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There’s a lot of valuable things needed to bridge the gap between what younger people experience and what they’ll soon be facing on their own. I’m developing a system to bridge that gap, as mentors did for me when I was a kid.

As a youngster in Key Largo I developed a vision of being a rock-star from Bon Jovi’s first video “She’s a little runaway.” At age seventeen I packed a bag and moved to Sacramento to pursue that dream. I lived the dream, but it didn’t take long to realize I had no musical talent. At age twenty-three I fished two seasons in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, for money to return to SW Florida and started a business waxing boats. Soon after, I created Nautical Mile Magazine, which enabled my to quit what we call “working” in my thirties.

Publishing SW Florida’s Nautical Mile offers a lot of free time, and I’ve used it to write and publish books, I volunteer with various organizations, and I now dedicate my life to returning the favor by helping kids out of the hole I was once in myself.

I ran away from home at thirteen, quit school, and got kicked out of the Coast Guard, all before I was even a legal adult. At seventeen, previously to my “California Escape” from reality, I had two jobs in Key Largo, a business making fishing rods, a car and a motorcycle. I was not a fan of work, but I loved the return it offered. What I did not have was direction or responsibility. I had no goals, no communication or presentation skills, and I hid behind fears and insecurities. If I didn’t work hard I didn’t survive, and my work ethics attracted great mentors who taught me to manage the challenges life eventually dishes out. I learned what I call “Old-School Life-Skills” that have served me well.

I currently volunteer in high schools but I don’t focus on teaching kids how to write a check, or anything else that would make them feel stupid. I talk with kids about the value of doing what you say you’re going to do, presentation and speaking skills, and things like character building. I share the secret of winning, which I discovered within the layers of entrepreneurism. When you extract business from entrepreneurism you’ll find advanced problem solving, discovering things others missed, better ways to do things, identifying and facing fears, understanding body language, the art of self motivation, and how to create a plan when you have a worthy dream. Entrepreneurs make things happen. They get better every day, and they find a way when others quit. Wouldn’t you like every kid in America to be exposed to the concept of Thinking like an entrepreneur  prior to being set loose in society?

My mom committed suicide a few years ago and I had to publish a magazine three days later. It wasn’t my best work, but I showed up. So I talk with kids about how to deal with emotional challenges as opposed to closing a college because you didn’t favor the outcome of an election.  

In my youth I was on top of a short list of people that could have easily ended up in jail or worse if things didn’t change, and what changed is exactly what younger (and older) people need to win at all facets of their life. I had mentors that knew how to win. Not many kids today have this resource. Few adults know how to win so they have little to pass on to their kids. If a person can adopt entrepreneurial thinking they’ll be a better student, doctor, teacher, factory worker, co-worker, even a

better learner. It turns people from stones to sponges in a way that they can “absorb” skills, and it offers hope that they wont be one of the many that work 30-40 years and end up broke, desperate, or dependant on charity in their retirement years.

My vision- Between long work hours and digital distractions, people are consumed by life. I have time, and using it to volunteer in schools has opened my eyes. America is bleeding. Our system doesn’t teach us to think, and a 60% grade in class allowing kids to exceed to the next level only teaches them that it’s ok to “get by” with minimal effort. Where will that land someone in 20-30 years?

There’s a void, and I’m going to fill it. I’m writing curriculum for a program that will be not only franchised but also submitted to the school system as an elective class. The goal is to help younger people embrace concept of “Thinking like an entrepreneur” so they can be better prepared for real world challenges.  

2018’s Fish36 is funding the foundation for this project. Local kids will be hosting the event, and the first “Third Draft®” class starts this summer!

Meanwhile, lets all refrain from criticizing kids for some of the things they do and think. They were born the beneficiaries of a flawed system that’s been dumped in their laps. Let’s be mentors instead of complainers!    

- Jim Griffiths

Founder, Third Draft, Inc.

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