Forging Your Inner Diamond (Author Interview)

Interview with Tevin Ali, Motivational Speaker & Author of

“Forging Your Inner Diamond”


Forging Your Inner Diamond looks like a great self-help guide.  What can you tell us about it?

Great question, let me provide some context. Figuratively speaking, getting back up after you have been knocked down is one of life's greatest challenges wouldn’t you say? Overcoming loss of purpose, loss of job, grieving the loss of a loved one, dealing with sickness, recovering after a physical accident or mental trauma, finding our place and identity in the world. We all fight silent battles. What do you do when you breakdown, when you feel stuck, when your back against wall? You don’t just wake up one day and be like “Ok I’m getting over this.” You take tangible steps to get you from a place of hopelessness to one of hope. My goal three years ago was to write a book of self-help told through a story that can help serve as a source of inspiration to remind us that we have the power to overcome our life adversities.

In writing this book, I realize that everyone’s adversity, low points, and moments of breakdown are different, and we all navigate through the struggle differently. I didn’t want to write a book that promised a ‘one size fits all’ model for overcoming adversity because I don’t believe one exists. And just to emphasize, in no way am I a psychologist or therapist providing advice, but I do believe in storytelling and the power it holds to authentically inspire us and empower us to overcome our challenges on our own merit.

With that in mind, I wrote a book of inspiration in the form of a story of a young woman who encountered adversity and moments of breakdown and present the steps she took with the help of a guide to get her out of the breakdown and onto a path of breakthrough.

Forging Your Inner Diamond is unique in that it’s a blend of adventure fantasy and self-help told through a story. My book is a novel that follows a young female protagonist named Serena. Who is struggling through recent events in her life. She is captivated by a mysterious mountain shrouded by fog and drawn to climb to its summit. Along the way, she meets a wise Guru, the keeper of the mountain, and elemental forces that guide her on her journey to the top. She doesn’t know what she will find at the top, but it becomes interesting what she learns along the way to help her overcome her life struggles. In the book, I share four key lessons to depict that Serena’s story is a tribute to how we all have the power to overcome our life adversities and transform into a ‘diamond in the rough’ if we believe in the transformation process it takes to forge a diamond.

How long did it take you to write Forging Your Inner Diamond?

3 years to write, edit, and publish the book.

That’s an amazing cover.  Can you tell us a little about it?

I’m quite proud and fascinated by the cover as well. In my book, I share four key lessons that helped me overcome life challenges time and time again. The cover holds many hidden secrets and symbolism. The four main lessons presented in my book are actually spelled out on the cover through the four borders of symbols.

Being passionate about communications and the origin of human communication, I pay tribute to one of the first human alphabets, The Phoenician Alphabet. The symbols on the cover are Phoenician Alphabet, that spells out the four key lessons I share in the book. The silhouette of the human on the cover is inspired by the character Avatar Aang from Avatar the Last Airbender, one of my all-time favorite shows. The human is a symbol of us all continuously working toward Forging Our Inner Diamond(s). The gold color and font style chosen for the title words ‘Forging Your Diamond” was intentionally done to give the cover of the book a magical and storytelling vibe which goes with the overarching story told in the book. And the word ‘Inner’ on the cover isn’t in gold lettering, rather it is in from of a blob of black symbolizing coal and symbolizing that growth, change, and garnering inner strength is a messy and non-linear process.


What inspired you when writing Forging Your Inner Diamond?

Let's face it, life is tough. Probably even at this moment, as you are reading this book, you might be going through a breakdown or something extremely hard and heavy in your life. In life, just like the cycle of the seasons, we cycle through a series of highs and lows. Since I was a kid, I have always been a keen observer and highly emotionally intelligent. And what always fascinated me was how we all go through so many low points that can leave us in a defeated state, yet we find the strength to take a step forward and go on and face the day. No matter how many times we fall, are stepped on, or stumble, we’ll get back up and keep walking somehow. We give ourselves hope in a hopeless time. We learn, grow, and strive to be stronger than before.

This journey of transformation I observed in us all I also saw in the journey a piece of coal takes to become a diamond; hence this inspired me to write and come up with the title of my book, Forging Your Inner Diamond.

The ongoing example of overcoming adversity that continues to inspire me was watching my Parents and Grandmother immigrate to this country from Trinidad & Tobago with not a dollar in their pocket yet persevered to give my brother and me everything we needed to succeed. They sacrificed and worked day and night jobs to ensure I had an education they never had an opportunity to obtain. And while I faced my struggles and setbacks in my journey my success is built on their sacrifices. I wanted to share the wisdom that got me through the low-points to become a success story to others in hopes others find their way, overcome their life mountains, and become a ‘diamond in the rough’.

What will readers get out of your book?

Inspiration, motivation, and self-empowerment are a given. I hope, at the very least, one line of wisdom syncs in the reader’s memory and becomes a mantra or source of inspiration in their life from time to time, especially in the low moments and challenging times we are living in. If my book can accomplish that with anyone who takes the time to read and reflect on the book then it has done its job, and I’m eternally grateful.

Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Forging Your Inner Diamond?

The actual writing. Initially, I thought I would write a self-help book but it dawned on me one day that I want to approach this book the same way I approach my motivational speaking, through storytelling. As a result, I aimed to write a book that presented self-help concepts told through a fictional story as I believe concepts stick better when we learn them through a story. When I was writing this book, writing to strike a balance between storytelling and sharing wisdom/self-help concepts that the reader can resonate with was particularly challenging.  


Can you tell us a little about your background?

I grew up in an immigrant, low-income household. My parents and my grandmother immigrated to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago to give my brother and I an opportunity for a life and education that they never had. They came here without a dollar in their pocket, and for the first few years in this country, our family lived in someone’s garage. 

Growing up, seeing my family work multiple jobs on minimum wage to make ends meet was eye-opening for me. Whatever pennies they were able to save, every penny leftover from a paycheck was invested into giving me an education. I was raised on a sole principle: education is something nobody can take away from you. I grew up valuing the potential of education to take us out of poverty. With that engraved in my mind, I did well in school and earned a near full-ride scholarship to attend a prestigious university. You would think my life would be set after that right? But being the first in my family to go to college and being immersed in a big-city environment I wasn’t fully aware of what I was walking into.

Navigating through college became a struggle for me, and ultimately, I dropped out of college after my second year having lost my scholarship and struggling with self-confidence. With my first attempt at college cut short, I returned to my hometown in Palm Beach, Florida, feeling defeated. I soon became filled with negative emotions of worthlessness, guilt, and shame. Every family wants their children to succeed. In my experience, the stakes are higher in immigrant, low-income, and first-generation households as you are the sole shining beacon of hope for your family to take them out of poverty. I entered into a period of hopelessness for about two years of my life. Even though I ‘failed’, I came to realize that failure is not final. In addition, I saw that my family kept sacrificing for me, which gave me the drive to attempt college again. This time I approached it with a different mindset, thanks to the lessons I learned in life.

Since then, I went on to break generational barriers and become the first in my family to graduate with a college education alongside my brother. I was named the State of Florida ‘Student of the Year’ out of 800,000 college students in the state on the merit of achievements in experimental learning, overcoming adversity, and community impact/leadership. I also earned a nationally competitive $20,000 scholarship out of 3,400 applicants nationwide to attend graduate school at Johns Hopkins University. I then earned my master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University and was recognized at the commencement for having the ‘Best Capstone’ in my graduating class.

Additionally, I’ve been featured in national media such as The New York Times and the US News & World Report Magazine on the merit of overcoming adversity, leadership, and a rooted commitment to empowering others. I stumbled upon motivational speaking as an undergrad and to this day I continue working as a motivational speaker for the younger generation as I discovered my purpose to help other struggling students through their life challenges by sharing the wisdom on how I went from being a struggling low-income college dropout to achieving the highest of successes in higher education.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

Readers can visit to see my work as a motivational speaker and work with me to speak to their audience. The target audience that I speak to are college students and high school seniors, but with this book and the timeless lessons it shares I’m more than welcome to speak to adult groups. Watch out though, because I will make a diamond out of you 😊.

Please support or gift a copy of my book to someone who is going through a dark time and could use some light:

Amazon (Paperback & eBook) –

Barnes & Nobles (Hardcover) -