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  • Personal Branding Interview: Michael Simmons

    Today, I spoke to Michael Simmons, who is a young, serial, award-winning entrepreneur, bestselling author of The Student Success Manifesto, and national keynote speaker to over 40,000 individuals. In this interview, Michael talks about how he started his business and how you can start your own business, at any age.

    What gave you the idea to start your own business?

    Between my sophomore year and junior year in high school, my best friend and I were reading success stories of ‘overnight dotcom young millionaires’, and we were really inspired. We had no idea that entrepreneurship existed, and we loved that it was a path we could start on right away to earn money over the summer.

    What are your top 3 tips for people who want to start their own business?

    1. Test your idea by trying to pre-sell it to customers. You don’t really have a business until you have customers. Many people are afraid of doing sales or assume that their idea will just spread via word-of-mouth.
    2. Get started and keep on going. Too many people stop when they reach challenges. Instead, they should learn, pivot, and keep on moving forward. The more you do that, more your chances for success go up.
    3. Break down your idea into it’s small action items and work on them. So many people aren’t able to break down their big vision into something that they could realistically do today with the resources and experience they have. As a result, they get stuck in analysis paralysis.

    You do events, both virtually and in-person. Which is more effective and why?

    It is hard to compare because they have different purposes. Our in-person events are targeted to be more inspirational. Our virtual events are more informational.

    Do you feel that colleges and universities are helping or hurting prospective entrepreneurs?

    I can’t speak for all colleges & universities. I think the best colleges & universities expose students to relevant role models, involve the business community, and have professors who have started businesses and stay current with technology/trends.

    Who are your entrepreneurial influences?

    My biggest entrepreneurial influence is Steve Mariotti, the founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. He inspired me to become a social entrepreneur in the entrepreneurship education field and commit my whole life to this work.

    Michael Simmons is a young, serial, award-winning entrepreneur, bestselling author of The Student Success Manifesto, and national keynote speaker to over 40,000 individuals. Michael’s company, which he co-founded, Extreme Entrepreneurship Education, helps young people become more entrepreneurial through books, in-person and virtual events, and an online mentorship software. Founded in 2006, the company has worked with over 300 high schools, colleges, and universities. In addition, Michael has been the winner of three entrepreneur of the year awards from the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Fleet, and the National Coalition for Empowering Youth Entrepreneurship. He and his company have been featured in five books and on the AOL Home Page, USA Today, Inc. Magazine, ABC, NBC, and CBS. Finally, in 2006, Michael was named by Business Week as one of the Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25.


    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

    Posted in Book Reviews, entrepreneurship, Interview, People, Personal Branding, Success Strategies
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