climbing-the-ladderOver 100 cities and countries from 18 states in the nation have already implemented fair-chance hiring reforms including the practice to  “ban the box” — a movement to remove the small box on job applications that asks whether or not an applicant has been convicted of a criminal offense. Statistics show that ex-offenders’ inability to find work doesn’t just hurt the applicants, it hurts the economy as a whole, costing the US upwards of $65 billion in lost output. With around 1 in 33 working-age adults an ex-prisoner and 1 in 15 an ex-felon, it’s estimated that the US economy is losing between 1.5 to 1.7 million workers annually, and that number is rising.

Today on ‘Dot Complicated,’ Randi sat down with Ryan Blair, author of Nothing to Lose and Kabira Stokes, CEO of Isidore Electronics Recycling which creates jobs for the previously incarcerated, to discuss second chances.


“When I did the tour for ‘Nothing to Lose’ we did it for free.”

“20 years ago a mentor came into my life after I had dropped out of high school and was in a gang.  He gave me a chance to learn about real estate.”

“A mentor came into my life and he was an entrepreneur. He saw something in me the traditional school system did not.”

“Finding your child a mentor is the most important thing you can do.”

“I had to learn vocab, self-study, how to shake a hand.”

“Etiquette and common terms and business practices were the first things I had to learn.”

“I started my first business when I was 20 years old.”

“I started my career in the ’90s in the first dot-com boom. One of my potential investors told me my business wasn’t scalable.”

“I pivoted one failure into a success.”

“I don’t see failure, I see it as a series of learnings if you continue to experiment.”

“I was a tax-payer liability and now I’m an asset.”

“What if there was a program to help take liabilities to tax payers and turn them into assets? People aren’t taught that entrepreneurship is an option.”

“Content is out there. Unlike in my day, the info is there. You have to find it.”

“I was always a writer. I wrote my way out of juvenile hall and into business.”

“I queried every agent out there and eventually I had an agent and then a book deal.”

“I discuss my inner dialogue of how to broker a deal in ‘Nothing to Lose.”

“I saw the reason why I got the opportunity I did and gave back. That’s the fabric of my DNA.”

“Everything that we do has a cause. Once you’ve made enough money you have to make an impact in someone else’s life.”

“I’m passionate about autism because my son has it.”

“Steve Jobs had unique questions for hiring. I have the same process. I’m interested in someone’s personality.”

“I get applicants out of their comfort zone. I play Connect Four or go hiking with them.”

“Is there possibly a person in the organization that you can relate with if you have a past? I’m open to interviewing different people.”

“Craft a great opening letter.”

“Get out there and learn about your target mentor and figure out a way to add value to that mentor. Most mentors make themselves very accessible.”

“Google attempted to help diversify their workforce by hiring those without college degrees.”

“Do not lie and do not conceal. It’s too easy for an employer to find out the truth.” —Scott Dobroski of Glassdoor


“I came out to LA in 2000 with my grandma’s sewing machine but in 2001 the world changed. The events surrounding 9/11 activated me. I landed in the office of City Councilman Eric Garcetti who is now the Mayor of LA.”

“I was suddenly understanding the lack of opportunity for young people and those coming from previous incarceration.”

“My question was ‘how can we help people who are ready to work after incarceration?'”

“Finding a job for someone with a previous past is almost near impossible. They need opportunities for employment.”

“When you show forgiveness, people will rise for a chance to contribute to society.”

“We are an electronics recycling company. They should not be in our landfills. There’s also gold and silver in these electronics. We offer services to manage that waste stream.”

“On the employment side, even if someone has spent the last 27 years in prison there are pathways of learning involved in the business.”

“We’re a B-Corp. We offer that first step for people.”

“Transitional job agencies hire people to get paid and get job ready.”

“We need to grow the economy and help teach employers to accept those with a checkered past.”

“I won’t hire anyone who has a record of identity theft or fraud because we deal with that sort of sensitive information. You have to know where to draw the line.”

“You have to own your story. Either someone is going to define you or you have to define yourself.”

“We ask different questions, like how you deal with making a mistake.”

“No one gets anywhere without the help of other people.”

“If a young person interested in social enterprise or the prison system sends me an email, they move to the top of my list.”

“I talked to everyone I could think of. Most people want to help.”

“Wal-Mart is super inspiring with their hiring practices.”

Chrysalis in LA helps those who are formerly incarcerated or homeless.”

“Isidore is the patron saint of computers.”

Join ‘Dot Complicated with Randi Zuckerberg’ next Wednesday as she discusses Immigration Reform with Todd Schulte of and Lynden Melmed and Stephanie Lewin of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLC. Only on SiriusXM Business Channel 111 at 12pm ET/9 am PT.