Qaadir Islam, life coach and owner of Universal Concepts, says that words make people. Islam has been working with clients dealing with addiction, trauma, and other issues for more than 30 years, and in that time, he has been convinced of the power of language to both lift people up, and hold people back. “Definition gives direction,” Islam says.

Islam’s coaching practice, Universal Concepts is located at the ACES incubator. There, he meets with clients to help them manage their anger, cravings, emotions, hatred, and teach them how to control their emotions. During the trainings, Islam cautions against feeding appetites they can’t afford, violence, and most importantly, self-abuse. “The number one crime is self-abuse,” Islam says. “How we use ourselves or allow ourselves to be used.”

He says that the incubator has been helpful in reaching and assisting more clients. He is able to do group trainings in the Emily Grisom Community Room, and in nearby community centers.

Demand for his services have increased markedly over the years. In addition to the sessions at the incubator, he also works the District Attorney’s office to provide classes for students. He has also been an instructor with the City of Albany’s workforce development program. More recently, he helped launch the Schenectady WIN (Work in Neighborhoods) program, where youth are get their GEDs alongside construction and trade training and certification. The program has just graduated its fourth round of students, who are now qualified for good paying jobs. All of this is paired with nontraditional life skills, vital to helping steer these youth in the right direction, he says.

“The goal is to get these young people a Ph.D. – not 6 years of theory, but p.h.d. “proper human development.”

Islam has a TV show on Channel Albany called “Words Make People” where he interviews local leaders and shares positive local accomplishments. He also has a community radio show every Sunday at 4pm on 107.3 FM. “We want to amplify the good – whoever is doing it.”

Prior to founding Universal Concepts, Islam was a Residential Treatment Coordinator at Berkshire Farms for 12 years. He also worked in the New York State Department of Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.