23 Aug August 23, 2019 – Exploring Your Potential Jennifer Kushell and Corporate Filming Trevor Rappleye
So many times the people that don’t fit in or struggle to be like everyone else end up being the most successful people, because they get this fire in them to show the world what they’re made of.
Jennifer Kushell is the Founder and CEO of Young & Successful Media, exploringyourpotential.com and YSN.com (Your Success Now). Her goal is to affect the lives and futures of young people around the globe. Jennifer develops campaigns about youth empowerment and employment and entrepreneurship. She advises prominent global youth organizations, is a delegate of enterpreneurial missions of multiple State Departments, and is the UN’s Youth Advisor. With YSN.com, she gives young people online educational tools that will improve their lives and skills, while exploringyourpotential.com helps young people find their skills, interests, and the opportunities those assets indicate. She is also the author of Secrets of the Young and Successful, a New York Times bestseller, and The Young Entrepreneur’s Edge.
Trevor Rappleye – Founder and CEO of EventFilming.net and CorporateFilming.net, Corporate Video Marketer
90 seconds is the sweet spot. With Instagram and Snapchat Stories, with everything that goes on, if you have a video that is longer than 90 seconds, you risk the possibility of losing that prospect.
Trevor Rappleye is the founder of EventFilming.net and CorporateFilming.net. He is a video marketer that films his own company’s story for inspirational purposes, and works with companies of all sizes to add to and improve their corporate video marketing repertoire. Trevor spent his youth honing his filming skills, which quickly branched out into marketing. Now he’s offering these skills in his business, which guides companies into a fresh, new, and highly effective form of marketing.
Highlights from Jennifer’s Interview
EYP stands for exploring your potential, and it’s a program that we created. We’ve been curating and testing for almost 20 years now, and it basically transforms the way young people look at the world of work. We’ve tried to reinvent what career planning looks like, and what professional development looks like so it’s not boring and scary and overwhelming for young people. We have to show them that the world is full of opportunity. It’s actually like a candy store of opportunity. If they use the right filters, and they put some strategy to work, they can pretty much do anything that they want to do if they can figure out the right business model, and if they really strategize along the way. We run them through a 24 hour program online that a lot of universities are now adopting and mandating or putting into their curriculum. It transforms their outlook on the world, their confidence, their clarity and their success.
First and foremost, we start with something that not a lot of programs start with, which is the individual. Everything is focused on their experience, on their interests, on their passions. We build out from there. We find out where they’ve come from in life, what their experiences have been, maybe even tragedies and challenges that they’ve had. We ask, how do they work through challenges? How do we look at something like a business model? We don’t talk about it when we’re talking about career planning. We don’t talk about business models we do when we’re starting businesses. But the reality is, you’re going out and building a career for yourself, and not everyone wants to work for a corporation or not everyone’s set up for it, or they’re perfectly suited to have their own startup. But what about freelancing? What about licensing? What about franchising? What about social impact work? There’s so many different models for work today that we don’t talk about. And I think that’s very freeing for someone, when they find out that they don’t have to do things in a cookie cutter way. Then we talked to them about taking a taste of different opportunities, we really work with them a lot on how to sculpt their value proposition, being very clear on what they offer as talent in the marketplace, to help them build credibility and respect, understand how to fit into their industry, how to build expertise and credibility, and really walk through everything from how they’re verbally telling their story, how they’re packaging themselves online, how they’re negotiating for the things that they want in the world, managing their social network, that relationship, and take it all the way through earning money and leadership and making sure you’re surrounded with success.
It is all done online. But when universities use it, or youth organizations, they’ll do it in a flipped classroom model. Basically, students will do the work online, and then they’ll come into class or into their groups, and they’ll talk about it. It’s a very interactive program. We spent almost a million dollars building it. It’s filled with videos and activities and worksheets. We have industry professionals from over 30 Industries, from the United Nations, to Deloitte, to SpaceX, to entrepreneurs, and innovators, and people who are doing amazing things in the social impact space. So just by going through, if they do nothing other than listen to the videos, they learned so much about all the different fields that maybe they’ve never considered.
Most people have no context, or have very limited context about what’s happening out in the world, and what opportunities exist. It’s even harder when you’re a young person in your teens or your 20s just going out into the world. What you see around you, you see what your parents do, you see what their parents do, or what you see on TV, but we really don’t have a sense. That’s why we like to backtrack into what is it that they get really excited about, and then map that to industries really quickly. All of a sudden, everything changes. Even those of us who’ve done fairly well, we all struggled trying to figure out how we fit in and what to do. It’s a real anxiety point for millions and millions of young people around the world.
Millennials have had different challenges, they’ve had different opportunities. They’ve been raised with digital media, when we in Gen X had to adopt it. We had to learn to go online, they’ve always had it, so they’ve been consuming enormous amounts of information. But I think it’s challenged them in terms of their attention span. Sometimes it’s harder for them to dig in and dig deep with different topics, which are really important when you’re building a career, building expertise. And I think there’s this sense of getting overwhelmed. There’s so much opportunity, they really don’t know how to navigate it. And that’s a challenge. Then you have the generation after that, Gen Z, who are very, very socially conscious, and really trying to build very substantive lives, and I think they are going deeper. Which is great, because I think we have to all think about how do we build a life of substance, of action, of community engagement, and really be good people, especially in this day and age. So there are different challenges with the different demographics. But more and more, we’re seeing they’re online, they’re very open to new opportunities, they do want to explore and see different things, but there’s a lot of fear to at the same time.
Leading up to EYP, I had been writing books and doing speeches all over the world. And we had been building youth engagement campaigns globally. We worked with a lot of Fortune 500 companies, talking to them about hiring young people and what was involved. Bloomberg called us, and we had worked with them for many years, and they said, “Can you help us build some resources to go with Business Week magazine into schools and create more engagement?” And we built a lot of content for students to help show them why the world of work mattered to them, and why being educated and understanding business news mattered. As we did that, the schools started asking for more and more content from us, and then they started asking for curriculum. We had been building curriculum in different parts of the world for embassies and different governments, because employment’s an issue all over the place. We built out a prototype of exploring your potential, and one of the biggest business schools in the country, University of Central Florida said, “We want to give that to all 1000 students that we have. We’ve got only a few career counselors, and we can’t do career counseling to scale. Can you can you build this into something that’s scalable, and that’s also intimate?” We dove into building it. First deal was signed, and then we worked with different partners over the next year, and ended up getting venture capital funded last October. We’ve spun off that new company, EYP, and really zeroed in and focused on being an ed tech company. Our first client was University of Central Florida, and we’ve grown to about 25 universities. From there, we just signed our first Charter School Network. We’re working with the Latin Business School Association, and many, many countries around the world are now asking for EYP as well. We’ve just been growing and growing and growing from there.
I think as soon as you can learn the things that we’re teaching, the better your life is going to be every single day of your life. You’re going to be more aware, more open, more eager and confident. But 18 is good. High schools are starting use it right now. They’re starting to put it into the Freshmen Experience at colleges, because they’re finding that when students have a better sense of direction, they’re less intimidated by the new university setting. But they also make more strategic decisions about what to major in, what to study, what clubs to be a part of, what to do with extracurriculars and internships. So I always say the earlier the better. It makes a profound difference in how young people look at the world and their opportunities in it.
Our program would have said to you, okay, architecture, that’s awesome. Being an architect is one way that you can do that. Other ways that you can work are with an architectural firm. You could market them, you could package them, you could work for a building company, you could be an appraiser, you could work in the art world looking at buildings in architecture in the modern day and in the past or ancient history. There are so many things around architecture that don’t limit you just to being an architect. No one’s having the conversation with young people about the exact thing they think they want to do, but they’re also not showing them the myriad of things around it that are other possibilities, and might be amazing pathways for them as well.
Summer camp is a profound experience. I learned so much about the world in summer camp. And I think that’s another example of a great leadership opportunity for a lot of young people just getting out of their comfort zone and seeing the world in different perspectives. I feel like so many times, the people who don’t fit in or struggle to be like everyone else actually just need to find their thing, and they sometimes end up being the most successful people, because they get this fire in them to show the world what they’re made of. While everyone else is judging them, or making them feel awkward, or they’re feeling awkward in other people’s presences, they’re thinking about things and building things and inventing things, and a lot of them become incredibly successful. I think it’s important for kids to know that even if they don’t fit into their current atmosphere in school, that that’s not any indication whether they’re going to be successful in the world or not. It just means that environment’s awkward, or they haven’t figured out how to be present in a way that meshes with it.
We entrepreneurs have a lot to prove, and we want to do things our way. We don’t want other people to dictate how we do it. When you have a vision, when you have an idea for something, you don’t want people to stop you. There’s enough people in the world to tell all of us that we’re crazy or that we can’t do certain things. People are successful because they stick to things and they fight and they persevere and being in an environment like that when you’re a kid and being told you can’t do things is a perfect primer for the life of success, if you can turn the corner at some point.
What did we say in the beginning when you did the dedication? We said the dedication for Secrets of the Young and Successful: How to Get Everything You Want Without Waiting a Lifetime was to all those who are different. The overachievers, the misunderstood, the underappreciated, the diamonds in the rough, this book is for you. That was specifically built for people who felt like there was more in the world for them, and they hadn’t been able to find it. And I just love working on this book, because it was one of the first books to really show young people how to find great, great success very, very early. We did a lot of things in the book that I think were different, and some of the core pieces show up in Exploring Your Potential. I think one of the most fundamental things that we put in there is helping them understand that there’s a demographic of their peers globally, that are young and successful, doing extraordinary things at a very early age. They’re building companies, they’re innovating, they’re leaders, they’re traveling, they’re doing beautiful work in every possible field. When young people can get a chance to see that and be exposed to that kind of thinking and ideology and that kind of energy, it’s very game changing. Because again, at the core of it, confidence is everything. So that was big.
Another thing we did that was really nice was talking about mastering your universe. That’s basically figuring out how to map any industry or any field you want to be in and all the different things around it. For example, when you talk about architecture, the first thing I went to is what are all the different things you can do in the architectural world? It wasn’t just be an architect, just like when someone wants to be an accountant, you don’t have to only work for a big accounting firm. You can do lots of different things with it. I love the concept of mastering your universe, because when you can create a map of all the resources around something you like, and something you want to do, and then really understand that ecosystem, you can put yourself right in the middle of it and have unlimited access to resources and support.
Everything is online, and even to this day, I’m amazed at how many young people don’t google what they want to do. How do I become an x? How do I do this for a living? Something as simple as that can uncover thousands and thousands of videos and resources and training programs and certifications. You really don’t need anything more than a computer and a WiFi signal to get access to information on anything these days.
I started my first business at 13. I had five by the time I was 19. I started the first network of young entrepreneurs globally. So I’ve been very active in the entrepreneurship space. I completely understand it’s very hard if you’re a young entrepreneur, and you go to a university that doesn’t understand entrepreneurship. Luckily, there’s been an absolute explosion of entrepreneurship programs and majors in universities all around the world in the past few years, so it’s not difficult to find programs in higher ed that will support you as an entrepreneur. What I think is really important is that you not only find those, but also understand their philosophy on entrepreneurship. I got to keynote one of the business school deans conferences about a year ago on entrepreneurship education, and even talk to them about how entrepreneurship has so many different shades. You can’t just teach one model for everyone. It’s really important; education is incredibly valuable, even for entrepreneurs. And even though it doesn’t feel like the structured, higher ed environment is always as supportive of entrepreneurship, we might want them to be there.
If you know you’re an entrepreneur, look for the incubators, the hatcheries, the startup centers, the schools that have great entrepreneurship programs. Even the University of Texas at Dallas, they have a Blackstone incubator. Blackstone is one of the biggest investment banking firms in the world, but they’re also one of the best contributors to Global Youth Leadership. And they literally train kids on venture capital and blockchain and all the different areas of digital innovation. You could literally learn not only how to have a startup, but how to be VC funded walking out of there, and get access to the community. So I wouldn’t be too far away from higher ed, if you’re an entrepreneur today, I would just make sure that you’re making that decision about where to go very strategically.
Our website for the program is exploringyourpotential.com.You can also see more of our backgrounds on YSN.com. I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. But Exploring Your Potential’s where you can see all the work that we’re doing right now with the program and how we’re adding rocket fuel to people’s lives. We should be live with individual purchasing right now, but mostly it’s done through the university. I do encourage anyone to let their universities know that they should be checking this out.