Inspiring and Mentoring Others That Need it the Most – We Can Positively Change Lives!

It is 9:00am on a Friday and I am about to start my presentation to a group of 15-20 teenage girls that are 17 and 18 years old.  The goal of the presentation? To inspire them! To encourage them to take personal responsibility for their life! To motivate them to go for it in life!

But this wasn’t a normal presentation. This is not the typical group of ladies I normally present to.  What was different about this group, was that most of these young ladies were either on probation or parole; many of them wearing Present circumstancesbracelets on their ankles to account for their whereabouts.

Anyone that knows me, will tell you I am not about cutting much slack with people about the need to take personal responsibility in life.  I believe to the very end, that we are responsible for our life and if we want to change, WE must change. We must believe in ourselves before anyone else can be expected to believe in us. Additionally, in order to get respect, we must treat ourselves with respect first. And, if we want to be the best, we must surround ourselves with the best.

Many people would look out at this group and feel quite negative about what the future looked like for these young ladies.  Many came from terrible childhoods. Most of them are surrounded with the worst influences in life, often being their own  family members.  Their support network?  Many have absolutely none.  And the reality is, they have been convicted of a crime. But as I interacted with these young ladies, talking one-on-one with many of them and getting to know a little bit about them, I saw what many would not see.  I saw HOPE.  They were attentive, interactive and many were embarrassed of their current situation.  It was very clear to me that they were not ‘confident‘ in themselves and didn’t have the tools or support network to do things differently than what they were doing now.

We all need someone to inspireAs I think of that day (and I do think of that day EVERY day), I think about the people in my personal and professional life. We all know the superstars around us; the ones that have it all together, are motivated and confident. Those are the easy ones to mentor, aren’t they? But what about the ones that are the complete opposite? How do we handle that person that appears awkward to us, shy, which doesn’t have it all together?  Do we push them aside or do we do our best to ‘try’ to motivate them, inspire them and mentor them?

Thinking of the young ladies in that room on that Friday, I know I did my best to inspire them and give them ‘hope’, that YES THEY CAN change their life around and succeed.  I believe that  they can change their lives around. But, they need to do a lot of work on themselves and have people like you and me to care, push them in the right direction, hold them accountable and believe in them.

We all have a gift in life to make a positive impact on someone else’s life.  Your positive influence might even change someone’s life! And how cool would that be?

Questions: What can YOU do today and every day to try to inspire those around you that might not be the easiest people to mentor?  What can we do to go the extra mile for those that might never have been given the time and attention before? Has anyone ever taken you under their wing; supported you, mentored you, when you most needed it?  I would LOVE to hear from you!


2016-11-11T11:55:58-07:00By |Inspirational Articles|29 Comments


  1. Adam McGinness August 20, 2013 at 8:50 am - Reply

    Cynthia, those young women need someone like you in their lives. Everyone has something special about them. For some it is buried deep inside. As you mentioned, these young women do not have a support network, they do not have people who believe in them. It has taken me a while to learn this, but “shining my light” onto others is something that I aspire to do each and every day. Whether it is holding the door for someone at a convenience store, lifting someone up through Social Media, speaking kind words to people when the opportunity arises, etc. I want to shed some positive light into their worlds. There are a lot of people out there living in darkness. I was there once myself. I had people that believed in me and they lifted me out of my dark hole and I “saw the light”! I surround myself with positive, uplifting individuals (you are one of them Cynthia). I also strive to reach out to others in a variety of ways and be a positive light in their lives. Keep up the amazing work Cynthia!

    • SmartChic August 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your awesome comments Adam! You are the example that all should live by! It’s those little things that you do every day that shines brightly on others. And I guarantee, you make the day of other people because of your positivity! And thank you for sharing how other people were there for you and lifted you WAY up! It shows how inspiring and mentoring can change a person’s life! I am grateful to have you in my inner circle Adam!

  2. Brad Hanson August 20, 2013 at 9:50 am - Reply


    Those young women need someone to believe in them. They need hope, not chains. They need love, support & understanding, not punishment. Good for you, sunshine. I am a board member for an area youth center and also I make presentations at group homes and correctional facilities.

    I have done this for years. Why, I’ll tell you why. Because I was one of the lucky ones that had a loving family. I was never raped by my father, mother, or another family member. I was never beaten with a wire coat hanger. I was never shot by a family member or a friend.

    I was never treated like a piece of trash. I was loved, supported, and that is why I am what I am today. I am so moved and happy to hear that you are reaching out to these beautiful people.

    God bless you for your efforts. Do not stop. You have so much to give, they need people like you to believe in them.

    Be Blessed,

    • SmartChic August 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm - Reply

      Wow Brad….Thank you so much for your comments and sharing what you do to give back. You are top notch and I guarantee to you that you are changing lives. You have a gift to inspire others and you are such a wonderful example of how giving back can positively influence the lives of others! I am honored to call you a friend!

  3. Dave Moore August 20, 2013 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Hi Cynthia…

    just taking a break and reading a few things online and I came across this awesome post of yours.

    As you know i have presented my programs in a few of the toughest prisons in the UK. It IS very rewarding. It is also amazing that there are so many capable, intelligent and knowledgeable people in the system through some mistake, or random but nevertheless illegal act. Taking the time to get them ‘back on track’ is a very worthy thing to do in my opinion.

    What if the cure for cancer is trapped inside the mind of someone who cannot or could not, afford an education? What if that person remains the same person that entered prison or some form of correctional facility? By getting them to see the error of their past actions, and to get them back on track we may have found an an answer to a bigger issue.

    As Leaders, teachers, role models and trainers we must do everything in our power and go wherever we have to to ensure we empower, lead, and teach everyone around us so they can achieve their true potential. It is not our job: it is our DUTY!

    This world is a better place for having people like you in it. Respect!

    • SmartChic August 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      PERFECTLY said my friend! “As Leaders, teachers, role models and trainers we must do everything in our power and go wherever we have to to ensure we empower, lead, and teach everyone around us so they can achieve their true potential. It is not our job: it is our DUTY!” Thank YOU for being such a Rockstar Dave!

    • Chery Gegelman September 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      Davd – I thought of your work as I read Cynthia’s post! I am inspired by the work that both of you have done and very thankful for it. I know people that have been on the receiving end of this kind of work. People that if you met today are so impressive you would never guess what their history was… Thank you for what you do!

  4. Marc Lawn August 20, 2013 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Mentoring is a fascinating world. It is easy when we find others that we simply ‘understand’ but the real art, and skill, to mentoring is finding ways to connect and inspire those that appear at odds. We must challenge ourselves to ‘walk in their shoes’ and ‘feel what they feel’ in order to understand how we might help them. I believe Cynthia, that every person can help another (to a greater of lesser degree) but only when we reserve judgement and really ask ourselves ‘what can I do for this person and what does this person want from me’. I have worked with the terminally-ill and found that they just wanted to be treated like a normal person for just one day – for someone to cast aside their illness and let them be normal for once. These girls need all the support and none of ‘stigma’ that goes with where they are. Like parachutes, minds work better when open – that is what you did Cynthia and you should be proud of that fact.

    • SmartChic August 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Such awesome comments Marc! I thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom. What most resonated with me is when you said, “We must challenge ourselves to ‘walk in their shoes’ and ‘feel what they feel’ in order to understand how we might help them”. We are unique and the key is to find what inspires that individual to be their best self. And yes, as you also say, “minds work better when open”. Thank you again for sharing and I am SO glad we are connected.

  5. Linda Mastroianni August 20, 2013 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Cynthia what you have said in your post is absolutely true. What these young women need are role models like you who can show them that they are worth all of what the world has to offer. It is normal for all human beings to want to feel loved and to feel that they matter in this world. That their presence and existence is not only relevant but necessary. When you take the time to mentor someone who needs it, you are showing them that you care enough about them to spend time with them. Such a simple thing to do.

    The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. Indifference is the most loneliest feeling in the world.
    Bravo Cynthia for a well written post!

    Linda xo

    • SmartChic August 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm - Reply

      Thank you SO much Linda for your comments. I really appreciate what you have shared. We all need supportive, inspiring people in our lives to lift us WAY up in life. And so often it’s those little things that mean so much to the other person. I am honored to be connected with you. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom!

  6. Geoff Conn August 20, 2013 at 11:08 am - Reply

    I am more of a person of actions than words. Funny as it sounds as being a radio guy, I’ve never been much of a talker. I try to lead by example. With mentoring disadvantage individuals, this fits. Show interest in them and attempt to lead them in the right directions to help them make their lives better. Never continue to be amazed at all the things you do for people my friend. Thank you so much for leading!

    • SmartChic August 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Thank you my friend for taking the time to share your wisdom! Leading by example is one of the best forms of mentorship. You definitely walk the talk and I appreciate you very much. Thanks for being such a good example for others to follow Geoff!!

  7. Johann Gauthier August 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Amazing post Cynthia!
    You are Hope…
    Whatever you do and wherever you are you bring hope.
    The joy that you resonate is a pure gift of passion to help others reach their full potential.
    I promise you one thing… I will always be there supporting you given your potential, passion and impact.
    We all have a higher calling in life and yours is whimsical.
    Your friend.

    • SmartChic August 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Thank you Johann for your inspiring words to me. You have such a huge gift of lifting people WAY up! You bring a smile to people’s faces when you talk and write. You are so giving to others and you are changing the lives of others each day. Thank YOU my friend!

  8. Terri B. August 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Amazing post. I know without a doubt you touched the lives of these young ladies. You have such a great energy and message. When others think it’s impossible, your motivation and faith convinces us that anything is possible. I’m so happy you’re sharing this gift with others. It’s truly a blessing. Great blog Cynthia! Your blogs always make me reflect on my life. Thank you.

    • SmartChic August 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm - Reply

      Thank you SO much Terri for your awesome words. With the right people on our side, I do believe anything is possible! I am full of gratitude for all your support and positivity and just you being a top notch ‘SmartChic’! You are fantastic!

  9. Dale Fagre August 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm - Reply


    First of all, you are amazingly inspirational and I want to applaud you for your positivity, motivation and authenticity!

    Personally, I have had some great mentors throughout my life and have pledged to pay it forward. I have found a lot of joy and responsibility in inspiring and mentoring others, and it is humbling to see how it positively impacts their lives. In fact, just recently I was brought into a new organization in a top leadership role that had gone through some challenges and transition at the top levels. Now 6 weeks later, a number of staff have confided in me that they were ready to leave prior to my coming, but are now excited and committed to the mission and organization. This is not at all about me. Rather it is about taking the time to listen to others, identifying their triggers, goals, strengths and aspirations. It is about exhibiting authentic leadership, empathy and vision. When a mentor or leader is able to do this, inspiration takes over and those who were inspired begin to inspire others. It is contagious and fun to watch! Thank you!

    • SmartChic August 20, 2013 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Thank you SO much Dale for sharing your wisdom! You have shared perfectly what awesome mentors/leaders do: “taking the time to listen to others, identifying their triggers, goals, strengths and aspirations. It is about exhibiting authentic leadership, empathy and vision.” I can’t add much more to that other than….. BRAVO Dale for being a top notch leader and changing the lives of SO many people. I am so honored to be connected with you and to learn from you.

  10. Jeanne August 20, 2013 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    I only wish I had someone like you as a mentor growing up! As my story will bring out in my upcoming book, I have never had a mentor! I was disowned from my family when I got pregnant and married as a teenager. Still a teenager, a young mother, and after my divorce, I had to grow up fast and learn from my mistakes with little help! I admire you for being a mentor to these girls. I could have ended up in jail or worse. I attribute my choices on the love for my son, my faith in God, and music! That’s all I had growing up to motivate me to move forward and be the person I am today! However, that is not enough! Everyone needs to be told they are loved, can make it in this world, and are worthy! Now, blessed with my best friend and husband, Anthony, my wonderful son, and his two beautiful daughters, I am determined to make my dreams come true! You have been a great inspiration to me to do just that! You motivate me to have confidence and never give up! Thank you Cynthia for all you do!

    • SmartChic August 21, 2013 at 8:37 am - Reply

      Jeanne, thank you SO much for sharing. You truly are an inspiration to me and so many people. And you express exactly what is SO needed! As you say “Everyone needs to be told they are loved, can make it in this world and are worthy!” I am very grateful to be connected with you Jeanne and your book is going to be such an inspiration to SO many people.

  11. Alli Polin August 21, 2013 at 6:07 am - Reply

    What an experience! We inspire hope through our love and care and a fierce unwillingness to give up on others even when they are willing to give up on themselves. I’m sure that many of these young ladies will remember your talk for a lifetime. If just one, taps into her belief that she CAN make another choice and it’s not too late to change you will have made an incredible difference. So glad you shared this story!

    • SmartChic August 21, 2013 at 8:39 am - Reply

      Thank you so much Alli for sharing your wisdom. I absolutely love what you said about really loving others, by having a “fierce unwillingness to give up on others even when they are willing to give up on themselves”. We are ALL very blessed and just by lifting someone WAY up in life, we may very well change someone’s life.

  12. Michelle Krieger August 22, 2013 at 12:13 am - Reply

    What a lucky group of girls! There are so many others in similar circumstances, all across North America, who will go to bed tonight without having had the opportunity to hear someone tell them that “Yes, they ARE worth it”. I’m positive that your talk that night will have made a huge difference in the lives of more than one of those girls! You may have even helped save a life that night. It was probably the first time many of them had even considered that they might be able to walk a different path. I hope many of them realized that they don’t have to let today’s circumstances define them, and that they have a choice to surround themselves with people who can lift them up instead of dragging them down.

    Once again, Cynthia, you have left me reflecting on my own life, past and present. I understand how easy it can be to find yourself sitting on the bottom wondering how on Earth you got there. It’s not something that’s isolated to the broken families or the ghetto neighborhoods of the world either. I grew up with wonderful parents, an amazing family, good friends and full-ride scholorships to my choice of universities. Unfortunately, what I didn’t have was confidence and self-esteem. And I wasn’t much older than those girls when I met and married the boy that would ultimately lead me straight into darkness and leave wounds that I struggle with to this day. Luckily, I found the inner strength to leave before the situation cost me everything. But it changed the course of my life forever and took away parts of me that I can never get back.

    Never underestimate how we can affect the lives of others. Whether it’s a simple smile when someone is obviously having a bad day, or taking someone under our wings when they need it the most, each one of us has the power to make someone’s day a little brighter or their world less scary and confusing. And ultimately isn’t that what Mentoring, or even Life, is all about?

  13. Laurie August 25, 2013 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Hi Cindy,

    It’s interesting that I’m reading this now, because we have a houseguest for the weekend that just arrived yesterday and I’d like to tell you a little about him and his mentor, my husband. Our now 17-year old house guest was just eight in 2004 when my husband met him. Sean (my husband) had gone alone to check out a possible new church home for us and sat down at an empty table after the service in their fellowship hall. A dark-haired, wide-eyed little boy passed by, clearly on his way to see all his friends waiting for him at a near-by table. When he saw Sean sitting by himself, he stopped and chatted with him. And though Sean gave him “permission” to go and be with his friends, he chose to bring cookies back to Sean’s table, sit with him, and visit. This was the start of a deep friendship/ mentorship between my husband and this young product of divorced parents and a somewhat troubled home life.

    In the years following, this 8-yr. old became a young teen into alcohol, drugs, and hanging with the “wrong crowd”. Sean has never wavered as a positive presence in his life, with phone calls, Skype communication, and texts. He has kept up with this young man’s activities and follows up with him when it comes to important tests in school, driver’s Ed, ect. I’ve seen a special kind of bond between them grow over the years, and even last night he thanked my husband and me several times (almost to the point of annoyance! 😉 for having him in our home. We went to dinner party and introduced him to several friends. Everyone welcomed him and made him feel special. He was seemed a little embarassed by the attention, yet seemed to “soak in” the positive, uplifting atmosphere like a sponge. It’s interesting what can be brought out or, rekindled in a person just by being surrounded by positive people, positive energy. We know this troubled teen is still that kind-hearted 8-yr. old Soul inside. And we think he misses that part of himself, too. He is currently getting help and on a good track to recovery.

    Just wanted to share with you. Thank you for what YOU are doing in this world to make a difference in people’s lives, Cindy. I think it’s wonderful!!

    • SmartChic September 9, 2013 at 6:26 am - Reply

      Wow Laurie…. Thank you SO much for sharing about your house guest and how Sean has made such an impact on this young man’s life. So inspiring…. THANK YOU!

  14. Ashly K August 25, 2013 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Bringing inspiration to all that need it, it’s why I follow and get my day started with Cynthia.
    You help show everyone you see a way to find themselves and become more im powered so they can face life and any obstacle head on and become the better for it!!!

  15. Chery Gegelman September 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm - Reply


    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I know some super smart and savvy women that have come out of situations like this. I’m inspired by your work. Thrilled that you got to be a part of their lives and have no doubt that you planted seeds that will grow! Thank you for sharing!

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