Preview: Wise Words from Adam Braun, Founder of Pencils of Promise

Adam Braun, the founder of Pencils of Promise, shares lessons he’s learned from working at hedge funds at age 16 to starting his own non-profit organization that builds schools in developing worlds. Join Braun at Barnes & Noble in Union Square on March 20.

the-promise-of-a-pencilYour 20s are a time of self-discovery spent trying to pinpoint your place in a bustling world. Like many people, you might stumble upon your passion where you least expect it.  And while you may find your calling early on, it takes a healthy dose of patience and persistence to bring it to fruition. I started Pencils of Promise with just $25, and the organization now raises millions of dollars every year. I followed a few key steps that enabled me to launch the organization by the time I turned 25 years old:

Treat every job as a form of paid business school.
Don’t just jump right in without taking the time to sufficiently prepare. Acquire resources, build connections and hone your skills. I spent my first few years out of college building knowledge and experience to equip myself to take on the challenge of starting Pencils for Promise. I surrounded myself with the most successful and energetic people that I could find and tried to learn from every experience and interaction. Think of this step as building a sturdy foundation upon which your aspirations can be built.

Asking for permission is asking for denial.
Do not wait for others to give you the green light to chase your dreams and make your mark on the world. When you first begin to share your vision with others, be prepared for rejection. You will be told that you cannot and should not do it. Listening to your inner voice is far more important than listening to the voices of others. Believe in yourself despite what those around you are saying. If you have found an idea that you are committed to, you owe it to yourself to pursue it to your utmost ability.

Create separation to build a connection.
Look for inspiration in the right places. Our generation relies heavily on smartphones and computers to connect and maintain relationships. To find and foster the purest forms of inspiration and encouragement, you must take the time to look up from your phone. Turn to face-to-face, personalized conversations and interactions for nourishment. Several hours of meaningful conversation with another person may ultimately cause life-changing revelations.

Adam Braun is the Founder of Pencils of Promise and the author of The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change.

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