Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own hopes and dreams we have to be reminded that others have them too. And no matter what they are, they can be just as fierce about achieving them.
This was brought home to me last week, when I was invited to give a speech to a group of at risk teenage boys in North Vancouver.
The Boys Club Network‘s mission is to help young men become good men by providing Hope, Opportunity, Positive Mentorship and Education.
It was founded by two amazing friends, Walter Mustapich, vice principal at Windsor Secondary School in North Vancouver, and Jim Crescenzo, drama teacher at Vancouver’s Templeton High. Walter and Jimmy are lifelong friends and looked out for each other growing up in East Vancouver during the 1970s.
BC Province spread celebrates the Boys Club Network
I remember back when I was in high school one of the most powerful experiences I had was Mr. Flynn’s Entrepreneurship class in Grade 11. To pass the course each student had to find an entrepreneur from the community to come in and give a guest lecture. Here I got to cajole with older people (an age group I felt more at home with than the kids my own age, who mostly thought I was a nerd) and learn business from some very impressive wealth creators. There is no question Flynn’s class contributed to what CEO.CA is becoming.
Back to the Boys Club Network: Walter invited me to give a speech and I told my story about starting an Egyptian-outsourced financial web design business with absolutely no experience, and then stumbling into a career that I am super passionate about.
I told them that over time ambitious goals are not only possible, they will happen if you remain focused on your visions and keep a positive attitude.
I kept believing that interviews with unbelievable entrepreneurs like Frank Giustra, Dave Lowell, or Robert Friedland could happen, and they did.
“What the mind can conceive, it can achieve,” Napoleon Hill wrote.
“So choose your thoughts wisely,” I told the teenagers.
I was nervous but excited as I drove to my Boys Club Network gig; I did not know what to expect.
The motley crew of 40+ teenage boys, ranging from 13-18, some short and scrawny, others big and goofy, most with a little bit of acne, and a couple with questionable moustaches, each shook my hand and introduced themselves at the beginning and end of the afternoon.
One boy asked me for coffee to discuss starting a business. I said, “Sure, where abouts do you live?”
The young man replied in a soft but proud voice that he was homeless.
Charity is first a gift to yourself.
I felt ten feet tall meeting those kids who hopefully learned something from some of my mistakes.
In the days since I have made Boys Club Network a few introductions to possible speakers and even one firm that helps charities scale.
I want to see Boys Club Networks in every school district (Contact Jim, Walter, Laura or me if you can help, we would really appreciate it).
Giving back, seriously, is the spice of life.
The second insanely powerful thing I did recently also involved teenage boys.
On Saturday I watched my 15 year old step brother Josh Pinton’s West Vancouver Highlanders Grade 10 Basketball Team win the BC Provincial Championships out in Langley.
That’s Josh in the middle, the darker haired boy on one knee hanging on to the trophy
My pregnant sister Jillian and her husband Brian joined me and we took our seats in a crowded bleacher full of friends, families, and players from the various teams already eliminated from the tournament.
I was shocked to see the row of teenage boys in front of me nearly fight to the death for stuffed animals being thrown into the stands courtesy of Telus, the event’s sponsor (I do appreciate Telus for sponsoring the tournament and give them props as a company for supporting youth and sport like this).
Tensions escalated when McDonald’s free french fry gift certificates became the next give-away.
The game was extremely tight as both teams fought hard amid chaos and plenty of screaming in the stands.
I am hugely proud of my younger brother Josh.
When I visit him I always think about how big he’s getting, but on the court with the other top grade 10 players, he was undersized.
That did not stop the young point guard, Josh Pinton, #3, from continuously defending against an aggressive opponent, while setting up some sweet plays and scoring a couple of key points.
This is why we have such a difficult time beating Josh on the court outside of our father’s house, pointed out our brother-in-law, Brian.
It was inspiring to see Josh as such a sportsman.
He even helped a player from the other team get up after falling to the ground.
When my older brother Adam and I were playing sports, it was a competition to score penalty minutes; we would channel our teenage angst by being the biggest shit heads we could.
“F— you, Ref!”
Back in our seats at the game on Saturday, my pregnant sister Jillian lamented over a bad call.
“No it wasn’t,” an oversized woman sitting behind us snooted, clearly rooting for the other team.
Jillian, ever the Humphreys, turned around and said, “Actually it was,” sternly.
I laughed as I watched her for the next few minutes, clearly boiling..
Why do we get so worked up over stuff? (I love you, Jill!)
In the final minutes of the game my bro fought through an impressive defense and got off a shot just as he had been checked. Fatefully, it landed in the net and was enough to win the game!
West Van picked up their first provincial basketball championship since something like 1972, the days when my dad was balling around West Van gym courts.
Josh Pinton takes a piece of net home after scoring the game winner in the BC Boys Grade 10 Basketball Provincial Championship game, Mar 1, 2014
“Josh has restored glory to our family,” commented Adam Humphreys, my older brother, who watched the game via live stream from his apartment in New York City.
These are little things, but they have big importance. They give us a glimpse into the human condition.
Despite being homeless – I can’t even imagine what that is like – the kid from Boys Club Network still had hopes and dreams. He wants to better his situation.
My brother scoring a basket at the buzzer was an achievement of a hope and dream of another kind: Is there a kid playing any sport who doesn’t silently see himself scoring that goal in a Stanley Cup final, powering a touchdown in a Super Bowl game, or shooting the winning basket in a tight, hard-fought game? Is there an entrepreneur who hasn’t dreamed of earning billions with his or her business?
I think we’ve all been there. But we often forget. So I’m extremely grateful to the Boys Club Network and to my family for reminding me of what’s important and why we’re doing what we do.