photo courtesy of Erica Lasan

Taiia Smart Young understands the complex pressures facing teens and young adults.

Many youths believe adults are “out of touch” with their lifestyle, music, clothing choices and addiction to sending texts at the dinner table.

Taiia Smart Young is a pop culture, media and gadget junkie who’s learned that the best way to connect with youths is to listen to them talk about bullying, depression, violence and fitting in without judging them, dismissing their concerns—or worse, saying something annoying like, “When I was your age…”

Unless you grew up with Facebook bullies, Twitter beef and the need for instant gratification via checking the number of likes your latest selfie racked up on Instagram—you were never really their age.

Taiia knows today’s teens are different from their parents. Their challenges are different. Their communication tools are different. Their career choices are different.

And Taiia is a different kind of youth motivational speaker.

She mixes humor, personal stories, pop culture and messages about finding your true identity to motivate youths to make smart choices and take charge of their lives.

Taiia mentors and speaks to many young people and has worked with organizations like Year Up, Hip Hop 4 Life, Moving Mountains and Girls Incorporated; and schools such as Community Partnerships Charter School, Achievement First Crown Heights Charter School and Mott Hall Bridges Academy; and colleges such as Pace University and Johnson C. Smith University. She delivered the keynote speech for the Girls Run the World! back-to-school event in 2012.