Graduation is nigh. I literally have three assignments left before I graduate. My Masters is imminent. I hope this M.Ed. in Youth Development Leadership provides new opportunities, but doesn't distract from existing ones. I took on this program and shaped my studies based on my current path, and nothing has changed in that aspect. However, throughout the learning experience, I've seen how my current place in the grand scheme of things is not as productive and profitable as I need it to be. How can I change that? I need to disrupt the status quo without negating the progress I've made.
Today as I looked out at the anti-skyline from the 39th floor of the Capella Tower in downtown Minneapolis attending a Twin Cities Startup Week workshop, I had some ideas. I shared some ideas. I listened to some ideas. I shared some business cards. I hope to hear some ideas from others. Collaboration is key, because I can't write myself a paycheck if no one pays me, first. That's the odd thing about being an owner and CEO of your own one-man shop. My success is determined by the gratitude of others (expressed in the form of payment for the work I do). I'm not a traditional startup—yet. My business is literally a tax vehicle for a simple contracting job I started years ago. It has proven to be a useful structure as additional opportunities came around (such as the Minnesota Super Bowl Business Connect program), but still nothing has produced fruitful results. I still live under the federal poverty limit, but I am also disabled working adult, certified by the MN State Medical Review Team (SMRT). If my income were to increase, my benefit coverage would change drastically. Do I want to be successful?
I have ideas. I may be biased and think they are good ideas. Throughout my primary and secondary education (K-12), I was always near the top of the class, a "did-no-wrong" student, and excelled in leadership in most activities. That changed in undergrad when individual praise faded, and I had to compete for recognition in a way that wasn't taught in K-12. I dropped out of undergrad, and it took 18 years to complete my bachelor's degree. After a three year break, I went back to graduate school to learn more about what went wrong in my early education that led to my failures, and what could change to provide success to more young people. Nearly four years later, I am finalizing that Master's degree with a bit more insight, but no real solutions. But I have ideas to share with others, and together as a community, we can raise a child, one at a time. And on one will be left behind.
Togher, we will be stronger, and we will make plans for good.