“Ever since I joined Praxis, I’ve felt like I have been living a different life. Not only am I free from the cage of state-mandated education, but I know that every action I’m taking is for the purpose of creating a better version of myself. Cameron and TK have been instrumental to my success in the program so far, and I would like to thank them for all of their guidance. I do not know where I would be without this program.” – Charles Porges
This week I had my final coaching session with one of our Praxis participants, Charles Porges, who finishes the program this month.
Charlie started the program at age 17. Nine months ago, he was trying to figure out how he could afford to live in an apartment on his own while defending himself against the criticisms of people who said he was crazy for opting out of the traditional college path.
This picture is a screenshot from April 18, 2016.
Today Charlie has a full-time job working for that same company. He loves what he does. Apparently, they love what he does as well. Here are a few comments his co-workers made when asked to reflect on the experience of working with him:
“Charles is a smart, hardworking coworker that is mature beyond his years. After just a short time working with him I find him eager to learn from his teammates while possessing the ability to excel on his own.”
“Charles is an extremely bright young man, wise beyond his years. He has helped our company with quality control, as well as successfully re-launching our sales development program. His ping-pong game has improved as well, but he may need a few more years to develop that.”
“Charles is highly intelligent, adaptive and well-rounded. He brings another level of energy to the team with his positive personality and perseverance to succeed!”
“Charles is really smart, and he uses his intelligence in practical ways. He’s intellectually curious, asks questions, and enjoys coaching. He brings data and analytical thinking to his sales efforts, tracking what works and what doesn’t work, then making changes to his process. This combination of sales and analytical skills is rare. He has tremendous upside as his career progresses.”
Here is a picture of Charles (far left) with some members of his team at the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s most recent Best Places to Work Awards breakfast. GuildQuality earned #13 among mid-sized companies. This was their fifth year to be ranked.
Back in September, Charlie’s CEO nominated him for Atlanta Intown Paper’s 20 Under 20 Award. In his recommendation, here’s what Geoff Graham had to say about his experience working with Charlie halfway through the program:
I met Charles in January via Praxis, a program for young people who are interested in developing themselves professionally by working in paid internships with entrepreneurial businesses. While some Praxis participants have gone to college or graduate school, most have either left college early or foregone it altogether in order to begin their professional careers. A small number join the program even earlier: Charles is not yet 18, and I believe he is the Praxis youngest participant ever.
I was first introduced to Charles by email, and before speaking with him, I presented him with a challenge: I asked him to analyze a set of data and tell me what he found. It was intentionally open-ended, and I honestly wondered if I would even get a reply. To my surprise, he responded a few hours later, presenting me with some insightful observations, and apologizing for taking so long—he said he had to learn how to use some advanced functions in Google sheets. I had not yet met him, and already, he was delivering well above my expectations.
Upon meeting Charles face to face for the first time, the first thing I took note of was his intellectual curiosity. I quickly forgot I was speaking with a 17-year-old, as the interview meandered from a discussion of our business to philosophy and parenting. After my interview, he met with several other employees and received enthusiastic thumbs-ups from everyone. We invited him to join the team a few days later.
Initially, we gave him some pretty basic data-related projects. He mastered those so quickly, we began piling on more and more responsibility. Within a few weeks, he was managing a small team of freelancers. Ever eager to expand his influence and deepen his experience, he began seeking out new ways to help the business, quickly gaining exposure to most facets of the company’s operations. Recently, he asked if he could explore the sales side of our business, and we were more than pleased to give him that opportunity….I can’t say enough positive things about this young man.
During our recent conversation, Charlie talked about his decision, the value he gained from Praxis, and what he’s learned about life and success thus far. If you’d like to hear his thoughts about the program, here’s the video below:
Charles is one of many examples of how the value-creation mindset is superior to the preparation-mindset. He’s also an example of the resilience it takes to follow your own path and the rewards that come from doing so.
For all the people who believe there’s only one right way to educate a human being, I think you’re absolutely correct. There *is* only one way: it’s the way that works for you. It’s the way that honors your own freely chosen priorities.
Charles, keep breaking the mold. Keep challenging the status quo. Watching the unfolding of stories like yours is what keeps us going.