Recently, I was invited to speak to a group of high school students and their teachers at the ASU Polytechnic campus. What I gained from the experience is far greater than what I was able to share through my decades of entrepreneurial successes and failures.
I was inspired. I was motivated. I was reassured. Partly, it was the kids who like science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Partly, it was spending time at a progressive technology campus that fosters growth and innovation. Partly, it was through the introduction of Arizona State University innovators who shared their pitches about their latest ventures.
Were we this exciting, inventive and determined when we were in school? Did we have this much wide-eye optimism that we could and would change the world? They believe they can solve all problems. They are not discouraged, they are encouraged. I know our future is very bright, if we do not kill their momentum with “no” and “you can’t”.
Ask 19-year-old serial entrepreneur Daniel Brusilovsky, founder of Teens in Tech Labs. He is working on his fourth start-up, or maybe he sold his fourth and is on his fifth and sixth. His success to-date is dizzying. He is our future. Standing on stage at the event, he was a true representation of what is possible in this world. He has more connections to VCs and angels than most veteran start-up and CEOs could ever dream. Why? He’s cool. He’s smart. He’s ambitious. He’s our future. Investment-wise, he has all upside!
I am absolutely certain that we are in great hands, if we really do want to be better and do more. Along with Daniel, my enthusiasm grew after meeting other entrepreneurs like Marcos, who is enthusiastically working on customer retention, the Maker Pitch winners that are bringing to market a medical device to build arm strength for wheel-chair bound people, and the two students that are working on providing clean water around the world. I say YES! I say go! How can I help?
And, then I met three men. ASU students who shared their pitch with me and the co-founder of GarageBand. They couldn’t look us in the eye, they were outside their comfort zone. But they had unbridled motivation telling us about their business. They are going to change and save lives. They will provide people living with autism needed mentors via an online community. They want to bring genius back into society, show autistic people how they can work together and give them access to tools they need to integrate successfully. They know it’s needed. They know people without autism do not understand and can not provide the help. They each are autistic. Yet, no matter how difficult and challenging it was to share their passionate business idea and plans, they did it. They are determined. They will do it. I will find a way to help!
Let us “experienced” get out of their way, provide them support and harness their creativity. Let us invest in their ideas and encourage them to do more. They are our innovators. They are our future. If we do, we can all say our future is very bright!
My presentation to Making Your Future: http://www.slideshare.net/jglass8/future-is-solving-problems-2012