Just finished speaking to three 5th grade classes here in Aurora, CO and I am exhausted! Everytime I speak at public schools - and I've done so around 100 times over the last six years - my respect and admiration for teachers goes up another notch. They wake up early, take on other people's problems, teach curriculum that they have a declining say in, and are asked to do all this with very little pay. Meanwhile, I stroll in for a few hours and I'm held up as some model citizen / role model / mentor because I've done well for myself. It's a tough position to be in, but instead of rejecting the opportunity to impact young people, I try my best to acknowledge the limitations of anything I could possibly say while also sharing the lessons I learned, the struggles I had growing up, and the opportunities that I've been able to create for myself (and with the help of many others) over the years. Real Role Models wasn't a bestselling book or critically acclaimed, but it still may end up being the most important thing I ever did when it's all said and done. More than famous athletes and rappers/singers, what young people need from us non-teachers is people to come into their schools or help them after school by sharing our stories and trying to relate to them where they are. It's easier for me to speak to college and even high school students, but it's the elementary and middle school kids who I know I can impact the most. I'll keep at it no matter how ineffectual a group of 50 5th graders can make me feel. Thank God I'm not a teacher. And thank God we do have teachers!