Podcast: The Importance of Personal Evolution with Dr. Dar Mayweather


Casey J. Cornelius (00:03):

Hey everyone, and welcome to the latest episode of the ForCollegeForLife podcast. My name is Casey Cornelius. I am the founder and president of ForCollegeForLife, America’s leading college speaking agency, and I’m also the host of this podcast. I get the privileged interviewer speakers, our consultants, our authors, people who make us who we are. And today I get the opportunity to have a conversation with one of our longest tenured team members, someone who has done some evolution over their time and over their career. And I think that that’s going to be a lot of what we get into today. So I don’t want to do a long intro here, but I want to bring to the mic none other than Dr. Dar Mayweather. D, come onto the mic.

Dr. Dar Mayweather (00:50):

Well, that sounds good. That sounds good.

Casey J. Cornelius (00:52):

Do you like that? Was that like a professional podcast voice?


Was that good? It was, was not only professional, but it felt very intimate, which I like. I mean, that’s what we try. So listen, I’m going to pull back the curtain a little bit. Before we hit record, we were doing our sound checks and everything like that. Dara and I were talking about the intricacies of voice overworked, and people have told me that I have a face that’s made for radio. So I think the fact that you like the intro tells me that I did something right.

Dr. Dar Mayweather (01:24):

Yeah, yeah. Face voice. I mean, I think you’re pretty cute. Well, I mean, the face for radio part is certainly true. I think in another life I want it to be that late night radio host. Ooh. I could see a little bit of the dry humor, almost like Jason Bateman doing the late night show. Yeah, but like a calling with your requests. This one’s going out to dark, that kind. I would do that. The quiet storm. That’s right. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Listen, this is not why we’re having this conversation.

Casey J. Cornelius (02:02):

I guess we’ve made some changes since the last time we pressed record on one of these podcasts, and I want to help people who maybe are familiar with your evolution, but also those who are just getting to know you. I want to ask you some of the questions that come to mind. The first one, I guess this is for the longtime listeners, it’s now Dr. Dar Mayweather. It is. It is. And something has changed. You want to talk about that? I accept all the rights and privileges that come with that in a lot of ways, and I’ll even as it relates to the work I do around inclusive leadership, I recognize that that is a privilege. And I think for me, being a doctor is less about showing how smart I am. It’s not even really about me. It’s about being in service to the community and why become a doctor if you’re not of service?


And we can even look at that from a medical standpoint, a mental health wellness standpoint, all those other standpoints. But I think that’s important to point out. I didn’t anticipate us getting this quick, but a question obviously comes to mind. Do you think that’s always been the case in academia, that that terminal degree is intended to denote that you are, as you say, of service to the community? Or do you think it has had other outcomes for others in the past? That’s a great question. I’m be honest and saying I think it depends on the type of community that you come from. And for me, it is a badge of honor. Being a doctor in a family that doesn’t have one or I’m the only one, first one has a different level of responsibility, but also comes with a different level of perception versus coming from a family of all doctors where everybody, the expectation is that you’re going to go get this and you’re going to get it done, and here’s the pathways. And for me, it’s very different. So my family think that just because I became a doctor, now I’m rich, right? Oh, you’re like exactly the opposite or the dollar number on my head has gone up because I’ve done this achievement. So one of the first questions I had from one of my family members was like, so what was the pay bump that they gave you? And I was like, zero.


They was like, what do you think? That’s a common misconception out there that once you achieve this level, that opens more financial doors for you. It does open more financial doors. So I’m not saying that the doors are closed, it’s just not automatic. And I think people don’t realize that it’s about matching your work to the people who have that problem, and that’s when you get paid. But it’s not until, think about it, we don’t care how smart the heart surgeon is until he does heart surgery on you, you’re not paying him. I mean, that’s exactly right. No doubt about it. We don’t care how many degrees and certifications he has until he does the work and solve the problem and does it effectively. Do we have a synergistic relationship? But otherwise, there’s no extra anything that comes with just being a doctor. You actually have to be of service to actually get that extra.


So we again, went on a path, but I’m going to ask you this on a personal level too, because again, pulling back the curtain a little bit, I’ve known you a long time, Dar, but how does it feel being done now? How does it feel crossing this milestone that you’ve worked so hard for? I just first want to say thank you to you, tj, the for college for life family for Subordinating, me, and not just a young father, young husband, new husband at that time of joining this family, but also as a new PhD student when I joined this family. And so seven years, and I think being done is more representative of you reflect on the costs, and I’m not talking about tuition.


I think for people who want to see me speak, who want to hear me speak, I speak and I use a lot of analogies, metaphors, and things like that to really help people understand what these things really mean. And so when I say everybody going to pay, everybody pays, and it is more than tuition. So for me, I lost time with grandma, father, brother, sister, uncle. So many people passed away in the seven years, and you realize that time is something that you cannot get back. And so for me now, it’s the recognition that I have a eight year old who was one when I started. I have a one-year-old who was born while I was finishing my dissertation, I realized my wife has been super patient with me on this transformation journey. I realized my mother, my mother-in-law filled in a lot of gaps as it relates to watching our children as we were two working parents also in school, also moving across the country and trying to pursue our careers.


So the thankfulness that I have, the gratefulness that I have, is on a whole nother level because I realize how many people sacrifice time and money and energy for me to even be in this position. That was a beautiful answer. I mean, not surprised by a tar. I’ve told you this privately. I’ve told you this in small public gatherings, but really, really proud of you and not just proud of the outcome, but I’m proud of the process because those sacrifices that you were making, and I also got to see your dissertation defense, and I marveled at how you moved and operated in that space as well. So not that it was surprising to me, but there was a certain pride in seeing that because I know what a journey it has been for you. And by the way, folks, if you’d like to know a little more about that journey, Dara and I go into his origin story and all the way back in an earlier episode of this podcast, and we’ll make sure to go ahead and link that in the notes here as well for people to go back.


But it has been a journey, and I’m sincerely, sincerely proud of you. I do Also, I think a theme sort of is emerging. I didn’t necessarily anticipate, and that is evolution. Evolution in your professional identity, your personal identity, your relationships, et cetera, et cetera, but also in the way that you think about some of your core topic areas. So I think if we were having this conversation to our five years ago on the topic of inclusivity, for example, I think your perspective on it has evolved over that time as well. Would you agree? Yeah, yeah. I think for anybody who’s thinking about pursuing a graduate degree, terminal degree specifically, we all realize and have to realize that we are a manifestation of the environments and experiences that we’ve had. And if that is not representative in your work, then you’re really totally missing the whole reason why you’re going on this journey.


I remember having a conversation with for college for life colleague at our retreat and told him that his work is his story and his story, his work, and I almost saw tears coming out of his eyes. The permission that you need sometimes to realize that this journey is about you fully understanding why you are in this position, why you and I had to kind of do that in my own journey. It is like, why am I here? What makes me different than my next door neighbor who bless his soul, bless his heart, but succumb to the streets, succumb to drug dealing, succumb to not graduating high school, didn’t go to college, didn’t think it was a potential opportunity for him. What made me different?


Some of us fall into that, what’s the word when you are guilting yourself for making it? Oh, oh my goodness. I know what you’re saying. Yeah, yeah. You know what I’m talking about, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. Survivor’s remorse. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Right. We don’t see that we are special. We don’t see that we are gifted. And this journey should be about more about how you are challenged to affirm your own story. Well, let’s dive in here just a little bit, right? So I referenced an evolution in your thought as we have this conversation today. I guess I’m curious at how you speak on the topics, and let’s be honest, the D E I B, that’s diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, for those of you who are catching up with the acronym conversation nationally has evolved as well. So where do you stand today in terms of teaching identity as an example, inclusion as an example? How do you see those and leadership? Where’s the intersection of those things from your perspective? Yeah, that’s important for us to get to that place for us, all of us, for me especially, and I’ll just start with me.


I had to realize that people saw me as special for a long time, and a lot of times we don’t really get those affirmations all the time. I can’t necessarily say I’m that person, but what I didn’t do was believe them. And since my belief wasn’t as strong as other people’s belief, the transformation really was very slow. Now, I’m in a place where I’m like, whoa, I hold so many identities, so many responsibilities, being a husband, being a father, being a homeowner, being a educated person, being a faculty member, being a professional speaker. These identities impact how I see the world and how I experience the world and how the world experiences me. And if I am not clear about that, I can’t fully actualize my impact. I don’t really know who I am in the world right now, and this is how this looked, right. So when I first started for College for Life, I was a coordinator for multicultural affairs for only three more months after I signed.


Right after that, I decided to make a pivot and started teaching leadership studies. And so 2017, all the way until 2023, I have been a professional speaker and a graduate student and pursuing a faculty opportunity that wasn’t represented in my speaking at all. I did not even see myself as a person who could be a leadership speaker because I had saw myself in doing race work for so long that I was living in the past and not my future. Right. Oftentimes, hold on, hold on. That’s a profound statement. I want to pause on that. So you, sorry. For those of you who listen to the podcast, first of all, thank you so much for listening. Second of all, you know that I typically don’t cut people off, but when you say something is sledgehammer, is that we got to pause for a second. You felt like you were doing race work because you were living in your past, not in your future. Yes. Talk more about that.


I think we all are afraid of the unknown. I think many times we see ourselves as how the world sees us, and unfortunately, it’s almost like living your life based on what you don’t want instead of pursuing what you do want. I lived my life based on what other people saw of me and not what I saw for myself. And once I actually started again going on the journey of my dissertation, understanding my identity and who I impacted in my behavior, my leadership, I really started understanding that I’m not getting the outcomes of racial sensitivity, racial awareness, racial understanding, racial education. Those outcomes from my work are not happening. But what is happening is people are understanding their privilege and marginalized identity. People are understanding that they experience identity differently, even if they share identity with a person they’re experiencing, that they recognize that they have natural gifts and talents that help them understand how their identity works and how they experience identity with a group of people.


That’s what my work was doing. I was not the person who was helping people be more anti-racist. If anything, I was proud of the person helping people see that racism can take a huge toll on you if you do not act. And when I acted, I ended up quitting that job that I was doing race work. That was the self-care that I took of myself and realizing that my work wasn’t as impactful as I thought it should be. And then once I moved into leadership studies, inclusive leadership, education, I have been reaching heights in my career and my speaking that I could not even imagine.


We always think about and shout out to Kristen, who always does a great job of making these podcasts sound phenomenal. We always think about what will be the soundbite from the episode, and I think we just have one that was in the running for the soundbite for the episode. So let me put on, it’s kind of an and odd lens to approach this topic, but having gone on the journey that you went on, am I hearing you say that you wouldn’t have been prepared for this reality when you were 19, 20, 21 years old, or is there part of you that wishes you had had this worldview mindset in place when you were that young because it might’ve expedited many of the lessons that you’ve accumulated over time? I wish I had the confidence to really allow myself to become the person that people saw me becoming at 19, because I could have, I just didn’t have the confidence. And I think a part of that is a lot of reasons. So a lot of people know me as Dar Mayweather. I was not born Dar Mayweather. I was born Dar Johnson, actually, specifically Darius, Justin Johnson.


I changed my last name when I was 30 years old, and a lot of people were like, why are you change your last name? Well, one Mayweather, why would you change your last name Mayweather? That is a famous last name, right? In the whole world, why would you do that? Especially in West Michigan, especially in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Why would you do that? And a lot of people don’t know that is my family legit, but also that’s who raised me. I’ll be honest in saying I love my Johnson family. I don’t really know them that well, love my father and rest in peace. May he rest in peace. But unfortunately, my grandfather is really the father that I mainly know, and he’s George Mayweather, right? And so a lot of us don’t realize how much name also plays a role in identity.


My best friend says this all the time. He’s like Two chains, Gucci man, and you are the best rebrands of all time. I love it. I love it. Right? But he knows me from as 13 year old Dar Johnson popular, but not the leader, just a person who has been super helpful, super kind. He will be successful one day, but international speaker, author, doctor, all these other prestigious, very prestigious opportunities came after I changed and became the person who I always saw myself as. That’s just how it goes. Does that inspire some of the ways in which you speak to audiences, especially undergraduate audiences, about these topics that you’re almost hoping for them what you wish you would’ve had yourself at that stage in life? Oh yeah. I think we all are in a state of looking at people from a lens of our own experiences, and we’re always judging, per se, right?


We’re always comparing. I think when your comparison then impacts your behavior and your leadership in authentic way, then that’s when the problem comes. And I think that was the case for me, is I was trying to find who I was by trying to be people who be totally honest. We just weren’t going in the same direction. We weren’t. I think about my 16 year old best friend now in federal prison, I think about then finding new best friends, and now they’re all college going folks. I wasn’t thinking about going to college at that time, but I’m like, what do I do? Do I go down this path or do I go down this path? I think, again, I was the guy who lived my life based off of what I didn’t want. I did not want to be the father that I knew that I had. I did not want to have the job that my mom grew up having. Even though that job sustained us. She worked 30 years at Keber Cookie Factory, not only sustained us, I had the weight to prove it. Right, right. Those cookies are real. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yep. I did not want to live in the neighborhood that I grew up in. I did not want to send my children to schools that had similar type of schooling that I got schooling that produces factory workers.


And at some point you realize that you’ve achieved all these things by not trying to be these people, and you then realize, what the hell am I trying to be? Like? What do I actually want? So I’m sitting here, I have a master’s degree, I have no children, which is a huge success at the age that I was. I’m working at the University of Michigan. I’ve created multiple courses at this university, prestigious institution, and I’m still unhappy. I don’t feel like I belong. I don’t feel like I’m in a position where I’m going to move myself in my career. I don’t know what’s next. And I’m like, I’ve done all of this, and literally it feels meaningless. That’s when I had to realize I was living my life based off of what I didn’t want and not what I did want. And once I made that shift, things started happening.


Life started happening for me. On the surface, people probably wouldn’t expect that you and I have a lot in common, but something that you said there just resonated with me, and that is, it’s almost like what I don’t want to be true got me started, but what I want to be true sustained me. I think for any of us, I think if we only reside in what we don’t want to be true, then it’s almost like not having a vision for the future. It’s only, well, you referenced this before, it’s like living in the past as opposed to being aspirational, whatever endeavor that you’re in, whatever career path that you’re in, whatever family or relationship dynamic that you’re in, as opposed to avoiding what you don’t want, having a vision for what you do. You said it earlier, when you focus on what you don’t want, you are focused on the destination.


But when you’re focused on what you do want, you’re focused on the process and the process, it helps you realize that there is no destination. It’s only growth. It’s only getting 1% better every day. I’m reading the book, the book Atomic Habits right now. Oh yeah. So good. That intro story about the British cycling and how the new trainer came and all he said was he just wants them to get 1% better at all the small things that go into cycling. So how do they sleep better? How do they eat better? How do they drink better? How do they move better? How do they sit better? How do they be more comfortable on the cycle? How do they breathe better? Just 1% better. In five years, they went on a six year run of the Tour de France. I think that’s such a freeing, by the way, for those listening to this student professional, whatever you might be, wherever stage in life you are, that’s a fantastic book that breaks down the idea of incremental success, incremental success, wherever you want to be isn’t going to happen tomorrow and whatever got you to this place didn’t happen overnight.


So how do you make choices each and every day? I’m one of those everyday mindset people, like how do you make choices each and every day that gets you closer to the goal as opposed to further away? Huge recommendation for James Clear atomic habits if you have not yet read it. So for me, how did I go from 19 year old Dar that was microaggression a boss and instead of firing me, they mentor me to international educator, have spoken to over 150,000 people, 20 states, four countries. Literally. It’s incremental. Small, small growth over the amount of 20 years one, and I’m going to hunch that this bothers you two. One of the things that troubles me the most, and it’s popular and it sells well, it’s packaged well, is the myth of the overnight success that someone comes out of nowhere. I’m a sports fan.


I know you are too. It’s like the, oh, it’s the rookie that they’re just an overnight success. And what you don’t see is the years and years and years and years of toil and trial and error and mentorship and failure and incremental successes along the way that brought them to this moment that you could say, oh yeah, look at what this person’s doing. They didn’t just start. They didn’t start yesterday. You didn’t start yesterday. There’s been a whole lot of long nights and early mornings and pain and suffering that gets you to this moment, I think. And you and I are LeBron fans, right? Sure. Yeah. And so that works for us. His book, have you read his book? I haven’t actually.


It’s great. Fantastic. LeBron’s book is so good because it helps you really understand the process of becoming LeBron James from the kid who left his mom’s home and became a star athlete, literally living under somebody else’s roof to then moving back into his home with his mother and having to navigate the lifestyle that she was living to getting signed to a hundred million dollars deal as a 17, 18 year old to now literally being the greatest basketball player ever. Right? Well, listen, we’re not going to get into that debate on this podcast. We have got folks, I’m going to pull back the curtain. We have gotten into this debate before. I am team MJ on this debate, but I do recognize the fact that, I mean, we’re splitting hairs at this point, right?


But hey, listen, again, we’re not going to go down this rabbit hole. For those who have not yet, please take a second visit for college for, learn more about D signature programs, all the work that he’s doing. I want to get you out of here on a question that is tied to this theme of evolution that we didn’t predict in this conversation, but maybe as important as we’re forward-looking as well. So what is the one goal that you consider to be most important in your work now and moving forward? Yes. Yes. So I believe that more people would do this work, like inclusive leadership work if they understood their story. And I think it’s my goal to help 500 people become inclusive leadership trainers. And what that means to me is really, one, you learn the tools to be able to use your story to engage. You learn inclusion activities so that you can educate, you learn leadership activities so that you can explore, but also you learn how to entertain your audience, right? Because the reality is most people won’t listen to you for 60 minutes if you’re not good in the first five. And so how can we make sure that you have the tools to engage deeply and as deep as you want, but using your life as the major tool for inspiration and motivation? And so that’s my goal. How did you come to 500?


I just felt like a thousand felt like a little heavy. I felt like 250 didn’t feel impactful enough, and so 500 just felt like that’s a good number. It felt like a good milestone. So if I can get 500 people to be more confident in doing these type of trainings with their students, with their staff, with their faculty, I think that’s a good start of a movement that can probably live beyond me. Listen, I want to connect some dots on stories, and I’m going to challenge you to set your sights just a little beyond that 500 just so that we can make this meaningful. You ready? Let’s set it to 616 to 616 people that you inspire to be inclusivity minded trainers as well. Why six 16?


It’s not the date, so I can’t say that. It’s the Grand Rapids, Michigan Roots 6 1 6 6 1. Let’s connect it back to your origin story. Let’s tell the story of how, excuse me, Dr. Dar Mayweather got to this point. 616. That’s the goal. I like that. I like that. I want 616 people to be more confident doing inclusive leadership training. Connect with me, find me so you can start with your training today. There you go. There’s the plug. And if people want to connect with you on socials, where can they find you? Dar? I’m heavy on LinkedIn right now, heavy on LinkedIn. Of course, find me on there. Doing the good work on Instagram, Facebook, of course. Those are really the three. If you’re a Twitter person, I do Dr. Mayweather on Twitter, but I’m not really on Twitter that much. I don’t feel like I’m opinionated enough and I don’t want to be trolled.


I don’t know. I’m just scared. This is a topic for another day. But listen, is anyone on Twitter these? No, I’m not going to do that. Listen folks, whatever platform you’re on, we would invite you please to like and share and subscribe to this podcast. Please share it on the platform of your choice. Even if it is Twitter, we don’t mind. You can shout it out there if it’s Threads or BeReal or Snapchat or MySpace or wherever you are. We would love and appreciate if you shared this episode and also make sure that you rate this podcast because that helps a lot. If you want to hear new topics, new speakers, new conversations like the ones we just had with Dr. Dme, whether please also don’t hesitate to shout us out. Let us know, and we will deliver to you what you like and need the most. Again, if you’ve not yet, please visit to learn more about Dr. Dar Mayweather and his signature programs and work. And until next time, please be well and we look forward to talking with you again. Thanks everybody.

Share this post

Skip to content