause) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. 7:16 "Our access to justice"

    Probably the strongest observation of this entire video. In America you have access to the justice your money can finance. Two people could commit the same crime, but if one is wealthy and he other is not, they won't be receiving the same justice.

  2. Prior to this video I've watched him on VLAD. He is awesome and remarkable. He most definitely deserve a second chance.

  3. Many years in prison gives a man all the time in the world to hone their craft. The art of the hustle becomes second nature therefore making it beyond convincing. Suckers will eat his BS with a spoon made of white guilt.

  4. What's those curved wire things on each side of his neck?  Some sort of wearable taser that the corrections officers will ZAP him with if he tries to run?

  5. Traders are now going crazy about the IQD strategy . I spoke about the same system a year ago and no one listened until now. This is the best strategy for any market since the last 50 years and you'd rather sit out ? There’s nothing more key to trading success than attaining and maintaining the proper trading strategy. If you don’t do this, you will never make money trading, no matter how good of a market analyst you are. Unlearn everything you have learnt and get the IQD strategy from Lukasz Wilhelm

  6. his studies will lead him to the deepest level- THE FED, fiat money, business cycles, and dollar bubble.

    Americans are still in trouble and they have no idea.

  7. i hate how there's some people in the audience who are laughing at him not with him.

  8. 100% of the slaves in the U.S. prison system are U.S. Citizens. Frankly I don't Know any Sane MAN or WOMAN who would Call Them Selves a Citizen Placing them selves in that same Category as the Slaves in The U.S. Prison System. Before a Man or Woman can Learn how to ACT and BE a Citizen they need to Learn How to ACT as Man. 1- Love Thy neighbor As thy Self. 2 – Do unto others as You would have them do unto You. 3 – Control Your emotions (Self Control). 4 – If You Cant Get it with out Borrowing or Stealing Than You don't Need It nor do You Deserve IT. 100% of Men and Women Know these simple Principals. Only 20% of U.S. Citizens know These Principals. A Citizen (Definition – Member of a Family) is Just a Title Accepted by a Man or Woman who has agreed to follow a Set of Rules. Money Does Not Control Anything, GOD has given Man/Woman Control of Everything. One Could Go so far as to Say that every Child raised on American Soil is a Product of their environment and Gets exactly what they deserve according to their actions. Before any MOTHER , FATHER, TEACHER, or any other TITLE Carrying Man/Woman Decides to try to teach someone about Finances they should first learn how to ACT as MAN.

  9. Yes, but the lesson here is that he should have learned how to read BEFORE GOING TO PRISON. Better late than never, but It doesn't take a genius to learn how to trade stocks, but better to learn to trade stocks than to slang rocks!

  10. I love the way he speaks out because it is like a heart to heart talk, very relatable & comforting. A very different way of other speakers at Ted talks I have seen.

  11. Amazing how much money controls our lived, when it was designed to be a tool in our society, now it’s an anchor.
    Perhaps it was designed to do what is doing, which is creating poverty, and lots of wealth for a few.

  12. How come most schools don't teach you how to invest or file taxes? Instead, they devote so much time and resources on subjects that you are most likely never gonna use.

  13. This guys should serve as a motivation for a lot of our young folks, Very powerful. A lot of people don't realize how much money that can be made through trading stocks or any other related markets, I wish young men would begin to see the need to invest one way or the other, I have a financial adviser who i've invested in, Jordan Arnold is his name, he trades stocks and forex for me in my mini account, this way i earn over $20,000 in profit monthly and this i still regard as my side hustle as i work my real Job.

  14. I was going to criticize him for doing something that most people in our society do. They blame society for their living conditions and for staying poor. Always easy to blame the govt and the society. But this guy (at 5:30 mins) took personal responsibility and did something to change his environment. If the system is corrupt, then you educate yourself properly and change the system. Yes, you are 1 person, but after you 1 more will follow, then 2 more, then 4 more, then …. 10 million more. And system could be changed. Cannot blame it on growing up in a poor neighbourhood and do nothing. It doesnt depend solely on the colour of your skin. Not all white people are born in luxury. We were immigrants and i was a kid when we came and i had nothing and my neighbourhood wasnt the best. But if you stay ambitious and keep your eye on the prize, you can reach even beyond your initial target. Nobody was helping me because of the colour of my skin. I had to fight for everything i wanted. Look at the "Rock". He came from nothing as well, on pure determination. So, please spare me your excuses that people have. Keep quite and stay focused, and though shall receive it.

  15. If at the age of 20 you pick up book then how is it possible that you are talking fluently
    Made another Ted Talk ?

  16. Free this man!! If prisons are there to rehabilitate criminals, this has just proved he is ready to enter society.

  17. This proves that the education system is not for everyone oh and in case yall didn't know general education board was created by John D Rockefeller

  18. Started crying over the thruth in his words and self courage he´s got…. Then just bought me some way too expensive clothes to get over it 😉

  19. I pray that he maintains his financial lifestyle on the outside. He really needs to write a book before he gets out.

  20. Next step for him is watching London Real with an ex banker interviewing Robert Kiyosaki teaching the truth about money.

  21. If there were serious programs at keeping people out and re-educating them then we would have a lot less people in prison, however we have more people in prison due to us being in a capitalist society where the system only wants people in prisons and providing more jobs and money for the prison industrial complex.

  22. Keep faith, hope, believe ,learn,stay positive, love your neighbour, one day at a time, read ,write, sing, God Bless Abundantly from Scotland

  23. … and you make money telling lies to naive public.. those who can trade don't waste their precious time going to one place to another, organizing, preparing and lecturing others

  24. Wow, I just thought, sold my damn weekend car, and I regret selling it, and I feel that I can spend twice that spent on building it to feel better, until this…. ????????

  25. This guy is such a gem. Truly inspiring in the way he found it in himself to pursue financial literacy after being surrounded by a society and environment that had failed him. Beyond doubt rehabilitated.

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