The United States of America is an amazing place. I saw two individuals go from obscurity to stardom today. The first is a young woman on America’s Got Talent named Grace Vanderwaal, a brilliant, wonderful, talented, quirky young woman who had the guts to get up on a stage on AGT at the age of 12 and say to herself, “I may not be the best singer, but I think I have something to say to the world with my music.” And she did. Tonight, America voted Grace the $1 Million winner.
Then on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Seth brought an older gentleman onto his show by the name of Michael Yung (apparently born: Michael Young), who was found on YouTube with his friend Shunta who played guitar for him. A simple video of his performance of Unchained Melody in the New York subway attracted millions of views, which caught the attention of Seth’s team. They sought him out, and brought him onto the show to showcase his worn, beautiful voice.
Both performances moved me to tears. Each of them has a truly unique voice that America has embraced.
Things aren’t perfect here in the U.S. We have serious issues that need to be addressed. The Presidential race has been not only bizarre but an embarrassment of ill manners and disturbing candidates. However, we also celebrate each other at times, which gives me hope for all of us. You can be 12 or 52, and if you are willing to raise your voice, and show us what is unique about your dreams, the country just may stand up beside you and help make them come true.
Yesterday, two very different people started new journeys with our nation embracing their unique and beautiful voices. And I am so proud of being part of a country where that can happen.
In Orange County, I’m part of a community of mentors. At Chapman University they’re called Entrepreneurs in Residence, and at UCI they’re call Entrepreneurs or Experts in Residence. Richard Sudek of UCI’s Applied Innovation brought the concept to Orange County, and I have been fortunate enough to be part of the programs. Currently at UCI, there are over 400 of us. We are available to advise the bold voices of the startup community; the ones who dream not of singing, but of creating companies.
I’ve never met more interesting people. When new people take on the mantle of mentor, there is a spark that re-ignites, and a warm fire starts to light up the community that comes a beacon for innovation. If you’re in Orange County you can feel it when you walk into UCI’s Applied Innovation. People’s eyes light up, ideas become feasible, and there are people willing to help guide startup Founders who are new to running a company.
Start a group in your community. If you have experience, share it. Make sure that the ones with the unique voices and bold dreams are embraced by America, and that the American Dream thrives you can try this out.