THE RENEWABLE READER
HOW MY FIVE SONS CREATED THEIR OWN DREAMS The Road Not Taken
As my sons grew up, it didn’t occur to us that they would pursue their own business enterprises. What we learned, in hindsight, was the power of exposure and example. I didn’t grow up around any entrepreneurial influences; I am a first-generation entrepreneur inmy family. As I look back, I realize that example is a very powerful influencer. My motto is what I call the James Brownmentality. When faced with entrepreneurial challenges over the years, I would often think about a James Brown lyric: ”I don’t want nobody to give me nothing; just open the door, I’ll get it myself.”As my sons grew, they developed this same determination. Whenmy son, Edwin, who is a chef, completed his training, I mentioned to him that he might want to work as a chef for someone else for a while, get his bearings in the industry. Well, that went in one ear and out the other. He immediately began putting on tastings and booking catering clients. Not long after, he began personal chef duties for entertainers and athletes. I mentioned inmy previous edition that the mission of Urban Career Institute is to reach the large number of people that haven’t been treated fairly by the education system. From elementary school, students are constantly told that they need to go to college in order to establish a lucrative career and build a successful life. I fully encourage students to expand their knowledge base and skill sets, however, due to societal expectations, both teenagers and their parents are made to think that a college degree is the only way to guarantee a future job. My life, and the lives of my sons, serve as testaments that the prototypical college-bound career path is simply not for everyone. I have five sons, and every single one of them is an entrepreneur. When raising them, their mother and I intentionally never encouraged them to go the nontraditional education route. Because they grew up watching their mom run her own cosmetology business at home, and because they witnessed the love I had for my own entrepreneurial career, it makes sense that they chose to follow in our footsteps. All of my sons are named after great men in our family, and they have certainly done their namesakes proud. My oldest son, Andrew (named after my grandfather), followed his mother’s path and has his own cosmetology chair. My second-oldest son, Leonard (named after my father), followedmy path, and started his own plumbing company, LRS Plumbing and Heating, which has now become one of the go-to plumbing businesses in Los Angeles. My third-oldest son, Kenny (named after
me), has made a name for himself in the world of transportation, having established his own enterprise called“Transportation by KAR”(his initials), working with both Uber & Lyft. My fourth-oldest, Edwin (named after his uncle), initially excelled in the art of drawing. He proved to be the class clown, and after being asked to leave, turned to the only fine art left: Culinary. He and his teacher hit it off very well. Under her direction, he won the LA City Culinary Competition that year. He now goes by the name“Chef E-Dub”and has a food truck, a take-out location, and a personal chef’s clientele of entertainers and athletes. Last but certainly not least, my youngest son, Owen (named after his uncle), manages the plumbing company started by his older brother, Leonard. Leonard began training Owen when he was only 15 years old, and somuch of the company’s success stems fromOwen’s hard work. As a doting father, I would be proud of my sons regardless of their career choices. But the fact that every single of one them recognized their strengths and forged their own path, despite the societal expectations encouraging themotherwise, makes me feel truly blessed. Although their choices went against what might be considered today’s American dream, I can only hope that their lives encourage other young people tomake similar choices, to create their own dream.
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