Youth Motivational Speaker and Teen Mental Health Speaker Plants Seeds at Bucks County Technical High School.
November 12, 2019 – The seniors are arriving into the auditorium. It’s 9 a.m. and I’m back. This auditorium is familiar. I’ve been coming to this school for more than 10 years.
Kevin Gentilcore, Director of Pupil Services is my point of contact. BCTHS was once another client but seeing Mr. Gentilcore annually has become inspirational and what I look forward to now. He’s like my coach – my mentor. I love this man.
I’m out in the hallway watching the seniors come in. I hear words like, “This assembly better not be a waste of time,” which is typical from seniors with fixed mindsets. Nonetheless, I always get inspired when I hear these words from high school students.
In the hallway awaiting the seniors to arrive for the high school motivational assembly…
As a youth motivational speaker, my job is to plant seeds. I’ve learned in 28 years that planting seeds is really all I do. It’s all I have control over.
The younger, egotistical Jeff Yalden used to think he was changing the world. I’m not. I’m planting seeds. It’s more fun thinking this way too.
At 48, you’d think I was too old and can’t relate to young people anymore. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I relate more now than ever before. I’m more present and having more fun. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I don’t need validation anymore. I care more about the teachable moment.
The seniors take their seats. Mr. Gentilcore is sitting in the back. He knows me, no introduction needed. The students don’t care about introductions. If they want to know me, they can google Jeff Yalden or find me on social media @Jeff Yalden.
Youth Motivational Speaker Needs No Introduction
Introductions make me anxious. This isn’t about me. It’s about the students in front of me.
“Let’s go!”, I think to myself. I’m ready to speak and plant seeds. I’m excited.
From the moment I start, I calculate that roughly 90 percent of the students are giving me their undivided attention. The outlying 10 percent take a minute but quickly become glued and focused.
As I am speaking and I have the attention of 350 seniors, I’m feeling seeds being planted. Words are being heard. I’m getting comfortable in front of my audience. Yes, after 28 years as a youth motivational and teen mental health speaker, I still get nervous speaking in high school assemblies.
An hour and a half later the high school assembly is over.
As the seniors exit the auditorium, I’m standing outside in the hallway in case any student wants to shake my hand and say, “Thank you!” or wants to thank me for my service as a Marine.
Students line up one by one thanking me and telling me how much my words meant to them. With each hand I shake I’m very careful to look each senior or staff member in the eyes, acknowledging that I’m appreciative that they listened. I never want a student or anybody else to walk away thinking, “Jeff Yalden doesn’t care about me.” I’m present and try hard to make sure every handshake includes eye contact, and I say, “Thank you for listening.”
They listened (growth mindset). I did what I love. I spoke to high school students in a student high school assembly. I planted seeds. I love this. It’s what I do, but they chose to listen.
Students Want To talk
It always happens that a few students want to talk privately.
Today, it was five seniors who weren’t expecting to have their emotions moved or shaken. That’s good. A lot of seniors walked out, shaking my hand saying, “Dude, you made me think today!” Good.
Two young ladies I talked to dealing with some heavy stuff. Emotions, thoughts, feelings, their future – lonely, disappointed and dealing with burdensome thoughts. These are typical conversations I have with teens.
Two Things I believe about Teens and their Upbringing
- Don’t put teens in positions where they have no control.
- Don’t ask teens to have to make adult decisions or to assume adult responsibilities.
I spend about 30 minutes addressing these issues before turning them over to Mr. Gentilcore, knowing he will do the right thing and bring this to the attention of the school counselor.
I am proud of these seniors for sharing. You can’t keep it in forever. It’s okay to talk and what I do is give them permission to address what they’re feeling in their heart. It’s part of planting the seeds I’m talking about.
I also quickly met with three boys who wanted to thank me. They told me how impactful my words were. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.
Why Teens Don’t Open Up
Teens need a trusted and significant adult in their lives, but very few actually have one in place to help guide them through life’s sometimes choppy waters. This is alarming, it’s very common today. This should be concerning to adults who have teens in their lives.
Teens don’t trust adults – even their teachers, counselors or parents. They’re afraid to talk and don’t know how. They’re afraid to be judged and they have built up walls.
Teens are also afraid that their thoughts and feelings will not be validated – and that the adults will only try to fix what they are going through, when they know deep down that they need to face these issues themselves.
What can our teachers, coaches and parents do to show the kids in their lives that they care? Be present. Be real. Share your story so they know you understand what they might be feeling or what they’re going through.
Teens Ask Two Questions
The two questions all teens need answers to are…
- Can I trust you?
- Do you care about me?
When you show up in a child’s life every day, you answer these questions whether you realize it or not – by your gestures, the way you walk and talk – by your presence and your smile. These things speak louder than words. Be mindful of the message you are sending.
So, the high school assembly at BCTHS is over. Jeff Yalden leaves the building after a hug and a THANK YOU to Mr. Kevin Gentilcore.
High School Assembly Ends
Another great visit. Another great school assembly. Another day speaking to students and PLANTING SEEDS.
Now it’s up to the seniors to do something with the seeds that were planted.
Thanks again, BCTHS. See you next year.
Who is Youth Mental Health Motivational Speaker Jeff Yalden
Jeff Yalden is highly regarded as one of the top mental health experts in the world primarily focused on education and school communities working with teens, school administration, counselors, teachers, staff, parents and community leaders.
He’s a four-time best-selling author including his latest book, TEEN SUICIDE: The WHY Behind Today’s Suicide Epidemic.
His Podcast: Mental Health and Motivation continues to attract thousands of new subscribers every month for his direct talk and influence on today’s mental health conversations for teens and adults.
You can learn more about Jeff Yalden by visiting his website – www.JeffYalden.com. You can also learn more about Jeff’s Suicide Prevention Online Course for School Communities and Parents, Jeff Yalden University, and follow Jeff on YouTube and Social Media by clicking on the links below:
For more information, please visit www.JeffYalden.com or click on any link below:
Join Mailing List: Text YALDEN to 66866
1. Let It GoYou are only one person. You can only do so much. If you can change a situation for the better, do so. If you can’t, let it go. Show up every day and do the best you can.
2. Ignore GracefullyDon’t participate in drama or outside noise. Don’t listen to other people who put you down or don’t believe in you or your dreams. Ignore those who fail to validate you or are just plain rude. Live a life that is empowering to you. Be graceful in how you respond, act, speak and do. Remember, it’s their issue. Not yours. And if people walk out on you, LET THEM GO!
3. Give It TimeWe’re connected 24/7, 365 days a year. Time is at a premium and there never seems to be enough of it. Choose to bring back time by being mindful and present. Choose to bring back time by being mindful and present. Although life is about being in the moment, we must also have patience in the process of living. Perfection doesn’t exist. You matter. Perfection doesn’t matter.
4. Don’t CompareWe live in a world where everyone is trying to live a life compared to what they see on social media, and it can become an addiction. What you are accustomed to is embellished, filtered and photoshopped, depicting an image of a lifestyle that isn’t real. People are making it look like their lives are perfect and yours doesn’t measure up. Don’t get caught up in other people’s fake lives. Put the phone down and connect with people your heart to theirs.
5. Breathe & Stay CalmIt will be OK. Just breathe. Stay calm and don’t act on emotions. You don’t need to answer that email or text right now. Take time for yourself. Have balance and boundaries. Have a trusted friend that you can talk to and vent and know they’re supportive and nonjudgmental. Don’t ever be afraid to seek a counselor or therapist to learn tools for coping, communicating or problem solving. Remember, they work for you. Just breathe. It will be OK.
6. You Are ResponsibleThe most powerful two-letter-ten -words in the English language: “If it’s going to be, then it’s up to me.” Tough times happen. It might be your fault, or it might not – but understand this: How you move forward from anything is always your responsibility. What are you going to do? Don’t be a victim. Choose to be a victor. Don’t be bitter or angry. It does no good. Choose to be better every day. Be responsible in your behavior, your attitude and the choices you make.
7. SmileLove will always be stronger than hate. A smile will always be better than a frown. You’ll feel the smile yourself and your smile will brighten someone else’s day. It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. If you can’t find a reason to smile, try this: Choose three things you are grateful for and reflect on being appreciative. Replace expectations with appreciation and gratitude.
Life Isn’t EasyLife isn’t all rollercoasters, unicorns and rainbows. Expectations leave us disappointed. We live in an imperfect world. Things aren’t always fair nor are they black and white. Don’t get caught up in the complications of life. You can only do or be in control of so much. This can be overwhelming when you see it all in front of you. Relax. Breathe. Simplify. At the end of the day, you can’t change people, places or things. You can control you and how you live, act, and respond to people, places, and things. Live with grace, forgiveness, and acceptance. Learn self-care and advocate for your own best mental, physical and spiritual health. Be influential. Be the light for others. As Gandhi said, “Be the change.” Live in a way you wish others can live their lives. Thanks for letting me share my 7 Rules for Life.
Teen Mental Health Motivational & Educational Consultant: Jeff YaldenJeff Yalden is highly regarded as the number one Teen Mental Health Speaker in all of North America. Jeff is a Suicide Crisis Intervention Expert and Suicide Prevention Trainer working with hundreds of school communities every year. He’s an Amazon Best Selling Author of four books, including Teen Suicide: The WHY Behind Today’s Suicide Epidemic and BOOM: One Word to Instantly Inspire Action, Deliver Rewards, and Positively Affect Your Life Every Day! His podcast, Mental Health & Motivation: The Unlikely Life Coach continues to attract thousands of new subscribers every month for his direct talk and influence on families and teens. Since 1992, Jeff Yalden has traveled to 50 states and 48 countries delivering his message, “About Life.” From 2005-2011, Jeff was a celebrity teen and family life coach on MTV’s hit realty show MADE. As a celebrity teen & family life coach, Jeff gets the heart of the matter helping teens, young adults, families, and communities in their struggles together. He’s a Gulf War Veteran and a two- time Marine-of-the-year recipient 1991-1992. He was Mr. New Hampshire Male America, 1990. Every year over 1 million people are left inspired by Jeff Yalden’s inexhaustible energy that permeates after he speaks. Jeff has an online suicide prevention course for school communities, parents, teachers, staff, and teens. Check it out HERE. For more information, please visit www.jeffyalden.com and www.thejyf.org PURCHASE Jeff’s new book, Teen Suicide: The “Why” Behind America’s Suicide Epidemic Link to Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/jeffyaldenfoundation Click HERE for school resources. Join Mailing List: Text YALDEN to 66866
Jeff Yalden Inspired by Conversation with TeensRecently, I visited Sequim High School in Washington State. Sequim is a beautiful place along the Dungeness River near the Olympic Mountains – and whenever I am in a spot like this, I feel grateful for the opportunity to take it all in. The Sequim school community was amazing. One of the things I truly love about my full-day school programs is that I get to meet and really get to know the students. They are so open when we talk, and that’s inspiring. Because I have more time, I learn more about them – what they think, how they feel – and I am able to get an understanding of their emotions by engaging with them. By listening. The students are enthusiastic, and I could tell that they had so many questions they didn’t seem to know how to ask – but once you gain their trust (and their respect), they are eager to talk. What happens next is absolutely amazing… During one conversation in this VIDEO, a young lady asked me a great question: “What makes you valuable?” I thought about it and told her that what makes me valuable is that I’ve been able to take my life experiences and choose to be a victor through my circumstances instead of a victim. It hasn’t been easy – but in getting to know myself, it’s an honor to share what I have learned in order to plant seeds of wisdom, hope and knowledge in our youth. Her next question was incredibly thought-provoking, deep and intense: “If you lost all of what makes you valuable, would you still be valuable?” Holy Cow! What really makes us valuable? It’s different for everyone, but what hit me with this question is that I don’t need my life’s experiences or even my career as a youth and mental health speaker to feel valuable. I get it, but I don’t think I always understood that. It’s my passion to inspire our school communities, talking about mental health and life and helping to make sense of it all for young people and families – but I don’t need the applause to feel valuable or worthy. What makes me valuable is how I feel about who I am – my heart – being a kind, respectful man of influence and dignity. I was amazed by this exchange and could go on and on about it and what it meant to me as well as to the young people involved. It was remarkable getting to know these teens and speaking heart-to-heart with them. I was inspired. I hope you enjoy this video and share it. The next time you engage in conversation with teens, remember this: Teens don’t care about titles, research or statistics. They care about the answers to two questions…
- Do you care about me?
- Can I trust you?
Who is Jeff Yalden?Jeff Yalden is highly regarded as one of the top teen mental health and suicide prevention experts in the world. He works with teens and adults, school communities and mental health professionals. He’s a four-time bestselling author, radio show host, podcast host, online course creator, non-profit foundation founder, and advocate for mental health. Teen Suicide Prevention Online Course for Schools and Communities: CLICK HERE For more information about Jeff Yalden, CLICK HERE. BUY Jeff’s new book, Teen Suicide: The “WHY” behind America’s Suicide Epidemic. Check out Jeff’s Facebook page HERE.
I was so far north that I saw cars with amphibious tracks on them as they drove through the snow. No kidding – and one of them was a Smart Car.
While I was about to get ready for my day, I came across a VIDEO that a nonprofit called Sandy Hook Promise put together by several family members of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings. These folks have gone on a crusade and are making an incredible difference in the world. I applaud them.
Trigger warning: Here’s the video – but it could be tough to watch:
The video is powerful, and I am still trying to process it – but because of this, I started thinking: What difference are we making in the world?
Listen, maybe you haven’t gone through a gut-wrenching tragedy like Sandy Hook or Parkland, Columbine or any of these mass school shootings. Maybe you’re a mom, a teacher, a coach, a businessperson – a dad, a friend – a youth speaker – a pastor – I don’t know. Maybe you just wake up, go to work and do your thing every day – and the next day and the day after that. That’s beside the point.
It doesn’t matter what you do. My question is simply this: What difference are you making in the world to make it a better place?
You might be thinking, “Well – I really don’t have a platform to do much.” OK. Or, “Well Jeff – I’m really not in that position. Well, Jeff – I’m really focused on my family…”
Good. I understand.
I am a big believer in the “think globally, act locally” course of action. We can make a huge difference right in our own little corners of the world. Think about what you can do – right here, right now.
Maybe you are a parent. It’s important to put your family first. Let’s say you go to your child’s sports events. I think you can make a difference in the type of parent and fan you are by being supportive of everybody else’s kids too. And stop screaming at the referees if you think they made a bad call. You can choose to be objective and understand that the refs have a tough job to make calls on the spot and they are not always perfect.
But the bottom line is that we should support and applaud our refs and our coaches – and we honor the work that they are doing every single day. I think that’s making a difference in the world.
What about if you work with other people every day in your job? I think your attitude and your behavior make a difference. For those in education, you’ve got young people under your watch every single day. You are making a difference by being supportive and encouraging, knowing that your words and actions make a huge impact in the life of a child.
Everybody has an opportunity to make a difference in the world – and this means you. It doesn’t have to me a monumental thing, either. Think about your sphere of influence – your words, your actions, your attitude and your kindness – being a person of selfless service and acting with grace.
I don’t know what this looks like for you – but you don’t need to overthink the issue. When you walk into a restaurant, hold the door open for somebody. When a car stops to allow you to cross the street – wave at the driver. Say “thank you.”
When I was in Baudette, I was standing in line in a convenience store, getting an Arnold Palmer (half iced tea and half lemonade). I was the fifth person in line, so I watched the four people in front of me as they got rung up. As the cashier said, “can I help you” and “have a nice day,” not one of these people so much as said “hi” or “thank you.”
Not one of these people – grownups who should know better – said anything.
If we’re looking to make a difference in the world, my friends, it’s sometimes a simple nod, a smile, a “thank you” or “have a great day.” That’s it.
These simple gestures have a ripple effect – radiating outward from you and into the lives of others.
Now go out there and make a difference.
This blog post has been adapted from an upcoming episode of Jeff’s podcast, Mental Health and Motivation: The Unlikely Life Coach. Click HERE to subscribe.
To find out more about The Jeff Yalden Foundation, go HERE.
ORDER your copy of Jeff’s new book, Teen Suicide: The “Why” Behind America’s Suicide Epidemic.
To book Jeff for your school, event or conference, call Betty at 800-948-9289.
SERVE A PURPOSE GREATER THAN SELF“Here’s my question: What are you doing in life that makes your community a little bit better? What do you do? What is your service to a purpose that is bigger than you? Think about that.” Every day, Jeff asks himself the following three questions:Is my life meaningful?
- Is my life meaningful?
- Is my life fulfilling?
- Is my life rewarding?