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What a 15-year-old meth addict taught me about leadership | Brian Fretwell | TEDxBoise

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How do you lead someone who knows what they need to do to change their life but—despite all your help—isn’t going to do it? Brian Fretwell was confronted with this scenario repeatedly during his time as a teacher in the chemical addictions unit of a juvenile corrections facility. The honesty of a 15-year-old meth addict, and the wisdom of a mentor, reframed Brian’s definition and practice of leadership. Brian Fretwell helps people realize their value. He began his professional career as a teacher in juvenile corrections, empowering disenfranchised kids to do things they didn’t believe they could. From the Australian Outback to the Arctic Circle, today Brian teaches individuals, teams, and companies how to draw out their hidden potential. He got an MBA, ran a 100-mile ultra-marathon, overcame his fear of flying, and wrote a book because he didn’t think he could do any of them—and being a hypocrite isn’t his style. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
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Text Comments (2096)
Puggicorn (13 hours ago)
Knowledge is power.
ItsNathanBruh (1 day ago)
My name is Nathan
G H (1 day ago)
very interesting ted talk, but I'm not sure how accurate the Latin is, I take Latin and I'm not sure what he means by words for leadership, adduco literally comes from the latin word duco which means "I lead", and "ad" means towards so adduco means towards leading or persuading. The word that means extract or to pull out of is extraho so I am not really sure where he got this information. Latin is also not really that limited of a language, it is very similar to english and spanish, and there are multiple words relating to leadership especially since it was used in Ancient Rome where there was lots of leadership like Octavian and Caesar.
Arthur Thaete (2 days ago)
Nathen is most likely still on meth or dead what he wanted he actually did not want enough
b vedavyass (2 days ago)
this guy is dope at acting
Cody Dye (1 day ago)
What a goofball!! we
Josh doe (3 days ago)
Someone should animate this lol
R.Lou24 (3 days ago)
Jesus Christ I almost cried, what a powerful message
vanessa marq (4 days ago)
"A 14:37 long theater performance of cliches (crying included)"- thumbs down
Lil' Mafs (4 days ago)
Huh is hypocrisy part of human nature?
Lil' Mafs (4 days ago)
ayyyy complex motives
Lil' Mafs (4 days ago)
Socratic method, some say it corrupts youth, but it might be for the greater good
Shapes and Colors (6 days ago)
9:54, story of my life.
TrampolineLemons (6 days ago)
*Inhales oxygen*
Boku Hero Core (7 days ago)
So cringe
Chen Markson (8 days ago)
I thought the title is math addict......
007speedcuber (8 days ago)
So when's he getting his Oscar?
mrpizzadavo (8 days ago)
And he ended up being hooked on meth because they stopped his adderall prescription, (not actually)
Martin G (8 days ago)
Should've taken a beta blocker before
Bibo Brisibe (8 days ago)
So amazing
dremid445 (8 days ago)
This is clearly autobiographical; Brian is a counselor because he himself has struggled w/ meth from a young age, by no fault of his own really, and - in a way - is fascinated by the ongoing struggle. His conversations with "Nathan" are him narrating his inner dialogue and frustration with his own inability to kick the habit despite having the PhD-level technical knowledge in terms of what steps to take. People who smoke meth have a strange/exaggerated way of inhaling, especially when thinking abt the drug and getting triggered into a sort of mild withdrawal. Meth users aren't all homeless or missing teeth. Many functional users take it like coffee in the morning and manage to sleep every night and maintain an attractive look. Takes one to know one. Hope Brian finds his peace someday; he's quite angry with himself as it stands.
Niek (8 days ago)
Interesting view. This whole speech feels so dramatical and acted to me that it ether has to be actually acted (so prepared the speech including the crying party etc, but the story itself being true) or he has so much actual emotions while talking about it that it just looks bizarre / unnatural (because of his personal issues and/or with his clients)
Joel Middaugh (9 days ago)
To think if Nathan had been diagnosed ADHD he could be a 15 year old LEGAL meth addict on PRESCRIPTION drugs and nobody would even know there was a problem. What a great country we live in.
CruciaL (9 days ago)
Thanks for posting, very insightful.
Mystigun (9 days ago)
Unexpected feels ride. Totally worth it.
That Shooter (11 days ago)
Ted isn't a real person.
a z (11 days ago)
I had a classmate in 8th grade, I don’t remember very well because my memory was very limited at the time, so I might have started it. She’d yell at teachers and storm out of the classroom, she’d cuss and talk about doing drugs. She was rude to me too, but like I said. She’d gotten in trouble a few times for smoking. I later found out from a friend who was also her friend that she had a lot of home issues. I didn’t buy her act for very long, I felt and do feel she is very different from her behavior
Yelsha Amarie (11 days ago)
Best. Teacher. Ever.
Tim V (11 days ago)
i found that the education system today focuses so intensely on the value of answers, and we're graded on how "correct" those answers are, but in reality, the answers are always changing. the real fundamental truth is in the questions
Peace Ondeath (12 days ago)
A 15 year old taught me about crystal. And rock. Traveling to south Dallas and Richardson. She was my girlfriend- I was 17. Awesome time. Things change. Looking for answers? Understand yourself. Respect yourself. Truth of what’s there was and will always be there, it’s only manipulated.
DressUpYourPet2 (12 days ago)
This man is the exact type of intellect we need in the 21st century. So many reasons why I think I'd run out of characters. Analytical and open-minded, and most important, very open to 21st century mentality and ears wide open! Light years ahead of the slugs who do nothing but peer at the screen for data.
Lisa Kain (13 days ago)
If everyone could care about another human being the same way this man cared about Nathan we would live in a better world! It is about bringing the good and potential out of someone..not handing them a food stamp card and saying be well and on your way as seems to happen in this country...give people a step up and not a hand out..care for each other and help others care about themselves
GAGE BLANCHARD (13 days ago)
garnglinc breand
Sergio Martinez (13 days ago)
Tip for learning things on YouTube: set playback speed to 2x. With 2x, I didn't hear the breathing mentioned in the comments. Great talk btw!
Jimmy Arthur (14 days ago)
Why are 15 year olds using meth in the first place
Smiley Oraparc (14 days ago)
I hope the kid is fine though
Smiley Oraparc (14 days ago)
lol these ted talks are getting weirder and weirder
Aids Father (15 days ago)
That awkward moment when your name is Nathan ...
Miss Kim (15 days ago)
I know one thing. Most kids in rehab have no reason whatsoever to trust expressing anything at all, let alone what they want to anyone working for the rehab center, why should they? Most people have interfered, and that’s what the establishment does x1M. They can tell when people just want to manipulate them. They’ve seen it their whole lives. Doesn’t mean some establishment workers don’t care for real, but they’ve got their work cut out proving they aren’t loyal to the game, because ultimately, it’s their job they want to keep, and kids know that comes first...they know who the counselors answer to. And it isn’t the kids. And the kids know that no one is in the position to actually effect the change they need. Rehab people are pretty powerless, and they’ll end up talking to all the wrong people and screwing stuff up worse. Workers may be well-intentioned, but are misguided and naive, despite their “education”. It’s not like anyone is going to be able to change their environment. They know it takes a network and backup, and no one can give them that. So they’ll just be doing that figuring on their own. Any streetwise kid knows that. Sad, but true. But it’s nice to see some people do care.
Footless Jo (15 days ago)
What a beautiful message, thank you.
Teahee uwu (15 days ago)
At first I thought that meth was just a slang of saying math
Kaltonian (16 days ago)
There shouldn't really be many comments here, people should just listen for a change instead of always having an opinion on what they are watching & listening to, drugs are a serious problem globally & i just hope that the next generation are able to deal with it a lot better than this generation, may our children not be exposed to the misery & pain than comes with it all.
Kieran Rowles (16 days ago)
"leadership isn't a me thing, its a we thing" - so true
Nathan Heaver (16 days ago)
haha when he said nathan lol thats my name
Gebirgs Jaeger (17 days ago)
Cried. . Honest and direct. Meth is insidious.
Mohammed Faraz (17 days ago)
ok was he actually crying or acting he can become an epic actor
Laura Morris (17 days ago)
you need to get brave and go and find out what happened to ethan, do you want to live the rest of your life not knowing ?
Suzanne was here (18 days ago)
I was listening so closely to what he was saying cuz it was so powerful I didn't even realize he may be breathing. Maybe I was breathing so loudly myself it fell in sync with his so I did not miss this great learning lesson. There is already a few places I may try this tool where I have already intervened in which is probably a bad approach (despite my intentions) & I need correcting.
Ethy (18 days ago)
He feels like an alternate me. Basically, what I could have been. I’m glad. His name is Nathan, and mine is Ethan. We have similar personality traits. (As described) But... you know. Yikes.
Shawn Boss (19 days ago)
this guys breathing makes me think hes having an anxiety attack on stage or something
AZYA ALSTON (19 days ago)
That was excellent!
Omer Aamir Shah (19 days ago)
I hate it when speakers turn into stand up comics
Moiz M (19 days ago)
This talk is A brilliant! But i cracked but he said "It isn't a me thing. It's a wee thing". xDDDDDDD
aislyn yokom (20 days ago)
I’m from Boise and let me tell you, addicted kids is TOO common here.
The Void (21 days ago)
13:50 sounds like communist propaganda to me but ok
Redbatt RS (21 days ago)
Does anyone know the spelling of the latin word he used? Ajuco or w/e? That doesn't seem to be the spelling according to google.
this is also a great testament to the socratic method
Osiris Virus (21 days ago)
#inventerShahmy Ahamed (22 days ago)
He delivered awesomely, he got my whole attention ❤ this is one of the best speach i ever heard 👌👏
MrToxic (24 days ago)
LOLOLOL i thoght he said unlike you lolgolol ;); 0;:): 0; ;0: );) : ;0: )::0 ;)
Justin Free (25 days ago)
Sometimes your put on a path to help certain people. You cannot help what you dont know
Stephen Irving (25 days ago)
What you seem to miss is that meth gets you really, really high.
Krunal Salvi (25 days ago)
At 5 min 30 Seconds, the speaker says a Latin word. Something like 'juko' . Can anyone help me understand the correct spelling of it. I am not able to look for it on Google. Thanks in advance :)
FREEDOM HARD (27 days ago)
Probably the best leadership speach I have ever heard. Beautiful.
Melissa Marcoe (27 days ago)
This is beautiful!!
Mantas Jedinkus (28 days ago)
what a sissy
Amit Dubey (29 days ago)
you were so worried that kid won't follow through, but did you yourself follow through? Why you don't know where is Nathan? you call this leadership, leave the process in between?
RetroChuckECheese (29 days ago)
Jeremy L (29 days ago)
And the over-acting Emmy goes to...
Rosario Waterlow (29 days ago)
Loved this video thanks!
Anime Speeddraws959 (30 days ago)
Guess I'll *do meth*
Ek Ladakhi (30 days ago)
I am the Nathen.
Ek Ladakhi (30 days ago)
Was he crying really
Matthew Bosley (30 days ago)
You can't get me to "save by giving me a pamphlet on compounding interest", just like I can't get you to renounce by giving you a book on meditation. funny how that works.
dltn ptrs (1 month ago)
Locate playback speed button_vary speed somewhat randomly__ have a ball
Patrick.0.5 (1 month ago)
Not a me thing, nuthin but a g thang, baby
Dominic Fastbender (1 month ago)
One of the best talks I have ever seen on TED.
David Burns (1 month ago)
So I was inspired by Brian's talk but in the end, I want to know how to help out Nathan? In life we meet many individuals who need help but we may not have the tools to help out.? How did Brian help Nathan achieve his goal of having a family? I don't get it... by asking questions? I see how that will bring to the surface what the true goals are but.. if you can't help Nathan move towards those goals, then isn't he still going to be frustrated and keep doing meth? I need to help others so that is why I am asking. There are so many really good people who have become addicted through no fault of their own and it would be nice to be able to help out more.
atheer ibrahim (1 month ago)
I’m not crying :(
Loren Swan (1 month ago)
This is as cliche of a hallmark movie. And maybe he should see a doctor about his heart. No one should breathe like that.
Never thought about it that way. Awesome message, and will definitely try to apply. Thank you sir!
Sophia Cai (1 month ago)
plot twist, he's nathan and sal is a psychiatrist.
Sophia Cai (1 month ago)
Did anyone else read "math addict"? lmao
UBER CAR (1 month ago)
Quan Vo (1 month ago)
Poor Nathan
harter kern (1 month ago)
What a 72-year-old lunatic taught me about America . . .
Joe Blundell (1 month ago)
Ritalin is Meth, Adderall has the same effects as meth. Millions and millions of children are now prescribed addiction at an early age. Don't even get me started on the worldwide opium epidemic. Want to help your community, kick the pill pushers out of your hospitals and doctors offices, they are making millions of lost Nathans everyday, and all for a couple of bucks.
Trevor Workman (1 month ago)
Casually mocks a 15 year old
Carlos Ledesma (1 month ago)
Kid was Mexican
Chris Scoggins (1 month ago)
Big lesson on parenting in this.....
Chris Scoggins (1 month ago)
Aaron Shields (1 month ago)
I get where that kid was coming from and where his mind was at that time. Fr tho this guy was Nathans angel in disguise. Praise God
BagHead Biggum's (1 month ago)
Was he crying the whole time or does he just always sound like a 12 year old talking back to his parents
This whole thing was too intense
The breathing made me anxious.
Striker Thunderlick (1 month ago)
This "Talk" is forced. The emotional outburst is so forced its uncomfortable. Oy'
trav v (1 month ago)
He was breathing the way he was because he was moved by the story.
Q Huynh (1 month ago)
I love this talk. Speaks so much to me.
Qiu Shi Sheng (1 month ago)
Waste of time... Worst Ted vid by far
Me Alexander (1 month ago)
That he shouldn"t lead.
i_eat_trash (1 month ago)
lol why my eyes wet
Destrudo Alexandros (1 month ago)
He dont give a fu. About Nathan
* HiddenGem*Ali (1 month ago)
Working with patients can be challenging and the most rewarding moments are the smallest steps patients make in achieving and taking back some control , there are many questions behind the cause , it’s finding it and the will for them to trigger self motivation. Powerful presentation , thanks

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