Building Unity: Leading a Non-Profit from Spark to Succession

Prosserman, Michael 'Piecez'

  • Build an organization that is growth-minded, values-based, and innovative using the six steps to “responsible impact.”

    At age 16, Michael ‘Piecez’ Prosserman, a professional b-boy (breakdancer), completed a school project that would grow to become a hip-hop-inspired mental health charity with global reach. Through a process of continuous discovery and reflection, Prosserman and his team grew UNITY to the point where it benefitted over a quarter of a million young people. In Building Unity, Prosserman breaks down the six steps to discovering “responsible impact” and building an organization that is growth-minded, values-based, and reflective of the needs of its community. Using stories of his own evolution, learning, and growth as a leader over 15 years, Prosserman parallels the creativity found in breakdancing with the innovation needed to build a sustainable non-profit.

    Six steps to discovering “responsible impact”:

    • Spark is the inspiration, the big “why,” the motivation to wake up and do something.
    • Build is the testing ground to clarify ideas, understand community needs, and challenge assumptions.
    • Trust involves building the culture of your organization, leading by example, and hiring people with dreams. Trust sets the stage for growth by empowering awesome people.
    • Grow is about finding the right size for your organization to create a responsible impact.
    • Evolve is knowing when to step back so others can step forward by building a succession plan that leaves your organization in good hands.
    • Re-Ignite is building from past experience and lighting the next spark within yourself.


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  • Michael ‘Piecez’ Prosserman found his passion for break­dancing at a very young age. By the time he was three, Michael was already standing on his head while watching Saturday morning cartoons. Michael is a university instructor, mental health advocate, and professional speaker, specializing in start-ups, team culture, fundraising, and succession. He is the founder of UNITY Charity and EPIC Leadership. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

  • Published: September 2020

    ISBN: 9781770415638

    Dimensions: 6 x 8 in.

    Pages: 288


“A powerful and personal biography, with a lesson for all of us on each page. Brave, poignant and practical, an inspiring road map for a new generation of leaders.” — Seth Godin, author of This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See

“He endures high levels of anxiety around every corner, the son of a schizophrenic mother and a father suffering from Parkinson’s. To describe him as an average student would be charitable and with three fused vertebrae in his neck, the notion of an athletic career should have been a non-starter. ‘Piecez’ defied the odds and became world renowned in the breakin’ world (break dancing for the rest of us). Perhaps a hero to some. That is not what defines his alter ego Michael Prosserman, who has stepped up and built Unity, a non-profit that uses breakin’ to reach teens in underserved communities, building values, self-esteem, and leadership. His philosophy, embodied in his new marvellous book, can be summarized in one line: "Our work was about contribution not attribution." His humility and honesty make Building Unity a worthy read. A great reminder for all of us.” — Norman Bacal, best-selling author of O’Dell’s Fall and Breakdown

“Mike Prosserman lived by the motto think big, start small, and scale up to establish Unity Charity. It is extraordinary that he began this life trajectory at 15. I’m sending you a Unity hug. Remember: I was the Grandma.” — Sharon Johnston, wife of former Governor General David Johnston, a.k.a. Unity Grandma

“I don’t know Mike P. I don’t know Unity. But when I started reading this book I couldn’t stop. Ready to make your dent in the world but don’t know where to start? Right here. This book. I think it will leave you chomping at the bit to get going like it did for me.” — Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Awesome and host of 3 Books podcast

“Unity shows the deepest forms of community strength and the hardships of what a child of culture can be capable of due to the exact facts of growing up in a street/urban culture. A must read and a story to be motivated from.” — B-boy Thesis, Knuckleheads Cali, Massive Monkees

“This is a handbook to spark the critical thought process of how one can be of service to their community. Through a step-by-step process and shared narrative, the reader can learn how to turn their thoughts into actions! Great work!” — YNOT, Rock Steady Crew

“Vulnerability is key to this text; it shines through in Prosserman’s personal stories, infusing this self-help book with relatable knowledge that many will be more willing to absorb, as it’s coming from a place of respect and modesty . . . For anyone working in a non-profit leadership role, they would certainly benefit from reading it.” Long quote: “Vulnerability is key to this text; it shines through in Prosserman’s personal stories, infusing this self-help book with relatable knowledge that many will be more willing to absorb, as it’s coming from a place of respect and modesty. I also haven’t mentioned the beautiful book design yet. It’s a paperback with flaps, and includes custom graphics of little characters break dancing their way through paragraphs. I love how this book doesn’t take itself too seriously, and for anyone working in a non-profit leadership role, they would certainly benefit from reading it.” — I’ve Read This blog

“Michael Prosserman has written, in his authentic voice, a timely book about the importance of determination, creativity, and vulnerability in leadership . . . and in life. A grassroots triumph!” — Sharon Avery, President and CEO of Toronto Foundation

“The world we live in is transforming before our eyes in extraordinary ways. To help our divided communities begin to heal, we need people like Mike Prosserman. Mike’s vulnerability and passion for his work comes through in every word. As you read his unique story, you’ll witness the kind of perseverance we all wish for when tackling our own challenges — and you’ll be surprised at how much you learn about hip hop culture along the way. Read this book and get inspired to make a difference in your world.” — Ken Blanchard, co-author of The New One Minute Manager® and Servant Leadership in Action

“An inspiring testimony from a super kind and generous leader — who knew what he wanted from the ripe young age of 15 — as he smiles through the tears of Building Unity. He hasn’t changed one bit while always looking forward! My heart and eyes smiled and danced while reading. Thanks, Mike!” — Michie Mee, award-winning Canadian hip hop icon and actor

“Mikey ‘Piecez’ Prosserman’s journey and dedication to making this world a better place through hip hop is truly inspiring. And if there is anything I took personally from reading Building Unity, it’s that applying the b-boy mentality to life can help your career from being an innovator, creating something from nothing, and constantly evolving. A true testimony that hard work never goes unnoticed.” — B-boy Ronnie, Red Bull Dancer, SuperCr3w

“As a 41-year-old b-boy, I never liked to read until I got into Building Unity. The lessons that B-boy ‘Piecez’ explains are so on point, I wanted to call him after every chapter I read to pick his brain even more. I am truly inspired by his stories about his family, how he got his name, and his non-profit, and every time I think about Building Unity it reminds me of an owner’s manual. Building Unity is an educational tool for the breaking scene.” — B-boy Wicket

“‘Piecez’ pieces poetry and practical and people perfectly. Turns tragedy into tales and tales into tell-all tips of Building Unity — the charity and the movement. This is an on-its-head ‘how to’ with enough tools and tricks for anyone wanting to spark and build and grow a non-profit from idea to go. And enough rhythm, room, and groove for you to lead as only you can. Authentic, vulnerable, uplifting, spinning, effortless, epic. Just like Prosserman — one of the hardest working servant leaders I know.” — Daniele Zanotti, President & CEO of United Way Greater Toronto