Not Throwing Away My Shot:

5 Entertainers On Breaking Into The Game

To make it as a world-famous entertainer undoubtedly requires some combination of luck and talent. Many of the musical performers, actors, directors, and athletes you admire on television or follow on Instagram are among the best at what they do. But they also caught a break somewhere, took a risk that paid off or got noticed by the right person.

None of that happens, though, if you aren’t dedicated to your craft. All the Entertainers on today’s list excelled at the things they could control, whether that meant countless hours of practice and grunt work, finding the right collaborators, or literally throwing themselves down a flight of stairs.

Read on as five Entertainers reveal the sweat behind their success stories.

Will.i.am

Will.i.am’s creative life is all about dedication. Becoming a platinum recording artist, a technology developer and a cultural icon requires it. That dedication was not only to his craft — in high school, his passion for music — but also to surrounding himself with those on the same track.

The Black Eyed Peas co-leader and technological innovator believes who your collaborators are forecasts where you’re headed. If they are unfocused, the path is difficult. But if everyone is committed, it can lead to success. This mindset has helped lead him found i.am.angel, an organization fostering the next generation of talented young individuals in music and STEM.

Will.i.am dispenses more advice in our video interview.

Monique Coleman

When Monique Coleman was in high school, pursuing her love of acting, her mother pushed her to dive in head first. “You have your whole life to work,” the High School Musical star’s mother told her. One fateful acting class and secret audition led to a commercial gig that cemented her passion and sparked her career.

Finding that passion also led Coleman to find her purpose. Having benefited from the right combination of hard work and fortune, she gives back today as a global youth advocate. As an actress, speaker, host, and writer, she encourages young people to pursue their dreams and see their place in the world and its future.

Watch our video interview with Coleman for more on passion and purpose.

Chay Carter

Like many in the entertainment industry, Chay Carter’s career emerged from a risk. A Boston College grad in communications, she was working a PR desk job at Disney when she realized she wanted to get into producing. She then made the leap, joining up with a young Ben Affleck.

That risk would pay dividends. The experience Carter gained as an assistant, doing dues-paying work of coffee and dry-cleaning runs, has led her to Academy Awards producing the likes of ArgoGone Baby Gone and The Town. It all started with her “willingness to do everything.”

Carter talks about her origin story and love of teamwork in the video below.

Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo

Five years ago, the number of people playing video games for a living was negligible at best. But Benjamin Lupo saw the esports wave coming and bagged a career as full-time Twitch streamer DrLupo. While the boom seemingly happened overnight, Lupo put in an incredible grind to get to this point, working 40-hour weeks while streaming at an equal rate in his spare time.

Lupo says it was more work than he thought possible, which is a lesson in itself. To reach his level, you’re pushing past boundaries you never anticipated. He’s crazy good at the games themselves, but he also has a knack for meeting fans and visibly having fun doing it.

DrLupo looks back at his meteoric rise through the gaming world in our interview.

William Spencer

While others in this list took career leaps of faith, William Spencer made a physical one. In 2009, Spencer’s first skateboarding video part featured a front flip down a 10-stair set near Denver’s Civic Center Park. Sponsorship ensued, but he wasn’t sure skateboarding was his career endgame.

Spencer pursued stunt work, landing jobs on commercials and Disney Channel original series. One day, he got a call from The Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield, who found him online. Now, Spencer risks his neck daily as a stuntman, skateboarder and thrill-seeker. His advice: there are so many people out there vying for the same things you are, so meet as many people as you can.

Hear Spencer tell more wild tales from the set in our video interview.

A Recap of Find Your Grind’s Lifestyle Fair

The Find Your Grind Lifestyle Fair helped students explore their next steps.

This past Fall, hundreds of students and their teachers gathered at The Bay in Lincoln, Nebraska, to participate in Find Your Grind’s inaugural Lifestyle Fair. College and Career Fairs have been around since the 50s, and they haven’t really changed since. But the world is changing, and the opportunities available to students are changing, but the ways they discover those opportunities aren’t. The Find Your Grind (FYG) Lifestyle Fair is a reimagining of career fairs that will help students explore their next steps in today’s 21st Century world. This experiential program will take self-discovery and career exploration at another level by engaging students with industries, companies, colleges, and mentors through activations, networking, and live panels. Unlike standard career and college fairs, the FYG Lifestyle Fair takes on a hands-on approach that’s reflective of the FYG curriculum — preparing students for life outside of the classroom.

The inaugural FYG Lifestyle Fair featured college life networking, 3 live panels hosted by Mike Smith, and activations from local brand partners representative of the 16 Find Your Grind Lifestyles and demonstrated how life inside their institution can create different lifestyle opportunities in the future. Upon entering, students were directed to collect wristbands of their top 3 Lifestyles resulted through the FYG Lifestyle Assessment. Students were then welcome to roam around each brand partner activation, meet with colleges, or attend panels that each represented the Lifestyles.

FYG Lifestyle Fairs aim to inspire students to discover their passions and explore how they can turn them into careers. With a range of activations from building a shed, learning about brand identity, taking a fitness test, visiting a converted van, to learning how to DJ — students had a variety of exploration points and gained knowledge about constantly evolving industries.

Find Your Grind plans to launch a nationwide high school tour of “Lifestyle Fairs” in 2020, re-inventing the traditional career fair experience. The FYG Lifestyle Fairs will engage students across the country in discussions about self-discovery and career exploration and will include career fair-style opportunities in which local businesses, vendors, and strategic partners can participate.

The Biggest Upskill for Educators in 2020-21 isn’t adopting the Virtual Classroom

It’s not about the level of dedication an educator feels and possesses towards their job, it’s the security they need to feel in order to do it.

As the back-to-school season approaches, teachers are experiencing anxiety and stress toward their school’s plan for the 2020-21 school year. With the government pushing for reopenings and schools preparing to resume in-class instruction, plans have been developed around students to ensure their safety. Meanwhile, teachers are questioning the risks involved with any in-class instruction.

Sharahn Santana from Parkway Northwest High School in Philadelphia dreams about returning to the classroom. But with the fear of the virus not being under control, Santana expresses, “I don’t want the measure of my dedication and commitment to be how willing I am to risk my and my student’s lives.”

There is no one-size-fits-all re-opening plan that can be applied to each school. Whether completely remote, hybrid or fully back, there are pros and cons to all different types of learning settings. This past Spring, educators and parents struggled with what felt like an overnight change and shift to remote learning, with parents feeling the strain of leading instruction. The abrupt, new shift toward online learning also challenged equity and access — and overall, battled engagement for students. For educators, who feed off of classroom dynamics and student energy, they are eager to get back into the classroom to reconnect face-to-face and apply the in-class instructional expertise they were trained in to collaborate directly with their learners and transform conversations into magic teaching moments. Districts are reassessing and recalculating plans on a daily basis, while parents and students are anxiously waiting as return dates get closer. And educators remain stressed and anxious about how to make their students successful.

A New Set of Attitudes to Drive Student Success:

In the last weeks of the 2020 school year, resource lists, communities of support, and floods of articles and social media posts circulated the web around coping tips and mental health awareness. With the school year approaching and no sign of the end of the pandemic, it’s going to take more than managing what seemed to be a temporary disruption to teaching and learning. Instead, this is going to take a new set of attitudes. We’ve transitioned and adopted new systems during these unprecedented times, built new routines, and have implemented self-care into our daily life. However, we may need more than a daily reminder to eat right, get enough sleep, and manage the information we’re receiving. As education systems begin to evolve to a “new normal,” each of us will be challenged to meet this evolution in the middle. That’s why the biggest upskill for educators this 2020-21 school year isn’t adopting the virtual classroom, but practicing (and modeling) a growth mindset.

What is the Growth Mindset?

With a growth mindset, failures are seen as an opportunity to learn and improve abilities or systems. Taking on challenges, trying strategies, and committing to that growth means finding a way to make it work. This past Spring, educators have used a growth mindset as a coping skill or a lesson for their students to help with the transition into online learning. But for this 2020-21 school year, a growth mindset will become an everyday philosophy and practice not only to cope with the stresses of the pandemic but to build resilience, adapt to new norms, and act proactively in order to thrive mentally, academically, and emotionally.

Take it from Yemi Amu, an aquaponics farmer, community educator, and founder of Oko Farms, who practices a growth mindset every day in her farm and urban farming education. During a Misfit Educators 101 broadcast of FYG Live, Yemi encourages educators to “approach the work from a place of joy and curiosity.” She explains, “I believe it takes away the overwhelmingness of the whole thing. There is a part of nature that is completely chaotic, and I go with it. There’s so much that is not in my control, and I certainly go with that.” While a lot of uncertainty still hangs in the air, you still have control over your approaches like joy and curiosity.  “I think when you allow your curiosity to take over, . . . you feel you don’t have to get a certain result.”

Educator Show: Growth Mindset in 2020 with Yemi Amu of Oko Farms

Despite the criticism of remote learning and virtual classrooms, this is a time to reform education and build new ways of learning. The immediate response to pivot to a remote setting may have not provided a solid initial answer since most virtual classrooms were designed to mimic traditional face-to-face ones. Online learning can never replace a traditional classroom but the right kind of online learning design can provide a solution to what a student needs today: student agency, ownership of learning, self-directed experiences, and a more personalized learning journey. With educators weighing in on how to make virtual or hybrid learning more successful for their students, educators must remember the power in trial and error — and how failures are opportunities for growth. The change and opportunity begin now. This is the moment not to get too comfortable or fixed into traditional learning settings, to try new ideas like digital programs and virtual experiences, learning tactics, and most importantly create environments that encourage student agency and teach student ownership.

Alongside our Misfit Educators, we understand what it feels like to go out of your comfort zone to grow. In response to the stay-at-home order, Find Your Grind produced FYG Live — live broadcast programming for educators, parents, and students on Twitch that included educator and parent panels, workshops + lessons, and mentor interviews. As a new season approaches, we’ve reflected on our wins and challenges and made adjustments to our ongoing event series, offering high school seniors an 8-week virtual event experience called Future Ready starting in the Fall. More than ever, we want to continue to support you and would like to share the tips we’ve learned from some of our FYG Mentors and our own experience from FYG Live to help in building a successful growth mindset practice.

How to apply the growth mindset:

Use these growth mindset indicators in 2020-2021:

Celebrate yourself! What worked for your classroom last Spring? How can you continue to use that this school year?

Defeating Competitiveness with Career Readiness

These days there’s a larger percentage of companies searching for a candidate who can balance a myriad of responsibilities or the flexibility to take on a hybrid role.

According to Fast Company, with baby boomers heading into retirement and taking their years of institutional knowledge with them, companies are looking to millennials and Generation Z to fill the gap.

This knowledge transfer for newer employees creates a more selective search and onboarding process for versatile, multifaceted employees who also hold a “learnability” factor and lifetime value for the company. In many ways, the competition among prospective candidates is split between how many skills you hold and how much industry experience you have. But according to hiring agencies like Barfield, “even in our candidate-driven, super-tight current job market, hiring managers are getting more selective and siloed in their processes. The majority of the time, they don’t want the generalist with multiple, usable skill sets. They want subject-matter experts, folks with deep, focused, and specific expertise in a desirable area of focus. Depth of specificity is far more desirable than a breadth of experience.”

This doesn’t leave too much freedom for endless exploration when entering the job market — causing stress about the uncertainty about life after education, discouraging the pursuit of passion to settle with “practical” careers or learning from mistakes. Starting early in discovering what your passions and strengths are can increase your college or career readiness. 

“I insist you do not need a college degree to start! Explore your opportunities and don’t be afraid of failure.” — Facundo Diaz

While schools teach and concentrate on academic skills, standardized testing, and academic performance, college and career readiness aren’t based on academic skills solely but also technical and employability skills. Some of these “soft skills” are becoming only more important as technology and automation transform the way we work as well. Post-secondary education that leads to high-range, high-growth, and high-demand careers is no longer synonymous with a four-year Bachelor’s degree. And it doesn’t necessarily promise the immediate and affluent salary one expects when entering the job market. Students also face increased competition for jobs that require less education and further compete with others on their availability while enrolled in school. Companies, especially with the growth in start-ups in the last 10 years, are looking for greater experience and availability versus the completion of a post-secondary degree. LinkedIn reported that with how work is changing, “more than 75% of startups on the list say that a college degree isn’t required for job applicants.”

“It’s beyond the career. You are actually designing the life you want and that, I think, not enough people are encouraged to think about early on.” — Billie Whitehouse

It’s more important now than ever to incorporate career exploration within traditional education. Students today are applying and gaining those experiences through exploring their passions, extracurricular activities, after school clubs, etc. This type of genuine self-discovery and workforce training is personal, enabling one student at a time to find their way. Through volunteering, joining after school clubs, holding down part-time jobs and starting side hustles, students are effectively defining and preparing themselves for what they want to do, discovering what they are good at, and what conditions and industries may be the best fit for them. From gaining relevant skills, students apply this as an educational experience — reinforcing or learning real-world problem-solving and building expertise that academic performance isn’t transferring over to students. 

Find Your Grind is developing multiple pathways to employment by encouraging customizable options to fit individual situations. Through self-discovery, we concentrate on exploring the lifestyle you want and examining your strengths to help evaluate what jobs and industries may be right for you.

TGR Foundation implements FYG nationwide to ensure students are future ready

TGR Foundation, a Tiger Woods Charity, launches FYG’s latest learning product in their Learning Lab and across their satellite campuses

Find Your Grind is proud to announce TGR Foundation (TGRF), A Tiger Woods Charity, has launched FYG for Education at their flagship TGR Learning Lab in Anaheim, California and across their satellite campuses nationwide. With TGRF’s partnership, ten educators are guiding hundreds of students in learning more about themselves and their next steps using Find Your Grind’s newest platform. 

TGRF’s mission is to empower students to pursue their passions through education. They have transformed after-school learning for students by focusing on immersive, hands-on STEM and experiential classes. As TGRF’s main focuses for students are developing a growth mindset and career preparedness, a partnership with Find Your Grind was a natural fit.

TGRF serves a diverse student population – among youth served annually, 85% of participants are from low-income households. TGRF actively recruits and serves students who are historically underrepresented in STEM careers. This is reflected in the high rate of female (40%), first generation (93%) and minority (82%) enrollment in TGRF programs. 

“TGR Learning Labs will integrate the Find Your Grind curriculum to supplement after school programming. Through FYG students will engage in self-discovery and career exploration to help them understand who they are and build a pathway for where they want to go,” said Dr. Katherine Bihr, Vice President of Programs and Education at TGR Foundation. “Through Find Your Grind, we want young people to find their passion, recognize their potential and understand there is a pathway for them that meets their lifestyle. We want them to know that there are mentors and resources around them that can and will support them along their personal and professional pathways to success.”

TGR Foundation first joined Find Your Grind’s beta program this past summer, in which two educators, Saki Hashimoto and Hope Enyart, guided students through an abbreviated version of the FYG learning platform and curriculum. Read on to hear about their experiences using the beta program and what they hope to accomplish with Find Your Grind this school year. 

As an educator, how has your experience been with FYG so far?

Hope: “Find Your Grind has been a nice edition to have in addition to our curriculum. I have been able to have conversations that may not typically have happened in our limited time with our summer students. The nature of our summer programs is short and does not always allow for us to build deep relationships with our students, but FYG has been a tool that allowed for us to connect more quickly.”

Saki: “As an educator, I am enjoying being able to guide my students through the FYG program. I appreciated the training beforehand to ensure my comfort level with the content and website. The website is very easy to navigate for instructors and students. I also really appreciate the FYG staff in their flexibility and willingness to listen to our feedback!”

Tell us about your Beta experience. Did you find value as an educator in being able to pilot and share feedback?

Hope: “It’s not often when we get to test out a product before it’s released and provide input for a more successful end result. As an organizer and a planner, it has been a valuable opportunity to be able to pilot the Beta experience so that we can plan on how best to incorporate it into our everyday classes as well as anticipate the changes that may come in the near future. FYG really took the time to listen to our feedback and have already released updates on comments that were made so I don’t feel as if the Beta experience was just a formality but rather something that FYG really wanted and valued which in turn makes me feel as if I didn’t waste my time testing and sharing feedback.” 

What was some of the feedback you received from students? 

Hope: “Students have been enjoying the topics presented by FYG because it allows them to take a break from the grind of school and testing. It allows them to take a moment to think about what is important to them and realign their goals to what they truly want for themselves – not just what adults want for them.”

Saki: “Students loved the design and format of the website. They really enjoyed being able to focus on the activities and that it was self-paced. I definitely think they will enjoy using FYG, especially when they will be creating accounts and utilizing the website at their own pace.” 

What impact do you think FYG will have on TGR’s students this year?

Hope: “I hope that students will take the FYG experience and learn to think more critically about what adults tell them is normal or expected. Whether it comes to their future, schooling, communities or lives in general, I hope they can understand that things are changing, possibilities are endless and there isn’t just one expected path that everybody needs to take. If college after high school is their path, great. If it isn’t, also great, but think critically about the

why and not just the what.”

Saki: “I think FYG will give our students the space, time and resources to think about who they are as a person, what their values, skills and talents are, and figure out what type of life they want for their future. They are constantly shown who or what they should be, and I think it is important to create that space for the students to be able to reflect on themselves without external influences.”

Find Your Grind is thrilled to partner with TGRF over the next three years to create impact for students across the country.