Other Youth Voices

Justin

Justin
Justin: Creating Change Through Entrepreneurship and Mentorship
"It is foolish to believe that success can be achieved alone."
We spoke with Justin via phone and email in December 2014 and January 2015.

At 18, Justin is already an entrepreneur, consultant, speaker, and forthcoming author. He is the Founder and CEO of Students4Students College Advisory, a higher education consulting organization, and Millennial Marketing Strategy, a digital marketing consulting group. After acceptance to the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, Justin deferred his college journey to continue his projects and further his mission — to help young people everywhere challenge the status quo.

How are you challenging the status quo as an entrepreneur?

I strongly believe that young people offer a perspective and expertise that is unique and valuable to families and businesses alike. In both of my organizations, young employees work together cooperatively and share input equally, leveraging youth perspectives in both the education and marketing spaces. The conventional approach is that consultants are veteran industry members who charge outrageous fees for their services. I try to disrupt this pattern by using relevant life experiences and skills that young people have to help individuals and business owners. I see the development of an interesting paradigm shift taking place, in which young people become empowered to lead entrepreneurial lives at really early ages. When young people take themselves seriously, the market will subsequently take their products and services seriously.

Who has helped you along the way and how?

Understanding my inherent lack of experience in my fields, as well as entrepreneurship in general, I really try to get support from those who have done really cool things. I learned very quickly that mentorship is vital, so I am always actively seeking wisdom and advice from those who have come before me. Mentorship manifests itself in very different ways and can be represented by a weekly phone call, the frequent email chain, or the occasional meet-up.

Two mentors that come to mind could not be more different. One of my great mentors is a 70-plus-year-old strategic management consultant who was around during the expansion of ATMs in banking. He has helped me understand the innovation process and how to strategically plan for growth. At the same time, I seek counsel from a 19-year-old author and activist, who I consider a peer mentor. While most would envision a mentor as the former example, I heavily value peer mentorship, as those more similar to you can provide truly relevant perspectives and empathetic advice. He has helped me understand personal branding, both online and off. I also rely heavily on my family for support and guidance because I am confident that their intentions are aligned with my best interests. My brothers, Aaron and Josh, and my parents, Sandy and Jeff, are my biggest critics, but greatest teachers. It is foolish to believe that success can be achieved alone.

How do you select mentors?

I strategically identify the men and women I strongly admire and reach out to them for counsel and advice on my path. By asking questions, and interviewing those I look up to, I can clarify the advice out there. This approach has worked really well, and I have many mentors. Nevertheless, I take advice from mentors with a grain of salt. I try to vet the advice through people that I trust the most — specifically my father. This strategy of getting feedback from multiple people while assuring quality advice has worked really well for me.