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Cultivate opportunities | Kameron Butler | [email protected]


Translator: Yi Zhao
Reviewer: Emma Gon I’d like to start with a little activity. Something to get the blood flowing and since it is a Sunday,
give you guys a chance to stretch. So if you all can join me
and stand up for a moment. And it’s going be a very simple activity. When I say go, I’d like you
to turn to the people around you and shake their hands, and after doing so, return to your seat. So go ahead. (Audience indistinct chattering) Alright, about the start, what I noticed is
a lot of you shook hands with the people sitting
to the left and to the right of you and there’s nothing wrong with that. I gave you very broad directions. And I was actually hoping
that would happen, but I also know that many of you came here tonight
with your friends and with your family. And sitting next to you
are your friends and your family. So chances are you just shook hands with people you already know. This is an important point,
but I’m going come back to this, I’d like to change gears. What I’d like to talk about is the importance
and the influence of human interaction in not just forming relationships
and shaking hands but cultivating opportunities. You see, in today’s world is not just
about possessing a great intelligence, or a creative mind,
or an incredible athletic ability. Granted these things can have the chance to take you down the right path
and towards your end goal, but in reality, something special
has to happen along the way, and it’s not just something special,
but actually someone special. And that someone could be anyone, and that someone
could be multiple people, but that someone opens doors
and reveals opportunities. And the point I’m getting at
is that who you know does matter. If you look back
at every step of our lives, from day one, we grew up
with our family, with our siblings, and our parents taught us
how to brush our teeth, reminded us to scrub behind our ears, and our siblings showed us
how to play a sport, maybe what to wear
and what not to wear in high school, and maybe how to talk to your crush. All of these things are very important, but the key is all of these things
are things we didn’t know before. And this happens
at every step in our lives. Our teachers, our coaches, our professors, all show us something
that we didn’t know before. And, of course,
it sounds obvious at first, but the problem is
because it sounds obvious, we sometimes take it for granted. And by neglecting
that transfer of information, we’re also neglecting communication. And the ability to communicate
is what defines us as a human race that allows us to share ideas
and to be so innovative. And so for not taking every opportunity
to communicate, to meet new people, and to share our ideas,
then we are really limiting ourselves. I’d like to take a moment
and talk a little bit about myself. I am an aspiring entrepreneur, and I’m the founder and CEO
of a company called Swipe ID. Two years ago, I set out
with ten students, and we created an innovative points reward system
for high school students. Basically, we want to re-energize
student engagement in the classroom and also boost attendance
to school events. The way it works is every time
a student attends an event on campus, whether it’s a basketball game,
a school dance, or a band performance, they scan their ID when they enter,
and they earn points for being there. These points can also
be earned in the classroom. And these points turn into prizes, and the real mission
of our company was to promote that networking of high school students
and that social communication. The other reason I bring this up is because in order to create this company I had to step outside of my comfort zone. Not too long ago, I was a little boy
that cowered behind my mum’s leg wondering why these giant people
wouldn’t stop squeezing my cheeks. And now I’m able to stand
in a group of people, and you will find me submerged
in the conversation. I remember on day one
with those first ten students sitting in that classroom in front of
a white board and writing my ideas down, trying to communicate
my thoughts, and I was terrified. I turned around
and looked at all the faces, and I thought what are they thinking,
what are they going to say next. And what happened next
really surprised me. Each and every student jumped up,
eager to share their ideas, add something to the white board,
and expand upon it. The discussion started roaring,
the creativity was circulating, and you could feel the energy of ideas and the energy of innovation
in that classroom. From there we took off,
the company was created, we competed in the Junior Achievement
company program where we were awarded
Southern California’s Company of the Year. After that, we were invited to compete in Washington DC
for the national competition. While we were there, we gained
valuable networking experience. We learned how to communicate
with people, but more importantly, when we were shaking hands
with congressmen and congresswomen in the Capitol building, we were sharing our ideas. When we were sharing ideas, this is
the essence of what communication is, and when I look back on my journey, this company wouldn’t be
where it is today, and I wouldn’t be where I am today, if I hadn’t had the opportunity
to meet with those students. Because what I had was just
an idea on a white board, and what I needed was locked
somewhere in their heads a different perspective,
a different thought, and the bigger picture here is that we are limited
by our own pathway of thought. If you picture a vast desert, our own thoughts is
one road to that desert, but then you introduce a second thought,
a second perspective, and you have two roads,
and then a third, a fourth, and a fifth and eventually, you have roads
going every which way, and you get one massive road
leading in every direction. And what that means is
not just one opportunity but an infinite number of opportunities
at every end of the road. These opportunities
are what allow us to innovate. And what I’d like to share with you now
is something that I heard once, and it’s that something I applied
to my life everyday and in my business. And that is the quote, “You should never stand
within ten feet of another person without introducing yourself.” And now that sounds
a lot easier than it is to do. So I’d like to bring us back
to the first activity. So this time, I’d like you to repeat
the activity but expand your circle. Expand that ten-foot radius and shake hands with people
that you haven’t met before. I’m going ask you again to stand up. I know; “How cruel, it’s Sunday,
I’m trying to relax,” and go ahead, shake hands. (Audience chattering) Alright, you could feel
the difference that time, you felt the energy
and now what I’d like to ask is when you break
for intermission in a moment that you go and find those people
and you take action. Get their contact information and send
them an email and start a conversation. Ask them to lunch
and ask them to share their ideas, hear their stories, hear their ideas,
and give them a chance to hear yours, because the truth is you never know
who you are going to meet and you never know
where it is going to take you. But you won’t know if you don’t try, and you have to remember
that life moves pretty fast so we can’t just sit back
and miss out on these opportunities. What you could do is
take an easy step, start simple. Maybe tell the girl in your math class
that you think she’s cute. Or email someone
from the company of your dreams and ask them just to talk with you. And you’ll be surprised
at the response you’ll get. People are actually excited
to share their ideas. People want to talk to you, the problem is we are afraid to ask,
and that’s not the only problem. The other problem is that we are willing
to believe this idea of luck that this one word luck we rely upon to take us where we want to go,
to allow us to be successful. But you see, luck isn’t
what we define it to be. What luck really is
is when opportunity meets preparation. Today, I prepared you
with a starting point. And tomorrow, it’s your opportunity
to seize the next step. And now, for the 10% of you that might actually take action
and find those people in the lobby, I promise you that you’ll see a change, you’ll have a new opportunity
that you didn’t have before. Because the truth is we all have ideas, and they are all worth spreading. Thank you. (Applause)

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