When Duncan Kirkwood self-published his book, Rerouting: Resilience Tools and Tactics, he never thought that it would have been so widely supported and distributed. The book was released on March 26, 2020 . Since that time it has sold nearly 4,000 copies and been purchased from over 10 countries, by individuals, organizations, and schools.
In December of 2020 a major publishing house, TCK Publishing , offered to relaunch the book under their publishing house in six different languages around the world.
The magic word to the book’s success is resilience.
“Resilience is the ability to overcome setbacks and to find the peace love and joy that life’s journey brings,” explains Duncan. “Young people need to learn these concepts now more than ever. With suicide rates rising over the last couple of decades in middle school students, high school students, and college-age students, we need to help young people find inner self-love to combat these dangerous trends. And now COVID, where people are feeling isolated, and hopeless at rates we haven’t seen in years. With the paradigm shift that young people can have after reading Rerouting: Resilience Tools and Tactics, we can begin to turn the tide on some of these issues.”
Born and raised in Buffalo, he is the son of Marvell and Iris Kirkwood. He and his siblings, brother Toby and sister Marlaina grew up in the Central Park area on Manhattan Ave. He attended school 61, Olmsted, and Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. After graduation he went on to study at Alabama State University majoring in Communications and Public Relations. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Arizona. Since graduation and returning to Buffalo, he explored several career paths – from community activists (Black Lives Matter) to politics.
Duncan also served in the Alabama Army National Guard from 2008 – 2016. In 2012, while serving, more Soldiers died from suicide than in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a response, the military expanded their resilience program and trained thousands of officers like him (Lieutenant Kirkwood) to become Master Resilience Trainers.
Duncan ultimately transformed his military resilience training into a book – Rerouting: Resilience Tools and Tactics to help everyday people and young people to better meet life’s challenges.
“After the last election, I had some time to really think about what was next,” recalled the young married father of three. “I had no job at the time and was just doing some consulting work, so I really had the space and energy in my world to finally start writing my book. Once I leaned all the way in to selling my book and speaking, it turned into a really successful business. Also, I still do some education advocacy, and still try to use my book as an avenue to help build young people in the community and in other communities across the country.”
Over the last year Duncan has conducted over 60 presentations and workshops on resilience to colleges, high schools, and organizations all over the country. Some notable groups are Wake Forest University, the State of Texas Charter School Association, Albany State University, and a group of professional basketball players managed by Big Game Management out of Los Angeles.
Buffalo Business First caught wind of Kirkwood’s massive impact on youth after he partnered with a local community leader to donate 200 copies of his book to the youth participating in the Mayor Brown’s summer youth work program and ran a feature story on his accomplishments.
Most recently Duncan has partnered with McDonald’s restaurant owner-operators across Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The McDonald’s owner-operators purchased 750 copies of Duncan’s book for youth at 5 high schools across the two states. Duncan will also be providing citywide resilience training in Wheeling, WV, and Erie, PA Johnstown, PA and Pittsburgh, PA along side two mayors, and several elected officials to launch this powerful youth initiative. During this initiative, the City Council of Pittsburgh officially named May 4, 2021 as Duncan Kirkwood Day in Pittsburgh. Montgomery, Alabama followed suit on May 14, 2021 when the Mayor of Montgomery named it Duncan Kirkwood Day in Montgomery.
Duncan is currently in the early stages of partnering with Medaille College to turn his book into a course that will be taught for college credit at Medaille. Duncan feels that he is incredibly blessed to be able to help people across the world to learn to become more resilient and live a life of peace, love and joy.
One of the most prestigious schools in Buffalo, Nichols School, has contracted with Duncan to provide resilience and mentor training for their mentors of color in their effort to build an inclusive and diverse culture. This incredible partnership has resulted in a huge uptick in students of color applying to Nichols and a powerful culture shift among the students of color.
Finally, Duncan was asked to serve as the lead speaker for Think 4 Kind and speak to 80 schools across Utah and Texas (in person) over the 2021-2022 school year.
Duncan is impacting young people across the country, and he started is all right from Buffalo, NY.
And what does the future hold for this visionary young entrepreneur?
“On the speaking side, over the next three years I plan to become one of the top motivational speakers in the country and sell over 100,000 copies of my book. As a business owner, I plan to expand my community engagement business into 10 other states over the next year and replicate the great work we have been able to do here in New York. But who knows, every time I have had a plan for my life, God has blessed me with something greater than I could’ve ever hoped for!”