033- Finding Your Calling & Your Voice with Mike Smith
In this episode, we speak with Mike Smith. In elementary and high school, Mike was the rowdy kid who never sat down. He was actually prescribed some ADD medication and told he was a troubled kid but he was just full of energy and life. He always looked forward to memorable moments and fun experiences during the day. When he joined college, his basketball coach took all that energy and harnessed it in the right direction.
Before he started his nonprofit and speaking stuff, he was in the social service industry. He was working with homeless and runaway teenagers helping them get back to school by providing resources. After some time he realized his community didn’t have a place kids wanted to go once school got out. This motivated him to come up with a plan.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
He had always worked with youth since he was in college, from church organizations to social worker organizations. He believes being around kids really keeps him young and on his toes and that’s what he really likes. Growing up, he never knew what exactly he wanted to be but it was certain that he wanted to work with kids and help them. Mike feels he is a great product of adult relationships with his teachers, coaches, and people who were there for him when he needed them most. This influenced him to want to play the same role in young people’s lives in future.
In school, he was always asked to speak and tell his story at the basketball gigs, youth groups, and camps as well as many other places. Mike Smith Live started when he was working as a social worker and starting running his nonprofit at the same time. He was short of time and so he knew if he could speak to kids once or twice a month, then he wouldn’t have to pay himself from his nonprofit. He started speaking out of the space of wanting to speak to kids about what he was doing but he also wanted free time to be able to focus on his nonprofit.
Mike’s college basketball coach saw his potential more than Mike saw in himself. He was the first adult to hold him as accountable as anyone could hold another person. He made him see he wasn't more important than anyone else. The coach quickly became a very important person at that point in Mike’s life. Although he was tough to Mike, the coach helped him have his priorities straight and have obligations and stick to them. He was most definitely a father figure to Mike when he was in college.
FIRST SPEAKING GIGS
Since he had emails for a few principals he’d either met, seen, or known, he emailed every one of them. This earned him two gigs which were basically for exposure since the pay was peanuts. He continued emailing schools and luckily, a school in Chicago reached out. He was able to earn a decent amount of money from this which he invested in a website and a video. He printed out 500 DVD’s and he hand wrote a note to the 500 principals marketing his speaking ability. This idea helped him make his career.
WHY PEOPLE INVITE HIM TO SPEAK.
Part of the reason people call Mike for speaking engagements is because he doesn't look like the typical youth speaker with tattoos and snapbacks. He’s always dresses casually. Also, the message he conveys is pretty relevant to most schools because that’s what kids need to hear. His language is mostly slang and different every time, and schools appreciate the rawness of his message. Kids love to see his work since he is involved in a-lot of other businesses besides speaking.
He created a video series called The Habor which is the most watched show in schools in America. It's a resource for teachers to show their kids how to start conversations.
Mike’s core message when he’s speaking is letting people know that they have to stop wishing and talking and start doing. He believes the people who make a difference in the planet have one thing in common which is they stand for someone or something other than themselves. In this age of social media, it's got to be about a bigger story and idea and someone other than you. You don't have to be a straight A student to make a difference in your school but just sit by the kid who’s having a rough day and help them out. Mike wants kids to understand this early in their lives. This is his main mission.
It all began when he met a student in his school, Calvin, when he was in senior year and calvin was a freshman. Calvin was totally different from Mike. He struggled academically, emotionally, socially, and in his senior year, Mike took Calvin under his wing and focused all his attention on him. He fought for him throughout the year and they’ve kept in touch ever since. 2 years ago, Mike and his wife went to their home town and picked Calvin up. He now lives with them. Calvin is such a huge part of Mike’s story and possibly the beginning of Mike’s story. This has taught him that you can love people who are different than you.
SKATE FOR CHANGE.
Mike had built this indoor skate park and nonprofit organization and had a lot of skateboarders. Since he was always asking the community for help, he thought of changing that up by giving the kids a chance to give back and help as well. They then started skating around giving out socks and tried to do what they could to help the homeless. The kids were of all ages from 20’s, to high school kids who were 14. Most parents wanted their kids to do this so much that they would call the kids out of school to let their kids go for the skating challenge. Because of this, Mike had to move the cause to the weekends and they would skate around every Sunday. This has been going on for 6 years now.
He finds The Bay as a little hard to describe. They started a little skate park in a mall in 2010 and today it's a 40,000 ft2 warehouse. It's a skate park, coffee shop, concert venue, art gallery, resource center, and they also do music and art mentoring. They're also working on a program where the barristers in the coffee shops are women who were victims of domestic violence or sex trafficking and also homeless teenagers. They make the best of the best coffee.
Mike is overly proud of The Bay but believes it could never be amazing as it is without the help of the amazing team and community.
If you're stuck and want to make a drastic change, it's paramount to identify what you don’t love about what you're doing and at the same time, identify your strength. Write down everything in a journal and create a plan. But unless you're willing to drastically change your own world, you won't be able to personally change. Invest in your own world first so you can have an opportunity to go out and make a difference.
Mike has a big tour coming up from September 5th called Find Your Grind Tour. It covers almost all the 50 states and thousands of schools will be present.
DESCRIBE THE STOKED LIFESTYLE.
The stocked lifestyle world be when you find that purpose and passion and you wake up every day and you do that, you're going to wake up stoked. If you wake up stoked, the world is going to be a better place off for it.
Websites: Mikesmithlive.com, Findyourgrind.com.