The Thanos Theory: Give Boys time!

Travis Corpening Personal Development - The Thanos Theory Give Boys Time

Travis Corpening Personal Development - The Thanos Theory Give Boys Time

It is no secret that I have spent some of my most valuable time working to help young men build better lives. I have seen kids go from aimless, unsure boys to fully mature scholars and men. Through the years one thing that I have noticed is that there is always a gift present in every young man but not always was a fire or a drive to use it to find out its purpose in their lives. It never ceases to puzzle me how much adults, particularly teachers and parents forget or are unaware of how important it is to recognize the difference in the generations. Kid’s, specifically young men, especially as late adolescents are rarely goal oriented or have a clearly defined path. That goes for professionally or academically.

Many young men spend years changing college majors (if they go to college), lost on their parent’s couch, gaming and are never really 120% sold on the path they are on. I am from the 80’s generation where while many times we were still lost at 19, 20, and 21 we eventually figured it out because there were so many driven youngsters around us and honestly because we didn’t feel we had as many options or as much time. Well, today things have changed quite a bit as YouTube, gaming, vlog, and social media stars have given new life to the dangerous and idle mind of young boys yet to figure out the answer to the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

Well as a Marvel comic fanatic I have begun to explore this thought. What if Thanos were an American teenager? I know you did not begin this article expecting me to be discussing comic book characters and legacy but go with me for a brief second. What if Thanos, the one being in the Marvel Comic Universe that had a singular life focus and purpose of bringing the universe into balance by whatever means he could, was just a pimply faced kid? How would his behavior drive and attitude have been different? Would he be as driven at such a young age?

Think about it. He had a goal, but to reach it there were multiple steps had to take prior to make it happen. First, getting a team to help him travel the universe in search of the Infinity Stones. Secondly, he had to get someone to produce a Gauntlet or glove that would allow him to harness the power of the stones when he found them. And lastly, he wanted to achieve this goal so bad that he was bravely willing to literally fight whoever it took to achieve it. Yes. Thanos was supposed to be a bad guy and was truly evil but you had to appreciate his planning and drive to achieve what he believed in and his refusal to be dissuaded from that purpose.

Just like you may want that son of yours to take the initiative to grab a suit or learn to tie a necktie to chase the job interview, would Thanos have been so charged to relentlessly prepare and pursue the Infinity stones to accomplish his goal if he was a teenager? Probably not. he may have started with one…got sidetracked to look for something else. Maybe he came back a year later once he received financial aid to help travel to other planets. The point is we all find our way differently.

So, the lesson is, patience may be needed in order to allow these youngsters time to figure it out. And as long as they are moving toward a goal maybe we should all be a little more patient with how long it takes for them to get there. Every path is different. And while it may be hard to hear even for a guy like me who has 2 very young boys of his own that will one day be great young teenage men, we all have to support where we can, teach where we can, and pray they make the right choices.

It Can Happen

If you have ever worked to see something happen then you have had setbacks!

Setbacks are a part of anyone’s journey to succeed. Well, I had a few as I worked to help spread the message of All Your Cool Ideas in a contest sponsored by an awesome company called Genesis Block and the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

With a host of other phenomenal businesses, I was challenged to pitch what we do for kids. Honored to just be there, it was a complete shock to me that through all of the setbacks and challenges even right up to the time I pitched…I won!

Not only was I blessed to be selected but I was awarded this $2,500 check.

The moral of the story is, It Can Happen!
No matter how many setbacks and issues KEEP WORKING!
You are only assured a loss when you quit.

Live Chosen.

Dear 2020…

Not many of us have gone through 2020 without having to make alterations.  Alterations to the way we travel, do business, eat, or even speak. 

From Covid-19 to protests…this time last year I had no idea that making all kids feel special would be even more important one year later. As we all argue about whether people should care about each other and look beyond skin color or fight for their right to jog in their own neighborhood we must try to experience the world as others do. 

I think what we are missing is the extra! The extra steps someone else must take when simply applying for a job. The extra steps I might have to take when shopping, so you have assured me, and my kids are paying customers.  The extra steps I might have to take to make you feel safe as I walk into work. 

These are not just empty scenarios.  Each of these are actual experiences me and my extended family have dealt with and at this point are numb to. 

The interesting things is that we ALL have extras. Do I have to watch what I say around you because you may be offended?

The question is, am I willing to understand your experience and speak for you when it is time. 

Listen…embracing each other without pre-judging is easily said, yet not so easy to accomplish.
Do you have to do my “extra”?

In partnership with the Brian Hamilton Foundation this billboard was my way of putting a new face, and a new story, out for kids of all colors to see leaders that look like them. 

It matters. 
Anyone who says otherwise probably had role models that looked like them in books and cartoons or never realized how important it was because they did not have to. 

Love each other! Do not fear or assume…ask.

Encore “Highlights Representation”

Recently Encore Magazine honored us by interviewing me for a piece they called Finding Representation. In it they highlight my book, “The Adventures of Lucas and Alyci: The Big Surprise.”  The goal is to help more kids…any kids…especially kids of color…to realize that their ideas can affect our world in powerful and positive ways too!

To quote the article:
“STEM can open kids’ minds to the fact their ideas always spark something better,” Corpening says. “There’s no leash on a kid’s ability to solve problems outside of the one we give them. In my day-to-day work in education, I hear so many first-time college students tell me how horrible they are in math and how they want to wait to take it. Teaching them early to be inquisitive . . . builds their confidence in their ability to try and figure problems, [which] helps them throughout life.” 

READ THE ENCORE ARTICLE BELOW

FINDING REPRESENTATION: Travis Corpening reads from his children’s book, ‘The Adventures of Lucas and Alyci’

By Shannon Rae Gentryon on December 17, 2019

WILMINGTON, NC ENCORE – The Pew Research Center reported in January 2018 that, while there’s widespread support of racial and ethnic diversity in science, technology, engineering and math jobs, lack of diversity and representation in STEM fields is a problem as we approach a new decade.

There are underlying reasons rooted in educational opportunities—or in this case, lack of access. However, a third of people working in STEM areas point to under-representation and lack of role models, leading to black and Hispanic Americans not believing their abilities to pursue these fields.

Local author Travis Corpening set out to combat the issue with his 2018 children’s book “The Adventures of Lucas and Alyci.” Corpening is director of the Nixon Minority Male Leaders Program at Cape Fear Community College. He also has his master’s degree in liberal studies from UNCW (2006), during which he researched the impact of exposing young kids to characters in storybooks who look like them.

The first Young Mogul Fundraiser

Well we are starting another year. A part of what we do is help young men reach the true measure of their ability.  To assist us with doing this with our target population we are asking for your help.  On February 8th at 6 TekMountain the Young Mogul Development Group will be hosting a fundraiser.

If you decide to help us, please contact us at

The Leap

Usually I am the one consulting and speaking to people about leaping. Well I still say leap, but I have a hard time taking my own advice sometimes.

Feeling it would be cool for my son to see himself represented in cartoons or children’s books, about a year, I began writing a group of stories called “The Adventures of Lucas and Alyci.” After trying to get it published with no luck, I realized I really could do this myself if I had a little help. With that I began a journey of honing, publishing, and launching the book and subsequent stories myself.

 

So far, the journey has been great, and it is awesome seeing my son respond to the stories. Still without a single book printed I needed some help. After a little advice from my wife and others I decided to do a kick starter to get a boost. Leaping was scary but not trying would have been letting my son down and letting down every other little brown boy who wishes there were more opportunities to see himself as a lead character.

I refuse to do that and live wondering what if. So, I jumped. Here goes.
If you get the chance check out the video and support the Kickstarter for The Adventures of Lucas and Alcyi.

Implicit Bias: Is it real?

Have you ever wondered how bias affects those we come into contact with?

Come learn to transform your classroom to positively impact young black and brown men as we review solutions to implicit bias in classrooms. Together we will review the history of bias in this demographic and how media affects it.

Discover how school culture can be structured to alter and influence young men of color to excel, develop positive self-efficacy, and combat the negative story many of them internalize.

From Pre-K to college, let’s work to improve outcomes in black and brown men together.

How long will you believe?

Last night I was inspired more than I have been in years.  What I witnessed last night has had me asking myself the question all night, “How long will you believe?” Some of you may already know the story but last night 10-year minor league basketball player Andre Ingram (32yrs old) played his first NBA game after being called up to join the Los Angeles Lakers this week.

Andre received the announcement during what he thought would be an exit interview from his minor league team.  However, he knew something was up when he noticed Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka (Lakers General Manager) had showed up.  Each of them, as well as Lakers Coach Luke Walton, were all smiles as they congratulated him on being rewarded for 10 years of sacrifice.

10 YEARS!
10 years chasing a dream, 10 years of wondering if you ‘re hurting your wife and family, 10 years of praying that this is thing was going to work. Well last night they gave him his shot not only did he make the dream come true, but he shined because he was READY!

As I watched him hit his first 4 shots scoring 19 points on 4 for 5 from 3-point range for the game, all I kept wondering is how many times throughout this journey did he want to quit? 

At 32 I know people were wondering why he was even still trying. How many people in his family did not believe? How many voices did he have to ignore? How many times did he look at his little girl before he left and say, “Baby I’m doing this for you?”

Being a former basketball player myself the story had special significance for me.  As you move throughout your day and fight the struggles that you usually do I want to reignite your push.  Continue to Fight…Continue to Work…Continue to Pray!

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 

Romans 8:25

But if we hope for what we do not see,
we wait for it with patience.

Do they really know how POWERFUL You Are!

Stop assigning yourself a station or position in life that God never gave you. Especially on our jobs. We tend to think ourselves into positions or statuses based on our upbringing, background, or even the accomplishments (perceived or real) of other people. Who said the employee in the mail room cannot have an idea that transforms the company’s bottom line?

 If you begin or continue to think you are less than you are it will trap you. And as a result, you will never see or desire anything more than what co-workers or others is telling you are worth. Stop adopting thinking you did not earn.

I promise from now on to wake up every morning I think about it, look myself in the mirror and say I HAVE NO STATION! I HAVE NO POSITION THAT MY FATHER DID NOT ASSIGN ME!! PERIOD! I will admit.

This is a dangerous way of thinking. You could lose friends. You will look weird. You will stand out. But that is how you begin to think like someone in charge of their brand.