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Matt | Age: 19 | Bel Air, MD

Matt | Age: 19 | Bel Air, MD

Founder, SAND Apparel

Leadership is... the capacity to self motivate oneself to the point where others admire and use that resilience to motivate themselves. Among others, in the face of adversity, a leader will steer their own path guided by their own moral judgment.

Leadership in Life... It was late October, nearly two years ago today, that I was on the varsity soccer team for my high school. One day in practice, we were doing scrimmage drills and I was battling it out to keep my starting position. Basically, I tore my ACL that day. Obviously, I was unable to return to soccer, so I enrolled in pre-surgical physical therapy. It was about that time that my immediate environment began to change. It was hard to admit to myself, but I knew I was faced with a referendum. I could either lay around on pain killers, be angry about my situation and wait for recovery, or I could utilize that time to make some real progress. What I'm really emphasizing here is to make a decision on how things are going to be and then take immediate action towards that mission. I'm not sure whose quote this is, but it's been tacked up on my wall for two years now and I see a lot of truth in it, "Your current circumstances are merely the accumulation of all your past thoughts and actions". With that said, when someone is submerged in a new undertaking, let alone in the midst of a negative predicament, the very best thing one can do is focus on the future and make the continuous effort to not be sidetracked by distractions or obstacles. This was all put into practice three days before Christmas when I had my surgery. I was bedridden for a solid four to five days and after about a week I began my path to recovery. We had a family reunion at my Aunt's house and my cousin Jacob and I were lounging in his garage. He then showed me his sketchbook of drawings and began to flip through the pages. I was taken back when I had seen what he could do so I conjured up the idea of putting his designs on a shirt. I had taken graphic design classes in the past and, with my entrepreneurial spirit, I decided I wanted to own a company. I was still immobilized for the most part so I took advantage of the opportunity and put my time into designing. I saw the vision, I took action, and I repeated this process until we were making sales and living the vision. Today, I realize that had I not made the decision to change my circumstances I would not be where I am today. I would not have owned a business, I would not have self educated myself on topics that intrigued me, I would not have self developed and I would not be the High Point University 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year.

Advice… My four steps for you to achieve excellence are to set the standard for yourself, plan out a regimen, surround yourself with likeminded people, pictures, videos, and influences and then do what it takes to accomplish your vision. If you're reading this and you're the type of person to second guess yourself, the best advice I can give you is to trust and believe in your intuition. When you can do that, others will take notice and so will your environment. That, my friends, is called confidence. Take this as you will, but I hope you walk away with something, a fresh perspective on the world around you and the opportunities ahead. Life is too short to settle for anything less than exactly what you want. So get out there and live your dream, make it happen, put in work, change your life, live your legacy and be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.

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