Kevin Mincher, founder of Unstoppable Teen, is on a mission to help 1,000,000 young people experience a better quality of life. That’s a whole lot of zeros.
So exactly how does Kevin help the yoof of today and what does he think the government *could do better*? Time to go back to school with our favourite Blades supporter…
#1. So, what’s your favourite word?
#2. What gets you up in the morning?
A dogged determination to make the world a better place. I feel that teenagers are often overlooked by political parties and under-represented largely because they have no voting power. In their adolescent years, young people are often demonised because they can start to rebel – but someone needs to stand up and fight for their rights. That someone is me. I want to help education reform and help our schools give students the skills they will need to experience a brilliant life in the modern world.
What will they need in 10 years’ time to lead a happy life? Yes, of course, they need to be able to read and write, but so much time and taxpayers’ money is wasted on irrelevant things they don’t need to know. That means there’s no time left in the curriculum or money left in the budget to give our youngsters what they actually need to know. Teenagers don’t lobby and they can’t vote. Someone has to be that voice. That’s where I come in.
#3. What do you truly, honestly think of social media?
I truly, honestly hate it. Probably because I don’t know how to use it properly.
#4. Good thing we love it then. Kindles or books?
Books. I just like the feel, the smell, I like being able to see where I am in the book and reference the material later, like a visual marker. I don’t want to electrocute myself in the bath either.
#5. What do you think is the biggest challenge to the industry right now?
The traditionalists. Closed-minded people who are locked into an outdated education system and its predispositions. Policy makers who don’t have the vision to reinvent schools and bring them into the modern world. Politicians who live in fear of unions and voters who won’t bring about the change that’s required in case they’re not re-elected. The information that kids need is out there – the adults are the ones stopping them from receiving it.
#6. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a footballer. I was in Sheffield United’s youth programme at 11, kicked out at 12, re-joined at 13, ended up getting a back injury at 17. I was quickly over the disappointment because I discovered a passion and a unique mission I wanted to fulfil that was over and above being a footballer.
#7. The Blades’ loss is our gain, Kevin. What led you to your current career?
There was an inner sense of purpose that I needed to contribute something and make a difference. I experienced a series of uncontrollable events that led me to that conclusion. My parents split up when I was a teenager. That led them to seek ways to overcome the pain, heal the wounds and move forward with their lives. There were self-help materials scattered around the house – that got me interested in personal development and self-improvement. My parents had big missions to fulfil themselves, which undoubtedly made me want to contribute something important too.
Mum was a NHS health visitor; she wanted to have a job that helped people. She can be quite fiery and often spoke out against social injustices. Through her career she helped hundreds of young families in deprived communities. Her caring nature and desire to make a difference with people in need was an inspiration to me. Dad was a school teacher and then a brilliant sports coach who specialised in working with young people. Dozens of the teenagers he worked with went on to have successful pro careers competing on the international stage. So he inspired me too. Mix my parents’ genes, the caring nature, fighting against social injustice and the teacher, and you get me.
I also got lucky in my teen years because I was signed by a football club that had a holistic approach to improving performance. Sheffield United had the first full-time sports psychologist in the Premier League, a nutritionist, a sports scientist, video analysis and other systems in place that are now commonplace in pro sports. We weren’t just kicking a ball around. The manager and coaches realised there were many different ways to improve performance over and above just dong the obvious. That had a massive impact on me.
In fact, Tony Robbins came to Sheffield United and held one of his first ever UK seminars with the team as a free session in return for the PR and publicity to help promote his public seminars. That exposed me to something new again and helped me evolve my philosophy.
#8. Can you use your favourite word in a sentence?
Yes. Unstoppable Teen is on a mission to help one million young people experience a better quality of life.
#9. Now can you make it rhyme?
Unstoppable dundoppable – that’s how you rhyme unstoppable!
#10. Kinda. What advice would you give to your younger self?
I think I would say have the faith that it’s all going to be ok. I had so much uncertainty in my teenage years; there was great chaos from the ages of 13 to 17. I would want to have said, “You’re OK, and you’re going to be alright. Trust yourself, have faith in yourself and the universe. It’s going to work out fine.”
#11. And so it has. What’s the best thing anyone’s ever done for you?
Impossible to pick between my parents really because they both give me way more love, support, encouragement and wisdom that anyone could ever reasonably expect. Whatever I do, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, is viewed without judgement and without prejudice. They genuinely provide the most unconditional love that I have experienced. Everything I do comes from that. Anything is possible for a young person who is given that foundation. You’re secure and feel free to pursue your goals without fear of being judged or belittled by those you care about most.
#12. May everyone experience that kind of support. Tell us, what’s been your ‘career-defining’ moment?
Haven’t had it yet – that’s what keeps me motivated and keeps driving me forward.
#13. If you won a big award of some kind, who would you thank?
First up would be my parents and my family. They provided the values and foundations that stood me in good stead.
Then I would thank all of my teachers and my team members. They helped me learn important lessons and provided the support I needed every step of the way. You have to have a good team because all success is a team effort. Sometimes it feels wrong just for one person to receive an award – everyone has contributed to the results. The award would have to be for my family and Unstoppable Teen – not for me.
#14. Teamwork makes the dream work. Can you give us a timesaver of the day?
Switch off social media. Switch off auto-notifications for email. Only check them at the beginning, middle and the end of the day. Perhaps more importantly, when you go to bed, know what your top three priorities are for the next day, then when you wake up, pursue those priorities with gusto.
#15. Where do you see your industry in 24 months?
I think the state education system will largely be the same, because it’s still being run by people who seem committed to implementing out-of-date policies. More teachers are likely to be stressed and leaving the industry. And of course, there’s the skills gap in terms of what the kids will leave education and transition into work with. 88% of businesses leaders already say school leavers are not ready for the world of work. If fundamental changes aren’t made to what we teach and how we teach the youth generation, our communities and economy are likely to deteriorate.
We know that communities and the economy are changing significantly. With the effects of globalisations, the rise of robots, AI, and other factors, the skills gap is likely to widen. With little innovation in the national curriculum, our economy and community outcomes will probably get worse before enough pain is experienced and real change is brought about.
On a more positive note, what’s happening in the world of online learning is very inspiring. As access to broadband spreads around the world, we’ll eventually arrive at a point where almost everyone on the planet will be able to learn almost anything, free of charge, without leaving their home. That has the potential to do great things for equality of opportunities and progression for humankind.
#16. Where were you 24 months ago?
I was living in Sheffield where I still am today, and I was just beginning to experiment with embedding essential life skills into the school curriculum. I was starting the first projects where I was training teachers, rather than working directly with students. Since then, we’ve learned much about how schools can help their students master evidence-based strategies that scientists have discovered lead to better life outcomes. I want to create a self-sustaining model that schools can implement without us being there.
#17. What’s an interesting fact about your company?
We’re in our 20th year and to date, we’ve helped more than 300,000 young people through 250 schools colleges and universities.
#18. Hi-5 to that. If you could have a 24-minute Skype chat with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
The Secretary of State for Education. The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP. I’d ask her to do the right thing. Stop worrying about votes, modernise the education system. I’d ask her to consider what our young citizens will need to master in order to experience happy lives and re-establish our great nation in the modern world? Then I’d ask her to create an education system that helps young people master those competencies. If she needed help, I’ll gladly volunteer.
#19. What’s one word you’d want people to describe you with?
#20. Would you mind taking a selfie for us?
Here you go.
#21. What’s your favourite Twitter handle or social media campaign?
I like campaigns that give followers a free educational series or challenge which is designed to help participants improve their results. This approach removes cost barriers, has the potential to build your following quickly, generates goodwill and helps the world become a better place.
#22. Another hi-5 to that. What’s one quote that defines your work ethic?
“Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none. Coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over scepticism.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
#23. Abraham, you rock. What’s been the best part of your day?
This conversation actually. It can be easy to get so caught up in the business of the day that I rarely get time to reflect. Every gap in the day can be filled with stuff on my smartphone. Your questions have prompted me to take time out and reflect.
#24. We aim to please. Finally, anything to plug?
If you are a teenager and you want a brilliant life, or if you want to help a teenager have a fantastic future, you’ll want to subscribe to our free newsletter and weekly podcast because they are packed with simple insights you can use to deal with common youth problems and achieve more than most people think is possible. We make it fun and inspirational – I think you’ll like it!
Or if you’re like me, and you’re more of a book person, you’ll want to check out my new book – the Ultimate Youth Lifestyle. It’s a quick read that outlines the 7 steps any teenager can use to experience more success and happiness.
How we wish we’d had a Kevin when we were 13 and ¾. If you’ve been as inspired as we have, Kevin can be contacted on (UK) 0845 834 0848 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin will also be hosting free webinars throughout the year for parents of teenagers, so if you’d like to know how to help your teen make the next twelve months their best yet, you can join in and sign up for free by clicking here.