A series of Entrepreneur assemblies

ImagesAt our kids high school (although Josh is the only one there at this point) has an assembly every week.  Each assembly is a little different.  One could be a poet reading their work, another could be an activist telling their story, another could be something that a group of students formed.  They are meant to be informative and thought provoking. 

Last year I said I would put on four assemblies over the course of the following school year around entrepreneurs.  I wanted the kids to see young people who have embarked on the journey of being an entrepreneur.  How do you do it, how do you take an idea and run with it, how do you get financing and what does a start-up really mean. 

I did the last series this week.  Our first guest was David Karp who started Tumblr.  David also grew up in NYC and before dropping out actually attended a High School that everyone in the audience is familiar with.  All the kids know Tumblr too.  David is one of the most earnest human beings and his story is inspiring.  His parents knew that he would find himself and staying the "normal" road of graduating high school and then going to college was not the right path for him.  He is lucky his parents supported his desires.  He told the kids not to do what he did.  The kids ate him up and asked many questions.  Afterward the girls swarmed the stage and so did the boys.  He was a rockstar that day.

Our second guest was Phineas Barnes who is currently principal at First Round Capital but in his former life he was involved from the get-go in the start-up of And1 Sneakers and also created the first fitness game for XBox and Playstation 2.  I was out of town for that one so Fred moderated for me.  Needless to say the kids ate that one up because they could relate.  Sneakers..come on!

The third guest was Gabe Stulman who has earned himself the title restaurant mogul.  He owns and opened Joseph Leonard, Jeffreys, Fedora and Perla.  He talked about his love for hip-hop music and that went over well.  How he put himself through college as a bartender.  His love for community, eating and life.  As Josh said afterwards, Gabe killed it. 

Last was a group of women.  I had a hard time finding a single woman entrepreneur that would connect to the kids when she spoke about her company so instead I had a group of four.  I think we all had more fun on the stage than the kids.  Kellee Kahlil of Lover.ly, Caren Maio of Nestio, Amanda Steinberg of Dailyworth and Amanda Hesser of Food52.  They talked about how they started out through high school into college and the working world, the trials and tribulations of being an entrepreneur, how hard it really is and the reality of the highs and lows, and their passions about their businesses.  What really made an impact were a few things.  Each of them said if they weren't doing this they wouldn't know what else they would do, their biggest fear is if they don't succeed at this then they would have to get a real job. 

For me, I loved hearing each entrepreneur tell their story.  Their passion comes across loud and clear.  The group of women were near and dear to my heart and watching the young women in the audience nod their head and smile was the best part. 

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Rohan

    Wow. lucky lucky kids!

  2. TanyaMonteiro

    wondering if you video’ed them? there are so many young kids here in SA that would lap that kind of message up too. such a brilliant idea!

    1. Gotham Gal

      unfortunately i didn’t. next time…good idea!

      1. yanyanpei

        Hi Joanne, this is such a great program. do you know channelOne http://www.channelone.com/ ? I wonder what’s the appropriate to benefit more kids. 

        1. Gotham Gal

          Doesn’t everyone in nyc know channel 1?

          1. yanyanpei

            good or bad? I am a Chinese grown up, working with ChannelOne in NYC at some point. 😀

          2. Gotham Gal

            Just up to date info

  3. Jackie G.

    Great post – I can only imagine how motivating/inspiring that would have been for me as a HS student hearing from successful and self made entrepreneurs.  It is so important to incorporate “real world”/professional experiences/education in the classroom.  Babson, where I went to college, does a fantastic job with this, major bonus for HS’s and you for getting on this even sooner!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Babson does a great job fostering Entrepreneurs

      1. Jackie G.

         Yes!  One is my finance professors is one of our advisors now.  Professors there are dedicated to helping outside of the classroom…invaluable.

  4. AG

    You should be commended for doing this. Growing up all I ever saw was doctors, lawyers, and folks in finance. I went to a school that encouraged being a cookie cutter, and I, along with most of my high school classmates, have followed a cookie cutter path. I think a lot of us would have benefited from seeing and hearing other things, and from realizing there were other ways to have a fulfilling professional and personal life. This makes me realize that if I have children and have the time to be involved in their schools, I should be involved as positively as you are, helping to shape programs I wish someone shaped for me.

    1. Gotham Gal

      that is exactly why I did it. i wanted these kids to see there are other ways that they did not even know about to enjoy their professional life. it was really a big “wow”.

    2. pixiedust8

      Yes, I went to the same kind of high school. I thought people who went to art school went because they couldn’t get into a “real” college! So silly that I didn’t realize there paths other than traditional universities.

      1. Gotham Gal

        the long tail of the movie “social network” has opened up a whole generation to what you can do that isn’t the “typical” path.

  5. Ivy

    What a great idea… Great job.. What school do your childdren attend?

    1. Gotham Gal

      little red elisabeth irwin

  6. Rona Moser

    Joanne! this is inspiring!!!! you rock and your mission is super important!

  7. Marla Aaron

    WOW. Lucky Little Red. What I think is fantastic is you included such a cross section of entrepreneurs–even one that didn’t finish school. It’s a great message to kids about passion and tenacity and how much it may carry you. But what a standout group of perspectives to share with the kids. Really awesome.  

    1. Gotham Gal

      Feedback from teachers and kids has been incredible

  8. phineasb

    The concept is great and I wish more schools would expose their students to this type of thinking. I also got an intern out of it…

    1. Gotham Gal


  9. Erin Newkirk

    Woah, what a great group of entrepreneurs! Love how you brought so many shades of entrepreneurism into the mix. Not just tech. And it’s cool that the girls (and boys!!!) got to hear from such successful women, though any of those women could have held their own. (Hi guys!) I would have killed for that kind of awareness in high school…