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Blazing His Own Trail

Nestled in the heart of western Kansas is Dodge City, one of the most famous frontier towns in American history. It’s also been home to many prominent pioneers including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and JD Young.

Don’t know JD? You will soon. Since high school, JD knew business was in his future. But it wasn’t until he took Youth Entrepreneurs that he figured exactly how. 

“After the first week, it was definitely life-changing,” said JD. “It’s not a classroom experience. I call it on-the-job training. It’s teaching you real life skills that you can use at any job or career at any level.”

It didn’t take long for JD to apply this training to one of the most popular YE assignments – Market Day, where students run a mini business for a day and earn real profit. JD’s business was simple and effective. He decided to sell candy bars, which his school did not have on property, providing a win-win for him and his classmates.

While his famous Dodge City counterparts traveled West to make a name for themselves, JD traveled East after graduation, to Wichita, Kansas. Since his arrival, JD has taken his passion to the next level – by becoming a serial entrepreneur. He currently runs two successful businesses, Funky Monkeys Shaved Ice and No Bake Café, an edible cookie dough shop. But for JD, his failures are just as important as his successes.

“Nobody wants to fail. But failure is something that you learn from,” said JD. “In order to succeed, you need to fail.”

In this episode of the YE AND ME podcast, host Grant Mankin and JD discuss these failures, the personal philosophies they’ve created and more. Listen to their talk and hear how JD’s relationship with his employees has given him the nickname “Head Janitor,” why customer focus, listening and integrity have become paramount to his success and how this entrepreneurial trailblazer almost got burnt out. 

Listen now.

Discussion Questions

  • What foundational values has JD continued to develop during his professional career?
  • What foundational values can be tied to JD’s personal philosophies?
  • What lessons from JD’s story could you apply to your life?
  • How has failure affected JD’s outlook on business and life?
  • JD discusses the change reaction of listening. What foundational value is that connected closest to? How can you use listening to improve your job?
  • JD makes a YE analogy using Wal-Mart. What’s your analogy for YE and what it offers?