From crack baby to writer: Shawn Blanchard talks new book, keys to mentorship

Shawn Blanchard (Photo credit: Timothy Paule – Mars Paule Advertising Agency)

By the looks of it, one would say native Detroiter Shawn Blanchard has it all: tall, dark, handsome, educated, articulate, (always) well groomed, physically fit, and highly intellectual. Not many who know Blanchard at this stage in his life would argue any of these qualities either. But life hasn’t always been “no crystal stair” in Blanchard’s case. He was born a crack-baby at the height of the crack epidemic in Detroit. His family was that of crooks, criminals, thieves, drug abusers and drug dealers. His mother was known as a professional shoplifter and his brother was a well-known drug dealer on the streets of Detroit. As a child, Blanchard’s obstacles seemed insurmountable, but through mentorship and a series of right decisions, Blanchard overcame those obstacles and now he’s a well sought after speaker, mentor, entrepreneur, award-winning influential leader and author of How ‘Bout That for a Crack Baby.

Rolling out chatted with Blanchard about his book at his first book signing at PV Lounge in Detroit. Check out the interview below. Tell us what you think about Shawn’s story and him overcoming the odds.

Tell us about your book, How ‘Bout That for a Crack Baby.
It’s a book that has two themes. One that talks about my journey, which depicts my story coming from a baby that was born with drugs in my system to becoming an entrepreneur, community leader and the man that I am today. The trials and tribulations that you’ll see throughout the book are things that you wouldn’t even imagine.  You’ll see that I go through things where I basically took the positive route with everything that came my way.

The second theme is all about the sub-line, which is “Keys to  Mentorship Success.” Throughout the journey, what I’ve done to be able to be where I am today is really leverage mentorship. I mean leverage all of the clues around me, even my friends, I consider them “friend-tors”, and we make sure that we can leverage even the bad examples that become really good bad examples. So, you may not know what to do, but you know exactly what not to do, and leverage all the hands that are all around you.

What’s the one key thing that you want people to walk away with in terms of a lesson from your book?
One thing is, in terms of your journey, you’re not alone at all. You have to understand that you can latch onto people that I consider gurus which are mentors, and that’s not just reserved for some kid over in a corner, or leaching onto someone that actually has some information or something good for them. But you have to understand the young billionaire of our time, (Mark) Zuckerberg, his mentor was  the late Steve Jobs. You have Bill Gates, one of his mentors is Warren Buffet, and one of Warren Buffet’s mentors Bill Gates, they’re friend-tors of one another. So, we need to make sure we leverage one another in our network. Even if you take (rapper) Big Sean, one his mentors is Kanye, one of Kanye’s is Jay-Z, and it continues in a cycle where people are really leveraging the greatness of everyone around them. I would say this, the answers are all around us. Leverage the greatness in everyone around you, even your friends, leverage them as friend-tors.

You’re a native Detroiter, as well. Tell us about the great work that you’re doing in Detroit.
I’ve done a number of things. In the last year, I was running the Grow Detroit Young Talent Program, where I led an initiative to hire 5,600 young people and put them to work. I also ran the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and I’m still doing some work with that now, which is a presidential youth initiative with the city of Detroit.

It sounds like you’re doing amazing work in the community. What’s next for you?
I’ll be doing a book tour, and making sure that throughout my tour I’ll be speaking to the youth, providing them with workbooks, providing them with custom suits, providing them with scholarships and also providing them with mentors as well throughout the country.

What type of inspiration would you like to leave our readers with?
I’ll say this: You think you know, but you have no idea. Get the book, and be inspired. Failure is nothing but wisdom, so even if you fail, know that you have still won because you’ve gained knowledge.

Where can our readers find you on social media?
On social media you can find me at Shawn T. Blanchard on FB, and ShawnTB on IG and Twitter, and you can also purchase the book at

Photo gallery credit: Porsha Monique for Steed Media

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