I've said it for years--future generations must become more entrepreneurial in order to compete in our connected, globalized economy. With over 30% of the workforce comprised of freelancers and business owners--and that percentage expected to grow in the coming years--this is no longer theory. The innovation generation is here to stay. It is a must - a reality - that cannot be ignored by educators, parents, or private enterprise. Thankfully, it is always a pleasure to see Junior Achievement and its volunteers leading by example--preparing the next generation for a career landscape far different than the one navigated by the Boomers and Generation X.
Recently, I had the pleasure of judging Junior Achievement of New York's Business Plan Competition on behalf of YEC's Mentorship Network, a program where Young Entrepreneur Council members give their time to entrepreneurship educations programs and organizations. Not only did the student teams have a firmer understanding of business than I ever did at their age, but they also exemplified a courage and confidence rarely exhibited by their peers. After all, it isn't easy to stand in front of an accomplished judging panel of corporate executives and entrepreneurs (and a Spanish Inquisition-style Kevin O'Leary-esque judge like myself) and thoroughly present a business idea from conception to execution; one, mind you, that was thoughtfully and carefully born in a classroom only 8 weeks earlier.
Yet in these incredible students, I once again saw the impact that JA has on young people. There is no "curriculum" alone that could have taught those students how to pitch their businesses in such a profound and articulate manner. Rather, JA’s dedicated staff and volunteers fundamentally understand how to mold minds through practical, real-world experience. In addition to traditional book learning, they nurture success by allowing for failure and experimentation rather than teaching to a book or a lesson.
YEC and I proudly support Junior Achievement and JA New York. I advise other business professionals to get involved as volunteers and participate in similar JA activities. If not, do so at your own risk. Undoubtedly, your fiercest competition will wisely hire these kids, or our young innovators will build the startup that eats your company for lunch. I suggest you give back and get on their good side now.
Submitted by Scott Gerber
About Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, and co-founder of Founder Society, an invitation-only organization for ambitious startup founders and business owners. He is also the author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job, an internationally syndicated columnist, the host of Inc. Magazine's Founders Forum and Executive Producer for Forbes programming. Scott has been featured in hundreds of publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Fortune, TIME, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Reuters, Mashable, Forbes, The Daily Beast, CBS News, US News & World Report, Fox News, Inc. and Entrepreneur, and has been honored by NASDAQ and the White House. Follow him on Twitter at @scottgerber. Visit scottdgerber.com for more info.