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Staff Spotlight: Meet Greg Kegley

Greg Kegley first became passionate about YE as a high school student. “Before YE, I wasn’t a phenomenal student. I didn’t value education before I took YE. I was just that kid who didn’t care. YE taught me to see the world differently, and it ultimately allowed me to realize I could create value for others, with exactly what I knew at that moment.” Today, Greg is an Area Manager for Youth Entrepreneurs in Phoenix, Ariz. Meet Greg Kegley.

His YE connection: Greg initially did not intend to take YE. At Campus High School in Wichita, Kan., becoming a YE student is a competitive process. Typically, 200 students apply and only 60 are accepted. He was surprised when the teacher insisted he enroll. “At the beginning, I treated it like any other class — it was just, what do I need to do to pass,” Greg reflects. “I did things halfway at best.” But right in that YE classroom is where everything started to change.

Greg’s mindset shift moment: With just 10 minutes of prep time, Greg won a small in-class competition. “My teacher pulled me to the side and said, ‘Can you imagine what this would have been like if you’d put just a bit more effort into it?’” From that moment on, Greg’s teacher, Mr. Zac Kliewer, continued to nudge him towards striving for success. “Every activity from then on, he’d make little comments like that.” One day, the conversation grew more serious. “He said, ‘I think you’re incredibly intelligent, but you just don’t care. If you just showed a little effort, this class could give you a lot.’ It was like a light switch. From there on, I started trying, I started embracing YE, I started embracing what he was teaching . . . and it changed my life.”

Continuing his Youth Entrepreneurs connection: Even after high school graduation, Greg stayed in close touch with his YE teacher, Mr. Kliewer. “Any chance I got to come back to the classroom as a volunteer, I took it. I wanted to help cultivate that spark in students.” Professionally, Greg quickly rose up the ranks at Mattress Firm, the retail store where he was a Manager on Duty. “I was doing well, poised to move up and have a nice career in upper-level management.” So when his Mr. Kliewer encouraged him to apply for an open YE staff role, Greg was unsure. “I didn’t know if that was where I wanted my career to go, but out of respect for YE, and out of respect for my teacher, I submitted my resume.”

Making the YE decision: Greg’s resume was well-received and he interviewed for the Program Manager position. “During the interview, I was still mentally preparing to stay at Mattress Firm,” Greg says. At the end of the interview, YE president Kylie Stupka asked Greg if he had any questions. “I asked them to tell me why they work for YE. One by one, they answered, and I’ve never seen people so passionate about what they do. It was in that moment I knew if YE offered me a job, I was going to take it. At that moment, I realized that how I felt about what I was doing really mattered more. I took the position and never looked back.”

Next steps: “As Program Manager in Wichita, I loved every moment of it,” he said. After several months on the job, YE began planning for expansion to the Arizona market. “In less than one year with YE, I moved to Phoenix to become an area manager and help jump-start the program.” Today, he is Area Manager. “The beauty of my job is that no two days are the same. As Area Managers, we act as teacher support for the class. Ultimately, the teacher is the expert and we’re here to help them and develop them.” Together with the YE team, Greg’s work is focused on planting YE’s roots in Arizona.

Why he’s passionate about YE: Greg reflects on the stepping-stone focus in high school. “You need this class to get there, that class to get to the next step — but there’s so much value you can create right now! You don’t have to wait until you’re older to start creating value. YE allowed me to see my self-worth.”

Running his own business: Even when he’s not on the clock at YE, entrepreneurship is still on Greg’s mind. He runs a small business helping other small businesses with their bookkeeping. “Math was my least favorite subject, but I love business finance and accounting.”

One piece of advice to his high school self: “The one piece of advice I would give myself is to try. It’s worth trying in life. It’s worth it to try at what you’re doing, even if you don’t see the benefits right away.”

An entrepreneur he admires: Greg admires an entrepreneur who is a YE supporter — Lee Benson. “He started and sold Able Aerospace, and now has a new business called Execute to Win, a software that tracks employee performance. He focused on culture from the start, getting the right people from the get-go. So often you see the negatives in corporate America. It’s good to see people like Lee, who is creating a true family culture for 500 employees.” Greg shares one of his favorite quotes from Lee — “It’s so simple but so powerful: ‘You can start anywhere and go everywhere.’”

Meet more of the YE professionals who are passionately driven to strengthen Youth Entrepreneurs in our Staff Spotlights