ST. PETERSBURG — Dederick Woodard is a mentor, motivational speaker, life coach, author and poet who reach countless people through a combination of his magnetic personality and gentle demeanor. He credits his grandfather for teaching him how to relate to people and the many ways in which to do so.
Organizations and individuals of all ages seek his counsel as a means to address their life’s conflicts and receive guidance and direction.
Woodard is best known for the unique manner in which he reaches children; using rap as a tool to meet them at their level. He provides workshops for schools, the Boys and Girls Club and other organizations in and around Pinellas County.
Most recently he addressed the anxiety and pressure experienced by many children as the new school year approached. “I prepare them for success by explaining to them the reason they are anxious and give them vision so they don’t have to worry. They’re anxious because they don’t know what to expect,” he said.
Part of Woodard’s technique is to advise the child to seek the counsel of a mentor close to their age; someone who has successfully made it through the situation they are currently experiencing. Once the kids get the knowledge and understanding of what they are facing, they are better equipped to proceed and see it through.
When working with middle schoolers, he helps them to establish their goals. “I help them identify what they are expecting out of the sixth grade. Their ultimate goal, at the time, is to get to the seventh grade, so they need to acquire information that will point to their goal,” he explained.
Woodard developed a program called “Best Character” for the Boys and Girls Club in Pinellas. It deals with kids as young as preschool and old as high school. Best Character provides his students with an opportunity to decide which character traits are appropriate and to model their chosen trait through games and dialog.
Using role play, he helps them envision what each personality character looks like; how it is perceived by others and if it will serve them well in connection to their current goals in life. “I tell them, ‘whatever you’re doing make sure that it will connect to your goal and apply it in other areas in your life’,” Woodard averred.
As a motivational speaker he uses dialog with the audience to maximize their experience with him. While interacting with the crowd he guides them through the process of goal setting. He creates a visual of where to begin, how to evaluate choices and how to get to what he calls “the finish line.” Through his confab he instructs the audience on how to recognize their limitations, strength and stamina.
As a life coach, Woodard works closely with his clients to determine what it is they need. Prior to meeting in person, he holds a phone interview to define their expectations, where they are at that point in their life and where they want to be.
“Working toward your goal is about activating something. I’m going to push them. I want to see them go to the Super Bowl! That’s my job as a coach and mentor. If I need to, I plug them into other mentors. I provide insight into their lives. Every once in a while I get to be a friend,” Woodard explained.
The coaching sessions are held at the library, college classroom or a restaurant, wherever the client is most comfortable. He says some people only need a one-time session, whereas others would prefer an on-going weekly or monthly schedule to get them on track, keep them on track and maintain their achieved goals.
The length of session is contingent upon the age of the client. An adult session would run 40 minutes whereas a meeting with a child might meet for 20-minute intervals with a break in between.
St. Pete’s own Swiyyah Muhammad, award-winning author of “Don’t Call Me Crazy! I’m Just in Love” was mentored by Woodard. On one occasion he coached her on how to speak to a classroom full of college students and thanks to his guidance, the students found her message informative and entertaining.
“Before I met Dederick I was selling one or two books, but after we spoke, things changed.” Muhammad says her book sales have drastically increased and that most of those who come to her seminars now purchase her book. “He’s also helping me realize my newest goals and is teaching me how to put them into action,” said Muhammad.
Woodard’s book is one of poetry and is called “New Day.” It’s a book about hope and encourages readers to make it through and connect to resources to manifest their dreams. It was in elementary school when he began writing poems and learned in high school how to present his ideas in “a colorful way,” he said.
“My goal in life is to assist people to do more than just dream their dreams. My goal in life is to empower people to experience their dreams,” Woodard said.
“New Day” can be purchased on Amazon.com, Createaspace.com and at his various workshops. The book is $19.99 online, but can be purchased at half the price if you attend his workshops. Some of his workshops include the book.