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Minding Our Business: Celebrating Middle School Entrepreneurship!

By: ellis j. still

Young people are the cornerstone of our future. Minding Our Business (MOB) is an outstanding example of actively reinforcing that sentiment by partnering with middle schools to provide young people with real life experience of what it is like to be an entrepreneur.

For the past 15 years, Minding Our Business (MOB) has been challenging middle school students not only come up with business ideas, but to create a balanced budget in terms of what it would take to run a business, apply for and present their business to judges, and upon approval of the budget, get funding to launch & run their business on Market Fair Day (outcome presentations are attached at the end of this blog post).

I had the opportunity to volunteer as a panel judge for the kids’ funding presentations. They were teams of kids (each team represented a business) who as individuals had separate roles such as a president/ceo that was responsible for the vision & mission of their company, and various vice presidents that included marketing, finance, operations, project management, and sales. They presented to the judges their idea, target market, how the business would run, budget and proposed funding requirements. Judges then had to assess the presentation and decide if the requested funding was warranted.

The presentations were quite awesome, not what you would expect from middle school students. The kids were well versed in their subject areas and it was evident that they rehearsed their presentations at length.

SUCCESS STORIES

In addition to the program mentioned above, MOB also has advanced and summer programs for those who wish to continue the entrepreneurship track beyond the initial program. Here are some success stories as a result of MOB’s programs:

  • Trevon Molder (MOB 2006), age 17 and CEO of Tick’s Toys started his toy business six years ago and still runs it successfully. Trevon is a senior student at the Trenton Central High School. He plans to go to college and study biochemistry.
  • Pula Jusu (MOB 2003) Took over father’s B & B Home Movie Productions. She is planning to start a business with her two other sisters selling clothing. Pula is very close to finish a master degree in business.
  • Tanaya Butler (MOB 1997) Helped her dad create a cleaning business from the ground up using all the know how acquired through MOB. Swans Brothers Cleaning is a successful business. Tanaya is planning now to open a beauty salon. She’s studying to become a register nurse.
  • Qaysean Williams (MOB 2003), who is a fashion designer and CEO of Mannequin, a fashion design business that recently displayed its garments at the Sun National Bank Arena Fashion Show.
  • Shawntae DeVlugt (MOB 1998) She owns a cake business.
  • Tamar Levy (MOB 1998) He is the owner of a small accounting firm.
  • Abberin Hoagland (MOB 2003) Non-profit summer arts program. “Both Hands” and she is teaching film.
  • Bryan Lane (MOB 2001) He owns a barbershop.
  • Kimyatta Perry – She owns a Hair Salon
  • Jonathan Knight (MOB 1998) He owns an E-Commerce business involving drop shipping.
  • Albert Matlock (MOB 2004) Mentoring Program called the Elite Club, He also sells clothes to fund it. He wanted to help inner-city youth and to fuel his passion for clothing.
  • Eric Hallet (MOB 2001) He owns Outdoor Flicks – A business renting out inflatable 30 ft. movie screens.
  • Jamar L. Robinson (MOB 2001) He owns two businesses. One is called Project DBR (Dreams Becoming Reality) an internet blog for promoting and discussing all types of artists and musicians. The other business is called “Life Crooks” selling clothes and graphic Ts.
  • Kyle Barrett (MOB 1999) He owns a Take-out out of home restaurant.

MOB students talk about their experiences… (video will open in new window)

MOB is a unique program that allows kids to learn and make long term career choices through real life activity. The program’s track record of success is a role model for others looking to make a difference in urban communities.

Below are attached PDF outcome presentations for MOB’s programs, which can also be downloaded directly from MOB’s website (right-click to open in a new tab or window):

MOB’s success is opening doors for it to expand well beyond the confines of Rider University and Trenton, NJ, and into being an independent 501(c)(3). If you would like to take part in this expansion and meet its founders and some of the success stories in person, MOB is hosting its annual “Bridge to the Future” fundraiser in Lawrence, NJ. If you cannot make it in person, or of you  wish to contact them, Dr. Hernandez can be reached at 609-895-5509 or email: hernandez@rider.edu

Question: How would your life be different if you had been exposed to entrepreneurship at an early age?

© 2012, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

__________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification
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Men On Fire VII: The Perfect Man!!!

by: ellis j. still

“You, therefore, must be perfect (growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity), as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

                Matthew 5:48 (Amp.)

i.e. – get your swagger back!!!

This is perhaps one of the largest and most significant conferences that is geared towards encouraging, strengthening and building up men in the country, outside of T. D. Jakes.

Every year men travel from across the country to gather on Wednesday evening at Agape Family Worship Center in Rahway, NJ and on Thursday evening at Abundant Life Family Worship Church (ALFWC) in New Brunswick, NJ, with Friday and Saturday sessions held all day at an offsite hotel (this year at the Somerset Doubletree Hotel).

This conference is unique in that it appeals to the issues and challenges that men face, with strategic takeaways that can be applied to everyday life. In addition to building up the spiritual man, Men On Fire also features sessions on entrepreneurship, leadership, finances, and provides many opportunities for fellowship and networking… building up the perfect man, and, building up the entire man.

There is also the awesome praise & worship, and ridiculous band :- )

This year’s installment of Men on Fire will include Bishop George C. Searight, Pastor Lawrence Powell, Bishop Dale Bronner, Bishop Donald Hillard, Bishop Courtney McBath, Dr. Ron Elmore, and Dr. Buster Soaries.

Question: Many great visions, leaders, entrepreneurs, and dreams fulfilled have been birthed out of Men On Fire. Why not take a few days to get away from home, get some great impartation the will benefit you, your family, and everyone around you and get your swagger back?

For more information, see links below:

ALFWC Facebook Page 

Men on Fire Facebook Event Page

Abundant Life Family Worship Church (ALFWC) website

Agape Family Worship Center website

Twitter Hash-Tag: #MenOnFireVII

© 2011, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

__________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification

Building Communities: NJ Social Entrepreneurship Summit 2011

By: ellis j. still

“Whether you start as one or end up as one, you must become a social entrepreneur before you can be a great entrepreneur.”

                 Alfred Edmond Jr., Editor-at-Large, Black Enterprise Magazine

So, let’s say that you are an entrepreneur. You have a really cool idea that you think can make some money. Business 101 dictates that supply meets demand. However, what if the true calling in your heart is to be able to provide the supply with the goal of helping people? What if you created a needs-based venture in the community (for-profit or non-profit) that builds relationships, provides jobs, and builds human capital?

These are the sort of conversations that occurred on yesterday at the 2011 New Jersey Social Entrepreneurship Summit. The summit created dialog among entrepreneurs interested in social entrepreneurship from both a traditional and non-profit point of view. There were case studies, conversations, panel discussions, and networking opportunities among established social entrepreneurs, funders & investors, start-up entrepreneurs, and others interested in making an investment in the human capital in their community.

Social entrepreneurship is described by organizers as a form of entrepreneurship that integrates social goals and social or environmental problem solving into its core business model. The purpose of this summit is to raise the profile of social entrepreneurship in New Jersey by bringing leaders of the social sector and entrepreneurs who address social and environmental problems in their businesses together to learn from and support one another.

After the lunch break, Dr. Jeffrey Robinson announced the creation of the ”NJ Social Innovation Institute  – ‘Creating Jobs Through Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship'”. This new collaborative effort will focus on connecting social entrepreneurs to the resources needed to execute their social idea successfully and in a sustainable way. The NJ Social Innovation Institute is designed to help nascent social entrepreneurs to develop their venture ideas into business plans and investment proposals. The initiative is six (6) months in duration and is provided in partnership with the Support Center for Nonprofit. For more information about the institute, click here.

The event was extremely interactive via social media as well. You can catch up with the conversation on Twitter using hash tag #NJSocEnt. These are just a few of the Twitter comments:

@CNicholaC: More and more people (are) realizing that business profits and social contributions are not mutually exclusive. #NJSocEnt

@websignia: “We’re not looking for reimbursement, we’re looking for concrete outcomes in our designated communities” -S. Hamilton of @PSEGCares  #NJSocEnt

@ellis_still: Craig Cuccia: “the question became how do we connect with the people who aren’t ready and give them the resources that they need?” #NJSocEnt

@RutgersBSchool: “Its all about how you can use entrepreneurship as a vehicle for social change.” – Professor @jrobinsonphd on stage #NJSocEnt #SocEnt

@ellis_still: Cheryl Dorsey: people tend to confuse being a founder with being a success. #NJSocEnt #newark

@dtogilvie: Vaughn McCoy @pseg spoke about Profits w/a Purpose @ the Social Entrepreneurship Summit in Newark, NJ #Njsocent

To learn more about the summit, or the NJ Social Innovation Institute , feel free to visit http://www.njsesummit.org/. Don’t forget to join their mailing list for periodic announcements and information.

To view more pictures of the summit, click here to go to my facebook page.

Question: How are you utilizing your gifts and ideas to make your community better?

© 2011, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

____________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks!!!
ellis

IFEL 2011: Believing in the genius of your dream

by: ellis j. still

It seems like yesterday that I was a finalist for the 2nd Annual Institute for Entrepreneur Leadership Business Plan Awards. I can still feel the nervousness… the clammy hands and sweaty fingers, feeling like at any moment I would pass out while on stage standing in front of my peers, potential investors, city officials, and media. But I got through it, and I did the best that I could with what I had at the time.

Since then, The Burning Bush Christian Bookstore (TBBbookstore.com) has grown to the point of being able to giving back to the institution that helped start it all by way of being a marketing partner and prize sponsor. For the first time I can just sit, relax, enjoy the festivities, and reflect on things as they happen. Here are some highlights of the afternoon:

  1. Opening remarks by Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker: Mayor Booker comes from a line of entrepreneurism in his family, and therefore appreciates all that entrepreneurs have to fight through in order to be successful. Statistically speaking, most businesses fail. But it is in your failure that you gain experience. Likewise, small business is the engine that drives America in that small business creates the most wealth. Wealth not only in terms of money, but in terms of quality of life, of your well being, and of your contribution to others. As an entrepreneur, it seems like the whole world is against you. People will think that you are crazy for being an entrepreneur, saying that your idea is to bold or that it will never work, or having people around you that does not get your vision. However, when you stand up and out, you will inspire others to stand with you. Believe in the genius of your dreams!!!
  2. The visionary behind IFEL, Dr. HenryJohnson, Sr. will be stepping aside as CEO of the Institute for Entrepreneurship Leadership and Jill Johnson will assume the responsibility. IFEL is a trailblazer in that Dr. Johnson had the foresight to meet the need to provide a platform from which entrepreneurs can flourish and grow. While there are other successful business / entrepreneurial programs in the regional area, IFEL is different in that it focuses on laying the foundation for creating successful businesses. Nothing can survive or prosper if it does not have a solid foundation from which to stand on.
  3. Of course, the main event was the entrepreneur finalists. Drum roll please…  
  • Diamond Doobies (Heather Kollar, Owner) is a boutique organic salon in Downtown Newark offering affordable luxury to women who want rich, healthy hair. (Newark, NJ).
  • Family Travel Marketing Services (Luisa Frey, Owner) brings parents and children together through shared travel and leisure experiences. FTMS then brings this influence to its travel company clients via: social media including FTMS’ teen-written blog, www.teentraveltalk.com; family travel fairs; and consulting. (Nutley, NJ)
  • My Salon Scoop (Veronica Woods, founder & CEO) is the ultimate beauty matchmaker for women of color. It publishes an online magazine and salon directory, and provides salon marketing services. (South Orange, NJ)
  • Pebbles Playhouse (Michael Amegashie, Owner) brings a mix of awesome inflatable structures, a clean, climate controlled environment, incredible customer service, and non-stop excitement in a private-party and open play atmosphere. (East orange, NJ)
  • And the winner is… fohawx! (Jocelyn Fine, Kelley Dineen, Co-Founders) is a product development LLC. Fohawx! Will design, manufacture and sell a line of helmet accessories. Our vision is to become the leading brand of helmet accessories made by moms for moms. (Bayonne, NJ)

My takeaways from the afternoon:

No one can survive as an island in itself. It is in our failures, success, and growth that we encourage others to be better. Before the luncheon began, one of this year’s finalists told me how much he appreciates that I have already been a finalist, and that TBB is still growing. He labeled me as a role model of sorts from for those who are coming after me. I took these comments to heart, as if at that moment a burden was placed on my shoulders. Not ‘burden’ in a negative way, but as a responsibility to build wealth not only for my family, but for the greater society as a whole as well.

Every year the competition finalist luncheon is held in a great space with a great atmosphere of networking and mutual support. I had a great time, and connected with some people that I will undoubtedly keep in contact with, as well as reconnected with those who have helped me along the way. If you are an investor or in a position to support, IFEL [501(c)(3)] is a great institution to partner with. Likewise, if you have an idea that you are serious about bringing to life, or if you already own and operate a business but need a focus to take it to the next level, visit IFEL’s website, and then contact them to see how they can help you.

Question:  Do you take your dreams seriously? What are your thoughts?

© 2011, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 ____________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks!!!
ellis

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