Four teens sit around a small, square table in the dim dining area of Amada, a trendy authentic Spanish tapas restaurant in Philadelphia. One is Nick Normille, 19-year-old foodie, blogger and chef who is a Philadelphia native and recommended the spot himself; he's now working at an upscale restaurant called LaCroix. Next is Daniel Brusilovsky, founder of Teens in Tech Labs, an enormously successful program that helps teens launch tech-related businesses. At 19 years old, Daniel is also a fellow member of the Young Entrepreneur Council and he's dabbling in some venture capitol projects. Then there's me, Tori Molnar, 15-year-old entrepreneur and blogger. I founded Utoria, a direct sales company for teen girls. We give young women a practical and convenient way to own/operate their own business. Next to me also sits one of my best friends, Madi, another Philadelphia native and also a Utoria Girl. She's 17 years old, loves entrepreneurship and joins me on a lot of business excursions like this one.
Here you have four different people who are all different ages (15-19 years old), and who have distinctly different styles, not to mention the fact that we're all from different places all over the country. What do we all have in common? We all learned the power of entrepreneurship before we even graduated high school.
We all met for the first time earlier that day; Daniel, Nick, and I were all speaking on a panel discussion called "The Next Steve Jobs?" at a conference for teen entrepreneurs, bloggers and digital media-makers called the Digital Family Summit. During the discussion, we each talked about our businesses, our journey and the experiences we've each had along the way. For example, Daniel met Steve Jobs a few years ago. And yes, it was the Steve Jobs!
Looking back on that night, it's funny to think that during our whole two and a half hours of conversation, high school only came up once, and even then it was only when I directly asked them about their high school experiences. Daniel told me that he was in a band, while Nick mentioned that he spent most of his time blogging or hosting private dinner parties. He says cooking kept him going. So obviously, it wasn't schooling that shaped us into young moguls.
In school we're taught to follow the rules, listen to instructions and read textbooks. But why don't they ever teach us how to break the rules, improve instructions or write our own books? Daniel and Nick both described entrepreneurship as an experience where you are self-reliant and take risks for rare rewards -- living on the edge, as you may want to call it.
Isn't that exactly what Steve Jobs did? He created new ways of thinking and reinvented existing theories, and his name will now be in history forever. He wasn't afraid to break rules! He dropped out of college and started two different companies that people predicted would both be failures. But he didn't do it for the success; he did it because he loved it.
Older generations like to emphasize what we can learn from Mr. Jobs, but it is always accompanied by "Of course we all can't be Steve Jobs." But why can't we? If we start early enough, we can discover where our passion and talents intersect and run with it! That's the only thing that Steve Jobs ever did. He found what he loved, became really good at it, and never stopped. So why can't we do the same?
If you're following along, you don't have to create a computer to be like Steve Jobs. You can be a Nick Normille, Daniel Brulisovsky, Ivanka Trump, Tyra Banks, or whatever kind of entrepreneur you want to be. What you do doesn't matter. How much you love it matters.
In closing, do you know what those four kids at that table had in common with Steve Jobs? They weren't afraid and they didn't wait to chase their dreams -- and neither should you.