Updated: Nov 4, 2018
People are at the heart of success. You are who you surround yourself with; to be successful, you need to surround yourself with successful people. Sometimes successful people come out of the blue. During a workshop on Graphic Design at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, I was introduced to Corina Rogge, a Chemist/Scientist at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Menil Collection. She described how her degree in chemistry could cross fields and be used to preserve art. I had to have her as one of my speakers and mentors. She said most definitely.
Two years ago I was introduced to Dr. Kevin MacNeill, the Deputy Division Chief, Human Systems Engineering and Development Division within the Human Health and Performance (HH&P) Directorate at NASA. I needed to see if he would be interested in participating. Thus far, he seems interested in helping.
At every step this program was growing. "When are you going to start your company so I can quit and work with you?" asked a friend. "I'd love to help you with your Career Development Program. It's something I've always wanted to do," said a co-worker.
During an entrepreneur presentation by JLabs @ the Texas Medical Center, Dr. Billy Cohn, a prominent cardiothoracic surgeon, Vice President of Medical Devices and Director of the Center for Device Innovation at Johnson & Johnson, gave a presentation on his process for innovation and product design and development. I had to ask if he would be interested in helping my program. "Yes, whatever you need. I'd love to help!" And that's when I knew that this program was going places. I couldn't have Dr. Billy Cohn speak to 5 or 10 kids. This needed to be an event. This needed to be big, even bigger than a few kids or a few teams or a few schools. I definitely needed to reach Houston-wide. And so was born the idea of a Modern-Day Youth Career Fair. I would plan one Saturday to have speakers come and talk to students across the Houston area about STEM fields and Entrepreneurship. Schools would set up tables to inform students on their competition and STEM programs. Companies would come and inform students of their educational services and intership opporunities. This would be a true career fair for the young that could inform students of the realities of STEM careers and entrepreneurship while providing opportunities to those without them. Although I initially planned to wait to develop the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, it appeared that the waiting was now over.
"Yes, whatever you need. I'd love to help!"
I also reached out to Enventure, a local group geared towards helping students and budding medical entrepreneurs, and Curran Reddy who worked at the NASA Ames Research Center. I began connecting and networking at the most unlikely of places- on vacation, in stores and restaurants. As an entrepreneur, you have to be open to opportunities. The world is truly your oyster, and all other wordly cliches. Which brings me to the power of networking. This program thrives on networking and bringing groups, individuals, and organizations together. And I needed to sell myself and my program, so the next step would be to develop business cards and promotional materials. I also decided that I needed to blog my efforts. Not only to have a record of what I did but also for potential investors to see my effort and strides during this time; so they could see my thought process and the progressive development of these programs. It would also serve as a great teaching tool for those wanting to see how a program is developed from start to finish- conception to completion. Little by little, I was developing a brand, and that brand was me.
Today's Next Steps:
Armed with my business cards and promotional materials, I am now at a place to think big and plan for my next steps. In the next few days I plan to reach out to Booker T. Washington High School in regards to their Rocket and Drone Programs. I will also start calling local West Houston Elementary, Junior High, and High Schools to involve them in the program and ask for the opportunity to speak to their entire student body. I also plan to contact various companies to see if they are interested in participating in my Student Career Fair.
"Who came up with that name?"
In addition, I will reach out to several other big names like Bill Gates and Donald Bren to see if they would be interested in supporting my programs. I learned of Donald Bren through a facebook news post, which again echoes that one must always keep their eyes open for the most unlikely thoughts and opportunities. It may be a long shot, but all he can say is, "No."
Even my students are starting to weigh in on my entrepreneurial endeavor. Donovan, one of my young pupils, said, "Who came up with that name? That name is a mouthful. What about 'Future STEM Leaders of America?" Well, he had a point! Perhaps 'Youth Entrepreneurs of Houston' and 'Youth STEM Leaders of Houston'? Well, that would be a decision for another time.