About a month ago, through my connections an older gentleman who is connected with STEM learning sat down with me and talked about how we could get STEM and business ideas together in education. Through the conversation, this gentleman spoke of a young man who is a Junior in high school who is doing some amazing things and suggested to have this student come talk with my business students. Always looking for the opportunity for peer students to teach / speak with other students, I jumped at the chance.
That chance happened today.
This young man came into class with two older gentlemen flanking him. The older gentlemen sat down and waited for the presentation to start. The bell rang and students trickled in the class like it was any other Tuesday. As they got seated, I helped the presenter set up his computer and connect to screens in the room. I let him know who the audience was and introduced him to the class. The class was slightly interested.
That was until he started speaking. The young business owner started explaining his business of building 3D printers. I have to admit, I didn’t know how this presentation was going to go. I started thinking that this kid loves 3D printing and it would start to bore the students. Then he said it….
“My company is valued at around $10 million.”
Wait...what! Most the kids didn’t really hear him say it. I raised my hand and quickly asked him to repeat that. He said it again. I repeated it out loud again. “Your company is valued at $10million!? How old are you?!” He replied seventeen. The class was now at attention.
As this Junior in high school spoke he dropped so many tidbits of gold for my students and myself. He talked about his 8 years of experience in building and rebuilding technologies, coding, gaming, and failing fast. It was amazing. He spoke like it wasn’t a big deal that when he started selling refurbished 3D printers online at age 9. “People don’t care about how old you are online if you make something that works.” It was fire!
This young entrepreneur didn’t miss a beat! He was not afraid to fail. He said he worked on over 80 refinements on his 3D printers. He spoke of going to trade shows and speaking to huge companies. He spoke about how he only sleeps 4 hours a day and takes a couple of 30 minute naps because he is passionate about working on his craft.
As the period came close to an end and this young professional was taking questions, I was able to throw the question of “what advice would you give these students in this classroom today?” His answer was beautiful.
“I will tell you not to waste any more of you time. Go try things. Find your passion. Don’t worry about making money doing it. Just do it. Do it for fun and learn more about your passion everyday. Let it drive you because we only have so much time here on earth.”
He is only 17 folks. Wow.