How would our lives change if we could change our mindset to be prepared to respond to challenges that we come across? That’s what The Underdog Mentality aims to answer. Launched by Tyler Monk in late 2018, the company provides services such as keynote event speaking, professional development and inspirational storytelling, student and rising professional workshops, organizational consulting and seminar sessions. Monk currently provides services across the Pacific Northwest, encouraging young leaders to explore into their greatness.
“The purpose of The Underdog Mentality (TUM) is to help people tap into the power of their potential so they can lean into their greatness.”
– Tyler Monk, The Underdog Mentality
Before launching The Underdog Mentality, Monk attended Central Washington University, earning his Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation Management on a full-ride basketball scholarship. Monk’s identity as an athlete ran deep, with his love for basketball starting young. However, after receiving a knee injury, Monk was left to reconsider his career path and identity. After graduation, Monk launched his career, working in leadership development in the nonprofit and education sectors. While working full-time in youth leadership, Monk wanted to do more to help youth in his community and wanted to follow his entrepreneurial spirit.
Monk had decided that he wanted to launch his own entrepreneurial endeavor to inspire and empower youth in his community. Growing up in inner-city Portland, he wanted to equip inner-city youth in his community with the skills and mindset that they needed to thrive. During a conversation with a close friend on his background, his friend noted that a recurring theme throughout his life – Monk’s “underdog mentality.”
While in the process of launching The Underdog Mentality, Monk was approached by the Director of Next, the local youth career and employment center developed by Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW) and the Program Director of Workforce Southwest Washington. During this conversation, the three connected on their dedication to helping youth find success through education and career readiness. This conversation would lead to a partnership between Monk and Next, as he brought his expertise through The Underdog Mentality to youth employment readiness programs.
The partnership between Next and The Underdog Mentality began with Monk giving a motivational keynote speech at the 2018 Youth Employment Summit (YES). After this event, Monk wanted to create a more permanent and consistent partnership between the two organizations. This would eventually lead to the partnership as it exists today.
Tyler Monk is a first-generation college graduate as well as a first-generation entrepreneur and working professional. He grew up in the inner-city of Portland, OR where he struggled academically throughout high school. It wasn’t until he was 16 that Tyler realized his potential to be a high-level athlete. This caused him to catch a glimpse of the motivating fire that purpose provides. His first passion was basketball and he used the sport to earn a full-ride scholarship to play in college. He began his college journey in Bakersfield, CA then later graduated from Central Washington University earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation Management.
Following college Tyler pursued music. He produced three studio Hip-Hop/Soul albums. Tyler has 10 years of direct experience serving young emerging leaders in the Pacific Northwest. From 2011 – 2016, Tyler served as the Site Director for the GEAR UP Initiative in Vancouver, WA. Leadership development and the power of potential are tremendous passions of Tyler’s and he utilizes these strengths to encourage, develop and equip young leaders to become change agents of the future.
At Next, Monk works with young adults, ages 16 – 24, facilitating workshops and working with the SummerWorks high school internship program and Next Gen Youth Council. Monk sees his role at Next as a pivotal way to bridge the gap between leaders and youth. By reconciling these two cohorts, Monk hopes to open more doors for employment for young adults and youth in the Pacific Northwest.
“Tyler Monk is a force for good for young people,” said Keely Christ, Next Director. “He empathically feels where they’ve been and can see the potential for greatness that lies within each person, connecting with them in an incredibly genuine and down to earth way. He is authentic and young people can feel that. Our program is better because of our partnership with Tyler and The Underdog Mentality.”
Through his position, Monk is dedicated to helping youth tap into their potential and driving the importance of youth and young adults to commit and persevere throughout challenges and barriers they come across. Currently, Monk is working on creating new content and programming for Next.
“Tyler and the Underdog Mentality are absolutely critical members of the Next system. His engaging and thoughtful workshops, commitment to the youth, and boundless energy helps diverse groups of youth build self-esteem and confidence and actualize their potential.”
– Benton Waterous, WSW Director of Programs
As a Black business owner, entrepreneur, and role model, when working with young Black people, he wants to emphasize the three Cs: never compromise your Character, your Culture or your Commitment to what you want to achieve. Monk’s goal is to uplift and encourage Black young adults, while also being realistic with the boundaries and challenges that people of color may face living and working in the Pacific Northwest.
Through his program, Monk encourages young Black adults to see that these experiences can either obstruct them or catapult them. Monk wants to reframe mindsets, empowering Black individuals to realize that, while they cannot control the prejudices and actions of others, they can choose how they do or do not respond. Ultimately, Monk encourages young adults to take control and become the author of their narratives and future.
As WSW strives to initiate changes in the public workforce development system that will contribute to a more equitable economic recovery, it is seeking to develop additional partnerships with organizations and individuals that serve historically underserved populations to break down barriers, increase access and improve outcomes and economic mobility.
Monk’s program encourages youth of all walks of life to pursue career and educational advancement and upskilling opportunities. Next and The Underdog Mentality’s approach to equitable and trauma-informed care led to more equitable outcomes and opportunities for historically underrepresented populations.
The results of Monk’s work at The Underdog Mentality are palpable across the Pacific Northwest. Monk’s programs leave young adults empowered and ready to take on whatever barriers or challenges they may face throughout their lives. Even years after attending one of Monk’s events, past participants reach out to him – reflecting positively on how workshops, speeches and conversations have helped define their futures.
“There is never a bored moment with Tyler and he is always inclusive. I feel that I can connect with him well and conversations flow easily.”
– Orion L., Next Participant
While The Underdog Mentality is now thriving, Monk has faced challenges throughout his entrepreneurial journey. During the infancy of his business, the COVID-19 pandemic erupted across the globe. During this time, all in-person seminars, workshops and speaking events had to be cancelled. This led to the end of several contracts. However, this did not deter Monk. Instead, he realized that youth in his community still needed his program – perhaps now more than ever. Monk began to perform pro-bono work in the community. This work added to Monk’s visibility in the community, leading to increased partnerships. Monk’s business continues to thrive, now doing better than ever.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to be an entrepreneur is because I felt like there was a lot of bureaucracy and a lot of red tape and hoops you had to jump through and then, transparently, sometimes having to compromise your culture or how you identify to be able to fit in to the mold, or to be able, especially, to move up.”
– Tyler Monk, The Underdog Mentality
His efforts and accomplishments are being noticed and earlier this year Monk was recognized by the Vancouver Business Journal as being “Accomplished and Under 40” in its annual recognition and celebration of our community’s young leaders.