Leadership Spotlight: Jessup Traum


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Leadership Spotlight: Jessup Traum

Every year, we have the chance to meet hundreds of incredible students. Each possesses their unique strengths and qualities. In this Leadership Spotlight, we want to highlight Jessup Traum, one of our students who has been in our programs the longest.

Who is Jessup?

Jessup is 18 years old and what we like to call “an all-around good guy”. He is humble, teachable, loving, patient, and beloved by all his peers and leaders. Jessup always seeks continual improvement. He has a driven desire for knowledge and success. Throughout his high school career and his time with LSA, he has accomplished great things. Here are just a few:

  • The youngest LSA intern and mentor at the age of 14.
  • Won the LSA Executive Success Coaching Scholarship Award.
  • Donated 600+ hours of community service in high school.
  • Created a fitness LLC, called The Gym Nerd, where he found his love of teaching.
  • Excelled in academics, where he received the Presidential Scholarship to Arizona State University—the highest the university has to offer.
  • Planning on studying mental health and counseling in college.
  • Works at 3D Integrated Medical Office helping 40 patients per week. Some of his core responsibilities include front desk administration, setup and prepping of patients for the doctor, and advising patients on various exercises and stretches they can perform to help them.

The Struggle of a Modern Teenager

Jessup first came to an LSA program in 2017 during our Logic and Leadership Summer Program. He was only 14 years old at the time, heading into his freshman year. He felt lost, stressed, and confused. The first year of high school proved to be challenging for him. He lost interest in his favorite sport and found it difficult to focus on academics. He didn’t know where to focus his energy. His parents were worried about him. Many teenagers face this same struggle—part of growing up is finding out what makes you happy.

During this time, Jessup felt like no one understood him. He didn’t know how to describe what he was feeling, and he didn’t know how to overcome his anxiety. He turned to the only thing that helped him escape his troubles—video games. His parents did everything they could to motivate and incentivize Jessup, but nothing seemed to work. If you didn’t know any better, you would think there was something wrong with Jessup, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

How to Help Teens Find Direction

LSA has a motto: The student is never the problem. This seems contrary to common knowledge. There’s no doubt, it looked like Jessup was in sea of troubles. Many people might think he needed to change, but the key to good mentorship is to never try to change someone.

When a student is struggling, they’re not broken, they are misaligned. Every student is unique, and when given the right amount of space, time, and encouragement, they can find the motivation to change on their own accord. When teenagers are motivated to change, they become happier, more confident, less stressed, and more excited for their futures.

Just as Jessup was going through his toughest trials, LSA was piloting our new program, Student Success Coaching. Through this program, we pair a high school student with one of our professionally certified success coaches. As soon as Jessup’s parents heard about it, they enrolled Jessup and his brother as the first students in the program.

Jessup’s coach, Dr. Alfredo Rivera, began meeting with him every week for thirty minutes. In a short time, Dr. Rivera discovered that Jessup:

  1. Has a good heart and wants to do the right thing, but he just doesn’t know what to do.
  2. Plays video games because he is too stressed and needs an outlet.
  3. Quit the soccer team because he didn’t mesh with the other players.
  4. Didn’t know how to express himself to his parents.
  5. Was eager to strengthen his friendships and expand his social circle.
  6. Didn’t know what he loved, what he was good at, and what he wanted in his life.
  7. Realized he needed to set goals to discover his interests.

The Journey to More Motivation

Going into high school, Jessup was very focused on school and sports, but he didn’t make time for building relationships with his friends and his family. He chose his priorities because he thought that they were the most important building blocks for success. Until now, Jessup was a successful athlete with impeccable grades. He was doing everything he thought was right, but he wasn’t happy.

After much reflection, he realized he wanted to build stronger relationships with friends and family. Today, Jessup has realized his goals and has become happier and more motivated in all aspects of life. But to get where he is now, he went through four key phases.

Phase 1: Building Strong Relationships

During this phase, Jessup focused on strengthening his friendships. His primary goal was to create an ultimate frisbee team. He did research by looking up local teams, tried to recruit people, and posted his pickup games on social media. It was much harder than anticipated. He found himself out on the field alone most of the time waiting for people to show up, but this experience caused him to talk to more people and make more friends in the process.

Phase 2: Finding His Voice

Jessup realized that ultimate frisbee wasn’t the best way to strengthen friendships. He also realized that he likes talking to people and public speaking. He joined the Speech and Debate team and competed in a number of competitions (went to 4 tournaments and made it to the semi-finals in one of them). He loved forming logical arguments, trying to understand his opponents, and making friends with teammates. This experience gave him confidence and showed him how much he enjoys being with people. At this same time, Jessup was also interning as a junior coach with LSA.

By the end of this phase, he discovered that his passion in life had to be connected to working with others. He didn’t know exactly what that would be, but he was on a more focused journey to figure it out.

Phase 3: Finding His True Passion

Throughout this process, Jessup’s relationship with his parents improved greatly. He spent more time with his father and began to realize how similar they were. His father co-owns a medical center with his mom and is also a full-time firefighter. Naturally, Jessup’s dad loves health and fitness. Over time, Jessup learned to share this love. Jessup always enjoyed visiting the fire station with his dad and seeing how fit the guys were and how they helped people in the process.

Jessup decided that being a firefighter was his new passion and direction. He started to work out and eat healthier. His dad soon bought him a membership to the gym and introduced him to a power lifter who trained him for a few months. From there, Jessup was hooked. He discovered that he loved fitness as much as he enjoyed socializing. He shifted his focus from being a firefighter, to a body builder, and finally landing on wanting to become a fitness coach. That would combine his good people skills with his love of fitness. Over the course of 2 years, Jessup gained 35 pounds of solid muscle. The results were incredible! He could deadlift 283 lbs, squat 245 lbs, bench 160 lbs, and shoulder press 115 lbs.

Phase 4: Looking Ahead toward the Future

As Jessup found his passion in working with people and bodybuilding, the rest of his life seemed to improve as well. He was happier than ever, excelling in school and had great relationships with those around him. He became more responsible at home, where his parents began to give him much more freedom to develop and continue to figure out his life.

In Phase 3, he spent a lot of time with his dad, but Jessup always wanted to find ways to bond more with his mother. In the past, he worked with his mom at the medical center, but he never enjoyed it. After his years of development and figuring out his strengths, he wanted another chance at working with his mom again, but in a different capacity. She was eager to get him involved. Instead of having him do detail-oriented tasks, she realized his value is with people and fitness. She assigned him roles that fit his strengths and as a result, he did outstanding work and their relationship blossomed. This gave Jessup more time to talk to his mom and understand how she thinks. He started to realize that he was also very similar to his mom—they shared very similar mental traits. Through her mentorship, she helped him realize that a great career path that he may want to consider is being a counselor. Jessup agreed and is applying to the counseling program at Arizona State University. In the process he was awarded the highest scholarship possible!

This moment was the culmination of Jessup’s years of hard work and dedication. His family and his LSA coaches were so proud of his amazing success.

Why Was Jessup Successful?

Jessup’s story is remarkable, but it did not happen by chance. What allowed him to be successful was the following:

  1. Time to develop. His parents recognized that putting pressure on him to meet their expectations was not fruitful. When children have the freedom to fail and learn on their own, they grow faster and become more productive.
  2. Support from parents. Jessup’s parents were invested in his success. They both went above and beyond. They mentored him, took him to their workplaces, stayed engaged with LSA, and took part in parent coaching. They knew that to help Jessup, they too had to set goals and focus on personal development.
  3. A great mentor. Jessup met with LSA coaches that experienced the same trials and changes as Jessup. His coaches understood who Jessup was and were able to help him see into the future and guide him according to his abilities.
  4. Jessup’s love for people and bodybuilding is in his genes. He didn’t discover his strengths by accident. He set goals to learn about his parents and their strengths. This led him to know more about himself.


Although, Jessup has unique talents and capabilities, all of our students achieve success in their own way. Every child is great. Every child has incredible talents. Sometimes all they need are people to help them find a vision.

This article is the beginning of our Student Success Stories series. We hope to highlight new students periodically. If you want to know more about our leadership programs and success coaching, click here.

About the Author

Dr. Alfredo Rivera is a business management consultant and co-founder of Leadership Society of Arizona. He sits on the LSA Board of Directors. Dr. Rivera helped consulted on 150+ projects valued at $21 million. He has worked with over 2,400 students through 50+ programs.