Our Region's Entrepreneurs Are Better Together

Guest Correspondence

When a suit-and-tied 12-year-old says, “It helped keep my dreams alive, and it helped me understand that anything is possible with hard work,” you know that an event about our region’s future delivered on its intended message.

The event was Gulf Coast’s Better Together luncheon last Monday, featuring Shark Tank star Daymond John. And the inspired tween was among dozens of youth in attendance, sitting alongside big-name business leaders and wealthy philanthropists as well as studious college kids and aspiring entrepreneurs.

John—nicknamed “The People’s Shark”—brought his own DJ for the event, and two large video screens projected clips of LL Cool J and other hip-hop stars amid his presentation. Not your typical Sarasota ballroom luncheon in February. And that was part of the point.Gulf Coast’s guest speaker gave our audience of 600-plus a fresh take on the economic possibilities for our region. He started by talking technology—the ultimate disrupter—and how it has transformed the landscape for current and future business builders. Opportunities exist to launch innovative businesses here that simply weren’t possible a few years ago.

John shared snippets of his own inspirational story: a short, dyslexic kid from “the ‘hood” (his words) who turned $40 and a vision into a billion-dollar global fashion brand. He described the heroes he didn’t see growing up (because they were rising at 5am to get their kids ready for school, and working late to provide for their families). He repeatedly stressed the value of mentors. “The number one reason [entrepreneurs] have success is mentors,” he said.

From starting an urban fashion line on a sewing machine in his mom’s basement, John has become a TV star, marketing guru, sought-after investor and best-selling author. But he’s quick to share tips for fellow entrepreneurs, credit the people who took a chance on him and admit to mistakes he made so others can avoid them. John’s formula is pure passion plus nonstop hustle structured by continuous learning, planning and goal-setting. He also keeps it real: As entrepreneurs, “you’ve got to keep trying,” he said. “You’re gonna fail more than you succeed.”

Daymond John showed students like Coy from USF Sarasota-Manatee, Mayada from Booker High, Liam from Booker Middle and 12-year-old dreamer Bryson that they can make money doing what they love, and they can do it here in their hometown. That’s not a vision every student in our region has right now. But it can be; it should be.

He also urged the “overabundance” of successful entrepreneurs in our community who have been there, done that to help shape these future innovators. “One thing successful people love to do is see someone else become successful,” John said.

Daymond John stands on the shoulders of many people who came before him. Let’s follow his lead and lift our community’s young and emerging leaders onto our shoulders, so they can view their own successful future here on the Gulf Coast.

Mark Pritchett is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Ready to start leading now? Consider applying for our Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. Learn more at GulfCoastCF.org.

« View The Saturday Feb 20, 2016 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

What Will Single Member Districts Really Mean?

Among the litany of issues Sarasota County voters consider this year will be whether to switch to single-member districts when electing county commissioners. It’s fairly easy to see why this inspires sharp partisan divide. Democrats lament no one from the blue team has won a seat on the com

Jacob Ogles | Oct 13, 2018

District 72 Remains Region's Hottest House Race

An unexpected contest and surprising upset this year turned state House District 72 into the center of the political world in February. This November, voters weigh in again, and while the race this time will be one of many in the region, it remains one of the marquis battles in the region.

Jacob Ogles | Sep 22, 2018

Letting Go at Ringling

We have had the great pleasure at Ringling College of Art and Design this past week of welcoming the largest incoming freshman class in the history of our institution. That’s right, over 500 new young people, representing 42 different states and 30 diverse countries, arrived in Sara

Dr. Larry Thompson | Aug 25, 2018

Good and Graham Swinging for Glass Ceiling

As the woman who could become Florida’s first female governor stumped in Sarasota this week, she turned to the region’s biggest Democratic star for a boost. State Rep. Margaret, D-Sarasota, took the stage at the Francis Thursday to throw her personal support behind gubernatorial candi

Jacob Ogles | Jul 28, 2018