For Dr. Billy Alsbrooks, the road to becoming a speaker—whose videos have been streamed 33 million times—was a rocky one.
He was in the music industry for 17 years under the name White Dawg, rapping, writing songs and collaborating with artists such as Pitbull and Trick Daddy. He says he was focused on what was right in front of him, be it the next house, car or woman he could be with. “I was pushing destruction—gang life, drug life, negativity,” Alsbrooks recalls. “I was writing the wrong messages. But I got paid to do it, so I continued.”
His life took a dramatic turn when he witnessed his father have a stroke in 2007 and pass away 12 days later. After his dad’s death, Alsbrooks asked himself what he wanted his life to look like and where he was headed. “I realized that life is about legacy, and real worth is what you put into others. Right then I made a decision that I was going to do something positive. I just didn’t know what yet,” he says.
Before he could act on that desire, however, he spent seven years in utter despair. Daily panic attacks, crippling anxiety and debilitating depression kept him in his home for weeks at a time. Alsbrooks’s career tanked, along with his relationships and the rest of the life he had built up to that point. “Everything I had worked for got wiped out,” he says. “I couldn’t even remember the person I was before my panic attacks.”
In his despair, he pursued any avenue he could think of in an attempt to be restored.
“I went to every therapist and church in town, tried grief programs and did everything I could to try to get my life back,” Alsbrooks says. Despite his efforts, he continued to suffer intensely with inner turmoil he could not shake. He recalls that when he reached his breaking point, he prayed desperately for God to deliver him. “I said, ‘I am at the end of me. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t have anything to give you, but if you heal me, I’ll tell everyone it was you who did it.’”
His transformation back to health wasn’t instantaneous. “It took a good two to three years after that for me to get back to normal, everyday functioning,” he recalls. But a few weeks after his plea, Alsbrooks began to experience a glimmer of hope: He connected with a therapist who was a good fit, and gradually felt comfortable leaving his home more often. He began attending a men’s group at a church during this time as well.
The leader of the group asked Alsbrooks to fill in one night as the speaker, and he resisted. Though he once commanded the stage with his music, he was hesitant to get up and speak for over an hour, even to a small group of familiar faces. Eventually he agreed to substitute.
“I got up to speak, and I said, ‘God still moves.’ Then it was like a light came on inside me. I got so excited and felt so energetic, even though I was just speaking to 15 people,” he says. He was so enthused from the experience that he began recording one-minute motivational talks and posting them to Instagram and YouTube in 2017. After four months of regular posting, he was frustrated by the lack of response. He felt like this was the positive thing he was supposed to do and the forum he was meant to use to tell people about the transformation God had completed in his life, but his audience wasn’t growing.
“I had maybe 50 followers, and that includes my own family!” he says. Still, he continued sharing daily affirmations, and eventually some of his videos caught the attention of several popular motivational channels like Motiversity, which has more than a million subscribers.
After these third parties shared his videos, they went viral, increasing his following drastically. A book he’d penned during his recovery began selling and has now been purchased in 29 countries. Alsbrooks received requests to speak at events across the country and eventually decided to launch his own speaking tour. In 2020, he hosted 23 four-hour seminars to share his message of empowerment. He speaks mainly at Hilton properties and says the staff members have been diligent about enforcing COVID-19 protocols to ensure safe events.
Alsbrooks says typically his audiences are comprised of people in the midst of a struggle. Those dealing with addictions, divorce or loss gravitate toward his message of hope and instructions for moving forward, he explains.
For nearly five years, Alsbrooks has posted a video each week, and he doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. In addition to his 2021 speaking tour, which will be international, he is writing a second book and continuing to create new videos.
“It’s been a crazy ride that started with seven years of wilderness in hell. But without going through that, I wouldn't be here today,” he reflects. “I am a product of the struggle. The struggle made and molded me, and God is now sending me out into the world to tell people that he still moves.”
At his events, Billy Alsbrooks shares his seven elements of greatness:
VISION: Who is God, and what did he design you to do?
MINDSET: What kind of mindset do you need to adopt to meet your goal?
STANDARD: Refuse to have anything to do with “mediocre.” Average can’t exist anywhere in your life.
FOCUS: Stay focused on the vision and avoid distractions.
GRIND: Developing an excellent work ethic is essential.
DISCIPLINE: What habits or daily rituals do you need in order to reach your goal?
PERSEVERANCE: Get comfortable with the word “no,” and don’t let that scare you.