Steps to Success

One Step at a Time


The Detroit Shock has witnessed success in their daily lives as well as on the basketball court. In 2003 they used their previous losing season as motivation to turn their franchise around and what came from their hard work was a WNBA Championship. As they continue their success this season guards Pee Wee Johnson and Katie Smith, along with representative’s from local businesses provided area teens with their experience’s and insight on how to be successful in life at the annual Steps To Success Forum at the Millennium Centre in Southfield. The forum discussed three major topics that can affect teens on their way to future success, self-image, setting and reaching your goals and careers and education.

They expressed the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people whom you feel have the qualities that you want to encompass. David Paul, an attorney and a corporate owner of the Medical Weight Loss Clinic encouraged all the teens to be active and stay healthy. “The body you have is the only one you are going to have,” he said. “You have to treat your body like a temple.”

“Staying active gives me more energy and more confidence,” Katie said “You don’t have to be in athletics’ and play sports to stay active. You can walk, you can ride your bike, and you can jump rope, whatever you want to do.”

Pee Wee shared the story of her personal journey through life and how setting goals has helped her accomplish what she has wanted to do. “I made it a goal to graduate first from high school then college,” she said. “I went to the University of South Carolina, and I was the first person on my mother and father’s side to graduate, and that is something I set as a goal. It wasn’t, I want to be better then anybody else, it was just something I wanted to do.”

After her successes in college she was offered a job at Wal-Mart to enter the management program, but she chose basketball instead. “Then it was my goal to win a championship and I did that twice in the ABL. I came to the WNBA and haven’t won a championship, so that is my goal for this year in Detroit,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what age you’re at, you can always set a goal for what you want to do.”

TV 20’s Sharon McClendon, who mediated the event, asked some of the kids to share personal goals of theirs. Amidst the crowd of professional athlete hopefuls was 14-year-old Marshall Squires waving his hand around diligently. “I want to be an entrepreneur in engineering or a carpenter like my dad,” he said. “Those are some lofty goals,” Sharon replied. But Marshall doesn’t think so. He credits his dad as being his biggest role model and supporter.

To achieve these goals teens were reminded that education is the vehicle to get you where you want to go. Sharon revealed to the kids an interesting fact. “It takes three to five years to become an expert in your field of choice,” she said. “And all you need is an hour a day to focus on it.”

Maxine Willis, president of K.E.Y.S. Kids, told teens that education doesn’t end after college. Earning her degree in teaching from Ferris State University, Maxine moved to Detroit and learned that teens were facing more important issues outside of school. “I wanted to help them but I knew nothing about alcohol, drugs and gangs,” she said. “So I went back to school to get my degree in alcohol and drug studies so I could teach kids about the dangers of it.”

“Never use the word can’t,” she added. “You can accomplish anything.”

Katie also shared her story of basketball success for all the teens that hope to make it into professional sports one day. “You want it bad enough,” she said. “You will work for it and you will get it.” But she also cautioned them to have a back up plan too, especially for the girl’s in the crowd who wanted to be professional athletes. “We make good money, but not enough to retire off of,” she said. “In a few years Pee Wee and I will retire and have to start a new career.”

“So don’t think you will just have one career for the rest of your life,” Katie said. Everyone on the panel agreed. “Find what you love to do,” said Mike Levey, President of AirMaster Heating and Cooling. “Regardless of how much money you make.”

Success is a journey that takes many steps, and before leaving, Sharon left the teens with a few things to remember. “Success is not measured in what you have done, but what you have become,” she said. “Remember to keep your focus.”