Aside from his full-time work specializing in Corporate Marketing Communications at Cascade Engineering, John is the co-founder of Think 50/50 and the President of a non-profit organization called Youth Outlet. John is also in pursuit of pursuing a MA in Sustainable Design for Minneapolis College of Art & Design.
In a recent interview, John outlined his career goals, perspectives on social entrepreneurship, and imparted some wisdom for other change-makers on the rise.
“After graduating from Kendall College of Art and Design with a BFA in Industrial Design, I began work at Cascade Engineering, a triple bottom line company well known for pioneering sustainable business practices,” says John . “At Cascade I have been afforded a comprehensive overview of the product development process, with responsibilities in product design, manufacturing, and marketing. “
By the age of fourteen, John knew he wanted to have a career in industrial design —however, John recognizes that youth do not always know how they can un-tap their hidden potential, which is one of the key focus areas of Youth Outlet.
“Linda Tellis and I have co-founded Youth Outlet. The mission of Youth Outlet reads, ‘unveiling the hidden potential of underserved youth, through a creative and life-skill-focused curriculum,’” says John of his latest endeavor. “There is so much latent potential in the youth throughout ALL of our communities, and once tapped, it will prove to be explosive.”
Although still in its formative stages, John says an energetic and enthusiastic team has been assembled to tackle the development of the program’s curriculum.
“We are getting out there in the community. We are conducting interviews, speaking with experts, connecting business with community – West Michigan is THE place to start this kind of project – a project that we hope will add to the global legacy of this region,” says John of the program’s development in West Michigan.
John is no doubt a Social Entrepreneur on the rise. When asked what it means to be a Social Entrepreneur, John’s approach is to “act as an agent for human potential, promoting recognition of the value of variation, and encouraging all people to evaluate the basis of their contributions and actions.
“I am motivated by all of the Providential moments that I have been so fortunate have been a part of my life. Every person I meet, everywhere I go, everyday – there is just so much to do – so much good in this world,” says John. “One person that sums up all of the good that the world has to offer is certainly my mother. She is the most selfless, dedicated, smart, and kind person I know.”
In a recent blog entry John wrote as an introductory for his Graduate Studies, John set the precedence as a socially responsible business professional through outlining his aspirations and challenges as a social entrepreneur, while providing encouragement to the blog’s readers.
“’Thinking for Tomorrow’ acknowledges that all people have the ability to make an impact, simply by keeping tomorrow in mind,” says John in reference to his blog’s title.
In the face of adversity, John encourages others to consciously take control of negative emotions and channel that energy into something more positive.
“I face so many challenges. Who doesn’t? I do however make a decided effort to choose to approach problems and challenges that I am faced with as thinly-veiled opportunities. This does not mean that I do not feel a sense of urgency in dealing with these issues, but rather that I rely on my perspective to remain vigilant in moving forward with affecting change and growth.
Instead of directing valuable energy into an ‘anger-tank,’ I consciously take control and route my thoughts, behaviors, and contributions toward laying an ever-expanding foundation for personal and global growth, brick-by-brick.”
John recognizes the human potential in all of us, and is empowered to inspire others to recognize and unveil their own potential, while laying the groundwork for building good in the world.
“I do have a lot of this stuff that we call “energy” – most everyone does. Of course, energy manifests itself differently in all of us, and it is precisely due to this valuable variation that it is my sincere hope that the potential of people is recognized universally. A universal recognition that allows us all to continually expand this foundation for good together, brick-by-brick.”
John not only acknowledges the key to capitalizing upon our own potential as human beings, but also searching deeper within ourselves to truly find our key to happiness on our quests in life.
“The key to success and happiness is to deeply search within: Identify what it is that makes you happy, every time you finish doing this thing, do you feel thrilled? Excited about your output?
These can be multiple things – they probably will be.
“Now take these passions and align them with a purpose that will help tomorrow be better than today. Doing good will make you feel good. Staying busy everyday doing the best you can, while doing the most good that you can, while doing what you love, is the best advice that I can offer.”
John is constantly seeking knowledge and is always willing to take the time to engage in meaningful conversation with anyone — I think we all have something to learn from John’s positive demeanor and passion for being a community change maker.
Blog Post by Whitney Ehresman, Business Development Manager at Advanced Technology Recycling
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