Week 3

Legacy Transforming Summer Program

By Lawrence FunderburkeJuly 5, 20236 Minutes

Something amazing took place in week three. That lightbulb moment clicked for many of the young men to see their distant future through a present-day lens. Here’s what I mean. Proximity to success holds the master key to unlocking it. And the closer they are to it — however success is defined — the more tangible or real it becomes to them. Inner-city communities don’t have a capability issue; they’re stuck on the ground floor due to an accessibility problem. The young men under my tutelage are experiencing success up-close and personal, thanks in large part to our sensory-driven learning modules (or game-based PDF apps), career role models, and life-altering field trips. Rest assured, though, success is not a resting place; it’s a lifelong journey.

From the jump, it was a full-court press in class. Dr. Lucia Dunn, a retired sports economics professor at Ohio State, stopped by to share insights on the intersection between labor and fair pay. In short, compensation is often shaped by one’s marketable value proposition or personal brand statement. Next up was a riveting discussion on the fundamental difference between movements and moments that have defined America over the last decade. With a movement, you can opt out. But with a moment, you can only opt in. Step up or shut up. Creating unforgettable moments is arguably the most critical factor (and facet) to bridge the growing opportunity divide in America for touch-and-feel, black and brown communities. Of course, this means we all need to change our approach and descent to land the opportunity plane to allow every American to get on board. When we point fingers at others, we have three pointing right back at us. And nothing changes until we do, which is why the lesson on personal branding or success stepping was so critical for our vulnerable males. Shifting from the emotional to the rational is a delicate balancing act when working with drifting minds. The former can get their attention, but the latter will keep their focus on the task at hand.

Located in Gahanna, our first field trip was to Advanced Civil Design, a firm specializing in civil engineering and land surveying. Why would we transport inner-city males to an engineering company? Well, the foundation of success must be laid first before the framework for it is built. Founding owner, Tom Warner, provided our group with lunch and an overview of his company’s expertise in helping clients fulfill their vision. Whether it’s an office building, retail space, senior living community, medical complex, or multifamily development, vision serves as a “seed deposit” or down payment for a project. Here’s what kickstarted their dream currency at Advanced Civil Design. As the guys exited the elevator to the third floor, their innate, God-given vision kicked in as seed-bearers. A blank canvas or empty space with thousands of square feet supercharged their imagination skills. A few of them separated from the group for personal introspection, while the rest shared their ideas with one another for the space. Eventually, every one of them walked over to the massive windows to view their lives from a different vantage point. Words could not accurately describe how I felt as watching them from a distance.

Our last field trip for the day was to the Center of Entrepreneurial Development (or COED for short). Founded by visionary Derrik Pannell, the four-story building located on 1890 East Main Street serves as a hub for aspiring black and brown entrepreneurs who face unique barriers in building thriving businesses. Pannell discussed the rebranding pivot, or getting back on track when facing a monumental setback. He added, “You can’t let other people’s opinions prevent you from moving forward in life when falling short. Too much is on the line to allow this to happen.” Attorney Eric Seabrook, a personal mentor of mine and Pannell, provided a thought-provoking lesson on the value of a name using iconic brands such as Nike and LaCoste to drive home his point. One of the participants blurted out, “I don’t know who Henry LaCoste is, but I do know his brand.” Seabrook asked them, “What do you want your name to be known for twenty-five years from today? A name can have a lasting or fleeting value based on one’s body of decision-making through various quarters or seasons of life.” Seabrook reiterated a comment highlighted earlier in the day on being adept at playing and understanding the rules of success. He stated, “Time will expose your legacy based on what variables you influence or control today.”