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How to Help Your Teen Be the Hero of Their Own Story

My son has a rare disease called Usher Syndrome - he is gradually going deaf and blind - it’s been hard to see his hearing and his eyesight decline in his adolescence, and he’s been struggling socially, since friendships with his friends from younger years have shifted as he’s entered high school, he doesn’t feel like he can keep up in normal conversations, how fast paced they are, he often has to ask people to repeat themselves.

And I’m giving some context here because he’s found online gaming as a fun way to use his headphones and talk and laugh and hear everything people say. Plus he’s good at it.

I spend a lot of time actively praying for my children and asking and listening for guidance. I’ve talked about prayer on the podcast before, but with Joseph, I knew I needed to let Joseph keep his love of video games, but guide him, but not be too controlling about it. And it went against everything I had previously thought about video games. I have a lot of negative bias toward them.

Joey is the creator of Sidekick to Hero, a gamified mindset training app for teens that looks and feels like a video game but in this game the teen is the main character and the game is played in real life.

Sidekick to Hero is perfect for teens ages 12-16 and includes arenas and stages teens play through where they watch short, powerful training videos and then complete challenges in the real world. Then, they come back to the game to claim their experience points (XP), level up their customizable avatar, and increase their chances to win monthly prizes (gift cards, gaming accessories, headphones, etc).

The program includes weekly livestreams, replays, podcasts, leaderboards, and the option to add private monthly coaching.

Sidekick to Hero is a web-based app, so no smart phone is required. It will work on any device with a browser. This is going to revolutionize the way teens develop mental resilience.

I’m really excited for you to hear him describe how he works with teens and his years of wisdom and experience shine through in our conversation. And so here we go - my conversation with Joey.

My interview with Joey here will tell the rest of the story.

I think it will be so helpful for any parent who is grappling with how to help our kids find balance with the endless entertainment available to them.

So without further delay, here is my interview with Joey. I’m excited for you to meet him. Here we go:


Danielle: Hi, Joey. Welcome to the podcast. I am so excited to have you on. I know my people are going to love you. 

Joey: Oh, well, thanks. Thanks so much for having me. I'm going to enjoy this I can tell, 

Danielle: I can tell we're going to have so much fun. So, here's this, here's where I got to meet you through my son Joseph I was looking for, I want to say a good fit for his kind of quiet personality. And I thought, you know, I think Joey will be really fun as a life coach for him. I'm a big believer in these tools for teenagers. And when I found you, I was just so thrilled. And he was able to really make progress, I want to say in the way he communicates with me. And in his ability too, I've seen a big improvement with him managing his time, which I attribute to coaching and your mentorship. So, thank you.  

Joey: Thank you and good. We talked a lot about that during our session so 

Danielle: I can tell and it's different coming from you than it is from Mom. 

Danielle: Yeah, that's 100% People always say, hey, my teen said, Oh, man, you wouldn't believe what Joey said. I mean, they'll tell me what you said. It's like I've told them that. I'm like, here's my trick. You're ready. Here's my check 

Danielle: Is it really that simple? 

Joey: There's more but yes, that's where it starts. 

Danielle: Yeah, yeah. Well, plus you're just fun. So, tell us what made you interested in coaching teens. I love the teens. I love them so much.  Really. They are my favorite age group. And young adults too. I love the college student kids, but I'm sure my listeners would love to hear what drew you to work with this age group. Can you tell us? 

Joey: Oh, definitely. So, I was a middle school teacher and counselor for seven years. I taught theater and my background is in performance and stage and all that. I'm the only actor in Disneyland history to have played both Darth Maul and the Mad Hatter. 

Danielle: Some Mad Hatter and Darth Maul.  

Danielle: What years were you there and playing those at Disney? 

Joey: 2000 to 2009. 

Danielle: That's a fun run. That's a long. 

Joey: It was super fun. So, I did that all throughout college and all that, and I got my master's in education. And so, I became a middle school theater teacher, and I loved it. And I was also teaching English at the same time. I love creative writing. That's kind of my jam. But as an English teacher, you’ve got to grade a lot of papers and such, right. But the position to be the counselor, or I should say the teacher on record in the discipline office where students go when they're in trouble, that position became open. And I went up to my principal, I said, I would love to be that teacher, let me take it and I’ll keep my drama classes. And I'll be in there the rest of the day. And she's like, “Are you volunteering for this? Nobody volunteers for this.” And I was like, “Oh, I'm volunteering,” you know, because I think I can give it a shot. I think I can really help those teens out. And I'm sick of grading papers. So, I went there, and I was there for four years. I absolutely loved it. And that's where I started coaching teens. Now it's different from what I do now, because those were very reluctant teens. But I would have some girls come in with friend drama, some guys who want to fight each other or students who, who hate their teacher always get kicked out every period every day or same period every day. And I just started coaching. And then my wife around that time found life coaching. And she got into it. I'm like, wait a minute, that's what I do. 

Danielle: Right. 

Joey: Yeah. And then I was like, Wait, but people are making money doing this, on their own. Like you can privatize this in a way. That's interesting. So, I started my own coaching company and the pandemic hit almost immediately and business just soared. And all the things kind of just happened at once so I left teaching a couple years ago and I'm doing this full time. And I absolutely love that I can reach many students, and teens. 

Danielle: Yes, yes. A variety of teams, and they need it so much right now, right? 

Joey: Oh, yeah. 

Danielle: Yeah, I think we face a different world than you and I faced at their age, and it's always hard anyway. In my human development classes with marriage and family, it talked about the teenage years as a time of storm and stress and I thought, that's interesting. 

Joey: Yeah, it's accurate. 

Danielle: So I just think it's so good to have some mentorship alongside what parents can offer. 

Joey: Yeah. And it's totally storm and stress. And it should also be fun, but often the storm of stress kind of gets in the way for a lot of teens. I felt like when I was a teen, I had to figure all this out on my own. I believe I was born with a coach's mind, and you're in theater. Some people are born with some talent, kind of baked in other people can learn and kind of catch up.For me, just thinking this way was always natural for me. I figured it out through my awkward middle school years, all the way till the end of my senior year where I went from being an awkward teen who felt out of place. But I had a stutter. And I looked weird and all this other stuff to be very well known. I was voted most harmless and most spirited, the only one to get two senior bests. I felt like I had arrived. And I felt like I did it by using all these things that you and I teach now. But I thought I was just cheating the system. I thought people were telling me or would tell me, “Well, you can't just do that. You can't just change your thoughts. You just can't take ownership of things. No, like circumstances are going to affect you. And you can't control that. Why are you cheating?” So, I never really wanted to talk to anybody about it until I discovered that life coaching was a thing. And I'm like, that's just what I was doing naturally. I really wanted to teach that to teens, because I would have loved kind of a cheat sheet to be able to get there a lot quicker. 

Danielle: Yes. And have the validation from somebody who's a few steps ahead of you say, Hey, you're on a good track here or no, let's rethink this. Let's see if there's a way to look at this that could serve you a little better. I love that. Joey. I do think it feels a little bit like a calling to be a life coach. Sounds like you felt that? 

Joey: Oh, yeah, totally. That's something that a lot of coaches do, you have some weird drama about that. Because you're like, what, but yeah, but life coaches are made fun of a lot, right.  

Danielle: It sounds cheesy, a little bit, right? 

Joey: Well, I felt like working with teens, I had a leg up, right, because other people, other coaches that I was certifying with or whatnot, that I don't want to tell people that I coach people on marriage because my marriage isn't perfect. Or I don't want to tell people I coach on business because I'm not making that much money yet. And I have no problem telling people that I'm a life coach for teens. Because when I tell them I'm a life coach, and they're like, ah, and then I go for teens, and they go, ah, teens need that so much. I felt like he was cheating the system. Again, I can just say I'm a life coach for teens. That's totally fine.  

Danielle: And you're legit. 

Joey: That's okay, that was needed. But the rest of us don't.  

Danielle: Oh, my goodness, we all need it.  

Danielle: Well, I know when you worked with my son, I saw some cool changes in him. He is my kiddo that isn't as talkative as my other kids. And I'm always kind of like “what's going on with Joseph?” But he started coming to me with questions when he was coaching with you. And he'd asked me, “Mom, how do I get in the mood to do my homework when I'm not in the mood?” And I'm like, hmm, let's talk about that. And then tell me some things that you told him and it was just great. This great springboard for our conversations. I know you got his wheels turning. I loved that so much. And it was great because it opened the door for us to have some foundational discussions on things like, what emotions are the true nature of them and where they come from. And I think teens are so confused about this, and I get it. So are the adults honestly, and what his top emotions are and what he'd like to change. I think that he really did believe that he was just at the mercy of whatever mood he was in until he started working with you. I saw that shift. Also, how to set goals. He's hilarious. I know he has goals, but it was almost like he was afraid to speak to them. And he's not, he's not anymore.  We have a game plan. And I love it as a mom. So can you tell us more about how you help teens with goals and managing their emotions around that? 

Joey: Yeah. I mentioned I'm not a mom, so therefore I'm better, right? But there really are. I'm better at teaching them these things. There are reasons why, and this is kind of the trick here. This is what I learned in the middle school discipline office, as a middle school teacher and working with teens even before that, is that I have the blessing of being able to seem like I don't care about their results. 

Danielle: Oh, you're neutral. 

Joey: I'm neutral. Exactly. That's good because teens, there's three things. And this is something that I've been figuring out and really putting into words these past couple of months. There's three things teens need, we all need it. I know, but teens need it specifically. And it's the ability to own their results, write their story and game their emotions. 

Danielle: Yes. Oh, my goodness. So good. 100%. 

Joey: Yeah. So, the first thing is owning their results when I come in, and I tell them, Look, I'm only here to help you get what you want. I don't have an agenda. I'm neutral, man. If you want to play video games for eight hours a day, we'll talk about that in a second. Then Sure, I'll help you get there. Like whatever you want. Parents don't do that. 

Danielle: It's true.  

Joey: Yeah and because you're like, no, and there's a lot of other drama there that we can get into. But that's what I do. And I’m like, Hey, dude, like, what do you want? And that helps them be like, “Oh, well, I want this”. Okay, why don't you have it? Then they'll start telling me all the facts and circumstances in their life that are stopping them from getting it. And I go, Oh, well, what if none of those were actually stopping you? Like, what if you're stopping yourself? And they're like, because did you not hear the things I was telling you? Do you not hear what I just said?  But then. And so from there, I'm able to go Yeah, but what if you could, and that makes their mind a little more open. I use a lot of humor, which also opens the mind. 

Danielle: Which is a gift with teens 

Joey: Yes, that's a gift. Yeah. It's something that I just you know, I've been trained in improv comedy for years. And I love doing it. And I love just having fun during these. Even more timeless things that are really serious. I've coached teens and young adults on pornography and on parents getting divorced and all that stuff. And I'm able to approach it in a way where I'm like, Dude, it's not a big thing. Let's joke about this in a totally appropriate way. Let's have fun with this. And then let's figure out how to improve your life. Because that's what you want. And by the way, you totally can. 

Danielle: I love it so much. Okay, let's talk about the video game thing. I coach moms on the video game thing. And as you know, Joseph's story intimately. I'm going to give some background for our listeners. So, Joseph, he does have challenges socially, and he has found his people online gaming. And after my own, like, coming, I didn't want him on video games. Which is, you know, it's totally okay, if he wants to be a professional gamer, he might be good at this, from video games are evil to he could totally do this. He was appointed the captain of his high school's video game team. And I saw his self-esteem in that role really grow. And I thought, huh, I'm not going to get in the way of this at all. Now, of course, it needs to have some balance with the real world. But I'm going to let him figure that out and just kind of guide him, meaning. Number one homework, he's got to do great with the grades. That's just how life is you got to do well in school. Also, it can't get in the way of sleep, and things like that. And I saw him grapple with that it got messy a few times. That's all I need to say about that. But go ahead. 

Joey: I was going to say it was funny. So, while coaching him,I had this moment with him, and I bring this up to other clients of mine as well. It was such a moment of realization for him. So,I'm coaching him, and I'm doing my time management stuff, right, like planning your life out. And all this. I'm like, “What do you want?” And I believe he wanted to draw more. And he wanted to have some other things you want to do more, but he also wanted to get better at video games. Right? And that was when I'm like, awesome. That's so cool. Let's do that. You know. And as we're doing this thing, I do this exercise where we were kind of just figuring out where his hours are spent every day.  

Danielle: Yeah. 

Joey: And I'm, I'm mapping it out and all this and I'm like, alright, well it looks like you're playing video games for eight hours a day.  

Danielle: That made my heart leap a little bit.  

Joey: And like when we put it together and all this and I was like, “okay, and it looks like because you're doing eight hours a day, you're not spending time drawing, you're not getting to bed on time. So you're kind of more tired, you know, which is affecting all your other goals and all this.”  And I was like, “Alright, so like, is that what you want?” And he goes, “Yeah.” And I'm like “okay.” 

Danielle: That sounds like him. 

Joey: I asked it again, just to be sure. I'm like, “alright, you playing eight hours a day, and all it is, is what you want?” And he was like, “Yeah, that's what I want.” And I was like, “then what's the problem here? You're doing exactly what you want, right? You want to be playing for eight hours a day. And you are living the dream. Right?” Like, I let him have it. I let him have it for a week. I didn't go “dude look, you're not doing these.” I just said, “Oh, well. There's no problem, man. Like, go do it.” And I believe it was that next session we had together. He's like, okay, um, yeah, I don't want to play video games for eight hours. and I was like, Alright, hey, let's do this fun thing. I said, what is this next week? You don't play video games at all? Yeah. And he was like, ah, that makes me uncomfortable. And I'm like, Oh, why? Let's talk about that. Right? I have that, that luxury of not coming from Doom, and you shouldn't be playing video games for eight hours. I'm like, do you do whatever you want. But I was like, what would happen though, if you didn't play any video games? Right? You know, okay, because he was in that point, he was in that place. And he was like, alright, we talked about a back and forth. I said, “Well, what do you think about it?” and he said “alright, I'll do it. Like, it's just for a week now. Just for a week. Let's just see what happens.” So that next week, he comes back, and he's like, “that was amazing.” 

Danielle: Yeah, I remember the whole thing I do! 

Joey: I was going to say, I would love to hear from your side, because he comes in, and I'm like, you know, I always want them to do it. But you never know if they're going to, you know, and all this. And he was like, no, it was great. And he had this thing where he's like, I was getting into drawing. And then I discovered this. I forget what it's called. Trance transcribing something for this anime thing. I think it was anime related, where you can transcribe and all this and he got, like, really lost in that. I'm really doing this project. And then he spent hours on it. And then apparently, it didn't save. And he lost it all.  

Danielle: Yes. 

Joey: And then he did it all over again. And half the time. 

Danielle: Yeah, it took him half the time. 

Joey: right, you know, and he, like, spent all this time developing this new skill that was marketable from what he tells me it was like, yeah, like you make money doing this. And I was really passionate about it. And again, nothing wrong with video games, but it was just getting in his way of discovering what else was out there in the world for him. 

Danielle: Yes, yes. and I are kids of today, they do really grapple with this, whether it's social media, video games, whatever it is. But what I love seeing, you do and I tried to do this, too, but it helped coming from you. There's always this tug of war that parent's kind of engage in when they know something is better or best for their child, right? And they start from that position if I know what's right. And of course, you do. You have more life experience; I will give that to parents. But not all the time, I think we underestimate our kids being able to problem solve and decide their life choices, their career paths, and so forth. I see this a lot, where they second guess themselves, they don't know how to trust what they want. I think what you did, by giving it back to Joseph was brilliant, because that completely put that tug of war, it put the rope on the ground. And instead of playing tug of war, you let him learn for himself. You let him explore it gave him permission, however you want to say it. It was really neat from my perspective to see. And I said to him, um, what's going on? You're not playing video games this week. What is happening? Who even are you? Like, I kind of teased him, you know? And he's like, Yeah, I'm doing this thing with Joey. And just Yeah, I'm just going to see how it goes this week, you know, and it's so cool. 

Joey: That is awesome. Well, and that second thing, right that teens need, right? The first one is only their results. And parents can help by giving it to them and not taking it on themselves. We give it to them. The second one, the ability to write their own stories, exactly what you were just kind of honing in on is that when we want to write their story for them and tell them exactly what the answer is. Because we do have experiences like when we do that it's doing them a disservice. They need to be able to write their own story, come up with their own thoughts and figure out their own path on their own. And it might be similar to what you were going to say whatever new thought that you were trying to own. Honey, you're beautiful right. Um, I don't believe that shut up. No, I'm not. Oh, no, but you are, you have to believe that. If you let them write their own story, they can come up with their own version of it. Right? They got mine. I do have a big head and my mom kept telling me what I was teased in middle school, right? All the time about how big my head was. And my mom's like, no, your head's fine. Your head's normal. And I'm like, shut up. It's not. I couldn't believe that story. But my story that I came up in middle school and began in high school was I do have a big head, and I'm still awesome. And that was I had the same result, but better and more lasting one, because I believed I wrote that. And that was mine, rather than mom trying to tell me what to think. And so when parents interact with their teens, I tell them I call this the Dumbledore rule. You know, follow up, like Dumbledore did. He let Harry Potter roam the castle. Let them fight the three headed dog. Right? Like he was barely there in the first two books. Like he's letting them. He knows what Harry and the others were doing. But he lets them do it because it's within the struggle. And in the discovery that they figure out how to write their own story. And it might be different from what you want for them, but it's going to be the best thing for them.

Danielle: I love that so much. So good. Well, what are the hard things you see teens facing today that are different from the generations that have gone before? And how are you helping them with those things? 

Joey: Yeah, first thing is comfort. Right? That's a struggle. That seems like a benefit from today.  I mean, we can get groceries delivered right to our door today. Right? So much comfort for teens, I know, that's where it seems like I'm super awkward, but things are easier. So, there's not as much struggle, and it's within the struggle. That is where you grow. Add with that this is the most perfect imperfect pairing. Add all the comfort we have in the world, and all the wrong messaging that's out there in social media. 

Danielle: Right.

Joey: And both of those creates discomfort but think about the things that the teens are feeling discomfort in, not the things that people generally over the period of humanity have felt discomfort in. They're feeling discomfort in how they view themselves in comparison to other people. You know they're successful, there's completely wrong messaging out there about what it means to be successful. There's lots of influencers and such that are like, nope, money and  women right, or, you know, just looks and money, there's really just it, you know, and that's going out there and popularity, all that is really being heightened in this day and age. where I remember I was on social media just on my account, and I kind of fought against some popular influencers stance. I have teens that follow me and because I was talking about social media or that influencer a lot of teens responded all like all their responses were what color is your Bugatti? Oh, that's right. You don't have one. So therefore, we're going to listen to this bozo who has a Bugatti, you know, and I'm like, that is the completely wrong messaging. You guys are making my point for me here. You only listen to people who spend money on expensive cars, like really that's it. So the with the wrong messaging, and the amount of comfort there is in just being able to like just the general affluence, not everybody experiences affluence they have it easy, but in general, teens today, have it a lot easier than teens did 50-100 years ago, and then all that messaging that's out there to get clicks and all that. That seems to be real. So, when I approached them with this, it's okay with being uncomfortable. That's taming your emotions. It's not eliminating emotions. When you meet a wild horse, you don't shoot it in the head. Right?  

Danielle: Right.  

Joey: You break it, you know, you tame it, and that's what we need to do with these emotions, like anxiety and stress and embarrassment. They don't need to be eliminated, they need to be tamed. 

Danielle: Yeah, 

Joey: because they're very much a part of your life, even though social media messages show otherwise. And then when it comes to the messaging, then it's really deconstructing these stories they have in their head that are not helpful to them. Right? I love the story, dude, I can make as much money as I want. That's great. I love that story. That's driving me to my best. I can make as much money as I want. But if it's not helpful to the teen to associate money with success, you know, or whatever, and they're just using that to beat themselves up. That's not a helpful story. 

Danielle: Yes. 

Joey: And so, it's really that kind of two really three-pronged approach. They own their results. Don't blame it on other people. Let's write your stories. And let's really become aware of what you're thinking about the world right now, and how that's not helpful. And let's kind of get you into Hero Mode, which is what I call it, you're going to Hero Mode out of sidekick mode, and into Hero mode. And then let's accept all those uncomfortable emotions along the way. 

Danielle: Love it. I love it so much. Well, what advice do you have for parents of teens right now?  You work with the teens, do you work with their parents too? 

Joey: No, I do occasionally have a call with a parent or two, I do. When I speak at summits, I'll talk to parents and things like that, because teens aren't going to the summits. I have one Instagram, that's just you know, preteens and those are just videos, I don't do any selling on that one. I feel weird selling to teens, you know, I don't. And then I have another one where I talk to the parents. I'm telling them about what I do for their teens and such. I do have advice for the parents. Whenever I talk to my parents. For me, if the teens journey is from sidekick to hero, then the parent's journey is from villain to mentor.  

Danielle: Hmm. 

Joey: And yeah, she doesn't say all parents felt like the villain in their teen's life and you are just trying to help them.  

Danielle: Right. 

Joey: They label you the villain. And they're like, Nope, I'm not listening to you, mom. You know, like, you don't know what you're talking about. 

Danielle: Or my parents don't understand me. Right? Yeah. 

Joey: They don't understand. And that's generally because parents usually try to change their teen, right? While coaching one mom.  We figured out together that she's only talked to her teen for five minutes a day, when he comes in after school, and it goes on to other things. But during those five minutes she spends trying to change him. And when she realized that she's like, oh man, I should stop that. I said it seems like it's not helping you. It seems like to get your goal you should stop that. So, in order to be a mentor, we've already talked about some of the things today, but I mean, look at those three things that a teen needs. Which is owning their results, writing their stories taming their emotions. Parents in default mode are stopping their teens and all three of those areas. 

Danielle: Oh, my goodness 

Joey: Right. The default mode is I need you to get a different result so I can feel better, or you're owning that your team's result? You know, it's my fault. It's on me. Right? 

Danielle: Right. Yeah. And I think our children are their own people. They really are. And that's hard to separate when you're in control when they're infants. And then that control, I want to say the meter changes, it shifts and to shift into that understanding that Oh, my goodness control is an illusion, the older they get. 

Joey: My rule of thumb for parents is at 12. Stop, right? 

Danielle: Yes, I agree. 

Joey: Yeah. Like you can own their results when they're infants and toddlers and children all the way up to 10 and 11. Even though some people might argue that's too far. But at 12 or 12 birthday, you're like, hey, congratulations. All your results are now your own. I'm here to help. 

Danielle: I can think of a few listeners that I know listen, who might be like wow. 

Joey: And here's the thing. When you do that, I promise you, you will see them coming to you more. Yes. 

Danielle: And that's what you want. Going back to your horse analogy. I grew up with horses. And that really is the trick to getting your horse to bond with you. You don't try to control your horse. You work with your horse. 

Joey: Yes, and you go from controlling their meals and all that too. Now you're working with them. That's a mentor. Think about every great mentor and every great story. They're their own person and the hero is their own person. The hero's allowed to become a great Jedi Master or Darth Vader. Right? They're allowed to do whatever they want with their skills and powers that they're learning from you. And they will do whatever they want. So that second thing, the ability for them to write their own story, whether it comes to failure or confidence, whatever it is, parents when the things are coming to them more than like, oh, great now can tell them what to do. So don't do that. You want to just ask questions. That's one of the greatest things that coaching gave me permission to do as a parent myself is just ask questions, even if you know the answer. I cannot, and I try not to when I'm coaching a teen, and they're like, man, well, what should like what should my new thought be? Or what should I do? I don't tell them. 

Danielle: I love it.  

Joey: Yeah, I don't know what it should be. I have ideas of what it could be. But that's less important, what you can come up with? And then I ask them questions, so they can come up with it. So try not to give them the answers, even when they come up to you, you know, and some parents, I would say, be super strict on that. Don't give them anything, because you're really used to always giving it to them, giving them the answers. So be super strict at first on yourself, have not given them the answer to absolutely anything, then over time, you can realize where it's okay to be like, oh, you know, what would be a good idea? I think this might work for you. Take it or leave it, try it out, but that's worked for me. Then you can start by kind of sharing your experience, because you've already told them, I am not in charge of your results. That's not on me. It's on you. And you're smart enough to figure this out. 

Danielle: That's so much. I expressed this to the parents I work with because sometimes the tee isn't ready to be coachable. So I say okay, I can tell you want to improve your relationship. With your teen, I will work with you and kind of teach you and mentor you how to shift this disconnect that you're experiencing, and it works. I worded that a little differently than you do but very similar principles. Right. I love it. Okay, well, I see a lot of strength in a lot of kids, teenagers, the youth of today. What do you see? 

Joey: They are awesome. I know it's tough sometimes when we're talking about they're like, Oh, we think all teens suck, you know. 

Danielle: Yeah 

Joey: But we don't,you know, teens are absolutely amazing, especially today. They have far more knowledge, because knowledge is easier to get. They have far more creativity, because we're in a world where almost anything is possible. So is their creativity, their knowledge bases, their tech skills, which are super important. I love what you said, yeah if he wants to become a professional gamers sweet like people are making great money doing that even being influencers, right? Like, that's a legit job these days, which is hard for us parents to believe but they see that teens have this desire because of all the good stuff on social media. I'm not a social media abolitionist. I'm not somebody who's like, get rid of that,tik tok,yes. But as far as social media in general,no. There's some good stuff on there and whatnot. I have a certain age of which I think teens should join. It's a lot older than most people. Essentially 18. This year of being a teen, because you don't really need it before that but after that, we'll need it to get around the world. But because of what's out there, they do have a drive and a desire unlike I would say past generations possibly. Some people might argue with me on that and that's fine, but I feel like they have this drive and desire. And a lot of things aren't held back by their inhibitions and other things. But a lot of teens are held back by the story they have about themselves, and what success is and all the stuff we already talked about so that's where it seems to be that this world is doing teens a disservice. It's not this work, we'll do our teens a great service and be like our teens can thrive in this world. They just need to work on those three things that aren't being taught in schools. FYI, I was a teacher, they're not there. That's not what schools are for. Schools are not for soft skills. They are for the hard skills, reading, writing, arithmetic kind of thing. I was a part of those initiatives where it was like, hey, we have mental resilience, SES, social emotional stuff and all that all we can really do in schools is banners and posters and slogans and Kindness week but there's a lot going on as far as learning hard skill. So, this stuff is not being taught to teens. And that's why I'm really passionate. I'm glad you're out there as well. Me and you and other teen coaches, we're here to teach it to them. 

Danielle: Love it. Okay. Well, what do you do to help them see their strengths? As you're coaching with them? Do they start to emerge? How do we help them and speak to and help them be the hero of their story? 

Joey: Yeah, well, that's why I phrase it that way. On the first meeting, I'm always like, alright, what are your goals? What are you not doing that you want to be doing? Right? That whole they have autonomy over it. And if we create a list, like awesome, let's do a visualization. Imagine life two months from now, right? And you have all these goals you're doing and you're talking to that girl, you're getting this great thing, you know, you're being better here you're doing whatever how would that like to describe it to me? They say oh, man, it would be that these are going to be a bunch of adjectives. I write them all down. And then I'm like, Cool, awesome. Hey, I want to teach you this is the first lesson we're going to teach you the difference between a sidekick and a hero. Essentially, sidekicks are not in control of their destiny. And heroes are right. It’s different from victims. I have some people like oh, you're just changing victims. No. Victims  they're a spectator. I only work with teens who are sidekicks.. They're on the team. Right? They're in the Justice League. Right? They're there. They have the ability and superpowers. They have a desire to save the day and win but they're not. They're getting captured and staying captured. You have to wait for the actual hero to come save them. So that's who I work with when I meet with a teen and I realize Nope, they're not even a sidekick. I don't want to do this. Cool. Then don't get mom back and here we're done. Right? That's not what we do. But so, I teach them that concept. The hero is in control of their destiny. So, I want you to now separate all your thoughts into sidekick thoughts and hero thoughts. Thoughts that are going to stop me from being in control of my destiny, a thought that's going to help me get in control of my destiny. And in order to be able to figure out where those dots are coming from and be able to create the best hero dots. We're going to come up with a hero name for you. Your name the blank.  

Danielle: Yeah, and I love it. 

Joey: This is how I do my coaching stuff. 

Danielle: Oh, fun. Oh, what’s my hero name? 

Joey: Lets come up with it right now my name is Joey the creator. 

Danielle: Yeah. 

Joey: I have stitched inside my custom suit that I wear to church and go speak events., l been . I have that there because that's who I identify as when I'm at my best when my business is going well. Joey the Creator when I'm an amazing parent. When I'm not, my sidekick name is Joey the lazy. I don't want to take the time to create anything that's hard. It's a lot easier to be lazy and do it the bad way or the way I don't appreciate or don't want to do so. When my kids are screaming at each other and taking toys and hitting each other. I want to pick them up, I want to move, I want to be forceful, that's still Joey the lazy I don't want to do that work. . Do you know what you would create a teachable moment right here. And that gets me in the right mindset telling myself the right story. And it works 100% of the time so I did that with the teens. With your name right you're going to be Joseph and I started listing off their adjectives. I said you get to pick or any other adjective, but you usually pick one of the first one they mentioned, is it you know? And so that and then like, how did they start to see like, they start doing future thinking. That is yes,  

Danielle: I'm Danielle the growth warrior.  

Joey: Yeah, that's a great one because they can apply in all areas of your life. So, when I started doing this with teens, some were like, oh, you know, I'm Kate the cat lover. I'm like, okay, cool but  How's it going to help you build a relationship with your mom? Like, why do you like cat so much? Oh, they're just so kind you know, or oh, I think you're Kate the kind  

Danielle: I love that distinction.  

Joey: It's an important distinction. 

Danielle: That's so good. Okay, tell my listeners how to contact you or how to work with you. I want them to be able to find you. And of course, I will link your information in the show notes. But if you could tell them how to find you. Okay, and what working with you looks like I'm sure they want to hear. 

Joey: Yeah, definitely my Instagram is @Joey_sidekicktohero. In fact, if you just search sidekick to hero, you'll see my teen one which is just @sidekicktohero so you can follow me there for videos and updates and things like that. My website is Go ahead and spell that. So  J o e y  m a s c i o,it’s Italian and I make a mean cavatelli pasta sauce from scratch anyway. That will take you to all my links and the things that I do my coaching or whatnot. I am about to launch and Joseph by the way, he's really excited for this  

Danielle: Oh, tell me.  

Joey: I'm about to launch an app for teens.  

Danielle: Oh, we're so signing up! 

Joey: Yeah, it's called sidekick to hero. It takes everything that I do with my one-on-one clients and puts it into a gamified mindset. Training thing.  

Danielle: That’s so cool. 

Joey: And I was telling Joseph about he's like, oh, my goodness, I want to be your beta tester, you know. And it looks like a video game where there's stages. You know, there's four hero arenas, headspace emotions, relationships, objectives. 

Danielle: Wow, So cool.  

Joey: Yeah, I know. I'm super excited and nobody out there was doing it and I couldn't find it. So I dropped a lot of money. And I hired a professional gaming development team, and they've been working on it with me over the past year. There's really this customizable avatar there's live streams every week. There's gonna be comps with us. Yeah, you know, there's been anxiety club or there's this club and that club, you know, and they've been tuned in, they get points for all of it and they get to, you know, like up level their avatar. And we give away real prizes every month. 

Danielle: Oh I think this is brilliant. Brilliant. 

Joey: That’s what I think too. Let’s see what the world thinks. 

Joey: As an adult I've gotten that request before  for an adult version. There will definitely be a college edition before there's an adult edition. So that's but if you go to That's where you can find all my stuff. Right now, I am open for more one on one clients, but I'm very limited in that. So all the information is on there on my website, but I work with teens for eight weeks. 

Danielle: Well, it's a game changer eight weeks. I feel like it really planted neat seeds in my own son. I just thought I need to have Joey on the podcast is going to be so fun to talk to you about this. So, thank you so much. 

Joey: Well, thank you very much. It was a pleasure working with Joseph. Thank you. You're doing a great job with him.  

Danielle: Thanks. He's fun. He's been the parent. But it's a lot. I think that a lot of parents feel a little overwhelmed with their kids right now. And I think that's where we come in. That's where you come in. So, it's awesome. 

Joey: Thank you very much right back atcha.  


I hope you enjoyed our conversation. 

Joey is fun. I laughed a lot on this one, he’s fun. I have all of Joey’s information linked on my podcast page. I think it was worth every penny for my son for those 8 weeks my Joseph spent with Joey. 

I coach with moms about their teenage sons and video games and their daughters and phones and social media - I think many parents aren’t sure how to parent around these topics and it feels a little out of control. If that’s something you’re wanting help or support with, Joey can help your kid, I mean, I’m a life coach and know the principles, but it was so much better coming from another person for my own son. If you’re wondering that about your own, look into getting some support for your teen from Joey. 


Okay. Thanks so much for listening, for being here. I love you. I have THE BEST community here, you are out there daring greatly in the world, and I admire you so much for joining me on this personal growth journey. We are Growth Warriors, and it’s awesome. Join the newsletter to stay connected. You don't want to miss it. 

Take care friend. Have a beautiful day. 


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