I think a lot about the story I’m telling. Not necessarily the one I’m writing here, but the one I’m writing daily through my thoughts, actions, and choices.
As I reflect on all that has happened over the last three years, one thing is for certain – I’ve held a lot of big checks.
For good measure, here are a few of my favorites:
Giving out these big checks has changed the course of my life and work. When I launched my first business competition in 2012 in partnership with the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, and handed out my first big check, I had no idea that would be the moment that would change everything.
That first local business competition taught me about the power of competitive events to make a real and lasting impact. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the lifeblood of every community. We rely on them to create the jobs and wealth that our communities need to grow and thrive. Arguably, they are our most valuable local resource.
However, there is some trouble on the horizon.
In the U.S. rates of entrepreneurship have stalled. We have more businesses exiting the market than we have entering it. Globally, the U.N. released a study in 2012 which revealed that we would need 600 million new jobs to ensure global economic prosperity over the next decade, but existing firms would produce only 10-20 million of those jobs.
As a result, communities around the globe are scrambling to find cost-effective and scalable ways to produce more innovators and entrepreneurs. I believe our greatest hope for solving this problem are our public school students. According to a 2013 Gallup/Hope study, they are ready to rise to the occasion.
The Gallup/Hope study polled students in grades 5-12 about their thoughts and opinions of entrepreneurship. 37% of students polled said that they wanted to one day own a business. For non-white students, this number skyrockets to 50%. Clearly, our students are ready to solve one of our time’s greatest economic challenges. All communities need are cost-effective and scalable solutions to prepare these students to be successful entrepreneurs and help them on their way to realizing their business dreams.
I am dedicated to helping communities find and implement these solutions. In addition to finding ways to hand out more big checks through student business competitions 2016, I’m actively exploring innovative and experimental tools, programs and curriculum that incorporate competition and challenge-based learning in the classroom.
If you are an educator, community leader, or politician working to inspire and support the next generation of entrepreneurs, I’d love to hear from you. Please send me an email or contact me to let me know about the projects you are working on.