When the wild imagination of youth converges with the rigorous demands of the business world

Kelyn Lanier and his JA Business Week Company

Kelyn Lanier and his JA Business Week Company

This year, Junior Achievement’s Business Week, presented by Arrow Electronics, showcased what happens when the wild imagination of youth converges with the rigorous demands of the business world. The result was something truly spectacular.

On a Sunday morning, at the Denver campus of Johnson and Wales University, students from around Colorado gathered into a crowded auditorium to receive their first glimpse of the challenging week to come. For many students, this was their first time away from home. The intensive week is designed to equip students with the tools to compete in the real world. These young adults are expected to present a fully feasible marketing concept in one week; no holds barred, no training wheels.

As a three time JA Business Week alum, and always a member of Company G, this moment in the auditorium felt familiar, but this time as a company advisor, it was my turn to pass on the lessons I had learned a decade ago. As my company forged ahead conducting market research, crunching numbers, and making judgement calls, I was reminded of just how real this experience was.

During down time, I checked email in anticipation of a marketing pitch draft, from our sales representative, for a presentation we are expecting to make in the coming week. As both camp and real world deadlines loomed, I realized that the kids are lucky to be learning these skills now because, one day, they might be in the same position that I am.

Before participating in JA Business Week, as a student, my aspirations were vastly different and unfocused. It was only after that week that I realized that I could do more than I had previously imagined. I can confidently say that without this experience, I would not have considered myself capable of becoming an entrepreneur.  As the co-founder of Praetorian Rx LLC, I apply the very lessons I’ve learned in JA Business Week, all those years ago, to help Praetorian gain the competitive edge in our market.

The hard work of Company G, payed off, netting us 3rd place of 13 companies. Though we had our bumps along the way, I explained to the company that it is through mistakes and mishaps that we experience the most growth. In a summary meeting, one student asked how the real business world functioned; nervous that she wouldn’t be able to handle the stress as an adult. My response, “In the real world, you generally have a lot more time to do a lot less.”

Kelyn D. Lanier, MSOD
Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Praetorian Rx LLC