“In life you need to ask what you want and take chances, take risks. Do not be afraid to speak up: you just might get what you want.” – Houston Gunn
It is not every day you get a chance to meet a teenage author, entrepreneur, real estate investor and musician. Most teenagers are out just leading high school sports teams and writing college essays. But Houston Gunn is quite different. Houston is the author of Schooled for Success: How I Plan to Graduate from High School a Millionaire and we had the opportunity to speak with Houston about his journey and the advice he could provide to our young creative readers.
Creative Interns: Why did you write Schooled for Success: How I Plan to Graduate from High School a Millionaire? How long did the book writing process take?
Houston Gunn: I actually job shadowed Lee Arnold, Chief Executive Officer of Private Money Exchange, a private money lending company. With the job shadowing, I had to conduct an interview with Arnold and during that interview he challenged me to write a book bout my experiences. And so, Schooled for Success was born.
I set a goal to finish the book when I was 16 years old, so the writing process took about 14 months.
CI: To our talent who are interested in the publishing process, what advice can you give?
HG: With my book, I did self-publishing so I could keep the rights of my book. However, my advice would be to explore both options of self-publishing and traditional publishing. You should see which option fits you best.
CI: You are both an entrepreneur and high school student. How would you summarize an average day for you?
HG: It’s hard to say what an average day is like. The days that I am at school, I spend the days doing schoolwork and occasionally I will have to leave for appointments, meetings or an interview (Houston sat and spoke with us in his car in his high school parking lot).
When I am not in school, I am working on my business – doing social media, promoting the book through events and book signings – and also working on my music.
CI: At the age of 14, you were able to speak with Donald Trump about entrepreneurship. What tips could you take from that conversation that would transcend to our young creative readers?
HG: It was unique to see how Donald Trump measured his success and how he thinks. The best part of the interview was when I asked him if he could go back to 14 years old and what he would do differently. His response… “maybe learn to comb my hair!” One of the best branding messages I’ve heard, as he is known for his hair (It showed how he always thought about his brand and personal marketing).
My conversation with Donald Trump, as well as other successful entrepreneurs, transcends to finding your passion. Know what you love to do and how you can make money from that. You don’t necessarily have to go out to college and then get a job working for someone else. My conversations also led to me defining, three key points of success:
- Never be afraid to ask. Ask for what you want because being told no is better than not knowing at all.
- Take action
- Set goals and be held accountable for your goals. If you don’t reach your goals, don’t give up. Analyze your goals, see what you can do better and reset your goals.
CI: As a young teenage entrepreneur, what are some of the things you would attribute much of your success to?
HG: My biggest impact is coming from a family of entrepreneurs. I grew up really seeing what it was like to be an entrepreneur. My mom opened her first dance studio at 17 years old. During her dance recitals, she would make a deal with me where I could sell the concessions and merchandise. After everything was all paid off, I could keep the profit. That put me in the mindset of an entrepreneur and pushed me to work hard. I am grateful for these experiences.
Having these experiences, led me to include in my book that entrepreneurship should be more encouraged in the school system. There’s always the one-sided lesson of go to college and get a job, which is great, but it may not be for everyone. Schools should teach and push entrepreneurship so more people would become entrepreneurs, helping to stimulate the economy.
CI: Who has inspired you through your journey?
HG: Mentors like Lee Arnold truly have inspired me. Arnold has mentored me within the real estate world and has been a major influence on me becoming an entrepreneur. Also, on the music side, I have had great mentors who helped to push me and to excel in the world of music. Music mentors like Deanie Richardson, challenged my fiddle tunes and allowed me to meet others (like Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins) who have inspired me and are mentioned in my book. One thing I really learned is that when you’re a musician, you really are an entrepreneur. They go hand in hand with each other.
If our interview with Houston didn’t inspire you enough, let us leave you with this video:
Houston shared with us an opportunity for our creative talent who may be interested in co-authoring. You can send an email to Houston at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Honor Roll.” Include in the email five talking points you plan to share, your headshot, bio, online profiles and contact information. The book will focus on success stories and will be the next part to the Schooled for Success series.
Connect with Houston further on Twitter: @HoustonGunn