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Meet Tegan Broadwater

Hi Tegan, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I launched my career as a professional musician by performing at age-restricted, multi-cultural venues in Houston, Texas at the age of 14. I went on to study music at the prestigious University of North Texas before touring and recording with several now-successful artists and producers to burnout. I still loved to write and record music but was tired of paying dues to crooked music industry quacks and abandoned the road to pursue something entirely new. In 2008, I made the most unlikely decision to cut 8-inches of locks and join the Fort Worth Police Department where I would successfully serve 13 years (Narcotics, Gang, Homicide, and the F.B.I.’s Gang & Violent Crimes Task Force). My career was mostly spent working deep undercover and because of that I also prepared and served over 500 high-risk search warrants without any lives lost.

I soon earned a spot in the Narcotics Division and eventually was assigned to the FBI. To salvage a neighborhood held hostage by gang violence and drug trafficking, I initiated a deep undercover endeavor turned massive FBI operation deemed, “Operation Fishbowl” that saw 51 violent Crip gang members sentenced to prison. As a result, I received an award from the U.S. Attorney, was named the F.W.P.D. Officer of the Year and Operation Fishbowl was nominated for the F.B.I.’s Case of the Year. In 2008, I left the P.D. to satisfy entrepreneurial aspirations and founded Tactical Systems Network; A protection, security & investigations firm that provides high-level consults, service, and assessments. TSN’s 60 current employees are proudly comprised of over 50% military veterans. The experience forced me out of my comfort zone once again and taught me a ton about business and even more about people and what motivates them.

In 2013, after much prodding from friends, family, and the media, I authored the book, “Life in the Fishbowl”, detailing my harrowing experiences in the operation, the improbable relationships I garnered, and my cultural awakening amidst gang-infested neighborhoods. All of the profits from my book are donated to charities that mentor children of incarcerated parents. Of those, I have donated much to Hope Farm, a fantastic organization located in Dallas and Fort Worth that has saved the lives of so many sons and single mothers who came from areas plagued with crimes of violence. I often speak at events to discuss my unusual life experiences and relationships garnered via Operation Fishbowl and how they relate to cycles of gang violence, business, systemic racism, racial disparity in our prisons, addiction, security concepts, and other important societal issues. My focus is on positive change for open minds as I recognize we are in great need of both.

In 2016, I re-engaged my music endeavors. I picked up additional instruments, built a studio, and began to write and recording music focused on placements for my own Los Angeles-based tv series. A series based on my life and the people involved with the Fishbowl (which is still in the works). During the last year, it has grown into something even bigger. I am creating projects that include my music accompanied by short dramatic videos that focus on impactful social issues. I also launched a podcast titled, TeeCast – Ideas for the Open-Minded”. These projects highlight interesting people, paths to success, social concerns, mental health, and non-political ideas for human betterment. My goal is to provide a pathway for productive conversation and calls to action. Additionally, I involve an underprivileged kid in each project so they can experience something they may not have otherwise even known as a vocational or creative option for them. Good ideas from open minds can change the world for the better. And because we so rarely hear from these people, I will continue to provide creative ways to bring these people and ideas to light so we can accomplish great things together.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Of course, none of these major endeavors succeeded without obstacles, but I believe your worst experiences teach the most (as long as they don’t kill you). Every major life event had its challenges: I found myself in a band staring down a major label signing, but that just couldn’t get along to see it through. I found myself deep inside Operation Fishbowl for over a year-and-a-half faced with the prospect of busting 51 people. The very people I’d been hanging out with, drinking with, and doing illegal business with. But many of these soon-to-be-arrestees had become friends. I knew it was the right thing to do. Their imprisonment meant saving innocent people, but it sure tore me up emotionally.

I found myself in my company early on, navigating a new and growing business with 80-hour weeks and mentoring my new employees only to discover that the first vacation I took in nearly five years, opened the door for them to conspire and steal a lucrative contract. Throughout all of it, I have a son I love and strived to teach essential life lessons. And I am more than lucky to have a beautiful, intelligent, and caring wife of 20 years with whom I equally credit my successes. Now, my challenges lie in life balance. With my creative and charitable endeavors, my business, and my family, I focus on the important things outside of myself, yet allow no controllable stressors to be a part of my daily experience.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
My newest creative endeavor is to make music-based, socially-relevant video shorts that yield productive conversations between open-minded people. Within each project, I involve an underprivileged kid. This allows them to work in a creative environment and teach them something they may not have otherwise considered. In my latest soon-to-be-released vid, I utilized the services of a talented young man, Darian Hadley. Darian is a kid who graduated from Hope Farm, a program here in Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas that mentors children of incarcerated or murdered parents. He aspires to be a filmmaker and plans to attend NYU film school next spring. His story will be highlighted as a piece of this video. However, the primary focus of this new project is bringing awareness and a call to action for teen addiction, mental illness, and suicide via the true story of Reed Bartosh. Reed Bartosh was a teen I knew through his parents. He was a passionate guitar player and an otherwise quiet and compassionate kid.

Through some hard times, Reed began to withdraw from his friends and school as he became ridden with anxiety. Before his parents could ever recognize it, he became addicted to drugs, starting with raiding his family’s medicine cabinet and digressing all the way to heroin. During this time he was seeing a counselor. His counselor mentioned the suspicion they had that Reed was possibly using drugs to his parents and they immediately got him into rehab – one of the nine he would go through during his 4-year plummet. His rehabs were temporary fixes but only led to more connections. He worked at a restaurant where he ran into other users as well. His mom called me on many occasions seeking help. Two of the ways I was able to try to contribute were that I was able to provide a high-level guitarist to teach Reed lessons.

The other was that we learned Reed had a dealer that was breaking every rule of ethics known to the street. He would hustle methadone clinic parking lots, initiate calls to clients like Reed and even become threatening at times, playing on the fact that he knew Reed would soon be sick enough to succumb to the heroin again – especially when he exited these expensive rehabs. There is so much more to this story, but in 2018, Reed decided to kill himself just after his 19th birthday. We eventually tracked down his dealer and the dealer received 28 years in federal prison for both trafficking and partial responsibility for Reed’s death. This video tackles Reed’s story in a way that makes people root for the protagonist despite getting a glimpse of the final result in the beginning. Reed’s antagonist is presented without a face, as it represents addiction, anxiety, his drug dealer – his demon. My goal is to get this video out to a younger audience to bring a relatable story to their attention, in hopes they will take action to seek help or seek help for someone they care about.

Whether they seek help with addiction, mental health, or teen suicide, we want to grab the attention of young people knowing much of what is out there now is geared toward middle-aged adults. My song, “Blame” features up-and-coming rapper Lou Charle$, and tackles the question we all ask when such a tragedy occurs – Who is to blame? It is a question we may never really know, but we can certainly take a look at what we all could have done, and pass this important message and knowledge on to others with the hope we can save young lives. There are a million cool tidbits in this video project, like: – The cops in the vid are actually the ones who took down Reed’s dealer – The guitar intro and outro of the song is actually a sample I took from Reed’s iPhone after he passed – It’s him on guitar there -The girl playing mom is a friend of the real mom, and whom she suggested play her. She knew Reed almost his whole life. The kid playing Reed is actually my son… who is the chill, ex-athlete, is an extreme introvert, and a very compassionate kid (Reed’s pre-addiction personality).

The clips used in the video (including the very end) are of Reed. “Blame” has already been released as a stand-alone tune and can be found under my artist name (Tee Cad) on iTunes and Spotify among platforms In terms of credits, there are a few local Dallas/Fort Worth people worth mentioning: WRITER/CREATOR Tee Cad MUSIC Tee Cad (feat. Lou Charle$) – Lou is an on-the-rise Dallas rapper PRODUCERS & DIRECTORS Tee Cad (Artist / Writer / Producer) Andrew Newton (Director of Photography and creative) Darian Hadley (Assistant Director / Hope Farm graduate / aspiring filmmaker slated to attend NYU film school in the spring) EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS Rachel Graham Tegan Broadwater SPECIAL THANKS (local businesses that provided us with shoot locations) Blackland Distillery M2G Ventures.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Over time I have learned the best way to leverage good ideas and good people is to merge mentorship and networking into one exclusive group. If you are not a part of a group like this that meets regularly already, start one. The key is to only invite people whom you wholly trust and that agree to limit all conversations to organic topics. Do not invite people who might show up to pass out business cards or spew information about their latest business idea. Vocation is also totally irrelevant.

I enjoy speaking with honest, dynamic people who are diverse and come from varied business backgrounds from bank tellers to charity reps, to students, to doctors or lawyers without a way to distinguish anyone professionally unless it comes up in a conversation. Otherwise, our people are all considered to be on the same level. Communing with others who share your values, ethics, and that come from different walks and vocations will prove more valuable than any formal networking event or mentor you convince to visit with you. It is important to understand that ethical people motivated by helping others will almost always find success. And when they do, you are connected. If they are successful already, you are connected. If they ever need help, you go well out of your way to ensure they are taken care of because they are your people. Trust me, this works.

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