Conference speaker: Markets await for creative efforts

T.K. Coleman, director of entrepreneurial education with the Foundation for Economic Education and cofounder of the Praxis educational program, delivers the keynote presentation at a Grand Junction conference for nearly 200 high school students. Coleman challenged students to change the world through their creativity. (Photo courtesy Elaine Matthews)
T.K. Coleman, director of entrepreneurial education with the Foundation for Economic Education and cofounder of the Praxis educational program, delivers the keynote presentation at a Grand Junction conference for nearly 200 high school students. Coleman challenged students to change the world through their creativity. (Photo courtesy Elaine Matthews)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

T.K. Coleman believes people who act on their dreams and tap their creativity will not only find a market for their ideas, but also could end up changing the world.

“You are not here to find your place. You are here to make your space,” Coleman said during a conference in Grand Junction for high school students.

Coleman is co-founder and educational director of Praxis, an alternative educational program that combines a six-month professional development bootcamp with six-month paid internships with startup companies. He also serves as director of entrepreneurial education with the Foundation for Economic Education.

Coleman delivered the keynote presentation at the Western Slope Economic Leadership Conference, an annual event hosted by the Freedom & Responsibility Education Enterprise (FREE) Foundation. The foundation provides resources to students and teachers in Western Colorado to promote the understanding of economics, financial literacy and free enterprise.

A total of nearly 200 high school juniors and seniors attended the latest conference.

“It is a testament to the fact that we have a group of young people who are eager to learn different perspectives on world matters, think about economic issues and gain an entrepreneurial skillset they can employ now and in the future,” said Phyllis Hunsinger, founder and president of the FREE Foundation.

Coleman said many people mistakenly believe the way to bring about change is to find someone in a position of power and convince them to take action. “If that’s your only way of changing your world, you’re in trouble.”

Instead, people should take responsibility to make changes themselves, bringing their unique perspectives and talents to the effort, he said. “That’s the way you begin to win the only game that matters.”

Those who lead others also lead themselves in respecting their potential and giving themselves permission to share their gifts with the world, Coleman said.

Coleman conducted an exercise in which he asked students to come up with examples of music, food, fashions and entertainers they like, but their friends don’t.

The point, Coleman said, is people shouldn’t let others discourage or dismiss them. In fact, people who pursue their interests could find business opportunities. “There’s a market for your taste.”

“You’re you for a reason,” he said. “You’ve just got to figure how to do you creatively.”

In the process of pursuing dreams, people and the dreams themselves evolve and change, Coleman said. Failures that occur along the way should be considered opportunities to learn, he said. “You’re capable of evolving to do bigger and better things.”

People must realize, though, they’re responsible for making their dreams come true, he said. “If you want to be someone, you’ve got to make it happen.”