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How young ex-prisoner made close to a million going legit

TURNAROUND: Carl Hart

"IT’S NOT what’s in your bank that makes you a millionaire – it’s what’s in your mind."

Wise words indeed from successful businessman Carl Hart who is well on the way to making his first million – and he’s still only 30.

What makes his story all the more astonishing is that he recently served three years in jail for fraud; in those three years he made up his mind to take responsibility for his own actions and restart his life on the right side of the law - And that is exactly what he’s doing.

Hart is currently making a good name for himself in the burgeoning property scene whilst also helping to put others back on the right track through his property education company Urban Wealth Academy and the 2020 Change Foundation which supports the next generation of community, business and political leaders.

There’s no doubt that Hart possesses a charisma which is clearly going to make him a game-changer.

Honest and up-front about his past, he says that he has simply transferred the skills that he used in criminal activity to the legitimate world.

He reached his lowest point in life while in Doncaster Prison where he worked as a binman. Hart told The Voice:


OLD LIFE: Prison changed Carl Hart's path for the better

“I was really angry with myself and the rest of the world. I couldn’t believe I had sunk so low. I had let my family down. I had lost my freedom and I felt that the next thing for me was death – life simply couldn’t get any worse. Only my fiancée, who never gave up on me, kept me going.

“I’m from a Christian background and I believe God spoke to me – I started to forgive myself for being so stupid. While in prison I began to live in a healthier way, read the Bible, started lifting weights in the gym and going to the library reading up about successful entrepreneurs.

“I soon realised that the skills I has acquired doing crime were the same skills possessed by the entrepreneurs I was reading about. I had the same drive for business and hunger for success – it’s just that the hustle was different. I had simply got into the wrong vehicle in life.

“You cannot teach work ethic or passion. I, like many other prisoners, had these in abundance, but I had been using them in the wrong way.”

Hart, who was brought up in Birmingham, explained how in his previous life he had been making around £15,000 to £20,000 a day (yes, you read that correctly) and once out of prison was faced with getting a job that paid £10 an hour.


THE SPOILS: Carl Hart enjoys the fruits of his labour (Alamy)

He said:

“No matter how much you want to change when you leave prison, you are not going to last long making £10 an hour before you are back to your old ways, but I was determined I wasn’t going back to fraud.

“It was a massive struggle paying bills and feeding my family on that kind of money – I literally worked round the clock taking two railway jobs in London and I figured there had to be more to life than this.

“I was stuck like this for quite a while and then I met a guy who started talking to me about property and he said something to me which didn’t make any sense to me at the time. He said: ’Success leaves clues.’

“He told me to stop reading fiction and start reading biographies about successful people like Bill Gates, Richard Branson - even our beloved Donald Trump! The common denominator with all of them is they had some kind of portfolio in property and real estate.

“I thought, 'there is definitely something in this property game that I need to learn about, but I knew I didn’t have any money, my credit was poor, so how could I started buying stupidly over-priced properties in London?'

“So, he advised me to go to a seminar and the speaker was talking about how to could start investing in property creatively which required little or no money, but first you had to go on a course. I found someone who believed in me enough to help me complete the course and that’s where my life changed.


YOUNG EMPIRE: Carl Hart now oversees a booming property business

“I started off brokering deals for cash-rich time-poor investors and found homes for them for a fee. I became prolific at this and the natural progression was to start buying. I built up a pretty good rapport with estate agents and property developers, started small and built it up.

“I started mixing with the right people and now I’m brokering what they call ‘trophy assets’ in London - multi-million pound hotels. I’m also focusing on property development, converting old commercial buildings into residential – we’re looking at one at the moment in Digbeth, Birmingham, converting an old banqueting suite into 100 luxury apartments.

“My property journey is based on a hunger to succeed. I was very successful in what I was doing in crime. I’ve applied myself in the same way legitimately to the world of property – now I don’t have to worry about the police coming after me. Success is 80 percent mind set and 20 percent mechanics.”

Despite this rapid rise to success, Hart’s life has been struck by tragedy in recent weeks with the suicide of his brother. It has brought his Nigerian-born parents and himself closer together and he says he is passionate about doing something to support young black men whose lives are blighted by depression.

“I don’t think a lot of people give depression the respect it should be given because it is not physical. As black men we don’t tend to talk about our problems, we internalise them and at some point we implode.”

Hart is part of the 2020 Change Foundation that helps disengaged youths to find their right path in life.
He explained:

“Take your typical drug dealer - we look at them as a leader who has marketing skills, is a good communicator, an excellent salesman, who is just selling the wrong product. We go into prisons and give workshops in schools and colleges to put them on the right path in life. We honestly believe that these guys can become the leaders of tomorrow with the right guidance.”

Hart concluded:

“As African people it is innate in us to succeed and a lot of my peers from similar backgrounds have got that also. I believe we all have something within us that can better other people’s lives, while bettering ourselves at the same time. We get further faster together.

“How our race moves forward is now solely dependent on my generation and what we do on a daily basis which is a massive responsibility. The Windrush generation has come and gone – now it’s our time to shape our future.”

For more information on the Urban Wealth Academy, click here.

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