Jareem Gunter had a promising baseball career ahead of him, but life threw him a curveball that put the big leagues out of the picture. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, he decided to start mentoring young kids — particularly, at-risk young men. His daily work with these young men inspired Jareem to write The Man Book. It’s an all-around guide to becoming a better man filled with the kind of tips and insights that young men should hear from their fathers, but don’t always get taught. Today on the podcast Jareem and I discuss the challenges facing young men today, man skills, and mentoring.
- How Jareem’s experience mentoring at-risk young men led to the creation of The Man Book
- The biggest challenges young men face today
- Why helping boys become men starts with teaching them accountability and responsibility
- The three levels of how people approach life
- Why becoming a better man often starts with vulnerability (i.e., admitting you don’t have everything figured out)
- How to not let the past define you
- How to break the cycle of terrible fathering in your family
- How Jareem’s dream of playing pro baseball was derailed and how he bounced back from that setback
- Why and how to get started with mentoring
- And much more!
The Man Book was originally written for the young men Jareem mentors, so it’s a perfect gift for middle school and high school boys. But it also has some great reminders for us old timers who are long in the tooth. You can pick up a copy at TheManBook.org.
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here. Welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. A while back ago, I got an email from an Art of Manliness reader. His name’s Jareem Gunter. He does a lot of mentoring for at-risk young men in the Oakland area. We’re talking young men in poverty who are at-risk for crime and the like. He was working on a book directed at these young men. He asked me to contribute something to it. It’s all about skills that a guy should learn that a lot of these young men weren’t learning because they didn’t have dads. That book became “The Man Book.” It’s out right now.
We’re going to talk about it today but, also, on the podcast I talked to Jareem about mentoring or being a mentor for young men, why it’s so important, what you can do to become a mentor to other young men, and why, even if you’re a grown man, in your 30’s, 40’s or 50’s, you should find mentors in your life to help you become your best self. Also, we talk about just the content in “The Man Book”, a lot of great stuff about becoming responsible, holding yourself accountable. We talk about dealing with set-backs and failures. We talk about a huge setback that Jareem had while he was in college that shattered his dreams of professional baseball, a really interesting podcast with a lot of great take-aways. Without further ado, Jareem Gunter and “The Man Book.” Jareem Gunter, …
Jareem Gunter: Yes.
Brett McKay: … welcome to the show.
Jareem Gunter: Thank you.
Brett McKay: You have this book called “The Man Book” out. You asked me to be a part of it, which I was really honored. We’re going to get to that. We’re going to talk about that in a little bit but before we get there, let’s talk about what brought you to writing the book. You have a really interesting background because you’re a young guy. What are you in your 30’s, I’m imagining, …
Jareem Gunter: Yeah. I think I’m young.
Brett McKay: … but you spent most of your adult life mentoring young men. We’re talking high school kids.
Jareem Gunter: Yes.
Brett McKay: What are the biggest problems you saw in the lives of the young men you worked with? Talk more about the type of young men you did work with.
Jareem Gunter: The type of young men that I usually work with are inner-city youth. Most of them will be black and Latino background. I thought it was really important to represent those cultures because of the struggle that a lot of them been a part of. The biggest problem that I see with young men is just a lack of belief in themselves. I think it’s due to the support around them. It’s just a lack of belief in themselves. It’s so low, they sometimes do whatever it takes to make others believe what they want to create about themselves.
Brett McKay: Got you. Do you think that lack of belief in themselves, did it stem from not having fathers? Is it poverty? Is not having that support network there?
Jareem Gunter: Yeah. I actually believe it’s this challenge they face. I think they go to every race. I think that some of the topics that I touch in the book are for every single race. The youth that I’ve worked with, it’s not primarily about race. It’s more about culture and the poverty where they grew up in. A lot that poverty is based on not having a father around. I don’t know the stats exactly but I know that when there’s just a one-parent household or one income coming in, it’s less likely that the family’s going to be successful.
Of course, a lot of people have made it out but some people don’t know how to make it. They’re struggling. The kids and the young men in those families have to put a lot of burden on themselves. They’re trying to do something, show something and create something that they don’t really know how to do.
Brett McKay: Exactly.
Jareem Gunter: I always tell people, “If you’ve never been shown something, how do you learn how to do it?” When I was growing up I played baseball. If my dad never showed me how to play baseball, how would I know how to play baseball?
Brett McKay: Having that dad around, not even to show you specifically, sit down and show you, “Hey son, this is how you do it,” but just being a model. You learn a lot through osmosis as a kid.
Jareem Gunter: I tell people all the time, I say, “For me as a man, every child I come in contact with, I need to make sure that a child’s watching me.” Whatever I do, I act like a child’s watching me. I don’t want to do anything that I wouldn’t want a young man or a young woman, also, to see. I try to make sure I live my life in an area where somebody can watch me and learn from me. I have actually a two-year-old son currently but even before he was born, I still had a lot of young men that I was connected to. I wanted to make sure that I showed them a model of how to walk, how to talk and how to do certain things.
Brett McKay: Becoming a dad definitely makes you more self-conscious of how you act because you realize … My son’s five. You don’t think they’re watching but they are because he’s done stuff that like, “I did that.” The only place he’s learned that, to do that, it was from me.
Jareem Gunter: Exactly.
Brett McKay: I didn’t sit down and teach him how to do it.
Jareem Gunter: A lot of times, we don’t even know that they’re watching us. For example, I hate … It’s going to be terrible. You’re going to hate this but I hate vegetables. I hate vegetables. I eat my meat but I don’t eat the vegetables like I should. My son is two years old, Bow he doesn’t eat his vegetables. I’m watching him like, “Why won’t you eat your vegetables?” I’m starting to realize that maybe he sees his dad not eating his vegetables. I always tell him to eat his vegetables but it’s just because he watches and see what I do.
Brett McKay: Probably he’s watching.
Jareem Gunter: In the beginning of the book, I talk about a young man. This is the reason why I wrote the book. I took these young men to see a motivational speaker. I don’t know if you know who Tony Robbins is but I took them to see Tony Robbins. We’re in a hotel room. We’re listening to the music. One of the young men was talking about how his father lives actually a block away from him. Basically, in my program, I had him in my program. I had his brother.
His brother lived with his dad. His brother would come to the program every Saturday and say, “hey, dad told me tell you hi.” The young boy was 18 years old. He said, “I don’t understand why my brother’s always telling me that my dad says hi. Why can’t he call me? He only lives a block away from me.” He says, “I’m 18 years old. I don’t know how to tie a tie. I don’t know how to talk to a young woman. I just don’t know how to do things that I feel like a father’s supposed to teach a son. All I know about is everybody that’s shown me in my neighborhood how to do these man things. They don’t do them the right way.”
That’s when I said, “What can I do? I know my role is to be these young men’s mentor but what can I do to help other young men get over that hump of learning how to deal with the loss of a father or just getting that manhood advice from somebody?” That’s why the book was created.
Brett McKay: Gotcha. Now “The Man Book” is awesome because it’s got a lot of great photos in it. It’s littered with different man skills that dads are supposed to teach their sons but you start off the book …
Jareem Gunter: Thank you.
Brett McKay: … talking about accountability and responsibility. Why is that?
Jareem Gunter: Mm-hmm. The reason I started off with that is because I feel like men in general have an issue with accountability. It’s always someone else’s fault when we do certain things. It’s not my fault but it somebody else’s fault all the time. Accountability means let your actions rise above your excuses. In the book, I talked about three steps of accountability. In the beginning, it’s taking responsibility. During it is empowering yourself. After, it is accepting personal responsibility.
Brett McKay: Gotcha. How can a man develop more accountability and responsibility in his life. Even I’ve noticed myself, I’ll do that too. Something wrong happens. Then I’ll blame something else. I’m like, “I probably should step up and take …” Even if a man’s in his 20’s, 30’s, what can they do to develop more accountability in their lives? Is it a matter of getting a group of friends that hold them accountable? Is it just holding themselves accountable?
Jareem Gunter: I think actually it’s everything combined into one. It’s having a mate that holds you accountable. It’s about having friends that hold you accountable and also yourself. I think that’s the biggest part is holding yourself accountable because I know if I do something or even if I don’t do something, if I’m a part of something, then it’s my responsibility to give my part. I know in the book I talk about if you’re in a group, a study group, and you all have a certain project going on and the person in your group doesn’t do a certain part. Then you end up not doing your part either.
Then you’ve got to get an F. Then you get mad. You say, “They didn’t do their part. That’s why we failed,” but you have to realize that you also didn’t do your part. You didn’t also do the part to the level that it should be at. You have to take responsibility for your actions in every aspect of your life. I think that’s really huge in young men because as we’re growing up, just like children. I was saying my son’s two. He might do something. My son’s name is Josiah. I’ll say, “Josiah,” going back to vegetables, “did you eat your vegetables,” he’ll say yes, knowing he didn’t eat his vegetables.
I’m thinking about how does a young child that’s two years already learn how to lie and already learn how to not be accountable? I think it’s inherited. Just as young people, as grown people, we don’t take accountability for our actions. Adult, grandparents, everybody, a lot of people don’t take accountability. I think that’s huge in our world today and being accountable for the things that you are a part of.
Brett McKay: Gotcha. You move on. I thought this was really interesting. You talk about three approaches or three levels of how people approach life. Can you talk about what those levels are?
Jareem Gunter: Yes. The levels are survivalist, success and significance. I think that most people, they want in life to have Number Three the most but they want to do it while getting Number Two. They want to do it with significance but they want to get it while they’re getting success. If you’re getting success but you’re not significant, sometimes people can just deal with that or if you’re significant but then you’re broke and you don’t have any money, you’re like, “What’s going on?” I think the goal is how do you create all of that into one?
Brett McKay: Gotcha. Just to clarify, survivalist is you’re just trying to get by in life, …
Jareem Gunter: Yes.
Brett McKay: … bare bones and necessity. When we talk about success, are we talking about primarily financial success?
Jareem Gunter: No, we’re talking about all types of success but just living a comfortable life.
Brett McKay: Then significance, I’m guessing, is living a life of meaning or having a larger purpose and leaving a legacy.
Jareem Gunter: Exactly, living with purpose. In the book I talk about four steps you have to take to get a significant life and actually to create all three. If you miss even one of those steps, it’s hard to create that significant life that you want to create. The steps are passion, confidence, goal and lifestyle. What I mean by passion is before anything starts, you have to get a passion for something. As I was saying, in college I played baseball. My passion was being the best player I could be. I had a passion for baseball. When I wrote this book, I had a passion for changing young people.
It’s actually crazy. I’m going off-topic but the book was for young people and young men that grew up without a father but the feedback I’ve been getting from people is that this book has been beneficial to all men, not just the younger men that I thought I was writing the book for but it’s been beneficial for all men and also even some women who are trying to just know more about how a man should act. That’s just a side-note but passion is about what does your heart really desire? Confidence is huge because when you have confidence in yourself, other people believe in you also.
When I mean confidence, I don’t mean cocky. I mean that you really believe that your passion is important. You have confidence that what you’re passionate about is helpful to somebody else. When I use goals, I talk about smart goals. I know in school they always talk about smart goals, which are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. You have these goals that you have to create and write down your goals that’s based off your confidence and your passion. The biggest part that I feel like is lifestyle. A lot of times we have passion for something. Say we want to change the world or I don’t know, if you want to cure the water epidemic that we have and then in your lifestyle you continue to drink bottled water.
Whatever you say your passion is, what you’re confident in and your goals are, your lifestyle has to match that. If you want to be a person that wants to lift up women and make sure women are living successful but you’re always dating 10 women at a time, then you’re not living the lifestyle of what you’re trying to create.
Brett McKay: Basically, you’re just saying, “Walk the talk.” Right.
Jareem Gunter: Exactly.
Brett McKay: Right. I’ve seen that happen a lot or people, they have this idea or ideal that they want to strive for but they don’t actually live up to it or actually put that into action.
This is interesting. You had this section about vulnerability. You don’t really associate that, being vulnerable as a guy thing. That’s not masculine but you explained vulnerability in a different way that made it like, “That makes sense.” What do you mean by a man should be vulnerable?
Jareem Gunter: Most men have been taught to hide who they really are or I won’t even say hide who they really are. They’re been taught to hide their feelings. We’re supposed to get fit, be tough and laugh. We don’t really show the other emotions or we’re not supposed to show those other emotions. I think one of the biggest points when I talk to women is I always hear women complain about the thing that they have issues with with men is that we always shut down. When we get upset, we shut down. We don’t want to be touched. We don’t want to be talked to. We just want to shut down and go into our own cave. I feel like that’s the biggest issue in this world today.
That’s why I feel like people get killed. People get hurt. I feel like that’s why a lot of things happen is because we hold so much in until we explode. When we explode, then that’s when we kill somebody or that’s when something happens because we’re holding so much anger and so much frustration in us instead of being able to let it out and talk to somebody or be vulnerable and open up to it, even if it’s just open up to the people close to you but you have to be able to let something out. I heard this one time that before you can even receive something … Let me give you an example.
If I decide hat I want to give up smoking, if I give up smoking, I have to combat that with something else. If I let go of that, I have to get something else. I can’t just say I’m going to stop smoking and then just stop cold turkey. If I’m planning to top smoking, I need to maybe work out at that time that I feel like I have to smoke. Something has to change that desire to smoke. That’s the same thing with being vulnerable. We have to have something that can heal us from that hurt or something that can take over that hurt. Instead of us holding it all in, we have to be able to let it go to get something else into us.
We can’t even receive something if we’re holding so much hurt into us and so much frustration into us. We can’t love, if we’re not being vulnerable. It all comes together. If we don’t open up, we can’t receive anything. Does that make sense?
Brett McKay:Yeah. The then other thing is you also talk in the book about how vulnerability is like the first step towards self-improvement in a lot of ways ..
Jareem Gunter: In all aspects.
Brett McKay: … because being vulnerable is basically like admitting I don’t have all the answers. I’m not good at this thing. I know for a lot of guys, that sucks. You don’t want to admit that you’re incompetent and that you’re not good at something. You used to put on this front like you have it together but if you want to actually get better, you have to admit and be vulnerable like, “Hey, I don’t know how to tie and tie. Can you show me how?”
Jareem Gunter: How many men want to do that especially to another man?
Brett McKay: Definitely.
Jareem Gunter: Also, we make jokes about it a lot but if we’re driving around and we have a woman in our passenger seat, we don’t want to stop and ask for directions because we have to feel like we know it all. It’s funny but it’s true because we have to always show that we are a man’s man instead of saying, “You know what? I don’t know how to get there. Let me get directions.” Thank God for now our iPhones and our cellular devices that an give us directions so we don’t have to ask anybody else but it’s just a true statement that men have an issue with giving themselves or even really feeling like they’re giving themselves up.
Brett McKay: I feel like we let ego get in the way sometimes.
Jareem Gunter: Yes, on a lot of things.
Brett McKay: Right. That happens to a lot of men. Here’s a perfect example in my own life of vulnerability is I’m lifting weights. I’m trying to get stronger. I have a coach that I go to. I send him my videos of my lifts so he can critique them. Today’s lifts, they just sucked. I was not feeling good this morning. They were terrible. I knew they were terrible but I sent them to him anyway because I knew he’s going to have advice for me what to do. I have to admit, “I sucked right now but I need your help.” I know that he’s going to send feedback to me that’s going to help me get better and improve upon that. It all starts with opening yourself and letter go of the ego.
Jareem Gunter: Yep. Working out is probably one of the biggest parts. Just like if we need a spot in the gym, a lot of times we’re like, “No, we don’t want to ask for a spot because we’ve got this.” Then the weight gets so heavy and it gets stuck on our chest that we can’t even pick it up …
Brett McKay: Then you die.
Jareem Gunter: … because we wanted to show them that we …
Brett McKay: Exactly. Right. Moving on, another thing that’s really interesting is you talk about the three Fs plus one as the backbone of being a man. Can you explain what the Fs plus one is?
Jareem Gunter: Yes. The three Fs are fight, failure, fear. The the plus one is fate I feel like every man has been taught these things. It can be good or bad, and even if you don’t have a father around, but everybody’s been taught that you fight. There’s failures. There’s fear. There’s faith. We might have all been taught differently but we’ve all been taught these things. Even if people don’t agree with my point in the book, everybody agrees with these four things are something that we live with day to day in every aspect of our life. We are either fighting for what we believe, we’re not fighting because we’re fearful that we’re going to fail in what we believe in or we’re fighting because we have the faith to believe that what we’re fighting for is right.
It can be in every aspect. I think fight, failure, fear and faith are important in our life. What I put in this book was trying to simplify that into understanding why these things are important for us and why they matter and maybe not in the same way everybody else sees them.
Brett McKay: Gotcha. Jareem, here’s the question. You work with a lot of at-risk youth. The sad thing about poverty or the young men who are at-risk is it can oftentimes be a cycle. It just goes on and on.
Jareem Gunter: Oh, always. Yes, always.
Brett McKay: How do you break out of that? You talk about men become a change-over. How do you do that? How do you actually escape from your past? What are the biggest obstacles that prevent young men from letting go and growing from there, the past that might not have been so great?
Jareem Gunter: That’s a great question. It’s huge because I’ll tell you how to change or basically start it. I was talking to one of the friends of mine. He has a son. His son is about eight years old. He said that it’s really hard for him to relate and be there for his son all the time. I didn’t understand what he was talking about because my father’s always been there so I don’t think I ever appreciated it until I talked to my friends that didn’t have fathers around. He was telling me that sometimes he would go home and cry because he didn’t know if what he was teaching his son was the correct thing. It blew my mind because I said, “Wow. If he’s never been taught something, how does he know how to teach this? What can he do?”
I called him the other day. I said, “When you’re going to do the change-over, and I looked in the dictionary to see what change-over. It said just a change, to do something different. Wow. You can change a legacy. This can be a word that we can use to change the whole trajectory of your whole family’s lifeline.” If you change, then everybody else behind you changes. People say the projects or the hood. If you go to these places, a lot of times the great-grandmother lives in the house because the grandmother took it over, then the mother took it over, then the son or whoever else has taken it over but the house stayed in the family because everybody’s been in the same house.
How do you change that if your whole legacy has been one thing? My thought was you have to see yourself as whatever you decide you want to create and become, you see yourself as that. The biggest thing is connecting to the mentorship piece in there but the thing is to find somebody that is what you want to become. Once you find somebody that’s what you want to become, you model after them. You find that. For example, my dad is to me probably the most amazing man in the world. It’s going to be funny but I’ve never seen my dad do anything wrong. I’ve literally never seen him … Somebody will say, “What are they wearing?” I never heard him cuss. Everything he does is about positivity and uplifting.
When I went to college, one of my friends, I think his dad was a pimp and his mom was a prostitute. They gave him up to his grandmother. He left his grandmother when he was about 14. This kid was living on his own until he was in college. He’s in college. We became really close. He came to my house one time. He was talking about how he didn’t have a car. He didn’t know what to do. I’ll tell you my parents, they’re not the most wealthy people in the world. They’re regular, middle-class people that struggle just like everybody else but also could pay their bills. He was talking about his struggles and how he’d never really been given anything, never got a gift and he doesn’t have a car.
My parents decided to give him their car. This was in 2002 maybe. They gave him a ’98 Intrepid, so a fairly newer car. They decided just to give him their car because the felt like he needed something. This kid cried and cried and cried. Now this man has two kids. He is probably the best father ever. He always credits just from that moment that my dad gave him that car because he said he realized that people did care about him and there is people that are important. Just because he saw somebody caring for somebody else, now he knows how to care for other people. That’s a simple thing that happened that changed his whole entire life. Just what I’m saying is you can do the change-over based on just modeling somebody else’s actions.
Brett McKay: Awesome. We’ll talk about this later too but it takes someone who has “got it together” to reach out and help someone who needs that change.
Jareem Gunter: Exactly.
Brett McKay: We’ll talk about that in a sec. Let’s go back to this guy. I’ll tell you I read this about you. I thought this was really interesting. You talked about failure. That’s a big part of every man’s life. They’re going to have big set-backs in life. Can you tell us about a big set-back in your life that you had to overcome? How did you handle it?
Jareem Gunter: Yes. Wow. I’ve had a huge set-back in my life that basically changed everything about me. When I was in college I played baseball. I was in Missouri. I did actually really well playing baseball. I thought I was going to be drafted. A lot of other people thought I was going to be drafted. I actually was traveling around different places to perform for different teams when I was in college. At that time out of nowhere, my liver failed. I didn’t understand why because I didn’t drink. Usually when you think about liver failure, you think about somebody who’s an alcoholic. I had never tasted alcohol in my life. It was very awkward for me to have an issue where my liver had failed. At that time, I didn’t know what to do. I worked out a lot. I was taking a pill that I thought was just an over-the-counter pill. I thought it would be fine. I come to find out the pill had a steroid in it but not a steroid to get you stronger but a steroid to kill you.
My liver failed. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I went from 245 to 145 in a month. My bones had deteriorated so much that I could barely even walk. I was in a wheelchair and trying to get by every day. It was horrible. The doctor came into my room and told me that there was a possibility I could die. He told me if I wanted to get a liver transplant, they would have to seek out somebody that had the same liver as me. I decided that I didn’t want that. I said, “If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go,” because he told me that if got a liver transplant and the person was a smoker or something like that, I might inherit those traits. I decided no, that’s nothing I want to do. I’m going to, hopefully, just make it. I was blessed. I made it.
After I made it, I went back trying to play baseball again in the NCAA. My first game of the season we were playing at the Metrodome in Minnesota. I was getting ready to go on the field. My coach got a call saying that the NCAA was not going to let me play because I had taken a steroid. I didn’t understand because I said, “I didn’t know anything about it being a steroid.” My doctors wrote letters to them and said, “Jareem didn’t take the steroid. It wasn’t a steroid to boost him working out. I was a steroid that killed him.” The NCAA still wouldn’t let me play. They basically said that it wasn’t that what I was taking was negative but they basically had to make an example out of me, a good player that was taking something that I shouldn’t have been taking.
At that time I had no idea what I was going to do. I was stuck. I said, “All I thought I wanted to do ever was play baseball.” I came back home. I had been working with youth over the summer. I’d come out and help out at different programs. I said, “You know what? Let me just help my community.” I started working with students. I realized that that was what I was supposed to be doing. That’s why I got sick so that I could come out here and be a blessing to these young men. I definitely had a huge set-back but that set-back basically was really a set-up for this huge success about changing lives with young men.
Brett McKay: Did you get angry? If not, what did you do to not get angry? I can see myself just really getting angry at the world, God, the NCAA.
Jareem Gunter: Oh no, it was completely … When at first I was completing, as a 20-year-old baseball player, you’re thinking this is all you’re going to do. I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do. I was angry. To this day, I won’t say that I’m angry now. I wish I could know what the possibilities would have been but I feel like everything happened exactly how it was supposed to happen. At that time I was angry but I think the anger changed about two and a half months later after I came back home. I think I was also embarrassed because then I was saying, “How can they say that I had took a steroid?” I did take a steroid. When I think about steroids, I think about players like Mark McGuire, people that were intentionally taking steroids to get better. That wasn’t me.
I was really frustrated but when I came back home and I went to work with … I think it was my first student. I was a PE teacher. I went to a kindergarten class. I had this kindergartners circle up. We were just dancing around and doing little moves. I had them play four square. It was my first day. One of the students, a five-year-old boy, said, “You’re the best teacher we’ve ever had.” This is my first day. I said, “Wow. I guess this is what I’m supposed to do.” That’s when everything just started. I just stayed with that. I felt like that’s what I had to be doing. I love it now.
Brett McKay: That’s awesome. You found another opportunity. You took it.
Jareem Gunter: Yes.
Brett McKay:Gotcha. Also, I guess another lesson is for the guys out there because I know a lot of our guys work out. Be careful of the supplements you take because …
Jareem Gunter: Oh, my goodness. Please. They ended up having me as a spokesperson. I had to go speak on Capital Hill about supplements. A lot of things that I found out is if things aren’t … Actually, you can go into GNC and say, “Hey, I want you to sell my product,” and they can sell it. It doesn’t have to be FDA-approved for them to sell it at GMC, which is incredible. That blows my mind. I’m like, “How can a corporation be able to sell whatever they want without it going through some type of regulation?” They don’t have to.
Brett McKay: There’s really no regulation there. You can pretty much slap a label on anything.
Jareem Gunter: Anything.
Brett McKay: It’s crazy.
Jareem Gunter: The guy that was selling my product was actually making it out of the trunk of his car. He had a minivan. He was making the product out of the trunk of his minivan. In two weeks, he sold $1.5 million from this supplement that he made out of the trunk of his car.
Brett McKay: Crazy. They are. They’re selling this at GNC, Amazon, whatever. That’s another thing. That’s something if you guys do, if you take supplements, be careful of the supplements you take.
Jareem Gunter: Definitely.
Brett McKay: Watch out for that. Let’s talk about male friendship. What role has male friendship played in your life in shaping the man that you are?
Jareem Gunter: A long time ago I was struggling with something basically about friends supporting me. I had an event. My friends weren’t supporting it. I was venting to another friend about the issue I had with that. He said, “Jareem, you have to understand because you support everybody else, that doesn’t mean that everybody’s reality is going to be your reality or your reality is not going to be everybody’s else’s reality.” It made so much sense to me. At that time, I was like, “Wow. Why is he saying that,” but afterwards I thought about what he meant by that. Basically, these people weren’t on the same path on me, not that they weren’t still my friends but sometimes friendship is not based on longevity like I’ve always thought.
If you were my friend for 20 years, I feel like you should be my friend for the rest of my life. A lot of times it’s friends are here for seasons. That might have been a good five-year season but I might have another friend that’s here, that pushes me, that helps me grow. I think every friendship is about what can they give to your life to make you better and make you stronger? I would also say never stop being yourself. Don’t allow anybody else to make you not be yourself. Find friends that appreciate who you are, help you strive to do what you want to do on the path and don’t hold you path over your head.
Brett McKay: Let’s talk about male mentorship. This is how it all started. I’d like to end with this. I know there’s a lot of guys out there who would like to start mentoring. It’s something they feel like they want to do but not sure how to do it. Any advice for the guys out there who would like to start mentoring?
Jareem Gunter: Yeah. For me, mentorship is the most important thing you can do and you can get out of. Mentorship always is not about the young person or even the older person. It’s about yourself. I don’t want to take it as selfish but mentorship can be selfish sometimes because what you don’t know is that you’re getting so much out of it. Kids have literally changed my life, based on me just hearing things they say, the thoughts that they have about themselves. Then it creates things that I said, “Oh, you know what? I have that same problem about myself. How do I help them? I’m struggling too.” It’s very powerful. Actually, currently I’m trying to create a platform for mentors, for people that share the same goals. I’m trying to create some type of online thing where men can become mentors.
If you’re a young person and you want to be a doctor, you can go on this website. You can talk to a doctor about your thoughts. The doctor will give you feedback about how you can become what you want to become. I think it’s really important for all men to do something. Even if you’re not successful yet, you still need to do some type of mentorship because what you have, you can always share with somebody else and help somebody else out.
Brett McKay: Yeah but it’s like you said. I’ve had guys say, “I want a mentor but I’m 30 years. I feel like I need to mentor. Why should I be out there mentoring these kids when I think I need a mentor?” Even those types of guys should try mentoring out.
Jareem Gunter: Definitely. I actually have a mentor now. I’m 33 or am I 34? No, I’m 33 but I’m 33. I still to this day have a mentor. I feel like you never stop. There’s always going to be someone that knows more than you about what you want to do. Maybe it’s not even what you want to do but you might see somebody. You say, “You know what? I want to be that one day.” That becomes your mentor. You talk to them to see if they’d be your mentor. I have mentors now to this day. I’m this age. I mentor. I literally have about 20 to 25 young men that I mentor to this day. I don’t encourage anybody to get that many because it’s really hard to maintain those relationships because mentorship should be personal. I would say try one young man. Try to mentor that young man. Also, get you a mentor also that can also give you the tools that you need. I think it’s every platform you come to, people need mentors.
Brett McKay: Jareem, this has been a great conversation. Where can people learn more about the book and your work?
Jareem Gunter: My book is actually on my website. It’s not on Amazon. I know a lot of people have asked about it. Is it on Amazon? The reason it’s not on Amazon is because I created a product. I feel like the quality’s very, very high. When I put in on Amazon, the quality won’t stay as high as it is. It’s only on my website currently. That’s www.TheManBook.org, so The Man Book dot org. If you want any more information about it , please contact me. If people need speaking engagements, please contact me. I’ve been traveling a lot recently but whatever I can do, to share the story of “The Man Book” and to change young men’s lives, I’m willing to do.
Brett McKay: Awesome. Jareem Gunter, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Jareem Gunter: Thank you so much.
Brett McKay: My guest today was Jareem Gunter. He’s the author of the book, “The Man Book.” You can find that on TheManBook.org. That wraps up another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out the Art of Manliness website at ArtofManliness.com. If you enjoy this podcast, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher to help us get feedback on how we can improve the show, as well as help spread the word about the show. As always, thank you for your continued support. Until next time, this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.