Podcast: EP 7 What We Learned from Our Time In Maximum Security Prison with Corey McCarthy

I’ve been really excited to share this story and this guest with you for the past few weeks. As you probably know, I had the opportunity to visit the maximum security prison called Pelican Bay in California for three days recently, working with inmates around transformation and entrepreneurship through an amazing program called Hustle 2.0.

One of the incredible people I was there with was Corey McCarthy, a former incarcerated person himself, who has since transformed his life. He has become a brother, and I love the stand this man takes for his fellow brothers, and I am so grateful to have such an epic human in my life! Corey lives in Buffalo, New York with his girlfriend and three children. He is the founder and owner of McCarthy I.E., a company that specializes in the restoration of historic churches and architectural homes. At age seven Corey was attacked by a stranger in a public place which altered his life significantly. One traumatic event led to the next, the result being years of addiction, visits in rehab facilities, jails, mental inpatient services, homelessness and eventually an extended stay of seven-plus years in N.Y.S correctional system. Defying the odds, Corey has endured and overcome. He embraced a new narrative of gratitude and hope. Because of the changes he’s made he has built a strong business with a family of employees. He has built a loving home. His life’s work is most certainly the time he spends on a daily basis doing whatever he can to help others change their narrative, anyone who feels damaged, dirty, alone or just plain not good enough. This is where he derives true meaning and purpose.

This episode is our conversation recapping and discussing what we experienced while at Pelican Bay, and truly what we learned about the worth of every human, how important it is to understand people in relation to what they have been through, and how we really are all one human race in need of love and belonging.

To live in a self-devaluing way goes against our nature.
— Corey McCarthy



  • Corey's experience of trauma at an early age that impacted the rest of his life (3:05)

  • The power of taking responsibility for what you have done (8:25)

  • How to forgive yourself (11:05)

  • Why having nothing can be such a valuable experience (16:40)

  • What Emily's experience of safety in a max security prison was like (17:25)

  • How people show up differently when you show them appreciation and value (23:25)

  • What serving time in prison does to someone (34:40)

  • What shifted for Corey to allow him to create a business and family after prison (43:27)

  • Why Corey keeps going back to prisons to do transformational work (46:49)