Giuseppe Pizano: From Being Homeless & Living Under the Bleachers to Fighting for Underprivileged Kids Everywhere
We first met Giuseppe Pizano at a Pitch Lab team building workshop for Genesis Contractor Solutions. But that’s not where this story begins. Abandoned by his mother and left homeless at the age of 14, Giuseppe overcame incredible odds and is now a champion for homeless children. An accomplished speaker, he shares his story in “Changing Sight,” a TEDx he hopes will help people see things differently.
We caught up with Giuseppe to chat about talking through his backpack, dealing with stage fright and helping homeless youth:
Tell me a bit about how you prepared for your TEDx “Changing Sight.” How much did you practice leading up to the talk?
I have told my story so many times that I pretty much already knew what I had to say. I didn’t write out an entire script word for word. I wrote specific bullet points on note cards and began rehearsing every day for about 2-3 weeks leading up to the talk.
How nervous were you before your TEDx, and how did you deal with stage fright?
I was extremely nervous before my TEDx talk, but I dealt with it by listening to other motivational speakers on YouTube to pump me up mentally. Then I did a ton of push-ups right before I went on stage.
I love the creative decision to tell parts of your story through your best friend, your backpack. How did you get the idea?
I got the inspiration to speak through the eyes of my backpack from my adopted parents, almost at the last minute, two weeks prior to my talk.
What was the main catalyst for deciding to tell your story in such a public way? Have you always known you were going to help others, or did a specific moment motivate you?
I didn’t know until about my sophomore year in college that I wanted to help others. It wasn’t until I realized how much of a story I had that I began to slowly visit high schools to talk to other underprivileged kids about the things I went through and how I was able to come out of my situation. The feeling I had after one girl came to me and told me that I was an inspiration to her surpassed any sort of gratitude that I had ever felt. It was that gratifying feeling that made me find love in what I was doing. I finally found my purpose.
How has being on stage as both a TEDx speaker and a model helped you most in your role as Business Development Manager at Genesis?
I think both speaking on stage and modeling have helped me in my job with Genesis by giving me a level of confidence and authenticity to talk to almost anyone without being scared or caring about what other people think of me.
How has opening up in such a vulnerable way and telling your amazing story helped you be more authentic at work?
Being vulnerable is often looked at as something negative, but if you know how to use your vulnerability in the right way, it can be the most powerful tool you have. Especially in the sense of being authentic. That’s all anyone wants.
We were thrilled to hear you call Pitch Lab one of the best interactive workshops you’ve ever attended. What made the experience most valuable for you?
I really enjoyed that Pitch Lab was able to make a bunch of our most introverted employees a little more comfortable interacting. It truly turned the workshop into an uplifting session rather than making it into just another meeting of death by PowerPoint.
What’s next in your quest to provide kids with a best friend in their backpacks, and the ability to know that they have a chance in life?
My next step is to get my idea for a backpack that is sturdy yet practical for homeless youth across the country in the right hands to make this a reality. And hopefully being able to talk to hundreds of more people across the country, maybe even the world.
At the end of your talk, you quoted a staggering 1.6M kids living on the street today. What can we do to help right now?
Anyone can help by visiting their nearest homeless youth shelter and volunteering. You will never understand how impactful it is to build a simple relationship with one of these kids. That’s speaking from personal experience.