We humans

A few ways to make the world more awesome: A chat with Kid President

Feb 14, 2014 /

Robby Novak seems like a regular ol’ 10-year-old boy with a big laugh and a tendency to fidget, if you ignore the fact that he’s also a YouTube superstar. The dynamo elementary student started making a series of motivational videos with his older brother-in-law when he was just 9. The videos went viral, and since then, he’s appeared on Today , interviewed people like Beyonce and the President of the United States, and even addressed the crowd at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

Chances are you’ve seen one of Robby’s videos, though you probably know him as Kid President. As his alter ego Kid President, Robby addresses the masses from his tiny oval office, spreading the word that life should be a party, people should be more awesome, and everyone should “treat everybody like it’s their birthday.” He wears a really snazzy suit and a red tie. He dances better than most adults. His seemingly boundless enthusiasm is contagious.

Robby became Kid President when his brother-in-law — videographer Brad Montague — decided that people should spend more time listening to what kids have to say. They started making their signature motivational videos, working together on each episode without any fancy film crews or staff. It didn’t take long to realize that a little kid wisdom was exactly what the world wanted. Kid President’s breakout video, “A Pep Talk from Kid President to You,” which was featured on TED.com last February, currently has over 30 million views on YouTube.

In the video, Robby (as Kid President) gives a rousing pep talk that’s equal parts hilarious and heartwarming. He reminds us all that life is short, so short that we shouldn’t waste time being boring or unkind, or ignoring the call to make the world awesome. “Boring is easy,” he tells the viewer. “Everybody can be boring. But you’re gooder than that.” He dances, quotes both Journey and Robert Frost, and in perhaps the most charmingly memorable part of the video, asks, “What if Michael Jordan had quit? … He wouldn’t have made Space Jam … What’s your Space Jam?”

In 2013 alone, Kid President had the opportunity to honor his hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington; work with the White House to prank the Internet on April Fools Day; and host a special Google Hangout with the United Nations for World Humanitarian Day. He kissed Beyoncé, nabbed an interview with Josh Groban via a voracious Twitter campaign, and presented his NCAA Tournament picks with ESPN.

Kid President also happens to have a rare brittle bone disease — osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) — which has caused him to have over 70 bone breaks since birth. While this is a part of Robby’s life, he and his brother-in-law choose not to make it the focus of their videos, deciding instead to focus on Robby’s natural humor, penchant for dancing, and ability to give a really good pep talk. As Montague writes on the Kid President website, “What’s inspiring about Robby isn’t his condition, but the fact that his condition doesn’t define who he is. In spite of all he’s been through, he not only keeps going — he dances.”

We’re thrilled that Kid President took time out of his busy schedule to share some off-the-cuff wisdom about staying positive and making the world a brighter place, as well as some adorably practical tips about what to avoid when feeding a baby (he just became an uncle, so this baby thing is new to him).

Hailey Reissman is an editorial coordinator at TEDx.