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"Make Money Following Your Dreams"

Success Stories: 
How to Follow Your Dreams and Make Money Doing it

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Against All Odds, Here's How One Teenager Used 21st Century Skills to Follow Their Dream
Article Written by D.Scott Schwartz, M.Ed. 
(The Names Have Been Changed to Protect Privacy)
Before we begin this story, let's address the common myths and misperceptions you might have. 

Do you believe that if you grew up in the wrong neighborhood or went to the wrong school that it's impossible for you to be successful?

Or do you believe that if you're a Black or Brown person, there are no opportunities for you in society?

When you finish reading this success story, you will see how both of those myths are untrue. Don't let other people tell you what you can or cannot do. Follow your dreams and unlock your full potential.

Here's Jaylen's story.

Jaylen's Dream

How can you follow your dreams and make money doing it? That's what Jaylen wanted to know as he sat in his 9th Grade English class.

Jaylen was like any other typical 14-year old high schooler. He was a smart kid, had friends, but didn't like school or what school was trying to teach him.

He would rather talk with his friends and talk about cars. That's because Jaylen was obsessed with cars.

We'll come back to the car obsession, but what Jaylen wanted to know is how could he follow his dream of working on cars and making money doing it?

The Reason Why Our Education System Doesn't Work 

Right now millions of kids are sitting in classrooms across America doing assignments that teachers give them. 

Despite all this teaching, classwork and homework, what are students actually learning in school?

The reason our educational system no longer works is because the classes the system has created don't teach kids what they need to know.

What students need to know is how to figure out their American Dream and then learn how to follow those dreams while making money doing it.

Did school teach you how to do that? The answer is NO. And the reason is because that's not what the school system is designed to teach.  

When Jaylen was sitting in class, he was bored beyond belief. Jaylen knew his dream, but what he didn't know was how he could make money following his dream. That's what school should be teaching kids.

Even though Jaylen was a smart kid, he talked non-stop throughout the day. In fact, he talked so much that it would interrupt and disrupt his teachers lessons. This led to demotions, detentions and conversations with the school social worker, the vice principal and even parent/teacher conferences.

The problem is that no one was addressing the underlying issue. Jaylen needed to learn how to follow his dreams and make money doing it.

Instead, the school was obsessed with getting Jaylen to stop talking so much.

Thankfully, Jaylen's father was fed up. So he decided to do some research and talked to other parents in the area to find out if there was something he could do for Jaylen.

Luckily, he met parents that told him about me and my K12 district program. What got his father's attention was that our program was not teaching kids about dead presidents. If his father enrolled his son, he would be learning how to unlock his full potential.

Starting a New School.

The first day I met Jaylen, he gave me the cold shoulder. In Jaylen's mind, this was a foreign school, he was away from his friends and I was a stranger who didn't come from his neighborhood and didn't have his skin color.

But his father had done his homework. His father had talked to other parents and found out about me and what we were teaching.

Jaylen's father told him, "trust this man, he will help you be successful."

A 21st Century Skills Curriculum

The reason Jaylen's father wanted his son to come to my K12 district program was because we were teaching 21st Century skills. The main difference between the old curriculum and a 21st century skills curriculum is the focus of learning. In the old curriculum, students are forced to memorize a lot of content. Students read a lot of books, write a lot of papers and memorize the names of dead presidents, dates of battles and the formulas for a lot of calculations.

In a 21st century skills curriculum, teachers help students focus on themselves and their dreams. Here's a few examples of the types of questions students are expected to answer in this new curriculum:

"What is your dream?"
"What do you want to pursue for the next 50 years?"
"How can you make money pursuing that dream?"

Those are the questions he wanted Jaylen to answer. He wanted a school that would focus Jaylen and help him make better life decisions. And he wanted Jaylen to stop getting into so much trouble in school.

The First Step

For the next four years, Jaylen earned As and Bs in his classes, made some friends and talked non-stop in class, in the hall and during lunch. You remember what Jaylen's obsession was? If you do, you recall that Jaylen was obsessed with cars and that became the focal point of his education.

How could Jaylen pursue his obsession with cars and make money doing it?

The first step was to graduate from high school.

Step Two

The next step was to enroll in a trade school that would give him an auto-mechanics certificate.

Step Three

And step three was to land a job in an auto-body shop.

Overcoming All the Odds Against Him

Do you think this is the end of the story? 

When schools focus all of their attention on the old curriculum and making kids "college or career" ready, this is the end of the story. The school has done its job. It helped that teenager get into college or land an entry level job. What more can the school do?

Here's the problem. The old curriculum is limited. "College and Career" readiness is the most we can squeeze out of the old curriculum. But that's just not enough anymore in the 21st century. Kids need to learn more than "college and career" readiness. What they need is a curriculum that will prepare them for life. 

Students need MUCH MORE than the old curriculum can handle. What Jaylen learned in my K12 district program was 21st century skills, not the old curriculum. That meant, he spent four years learning 21st century leadership, team building, problem solving, sales and communications skills.

Do you remember the two common myths at the beginning of this story? That if you grow up in the wrong neighborhood or you are a Black or Brown student, you have no opportunities in life? The reason those myths get started is because the old curriculum makes those myths true.

But they are UNTRUE with a 21st century skills curriculum-- And here's the proof.

How 21st Century Skills Gives You the Power to Follow Your Dreams

At this point in our story, Jaylen has an entry-level job in an auto-body shop as a mechanic. This is where most people's journeys end, when they use the old curriculum, but this is just the starting point for Jaylen.

When Jaylen was in my program he took 21st century leadership classes. And what he learned in those classes was the Six Steps of Leadership. And the first step is finding your purpose in life. The next step is setting goals to make that purpose become a reality.

Jaylen used to get into a lot trouble in his old school. That stopped in my school program because Jaylen had a purpose and he was working to make that purpose real. All the teachers needed to do was remind Jaylen of his purpose and he settled himself down.

How many teenagers do you know with that level of self-control? The truth is all teens have that level of control deep inside them, the problem is the old curriculum doesn't unlock that power.

But 21st century leadership skills only helped Jaylen land an entry level job, so what is going to help Jaylen get to the next level in his life? And the answer is 21st century problem solving skills. While you were learning about the Battle of Gettysburg, Jaylen was learning the Problem Solving 2-Step.

A customer walked into the body shop to pick up their car one day. All they needed was an oil change, but the customer was upset. When Jaylen rang up the customer, they told him how annoying it was to have to get oil changes every 3000 miles. They told Jaylen, there needs to be a better way to get this done. It's super inconvenient to have to leave work to get an oil change.

Jaylen listened to the customers complaints and used his Problem Solving 2-Step to come up with a solution. When he told the customer, they loved it!

Jaylen decided to ask his boss if the shop would do remote oil changes and the boss said no. That meant Jaylen was free to pursue this opportunity on his own. Even though this was a brilliant idea, it wasn't a business yet.

For that to happen, Jaylen needed to remember everything he learned in the 21st century sales classes he took. First Jaylen needed to figure out the business model, then he needed to decide how he could book clients, provide service and then get paid. Eureeka! He figured it out. A customer could text him their location, he could show up and do the oil change, and they could pay him digitally.

There was just one small problem. The customer he was talking to was a teacher and Jaylen saw a huge opportunity to provide remote oil changes for all the teachers in the area. Teachers are not allowed to leave the school building during the day, but if someone could come to the school and do their oil changes--it would be really convenient for them.

Can you see the problem? Yes, if a young African-American male went underneath the teachers car in the school parking lot, the police would be called. To solve this problem, Jaylen needed to remember what he learned in the 21st century communications classes.

Jaylen needed to create a presentation. He needed to explain the issue teachers faced, how he would solve the problem, and what he needed the school board to do. And that was simple, all he needed was for the school board to give him permission and authority to do remote oil changes on school property. 

The service wouldn't cost the district a dime and it would make their teachers very, very happy. Jaylen got permission.

What Are the Lessons We Learned? 

If Jaylen stayed in his old high school, his story would have ended with landing an entry level job in an auto-body shop. The old curriculum doesn't unlock students potential and it doesn't show them how to follow their dreams and make money doing it.

That's a basic flaw in the curriculum. 

But what else have we learned from Jaylen's story?

The truth is the reason that Black and Brown people feel like they have no opportunities is because the old curriculum is very limited in scope. The truth is that the old curriculum hamstrings everyone in the 21st century. It's not just Black and Brown people that are struggling, it's all people. 

If you studied the old curriculum, you might know a lot of content, but you don't know how to follow your dreams and make money doing it. That's the take away from Jaylen's story.

Did Jaylen face challenges? Yes. Did Jaylen know how to overcome those challenges? The answer is also YES.

With a 21st century skills education, it didn't matter that Jaylen was African-American, it didn't matter that he grew up in a low socioeconomic neighborhood. It didn't matter that his old high school was in the bottom half of ranked schools. It also didn't matter that if he walked into a bank, they would reject him for a loan.

With a 21st century skills education, Jaylen was able to follow his dreams and make money doing it. Which is why he was able to start his own business at the age of 23.

You can be just like Jaylen. It doesn't matter where you were born, who your parents are, or what color skin you have. If you want to follow your dreams and make money doing it--then you need to learn the five 21st century skills Jaylen learned in high school.

Do you want to unlock your full potential?
Are you ready to follow your dreams and make money doing it?


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