I don’t watch television, and I’m definitely not into politics, but I love to hear President Obama speak. As an aspiring entrepreneur with business plans in the works, I was inspired by Obama’s encouraging words about entrepreneurship in his 2014 State of the Union address . He gave a special shoutout to a woman who created 700 jobs in her hometown and continued to thank business owners for doing such deeds. 

He covered the immigration reform, reminding Americans that foreigners come to our country to fulfill their dreams, to study and invent. While doing so, they create jobs for everyone. Obama suggested that business owners give long term unemployed workers a chance, training them with the skills they need for the new economy and matching them to jobs that need to be filled right now. His major point, might I mention, was that hard work should pay off for EVERY American, despite race, age, gender, and so forth.

So you think you can dance? Rap? Sing? Model? Start businesses? Play in the major leagues? Put in the work! Most creative children are pulled in the opposite direction, reminded that those careers aren’t promising, and pushed to live a “normal” life- getting a degree and a job in Corporate America. I am fortunate enough to say I finished school at Texas A&M, attaining a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a minor in Creative Studies. 

The topic of discipline hindering creativity in children was discussed in several of my Creative Studies classes and I found it interesting. We were asked to think of times when teachers and parents encouraged our creativity, versus the times where we were told to choose another direction. Lucky for me, I had enough of both. But what about those creative children who have no support? Obama explained that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high quality early education.  Instead of encouraging the child’s imagination, allowing them to doodle, speak their minds and engage in discussion, they are told to stand in lines, put their hands behind their backs, and raise their hands before speaking. Yes, this calls for a less chaotic environment, but a less creative one as well. In the words of Obama, we have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce.

As early as 4 years old, it’s important to promote thinking! In these Creative Studies classes, we studied “lateral thinking”, a term coined by Edward deBono and a growing concept in businesses everywhere. Companies need innovation, the next big thing, to always be on top of trends. Lateral thinking is simply a variety of brainstorming and problem-solving techniques or helpful tools to sort and record your thoughts to generate useful ideas. 

The president mentioned a new initiative he’s proposing to make sure young men of color, facing especially tough odds, stay on track and reach their full potential. Young professionals, (you and I!) can help in these efforts as we follow our own individual dreams and create opportunities for those around us. I know that I was blessed with a college education from the BEST university in Texas, and I want to use my knowledge to start businesses, lend the economy a helping hand, and create jobs for my talented friends who may not have had the same opportunities. If you’ve steered from your childhood dreams, there is good reason. There were other skills and capabilities you were meant to pick up. If we support each other, collaborate and stop being selfish, we can help each other climb to success.

Obama stated that he and the first lady’s agenda wouldn’t be complete until they ensure our economy honors the dignity of work- AGAIN, he stresses the concept of hard work and responsibility paying off for everyone. I recommend doing what you love, and working hard to perfect your craft. WE, as young professionals, entrepreneurs, creative brains, and dreamers can change the way people view work and recreate the land of opportunity Obama envisions. Follow your heart, and help as many people as you can along the way. Remember, what you put out into the world is what will come back to you.

 

**Originally published to The Young Houston Magazine in 2014**

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