“Are you alright, son?”, the British security guard asked, as I gazed out over the Emirates Stadium, home of my beloved Arsenal Football Club. It was a very valid question. I must have looked utterly insane sitting on the edge of a red stadium seat teary eyed, hands cupping either side of my jaw, with probably the goofiest smile on my face. The guard eventually realized that I was in a world of my own, nodded politely, and wandered back down the stairs, leaving me to reflect on just how I got here. I grew up poor. I am the fifth child of a single mother who somehow kept all of us fed and clothed. There was always a sense of scarcity in my home. You could feel the uneasiness when money was running low. Needless to say, traveling to the Emirates stadium in London was a pipe dream at best for someone like me. That being said, my brothers and I have watched every Arsenal game since I can remember, but at the age of six when I asked if they wanted to see them play live in London one day, I got an unexpected response: “Play the hand you’re dealt.” That phrase stung, Apparently, my “hand” didn’t include global travel, a top notch education, and hundreds of other dreams that were “unrealistic” for a poor kid from Houston, Texas. Luckily, I figured out a way to change my “hand”.
I have always had the entrepreneurial gene, but it had been misused before my quest to see Arsenal play. Most entrepreneurs experience the same kind of problems in their childhood as I did. Our ability to question the status quo, to find loopholes, and to unrelenting pursue a goal are our biggest assists, but also our biggest curse. We are labeled as rebellious, stubborn, and arrogant. However, when given the right environment and the right direction, those rebellious students become forces of communal, national, and global change. Take me for example. Instead of working “normal” high school jobs making minimum wage, I leveraged my “rebellious” creativity and unwavering ambition to create multiple income streams where I was dictating what my time was worth. Instead of accepting $8 an hour, I coached private soccer lessons at $50 an hour, I bought and sold books and sporting equipment for a profit, and I talked my way into jobs that I was “unqualified” for because I did not see the point in waiting on the qualifications. In other words, I changed my “hand” for the better because I wasn’t satisfied with the one I was dealt. Entrepreneurship is the key to changing your circumstances, to getting what you really want out of life, and to leaving your mark on this beautiful planet that we call Earth. Entrepreneurship has allowed me to travel to twenty-four countries on four continents, while maintaining an almost perfect GPA in a five year MBA program in which I am expected to graduated 2.5 years early. I like this hand better.
At Beyond, our goal is to give the dreamers and the rebels the tools and practical knowledge they need to create change. Notice the word practical in that last sentence. I am a firm believer in borrowing experience from others instead of decades of trial and error. Success leaves clues, and as young people we must seek out those clues and capitalize on them. At Beyond, we provide an environment of opportunity, where young people have access to successful entrepreneurs who want nothing more than to share practical wisdom with them. We provide knowledge, support, and a community of like-minded individuals. Entrepreneurs have the power to be the change that they want to see in the world, and our mission at Beyond is to help those rebels turn mere dreams into reality. So whether you are a serial entrepreneur or a business novice, an idealist with a grand vision or a utilitarian who just wants some side income, a student struggling in poverty or a misfit who wants a better life, we can help. We are the rebels, the misfits, the dreamers, the crazy ones. We are Beyond.