How I learned to read — and trade stocks — in prison | Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll

How I learned to read — and trade stocks — in prison | Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll

I was 14 years old inside of a bowling alley, burglarizing an arcade game, and upon exiting the building a security guard grabbed my arm, so I ran. I ran down the street,
and I jumped on top of a fence. And when I got to the top, the weight of 3,000 quarters
in my book bag pulled me back down to the ground. So when I came to, the security guard
was standing on top of me, and he said, “Next time you little punks
steal something you can carry.” (Laughter) I was taken to juvenile hall and when I was released
into the custody of my mother, the first words my uncle said was,
“How’d you get caught?” I said, “Man, the book bag was too heavy.” He said, “Man, you weren’t supposed
to take all the quarters.” I said, “Man, they were small.
What am I supposed to do?” And 10 minutes later, he took me
to burglarize another arcade game. We needed gas money to get home. That was my life. I grew up in Oakland, California, with my mother and members
of my immediate family addicted to crack cocaine. My environment consisted
of living with family, friends, and homeless shelters. Oftentimes, dinner was served
in breadlines and soup kitchens. The big homey told me this: money rules the world and everything in it. And in these streets, money is king. And if you follow the money, it’ll lead you to the bad guy
or the good guy. Soon after, I committed my first crime, and it was the first time
that I was told that I had potential and felt like somebody believed in me. Nobody ever told me
that I could be a lawyer, doctor or engineer. I mean, how was I supposed to do that?
I couldn’t read, write or spell. I was illiterate. So I always thought
crime was my way to go. And then one day I was talking to somebody and he was telling me
about this robbery that we could do. And we did it. The reality was that I was growing up in the strongest
financial nation in the world, the United States of America, while I watched my mother
stand in line at a blood bank to sell her blood for 40 dollars
just to try to feed her kids. She still has the needle marks
on her arms to day to show for that. So I never cared about my community. They didn’t care about my life. Everybody there was doing what they
were doing to take what they wanted, the drug dealers,
the robbers, the blood bank. Everybody was taking blood money. So I got mine by any means necessary. I got mine. Financial literacy
really did rule the world, and I was a child slave to it following the bad guy. At 17 years old, I was arrested
for robbery and murder and I soon learned that finances in prison
rule more than they did on the streets, so I wanted in. One day, I rushed to grab
the sports page of the newspaper so my cellie could read it to me, and I accidentally
picked up the business section. And this old man said,
“Hey youngster, you pick stocks?” And I said, “What’s that?” He said, “That’s the place
where white folks keep all their money.” (Laughter) And it was the first time
that I saw a glimpse of hope, a future. He gave me this brief description
of what stocks were, but it was just a glimpse. I mean, how was I supposed to do it? I couldn’t read, write or spell. The skills that I had developed
to hide my illiteracy no longer worked in this environment. I was trapped in a cage,
prey among predators, fighting for freedom I never had. I was lost, tired, and I was out of options. So at 20 years old, I did the hardest thing
I’d ever done in my life. I picked up a book, and it was the most agonizing
time of my life, trying to learn how to read, the ostracizing from my family, the homeys. It was rough, man. It was a struggle. But little did I know I was receiving the greatest gifts
I had ever dreamed of: self-worth, knowledge, discipline. I was so excited to be reading that I read
everything I could get my hands on: candy wrappers, clothing logos,
street signs, everything. I was just reading stuff! (Applause) Just reading stuff. I was so excited to know how to read
and know how to spell. The homey came up, said,
“Man, what you eating?” I said, “C-A-N-D-Y, candy.” (Laughter) He said, “Let me get some.”
I said, “N-O. No.” (Laughter) It was awesome. I mean, I can actually now
for the first time in my life read. The feeling that I got
from it was amazing. And then at 22, feeling myself, feeling confident, I remembered what the OG told me. So I picked up the business section
of the newspaper. I wanted to find these rich white folks. (Laughter) So I looked for that glimpse. As I furthered my career in teaching others how to
financially manage money and invest, I soon learned that I had to take
responsibility for my own actions. True, I grew up
in a very complex environment, but I chose to commit crimes, and I had to own up to that. I had to take responsibility
for that, and I did. I was building a curriculum
that could teach incarcerated men how to manage money
through prison employments. Properly managing our lifestyle
would provide transferrable tools that we can use to manage money
when we reenter society, like the majority of people did
who didn’t commit crimes. Then I discovered that according to MarketWatch, over 60 percent of the American population has under 1,000 dollars in savings. Sports Illustrated said that
over 60 percent of NBA players and NFL players go broke. 40 percent of marital problems
derive from financial issues. What the hell? (Laughter) You mean to tell me
that people worked their whole lives, buying cars, clothes,
homes and material stuff but were living check to check? How in the world were members of society
going to help incarcerated individuals back into society if they couldn’t manage they own stuff? We screwed. (Laughter) I needed a better plan. This is not going to work out too well. So … I thought. I now had an obligation
to meet those on the path and help, and it was crazy because
I now cared about my community. Wow, imagine that.
I cared about my community. Financial illiteracy is a disease that has crippled minorities
and the lower class in our society for generations and generations, and we should be furious about that. Ask yourselves this: How can 50 percent
of the American population be financially illiterate in a nation
driven by financial prosperity? Our access to justice, our social status, living conditions, transportation and food are all dependent on money
that most people can’t manage. It’s crazy! It’s an epidemic and a bigger danger to public safety
than any other issue. According to the California
Department of Corrections, over 70 percent of those incarcerated have committed or have been charged
with money-related crimes: robberies, burglaries,
fraud, larceny, extortion — and the list goes on. Check this out: a typical incarcerated person would enter the California prison system with no financial education, earn 30 cents an hour, over 800 dollars a year, with no real expenses and save no money. Upon his parole, he will be given
200 dollars gate money and told, “Hey, good luck, stay out of trouble.
Don’t come back to prison.” With no meaningful preparation
or long-term financial plan, what does he do … ? At 60? Get a good job, or go back to the very criminal behavior
that led him to prison in the first place? You taxpayers, you choose. Well, his education
already chose for him, probably. So how do we cure this disease? I cofounded a program that we call Financial Empowerment
Emotional Literacy. We call it FEEL, and it teaches how do you separate
your emotional decisions from your financial decisions, and the four timeless rules
to personal finance: the proper way to save, control your cost of living, borrow money effectively and diversify your finances
by allowing your money to work for you instead of you working for it. Incarcerated people need these life skills
before we reenter society. You can’t have full rehabilitation
without these life skills. This idea that only professionals
can invest and manage money is absolutely ridiculous, and whoever told you that is lying. (Applause) A professional is a person who knows his craft better than most, and nobody knows how much money
you need, have or want better than you, which means you are the professional. Financial literacy is not a skill,
ladies and gentlemen. It’s a lifestyle. Financial stability is a byproduct
of a proper lifestyle. A financially sound incarcerated person
can become a taxpaying citizen, and a financially sound
taxpaying citizen can remain one. This allows us to create a bridge
between those people who we influence: family, friends and those young people who still believe
that crime and money are related. So let’s lose the fear and anxiety of all the big financial words and all that other nonsense
that you’ve been out there hearing. And let’s get to the heart
of what’s been crippling our society from taking care of your responsibility
to be better life managers. And let’s provide a simple
and easy to use curriculum that gets to the heart, the heart of what financial empowerment
and emotional literacy really is. Now, if you’re sitting out here
in the audience and you said, “Oh yeah, well, that ain’t me
and I don’t buy it,” then come take my class — (Laughter) so I can show you how much money
it costs you every time you get emotional. (Applause) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause)


  1. Nora Nora says:

    He is an amazing public speaker honestly, he is very talented at story telling while also keeping the levity when the material gets dark.

  2. Josiah Hoo says:

    Incredible. Just incredibly inspiring; shows just how much a lot of us can forget how fortunate we are with our education.

  3. Harryboi 64 says:

    Who gonna dislike this???

  4. Q of 512 says:

    You know what's crazy I learned the same way from a Spanish guy. An from then on I been just following an looking picking an loosing with no money just learning..

  5. ridge wood says:

    This man is good

  6. Thedinojenny says:

    Really awesome Ted Talk. If only everyone watched this…

  7. applesinthebackyard says:

    Absolutely blown away by that presentation, brought tears to my eyes. The guy is a genius beyond financials. He is a genius at public speaking.

  8. Young Rascal says:

    Come on I hope he's not still incarcerated

  9. G Fire Productions says:

    Thank you brother. You've inspired me to teach this to as many as I can. I've alway felt financial knowledge is lacking amongst the poor and middle class.

  10. Σταμάτης Μισιρλής says:

    This guy should be hired from the goverment, to fight poverty and illiteracy.

  11. jonas mengr says:

    Why are there coat hangers in your shirt?

  12. Mark w says:

    Whys he got coat hangers in his clothes still?

  13. paper money says:

    I got $36,000 from the great hack+1(774)3384503

  14. Babylon Bwoy says:

    Check his itv on Vlad TV on YT, it is longer and as good as this one. Incredible smart guy.

  15. Sir Duplechan says:

    Powerful, I can't wait to check it your course

  16. Fireman Pair says:

    How can I take his class ?

  17. Shayne Boodhoo says:

    easily the best ted talk

  18. Valeria Carrasco Ferrari says:

    I probably couldn’t have taught MYSELF how to read… he’s so smart ✌️😌

  19. K S says:

    I’m glad he found this ability in himself, but it’s a shame he had to live a hard life to discover it.

  20. pali prince says:

    Excellent work brother keep it up

  21. Ben Lovro says:

    🚨🚨🚨 A person with vision will travel further than the average eye can see. The key to developing influence is being authentic. Looking forward to the TED stage in the future and the lives that can be changed through stories of others.

  22. PotenzaDaDio says:

    Wow, best TED talk Ive ever seen. He’s very smart.

  23. TheLitLighter says:

    The solution: Andrew Yang

  24. Divyansh Agarwal says:

    The last 2 minutes made me liked the video.

  25. Michele Wright says:

    That's why i love the book, "Broken But Not Crushed". Any one can make it, no matter how far you have fallen..just get up and keep walking..

  26. Gary Sparks says:

    Best ted talk iv seen yet

  27. John K says:

    every high school kids and EVERYONE on earth MUST watchthis !

  28. John K says:

    1.8k Wallstreet thugs not liking this video because they want people just to invest in SP500 index and pay them 2.% management fee for nothing in return !

  29. shondale71 says:

    Brilliant ❤️🙏🏽

  30. 24sumo says:

    Wow, all these fucking idiots in the crowd laughing. Not even realise it he’s talking about Most of them.

  31. Harsh Rana says:

    The title should be the ‘ importance of financial literacy’ not the ABOVE CLICKBAIT ONE.
    It would help people which TED Talk is USEFUL TO THEM in this age of INFOBESITY.

  32. James Pham says:

    Great talk… smart guy with a lot of wisdom

  33. edr777 says:

    Nah. I'm going to buy my pure bred puppy a new cashmere sweater. 🙂

  34. AMINA ADEDE says:

    I wonder how many brilliant men will never know just how brilliant they are thanks for God change you life

  35. Mike Sum says:

    He learned to read like everyone else. Foh

  36. Alex Gonzalez says:

    Wait so someone from poverty made money and helps ppl and helped the whole way?….

    Imagine if the wealthy did the same 😅 rather than writing a check to THE NATIONAL HONOROBALE ASSOCIATION OF THE AMERICAS..

    There's no reason to be worth abillion quadrillion dollars while children starve.

  37. Lawrence Mason says:

    Yesss Bro!!!

  38. Suning Starseeker says:

    Was this ted talk filmed in prison?

  39. Srijan Tamang says:

    Lovely video! The only program that earned me real caash from day 1 and works from anywhere look up in Google this with-out spaces GetP aidHo m e .c o m

  40. Investing Education says:

    Great inspiration

  41. thierry demolder says:

    another BS

  42. Videoorbiter says:


  43. rodeo o says:

    incarcerated people need not get incarcerated in the first place,,,they costing me money,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  44. Nate Seymour says:

    man outside just watching 4:01

  45. granny muffins says:

    wow what a speech 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  46. CJ Fuentes says:

    I cried when he said his last line about emotions… We all have the power to become successful.

  47. Ray says:

    Great video, love what this guy is doing

  48. ggg says:

    Hats off to this guy for breaking thru the lie that black people are victims and taking charge of his life. We need more role models like him

  49. Gemein Hardd says:

    how do i support this amazing person

  50. Private says:

    Absolutey brilliant.

  51. Ej_ L says:

    One of the best tedtalks i've listen to.

  52. Alex Marlin says:

    I would gladly take a class lead by him, cause he speaks so clearly in a way that I can actually understand.

  53. adebayo abdulraf says:

    like everything i see online nowadays is all about forex, is there really life in trading forex, cos i can see that many can still loose their hard earn money through trading forex

  54. Kanaakulya Nakibinge says:

    This guy is genius orator. I have been moved.

  55. TheKris says:

    It's like he is rapping. Hahahha i love this man!

  56. GezusX says:

    This wasn’t funny at all

  57. Min Min says:

    Very impressive speech. But the sad thing is people who are illiterate are not interested in watching this kinds of video.

  58. Brian Austin says:


  59. Bobbito Chicon says:

    ⭐ Anybody have information where I can take his class?

  60. BdDaBomb says:

    Be good if Ms. Tulsi saw this

  61. Eddey 30 says:

    he is in jail for murder

  62. Eddey 30 says:

    I wonder how the family members of the person that he murdered feel about this speech

  63. Eddey 30 says:

    Imagine if he murdered your son. How would you feel about that speech. Would you be inspired by it.

  64. Print Onthis says:


  65. H S says:

    bullshit speech. You can't possibly learn how to trade stocks by simply watching charts. What happens when you're in a position and the position goes against you? How will you react? Will you panic? Will you add up? Will you keep on hoping? Or will you stay sharp and cut your losses? But when is it actually wise to cut your losses? When is it even wise to cap your wins? How will you respond when you make profits? Will you be stoic or will you be through the roof euphoric causing you to lose focus? You can't possibly know all these things until you've actually been in the situation your own hard earned money.

  66. Benjamin Toepfer Clason says:

    Too bad he uses the race card as his excuse! Stocks see no color! Learn that #FakeNewsMedia!

  67. Dizziedee18 says:

    He's an adult. So yes he is articulate. Yes he is smart. HOWEVER, what he said is much more deeper than what people see. Everyone is so quick to applaud a black person who doesn't speak in slang (or read) but the real information is over looked. He said 50% of Americans, who are NOT in prison, and STILL do not know how to manage their finances. Stop looking outside for others flaws and see your own.

  68. Carlos Rwanda says:

    I work with a strategy that ensures 90-100% win rate each time I trade the stock market with my assistant trader mr Allen Brooke’s

  69. Tour From Bali says:


  70. The Black Kaiser says:

    Knowledge is power. If he went a different way in life he would be a power broker

  71. jef718 says:

    Thank you for teaching me, my brother.

  72. bull smooth says:

    I've never been to prison and i need that program


    cool video however the only program that worked for me is Fun Online Work .c o m

  74. 00 Kevin says:

    That was 🔥

  75. rosso salvador says:

    Don't play jokes with ur money. get yourself a good trader to avoid the risk of loosing and gets you educated on how to make trades yourself.

  76. Shenni says:

    He made me think how much money do I spend when I get emotional 🤔

  77. Chad Defranche says:

    so thankful I can fully go on vacation all cause of this. Just Google with-out gaps EasyLaptop Life .c om

  78. Alexander Sebastian says:

    Clearly nothing can compare to experience coupled with expertise..

    I used to think account management was overrated till I started investing with my current account manager Mr Smith John who helped me grow my profits from scratch.

  79. Calvin Mogilinski says:

    He still never talked about him learning stocks.

  80. Toby Flenderson says:

    "why you yelling at da mic"

  81. Jacob S.L. says:


  82. arish latif says:

    This is great, thanks for sharing.

  83. MissBunny850 says:

    this came up in my feed again love how this guy doesn't disclose one good stock pick he made what a loser!!!

  84. MissBunny850 says:

    needed gas money to got home lol dude you had a car!!!

  85. Elliot’s Trading says:

    help a brother and take a sec to view my forex content

  86. Elliot’s Trading says:

    help a brother and take a sec to view my forex content

  87. Tha Real Mccoy says:

    This one of the few TED talks I watch ENTIRELY

  88. S Mongoe says:

    Salute 🔊💪😭

  89. Aaron Roberto Acevedo says:

    This guy's a poet!

  90. Monserrate Perez says:

    Just awsome, I hope he becomes a millionaire, he deserves it..

  91. A. Da Goddess says:

    One of the top Ted talks ever!!! ❤️ Curtis you are inspiring us all! Keep going✨✨

  92. Maxwell John says:

    You can also learn more about bitcoin and the mining process. You can email [email protected] if you want to know more about it.

  93. papavalium says:

    Now hes broke. Is TED all fake social justice warrior stories now?

  94. papavalium says:

    Nice advice TED, your guest just said you should steal a few quarters….Wow has TED falling from it's tiny heights it once had.

  95. papavalium says:

    I can't believe this is on youtube. Most pathetic example of parenting and drugs addict murderers. You can't make up how stupid and sickening TED talks have become.

  96. papavalium says:

    All the white guilt lefties laugh when the thug black murderer says, that's where white people keep their money. NIce video…hows this even allowed to be on youtube?

  97. Murtad Yare says:

    He sound like "the secret "

  98. Ery Almario says:

    this guy needs a parole

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