I’m Austin Szelkowski, and I’m in-line skating 3000 miles across the USA and stopping to inspire countless American students to boldly create the future as leaders and pioneers of the 21st Century.
This is perhaps the most pertinent message of our time, as shifting technological and social trends have created the need for broad economic and social reform. With many business models becoming obsolete, new graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to secure the same type of employment and lifestyle as their parents. While this is troubling, it is also an enormous opportunity in disguise. The destabilization of old economic and business models has left millions of people unemployed and thousands of office spaces open. These are the very raw tools needed to create new companies, new industries, and ultimately, the new jobs of the future. Whether they will be the visionaries and entrepreneurs who create these new jobs and industries or a part of a new generation of increasingly autonomous and creative employees, students need to hear this message.
Making a Dream into a Reality
When the idea for this tour came to me, I was overwhelmed by its scale, but I was passionate and confident enough to take the plunge into a larger world. I worked more 18 hour days than I can remember. I pushed myself further outside my comfort zone than ever before. I endured levels of doubt, fear, and uncertainty that I cannot begin to explain. I was myself being tested as a leader. It was only through sweat, blood, tears, and the support of family, friends, and my business partner, Dillon Norton, that I stayed committed to my vision. I had to wait until just two weeks before my arrival date in NYC, before my faith was rewarded. I had finally found a fellow visionary who had the funds available to sponsor the tour.
Dan Hussain, the President of American Pioneer Ventures (apvusa.com), came onboard because he shares my vision. We envision a powerful movement that will revitalize and remake the American economy by inspiring passionate trailblazers and entrepreneurs to imagine a stronger America and take the steps necessary to build it.
Expanding the Dream and Giving Back
My dream started as a simple idea, but it has since grown into a much larger movement. Leveraging connections made via the skate, I recently became Cofounder and President of MotorCityChallenge, Inc. (MCC), which is a revitalization project for the City of Detroit. (motorcitychallenge.org) MCC is a global startup competition for entrepreneurs and innovators, and 2011 is its launch year. It will foster the growth and development of high-potential startup businesses in Detroit. Leveraging key partnerships with our primary sponsor company, APV, a similar and proven initiative in Boston (masschallenge.org), and a number of other organizations locally and nationally, MCC will give America’s best ideas the resources they need to take root and grow. Together, we will help create the new pathways and new jobs of the future for Southeastern Michigan.
If you’re an event planner for a middle school, high school, college, or university, I would love to inspire your students and faculty to find the passion, drive, and courage to become the leaders who will create our future. I’ve successfully engaged audiences of all types: university, K-12, and business.
The most powerful realization for most attendees is that I’m just an ordinary young person who has become a part of an extraordinary movement. Ultimately, I owe my success to the support of incredible people and an unwavering commitment to a clear vision. My passion is to help my listeners realize that they can do the same.