How Ed Hennings Went From 20 Years In Jail to Sought After Enterprise Man and Motivational Speaker
First degree premeditated murder is a Class A crime that results in life imprisonment if convicted. This is the charge Edward L. Hennings originally received twenty-four years ago. Unlike most accused of such a serious crime, however, Hennings not only found freedom outside a cell, but also escaped the lifestyle that brought him there and is now a respected businessman, author, and sought-after motivational speaker . His story is one for the books, and the mindset change Ed Hennings made is one that should all be borrowed from and noted. However, every story worth reading has an escalating plot that leads to conflict, and Hennings began in his youth.
Hennings started selling drugs at the age of 19 and shared that he grew impatient while doing pretty well at school. The thought of having to wait four more years before he could graduate and earn a stable income didn’t seem like an option at the time. “I got impatient. I come from the township. I’ve seen this type of activity all my life. I was strong enough at this point in my life not to bother with it, but by 18 or 19 I was a young adult and finances became a part of my life more than ever … so I started selling drugs. “Hennings soon lived to regret this lack of patience.
Fast reactions can have lifelong consequences
Hennings’ newly found pastime meant that he quickly became the “contact person” in his group. Family and friends came to him for everything. Whether they needed financial help, a trip, something to eat, or an ear to listen to, Hennings was available to help. “I was the right man. And if there was any kind of argument between the guys they would call me and I would step in, step in and sort it out. “
Little did the Milwaukee native know that one day when he was only 24 years old, a cry from his uncle for help would drastically change the path of his life. His uncle had an argument with some men in the neighborhood and they beat him up, so he came to his nephew for help. Hoping to spread the word as usual, Hennings went to speak to them.
“Usually you go into conversation and talk about it, you shake hands and it’s over. But this time it was more hostile. ” He remembered. Three men approached his uncle, one appeared to be reaching for a gun, and Hennings’ next actions are some that would inspire remorse for decades.
“I thought he was going to reach for a gun to shoot [my uncle] so I pulled out a gun myself and shot twice. I didn’t know the man was hit, but I know everyone started running and boys came out of the yards. It was just total hostility and chaos. And I ended up being arrested that night and charged with first degree willful murder. “
Finding light at the end of a long, dark tunnel
As everyone ran after the gunshots, Hennings’ victim ran and collapsed dead a block away. “I never would have thought in a million years that I would sit in the courtroom and listen to the relatives of my victim say how bad of someone I am. Or I listen to my mother and grandma and ask the judge not to push me away for life. That right there really hit the core of my soul. “
Hennings’ thoughts began to race and he regretted not only his actions that night but everything that led to this point. “I should have just stayed in school.” I thought, “I should have done this” and “I should have done this”. So many things … all I asked and prayed for was one more chance. Another attempt. “Hennings shared and repeated the events of that day. When he continued to pray for another chance, the jury came back and found him guilty of a minor offense – reckless first degree murder, also known as manslaughter.” I had defending a right, but I’ve overdone it. “He explains. With this lesser charge against him, Hennings knew immediately that he had a little grace and the chance to get things right.” I really just understood that I did had another chance. “
Hennings was sentenced to a total of forty years and served twenty years in prison. Although he understood that forty years was a long time, he was so grateful that he did not receive the life sentence he expected that he saw this as an opportunity to turn his life around and prepare for his second chance. “For a man who was about to have the rest of his life, I knew forty years was bad, but I knew I was fine, I got another chance. Not the next day or the next year, but I have some time. “
If you get a do-over, take it
Hennings was ready for parole hearings after being sentenced for ten years, but it took another ten before he could go on parole. “I made twenty years of forty. So I’ve served half of my sentence. With that said, I spent those twenty years pushing myself every day. Every chance I could improve to become the best version of Ed I could be … I’ve spent twenty years doing it. “
While he’s now a motivational speaker, Hennings makes it clear that he didn’t start this when he got home four years ago. “It started when I was in jail,” he notes. “I said to the guys there,” Man, we have to change. We have to push. We must go. We have to improve. We can’t end like this. The last memories of us from loved ones cannot be handcuffed us and that is the last time they will see us. We have to come back. “, Remembers Hennings.
In addition to spending his 20 years raising his fellow inmates, Hennings made a goal of taking every class available to him, reading every book, and speaking to students in youth awareness programs when the opportunity arose. He talked to the children in the hope that he could prevent them from getting into a similar situation. These deliberate steps prepared him for success when he was finally released.
“When I was in prison, my mission was to make a difference. I still live in everyday life and think this is my second chance, this is my shot. Because I lived with this mentality, I took a hairdressing and cosmetics course in 1998. I completed my hairdressing and cosmetics license in 2001 and took an auto detailing course in 2001. After completing that, I took a cooking class. I acquired so much knowledge through reading and everything that was available to me to improve myself. “Hennings had a chance to get a do-over and he took it.
From 20 years in prison to a coveted businessman and motivational speaker
When Hennings saw the success he had as an inmate, he knew that it could also be translated outside the cell. Share: “When I saw this formula that got me success right in prison – like a man, I cut my hair at the barber shop and talk to the kids every Wednesday and Friday – this formula works for me.” After seeing the barber – and completed a cosmetics course, he was released from prison in a barber shop. While he was making just $ 7.25 an hour cutting hair, he saw this as an opportunity to build his clientele and learn the latest techniques before it was released. “Although I didn’t make a lot of money, I was able to acquire customers. I was able to improve my skills and build camaraderie with the people in the store, which was a plus for me. “
Hennings understands that we as humans have the blessing to heal from past trauma and pain. However, after our healing from deaths, divorce, and jail terms, he finds that many forget what we went through and what lessons we learned. Hennings has the feeling that he cannot forget because he had to deal with the pain for so long.
“Since I had to sit in my pain for twenty years, it got stuck in my soul. When I got home I looked around and found that my drive was different. My grind was different from the rest of the guys. And that pain could stay with me. And it could be my fuel … so I was walking like a cop because that fuel was like rocket fuel and it still is. “
Hennings now has three main businesses. The first business he started was a barber shop with a beauty salon. The second business Hennings built was a trucking business that now has up to five truck fleets. The third company is a non-profit organization where he speaks, mentors and coaches. This resulted in his book The Answers. All of these deals can be linked to the movements he made in prison. The deliberate steps taken to undo the damage caused in his life have resulted in Ed Hennings being recognized no longer as a murderer but as a sought-after businessman and motivational speaker, proving that our past does not determine our future got to .
Henning’s latest endeavor has grown out of his hair and beauty salon business – a men’s grooming line whose first product is King Edward Beard Oil. He remembered the birth of the idea he shared: “I’ve had a beard for five or six years. I’m known in my entire community as the guy with the beard. I work in cosmetics and help many other men grow their beards. So it was only natural for me to dive into the beard industry and make grooming men pop. “
The serial entrepreneur keeps evolving and realizes that there will be doubters along the way who don’t believe that people can change. In fact, he welcomes their criticism and uses it as fuel to keep moving forward and striving for greatness even harder. “If you [criticize] it helps me and i kind of tend to. I need to hear more about it to keep pushing. But I made these choices and I made these choices, so I have to live with them. I have to take responsibility and say yes some people won’t take everything you do so you have to have thick skin and be able to take that gut shot and let it push you. “
For those feeling at the very bottom, Hennings wants them to know that their reaction to their situation is everything and that there is actually something positive on the other end.
“The backend of adversity is wisdom. It’s strength … if you respond correctly, everything is in your answer. Adversity is promised to all of us. Everyone looks at their situation as if it is the worst of them all. My advice is that you have the moment to cry when you have to. Have the moment to be mad when you have to. But take all of those emotions right there and channel them and respond like a champ, and I promise you it will take you further than you ever thought you could go. “
Keeping up with Ed Hennings
Ed continues to strive every day to become a better person and businessman, and is committed to helping others do the same. You can learn from Ed at EdHennings.com or follow him on Facebook at Ed Hennings or Instagram @ edhennings1. You can find his men’s grooming products at KingEdwardGrooming.com