asan interview by Louis Falcinelli

Adam Shepard, Author (Scratch Beginnings, One Year Lived) Public Speaker, and all around Cooool Dude, shares his thoughts on AMERICA, MILLEINAILS, and HIS OWN MESSAGE on improving where we are and where we’re currently going, as a GENERATION as well as a NATION in general.


When you set out to embark on this social experiment that became Scratch Beginnings you had stated initially that you didn’t know if it was a book, you just wanted to shed new light on what you felt was already confirmed, that of, The American Dream was still very much alive for anyone who wanted it, which had in subsequent years been more grimly portrayed, motivating your experiment in the first place. Do you believe since writing it that The American Dream has been more stifled or just as obtainable?

The American Dream is just as obtainable now as always. The American Dream is not a time period or a particular economy or good luck and bad luck. And it’s most certainly not a woe-is-me-in-these-circumstances scenario. The American Dream is an attitude that exists here, as it does in other free and democratic countries, that if you wake up in the morning and decide that you are going to kick your day in the ass, you can. And if you want to sleep until 11am, well, you can do that, too.

Out of the Great Depression emerged a great generation of workers and entrepreneurs and thinkers. And the same has been true since this country was founded as it was during our most recent recession, that the economy will always ebb and flow, but the attitude of the American Dream remains constant.

Do you feel it’s a particularly challenging time for Millennials as of now? If so, what can they do to utilize what’s available to them in terms of breaking through?

The challenge for Millennials now is to break through a sense of entitlement that has been ingrained in us from the compilation of our parents, our teachers, television, and social media. Society has dictated that we are special, or different from any other generation, and the fact is that we are not. Once we recognize that, we recognize that we have the capacity to be good or bad, lazy or hardworking, kind or mean, frugal or spendthrift, greedy or selfless. And once we recognize that capacity, we can recognize that Millennials have the power to break through and make a positive impact on this world. It’s up to us whether we want to exercise that power. Or sleep ’til 11am.


In just the last decade we have seen a major shift in the country; politically, economically, socially, etc. Where do you see the vast, unique  landscape of America currently going?

If I knew that, I would be writing to you from one of my many homes, this one on Barbados, and I would shortly be boarding my private jet to go have dinner with my wife in Paris for the evening. I guess the excitement, though, and what keeps me getting up in the morning, is that we don’t know where it’s going. That what we have today could be gone tomorrow, and that is a very exciting challenge, and one that we can control with our effort and our spending habits and how we treat people.

Do I interest myself in political candidates and interest rates and who my friends are? Sure, but I only do so to the extent that I recognize there are things that I can and cannot change, and regardless of the swirl or calm around me, I’m going to keep plowing forward with the same conviction.

Technology, essentially for Millennials, seems to have even affected our sensibilities,  as no one has to deal with real conflict or engagement, when a majority of us are on our phones, on our computers, completely disengaged. How can we redirect this in a more positive fashion?

Take time to step away. It’s simple. Technology is a beneficial component of all of our lives, but it also has the dark side, and much like gambling or alcohol or hashish, it can be abused. So use it to your benefit for an hour or two (technology, not hashish), and then walk away and realize how beautiful it is to cuddle up and read a book, to meet a friend for coffee and dive into some heavy issues, to take a moment to engage a stranger with a smile or a nod or a wave.

When you give your lectures, what are some of the main focal points you try to instill amongst your audience to lend themselfs  to a more fulfilling way of life?

My talk isn’t so much centralized in seeking to help someone fulfill their life as much as it is to say, “Hey buddy. Life is tough. And awesome. And when you get kicked in the teeth, you either get back up or you lie there whimpering. And when you win, you either call and tell everybody how fantastic you are or you work to capitalize on that win.” as4

Dealing with failure, maintaining a positive attitude, setting goals, getting after it…every speaker’s messages–including mine–are commonplace but if they are wrapped around entertaining stories, they can be packaged in such a way that those messages become very real and relatable.

Can you tell us about

I have been fortunate over the last 8 years to travel the country addressing these very same issues with high school and college audiences around the country. I love it. Storytelling is what I do, and when I speak to an audience, and then I get an email that says that I touched someone in the audience, and inspired them to action, it makes my life a little bit more worthwhile than it already is.

Is there a main source toward where your inspiration lies in terms of your natural desire to explore the uncharted, like putting yourself in places you haven’t’ been, encounters you wouldn’t normally have, people you wouldn’t normally meet?

The inspiration comes from my parents, and it is the belief that experience trumps income.

In the middle of it all, a few years ago, I took a year to travel around the world. I volunteered in Central America, I worked on a cattle station in Australia, I rode elephants in Thailand, and I spent a couple of months traveling around Europe with my future in-laws. (Oh yeah, and I fought bulls.) And all along the way, as my eyes continued to widen, I gathered this sense that as long as we remain curious, it is incredible what we can learn about the world around us.

And even more exciting is how those teachings, while enriching our lives, allow us to then give back to the world in a very purposeful way.

Finally, What’s on the horizon for Adam, in what direction does your journey currently take you?

as3I just finished working on a second feature-length documentary (with a really skilled and passionate group of Millennials!), and now I have another really big project in my sights (that I can’t quite discuss at the moment).

I just moved to Orange County, California for my lovely wife Ivana to go to grad school, and we’re loving it out here.


Well, I wanna personally thank Adam, and know he’ll be fulfilled as he continues on his journey.

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