When discussing models of student learning, ownership and agency are important issues in education circles. Yet when it comes to financial literacy and the essentials of taking charge of finances, many students are encouraged to seek independent information.
A recent Newsweek the article highlights the research carried out by the Center for Social Justice in the UK on essential financial habits and skills acquired between the ages of 3 and 7. Only 38% of children and young people in the UK receive any type of financial education at school. Research supports Milken Institute findings that reveal a lack of basic financial knowledge and skills among US high school students
Without financial literacy at the fingertips of students and young adults, real-world success stories make even more sense by shedding light on the history, patterns, and choices that lead to positive outcomes. Students and young people can glean insights from hearing the stories of people of all ages who are focusing on their inner determination, persevering, and challenging themselves to overcome obstacles to gain financial freedom and make a difference for others.
This reporter wanted to learn about people who overcome personal challenges to succeed in the financial industry. Using setbacks as learning tools, lessons were revealed inside and outside the “school” of hard knocks illustrating the power of financial literacy for early career professionals.
Jeremiah, “The Bull” Evansis a unique person who took on difficulties and translated them into success at the age of 26. He is the CEO and Founder of Alpha Financial Agency, plus seven additional companies and activities. In his spare time, he realizes the Bullpen Podcast and is working on his book, Alpha Hero. While the ‘alpha’ branding figures prominently in all of his endeavours, it has found its shape through years of perseverance and facing childhood fears.
Nobody’s coming to save you
Relentless bullying was part of Evans’ daily struggle at school. Children taunted him with the name “The Bull”, ridiculing his weight and stature. “I didn’t want to wake up, go to school, and endure those things,” Evans recalled. “Every day I felt like something was going to happen. They were beating me or pinning me to the ground.
When his father discovered the bullying, unlike some parents who intervene on their child’s behalf, he believed that Jeremiah had to take full ownership of the situation. “No one is coming to save you,” his father said, demanding that he tackle a particular bully who had hit him. “Don’t go home until you confront him,” his father said. So that’s exactly what he did.
“My dad forced me to overcome that fear. To push my limits and realize my abilities. For the rest of his life, I knew no matter what, I could do it and keep my shoulders higher,” says Evans .
He relied on sports, but when football didn’t pan out, he used the same no-apologies attitude to enter the business chapter of his life.
Turning a mocking “big bull” expression into his own nickname, “The Bull”, he has taken ownership and is proud of his rediscovery of self. This gave him a sense of empowerment that carried over to his entrepreneurial pursuits.
Earn money to make a difference
“I did not choose the sector. I simply did it because finance and financial services bring in more millionaires than any other industry in the world,” says Evans. It is not the money that motivates him, but rather the freedom it allows to pursue other areas of interest to influence change. “To make a difference, unfortunately, it has to be through money. As much as people might argue that it shouldn’t be the way to go, it is. Just do what you have to do to become the person who will make the difference.
Evans reverses the idea of passion. He admits that he was not initially passionate about finance-driven businesses, but rather about the possibilities that come with financial freedom and building financial literacy skills.
Alpha Financial Agency, Evans’ mothership, trains and teaches agents how to properly establish themselves in the financial services industry. Focusing on leads in the insurance industry and real estate investing, Evans offers others the opportunity to develop their own form of property in financial freedom. Success is measured by others who are successful. “How many agents have I been able to help live a life of freedom and can I find the time and purpose to donate to greater causes?” asks Evans.
” I’m 26 years old. I have a lot of businesses that have generated over $50 million in sales over the past two or three years. The world will pay you what it thinks you are worth. Money is just value,” he adds.
His philosophy of “Be Great or Be Nothing” extends into his passion for more philanthropic endeavors working with Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroadby donating to their efforts to save children from trafficking and exploitation.
Meaning through fear
Sometimes financial literacy comes from adopting a work ethic and an inner constitution to get through adversity. For Evans, it’s all about the embrace of fear. “Once you feel fear, it means you are doing something to grow and stretch. It means you are doing something meaningful. Nothing meaningful in life has ever been done by someone who hasn’t shown courage and overcome fear,” he says.
“Success will stand on top of a mountain of failures,” says Evans. When it comes to entrepreneurial endeavors in the gig economy, he directly links fear to marketing strategies. According to Evans, marketing is nothing more than testing what works and becoming obsessed with the “no”.
Entrepreneurs have to find what is not working, change it and, if necessary, change it again. Failure is often integrated with success in business and life. This is the crucible that separates the 1% from the 99%. The only difference between me at 26 and someone else at 26 is that I pushed myself through a lot more fear than they did. The 1% is willing to do what the 99% won’t do. That’s the only difference.
Resource allocation continues to have a seat at the proverbial table of slogan education. The knowledge dispersion that underpins long-term investments in students as they become early-career professionals can impact more than the bottom line or LinkedIn profile.
The education sector could benefit from ensuring that financial literacy has a permanent place at the ever-changing table of an industry that desperately needs a solid foundation that will satisfy the ultimate customer, the student.
The ‘Bull’ continues to bet on it. Maybe education too.
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.