Every now and then a story comes along that’s simply too good to pass up. I blog about the hard work of becoming a better speaker, becoming a better professional speaker, and becoming a better communicator. For most of us, myself certainly included, it’s lifetime work. You’re never there; you’re always striving to get better.
And then someone makes it look easy. A Q and A with Caleb Maddix, entrepreneur, would be worth doing, then, simply because Caleb makes communication look easy. He’s got a mission, a company, and a story to tell. What’s not to like?
But then you consider that he’s 14 years old, and the story gets really amazing. So here goes: a 14-year-old puts us all to shame. Here’s how. Enjoy!
Nick: When did you decide that you could be an entrepreneur?
Caleb: I’ve always known since I was really young. I always knew I never wanted to work for somebody else, and wanted to start my own business. It’s who I am as a person.
Nick: What gave you the courage to do what most 14-year-olds don’t have the courage to do — start a company, speak out, become a public figure?
Caleb: So I live my life by a quote and it’s “the gun that kills the most people is the ‘gonna’.” I meet too many people, especially kids, who are like “Okay, I’ll get out of college and focus on my future” or “I’m gonna write a book, I’m gonna start a business…” and all of a sudden they’re forty years old and unhappy with their life, all because they thought it was just gonna to work out. They end up killing their dream!
So I kinda just sat down one day and I was like “Wait, I wanna write a book, why can’t I do it now? I want to start a business and post stuff on social media, I want to speak. Why can’t I?”
BONUS: Do the math. If there’s a thousand people who read this article, two of them are going to die in the next six months. So why are you going to wait? Now is the time, you have to do it or you’ll end up on your deathbed with a lot of regrets! Some people are so afraid of the pain, but what hurts more? The pain of hard work or the pain of regret?
Nick: I hear you! What is your central purpose in all this activity — why are you doing what you’re doing?
Caleb: It’s basically one word and I have it over my bed. It’s “Freedom.” I’ve been on fifty mission trips in America and I’ve seen bad stuff. Kids who literally want to eat a soggy hot dog bun because they can’t –they have no food. I’ve seen people who aren’t free, and I want to give every kid and every single adult a chance to become free.
That’s the first thing, and the second thing is freedom for myself. I don’t want to be twenty years old and looking for a job, I want to be twenty years old and providing jobs! My goal is to be a billionaire by thirty. I want to be able to pull out a ten thousand dollar check and give it to a single mother without ever having to worry about myself.
Nick: Wow. Does your family support you in your efforts? How?
Caleb: So, basically, my dad is the greatest person on the entire planet. People see me working and hustling and traveling, waking up at 5am and going to bed at midnight, going for 22-hour days, but what they don’t realize is my dad is doing the exact same thing.
He’s also my mentor. Other members of my family tell me “Oh, your book’s not worth fifteen dollars,” “Why are you doing what you’re doing, you don’t have the right to do interviews, you don’t have anything to say.” I don’t know if anyone else in my family who really supports me, but my dad does. He makes up for everybody else.
BONUS: I am very blessed. Every single time someone is like “Well, you’re successful because of your dad,” and I sit there and I’m like –I have no response, because it’s true. I am successful because my dad has been there for me.
Nick: That’s good to hear. What message would you send to the rest of us parents everywhere to help them talk to and inspire their kids?
Caleb: This is what I would say: Be the type of parent that your kid wants to become because they respect you, but also be the type of person that if they became identical to you, you would respect, as you would respect yourself. That’s the most deep and true thing you can ever say about being a parent.
Some parents are so mad with the person their kid has become, but the kid is really just like them.
Nick: What do you understand or “get” that is impossible for the grownups around you to understand or get?
Caleb: I feel sometimes, maybe, I’ve got a better grasp of positivity? A lot of adults can be negative and complaining…but I never feel like I know more than them. I’ll talk about what I’ve done, but they’re adults, they have experiences, they have kids, I’ve never been there.
BONUS: I want to write a book this year about how to make six figures by the time you’re fourteen years old. But that book is for adults. That’s something that I’ve accomplished, something I’ve been successful at, but I would never say “this is what you have to do.”
Nick: I’ll buy the book! What’s next for Caleb?
Caleb: My number one thing that I have right now is my company, I just launched it, it’s called “Kids for Success.” That’s honestly the one thing I’m focusing on is just impacting lives.
Basically, when a kid signs up, I become their mentor for an entire year. And we’ve have kids, like we had a kid who got arrested, who had been suspended three times in a month, was the worst in his class for grades, and was depressed 24/7. Then he signed up for Kids For Success, a week later he went from that, turned around, started his own business with a positive outlook on life and is getting the third-best grades in his entire class.
So that’s the number one thing for me right now.
Nick: Amazing. Keep up the great work, and thanks!
You can see more of Caleb here:
We’ll be making some of our own public speaking magic at our first conference in six years on April 22nd in Boston. Spaces are limited, and filling up fast, so sign up now!