What Makes a Hero? Meet Rob Kenney

From an early age, we learn that heroes are superheroes, save lives, rescue folks, keep us safe, or serve in the military.  These are noble pursuits, but how can a regular person like you or me do something heroic?

If you have never heard of Rob Kenney before, please take a lesson from him because he is the definition of heroism.  When Kenney launched his YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNepEAWZH0TBu7dkxIbluDw on April 1, 2020, Rob had no idea he was about to become an Internet sensation.  What started as a gesture to do something good has blown up to nearly three million followers on his “Dad, How Do I” YouTube channel.  As soon as I heard about his story, I felt inspired and wanted to bring it to others’ attention.

To most appreciate this story, you need to learn more about Kenney’s tale.  Rob grew up in a large dysfunctional family.  His mom was an alcoholic and lost custody of the children.  At age fourteen, his dad exited the picture, abandoning the children.  At one point, Rob moved in with an older brother in his mobile home.  He credits his brother, Rick, for becoming the male role model that he needed at the time.

Fast forward to now, and Kenney has been married to his wife, Annelli, for 29 years.  They have two adult children, Kristine (28) and Kyle (25).   Because of his own experience growing up in a challenging situation, Kenney became determined to be the type of father he didn’t have.  His primary goal as a parent has been to raise good adults.

When Kenney started his channel earlier this year during the pandemic, he had no idea it would take off.  He didn’t start it to become famous; the simple plan was to help others.  That makes him a hero in my book because he is saving lives by being a role model. Here is a recent appearance this year from The Today Show:

https://www.today.com/video/dad-becomes-a-youtube-star-with-dad-how-do-i-channel-84826181559

  In offering advice to his kids, the idea of creating a place for teens and young adults to gain knowledge became a reality.  Most of his initial videos were “how-to” videos. If you’re looking for tips about how to use tools, skills in the kitchen, minor automobile repairs, and even everyday tasks such as how to tie a tie, you’ve come to the right place. There is no shortage of those types of videos on YouTube, but Kenney discovered the secret sauce, the ability to connect with the average person in dad ways. Here is his video about how to tie a tie:

He expanded his channel into other areas, such as reading children’s stories that teach valuable life lessons.  This one is called The Bad Seed:

Another section of Rob’s videos is what he calls “Dad Chats.”  They are full of valuable bits of wisdom that he has acquired.  Here is one entitled, “We Need Each Other.”

Part of what makes Kenney’s channel so unique to me is his combination of simplicity and sincerity.  Not only does he teach necessary life skills, but he also does it in the best dad manner through a variety of stories, advice, wisdom, and his ever-present “dad jokes.”  One of my favorites is when he begins a video about how to use a stud finder in the home and says, “Today, I’m going to teach you how to use a stud finder.  If you came here looking for help finding a boyfriend, that would be a different stud finder.”

As a former elementary teacher of thirty-one years, I admire what Rob is doing and his approach.  I look at him and think, Rob Kenney is a guy who gets it. He understands his role as a teacher to the next generation. The most important job of any educator or parent is to make your children feel safe and loved.  If you’ve got that down, then you’re halfway there when it comes to teaching and learning.  I hope that some of the most valuable life lessons I taught my students went far beyond basic math or writing skills.

One of the most impactful parts of Kenney’s story is his lessons regarding forgiveness.  Rather than hang on to his anger about being brought up in a dysfunctional family, Rob tried to make peace with his parents when he became older.  He never got a chance to mend fences with his mom before she died, but he was able to spend quality time with his dad and forgive him before his passing.  One of Kenney’s main teaching points is “nobody’s perfect.”

One gets the sense that this whole experience has been a bit overwhelming for Kenney, but he continues to put out “dad videos.”  As of today, Kenney has 2.98 million subscribers.  He has tapped into an obvious need.  He has plans for a book that will be released later this year.  I am honored to be one of his followers, and I invite you to join me.

88 thoughts on “What Makes a Hero? Meet Rob Kenney

  1. what an absolutely beautiful story, thank you so much for sharing this hero’s story, Pete

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 18, 2020 — 5:11 pm

      Isn’t he amazing? I’ve seen enough of his videos to understand that this is all about a guy trying to do something positive in the world. Many boys and young men need good male role models, which I see with Rob.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a special guy and a beautiful story! Thanks for the introduction!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 18, 2020 — 5:27 pm

      It’s nice to hear stories about regular people doing positive things instead of always thinking about making money for themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for introducing us to Rob! A hero, indeed… I’ve subscribed to his channel and sharing! 🎄HAPPY HOLIDAYS, PETE!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 18, 2020 — 5:29 pm

      Likewise to you and your family, Bette. I’m sure it’s been a bit overwhelming for Rob when his story has gone viral.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Such a beautiful thing… Sharing the love!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Pete. Thanks for this introduction to Rob. I’ll look him up on my Youtube feed. Happy weekend.
    Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 18, 2020 — 7:39 pm

      Thanks, Teagan! There are too many young people who need someone like Rob to offer them guidance. Any time we can do something to improve our little speck of the universe, we should take that opportunity.

      Like

      1. Very true, Pete. Also, we’re never too old to listen to a mindful point of view on things. This pandemic has created a lot of self-doubt in the adult population too. Plus, I cut the cord with cable companies and network TV in 2014 and never looked back. I get a lot of my television viewing from YouTube. Happy weekend hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this Pete. I’m heading over to subscribe right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 18, 2020 — 7:42 pm

      Isn’t it amazing how some things take a life of their own, Kim? He thought he might have thirty or forty subscribers, and in a little over eight months, he has three million followers. I guess that speaks to the need.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. He’s a natural and seems so authentic. Thanks for sharing with us, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 18, 2020 — 7:44 pm

      I get that sense too, Becky. Some people complain about what a cruel hand they’ve been dealt, and others not only improve their own life but the lives of a whole new generation—a pretty powerful gesture on Rob’s part.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think it is wonderful that Rob is able to reach young people like this, Pete. There are so many children now who grow up without a father figures in their lives and that is a bad thing. Rob is doing a good thing to make this wrong right. Thanks for sharing about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 18, 2020 — 10:14 pm

      I had the ideal situation growing up in a stable family, but I’m sensitive to this issue because I saw so many children who needed either a male or female figure in their lives. Rob has touched a need and found a way to be like a father to so many people. The comments on YouTube from others speak volumes.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pretty amazing Pete. I has he been signed for TED talks yet? If not, he should be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 18, 2020 — 10:20 pm

      I don’t think so. This has all transpired quickly, and I think it is all a bit unexpected to Rob. I’ve often heard teachers and parents say they wish there was a class called life skills. I hear a bit of myself in his messages to young people, which is why Rob’s story connects with me. He is teaching far more than how to do things, though that is the vehicle he has used to build an audience.

      Like

  9. Thank you for sharing this Pete! Rob comes across so genuine and likeable. He looks and sounds just like you would expect a Dad to look and sound. The amazing part for me is that he seems completely unaware of his success, likely because that is not why he does it. A wonderful story well told!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 8:31 am

      That is my impression of Rob too. He seems like the kind of guy you’d like to have a beer with and confide in.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. These are the people we need most. Mister Rogers always said, “Look for the helpers”, advice his mother had given him. I think Rob Kenney is a modern day Mister Rogers. Thank you for bringing his wonderful story to us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 8:36 am

      Part of Mr. Rogers’s success had to do with his genuineness, which is an excellent comparison. I don’t expect to hear back, but I wrote to him. One of the questions I would ask if I got the chance is his favorite children’s books. I could refer him to Jennie’s YouTube channel for some tips.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aww… that’s so nice, Pete. Thank you. And you are spot on with Mister Roger’s genuineness. I really hope you hear back from Rob Kenney. I know he will love your letter.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for bringing this story to our attention Pete, what a lovely man Rob Kenney is. He’s made me feel a bit better about the world, so again, thanks for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 8:39 am

      I feel the same way, Paul. I see a guy who has struck a chord with people and gives back in sincere ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I have seen a couple of Rob’s videos. I think he is an amazing guy. The children of today often have no one to teach them skills that enhance their lives. Rob is definitely a hero.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 8:43 am

      He has clearly tapped into a need. As he says, it is a little bit sad that there are so many people in need of dads. I’ll be looking for his book when it comes out in 2021.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’d not heard of Rob before, but I’m going to investigate further, based on your recommendation. Anyone who can make a learning experience fun is fine by me – if only some of my schoolteachers had possessed that skill…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 8:45 am

      I’m a fan of selflessness, and Rob is a great example of finding a way to contribute something meaningful to society.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There have been many such examples of this since the pandemic began. They deserve more coverage – we could all use good news instead of the diet of division and hatred we are fed.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Reblogged this on By Hook Or By Book and commented:
    Thanks to Pete for introducing this unsung hero!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 20, 2020 — 11:54 am

      Thanks for the reblog, Kim.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. What an amazing man and story! So glad you shared it. It shows what we can do when we refuse to let bitterness take root in us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 11:21 am

      Exactly! Some people like to play the victim role, and others pick themselves up and lift up those around them.

      Like

      1. And fhose are the ones to admire!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. such a great story, thanks for sharing it. A bit jealous too; that could have been any one of us. I am now a subscriber to Rob’s youtube channel. I plan to spend some time this weekend scrolling through his earlier posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 11:24 am

      I think we’ve talked about this before. When somebody becomes a bit of a celebrity, they can either make it all about themself or give back. This is the kind of guy I’d like to be friends with.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. same here. he seems like “good people”

        Liked by 1 person

  17. That’s an incredible story. Thanks for sharing, Pete. It’s not easy to overcome the terrible experience in the past let alone setting good examples and share with others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 2:38 pm

      I felt so inspired when I heard about his story, Miriam. It’s like a whole bunch of people adopted Rob to be their dad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s surely an inspiring story, Pete! I’m sure it touches many lives.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. This was a very inspiring story, Pete. Thank you for sharing it. Young people must be crying out for a positive male role model who genuinely cares about other people–and he keeps them from looking dorky in a necktie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 8:36 pm

      Of course, learning how to do different jobs is important, but what I like most are the lessons that he embeds in the tasks. There is a whole section of “dad talk” videos discussing values such as integrity, attitude, and putting yourself out there that are excellent.

      Like

  19. I loved the tie tying video. It will be very helpful next time someone needs a hand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 8:31 pm

      He takes on many basic tasks that help, from cars (how to change the oil, jump start a car, replace a battery, changing a flat) to tools (how to use ratchet straps, cordless drills, post hole diggers) and much more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is great for people who don’t have a helpful dad or grandpa(in our case)around to teach them.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Great post Pete. I had seen a few of his videos on facebook but did not know his story. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 6:46 pm

      I hope he continues to run with his ideas. It’s cool to see him expanding into other types of videos like dad advice and children’s stories while still sticking with his dad jokes and how to do it videos.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, as a person who grew up without a dad, he passed when I was only 8, I think it is an awesome idea.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. This is the first time I have heard of Rob Kenney. You remind me Pete, how the most inspirational people usually have dealt with significant challenges in their life. You also remind me how some people are determined to overcome these challenges. They want to do better. Connecting with the average person is a secret sauce. You also have this gift, Pete.🙂 Great key words, “simplicity and sincerity.” I greatly appreciate you sharing this post filled with many gems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 19, 2020 — 6:53 pm

      Some celebrities make an effort to give back to their communities without looking for another photo-op moment, while others can be self-centered. The kind of dad kids need is supportive and encouraging while allowing them enough independence to find their way. Children also need guidance and occasional discipline, but above all, they need to be loved. Thanks for your kind words, Erica.

      Like

  22. I’ve never heard of this, Pete. It sounds wonderful. A little different from the Twitter sensation “S*** my dad says”! That one’s just funny.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 20, 2020 — 12:02 pm

      I’ve obviously never met this guy, but one gets the sense that he legitimately is trying to do something good. I’ve got to respect that.

      Like

  23. The world needs more Rob Kennys! Thanks for this, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor December 21, 2020 — 9:18 am

      Perhaps I’m a bit of a Pollyanna, but I think far more people are kind and decent people than not. Rob deserves extra credit for being a dad to so many who didn’t have a father or other male role model.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. That’s an incredible story, Pete – I agree, Dave is such a hero. I never learned a lot of that stuff, so will now check this out. Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor December 21, 2020 — 9:20 am

      YouTube is great for learning how to do something new. I’m not particularly handy, but I’m smart enough to know where to go for help.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. What a wonderful dad, mentor, and human being, Pete. Thanks so much for sharing Rob with us. I am so inspired by people who grow up in difficult families and situations and make a conscious decisions to make different choices. They are true heroes. And the desire to reach out and help others is a step beyond. This is a wonderful post for the holidays and all they stand for. Merry Christmas, and a lovely new year. my friend. You started my day with a smile.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor December 21, 2020 — 9:25 am

      I couldn’t agree more, Diana. While we all can benefit from this lesson, the ones it is most important to are those who find themselves in this unfortunate circumstance. It used to break my heart when I’d see these poor kids who had miserable parents. It seems so unfair that so many grow up in unstable and dysfunctional homes.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Thanks so much for introducing us to wonderful Rob and his channel. Kudos to him to becoming the helpful guru that many can flock to. I’m heading over to Youtube now! Happy holidays my friend. May it be a safe and cozy one. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor December 21, 2020 — 6:53 pm

      Thanks, Debby. I’m a big fan of character and people that do things for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do. I love that so many people have adopted Rob as their dad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too Pete. But I think you already knew that. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  27. What a feel-good story and an unlikely hero…I m heading over to his check out some other video’s ..he obviously fills a niche as we all know so many children need a dad in this day and age 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor December 23, 2020 — 7:43 pm

      I can’t tell you how many kids I taught who had one “dad” at the start of the school year and a different one later in the year. How are young kids supposed to make sense of that? I consider myself a good judge of character, and this guy seems to be doing what he’s doing for all the right reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Such a shame as kids need some stability in their lives…I was lucky I guess my first husband passed away and this time round it’s been 40 plus years and he has been a brilliant dad to my kids x

        Liked by 1 person

  28. What an amazing man and Dad and thank you for sharing his story with us.. We need role models like this more than ever and it sounds like he is being just that for many thousands of young people.. brilliant and will share in today’s blogger daily… Merry Christmas Pete to you and your family ..hugsx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor December 24, 2020 — 12:24 pm

      I think what I find most inspiring about the story is that Rob realizes that he has a rare opportunity to impact so many. Rather than be overwhelmed by it, he has embraced it and run with the idea. People can feel his genuineness and sincerity in trying to be the kind of dad that so many need.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it is brilliant and just goes to show that one person can make a huge difference..x

        Liked by 1 person

  29. I heard about his channel, but hadn’t realized he just started it this year. What a great idea and role model!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor December 25, 2020 — 9:21 am

      Such a simple idea, but what a need! Reading through some of the comments from some of his followers is heartwarming. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Chel!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. The photo with your t-shirt saying – Be Good to Yourself – is something my mother (also a teacher of 31 years) used to tell me every time we ended a conversation. I really didn’t understand how to do that until about five years ago when I hit 60! I am a late bloomer! I love the work you are doing! It is MUCH needed. I am a teacher too – 42 years and counting! Teaching has been the best thing that has every happened to me! Glad you are here to teach millions!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor December 30, 2020 — 8:09 am

      First off, thank you (and your mother) for your years of service. I was and am still passionate about my love for literacy, education, children, and teachers. I’ve been retired for four years now, but I still volunteer at my former elementary school. I joined my local children’s author festival group. This wonderful group of committed volunteers brings twenty-five nationally known children’s writers into our local schools biennially. It used to be one of my favorite days as a teacher seeing these young impressionable faces aglow.

      The picture in my post is not of me but of Rob Kenney, the subject of my post. I admire anybody who contributes to the betterment of society, and Rob has hit a home run with this.

      I’m pleased to meet a fellow educator, and I’m going to sign up for your blog as soon as I finish this sentence.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. It is always so lovely to see good in the world. And how people don’t let their past affect the beauty of today. How they become wonderful human beings even though they weren’t blessed as children. That is really something.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. petespringerauthor January 5, 2021 — 10:06 pm

      As a teacher, I saw many kids who already had two strikes against them by the time when they were in elementary school. Yet, probably because they had something deep within, someone who believed in them, and a little bit of luck, they came out on the other side and positively influenced the next generation. That is an inspiration. I don’t know Rob Kenney, but I hope that I get to shake his hand and thank him for what he is doing by being the kind of dad, so many young men need.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😊 yes deep within, and luck.

        Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close