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The following is a slightly edited transcript of the podcast series “Interviews of Notables and Influencers” hosted by Joanne Z. Tan, CEO and brand strategist of 10 Plus Brand.
( About 10 Plus Brand: In addition to the “whole 10 yards” of brand building, digital marketing, and content creation for business and personal brands, 10 Plus Brand Inc. also does NFT branding for Web3 Metaverse. To contact us: 1-888-288-4533. )
Joanne Tan 00:00
In addition to “Interviews of Notables and Influencers“, I also interview ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Today Jonathan Leidy is one of those unsung heroes. He is an ordinary person doing extraordinary things.
I’m so delighted to have Jonathan Leidy, a 401k expert today. But today he’s not going to talk about 401k at all. He’s going to talk about something really meaningful for the society and for humanity that he has volunteered for many years. It’s called YMUW. “Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend”. And the website is ymuw.org.
Joanne Tan 00:50
I’m Joanne Tan. I’m the CEO, branding expert, brand strategist at 10 Plus Brand. We build business and personal brands. And lately, we added NFT branding. I’ll talk about that another time.
Joanne Tan 01:05
So one of those Sunday evenings I was watching TV while doing dishes. And then there came Lisa ling, “This is Life”. And I heard in the background, “here is ‘Pork Chop'”. And as soon as the so-called “Pork Chop” started to talk,… I know that voice, that’s Jonathan Leidy! Okay, great job, “Pork Chop”. And then Lisa Ling described what this camp is all about. And the more I listened to it, the more I felt like, wow, this is great, from my perspective of a mother to two young men, knowing their struggles, and also as a humbly-learning-parent-for-life. And also seeing this school shooting, and mass shooting, and all perpetuated by young men, I really feel compelled to invite Jonathan on my podcast. And thank you, Jonathan, for this honor and privilege.
Jonathan Leidy 02:06
Okay, likewise. Thank you, Joanne.
Joanne Tan 02:08
So my first question is, what made you volunteer in this WMUW, “Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend”?
Jonathan Leidy 02:18
Sure. Well, as you mentioned, I am Jonathan Leidy and with Portico Wealth Advisors during my daytime work, and then when I’m not doing that, I’m volunteering for YMUW. And I was introduced to it somewhere on the order of about 10 years ago, plus or minus, by a good friend who was one of the founders of the organization. And I, you know, I grew up as a Boy Scout, and was an Eagle Scout. And so I always like being outdoors. And then I also was a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters for over a decade and mentor to young men through that organization. And my friend knew about all this experience, and he said, Hey, you should check out WMUW because it melds those two experiences, right, It’s the ability to get outdoors, this ability to work with young men, so I thought it might be a good fit for me. And that certainly turned out to be true.
Joanne Tan 03:10
Describe this Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend.
Jonathan Leidy 03:14
Yeah, of course. So Young Men’s ultimate weekend is a rite of passage weekend for young men between the ages of 12 to 20. It’s not a religious rite of passage, it’s just for any young men who want to come to a weekend where they have the opportunity to put themselves through, you know, incredible fun and challenges, in the end in the pursuit of really learning a little bit about what it means to be a man and participate in the society in a healthy way.
Jonathan Leidy 03:45
So it gives everybody the opportunity to get outdoors to break up in teams, to lead teams, to go through physical and emotional challenges. And all of that is really under the guise of, I think, above all else, getting young men interacting with one another, and really understanding what makes each other tick, and really starting to relate to one another on a level that’s much deeper than they might do today, you know, just over the computer somewhere.
Joanne Tan 04:20
So from your eight years of volunteering in this Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend, what are the memorable, really fulfilling, really satisfying, the best outcome you just feel so proud of? You know, every time I recall that, I feel like wow, I can’t believe I did it. And opposite of that is what is nightmarish, some kind of a really chaotic situation? You recall that, Oh, my God, did that happen under my nose?
Jonathan Leidy 04:55
Well, you know, every weekend is filled with a little sprinkle at least of chaos, right. So you know, meaning that you start with this nice, clean timeline about how everything’s gonna go. And then you put all the ingredients in the pot, and sure enough, it all starts to boil up and simmer into, you know, into something, something different than what you initially thought it was going to be. Right. So, you know, we’ve had young men run away, right. You know, we’ve had young men smuggle devices and other things into the weekend that have thrown, you know, a wrench in things. We’ve always found the young men that run away, by the way, and nobody, nobody, …we’ve never had any young man perpetrate an act of violence against another young man or anything like that.
Jonathan Leidy 05:50
But, you know, we had, we had a young man who covered himself head to toe in butter one time. So we well, you know, that’s what we had to get to the root of. But you know, he had me. We were serving pancakes, and you know, with the packs of butter, and he literally went by and collected the bowl that were sitting out there and took them. He went behind the bushes and just smeared them all over his entire body. It was unexpected, Joanne! It was not anything that I thought when I started out, you know, for the weekend of all the possibilities today, vision, that was not one of them.
Jonathan Leidy 06:32
But we did have the opportunity to have a conversation with that young man just about, okay, what led to this behavior. I mean, our take on it was that it was a cry for attention. But it’s really, our take isn’t that important. Right. It’s what the young man feels it is. And then once you understand what the young man feels it is, then you can help them address that and try to work through it. And that young man, you know, fast forward a couple years, and I’m back at the weekend volunteering, and I look over and of course, he’s much taller now. And you know, and more filled out, whatever. And I’m like, Oh, my gosh, there’s the “Butter Boy”! Right. You know, and he’s there. And he’s participating, he is doing all the things right. So sometimes the first time young men do this, this weekend, they don’t, it doesn’t click for them, right. But it’s always gratifying to see young men come back again, and see them really plug into it and do it, you know, better, if you will, whatever that means, than they did the first go round. So that’s one super gratifying thing that does happen quite a bit.
Jonathan Leidy 07:38
And another. You know, I had a young man contact me who was a participant in the Weekend, who said, hey, you know, I’m really interested in what it is that you do professionally, i.e., finance. And so he came and interned for us for a summer at Portico Wealth. And, you know, now he’s getting an MBA at Berkeley. And he’s got an internship at Morgan Stanley, I think, in New York. And he wants to be an investment banker. And so he’s on that path. And so I am not by any stretch taking large amounts of credit for what took place there. But what I am saying is that, just being exposed to hey, here’s a guy who cares about us broadly, and me specifically, meaning me, the young man, he took the initiative to reach out to me because he saw what it is that I did, we were able to help him a little bit along the way on that path. And I’m super proud of where he is now.
Joanne Tan 08:45
Yeah, that’s wonderful. Now, only men can volunteer in that camp, right?
Jonathan Leidy 08:52
So we are definitely looking to expand our sphere to have, you know, women who volunteer for the organization, but at the event itself, yes, it is. It’s conducted 100% by men. So, but one of our goals is as an example, is to get more female voices into the discussion, you know, through maybe board volunteering, or volunteering for the organization and other ways apart from production on the weekend.
Joanne Tan 09:25
Do these young men come back? They do find value and they come back as repeaters?
Jonathan Leidy 09:32
They, yes. We have many young men that do the weekend more than once. Right. Yeah. And, you know, that’s for various reasons, sometimes, because their parents would like them to do that more than once, sometimes because they want to do it, you know, more than once, they enjoyed it, or sometimes it’s because they felt like, Hey, I could have done better. You know, we have some young men that you can tell, we’re at hour 70, and 72, they’re just starting to plug in, starting to feel the connection and the bond and that kind of thing. So they feel a personal calling to come back and do it again and give more, give more of themselves to it so that they can get more out of it.
Joanne Tan 10:18
Yeah. So items not allowed to bring to the camp are marijuana, drugs, devices, electronic devices, weapons of any kind,…What else? What else are not allowed?
Jonathan Leidy 10:32
Bad attitudes…No, haha. There’s plenty of those that come. We do a security check at the beginning, and the goal of that is to identify all those things. So yeah, no drugs or alcohol, no devices, no phones or anything like that. And no weapons, certainly,
Joanne Tan 10:52
no phones, no cell phones?
Jonathan Leidy 10:55
No, because we want them to unplug from that world and really plug into what it is that we’re doing. And I think something that I should mention is that, you know, sort of a sister program to young men’s weekend is the founder of young men’s weekend, the primary founder, a gentleman named Mark Schillinger. He is a family therapist. And so he has a sister program called CTS, “Challenging Teenage Sons”. And it’s, you know, it’s obviously a play on the word challenging, right. So yes, they may be challenging in their home life, but it’s also about challenging them to bring out the best. And while the YMUW is running and the young men are getting their experience, often there is a CTS class being run for the parents of the young men. And that way, they get to understand a little bit more about what their young men are experiencing right now, A: and B sort of, hey, the proper way, … the recommended way to sort of reintegrate everybody back together after this weekend.
Jonathan Leidy 12:05
So we spend time talking to the young men saying, hey, you know, now that you’ve gone through this initiation, and you’re a young man, and you understand a bit more about your power, that doesn’t mean you should come swinging back into your house on a vine and say, Hey, I’m a man, respect me, right? Similarly, on the other side of the coin, we’re talking to parents about, okay, this is what your young man is actually experiencing. And so regardless of how you were relating with them before, this is how we recommend that you might relate with them on a go forward basis, to help them feel empowered, and at the same time have the structure they need to do it positively.
Joanne Tan 12:43
Wow, that is awesome. Because most of the time, the communication can be very frustrating between teenage young men and their parents.
Jonathan Leidy 12:53
You don’t have to look any further than asking my mom, Joanne, she would be happy to tell you all about that!
Joanne Tan 12:59
Yeah, parents need a mental break. They need some education, they need to be up their skills with communicating with their teenage sons. Do you see this often that after parents attending their camp, “Challenging Teenage Sons”, CTS, and then at the same time after their sons have finished their WMUW, and then when they’re together there is this remarkable improvement between their relationships?
Jonathan Leidy 13:30
Yeah, no doubt. I mean, you know, Mark Schillinger would, you know, because he works with these families on an ongoing basis, can certainly attest to that sort of thing. But at Young Men’s Weekend, we have a graduation at the end of the weekend. So parents are there to greet their young men and you can see in the reunion, that both sides in the work that they put in over the last, you know, 72 hours, has helped them to develop a better understanding of one another. And that’s where it all comes from. Because obviously, not only are the young men feeling frustrated about, you know, how their adolescence is going potentially, but the parents often are feeling frustrated about how it’s going as well. And so there are barriers to communicating on that side of things, too. And so when you can get a bit of recognition around that and how to maybe think about doing it in a different way, more effective way going forward, along with young men being kind of schooled up about what the true responsibilities are being a young man, – I think that’s a good combination,
Joanne Tan 14:44
Without breaking anonymity in the privacy of their shared common issues, what are the main, the most common emotional, mental, psychological issues, they think they are alone with the feelings, but when they share, they feel like wow, we all have similar issues, – what are those common issues?
Jonathan Leidy 15:08
Sure. So, loneliness you alluded to already, I think loneliness and isolation are a big thing. They don’t feel like they are being heard. That’s within their family, within their peer group, within, you know, by their teachers, things of that nature. So loneliness and being misunderstood, I think a big… Just anger, and there’s a lot of anger and frustration as a result of these things. And, you know, and some of, many of these men have significant, you know, trauma that anybody, you know, writ large, if they were to take a listen to some of their circumstances would acknowledge and say that’s, that is significant trauma, right. But even in those that aren’t experiencing things of that nature, you know, they are still just growing up young men in today’s society. And there is a lot of isolation, there is a lot of, you know, lack of connection, I think, in society, you know, social media is a tool, it’s a great tool, but I think it’s given the opportunity, …you mentioned the anonymity that gives a lot of people the opportunity to hide behind the screen, and do things, and say things that they otherwise never would do to somebody face to face. And so getting people out and meeting with one another, and face to face, and eye to eye, and all that, and sharing their common challenges and frustrations and all that I think it’s super powerful and worthwhile.
Joanne Tan 16:37
So they find a community where they feel they are heard, they’re understood, they’re supported. Is that right?
Jonathan Leidy 16:44
Yeah, I think that’s one of the number one frustrations, and this is not a new phenomenon. But I think for young men, one of the primary frustrations is feeling that they are growing up, their body’s changing, their their hormone, they’re changing, there a lot more testosterone rushing through them, that makes them feel empowered, and powerful, and they want to be heard, and they’re not feeling heard. And I think one of the, you know, most dangerous combinations, especially for modern day society, is the idea that they have all this power and potential. And at the same time, they’re being, you know, cast aside and feeling marginalized. Because when you feel marginalized, and you do have power and potential, you know, you feel like the solution is to lash out. And we see that all the time, right, you know, the phrase, hurt-people hurt people. Well, that’s what we’re seeing – you alluded to mall shootings, or just, you know, general acts of violence in society, the vast majority of them are being perpetrated by men, and even more so young men are feeling disillusioned with their lot in life.
Joanne Tan 17:53
Right. So if you add those elements together, you know, first of all, they’re growing up, as teenagers, they have an overdose of testosterone. That’s because of biology, evolution, you know, for hundreds of thousands of years human, you know, young men, you’re supposed to go and hunt and chase deer and kill animals, you know. And at the same time, modern society is getting less and less outdoor oriented. Another element is that the lack of outdoor physical activity to alleviate this testosterone overdose is compounded by the problem of video gaming, and people sitting behind computers, and they game. And they don’t really have a great channel. But I’m not a gamer. So I may be wrong. Because my sons are gamers, and as a lot of their friends, they said, This is the best way for us to escape. It’s like gaming is my best way of escaping reality, and escaping the frustration, and escaping, you know, things we don’t want to deal with. But it can be addictive too. Okay, so you have these elements, and the pressure, the pressure of the modern society, living in the modern society, the complexity, you know, it’s not a good combination.
Jonathan Leidy 19:26
Yeah, I hear you. I mean, I think you know, what you’re touching on is that this energy is pent up energy that young men have is going to go somewhere, right. It can’t stay inside young men, right. So you need to develop opportunities for positive outlets and expression of that energy. And so getting outside is, I think, a great solution to it. Doing, exerting you know, engaging, exerting in physical activity is another great opportunity to do that. And even at the Young Man’s Weekend, beyond just, you know, we have obstacle courses and things of that nature to, you know, for physical expression and outlet, but we are, we actually provide them a physical opportunity to unburden themselves of some pain that they’re carrying around, because all young men are carrying around some level of pain too. And so that, in and of itself, I think, is a real important undertaking, because otherwise, this stuff boils over in different ways.
Jonathan Leidy 20:27
And you alluded to video games, and these first person shooter games and things like that, and I think what your boys expressed that it’s a nice escape, really, filing it under entertainment, I’d like to think that’s 100% True, too. I mean, I grew up playing some video games, and, you know, there was violence in them. And I don’t think that it shaped my framework as an adult in any great way, one way or the other, it was as sold entertainment, right. However, if you add in additional stresses, and other negative influences in people’s life, and or, you mentioned addiction, and or people are spending 5,10, 12 hours a day in a simulator where basically what you’re doing is going around and killing people when presented with the opportunity to say, hey, you know what, I’m frustrated, I’m not enjoying how things are going in my real life. I feel much more powerful, and emboldened, and effective in this video game life. So now I’m going to take that feeling, how can I recreate that feeling in my real life? It’s not a huge leap to see why people are, you know, picking up guns and going out there and doing terrible things.
Joanne Tan 21:56
Right. I recall the conversation, you know, when Sandy Hook shooting of those kindergarten kids that shocked the nation, and the perpetrator was, I would say addicted to shooting. And he bonded, the only way he and his mom could bond was going to the shooting range, you know, so Well, tragically, she was the first one shot by him, by her own son. Now, at the time, I was very frightened. And I I shared my concerns with my sons, because I said, I know you are not addicted to this. You like the outdoors. But don’t you think the more you play this kind of violent shooting game, the “Call to Duty”, you will kind of blur reality with the virtual world? And they said No, Mom, don’t worry about it. No, I will never be a mass shooter! This is just entertainment.
Joanne Tan 22:59
The other side of the argument about this is that yeah, we evolved from caves. Young men are killers, basically, to hunt for animals and, you know, bring home the bacon. Okay, bring home the deer. Now, they have that instinct all the time. So the other side of the argument is that if you don’t give him an outlet, like simulated “Call to Action”, which I never played, by the way, this is a disclaimer, okay, so whatever I said about, whenever I talk about video gaming, just discounted that I don’t have any interest, I don’t have any experience. But I’m a concerned mother, and I’m a concerned human being. So the other side of the argument is that, you know, it’s actually helping them channel that instinct in a safe manner. I have no,… I don’t know!
Jonathan Leidy 23:58
Well, I think two things can be equally true. Right? You know, we have laws, and I’m not arguing for more regulation here around video gaming or things like that. But what I am saying is, you know, you have scenarios where people like your boys, right, are having conversations with their parents about healthy use of this sort of thing. And then you have other situations where those sorts of conversations are not going on. And I think that, you know, when you combine that with, you know, general teen angst and maybe some real trauma and pain, and all that, you can end up with a pretty noxious cocktail, pretty quickly.
Jonathan Leidy 24:44
And the way I look at it when I say I’m not arguing for more right regulation is that, you know, many people can probably drive a car effectively at 75 miles an hour on the freeway, as an example, and not get into accidents, right; but there are some people where that’s not the case, ergo, you know, the speed limit in most places is 55 or 65, on the freeway in California anyway. And that’s because there are some people that, you know, can’t operate at that speed or whatnot. And similarly, most people can watch a violent movie or can, you know, play a violent video game and separate that as entertainment from their reality. But we’re seeing more and more, the more time spent on it, the more realistic it becomes, in combination with the more disaffected people start to feel in today’s society from other influences and elements, that separation, that line between reality and the virtual world is becoming further blurred. I mean, look no further than the metaverse, right. And the idea that maybe all of us will have two lives, one here, and one in the digital realm. You know, there’s plenty of effort afoot to blur those lines. And so it’s not a big surprise that people are looking for an outlet and an empowerment, and they’re not given other choices. Choose that.
Joanne Tan 26:16
Yes. So I mentioned some elements that are kind of the combinations that can be explosive. Here are two more: that we, as a country, have the Second Amendment, easy access to guns. And also, parents are exhausted. Sometimes they use gaming to basically, “babysit”, even though they’re young men. So here, you mentioned anger, those young men they come in with, a lot of them have anger, where does that anger come from?
Jonathan Leidy 26:48
It comes from a host of places, I guess, you know, I think that like I said, some of these young men have experienced real trauma, you know, and that would make anybody angry. So what am I talking about? Right, I mean, these are people that have seen, you know, loved ones abused in front of them, and or, you know, actually killed in front of them, they have lost, you know, inordinate amounts of loss, and things like that at an early age. You know, they’ve had their family separated for, you know, reasons that are beyond their control. You know, they’ve had sexual abuse or things of that nature, right. And so those sorts of things, of course, would be a seedbed for anger, frustration, resentment, and you know, just straight up sorrow and pain for anybody.
Jonathan Leidy 27:46
Um, but even if they’re not experiencing things of that nature, I think there is still this notion that young men are not being heard at the level that they used to be heard, I believe, anyway, when I say used to be, in so much as there are just fewer and fewer opportunities for them to come and get outside and be young men, and do what comes naturally to them. So when we take them out to Young Men’s Weekend, what we’re really doing, we say, we’re creating a container, right. So we know that young men are going to learn, you know, exponentially more from their peers than they are from us, right? So our job as the older guys there, is just to create the container for them to experience this bouncing off of one another, if you will, in a safe way. Right. So that’s, I think, what’s unique about it, where other organizations may have more of an agenda around what they’d like to see young men accomplish, we’re really there to meet young men where they are, tell them that, hey, we don’t have all the answers, but we are older than you. So we have, we’ve experienced this phase transition you’re going through number one; and number two, we’ve screwed up a lot more than you have, right. And those mistakes have come learning along the way. And if you’re interested in hearing our perspective on what that means, and how to manage those, we’re here to share that with you. But if not, then you’re here to spend 72 hours outdoors and getting dirty, and getting physical, and that’s good.
Joanne Tan 29:24
I so appreciate your approach to this, with humbleness and supportiveness. Because when they are transitioning from 12 years old, up to 20 year old, that’s where they want to naturally assert their autonomy. They want to become their own man. They want to be separated from parents, mothers, and try to be independent. So at that time, during this period of time, they need their peer support the most. And with gentle guidance, with encouragement from older people who have been there, done that older men, no, you’re not old, by the way, okay, with…
Jonathan Leidy 30:16
I am not young either Joanne, so nobody confuses me at the weekend, as a participant, let me tell you that,
Joanne Tan 30:25
with male role models, with male role models with whom they feel safe. So we use the word container, you create that environment, you create a psychological safety by actually just rolling in the mud with them, you know, and doing those physical activities, tug of war, whatever else do you do? I mean to have that… build that bond, and build that camaraderie and trust?
Jonathan Leidy 30:54
Yeah, yeah, I think all of that. And along the way, just as I mentioned, you know, some of those sources of young men’s pain that I alluded to, right, it’s the same for the adult volunteers at the organization, right, they all have pain that they’re carrying around with them too. And so that the ability to connect on that level about, hey, I know what it feels like to, for me, when these sorts of things happen to me, and I know what I need to do in order to unburden myself of that in a healthy way, versus, you know, some of the other things that I might be drawn to or inclined to do, if I didn’t have this kind of an outlet – that I think it takes, trust me, there are many young men that are there that do not want to be there. Right. So in the first 24 and change hours is just you know, breaking down, whatever, you know, masks that somebody comes in wearing, right. So whatever veneer that they have, and then from there, I think that’s when we can really start making some progress.
Jonathan Leidy 32:02
And, and what I mean by that is just what for us, progress is showing young men that whatever your authentic self is, it’s okay to be that here. And we’re accepting of that, and more to the point, we understand it most likely at a pretty visceral level. And again, this is how we’ve come to develop a way, right, a method or a way of moving forward acknowledging all of that, where I think there’s so much of today, right, to your point about young men, saying, Hey, I’m growing up now, I want to assert myself, there’s a paradox there, because yes, young men really want to exert themselves and say, hey, I want to take control. And at the same time, they have no idea what they’re doing. I mean, why would they? So they also would, most of them want to be shown an example of how to harness all this in a productive way. So I think the beauty of it is, as you alluded to, is we’re not telling them what to do. We’re just telling them what’s true for us. And, you know, and then they can do it with what they want.
Jonathan Leidy 32:31
The nickname “Porkchop” I assume everybody there has an alias nickname. Is that right?
Jonathan Leidy 33:29
Yes. that is true.
Joanne Tan 33:31
So they don’t use their real names.
Jonathan Leidy 33:33
Most people do not use their real names.
Joanne Tan 33:35
Yeah, that’s one of the ways to let them feel safe. It sounds like they didn’t volunteer going there. Parents play a big role of dropping them off there. Because they heard about this program, what exactly specifically do you do, to let them feel they’re safe, and let down their guard in the beginning?
Jonathan Leidy 33:58
For the young men, number one, I let them know that there is a container here, right. So even though we’re here to find out what the best version of themselves that they can be is, we also, there are rules. And so we need to establish what the rules are. And that establishment of the rules, I think, is, in an interesting way, is a positive for them. Because they all start to understand, okay, you know, this is how I can operate here, because they have no… many of them have no idea what they’re going to, right. They’re literally, I mean, we’ve had young men that their parents have, you know, kind of thrown them in a van and kidnapped in a drum, driven them off and said, Here you go, kind of a thing. And so they have no idea what they’re getting into. And so, you know, first and foremost, they want some of their questions answered about what they’re actually going to be exposed to, and what they’re doing there.
Jonathan Leidy 34:55
So I think the first thing is setting up the rules, and acknowledging the idea that we all have agreed to bind ourselves to these rules. And that if you don’t follow the rules, there are consequences, and for us consequences are not seen as you might see them in the outside world is a huge negative, right. A consequence for us means, okay, I stepped out of line with the rules. And I have an opportunity by performing a consequence, and let’s say it’s 10 push ups, or something like that, to get back into integrity with the group, right, because otherwise people will step out of line. And then now, they’re upset about being chastised, maybe somebody else’s upset because they don’t feel that they, you know, what they did was acknowledged in the right way, and so on, so forth. So one of the big things is, is not only laying out the rules, but laying out the idea that there will be consequences. But there that’s a consequence is an opportunity for them to get back into integrity with the group so we can all move forward, and move on with what we’re attempting to do. So that’s one.
Jonathan Leidy 36:04
The other way is by sharing stories about our own life early on, that helped them understand that this isn’t, you know, daycare, right. Meaning, you know, we have guys who volunteer for this, that have alcohol and drug addiction issues, that they’ve dealt with, right, we have guys that have seen family members abused and murdered in front of them, we have guys that have experienced sexual abuse in their past, all these things, right. So they come out early and say, Look, right, you say what I just said to you about the idea that we’re no different than you, it’s just we’ve been on the planet longer and made more mistakes, right. So we definitely lay that out there.
Jonathan Leidy 36:49
We also say, Look, we know you’re carrying around a lot of pain with you. And that pain may be as simple as, you know, you lost your dog last year, and you haven’t felt the same sense. And it could be much more serious. But we’re here to help you block that out. When I say block that out, meaning understand what it is, understand how to deal with it, and compartmentalize it so that you can function, right, because a lot of times this kind of pain can be super debilitating for people. Right. And, and we know what one of the tools is for dealing with pain, i f you don’t have positive outlets for it, it’s getting angry, it’s getting mad, and it’s lashing out.
Joanne Tan 37:30
Right, so right now, it’s only limited to California. Is there any intention of going outside of California and nationally?
Jonathan Leidy 37:40
Well, you know, if you talk to some of the leadership like Mark, I think, you know, he has visions of, yeah, having it in all 50 states, having not only a program for young men, but also a program for young women as well. And camps running year round with permanent land, because that’s a big thing for us, you know, a big push for us is to, it would be to find a permanent site for YMUW, right now we’re using a lot of municipal land, and Boy Scout land, and Girl Scout land and things like that. And a lot of the effort, a lot of the volunteer effort every time is to get everybody organized, and then get all the stuff there and set up, right, because you’re setting up an obstacle course, you’re setting up a kitchen, you’re setting up all kinds of stuff. So a lot of the energy goes into that. And I think in an ideal world, of course, we’d have permanent sites where a lot of this stuff could already be established. And so you know, guys can spend more time developing their own personal mentorship chops instead of, you know, schlepping stuff around. Right now, that’s how it is. Yeah.
Joanne Tan 39:05
On your website. ymuw.org, People can donate.
Jonathan Leidy 39:11
They can, yeah,
Joanne Tan 39:12
Yes, great, because we need financial resources and volunteers to make it grow. And I do believe as a society, we all have the responsibility of bringing up young men into productive, self governing, and mentally, emotionally healthy, and psychologically sound human beings, because they are, they’re integral part of a family happiness, What kind of father they’re going to become, what kind of husband they’re going to become, the relationship they’re going to have with others. Yeah, so all of this is going to be affecting the entire humanity. You know, and every family. Given the rise of school shootings and violence perpetrated by young men, I think this is just absolutely a very important part that we all need to contribute to. So as for myself, I feel this responsibility, I feel this urge to let people realize the importance of bringing up young men.
Joanne Tan 40:24
The whole society, men and women, we all have this responsibility. And that’s going to be the kind of society we are going to live in. With all the challenges.
Jonathan Leidy 40:36
I agree with you, 100% of me, as you know, right. We’re in a period right now. Where gender and gender identity is, is taking new shape and all of that, but, you know, regardless of your opinions on that, and men are still going to play a big role in it, because they’re a big part of society. Right. And so, what we say about YMUW, is we’re bringing the sons and the fathers and the grandfathers together, in pursuit of protecting one another, and all of the daughters, mothers and grandmothers out there. Because that’s really what we need.
Joanne Tan 41:20
Yes, yes, absolutely. I have never asked my audience to volunteer or donate in any of my interviews. But this is an exception, I’m going to donate, WMUW.org. And yes, and I hope there are more people who will volunteer and contribute in their own ways. And I find this to be true all the time: When you are volunteering, and serving others, when you’re trying to play an active role in serving others, you unintentionally or intentionally, you get so much more out of it. You feel supported, you feel healed, you feel you’re part of a community. So it’s not just like one way giving, every time you give you get so much back. That’s just the… I believe it’s a universal truth.
Jonathan Leidy 42:14
No argument here.
Joanne Tan 42:18
Well, you have given eight years of your life, and thank you, that’s just really honorable and noble. And it’s so impressive. I thank you from Mom’s point of view. And yeah, if we can support any other ways, please let us know.
Jonathan Leidy 42:34
I will. And you know, thank you, thank you for helping get the word out about it. Because the last thing we want to be is the best young man’s experience that nobody knows about. So it always helps to have somebody who can help, give it voice and get it out to folks.
Joanne Tan 42:52
I’m a branding expert. So before the end of each interview, I asked this question, everybody. What does Jonathan Leidy’s brand stand for?
Jonathan Leidy 43:04
Hmm. Well, I’d say integrity above all else, meaning that I mean, that sort of speaks for itself. But you know, just the notion that you don’t have a lot in the world really, when you break it down other than your word, and so you got to stand behind your beliefs, and stand up for what you believe, and certainly I believe in helping young men be productive members of society.
Joanne Tan 43:37
Okay, as a parting gift, I give my honored guests a summarization of their brand. I hope this one you like, okay, it’s always less than five words. So how about this: “Integrity in words and actions”.
Jonathan Leidy 43:56
I like it.
Joanne Tan 43:58
Thank you! Yeah. So your brand stands for “integrity in words and actions”. It’s not just words, but actions too. Thank you so much.
Jonathan Leidy 44:09
Thank you Joanne.
Joanne Tan 44:10
Yes, and my honor to have you. Talk to you later.
Jonathan Leidy 44:16
Okay, sounds good.
Joanne Tan 44:17
All right. Bye.
© Joanne Z. Tan, all rights reserved.
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