Please Help Me Inspire Thousands of Young Entrepreneurs

I am headed to Uganda to speak to more than 8,000 attendees at the 2017 Youth Ablaze Conference. The theme for this conference is “Igniting Kingdom Minded Entrepreneurs.” What advice do you give 21 to 26 year olds who are hungry to learn, apply and grow their first startup?

Start a Company, Solve a Problem

I have been asking this question to entrepreneurs and their mentors, and I keep getting the same answer.

They say, “Encourage them to start a company that solves a problem which change people’s lives.”

An accomplished entrepreneur said, “Why solve a problem which is already solved? Find something which has never been done and get behind it as your passion.”

Another said, “To be dedicated to a company for the long-term, it must connect a problem in the marketplace to the entrepreneur’s calling.”

First World Thinking

My reaction to all of them was, “This is first world thinking!”

“The men and woman I’ll be speaking to come from economic oppression. They are trying to break out of the multi-generational poverty of their family and community.”

Then I would get the blank looks.

I have a friend, Gordon Hwang, who started a company to transform leaders. He was an upper-level manager in a name brand consulting firm. He was secure financially but uninspired. At 35 he knew it was now or never to start his own business.

Gordon and I have been meeting at my house every couple of months. I was helping him think through this big move. After all, he has a wife and two young children to consider in making this decision. The short answer is, he did it. He partnered with a very capable and fully aligned co-founder, and they started Thinqshift. It took off like a rocket.

Originally, Gordon was one of those entrepreneurs who simply said, “Start something meaningful.” But I pushed him. I said, “These people aren’t motivated by the higher end of the Maslow chart, self actualization. They are motivated to satisfy the low end of the chart, physical and safety needs.

“Think back to the practical steps you went through in planning your business. I have six presentation to give. So give me six topics that I should cover.”

Gordon’s Six Topics

1. Be clear on your identity. It is in Christ, not your business.
2. Find another tribe. You need to seek advice from the people you want to become. Do not seek advice from your current peers.
3. Build your business one customer at a time. Make money while doing it.
4. Say “no” to a lot of things. Know what you’re great at and only do that.
5. Be clear on your life priorities. Startups are all-consuming. Your business will become your only priority if you let it. Know your priorities ahead of time, and be true to them.
6. Get rest and find play time or your life will become just work.

Dear Reader, I Need Your Help

What are the six topics you would recommend I cover while in Uganda? Uganda is one of the most prolific third world entrepreneurial nations on the planet. These young men and women are hungry for your advice. What would it be?

Write your key topic or maybe even your six topics in the comments section. It will not only help me but all the readers of this blog start or build a great business. Not to mention the 8,000 people I’ll be speaking to.

Help me change the lives of these young leaders. Together we just might be part of changing a nation.

If God leads you to join me in supporting the 2017 Youth Ablaze Conference, you can donate here. The funds will go to providing sleeping mats, security, food, water and bathroom facilities for these young men and women for the week of Sept. 3rd.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

10 thoughts on “Please Help Me Inspire Thousands of Young Entrepreneurs

  1. 1. Ask the Uganda pastor to ask the young people what are their 6 topics.
    2. Find 6 of those young people who embody the answer to those 6 topics.
    3. Begin a year long mentorship/mastermind with those 6.
    4. Next year those 6 will present at the conference.
    5. In the meantime: rather than paleolithic talking-head era presentation (feel the bias here) – present on one of the group’s chosen topics for 3 minutes, give 3 examples, and 3 solutions. Break up into groups of 4. Each member has three minutes – one minute to share one example in their life where that topic shows up and one minute for one ask and group solutions.
    6. One person from the group summarizes the “take aways.”

    Fuller Theological Seminary taught us that the most meaningful interaction with another culture is to NOT be the talking head (because you are too far from their world to be relevant to them). Rather, you work through existing members to talk to their own.

    • Thanks Denise. These are great suggestions. I have to see how the small groups might work in an auditorium type setting with 8,000 people. It would be a bold step versus your favorite…talking head. I will incorporate the Ugandan pastor polling the delegates on their preferred topics. Then have them present next year. I also like the present for 3 minutes, three examples and three solutions. You are on it!

  2. What a wonderful opportunity! I love that you are going there, Charlie. What a great trip to take.

    My attention was riveted to Uganda recently. According to the Washington Post, the greatest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime is unfolding on its northern border. This was news to me.

    When I learned of this in June, I immediately began reaching out to see what I could do. Some friends and I are sending resources there to help: Last week for $2000 we put a roof on a school so 500 refugee children could get an education. Before that we saved the life of a child with some medicines.

    Let me suggest that the biggest question we all need to answer is the question “Why?” If we find our identity in Christ, then we must make his mission our mission. His mission was to bring the kingdom to the least and the lost – the widows, orphans and refugees crowding the northern border of Uganda by the millions.

    Do the Ugandan young people understand the amazing opportunity they have at this juncture in history? The first job of an entrepreneur is to sniff out needs before anyone else does. Some of them need to catch a bus up to Arua to see the opportunity before them. If I was there, I’d be on that bus with them.

    • Seth: You are constantly challenging me…constantly. I will look into what is happening in Northern Uganda. I’ll see what the Pastors views are and how he might engage these young Ugandans to help. I will be covering “the why” as one of my presentations. Entrepreneurs are always looking out and not in. Just like Jesus.

  3. Since you will likely find many young people in Uganda who have seldom, if ever, been asked to say what they feel and or for their opinion you may wish to engage them by including one or more of the following topics.
    – What are you most thankful for?
    – What do you think about when you are by yourself?
    – What motivates you to want to learn / succeed?
    – What are your biggest challenges?
    – Are you religious or spiritual or neither?
    Good luck, travel safely and thank you for what you do for the Atlanta Community and beyond!

    • John: Thanks for taking the time to give me your ideas. I will ask these questions when I meet with the students at the school. This will take place the week after the conference. It gives me a time to work with a group of 30-40 students. I’ll report back their answers.

  4. Hi Charlie,

    I’ve been mentoring a few select entrepreneurs in Rwanda for the last three+ years. I went to Rwanda as part of a team put together through Regents University and the Rwanda BDC. I’d love to chat with you about my perspective, particularly as what you find in Rwanda and Uganda are very similar. BTW, as part of my approach, I always begin with the relationship, before speaking into the entrepreneurial aspect of the individual. This has broken down many barriers on the front side of the relationship and has yielded some very transparent and authentic conversations over the years. Cheers, C

    • Colleene: Thanks for taking the time to write. When I work with entrepreneurs in the USA I always go to relationship first. I am challenged here as this is 8,000 people. It is, or at least, has traditionally been a lecture environment. I never really have had a change to work with them individually. I think mostly because the Pastor is really big on keeping tight security around me and Kathy. Let’s talk.

  5. 1. Embrace your struggle.
    This is not a curse, but a blessing (in disguise). Your past prepares you and molds you for your future. Embrace the struggle and bring some purpose to your pain, as it’ll grow you into who God designed you to be. God is not punishing you, he’s preparing you. Trust his plan, not your pain. Let’s transform a painful experience into an empowering growth experience for the country of Uganda.

    2. “Don’t ignore the signs you asked God to show you!”
    Meaning, we often ask for solutions and answers to to the prayers/problems, but we may not like the answer.

    3. You have to be better than a hard & sincere worker. You have to be a good planner (for the future of Uganda) i.e. goals, dreams, milestones. Once you have the idea to make Uganda better, what are the specific steps you’ll take to get there? The best way to solve a problem is on paper.

    4. “Sometimes the hardest questions, have the easiest answers” Dr. Seuss.
    What can I do right now (today) to make Uganda a better place? Food. Water. Shelter.
    It’s the small wins, 365 small wins, makes for a successful year. How can I ensure a fellow Ugandan will have a better day (365 times), which may ultimately lead to a better life?

    5. “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” -Stephen Covey
    Regardless of where we get our start in life, it’s entirely on us to get where we need to be to finish. If that means building an actual road, a school for the children of Uganda, a water well, or a business that’ll make Uganda better, then so be it and build it. Make and commit to the decision, to build a better Uganda. Do not wait for others to make the decision.

    6. Lastly, have both peace (of mind) and patience on the journey, regardless of where God takes you….
    **John 14:12
    Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
    **Philippians 4:6-7
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

    • Ritchie: Thanks for praying about my request. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write these answers from God. I will consider these topics as I prepare the outline of the presentations. Fantastic. You are now a partner with me on my trip to Uganda. One day you will travel there and share your experience with these young men and women. God bless you!

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