Josh Shipp’s childhood was no fun.
“Foster homes, sexual abuse, teenage drinking,” Shipp said. “I was left in the hospital at birth.”
As an outgoing class clown Shipp said he was often just told to shut up.
“People gave up on me,” Shipp said. “That is what I refuse to do now, give up on a kid.”
Shipp is the first of three speakers scheduled for the Glacier Valley Rotary Club's 2012 Pillars of America Speaker Series.
Shipp grew up in Oklahoma and has lived in California for last 8 years.
“It’s funny that now I make a living running my mouth off,” Shipp said.
Shipp said that finding a mentor is one of the most important things a youth can do. He said he leaned this first hand from a teacher who helped him channel his talents.
“’You don’t need to shut up, you just need to use it differently,’” Shipp said the teacher told him. “First time I’d heard someone say that to me.”
Shipp said his teacher taught him that his “ability make my friends laugh and grab their attention was a gift and skill that I needed to use with responsibility and care.”
“Particularly with young people you have to earn the right to be heard,” Shipp said. “Just because I’m endorsed by Harvard doesn’t mean the youth care.”
When talking with youth, Shipp recommends just being oneself.
“Authenticity trumps being cool,” Shipp said. “If they don’t buy you, they will shut you out. If you are nerdy, use that. If you are funny, use that.”
And don’t just focus on your successes, Shipp said, also be open and admit mistakes.
“Parent’s greatest desire is to have their teen open up to them,” Shipp said. “You want your kid to be vulnerable and open up. Adults need to model that.”
Students look at the success story, not at the origin of the success story, Shipp said.
“Steve Jobs made mistakes just like me,” Shipp said. “Showing vulnerability increases our influence. Our imperfections make us human. It is our humanity that makes us influential.”
Mentors offer youth perspective and wisdom, having gone through certain situations before and knowing the outcome.
“It does not mean they are not smart,” Shipp said of youth. “But (they) have only been on the planet for 17 years.”
All teens live in an at risk environment, Shipp said. They will make mistakes.
“If you remove pain, if you remove mistakes, if you bail them out, you are robbing them of this opportunity,” Shipp said.
Shipp is host of the TV Show called Jump Shipp. He authored "The Teen's Guide to World Domination."
For more information visit www.joshshipp.com
The Glacier Valley Rotary Club hosts its Pillars of America Speaker Series on April 25 at 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall. Admission is $35 per person or $90 for three. The price includes a catered lunch.
Tickets are available at Hearthside Books locations and at the door, depending on availability.
• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.