Michigan finds its grind

Mike Smith Live event inspires youth to find their passions in life

“THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THE MISFITS,” reads this year’s merch for the Find Your Grind Tour. Senior and leadership student Morgan Sipes takes the meaning of this saying to heart. “I think it means that no matter who we are or where we have came from and what’s happened to us, we can be something great in the future,” Sipes said. “We can go so far with what we’re given.”


What makes you tick? Think about it. Everyone has a personal grind. Motivational speaker Mike Smith inspired attendees to ponder exactly this in his presentation for Josten’s Renaissance Back to School Tour at the Breslin Center at Michigan State University.

Tuesday, October 10, schools from all over Michigan attended, where over 165 school and 6,500 student leaders gathered for the event according to an Instagram post by Smith.

The event featured a dance contest, a live performance from the band Half the Animal and a scholarship award to a family of quadruplets by the Find Your Grind campaign and a mutual friend. Zackery Lemmen, Katie Lemmen and Hailey Lemmen received a $7,500 scholarship. Claire Weesies received a $2,500 scholarship. Out of the entire state of Michigan, the Find Your Grind campaign found their story to be the most deserving for the scholarships based on their excellent leadership skills in their communities.  

Smith, a self-proclaimed “professional teenager,” strives to encourage students to find their own grinds. Curious about how an individual knows when they have found your grind, Uncaged asked Smith in a private moment, “How do you know when you’ve found your grind?”

“I think you know when you wake up every day and you’re not like ‘oh man, I have to do this,’ but be like ‘oh man, I get to do this,’” Smith said. “I think that’s the difference. For me, personally, I don’t wake up and go, ‘oh man, I have to host an event with 7,000 kids. This sucks.’”

The Find Your Grind tour includes 47 stops throughout the United States according to Josten’s Renaissance Back to School Tour. Only stop number 12 on Find Your Grind’s tour, Smith has another 35 interludes through April of 2018 after the Breslin Center.

“I didn’t sleep,” Smith said. “I didn’t go to bed last night. I set up all night because I get to do this today. I’m not saying that’s going to be everybody. I’m also not saying that’s not hard work. I haven’t slept in like, two days. It’s hard work, but for me, it’s not a ‘have to,’ it’s a ‘get to.’ I think that’s the difference.”

The leadership and journalism classes attended the event to develop ideas on how to make their school a more accepting place and how to become better leaders in their communities.

“It was very inspirational,” senior Delaney Lauckner said. “I enjoyed that I got to do it for two years. It makes you want to go and do stuff. I really wanna’ make sure that people have role models. All my life I have had phenomenal role models, and I would like to give that to the future in Stockbridge.”
One of the two other speakers at the conference, 16-year educator Dr. Phillip Campbell has developed a lot of experience during his time as a teacher, coach, athletic director and principal. Listening to Campbell’s words, Milford High School seniors Kaley Palaxton and Grace Shaver found themselves looking back on what they wish they had at school as underclassmen, and what they can give now.

“We do a lot for new students and incoming students and stuff like that,” Palaxton said. “But, I feel like there’s more we could be doing. It gives me ideas on how our school can be a more welcoming place and being a senior. I think about all the things I would have wanted to see in the school be implemented sooner.”

Most impacted by the video Campbell played about the special needs prom for high school students, Shaver believes that an event like that should be present in every school.

“We were crying,” Shaver said. “I feel like that would be such an amazing thing to do at our school, and I feel like that’s something that every school could do. Some of these things are a little hard for some schools to do I think, depending on what sports are better at their schools. I just feel like that’s one thing that could happen at every school. We have special needs adults in our school, too, so it’s not even just high school. Even after they graduate they come back.”

Created for the purpose of empowering youth to find passion and purpose, the Find Your Grind foundation’s creator and drummer for Half the Animal, Nick Gross, tries to inspire others every day through his work.

“We try to to inspire others every evening at our shows, making music and releasing songs to the world and doing stuff like this,” Gross said. “I started Find Your Grind as a non-profit two years ago, and then merged with Mike to do this kind of bigger live event stuff. It’s been really cool to incorporate Half the Animal into what we are doing here, to be able to bring positive vibes to the kids through our music as well, and not only just speaking.”

After a his first three songs at the beginning of the event, lead singer Chase Johnson vibed out to Uncaged a final piece of advice for anyone willing to take it: “Find what you love and do it until you croak.”