Kevin Mincher is the founder of Unstoppable Teen. He is a leading performance coach, educational innovator and youth advocate.
Kevin started Unstoppable Teen in 1997. Since then more than 300,000 teenagers have attended Kevin’s seminars and completed his coaching programs. His achievements include:
- Double the national average grades in high school
- Winner of the Anthony Everett Award as Young Business Person of the Year
- Listed in the Who’s Who of Britain’s Young Entrepreneurs
- Author and creator of more than 20 personal development programs for teenagers
- Nominated by the Association for Coaching for an Honorary Award for his contributions to communities
Here are some of the questions teenagers have asked Kevin over the years:
Have you got any nicknames?
I’ve got more than my fair share… none of which I asked for and some of which can’t be repeated here! Family and friends call me…
Bud, Tiger, Minch, Quiche, and Doberman.
Where did you go to school?
Edlington Comprehensive School, Doncaster.
What was your favourite subject and why?
It’s tough to choose because I wasn’t one of those students who specialised in one particular subject. I had a wide range of interests including Business Studies, PE, RE, Biology, Geography and Design. I hated Maths though!
The thing each of these subjects had in common is that I liked the teacher. They were approachable, seemed to care about me as a person and showed an interest in what I was doing.
What did you love most about school?
I loved the relationships 🙂
My school was in quite a rough neighbourhood, but we also had students from the nicer parts of town too, so you had to figure out how to get on with lots of different people. It was a brilliant place to learn about a wide range of relationship dynamics and understand how to get on with all kinds of people – including the ‘hard’ kids, the ‘geeks’, the ‘athletes’, the ‘cool’ crowd, local residents, teachers and parents – my school had it all and I loved it!
I learned that the quality of your relationships determined the quality of the experience you had each day. That’s a lesson that I still apply today 🙂
And what are the things you were glad to leave behind at the school gates?
I don’t miss the bullying, intimidation and violence!
Did you ever get into trouble at school? What for?
Yes, but never anything major. It was always testing the boundaries to see what I could get away with. Thankfully I had strong parents and teachers who pulled me back in line every time I pushed too far.
What’s the best prank you ever pulled in school?
I once rigged a whole classroom so it was impossible to pull the chairs out from under the table without lifting the tables into the air.
It meant the incoming Year 7 students couldn’t sit down when they entered the classroom. I thought it was hilarious at the time as I watched through the window and saw those innocent students wrestling with the chairs and finding it impossible to get them out from under the table! In hindsight I can understand when the teacher wasn’t very happy and gave me one heck of a rollicking when they found out I was behind the prank 🙁
If you could go back to high school, what would you do differently?
Ooooo… good question!
There’s not much I would change. I felt I found a good balance between getting the work done and having plenty of fun too 🙂
I left school at the age of sixteen to pursue a career in professional football, but I’ve often wondered how my life might be different had I stayed on at school and gone on to graduate university. So that’s probably the thing I’d do differently if I was able to go back and do it all again.
What are some of the most important lessons you learned at school that you’re still using today?
I could write a book in answer to that question!
Some of the most important lessons include:
- Opportunities to make our lives better are around us all the time – you’ve got to take those opportunities before they disappear.
- It takes time to master any subject or skill.
- The rewards you get are directly related to the effort you put in.
- There are facts and there are opinions. Make sure you know which is which before making any decisions.
- Be careful how you communicate with people because it’s almost inevitable your paths will cross in the future (when you want a job or something else).
- You can never listen too much, but you can talk too much!
- Your relationships (with teachers, fellow students and random strangers) will have a massive impact on the quality of your life, so take time to cultivate them.
- You’re capable of doing more than you think.
- Those who keep going when the going gets tough will be champions.
- There are things that aren’t in the national curriculum that are more important to learn than some of the things that are in the national curriculum, so make sure you learn outside of school as well as in it.
Where do you live now?
Man’s Search For Meaning
Dead Poets Society
One of my goals is to visit at least one new country every year. I feel fortunate to have visited more than 40 countries around the world. Of all the places I’ve been, my favourites have to be ‘Home’ and Hawaii 🙂
If it were possible for you to visit the moon, would you want to go?Yeah – definitely! I love adventures 🙂
Have you ever been bullied?
Yes – Not only in school, but also in professional football and in business too. Thankfully I learned some positive strategies at a young age that enabled me to deal with it in a healthy way.
When did you feel least confident in life and what was that experience like?
Probably when my parents separated at the same time as going through puberty during my mid-teens. Everything I had once known was changing – my family unit, my physical body… just about everything seemed to be changing all at once, and I didn’t like how it was changing! I felt fearful and vulnerable for quite a long time. Thankfully, I found help in various self-help books, personal development seminars, and from my mentors. These things helped me get back on track and re-build my self-confidence.
When you were a little kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Play football for Sheffield United FC.
Did you do well in your exams at school, and how important do you think results are?
I’m proud of the fact that I achieved above average results in high school. It seems grades have become more important since the economy started shifting from lots of manual labour jobs (like working down coal mines) and towards a knowledge-based economy where more intelligence is required to succeed.
Research shows there’s a correlation between what you know and what you earn. I think young people need to understand there are lots of ways to gain knowledge, up-skill and succeed. You don’t necessary have to go down the traditional academic route. It’s important to find a way of learning that you enjoy because in the modern economy, if you ever stop growing and developing, you’re likely to get left behind.
Do you think it’s important to go to university?
I don’t think everyone needs go to university. I didn’t, and my life is working out pretty well. It really depends on what jobs you want to do in the future. Some career paths require you to get a degree whilst others don’t. Since it’s so expensive to go to university these days, I think it’s important to use your time in high school to figure out what you’re passionate about and what you really want to do in the future. Then, if you want or need to go to university, you should go for it full throttle.
Is it important to have a clear direction of where you’re headed from a young age?
I think it’s important to have clear direction at all ages and phases of life. It’s natural to have different priorities when you’re aged 5, 15, 25, and 45. Nevertheless, irrespective of your age, I think it’s important to have something in your life that you’re passionate about and that you love doing because then you’ll experience more happiness 🙂
When you were growing up who were your role models?
It sounds cheesy but I always looked up to my parents even though they separated when I was a teenager.
I always wanted to be a footballer and had the good fortune progressing through the youth system at Sheffield United FC so some of their players were role models to me, including Alan Kelly, Brian Deane, and Carl Bradshaw. I also had a mentor called Scott White who had a massive impact on me during my teenage years – we’re still friends to this day.
I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with positive people.
I love the 5 Cs…
Chocolate, chips and cheesecake!
However, I know the 5 Cs aren’t good for me so I don’t eat them very often.
Most of the time I enjoy grilled fish or chicken, with masses of salad or stir-fried veggies, and juices from the main man, Jason Vale aka ‘The Juice Master’ 🙂
Freshly baked bread… with lashings of butter!
I quite like a little bit of fresh bread with my butter!!
Hanging out with friends and family, yoga, swimming, watching football, reading, live music, stand up comedy, and visiting new places.
What do you actually do?!
I create learning experiences that are designed to help young people experience brilliant lives. This includes presenting motivational seminars in schools, sharing inspirational content via social media, publishing newsletters and coaching videos online, writing books, creating new curricula and performance systems for schools, training teachers, and supporting parents. I feel very fortunate because I have a lot of variety and I love what I do 🙂
What’s the best thing about your job?
It’s a huge privilege when people let me into their lives, open up to receiving the ideas I share, and start using the strategies I’ve given them in person and online.
The best bit is when those people get in touch, often months or years down the line, to share their stories and tell me how their lives turned out. Those stories often bring me to tears of joy 🙂
What was your first ever job?
How did you figure out what your strengths were and turn those into an enjoyable career path?I did two things:
- I tried dozens of different hobbies and activities during my teenage years. This helped me figure out what I enjoyed and what I was good at.
- I also completed various psychometric tests that were designed to help people identify their personal talents and strengths.
These two things then enabled me to look at which jobs and careers existed that would enable me to do what I enjoy.
What’s your greatest ever achievement?
Earning and keeping the respect of my family and closest friends.
If you could be one celebrity for a day who would it be and why?
I’ve genuinely never wanted to be anyone other than myself. I’ve got to answer this question though, so I’m going to pick two people:
- I’d be Beyoncé because…
- I’m rubbish at singing –problem solved!
- I used to wonder what it would be like to be a woman –two problems solved!
- I’d be the Formula 1 driver, Lewis Hamilton because…
- He gets paid to travel the world and drive fast cars – what’s not to love about that!
- He goes out with Nicole Scherzinger – what’s not to love about that!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
It’s hard to choose between fire-walking and aerobatic flying.
If you could kick a football around the park with the Prime Minister, what would you tell him?
I’d tell him the national curriculum currently fails to prepare young people for the realities of the modern world. I think he knows that already, but we’re not doing enough to change the situation.
We’re wasting hours in the classroom every week teaching students things they’re unlikely to ever use again (e.g. Pythagoras’ Theorem), whilst there’s a plethora of life skills that we all need to use every day that are rarely taught in schools (e.g. emotional intelligence, effective communication, time-management, team work, financial mastery, healthy ways to deal with stress – I could go on!).
We’ve known this for a very long time but the required changes haven’t been forthcoming. It’s about time senior leaders stopped messing around with the edges of education and got to work on transforming the curriculum from its core.
I’m here to help if he wants a hand!
What’s your guilty TV pleasure?
I like to watch at least 20 minutes of comedy every day 🙂
What’s the one object you’d take with you to a deserted island and why?
BearGrylls! With him on side I might have a chance of surviving!
Do you believe in ghosts?
Not yet because I haven’t seen any 🙂
Have you got any pets?
No. But I’ve got 3 plants!
What’s your spirit animal?
Eh?!Probably a Hawk.
What car do you drive?
This is the most common question teenagers ask me. Why is that? Why does it matter what car I drive?! I’ve had all kinds of wheels since I passed my driving test because I tend to change them every year or two. My first ever car was a Ford Escort 1.4 L and it broke within minutes of buying it! I currently drive a BMW X5.
Why do you always wear yellow shoes?
I always wear yellow shoes when I’m working for two reasons:
- They help me standout from the crowd and be more memorable to audiences that will probably only ever spend a couple of hours with me.
- I used to be the most serious 18-year old you were ever likely to meet. The yellow shoes remind me to not take life too seriously and to have fun every day 🙂
What are your goals for the future?
My goals include:
- Help 1,000,000 young people experience a better quality of life by sharing the strategies of happy and successful people
- Play a positive role in helping LIFE Lessons become an equally valued part of the national curriculum (of leading countries around the world) alongside English, Maths and Science
- Inspire and up-skill the next generation of youth leaders
- Visit at least one new country every year
- Have dancing lessons
- Complete a parachute jump
- Lead a healthy life past 100 years old