December 31, 2009

Something To Add In 2010 from Earl Hipp and General Colin Powell

I love this time of new beginnings and re-visioning ourselves for the year ahead. Those fresh intentions most always carry the promise of becoming a better person in some way. Should you be inclined, I'd like to suggest an option for your consideration. How about taking another small step in your progress toward being a man-maker in some young guy's life. I say "another small step," because if you're reading this blog, you have at least taken a first step.

It just so happens that January is the ninth annual occurrence of National Mentoring Month. While the need for mentors is great, mentoring a young guy is a huge step in personal commitment to the cause. It's not appropriate for everyone, but if that is the call you hear, 2010 might be a good year to pursue that possibility.

HOWEVER, In the Man-Making book I talk about a "continuum of involvement" for men. On the low involvement end is doing nothing. That work starts with simply being aware that young males are watching you as a way to learn about manhood. All men are involved with that level of man-making, whether they know it or not. If you choose to do anything different because you know boys are watching, you're in the game!

From the "doing nothing" form of involvement, you could step up and choose to intentionally notice, and then acknowledge boys, with a positive greeting. Easy, right? You could go farther and actually affirm something you see in a young male you encounter or a boy you know personally and watch the young lad light up! Moving up on the continuum might be participating in a one-time activity that involves men and boys, or even getting involved with other men in support of boys in regular activities. I believe that when men get a taste of the returns from hanging out with young males, Masculine Gravity works on them and pulls them toward naturally wanting more.

While one-on-one relationships between a man and a boy are powerfully transformational for both males, boys need a lot of men in their lives, and at different levels of involvement. As it was in past tribal cultures, when there were lots of men around to watch and connect with in different ways, today's boys also need a variety of men around so they can construct a personal vision of manhood. I think that's how most of us did it anyway.

If you're thinking of a man-making resolution, how about deciding to intentionally do something . . . anything really. You can trust that positive gesture in the direction of a young male will make a difference. For some boys, even a small gesture on your part can be very powerful.

You'll get a lot of support from the messages that will be appearing for National Mentoring Month. The initiative is spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. On those websites you will find a way to search by zip code for different man-making opportunities near you. National Mentoring Month has the benefit of General Colin L. Powell as its key spokesperson, and his message is in the video clip just below. This year's theme is "Expand Your Universe. Mentor a Child." Earl's man-making call for 2010 is simply, "Do Something."

From myself and General Powell, blessings on your man-making in 2010.

If the clip doesn't show up, go to this link.

December 27, 2009

Holidays, Teenagers and Pain

One of the suggestions that came out of the reader survey I did in the last Man-Making Blog post was to invite guest bloggers to contribute to this blog. It’s a great idea and if you have an interest, let me know.

A few days ago I read a post from a friend of mine, Mike Patrick, who is the publisher of the blog, I'm Not Done Yet. Mike gave his blog that title because in 1971 he had a spinal cord injury during a high school football game. The doctors told Mike and his family his life expectancy was nine years and he would never walk again. Mike knows a lot about being a teenager and feeling hopeless. Today Mike is 54 years old and for the last 34 years has been a professional speaker, who brings a powerful message of hope to kids (and adults).

In his December 23rd blog post titled Holidays, Teenagers And Pain, Mike wrote about what could be a critical issue for some of the young people in your life. I think this post could literally save a life. I’ve reprinted it just below in case YOU could be a person to make THE big difference in a kids life during this holiday season.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, " ... suicide is the third leading cause of death, after accidents and homicide, of young people aged 15 to 24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14." You can read the report by clicking here.

Regarding gender differences, states, "Teen suicide statistics show differences in the ways boys and girls handle suicide. While girls think about suicide about twice as much as boys, boys are four times more likely than girls to actually die by killing themselves." 

The CDC report goes on to say that as many as seventy-five percent of the young people who attempt or successfully commit suicide are suffering from depression.

I understand that kind of pain because I was there for a time after a football accident that took away my ability to walk. Fortunately, I was in no position to act on my feelings. I was bed-ridden with a pressure sores, and in the middle of multiple surgeries over a six-month period. Believe me, I saw no future in my current condition and thought the best way out was to just end my life. All these years later, I am so thankful I was not able to act on my emotions at the time.

I have spoken to thousands of young people in my presentations over the years. When young people tell me how they have made it through their own tough times, they always tell me they are also glad they didn't try to end it all. I've gotten too many letters and email like the one from an eighth grader that said, " ... I'm in the eighth grade and I thought that I was on earth for the wrong reasons so yes I was going to try and kill myself tonight. Your speech helped me and I just wanted to let you know that you saved at least one life today if not many more."

In this holiday season of big emotional highs and lows, teens are especially vulnerable. Please be aware of the young people around you who just may be having big troubles of the teen variety. Please take a little time, reach out and offer some kind words of encouragement to those you encounter. In my work with teens, I’ve learned that from the outside, you will never know how they may be feeling or how desperate they might be.

You can learn more about Mike Patrick from his blog ( and on his website at (

December 18, 2009

My End of Year Survey - Please Help

Friends of Man-Making,

At the end of year six, there are close to 500 subscribers to this blog with an almost zero unsubscribe rate. I guess that means you like what I'm putting out.

As the new year approaches, I want to sharpen my content focus and see if there are other types of material I could add to make the blog even more interesting or useful to you. With that in mind, would you please take this very short (3 question) survey.

Add your responses below and then hit the "submit" button on the bottom of the survey form (you may have to use the scroll bar on the right of the survey get to the button). Anything you're willing to offer will be very much appreciated.

Thanks for your eyeballs, support, feedback . . . and most importantly, thanks for caring about boys.

All blessings on you and yours in this holiday season,


FOR EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: If you have trouble viewing the form in the email post, just go to this link and fill it in online.

Here's the survey:

Thanks for your support!

December 11, 2009

Mentoring the Children of Prisoners

I was recently invited to speak at a conference about Mentoring the Children of Prisoners. It is being sponsored by MANY, the Mid-Atlantic Network of Youth & Family Services in Pittsburgh, PA. This conference comes out of the sad story about the challenges facing the children who have an incarcerated parent. With more than 5.6 million Americans in prison or who have served time, the U.S has the highest incarceration rate in the world (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003). Right now, one in forty children in the U.S. have a parent in prison. In relationship to this huge need for mentoring and support, there are relatively few agencies or programs to help these children. The result is that children of prisoners are among the most at-risk population of children in our country.

Research from the Arizona Children of Prisoners Bill of Rights Project (2007) showed that just in my winter home state of Arizona, there were 175,000 children with parent/s in jail, prison, or on probation. The discussions and focus groups they conducted indicated that these children often lacked food, shelter, clothing, parental guidance, good role models, love, societal acceptance, a basic sense of security, and stability in their lives. The absence of these basic nutrients almost invites a child into a life of crime for survival. Research indicates these children are six times more likely than other children to become incarcerated at some point in their lives.

To learn more about opportunities for man-making with this very needy population contact the Resource Center. They are a provider for the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. The Resource Center's site offers lots of background information, links to related topics, and suggested volunteer opportunities.

You can also just do a Google search on Mentoring the Children of Prisoners in your state and see what comes up. If you want to be on the front lines of man-making, this could be a very good place to begin.

December 5, 2009

OMG! Teens, Texting, and Driving! STANDUP!

Did you know that car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the US? That amounts to about 5000 kids dying every year, making up twelve percent of all individuals involved in car crash deaths. Here is another number to chew on. In a survey by The Allstate Foundation, titled: Chronic: A Report on Teen Safe Driving, fifty-six percent of teens say they make or answer cell phone calls while driving. AND, and this is the OMG part (that's Oh My God for non-texters), thirteen percent of teens say they make or respond to text messages while driving!

The report also found that teens have the lowest percentage of seat belt use, are most vulnerable to peer pressure from others in the car, and are very uncomfortable speaking up when friends aren't driving safely. Now that is a prescription for danger . . .  and the data is worse for teen boys. It's really a call for some serious man-making.

There is help in the works and it's called the STANDUP Act. The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act of 2009 was introduced in April 2009 by Reps. Tim Bishop (D-NY), Michael Castle (R-DE), and Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (D-MD).  This legislation would establish minimum federal requirements for state GDL laws (National Graduated Driver Licensing) and encourage all states to adopt GDL laws that meet the minimum requirements within 3 years. Here is a quick overview the STANDUP Act:

States must meet the following requirements under the STANDUP Act:

Three stages of licensing – learner’s permit, intermediate stage, and full licensure – should be used

Age 16 should be the earliest age for entry into the learner’s permit process

Nighttime driving while unsupervised should be restricted during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages, until full licensure at age 18

Driving while using communication devices (cell phone calls, texting) should be prohibited at least until full licensure at age 18

Unrestricted, full licensure should occur no earlier than age 18

Passengers should be restricted – no more than one non-familial passenger under age 21 unless a licensed driver over age 21 is in the vehicle – until full licensure at age 18

The Allstate Foundation research indicates that in states with comprehensive GDL programs in place, fatal crashes of 16 year old drivers has fallen by 40% . . . but that is not good enough.

If you have teen drivers in your life, it really is time to have that conversation about cell phones and driving . . . and then to be careful what you're modeling around phones and driving in their presence. You can also go to the Allstate Teen Driver Website for all kinds of helpful resources. They have data, instructional videos, petitions to sign, and even a Parent-Teen Driving Contract.

Let's all do what we can 
to prevent more OMG's