Friendships in middle school are very important. During this crazy period of growth and maturity, we all need friends to help us through it. A friend is someone you can always count on to be there. Someone who makes you laugh. Someone who gives you the courage to try new things.
Shasta Nelson teaches the importance of friendships in our lives, and also how friendships at work can impact the overall success of your business.
Shasta was selected by Facebook to be their media spokesperson and friendship expert for Friends Day 2018. She has also been on several TV shows. I think that’s really cool.
For my 8-part Summer Speaker Series, and in an effort to learn more about Shasta as a speaker, I interviewed her on the following topics:
CJ: What was your first job?
SN: In 8th grade, I began grading papers after school for Mrs. Brown, the 1st grade teacher at the school I attended. I would energetically write “Your awesome” on the top of the kids’ homework until she kindly taught me the all-important-life-lesson-that-I-should-have-already-known: the power of grammar. From that moment on, I’ve always remembered: “You’re awesome.”
CJ: How did you become a professional speaker?
SN: I used to line my stuffed animals up and teach them, so we probably could have seen it coming, but really zeroing in on it as a career came as a result of me asking myself, “What do I love doing more than anything else?”. My answer was “speaking and writing about the most important need in the world: healthy relationships”!
I then organized my life to be a reflection of that mission to inspire as many audiences as possible to feel more connected.
CJ: You speak on friendships and healthy relationships. What inspired you to choose your program topics?
SN: In some ways I feel like they chose me. I can look back and see how much relationships have always mattered in my life, but what prompted me to eventually make it my life mission was a combination of dismay, need, and conviction. The dismay resulted because everyone seemed obsessed with romantic relationships and parent-child relationships, but neglected talking about friendship as a serious factor to our health and happiness. The need became obvious to me as I worked with countless people and saw not only their unacknowledged loneliness, but also the shame that seemed to accompany that feeling. The conviction came because you can only hear yourself say, “Why aren’t people (the media, our workplaces, healthcare systems, leaders) taking this seriously? Why is no one talking about this?” so many times before you hear the internal whisper to step up and talk about it.
CJ: How did the COVID-19 quarantine affect you as a professional speaker?
SN: Honestly, it was heartbreaking on many levels. Certainly, from a career perspective, my schedule fell apart and my dream book tour set for the fall crumbled before my eyes. But, even worse, was knowing just how lonely most people were before quarantine (61% of us in USA don’t feel like we have someone who really knows us!), and feeling worried about how economic suffering, fear, loss, disappointment, and working remotely would heighten a problem that was already serious. Now, on the bright side, the virus provided us the collective opportunity to have more conversation about our loneliness and to take it less personally than we were doing so beforehand. Knowing we weren’t alone in our loneliness was important! And now, it’s just revealed how much we need to be responding to this very real human need and desire. I’m more motivated than ever to help organizations bring their people together for meaningful connection.
CJ: What is your favorite thing about speaking?
SN: Oooh fun question! What I love most about going to events is connecting with people, signing their books, and answering their questions. What I love about speaking specifically is participating in the energetic dance between a speaker and an audience. It’s hard to describe but because I know my content so well, I can just get on stage and engage with this magical and spontaneous back-and-forth manner between our energies. I love watching audience members feel impacted as they learn new things, and as they feel excited and hopeful. And I’m impacted by them too, taking in their energy, reacting to their expressions, and connecting with them in a thousand small ways even from on stage. It’s almost like they give me a gift with their attention, and I want to do everything I can to give it back to them in the most meaningful way possible.
CJ: What advice would you give to a middle school student on creating better friendships?
SN: Three things jump to mind that can often be tough at that stage. Remember that “best friend” is more about the quality of a relationship, not the quantity. In other words, try to have several “best friends” where you develop several close friends, as opposed to falling for the myth of just finding that one person.
Make sure you express frequently what you appreciate about your friends! We all struggle with insecurity and one of the most powerful things that friends can do in our lives is cheerlead for us; tell us what they admire in us; help us see what makes us unique; and express how much we mean to them.
Stay committed to the friends who matter – especially when you start dating or attending different extracurricular activities for each other. You can add new relationships into your life, but don’t let them replace your friendships. We want to be the kinds of friends who are reliable and consistent with each other no matter what.
Thank you, Shasta for your wonderful advice! This is information people can use at any age.
If you want to create better friendships for your teams, you should really hire Shasta Nelson.
Our guest blogger Connor Joyce is a rising 7th grader from Huntersville, North Carolina. With a keen interest in learning more about the professional speaking industry, he produced an 8-Part Summer Speaker Series for www.MichelleJoyce.com. He is the firstborn child of Founder and President, Michelle Joyce. When he’s not interviewing speakers, he enjoys football, Fortnite, and watersports.