I’ve been involved with NFTE for almost 4 years now – wow!
What started as a way for me to utilize my skillsets as an investor and advisor to entrepreneurs in support of my passion for education has morphed into, honestly, a way of life. Late last year I made a career switch and joined an education-focused startup company, www.campusexplorer.com, with the goal of founding my own one day.
While this was the scariest decision of my life, I felt a strange comfort because of two important lessons that have guided me. Interestingly enough, these two lessons are the core of NFTE. It’s why NFTE matters.
You have to believe you can make it. Plain and simple. For children with a great support network, this powerful idea seems like common sense. Why couldn’t I be anything I want to be? A CEO, doctor, astronaut, etc. These careers are all within their realities.
In underserved communities across the U.S. however, this idea is all but a reality. More often than not, children are taught to “manage their expectations.” That based on their resources; there is only a ceiling of success that they can attain. How can you inspire someone who feels as if the cards are perpetually stacked against them?
Entrepreneurial-thinking. You “have to believe” that you can create a sustainable business selling products and services that customers value. Plain and simple.
But an idea is just the start. How can you take this idea and turn it into lifelong success?
Eric Ries of The Lean Startup defines a startup company as “a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”
Life in general is under a “condition of extreme uncertainty” at all times. This is more so the case for children in underserved communities. The very practice of building a company – the NFTE curriculum and experience – teaches a framework in which to navigate these conditions.
It teaches children how to move forward with confidence as they “make it.”
These two lessons are extremely valuable, especially at a young age. When I see how NFTE can reengage children and convince them that they can be impactful is why I continue to support NFTE. It’s why you all should also. Learn more about us and support the cause!
Kiran Rao is the E-Council Chair for NFTE Los Angeles. Like NFTE students, Kiran is working on his company. You can currently find him help build www.campusexplorer.com into the premier online destination for college search and planning.