“After attending the Praxis opening seminar this weekend, I’m now inspired and convinced that we will fundamentally revolutionize higher education. I feel very blessed to be a part of making this incredible vision a reality.” -John Ramsey
One of the highlights for me from this year’s opening seminar for Praxis was my interview with John Ramsey.
For those who are not yet familiar with this rising young star here’s a brief primer:
John Ramsey is an angel investor, venture capitalist and philanthropist from Austin, Texas. After many years of mentorship under his grandfather’s wing, John found his passion in value adding, small business ventures. With time and after becoming frustrated with the growing number of difficulties faced by small business owners, John became fascinated by entrepreneurship and innovation. With ventures in technology, oil and gas, agriculture, real estate, education, consumer products and entertainment, John now spends most of his time empowering early stage companies with his investment firm; Seedcess Investment Group. The name “Seedcess” was derived from John’s philosophical approach to investing, which is consistent with Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous quote: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Along with his investment activity, John is involved in various charitable and non-profit organizations, all of which are designed to promote liberty, freedom, peace and prosperity.
During our hour-long fireside chat, John shared many practical bits of wisdom. Although I already knew he was only 23 years of age, the profundity of his advice made me doubt what my eyes and ears could not deny: John is a man who is insightful beyond his years.
John’s most inspiring attribute was neither his vast amount of knowledge nor the impressive size of his Rolodex; it’s his staunch determination to give away as much money, support, and encouragement as he possibly can to people who are trying to change the world.
“All business is charity,” he emphasized. “It’s not about hoarding money. It’s about making the world better.”
In a world where the wealthy are frequently held up as poster-boys for greed and crony capitalism, John adamantly advocates the notion that money is simply a tool for helping others.
“The worst thing you can do, if you’re looking for an investment from me, is walk into my office talking about how much revenue your business idea is going to generate. If you’re not focused on creating value, changing lives, and giving people options, I want nothing to do with it. That doesn’t mean profits are irrelevant. It means that profits are a reward for value creation. People come first. If you take care of the people, the profits will follow.”
John’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to find a way to combine passion with service. “Don’t just focus on dollars and cents. Find something you really care about and figure out a way to make life more fun, convenient, or fulfilling for the people who care about the same things. ”
And while John firmly believes that everyone has an entrepreneur inside them, he doesn’t paint an oversimplified picture filled with bright images of lollipops and rainbows. “It requires discipline to develop the skills you need to succeed. And even when you think you’re ready, it takes time and tons of focus to achieve a breakthrough experience. One of my latest ventures, Never Hungover, was rejected several times before a door opened for us. Entrepreneurship is exciting, but it definitely takes persistence.”
John was quick to remind us that the efforts are worth it. “I haven’t had a day off from work for more than two years. And yet, I haven’t felt like I’ve worked for more than two years. ”
John’s philosophy is refreshing, motivating, erudite, and most of all, practical. As I listened to him, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Howard Thurman:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Guys like John Ramsey are what the world needs. Fortunately, John knows that he can’t get it done all by himself. That’s why he’s working tirelessly to pave the way for a generation of future entrepreneurs who are focused less on counting profits and more on doing work that counts.
“We can change the world,” John exhorts. “Don’t be afraid of failure. Find your passion and start making a difference.”
Words of wisdom from a man who isn’t afraid to put his money where his mouth is.