By: Caitie McRae
In September 2012, Maclean’s called them “The Broken Generation”. And now an Algonquin graduate is looking to glue them back together.
But Shawn Bent, 30, acknowledges that it’ll take a lot more than a box of Kleenex and a shoulder squeeze to help society’s troubled twenty-somethings. Bent refers to himself as a “quarter life coach,” targeting youths transitioning out of post-secondary education and into the intimidating world of, well, reality.
Often times when we think of a personal crisis, we prefix it with midlife; empty-nesters on the cusp of retirement buying one too many leather jackets and hair dye. Rarely do we equate this word with rosey-cheeked 25 year olds.
However, Bent believes he can come to the rescue of these individuals swept under the rug and he’ll do it as a “happy medium between friend and adviser.” When asked why he prefers the title of coach over motivational speaker, Bent explains that he’s not just looking to throw instructions at his clients but that he’s there to guide them each day, even after their sessions have ended.
Bent’s one-on-one coaching sessions are tailored to each individual and begin with what Bent refers to as a “connection session.”
“I’m looking to really know the person, to really get an overall feel of what they’re like and how they operate,” Bent said.
In terms of showcasing his own success as motivation for his clients, Bent says he abstains from that angle to be more relatable to his clients and connect with them on a deeper level. But it sure couldn’t hurt to mention it.
An Ottawa native, Bent has been an employee of the City of Ottawa since he was a fresh faced 17-year-old. Going through his own share of personal perils, Bent turned to writing. A form that lends therapeutic benefits, Bent was soon scribbling down ideas, manuscripts and contributing to online forums about quarter-life crises.
His first book, Make Your Imagination Rich, came about after a co-worker noticed him jotting down musings and epiphanies during breaks at his job as a maintenance worker. Going on the advice to turn those writings into books,
Bent published his second book, Change for a Quarter, two years later in 2008.
A drastic change of pace for a graduate of Algonquin’s security management program, Bent said “Don’t get me wrong, I liked the program and met a lot of great people but when I graduated, I just knew it wasn’t for me. I didn’t feel fulfilled.”
Although he doesn’t have a degree saying he’s an expert on the mind of young adults, Bent believes he has all the tools bring them out of their funk, and help them stay that way. He has learned from his own experiences and how he kept his head above water in his own struggles, and he’s self-taught on the matter (as in, he reads about it—a lot).
Most importantly, however, he brings unique methods to his coaching sessions that he says “can tap into someone’s resources.” One of them was inspired by the movie The Mask, where Jim Carrey’s character puts on a mask to act out his innermost desires. Bent realized the movie wasn’t that far off the mark.
“Every day, we imitate people we look up to. We’re always wondering what they’d say or what they’d do. In my sessions, I want my client to put on that so-called mask and think like that person.”
Bent laughed admitting that as a child, he wanted to be a wood carver but there’s no denying he has carved out a niche for himself that will benefit others as well.
For more information on Shawn Bent, visit the website www.changeforaquarter.com.