He once took a job cutting hair at in Lexington and eventually ended up leasing a location for his business inside a hotel. In his book, he writes that it became common knowledge that a man who worked there was homosexual.
Southerland tells the story about how the man would prey on young boys. When a 15-year-old client of Southerland's broke down and told him what was going on, Southerland said he called authorities.
Southerland said the teen claimed the man had called him to his room to watch a pornographic film.
Contract on life
After hearing a little more detail, Southerland said he knew he had to do something. He called authorities, and that's when he says a contract was taken out on his life.
"It was believed, by those who will remain anonymous (but not innocent), that my wife and I knew a lot more about the behind the scenes stuff than we actually did," he writes.
The Mafia, Southerland said, thought he went to police about a money laundering operation. It took a friend of a friend of a Mafia family to do them a "favor" and call off the hit.
His lease, needless to say, was not renewed with the hotel.
He started his first Five and Dime location with $2,500 and a dream that one day many more would open.
His dream came true with 10 locations from Florence to Danville, and Frankfort to Richmond. He and a friend also have four Cash World check cashing locations.
"I've never borrowed the first penny," Southerland said.
He now tries to help others become financially independent - even if that means they stop being customers of his Cash World services.
He said once a year he and his business partner ask a motivational speaker to speak with his Cash World clients to show them how to stop needing that type of service and how to get financial freedom. That message also is present in his book, saying that if he can do it, anyone can.
His book, which was recently picked up by Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington and Hastings in Richmond, is doling out proceeds to a couple of different causes. Twenty percent of proceeds from sales is going to help less fortunate kids.
Southerland plans to personally take the money to different communities of eastern Kentucky. He said he will communicate with teachers in that area who "know the kids that come in with almost no clothes in the winter time" so he can get them the clothes and essentials they need.
Suffers from dyslexia
One dollar from each book sold will go to an endowment for the research of mental illnesses, which Southerland said has touched his own family.
Southerland, his father and one of his daughters, all went undiagnosed with dyslexia until his daughter started college. Dyslexia is a condition or learning disability that causes difficulty with reading and writing,
He said being able to contribute to research for these type of conditions may help keep someone else from ignoring the symptoms or being misdiagnosed.
Southerland stopped cutting hair 20 years ago. "There wasn't anything about hair that I couldn't do," he said. Now, 10 locations and 36 employees later, Southerland has hung up his shears but not the experiences that made his story worth hearing. His book is available at any of his businesses, Joseph-Beth and Hastings for $19.95.