John Barrett Hawkins
Author | Youth Speaker | Business Coach

About The Author


The Infamous Entrepreneur

In 1987, at the age of 24, John Barrett Hawkins was living the aspiring entrepreneur’s dream. After failing miserably with his first three business ventures, Hawkins finally found a niche. His chain of retail clothing stores, Just Sweats, had grown from one location to 22 with annual revenues of $10 million in just three years. With numerous franchise requests, the company was on the threshold of a national expansion.


Like many people who start their own business, Hawkins developed a profound emotional attachment to the company he’d built. In the process, he also acquired an untamable attraction to risk. This combination became toxic when Hawkins’ business partner proposed an insurance fraud that would enable Hawkins to reacquire his partner’s 45 percent ownership in Just Sweats. At that time, Hawkins viewed insurance companies as corrupt, soulless entities and faced no moral roadblocks when it came to fleecing them. But something went wrong — very wrong. In the process of facilitating the fraud, his partner and their physician accomplice killed a man, and Hawkins was held accountable. Hawkins was tried and convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.


The insurance fraud was presented to Hawkins by his partner as a white-collar, victimless crime. In his lifetime Hawkins had never intentionally harmed another human being. He did not intend or suspect that his two accomplices would commit a murder; however, that did not, in any way, minimize his responsibility for murder. Hawkins’ ignorance of his partner’s heinous actions was deemed completely irrelevant by the law. He should have considered the possible sinister consequences of the scheme. In retrospect, he realized that his role in the fraud was pivotal — had he not been a willing participant, the murder would not have happened. Hawkins now faced the unfathomable truth that he was responsible for a homicide. He could not begin to imagine the horror that the victim experienced, or the agony that crushed his loved one’s hearts. He felt overwhelming shame and deep sorrow for the pain he had caused them and for the embarrassment he had caused his own family. His inner turmoil led to chronic depression, nervous breakdowns, and a suicide attempt.


For many years Hawkins was lost in the wastelands of shame, guilt, and self-pity. The book Man’s Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl became a guide to transformation by encouraging Hawkins to consider the essential question: What is the purpose of my life? Frankl developed a new type of psychotherapy called “Logo (the Greek word for ‘meaning’) therapy.” He wrote: “Logo therapy regards its assignment as that of assisting the patient to find meaning in life. It attempts to help the patient become aware of what he longs for in the depths of his heart.”


The Transformation

What Hawkins longed for was redemption. He wanted to find some way to demonstrate that he was not the type of person who could knowingly be involved in the killing of another human being, and he sought to atone for his wrongful actions. Hawkins began to search for a way to be proactive in repaying his debt to society. In time, this became his mission in life.


Frankl suggested that one of the ways that people could discover meaning in life was by “deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better.” Hawkins took this wisdom to heart. Guided by a sincere desire to overcome his character flaws and become a better person, Hawkins embarked on a decade-long study of personal development literature. His self-help journey began with a process of moral and spiritual development. He learned that humans possess universal instincts for virtues such as empathy, honesty, humility, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and ethical behavior. Hawkins created a daily practice designed to instill these values and make them a way of life. He also conducted an in-depth study of self-healing modalities, including mind-body medicine, holistic health care, and personal fitness training. Hawkins’ literary exploration then shifted to human achievement. He wanted to know everything there was to know about how the world's peak performers identified their callings and the techniques they relied upon to fulfill their purpose in life. He read books by psychologists, spiritual masters, personal coaches, Olympic athletes, top entrepreneurs and Eastern mystics. He studied countless books on the subject of achieving personal greatness, and mined them for insights, ideas, advice, wisdom and success secrets. Along the way he took copious notes and compiled all of the most insightful information into a personal excellence program, which served as his new code of conduct.


Hawkins developed a passion for information concerning self-improvement and a desire to share the things he was learning with other people. He became a volunteer mentor in Amity, the prison drug rehab program, where he taught a weekly class concerning holistic health practices and human development. He also guided recovering addicts through his personal excellence program, which consisted of four elements: daily personal fitness training sessions, nutritional counseling, behavior modification, and meaning therapy. He was able to help several men overcome their drug addiction and/or problems with obesity. In the process, he made a significant discovery: depression, illegal drugs (coke, meth, and heroine) and processed junk foods all cause imbalances in three key brain neurotransmitters—dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine; and balance can be restored naturally through high-intensity exercise. Moreover, Hawkins found that in food and drug addition, the neurotransmitter imbalances caused uncontrollable cravings, which could be markedly reduced by eliciting the “runner’s high” on a daily basis.


Becoming An Author

These insights inspired Hawkins to do something that he never imagined he would be able to do: write a book. He felt as though he had learned some things about overcoming depression, drug addiction, and obesity. He hoped that his story of transformation and the stories of the men he had helped might provide a source of inspiration for people who wanted to make similar changes in their own lives. He realized that writing a self-improvement book would provide a platform from which he could help a significant number of people. Hawkins’ dedicated the next eight years to writing his first book, titled Penitentiary Fitness: The Amazing Weight Loss Formula or A Bodyweight Exercises and Workouts Training Program.

The authors that Hawkins admires most (Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Larry Dossey, Dr. David R. Hawkins, Bill Phillips, Cheryl Richardson, Marianne Williamson, Stephen Covey, Belleruth Naparstek, Martha Beck, Mark Viktor Hansen, Jack Canfield, Og Mandino, Anthony Robbins, and Caroline Myss) share the common belief that noble intention is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Their common message is summarized as follows: Everyone is born with unique talents and passions, and when those innate gifts are used for the higher purpose of unity (i.e. to serve others), we tap into powerful attractor fields of consciousness that magnetically attract the individuals and events required to fulfill our purpose in life. The desire to share this extraordinary worldview with others led Hawkins to write a second book titled Principles of Grace: A Parable to Find Meaning in Life, Build Self-Confidence, Overcome Low Self-Esteem, Set Goals and Land Your Dream Job.

Hawkins quest for redemption crystallized when he became involved in a juvenile delinquency prevention/intervention program called CROP (Convicts Reaching Out to People). The program is facilitated by inmates who deliver personal testimonies and specific talks to troubled youths and their parents. In CROP, Hawkins discovered a true sense of purpose: He felt obligated to use his story as a warning beacon for kids who are steering toward the rocky shores of criminality. In order to bring this invaluable program to the general public, Hawkins wrote his third book titled The Dirty Nasty Truth: 18 True Crime Stories & 10 Life in Prison Stories to Stop Juvenile Delinquency (bullying, youth violence, gangs, shoplifting, insurance fraud, teen drinking and drug abuse).

Following 20 years of incarceration, Hawkins was released from prison on March 23, 2012. He currently resides in Southern California, where he markets his books, and works as a delinquency prevention advocate and marketing consultant. 




John Barrett Hawkins
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