The Birmingham Times
Four years ago, Justin “Jet” Miller had no car and no job. He didn’t know what he wanted to do or which direction to take. At his house in Forestdale, sitting in a chair in the driveway, he said to himself there had to be more to life than what he was doing.
Today, Miller, 26, is founder of Living Out A Dream (LOAD), a nonprofit organization that pushes people to find their God-given purpose in life and live it out. His company, which he describes as motivational, delivers its message through videos, mixtapes, quotes, or anything else that can inspire.
He remembers the turning point in 2014, the same year for founded his organization.
Talking to God
“I had to take some time out, … cut off some negative people, cut off some negative friends, [cut off] some negative things,” Miller said. “I sat down, looked up to the sky, and … said, … ‘God I want to live out a dream.’ [I] just went outside and just started talking to God, … telling Him I wanted to live a more meaningful life, [telling Him] I needed something to call my own.”
He kept saying he wanted to live out a dream for about two weeks before the acronym LOAD came to him. Since then, he has come a long way from being jobless, frustrated, angry, and depressed—and he is making a difference.
Now, Miller hosts a satellite radio show, delivers motivational speeches, creates T-shirts, and runs fashion shows. He created an Instagram hashtag for #LOAD and announced that he would start a movement to support people who are living out their dreams. Approximately 50 people used the hashtag, which Miller also designed on T-shirts. That led to him being on stage in September 2014 at the now-closed 7 Lounge in Fairfield, where he did a spoken word presentation to get his message out. He also spoke at two of his former schools, Bessemer City High School and Western Hills Middle School.
The Bessemer, Ala.-born-and-raised Miller sought other ways to help others, and he turned to one of his passions: fashion. He started doing fashion shows, including one at the Birmingham Museum of Art that featured T-shirts, hoodies, long-sleeve shirts, hats, and other clothing items.
While working at an eyewear store, Miller looked at a rack of T-shirts and said, “I can do that.”
“I wanted to move my life,” he said. “I was sitting there writing out different ideas, and I was like, ‘Whatever I put on these T-shirts [has] got to be fly. … I have to put something on [them] that’s gonna touch people.”
Miller’s first logo was different and touching, and it garnered such a great response that he sold the same design for a year. Emblazoned on those T-shirts was the name of his organization—the L was a lightning bolt, the O was the Earth, the A was a pyramid, and the D was in a solid, bold font.
People jumped on it, he said: “I was able to sell it and probably could still sell it [today].”
Miller wanted to create something that was bold and made a statement, and that’s what the LOAD logo T-shirt did.
“All my ideas and all T-shirt designs come from a place where I was really inspired to just drop something that [had never been] seen before,” he said.
“For example, ‘All Heart No Handouts’ came from a place where I was having a conversation with myself and was like, ‘You know, over the year it’s just been all heart, it’s just been all grind, it ain’t been no handouts.’ Nobody really handed me anything. Nobody really invested into me. … I didn’t come from rich parents, rich family . . . I started with all heart, no handouts.”
Another passion for Miller is motivational speaking. He felt called to speak on stage, and thought he could do that through the spoken word. For one presentation, he wrote out and tried to memorize his spoken word piece, but he forgot parts of it and came up with something on the spot that made it shorter. He managed to get through the performance, but he ultimately ran off stage and was upset.
After that disappointment, Miller changed his approach, deciding that he could craft a more inspirational, motivational message.
“I was like, ‘I’m just gonna speak from the heart, speak on some things I wanted to talk about. That just converted over to motivational speaking,” he said. “I love being in front of people. I love talking. I love the feeling and everything I get from it. That’s when I knew [motivational speaking] was my purpose.”
Words into Action
Miller comes straight from the heart during most of his speaking engagements, and most of his points include aspects of his life. He does more than talk, though: he puts his words into action.
This year, Miller and his fiancé, Cortne Standers, used the money they raised from T-shirt sales to help two students pay for their school books.
“We donated that money to help these college students live out their dreams because, again, I don’t want to just tell you,” Miller said. “Any way that I can [help], if that’s supporting [someone’s] business, if that’s helping another individual get closer to their dreams, that’s something we want to do. It can be money. It can be time. It can be information. Whatever I have that I can give the people, that’s what I’ll do.”
Miller also shares his message via his satellite radio show, Smash Bros Radio, which airs on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. (To listen, download the Smash Bros Radio app on iTunes or Google Play.) One of the owners invited Miller for an interview, and two days later they offered him his own show.
The LOAD Takeover Radio Show, during which Miller interviews people who are living out a dream, has not only helped him but also benefited others. For some, it’s their first live interview and exposure.
“It was just a dope time. It was a time when God was like, ‘Jet, don’t quit. See, I’ve got something for you. Don’t quit.’ I … [had] never done anything like it, but when you’re on the journey, you have to learn how to adapt. I just got into it, got on the radio and started doing it. It’s been a year now.”
Going beyond the fashion shows, T-shirts, motivational speeches, and radio interviews, on Saturday, December 8, Miller released a mixtape with four motivational “songs” featuring some of his short inspirational speeches.
“That’s another way to motivate people,” he said. “Some people may not want to sit there and watch me on the phone, but they may want to listen to me on the beat. [The mixtape format] just helps me expand, expand the brand, expand to a different way of motivating people, give it a different vibe.”
Miller, who plans to get married in September, wants to help as many people as he can: “Overall, I want to start a boys-and-girls club called the LOAD Center, where anybody can come in and we’ll help you find your dream, help you get connected, … especially the kids.”
His objective is to expose young people to different experiences early in life and not wait until they’re 20, 21, 25 years old and “still trying to find out what they want to do.”
Miller acknowledges that his work won’t be easy, but he has no intention of slowing down: “If I stop, I [stop] helping other people live out their dreams. God gave it to me, so I know I [can’t] stop.”