Million Dollar Monday

Top Secrets of Successful People featuring Jennifer Kushell

September 27, 2021 Greg Muzzillo
Million Dollar Monday
Top Secrets of Successful People featuring Jennifer Kushell
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you reaching your full potential or trapped in a bubble? Jennifer Kushell, Founder of Explore Your Potential, discusses with Host Greg Muzzillo the importance of exposure to resources, information and networks. Understanding what’s on the ‘menu of life’ is a game changer. 
Chapter Summaries 

Key Takeaways 

  • Acknowledge you live in a bubble, we all do. Recognize where you comfort zone is and where you exposure stops. 
  • When you help young people connect with things that are exciting to them in the real world, they self efficate. They take control and ownership of their own path instead of us telling them go to school, take tests and get a job. We tried to build a process that was far more organic, exciting, and interesting, so they can dream big and so they can discover anything that they want, that they're interested in and find tangible next steps to do the things they love.
  •  A conference is like going to a planet, filled with people, doing the things that you love.
  • People through their positivity, their sense of gratitude, their sense of energetic belief can attract opportunities.
  • There are universal truths. Every young person wants to find their own path. Every young person wants to find a way to be recognized, to be acknowledged for who they are and what's special about them. Young people in particular want to do something of significance in the world
  • What we're trying to do is give young people their own view perspective on the world and show them the biggest broadest possible view, and then helping them very surgically connect what they're interested in and what they like and what they're talented in with what opportunity exists. And that might be local. It might be global. It might be something that they're aware of. And most times they discover things. They never had any idea existed. 

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Jennifer Kushell :

And frankly, if you look around, most people are miserable with their lives and what they do, because they were never able to connect the dots. And they're kept in a bubble and they're not exposed to other cultures, other countries, other industries. And we only know what we know. That's why you see so many people go into the same business that their parents were in or that their neighbors were in, or someone found them a job recognize where your comfort zone is and where your exposure stops.

Greg Muzzillo:

Hello, and welcome to Million Dollar Monday. I'm your host, Greg Muzzillo bringing you real successful people with real useful advice for people with big dreams. I understand big dreams. I turned an investment of $200 and a lot of great advice from some really successful people into my big dream Proforma. That today is a half billion dollar company. Hello All, I am super excited to introduce my special guest today. She is a founder, a CEO an author and a speaker. And she's very special because of her unique passion and mission for impacting the lives of the future generation of the young people in our world globally. And she's been doing this for decades. I'm excited introduced Jennifer Kushell Jennifer, thanks for joining.

Jennifer Kushell :

It's so nice to be with you this morning. Thank you.

Greg Muzzillo:

It is great to be with you, even though, like we said, sad, we can't hug, but glad we can visit,

Jennifer Kushell :

But it's lovely to see your smile.

Greg Muzzillo:

And great to see you. All right. So let's start at the beginning and tell us a little bit about your youth , your growing up years, your education. Of course, I know some of the family history too, but where did you learn your passion for business and most importantly, where did you also learn to, your mission and your heart for young people globally?

Jennifer Kushell :

Okay, great question. Big question. I would say, you know, I started my entrepreneurial career at 13 and I had five businesses before I was 19 years old. And just to backtrack for a second, the reason that happened was twofold. One, I was really struggling to fit in as a young kid and realized that because I had been raised with so many adults, especially adults in entrepreneurship, in franchising, I was used to cocktail talk. I was used to networking. I was used to things that other people weren't. And so I was kind of bored by the conversations my friends had and I realized I became friends with teachers more often and I would have different conversations. I would stay up after my friends, went to sleep and talk to their parents all night long. And so I always, I always thought that was really weird and I felt strange because of it. But then when I discovered entrepreneurship and saw how the things that my family were doing were doing and how that could apply to everyday business, like starting a t-shirt business or a gift basket business, all of a sudden, that's all I wanted to spend my time on. And so I started, you know , my first t-shirt business when I was 13 and then I was doing gift baskets. And then I was doing safety seminars for women when we were having riots in California and it just led to a series of different ventures. And then I started thinking much bigger, thanks to being raised in franchising. As, as you know, well, I , I was raised around some of the leaders in the franchise industry, which was incredibly lucky, but , my father, my uncle and my cousin were all in the franchise industry, either helping talent , move into different companies, or they were helping consult for companies that wanted to become franchise businesses like California, pizza, kitchen, and Johnny rockets brands we all know someone has to actually take that small business and structure it for a franchise. And so that's what my family did. And, and thankfully they were involved in the, franchise industry. So our, our family vacations were franchise conferences. And when, you know, when I was 13, 14, 15, I was running around the franchise conferences. And that's how I got to meet, you know, one of my biggest mentors, I think one of your biggest mentors, maybe too, who was the founder of subway.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yea Fred Deluca God rest his soul.

Jennifer Kushell :

Was a dear friend for a long time. And, really when I saw that a 17 year old had started the biggest restaurant chain in the world, I suddenly realized that we needed to tell that story to young people everywhere, because when you're 15, 13, 12, 20, trying to figure out who you are in the world and what you're going to do. And when you see other people, your age who have created things that are not only exciting, but really big, I think that inspires many of us to want to do bigger things with our lives. And that's what you do with this radio show.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yep . Absolutely. You know, I think no pun intended around subway, but I think a lot of young people don't even know what's on the menu, what's possible for them in their lives. So is that, I know you wrote a best-selling book secrets of the young and successful. I know Fred was talked about in that book. Were there other successful entrepreneurs you talked about in that book?

Jennifer Kushell :

Oh gosh. Yeah. I mean, I heard actually someone told me that , Elon Musk has a copy of it in his house, but I got a call one day from the founder of space adventures. And I don't know if you remember, there was a private company that was taking private citizens for $20 million up to the international space station, the Russian space station. And he had a copy of the book and he wrote to me and said, I need other people to talk to because I started this crazy thing. And I don't know, other young people doing things like this. So it's funny the work that we've done with the books and the campaigns and everything around inspiring young people to build businesses, build new inventions, become leaders. They've trickled into places like the white house, United nations , big, big corporations, but then also we've, we've been lucky enough to impact and touch millions and millions of young people. Not only in the US but all over the world.

Greg Muzzillo:

Tell us about Exploring Your Potential. I think that's your most recent venture of which you're the founder and CEO tell us about EYP or Exploring Your Potential.

Jennifer Kushell :

Well, thank you. Yeah. I had been working as, you know, for a long time with young people everywhere and everywhere I went, I was blown away by how the things I was saying to them seemed like different things than other people were telling them. But even if they were raised, whether they were raised in disadvantaged communities or very affluent families, the kids would come to me. And they would literally, in some cases, shake and cry and say, no one has ever told me that I could do the things I want to do or how to do it. And I realized that , I had a talent for not only seeing human potential, but connecting dots for people that were very strategic, that would help them get to the next level quickly. And after y ou've worked with thousands of young people on connecting with their dreams, you, you can do it. You could do it to anyone really. And so a couple of years ago, Bloomberg was a client of ours. And they asked if we could help teach business , teach students, getting Businessweek in their business schools about the world of work. And so we wound up a long story. Short, the university has started asking us if we could give them a curriculum to teach work. And as you know, millions and millions of students are in schools going through their educational journey without a clear idea of where they want to go next or what they want to do or how to manifest their skills, their talents, their interests.

Greg Muzzillo:

I didn't know. You , maybe you didn't know, right. Figured out

Jennifer Kushell :

It takes us here is it takes us decades. And frankly, if you look around, most people are miserable with their lives and what they do because they were never able to connect the dots. And so what we, what we did with exploring your potential is we created an online learning curriculum and a program that schools now adopt. And they bring it to their kids, both on the higher ed side and now on K-12 , which is really exciting. And so from, from colleges to, as young as eighth grade, they're now getting our content in their classes that introduce them to business leaders, to entrepreneurship, to innovation, to leadership , to understanding how their ambition translates into the , into their success. We teach them about social skills, about how to build social capital, get to know people. How do you package and present yourself? How do you show up and online meetings like this, or on zoom , and really help them connect with the business world, with the world of what they're interested in. You know , sometimes you have kids that might like video games, but they have no idea that there's a multi-billion dollar video game industry.

Greg Muzzillo:

Correct.

Jennifer Kushell :

And so we put them on pathways.

Greg Muzzillo:

What do you find? because I know you're doing your work in a hundred different countries. What do you find are some of the interesting differences among people in these different countries?

Jennifer Kushell :

Well, I'd say first I have done work in a hundred countries. We're not in a hundred countries yet with EYP, but we're hoping to connect those dots now. But thank you for mentioning that we've actually worked across 160 countries. So, everywhere in the world, yes, what we found is that the, there are universal truths. Every young person wants to find their own path. Every young person wants to find a way to be recognized, to be acknowledged for who they are. And what's special about them. They want to add value. Young people in particular want to do something of significance in the world. They want to add value to their communities, to their families, to their, you know, to maybe industries. They want to make their mark on the world. And so that's universal. So I can speak to people in, you know , in Detroit as easily as Nigeria, which is exciting, what's different are the access to resources. Also exposure and context are the two biggest things that separate young people from success, which is, and I'll explain, and this is true. This is, this is a fascinating topic, too . It doesn't matter if you're in an affluent home or in a slum, somewhere, your access to different people, to different ideas, to different areas, different jobs, your access will change everything about how eager you are to engage outside of your comfort zone and your exposure. Just even knowing what exists is a big challenge. So most young people will, you know, we find that most young people , um, are struggling with their contacts. They don't have the context, they need to do the things that they want to do. But we're also finding we've surveyed 10- 12,000 young people now. And we found that 12,000 said only 20% are talking to more than their parents and their close friends. They're not talking to experts. They're not doing research. I can't tell you how many students, even at Ivy league schools, I've said, what are you doing about what you want to do? Have you Googled it? And they say no. So I think one of the challenges that we're facing is that a lot of kids are, are kept in a bubble, probably for safety, probably for comfort. And they're kept in a bubble and they're not exposed to other cultures, other countries, other industries. And we only know what we know. That's why you see so many people go into the same business that their parents were in or that their neighbors were in, or someone found them a job. What we're trying to do is give young people their own view perspective on the world and show them the biggest broadest possible view, and then helping them very surgically connect what they're interested in and what they like and what they're talented in with what opportunity exists. And that might be local. It might be global. It might be something that they're aware of. And most times they discover things. They never had any idea existed.

Greg Muzzillo:

Sure. Right. I , I mean, before I started Proforma, I had no clue what printing or promotional products were much less. I really didn't appreciate or understand what franchising was.

Jennifer Kushell :

So here's a perfect example right now we're working with eighth grade students, eighth grade students who are studying design, who are studying creative arts, who are doing animation. They have no idea what the printing business is about. They don't know about promotional products. So we're connecting companies like Proforma, like, and even adults like you to come and speak to them and say, this is how you can, you can manifest your design work, that you can go into industries like this and showing them how to work, printing presses, how to use 3d printers, how to use CAD design, how you can add exponential technologies, even on top of all of these things. And so what we find, which is super interesting, and I think you'll love this is when you can activate someone's belief in what's possible. That's called self - efficacy that excitement, that energy activates a young person, and that makes them more likely to enroll in school, to go further in their educational journey. And they're more likely to persist and graduate. What did

Greg Muzzillo:

What did you call that self activity ?

Jennifer Kushell :

Self-efficacy , it's your own belief in what's possible. And the other thing that happens when you help young people connect with things that are exciting to them in the real world, they, they self activate. They take control and ownership of their own path instead of us poking and prodding them to go to school and take their tests and go get a job it's just, or forcing them to write resumes when they have no idea what to say. It's just, I think we tried to build a process that was far more organic and exciting and interesting, so they can dream big. They can, they can discover anything that they want, that they're interested in and find tangible next steps to go do the things that they love.

Greg Muzzillo:

For sure. Like when I was a kid, sit down and shut up for 50 minutes and they'll work for me. And it surely can't work for a whole lot of young folks today. Do you find that the internet has a great way of flattening out the world though, and bringing more opportunity to people in areas where otherwise, maybe they wouldn't have even heard the words met the people or understood what's possible.

Jennifer Kushell :

There's no question. I mean, when you have teenagers that are able to trade cryptocurrency while they're , you know, they may be struggling with math or English class, but they're at home making tens of thousands of dollars. If not hundreds of thousands of dollars, that's one example. But I mean, we're running a boot camp in Nigeria right now. I have kids, teenagers literally piling into cars so they can pop onto someone else's Wi-Fi and complete online courses. The minute we get them over that hump where they have internet access and they know how to learn online, they can study at Harvard, they can study at Stanford, they can do anything that they want to do. So that's where the, the poverty gap really, really takes effect. But it's not just poverty, even affluent kids who are disconnected because they don't care. They're not, they're not excited. They're just not going to engage in these things unless we give them the exposure and the context.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. There's no doubt. There's no doubt. And what you call self efficacy . I think leads to what I love to talk about the law of attraction. I think people through their positive-ness, their sense of gratitude, their sense of energetic belief can attract opportunities. I'm convinced that the law of attraction brought me the idea to even start Proforma the idea to franchise Proforma. And so many of the great things that have happened to me in my life. And I'm sure you're too , are a big believer in the whole law of attraction,

Jennifer Kushell :

For sure. I mean, just think about the places you and I have met in the past. The places we've gathered, there are beacons of energy of inspiration everywhere you go. When you're in a room full of entrepreneurs, when you're at a conference, when you're at even even a private event with friends and they've collected some of the most interesting people, they know everywhere you go, it's like a buffet of , inspiring people and ideas. And when we can tap into networks like that, then anything is possible with our lives. We learn that later in life, if we have the benefit of being around people like you and I who teach us how exciting the world is and how wonderful different people with different backgrounds are. But if we stay too close in our bubble, we never get those experiences.

Greg Muzzillo:

You know, one of the things you mentioned earlier, and I really find it to be a difference, at least from my generation, or at least when I was younger. And today is, you know, when I was younger and graduated from college, a lot of us then talked about wouldn't it be a big deal to make a hundred thousand dollars a year. It was all about money. And then of course, everybody would say, when are they going to be a millionaire? I'll be a millionaire by the time I'm 30, I'll be a millionaire, the focus. My point is, was on money. And I find that today. And you said it yourself, a couple of times, a few different ways is not just about wealth. Of course, to some degree it's about wealth , but it's also making a difference and living a life of significance. And I really liked that,

Jennifer Kushell :

You know, the parallel to what you're saying about making money. Yes, for sure. We were all very driven on money. Who's going to become the millionaire first. Today, It's how many people are going to have a million followers. Young people are obsessed with exposure, and that's why we live in an influencer society more young people want to be a Snapchat star or a Tik TOK star or an Instagram star. And what , what we really should be asking them is you, your marketing geniuses, if you can get half a million, a million people following you, even 10,000 people, but what are you doing of substance? What are you doing to add value? What are you creating in the world? That's interesting. You know, so I think that's a big question we need to ask our kids, whether they're playing video games all day long, or they're doing internet trading, or they're doing makeup lessons, how can we add value?

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. And where, where are you hanging out to learn more, to even learn more about what's on the menu. You and I both know the story about Fred DeLuca, just attending a family picnic, telling his uncle Pete, he , you know, he wasn't exactly sure how he was going to pay for college and that discussion. We don't need to get into it now, but that discussion turned itself into the whole idea for starting subway and the partnership of Pete Buck and Fred DeLuca that created subway. And so are people even have in the substantive conversations with people that you never know what they might say or what ideas they might bring to the table.

Jennifer Kushell :

I think a lot of kids are discounting the substantive conversations. There's a lack of interest in the future with a lot of young people. And I think that, you know, they've been raised in a time with school shootings. They've been, you know, we've been living in quarantine. I mean, they've had a lot of trauma in their lives so far. So I understand why a lot of people are very inward focused and not outward focused. But, you know, it's when we step outside of our comfort zone, that we get the experiences. And even Fred, he started subway because of the conversation with the neighbor, but what got him started as a franchise and as a highly scalable business that got him to thousands. And then 40,000 units was, he went to the franchise conference and a conference is like going to a planet, filled with people, doing the things that you love. And he sat there and said, he saw pizza hut. He saw taco bell. And he said, I can do that too. And it was that self-efficacy, but that was the moment of self-efficacy where he said, I could be a big chain.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. By the way, your father, and you haven't mentioned, this was very foundational and fundamental to the International Franchise Association, which is where I learned not only all about franchising , but where I met Fred and became Fred friends with Fred. And you right?

Jennifer Kushell :

Yes, dad was the ultimate connector. He was the Kevin bacon of connections.

Greg Muzzillo:

All right . So we have , a lot of young people who are listening. The one common theme that I think rings true about many people is freedom. The freedom to be able to do what you want, when you want, how you want. And for many that's business ownership can deliver that level of freedom. So for those people that are curious about how could I learn more? How could I network better? How can I get a better idea of even getting myself to this level of self efficacy? What key suggestions would you have for them?

Jennifer Kushell :

A great question. I'd say first and foremost, acknowledge you live in a bubble. We all do recognize where your comfort zone is and where your exposure stops. Most, most of the time, you will have a very limited amount of people in your life that are exposing you to new industries. By talking to people outside of your comfort zone. People, you don't know people in different fields, not only talk to them, but ask them questions. I notice a lot of young people are so focused on their own lives, that they don't ask adults questions. They could be sitting with the most successful people they've ever met in their lives. And they won't even say, Greg, you've built an incredible company. How did you get started? Tell me about the printing business. Can I come see how it works? They don't ask the most basic questions. So I see tons of young people in incredible environments that are not learning from them. And so I would say, get your, young people to be exposed to different, different people. Different ideas, get comfortable with, building relationships outside of their circle, doing research, have them do the research. Don't hand them the job opportunity, have them research what's out there. You can make connections. But I think sometimes we go so far to make sure our kids have every possible advantage that we put them at a disadvantage because they don't know how to function on their own. You asked me a question about what I've noticed. That's different and people around the world. One of the things that's different is hunger. In the United States. We have access to almost everything. What we, and because of that, we become lazy. We have expectations about how easy things will be, or what's available to us. When you have people from different countries who don't have access, they are hungry to prove themselves. They're hungry to work. And that's, that's been a real privilege being able to connect those dots. But I think we lose the hunger when we give students everything. And then we wonder as parents, I'm not a parent, but then we wonder as parents and employers, why kids don't work hard enough or why they don't have a work ethic? Well, it's because they've been given everything. They haven't had to work for anything. You know, the other thing, you know, the other thing is , sustainable development goals from the United nations. That's a beautiful elemental chart that identifies the 17 biggest problems in the world. And this was ratified by every country in the world. These are the challenges. So putting in front of any young person, this chart and saying, what inspires you, you'll see kids of all ages, point to something immediately and say, fish. Fish are important because our oceans have to be protected. And then they light up. I think this is a beautiful tool that any parent, any school can bring in, show them the SDGs and see what, what they connect with. And it shows young people, it shows people of all ages. These are the biggest goals in the world and what we can orient people around solving problems that exist. That's when you see great businesses, great inventions, that's where you see great passion. And so, as far as the simple pleasures, I think some of the best simple pleasures are just connecting with what makes people tick? What makes them excited? What lights them up?

Greg Muzzillo:

No doubt. There is no doubt in, helping others. We really find a real joy in our own lives, which is part of why you're doing what you're doing and I'm doing what I'm doing right now. Right? Because so many people help give me great advice that got me to where I am, that if I can impart on to others being joined by great people, like you, just a couple little piece of advice that might help them. That makes me really happy. Well, Jennifer, you're doing great stuff. Your best-selling book , you're a speaker , your organization. I know you started at other organizations, but your current organization exploring your potential is doing amazing thing . So you've accomplished a lot of great stuff in your own life. What big dreams do you have for the rest of your life?

Jennifer Kushell :

Yeah. my biggest dream is because I feel like we have a formula on how to activate young people. I want to get this process in front of millions and millions of young people around the world. And my belief is if I can continue to gather the data and insights directly from the young people of what they need, we can build global youth reports that go to governments, ministries , even the universities so that their programming and their investments meet the young people where they are. I don't want school to be boring anymore. I don't want it to feel pointless. I don't want to have to explain the relevance of education to people. Let's teach them how to do what they love and the more people we can, we can connect into the system and walk through this process. The more young people we will activate, the more families will be prosperous and the more we can make change on a systemic level. And that's my big goal. And the only reason I believe I can do it is from spending my life around people like you and Fred and dad and the people in the franchise industry. If we can feed millions of people, why can't we educate them?

Greg Muzzillo:

Right, exactly well Jennifer it was a lot of fun. Re-engaging with you a great honor for me to learn more and for our audience to learn more about all the great things you're doing. And I want to thank you personally, for everything you're doing to make our world a better place. One young person at a time.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Greg. Thank you so much.

Introducing Jennifer Kushell
Five Businesses by the Age of 19
Exploring your Potential
Universal Truths
Self- Efficacy – Believe in What’s Possible
The Law of Attraction
Living a Life of Significance
Advice to Young Entrepreneurs
Big Dreams to Continue to Inspire Young Entrepreneurs