So let’s answer the question, why am I talking to a bunch of kids? It’s simple. Kids are our future and their brains absorb information like a bounty towel cleaning up spilled chicken noodle soup! On Tuesday, July 19, 2016, Dina Khalilova and I ventured off to the School for Creative Studies in Durham, NC. Yes, this is a real school (where were these types of schools when I was growing up?!?). Vanessa Barnes actually teaches an entrepreneurship for high schoolers! This blew my mind…and I knew it was a fantastic opportunity for a public speaking assignment I had to complete for my masters degree. Oh yeah, I should mention that…I’m a Master in Entrepreneurship student at Western Carolina University. Now that the groundwork is laid, let me tell you about these kids.
Here is the crazy thing. I expected to go into this classroom, give a speech, and kids would be taking notes on everything I put up on my power point slides. That was not the case. We got started by introducing ourselves and sharing our entrepreneurial ideas. Believe it or not, not a single high schooler in the classroom wanted to design an app or build skateboards! They had great ideas about sustainable energy, health supplements and travel. I was impressed from the beginning. As the presentation continued, we would get the students involved (instead of boring them with lectures to the point they would rather be taking a test on printer paper while getting a “talk” from their parents about the birds and the bees than listening to us) and they had several questions. I never thought I’d have gone into this presentation and come out with a new appreciation for teenagers.
This presentation taught me a lot of things. I am not trying to toot my own horn here, but I’m damn good at public speaking. I always thought I was capable, but now I know I can reach an audience of any age using the same techniques I have always used in public speaking. Working with Dina was great. She was very organized and on top of things…which helped me to be a bit more organized and on top of things. So she taught me the value of keeping quality people around. When you have someone with a strong suit that you are lacking in; it’s a great idea to surround yourself with at least one person who is like that. I also learned a valuable lesson in how to manage my time. Again, I’ve always been one who has been capable of managing my time well, but with a new job requiring an average of 65 hours a week and having to complete graduate school assignments…it was a real wake up call. It was great to have this experience, as well as the summer semester experience to learn what it will take to manage my assignments (and my tasks as an entrepreneur) in the coming years.
This experience was also extremely valuable because I had to learn how to teach something I had no clue how to teach. You may be wondering what kind of monster would go to a high school and teach kids about entrepreneurship when all the information was pulled out of “you know where.” Well let me assure you, I did not speak on any topic I did not know about. Trying to teach that would make me 1) a liar, and 2) a bad teacher…neither, of which, I would ever want to be. I taught my section based on what I already know and how that applied to the topic I presented. I think this was the most valuable lesson I learned because people are always looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, but sometimes you don’t need the light to find your way out. Confusing cliche to make myself sound profound…check.
(Seriously though, think about it)