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Capitalism 101 at the STEMs Foundation
I consider myself a student of Mr. Rohn.
He passed away in 2009. I was supposed to meet him that year at Success Magazine’s Success Summit in Dallas, Texas. But, that was the year his health took a turn for the worse.
Instead of being there in person, he called in from his hospital bed. This man who devoted his life to changing the lives of others worked tirelessly to bring his simple message to the world, even in his deathbed.
To say Mr. Rohn’s impact on my life has been profound would be a vast understatement.
It’s long been a dream of mine to bring his message to kids from the worst neighborhoods in America. Last Saturday, that dream and became a reality.
What You Don’t Know WILL Hurt You
I never knew how I could make this dream happen, I just always believed it would.
When I first started the This Week in and Oil and Gas On-Demand Radio LinkedIn Group I asked everyone to introduce themselves. Providentially, a great man named Efrem Jernigan chimed in. Little did I know, that simple exchange would lead to the fulfillment of my dream.
Efrem has been building the STEMs Foundation on the South Side of Houston for five years. A couple weeks ago I finally had a chance to sit down with him. We talked the same language and had the same aspirations.
But we’re not from the same place. Mr. Jernigan grew up in Sunnyside. One of the poorest neighborhoods in Houston.
When he graduated from high school he felt he didn’t have many options, so he joined the Air Force. 26 years ago, he returned from the service and went back to Sunnyside.
One problem; he couldn’t find work. He went to the Unemployment Office.
A fellow Veteran on staff took note of his service and informed him a downstream oil and gas company was hiring. He applied, got the job, and has worked at Lyondell as a chemical engineer for 28 years.
He was thrilled to have a job. But after reflecting on the situation he realized he grew up in the oil capital of the world, and didn’t even know the industry existed.
Everyone is a product of their environment. His lack of knowledge about the industry wasn’t a reflection on himself, it was a reflection on the reality of his environment. A reality many who didn’t grow up in the crucible of poverty sometimes have trouble understanding.
Many Americans can’t fathom a reality where you grow up thinking you have 6 choices in life; football player, basketball player, rapper, drug dealer, prisoner, or dead man.
Thanks to his service in the Air Force, Efrem made it out. Now he’s on a mission to empower and educate kids so they can too.
As Mr. Rohn would say:
Life change does not start with inspiration. Life change starts with education. – Mr. Rohn
The STEMs Foundation brings the industry to the community to enlighten kids of the opportunities available to them in oil and gas. Through its programs it equips kids with the education they need to know there is another way.
His work helps these kids see they don’t only have 6 choices. In fact, their opportunities are limitless.
Efrem’s success in building this foundation is nothing short of miraculous. He showed me the building where he started, and told me about the things he had to do to keep his program safe in the neighborhood. Against all odds, he created something out of nothing.
To create something out of nothing, we must first start with ideas and inspiration. – Mr. Rohn
Capitalism 101 vs. Web Design
After spending the afternoon with Mr. Jernigan my heart was filled with inspiration, and my mind was spinning with ideas. He asked if I would like to be involved. I was honored and gladly accepted.
When I showed up on Saturday I wasn’t sure what my role would be. Efrem and I exchanged a few ideas via email, but I didn’t know exactly what I would teach the kids.
This turned out to be a very great thing.
Efrem informed the kids I would work with the middle schoolers to rebuild the foundation’s website. No problem. After seven years of teaching myself web design I can build websites in my sleep. For me, it’s really no different than changing tires. We started class.
Throughout the first 15 minutes some of the kids were engaged. Most could care less.
I shifted gears. I could tell if I didn’t teach these kids the value of the ideas I was trying to teach them in real dollars there was no way they would buy-in. I took a step back…and started teaching philosophy. Specifically, Capitalism 101.
You might think a room of 11, 12, 13, and 14 year-old kids wouldn’t be interested in Capitalism 101. If I presented it that way, you might be right. But I knew better than that.
I have listened to Mr. Rohn every day for 6.5 years. I believe if you take a shower every day to clean your body, you need to do the same for your mind.
He often talks about teaching kids capitalism. Yet another great line of his:
I teach kids to have two bicycles. One to ride and one to rent! – Mr. Rohn
The moment we shifted gears, so did every kid’s attention in the room. Because kids are practical. And if you start talking about money with them, they will listen.
As you will hear in the recording, they were listening. They were engaged. And in 45 minutes they went from “Why am I here?” to FIRED UP!
I am not joking when I say this was one of the best days of my life. After class Efrem asked if I would like to be on the board of the Foundation. I ecstatically accepted.
Please, enjoy this recording. And share it with your kids.
Hopefully, I’ve done Mr. Rohn proud.