The founder story
That’s not my story at all. I’m remarkably unremarkable. I’m kinda boring, an undercover nerd, not nearly as funny as I think I am, and pretty average in many respects. Growing up I read a lot of books and didn't have many friends.
I’m fortunate to have 2 wonderful biological parents, who have always played an active role in my life. They’ve been positive influences, and as far as being parents go– because being a parent is tough… they were pretty great. I had good resources in many respects.
I was given an opportunity, to discover at least some of my talents. I was given an opportunity, to at least dream a little.
And yet in spite of all that, life for me, has been tough. Life for many people I know, family, friends, and many others… has been tough. And the hardest period of time, for me, was trying to adapt to all the change and demands that come with going from an adolescent to an adult. It happens quickly. No one really prepares you.
It was turbulent. Chaotic. Filled with adversity and challenges. And poor decisions. A lot of poor decisions, some bigger than others. And the consequences that go with them. And I pushed my parents away. They didn’t understand me, what I was going through. I didn’t even understand what was happening– how could they!?
Just after starting my Freshman year of high school, I told my mom I was going to go to Stanford. Several months later, I came back and told her I’d already given up on that dream and it was never going to happen.
After high school, I almost went into the military. I even went to MEPS and enrolled. The only reason I didn’t end up going, is because they actually matched me with a mentor, and after speaking with that person– it was immediately clear to me that going in was not what I wanted to do.
One conversation, less than 30 minutes in length, radically changed the direction my life took.
Going into the military can be a great thing. Having the opportunity to get real input, can help validate it’s the right decision for someone. Or even refine what career they focus on when they go in.
At 19 years of age, my cousin and I were almost inseparable. We surfed together. Worked together. Got in fights together. He was by far the closest thing I had to a brother. By 22 we had gone completely different directions. I never saw him one single time after that. By 34 I was cementing my career in Tech. He was dead. That could just have easily been me. I was just more fortunate than he was to have different types of people come into my life and help take it a certain direction.
If that time, from high school to the several years following, was so difficult for me, and so many other people I know, and I was fortunate enough to have good resources in my life– how much more challenging must it be, for those who come from a different circumstance?
How much more difficult must it be to come from a truly disadvantaged place? One where financial resources are nominal at best. Where the support network is potentially nonexistent.
I have no idea. And I hate to even try to imagine it. But it’s happening. Every day, there are youth and young adults in this community… who are struggling. Who just need someone to talk to. Someone to believe in them. Because here’s the thing… for most of us… we’re no one, until someone believes in us.
Some people just have that inside, but it’s rare. And here’s the thing– even then, it’s not easy. I know, because I know those people. And it was hard for them too. But for most of us, we need a little nudge. That little nudge that helps us find it for ourselves.
And that’s, why we’ve created TalentDreams.
When I think back, at the times that really impacted me, often there was something involved. And that something… was someone.
When I was 17, and not really talking to my parents (at all), I was fortunate to be dating a pretty amazing young woman at the time. And both her mother and father, were incredible resources for me. I was so unbelievably fortunate to have had that, at that time. It felt like I literally had nothing else. No one else.
I created TalentDreams, because I’ve experienced for myself, how impactful it can be, when someone is there in your time of need. When someone believes in you. When someone takes just a moment, to talk to you.
Life is tough, especially during the transition from late adolescence to early adulthood. If it was a boxing ring, it would be throwing punches and we’d be taking a lot of hits. But the more people, you have in your corner, rooting for you, handing you water, sharing their experience, giving you feedback, the better you’re probably going to look and feel when the bell rings. All we want to do, with TalentDreams, is just put more people in your corner.
Everyone, needs champions and cheerleaders. Imagine, what this world could be, if everyone had the opportunity to reach their full potential?
There’s a movie, called Looper. Some of you may have seen it. There’s a young boy in it. He’s got some kind of power. Something bad happens to his mom, and he goes on to become a really terrible and powerful person, and the world is a pretty not-so-great place as a result. Fortunately, there’s time travel, and Bruce Willis. So of course, spoiler alert… Bruce saves the day, alters history… no big deal, and the kid turns out to be good and the world is a great place as a result.
We don't need to be Bruce Willis and Hollywood. That’s the opportunity we have. All of us. To change history. To change the world. One person’s history. One person’s world. One conversation at a time. One nudge at a time. Because a small nudge can lead to a big impact.
I’ve seen firsthand, the power programs like this can have. And until you do, it’s hard to comprehend. But when you do see it, it is sweeping and truly awe-inspiring. If we can help 100 adolescents or young adults, reach just 1% more of their potential, the impact at scale is actually incomprehensible.
As fortunate as I have been, I have so much more unrealized potential. Because the trajectory is set at a young age. At a time when you’re making important decisions. Decisions that set a course and a small nudge early enough, can lead to a much different path over time.
Now perhaps some of you may hear that and be thinking to yourself– Andrew, seems like you’ve done some remarkable things, like you’ve accomplished a lot, you’ve lived an extraordinary life.
And so what’s cool if you think about all of this; if you think about what I first shared… what’s pretty cool, is that–Remarkably unremarkable people can go on to do pretty remarkable things.Boring can be pretty productive.Nerds can really do just about anything they put their mind to.Average can still be unique.And unique, can potentially be extraordinary.
Unfortunately, if you’re not funny… you’re just not funny. Not much you can do about that! But you can read books and make friends. And that can take you to some pretty amazing places.
At TalentDreams, we believe there is a bright future ahead and the youth of today will lead us to it. We believe the youth of today deserve to have everything we can give them that will empower them on their journey. We believe, that we can do better.
We want to help tomorrow's leaders find their Talent and pursue their Dreams today.
And we want to thank all of you, for supporting us in our vision to help today's youth and young adults develop into their future potential…
…by inspiring, enriching, and mentoring the so they can discover, embrace, and express their Talent and pursue their Dreams.