'Escaping the Odds': Chicagoan went from prison to podcaster

He was looking for success, but what he found landed him in jail. Now, he’s a successful businessman and podcaster.

Aaron Smith's story starts on Chicago's South Side. He grew up in two neighborhoods, South Shore and Bronzeville.

"I have been in a gang so-to-speak since 15-years-old, started selling marijuana which eventually led to heroin, which eventually led to a 12-year federal sentence," said Smith, owner of Escaping the Odds Media.

He graduated from Columbia College in 2004, but took a detour. He was convicted of drug conspiracy and went to prison when he was 28-years-old.

In 2019, he was released at the age of 37.

While behind bars, though, he was doing his homework and discussing his next move with fellow inmates.

"I would talk to these men about business, I'd read the Wall Street Journal and I'm like, wow, you know, society has no idea that these men exists," Smith said, as the idea of a podcast came to him. "’Escaping the Odds’ is about financial freedom, entrepreneurship and also physical freedom as well."

With the podcast "Escaping the Odds," Smith interviews successful businessmen and women who were also formerly incarcerated. His goal is to change the narrative through storytelling and be a role model.

"If someone can see someone that looks like them, even where they come from, now they can actually make better decisions because they say ‘Hey, if he can do it, or she can do it, I can do it as well,’" said Smith.


"Escaping the Odds" can be found wherever you get your podcasts, and it's now in its third season.

Smith is also writing a book and starting a trucking company.