Episode 93: Leadership Across the Generations:  How Young Entrepreneurs are Changing Our World

Do you ever wonder how our future will look in the hands of Generation Z? In this episode Jimmy interviews Annika Van Nest, creator of Prickly Pear Coffee Bar of Nashville, Tennessee, to learn how she has been inspired to excel in her entrepreneurial dreams while remaining true to her beliefs and principles.

Episode Keys

  • The importance of knowing what you want out of life and pursuing it consistently.
  • Why the next generation is going to accomplish far more than most through innovation and adaptability.
  • How you face each day is critical to the successes you achieve!
  • Who you choose to engage in an opportunity with gives you the edge for success.
  • The value you create for the world is based on physical, spiritual and mental strategies.

Podcast Transcription

JW: Good morning! On Live a Life By Design, I have a special treat for you today. You know, one of the things in life I’ve always been interested in is finding those new leaders that are going to make our world a bigger, better, and bolder place. One of the things about leadership is it knows no age limit. Too often we think of all these great leaders that we’ve had before us, such as some of our presidents for example, or we had great industry titans ahead of us, during the time, the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, and so forth. But folks, there is no age limit on high quality leadership with vision. And to prove that today on Live a Life By Design, we have for you today, someone that’s going to rock your world and you can have good faith that we’re going to be in good hands over the next millennium. But before I introduce her, I’ve got a few questions for you.

It’s 2021, how do you feel about turning the page on that calendar and you’re looking at a whole 12 months of opportunities? Did you catch that? Too many of us look at that opportunity and go, “Oh boy, 12 months and I just came through about nine to 10 months of COVID-19.” Today’s a new day. Your mindset should be open and absorbing all of these opportunities that come your way, because I’ve got news for you, if you’re looking for them, they are seeking you out. And today, I want to prove that. While you’re sitting down and writing your goals for 2021 – and I hope you do that if you haven’t already done so – remember a couple of things, your goals must transform you to be a better person. If they’re not transforming, they’re not big enough. If you’re not stretching and straining your capabilities and your knowledge, they aren’t big enough. Our goal here on Live a Life By Design is to help you live a bigger, better and bolder life. That means in all aspects that you enjoy the utmost capabilities and enjoyment.

So with that said, let’s get to the discussion today on how leadership at all ages can be a wonderful, wonderful asset. I have with me today, Annika Van Nest. This young lady has started out her career, I think straight from the womb as a leader. She has been an entrepreneur. And folks let me shock you a little bit, she was still in high school when she started. So let me welcome today, thanks for coming Annika, wonderful to have you.

Annika Van Nest speaking into microphone at We Day Event in 2016
Annika Van Nest

AVN: Thank you so much for having me.

JW: I’ve got to tell you how we met real quick. You know, you have a lady you and I both know in common named Deirdre. Deirdre and I share a lot of common traits and enjoy a lot of commonality in terms of our ambitions of career. But, you know, she tells me… She goes, “Hey, if you think I’m good Jimmy, and I know you do, because I do. I think your mom’s a great person. Very talented.” She said, “You need to talk to my daughter.” And I said, “Man, I cannot wait.” So Annika, what’s going on in your world?

AVN: The pressure is on.

JW: So what are we doing now that you’ve had COVID, you didn’t bother, you look great. So tell me what’s going on.

AVN: Oh, I appreciate you. Yeah, I am home for break right now. I’m a freshman at Belmont University in Nashville. I’m a double major in ministry and social entrepreneurship, which is a very niche, niche. I always get corrected no matter how I say it. I feel like it’s personal preference.

JW: This is our show, you can call it whatever you wish. This is our show.

AVN: What do you say? Do you say niche or niche?

JW: I call it niche. But it’s okay.

AVN: Niche. Which is a very niche major for what I want to do. So I started a business in April of 2020. So 18, senior in high school, in a pandemic, which I didn’t even really put together until the other day. I was like, “Wow, I did that at 18 in a pandemic!” So it is called the Prickly Pear, and currently it is a mobile coffee bar and yoga studio. So that means that you can hire us to cater your events with the coffee bars, we do a lot of graduation parties, weddings, we’ll do pop up shops, stores will hire us and it’ll be like a little incentive kind of thing, spend over $50 to get a free coffee. And then the yoga aspect of it, I was the youngest to go through training with the program that I trained for yoga, and so I did that at 16, I’ve been teaching ever since and I just love it. And so that we do private events. So you can hire us to teach a yoga class, whether it’s a bachelorette party or your friends and family.

And I say we, because I have a couple of other instructors on my team as well. So yeah, that’s kind of my trifecta when I meet people I say it’s coffee, yoga, and Jesus. And so that’s my brand and one day I hope for it to be a storefront and so we have the yoga studio where we’re offering exercise classes, we have the coffee shop where we’re having the unique drinks. And then the Jesus aspect of it is we’re hosting Bible studies, we’re hosting fundraisers, we’re just kind of being like a community center in that sense, a little more upscale than your typical community center, I guess. But yeah, that’s my trifecta and I was looking through old Google Docs and this has been my dream since 2013. So I would have been 12.

JW: Twelve years of age and you came up with the ideation, the creation, and then now, the implementation of your own company?

AVN: Yeah.

JW: That’s incredible, young lady. That is incredible. So I got to ask you a couple of things. How about if I told you I’m almost a yoga Zen master because my favorite pose is surrender. I can lay down palms up and sleep, man. I am good at that one.

AVN: So good. I will give it to you though, a lot of people can’t do that. A lot of people can’t just lay their palms up and surrender. And even if it is while you’re sleeping, people struggle with that. So I’ll give it to you. I’ll call you a yogi.

JW: Yeah. I got to be honest with you, I have my own mat, I have all the stuff. Okay, I’ve got all-

AVN: I love it.

JW: … the blocks, I’ve got everything I need. It’s just some of those poses, when you’re 6’2″ and you weigh a little above, I’ll say I’m north of 230. I’m a lifter, I’m a crossfitter. I do that kind of stuff. But I want to do the yoga because flexibility is so important in every aspect of life, right?

AVN: Yes. Yeah. I get a lot of football players. I get the hockey player. It’s good. It’s good cross training.

JW: Yeah. And hey, if you’re training hockey players, if you see one of those guys, you tell him that this dude right here gives great respect. That is one tough sport.

AVN: That is a Minnesotan, I don’t even know. Holy Grail.

Prickly Pear Logo

JW: So let’s talk a little bit deeper on Prickly Pear. Now is that some type of specialty coffee you have, or how did you come up with the name? What’s that all about?

AVN: So the name is what my parents used to call me in my middle school, sassy, grouchy, whatever it is. She would go to give me a hug and I’d be like, “No, gross, mom.” And she’d be like, “Oh, she’s a prickly pear today,” which is a type of cactus, but I don’t know why that was the word that they used. That just was always my nickname when that was my mood, because you never tell a cranky person that they’re cranky. So, that was like our little codeword to warn the rest of the family that I was cranky. And so then when it came around to the branding, I was like, “This could be so cute,” the colors of it and whatever. And I was like, “And I guess it’s my nickname. So we’re just going to take it and run with it.”

JW: That’s quite a story. You know, you ought to put that on a little deliverable, where they can read or see while they’re up there getting their coffee when-

AVN: Absolutely. We all have a-

JW: I love it. We do, we do. I got to tell you, I am 99.9% in great mood, but that one day that it’s that 0.1, Annika, I just want to be left alone, I go do my hermit thing.

AVN: Yeah, yeah. And maybe the… I just hire for girls or middle school girls, especially. But Prickly Pear is a loving word for those days.

JW: I think it’s one with compassion in it of course. So I don’t know if your mom told you. I’ve raised two daughters, I’ve got one that’s a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma, majored in fine arts and drama. But I’ve got to tell you, she is excellent at it, because she’s given me a lot of drama throughout my life. That’s a bad joke. Bad joke. So let’s talk a little bit about this. You’re in ministry, but also in Business Administration Leadership, right? Did I get that right?

AVN: Yeah.

JW: So talk to me a little bit about what are you seeing in the classroom that usually taught at universities like Belmont, that translates into the real world? Because a lot of times we have a disconnect, it seems like between academia and the real world. And if you hear some these people like one of my favorite mentors, Richard Branson, was dyslexic, right? He couldn’t even read hardly. And look at the guy, he’s a billionaire many times over. And he says academia sometimes has a little disconnect. Tell me how you’re connecting to the real world through your classes.

AVN: Yeah, I love that question, because I definitely am a doer type of learner. So in high school, I was a part of a business program. So we would be in an office building, our classroom was an office building the first few hours of the day, it was microeconomics, business, and then seminar. And so you’re learning all the P&Ls, and you’re learning the analytics of it, that kind of thing. And I will even say the connect between the different academia has been really cool to see because in my social entrepreneurship class, we’re talking about P&Ls and business plans, and I did go through the whole business plan for the Prickly Pear. So I have that to bring to the class for sure. But even just noticing, “Oh, I had to do these all the time in high school because I chose this path.”

And again, not everyone does that and we’re really unique for that program that my high school offered, but I love that program because it was hands on and it was real world. And so, I mean, it’s great to know the angle of an obtuse triangle, but I would love to understand economics in the business setting and how that goes. And so that has definitely been really cool and especially wanting to honestly go into business and be an entrepreneur, it has definitely correlated. And I think those professors too, they care about what they’re doing, and they know what they’re talking about. And so it’s been great because they have somewhat become mentors, where I can sit down and be like, “Hey, this P&L does not look right. Can you help me out with that?”

Or just even as I write my goals for 2021 for the business, what’s realistic and how much money can I expect to make? We did break even this past summer, which was way ahead of schedule, and that was such a blessing. And so, now it’s like, “Okay, now that I broke even, what does that look like? What are ongoing expenses, things to invest in?” So, that’s the social entrepreneurship major. And then ministry wise, the faith has definitely always been so important to me and a part of my life. And I think it’s really cool to see the context and history of that. And so actually, looking at the Old Testament and taking it in the theological, doctrinal – I don’t even know if that’s a word – way-

JW: I’ll take it. It’s our podcast. I can take it.

AVN: Okay.

JW: Go ahead. Yeah.

AVN: Yeah. And then the two intersecting too, because I think so often in the ministry school, we talk about… I love your opening how you say, “If your goals aren’t making you better, what’s even the point of it?” We talk a lot about that in ministry of how we want to live and the goals that we have and living off the Great Commission and all of these things. And so it’s like I love this idea of marketplace ministry. And that doesn’t even mean that every time someone walks into your store that you’re like, “Hey, do you know Jesus?” It just means that when they walk out with their cup of coffee, they felt like they were loved. And someone asked how their day was and they actually meant it, you know? So this idea of marketplace ministry, where you see a little bit of, just kindness.

And I think in 2020, and I think in my generation where we’re looking at our screens, or whatever, it’s rare that we genuinely see each other for what we are. And so I love this idea of marketplace ministry. And if I were to give you one major, that’s what I would say I’m majoring in, is marketplace ministry. Making the marketplace and then loving people through that.

JW: I’ve got to tell you Annika, one of the beliefs that I have in my Christian faith is I always… You may not hear me say something audibly, but I want my life and my face to show you that there’s love and kindness and respect. And so also, that’s just kind of my thing. And when this COVID-19 hit Annika, I got to tell you what, I, like everyone else, was thrown for a loop for about a week. We had the capability to work remotely and all that, but in my opinion, we really hadn’t implemented. This forced us to do so, right?

AVN: Yeah.

JW: I’m sure you had school… Did you have classes online?

AVN: Yes, sir. Yeah.

JW: Yeah. So same thing. So we still have to put out a high quality product, or high touch effect, we want people to know that things are confident and capable and we are on the job. And so we had to kind of change or pivot our approach to doing delivery, right?

AVN: Yeah.

JW: So my question to you is, what makes your age group so much more flexible, if you will, pliable to these changes? Because it seems like your age group, it wasn’t a week for you to get your act together after the change. You go, “Oh well, a couple hours later, I’ve got this now, I’m just going to do this.” Why is that?

AVN: Yeah. I think in the topic of COVID in general, I think it didn’t make… At least in my generation, as I’ve been talking to people. I don’t think it made people more stressed, I think it revealed our stress. So I think it revealed things we’re already struggling with, right?

JW: That’s very profound for a 19 year old girl. I like that.

AVN: And I don’t even know if those are my words to be honest, I’ve had a lot of conversations.

JW: Again, Annika, we own the podcast, we’ll claim that, don’t worry about it.

AVN: I think it reveals like, “Hey, I’m insecure about this and this and this.” And now that’s gone. And it just revealed different things, and then it revealed, “Okay, and how are we going to respond to it?” And so it was this tenacious challenge I guess, of where do your priorities lie? What are your goals? What is that strength that you have? And I think as a senior, it was a bummer. We didn’t get a senior prom, we didn’t get a graduation and I think it would be so easy to sit down and wallow in that, but in my school, specifically, all I saw was people wanting to help others. And I think that is huge too. I am a big fan and not a big fan of social media, when it comes to COVID though, I think for the most part, people used it well.

And I would say that that has to do with my age group as well, is that some of that tenacity has evolved on social media and being able… When we talk about the Christian faith and we talk about loving others and it being respect, I always say that the church is best to go beyond the four walls of the church, acting like the church outside of those four walls in the mission field, that’s what’s most important. And so whether people even knew that that’s what they were doing or not, that’s so much of what I saw in COVID of dropping off food for each other when we did get sick and things like that. And so I would say, a lot of that tenacity comes from what COVID revealed to people and then being like, “Okay, now I get to choose how I’m going to handle this.”

The other thing that I think has been huge within the last five years maybe, is that my age group has really, really worked to end the stigma on things like mental health. And I think that was huge when it came to COVID. Because this revealed people’s mental illnesses, and that’s a real thing. And for a lot of people, it might be genetic, it might be the circumstance made things really hard, whatever it is. I think, ending the stigma on that was huge. And being okay, not being okay, and being okay, asking for help and knowing that you’re not less than or unrespectable, or whatever that is.

JW: That’s a great comment. And one of the things I’d like to bring out of that comment just little bit, you got to remember, as the person asking the questions, this gets real easy, because you got to have all the answers, right? And at your age group I know you do. But I hire great people. I don’t necessarily look at your age, I hire great people. So one of my newest hires for our company is a 20 year old that is knocking it out of the ballpark.

AVN: I love it.

JW: This young lady is creative, she’s brilliant, she stays on task, she’s very polite. She’s everything you want in a team player. And so I will tell you the comments she’s… I’m taking notes in my journals all the time, my notes stay obviously in my planner. I wrote down one the other day that she gave me. She said, “During COVID-19 a lot of people don’t need social media, they need a journal to write in.”

AVN: Oh, that is so cool.

JW: I said, “What do you mean with that?” She goes, “Well, they tell you every minutia about their life, including personal information.”

AVN: Yeah, I think that’s so good. And I think too, I read this not to be talking about Christianity all the time, but that just is my life, especially in this major, but we talk about, you think of Moses in the 40 years to get to the promised land. And someone said the other day, if he had just listened to God and listened to what he’s trying to teach him, it wouldn’t have taken 40 years. And so I think of COVID and I think of all the things I’ve learned, I’m like, “Dang, if I just sat down and wrote down what I was learning and actually applied it, I could have gotten out of this so much sooner.

JW: The key thing to all of this is… I said it took us about a week. We call it going in the gap Annika. For example, I went for a week there going, “Okay, I got to make some things happen, I got a team I’ve got a lead. How am I going to lead from sitting at my home office and leading others that are all across our states?” We have team members that always work distantly, remotely. And so I’m just like, “Okay, how can I do that?” So I sat down and I actually used some of the tools from our coaching program I’m in that your mother and I share called Strategic Coach. And I sat down and all of a sudden, Annika, I’m getting this clear, very vibrant picture of how this is going to work. And I start writing out how we’re going to change some of our protocols. And then seriously, after about a week we’re rocking and rolling again.

AVN: I love it.

JW: And for a 55 year old talking to a 19 year old, I felt pretty good about that. Now you’d say, “Hey, why did you take so long, Jimmy?” But anyway, that’s how this works. So let me ask you this. Let’s carry forward this question. Social entrepreneurship, what does that really mean? Explain to our audience. We’re heard in 27 countries are Annika.

AVN: Oh my gosh!

JW: But what does social entrepreneurship really mean?

AVN: Yeah, I love that. So I’ll give you an example. So like Toms would be a social entrepreneurship company, where there’s different models of it. So you could be for profit, you could be nonprofit, you could be kind of a hybrid. So in my case with the Prickly Pear, it means that I am an entrepreneur and started my own business and the business is sustainable, I’m able to make a living off of it, I’m able to pay my employees. But it also means that a big part of… Just my business plan entirely. It’s not even that I’m giving back as being generous, it’s literally built into my business plan, is that we’re going to take care of our community in different ways. And I don’t totally know what that looks like yet, I think one of the ideas that I did write a business plan for in this class, this semester was distance learning.

And so it’s like if this is something that for some reason why to continue, which I pray it’s not, but being able to offer tutoring to kids in the inner city who might not have iPads and not be accessible or their grades are struggling because of it or even think of the social aspects like school is really important. I nanny some kindergartners and she’s not even learning to stand in a line with a line-reader. That’s real stuff. So the social entrepreneurship aspect is the business plan, but also with whether it’s the global heart, or it’s the local heart or whatever it is, it’s incorporating giving back to your community as the foundation of the business.

JW: Let me ask you, if you’ve ever heard of this phrase. I’m a big believer in reading. As you can see, I’m in my study, you can see behind me in the Zoom camera that I’m a big reader. I just love great books. And so what I want to ask you is, have you heard this statement: “I’ll get everything in life that I want if I just help enough other people get what they want.” You ever heard of this statement?

AVN: I haven’t heard that. I love that.

JW: Oh, good. I taught a Gen Z something today. Okay. So that’s a quote by one of my mentors who’s now passed, I’ve seen him three times in person, shook his hand. Literally, this guy changed my life forever when I was in my early 20s. His name was Zig Ziglar. I encourage you to look him up. Z-I-G-L-A-R. Your mom will know who he is. You guys can have some coffee, Prickly Pear coffee of course.

AVN: Yes, sir.

JW: I’m going to put that in the show notes. We’re going to put that in the show notes. We want our people to give you a call and do some things. We have clients all over the world, we have friends over Nashville area, so we-

AVN: Thanks, I appreciate it.

JW: By helping others get what they want. So what I’m trying to say is and suggest to you as a business leader, is if you help your team get what they need training, confidence, competence, you help them see social interaction skills, you help them grow, they’re going to help you grow by doing a better job in that role, right?

AVN: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so much about the legacy that you leave behind. It’s not about who I am as Annika Van Nest, but it’s about the passion that I had for the Prickly Pear and the people that it helped and whatever that looks like. It’s so much more than just my life on Earth.

JW: I want to say something. This is going to come at perhaps a little wrong. I hope our listeners don’t misinterpret it. But you as a person 19 years of age said, “It’s about the legacy I leave behind.” Now, I cannot even imagine at 19 you’re thinking about legacy. But I think that’s awesome. Because so few people your age are thinking about legacy. They’re thinking about, “Okay, I’ve got the next two years, three years get through school.” That’s kind of what I’m thinking. But you’re thinking about, “How can I impact lives today that will be remembered generations from now?” Man, that is a big step as an entrepreneur yourself.

AVN: I thank you for that. I appreciate that.

JW: So I’ve got to ask something a little personal because you and I do know your mom, I’ve met your father, great guy. Both wonderful parents. I need some dirt on your mom. So what’s an embarrassing story you can tell me on your mom that we can share? Clean of course, nothing that’s too embarrassing, but something that I can embarrass her with.

AVN: She loves to dance and she’s not good at it. Next time you see her in person, literally look up like the latest trend or something and she won’t know what it is, but she will have something for you. She’s fun, but she’s goofy. And she can be so goofy and I get all of that.

JW: That is awesome. I’m going to use that then if I can.

AVN: Please do.

JW: So tell me what was your life like as a child. Man, I could picture you. You’re that 10 year old that’s got the lemonade stand making money, giving it to the Red Cross. You’re that kind of kid. Tell me what was your life like as a kid?

AVN: Yes, that is funny you say that. So I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life and have loved Minnesota, but the winters are not worth it… Definitely learning that as I’m home over break. I’m like, “Wow, it is so warm in Nashville right now and I am here.” Anyways, yeah, I was raised in a Christian home, I have a little brother and my parents as you mentioned, are amazing. My dad worked overseas until I was about 16. So he did like every other week, he managed nine countries in Europe for his business. And so although it was obviously a bummer that he was gone all the time, it meant that I grew up getting to travel a lot. And that was huge. That was such a blessing. And I always say today, if I could live out of a suitcase for the rest of my life, I totally would do that. I want to see 100 countries before I die. And because of him I have… I don’t know maybe 10. So we’re getting there. But him traveling was a really big part of my upbringing. I went to Auschwitz concentration camp in sixth grade, and you don’t learn about World War II in sixth grade. I literally have never heard of it. And also, I lived in a very, for lack of a better word, privileged town in Minnesota. It’s the whole food salads a mile away and Starbucks on every corner. And that’s just the lifestyle. And my parents obviously worked hard to give us this amazing life, but at sixth grade, I learned that this is not how the rest of the world lives. And that was huge for me. This was the beginning to my testimony to making my faith my own. This was the beginning of I want to help others. Yeah, that was really, really big for me. And I think just traveling the world and because all of his coworkers were international too, they would come and be here inside constantly grew up around people speaking different languages and they would talk business and my dad was always amazing about, if you’re visiting from Italy, we’re not going to have a business meeting and then you’re going to sit in your hotel for the rest of your stay, they would come over and we’d have pool parties and we would swim and we would be on the boat. And one of his employees has a daughter, my age in Italy. And so we’ve spent the last four years going back and forth visiting each other. And so it’s just things like that. I was so blessed to grow up with a global perspective. And I don’t even think they know how much it impacted me. In recent years they definitely do, but at the time, I don’t even think I knew how much it was impacting me.

JW: That is an awesome story. And I got to tell you Annika, we did the same with our children. I was actually shown a lot of foreign countries when I was a kid. I was very lucky, I was shown Texas, Arkansas, and Kansas. So I was raised in an agricultural background. So a foreign country to me was anything outside the borders of Oklahoma, Annika. But no, we raised our kids a lot differently. And they have been to London, Italy, they’ve been to France, they’ve been all of these… Ireland, Canada, Mexico, we’ve tried to branch them and let them see different cultures. So tell me real quickly from your perspective as Gen Z, what do you think is the greater impact you can make today during this time of disruption to help people see a positive future?

AVN: That’s a real good question. I think it does come down to being the church outside of the four walls, right? I think in today’s political world and in COVID and in all the things. Again, I’m from Minnesota, and so Black Lives Matter has been a huge thing that summer. This whole year, especially in this state just feels like it has been unrest. And so, one of the things for example, we’ve seen throughout the state is the drive thru difference has been happening for weeks now in multiple coffee shops, that’s when you pay for the person behind you and then it goes. And so it has been happening all day for like three weeks now at multiple coffee shops around the state. And I think it comes down to the little things like that.

And I think the fact that that made the news, obviously shows you how much people appreciate it. And I think it’s the little things of kindness that makes people realize like, “Hmm, why would they care so much? And what’s different about that?” And that makes you go inward to be like, “Wow, I can make a difference too.” And I think that it goes a lot deeper than you think it possibly could.

JW: I’m going to blow your mind. I always tell people do not write a check with your mouth that your wallet can’t cash. I was in Walmart last year, right before Christmas time and there was a young lady that had two little boys and I could tell by their face and their dress and so forth, life just wasn’t just really easy for them. And she had some groceries and I said to her… I said, “One of my philosophies in life is, it’s better to give than receive, do you agree?” And she kind of looked at me funny, she turned her head sideways and she said, “I guess.” And then she turned her head back and she was looking for where’s the money to pay for this kind of thing. You could just tell she had a little bit strain on her for the holidays.

And then she said to me, she turned right back on me Annika and she said, “Well, wait a minute sir, if that’s your philosophy and you believe that…” Because I said, “Why don’t you pay for my groceries?” I just had like three or four items. I was just teasing her. And she said, “If you believe that, why don’t you pay for my groceries?” She had this whole bag. This whole cart full of groceries. And I said, “You know what? You’re exactly right, I’ll take care of this,” is what I told the clerk. $128 later, $140, I can’t remember something like that. I said, “I’m glad to do this.” And I said, “You guys go enjoy a great Christmas and have a blessed day.”

AVN: I love it.

JW: And so my point I’m making is, you, the one person in Nashville or now in Minnesota, I do want you to know you do make a difference. You don’t often see the seed that you sow because somebody else comes along and waters it, somebody else harvests it, but it takes the Annikas of the world to get the seed in the ground. You see what I’m getting at?

AVN: Absolutely, yeah. I love that.

JW:Can I ask another personal question?

AVN: Yes, sir.

JW: You’re in Minnesota all your life. You’re in Minnesota. We don’t get to choose our parents, right? That just happens. You got lucky, I got lucky. Some people don’t get as lucky as we, but this is how it works. Okay? Would you say though, that your parents could have done better than finding a state that the state bird is a mosquito? I’ve been there, the things are like a bird, man.

AVN: They are. They are. I would agree with that. Yeah. And it’s a bummer because all my… So my mom’s from New York, I’m sure you know that. She likes to tell everyone. She likes it to be known that she’s not from here either, which I don’t blame her because the Minnesotan accent. If I could sound like you, I would love that. I’m trying to make Nashville do that for me.

JW: Flattery will get you everywhere with me Annika.

AVN: So I don’t blame her. But yeah, they always said, “Once your brother graduates high school, we’ll go somewhere else.” And just this year, she’s like, “I really like it here. ” I’m like, “Great, thanks mom.”

JW: Hey, to each is their own, this is the world that you can choose where you wish to live. So let me ask you this. If you had unlimited resources, unlimited time, unlimited capabilities, where would you live? What would you do? And how would you spend your time?

AVN: Oh, so good. I wouldn’t have… I don’t think I would have a home. I think I literally would travel out of a suitcase. I think I want to meet all the people, I want to do all the things. I’m the type of person, I went skydiving this past summer, which is funny because-

JW: That’s just wrong. I’m sorry, but we’re good.

AVN: So good. When I was 10, I said, “Dad when I graduate high school…” Because you have to be 18 to skydive. I said “When I graduate high school, will you take me skydiving?” He’s like, “Yeah, sure.” It’s eight years ago. This past summer, I’m sitting with him at lunch and I was like, “So guess what I did?” He’s like, “Well, I’ve booked us skydiving tickets.” And it came back and bit him, but I think that idea of skydiving, I told my mom, I was like, “I get why people drop out of college and become skydiving instructor.” And she was like, “Don’t you dare get any ideas.”

JW: So, all right, kiddo. Now our audience, I want you to know one thing of my philosophy in life. Airplanes that are flying without any kind of state of disrepair, no trouble, no engine issues, people do not jump out of them voluntarily, so that’s my philosophy Annika.

AVN: But my point is living life to the fullest. All the experiences, all of the fun, all of the-

JW: Oh, I get it.

AVN: I did all the research and I made sure it was safe. But other than that, I don’t want to be a person that sits and watches my world go by, watches my life go by.

JW: No, I agree with you totally. Let me tell you one thing I want you to think about though, they make varieties of bathing suits and lots of islands in the Caribbean, the Pan-Asian coastline, you can go to Hawaii, girl, and spend a long time, helping people is what I call it. So if I were to live my life by design, I just want to have a nice t-shirt and some nice shorts and flip flops want to be on an island somewhere telling people how good life could be. How about that?

AVN: You wouldn’t go skydiving? You wouldn’t do that?

JW: The only sky I’m going to be diving from is one where the mountain top looks down on the clouds or I’m not jumping though.

AVN: I love that.

JW: So tell me this kiddo. Who are your mentors today and why are they important in your life?

AVN: So good. My great grandma is going to be 102 in March, and went back to skydiving, she saw those pictures and asked if she could come. So, that shows a little bit about her character. She is one of my favorite people to sit down and talk to and she’s lived through it all and she was born in 1918. Is that right? Something like that? 1919, right?

JW: ’18 is good. Yeah.

AVN: Yeah, something like that. And so it’s like she has lived through it all. And she will sit there and she says that her secret to living so long is that she is not married and she says that to everybody. Yeah, she just has lived through it all. She has so much to say, so much life left in her and she’s such a blessing. So she is a huge mentor, just the things that she has learned through her life.

JW: That is pretty cool, 102. So my grandmother-in-law is 100, going to be 101 January 27th. And I got to tell you the things they’ve seen you and I will probably never see that transformation, then again it could be higher than that, right?

AVN: Yeah. And she… Like for example, they have the elderly shopping hours at the grocery store right now for COVID. And her daughter said, “Mom, I’m going to the grocery store do you want anything?” And she goes, “No, I’m going to go later all the old people clog it up in the morning.” I was like, “Good Lord, you are 102, you’re the oldest one in there.” And so I just love that. And she-

JW: So the lesson your grandmother’s teaching you Annika, is this, is age is a number, the state of mind is how you really feel.

AVN: Absolutely.

JW: So I tell people man, I cross fit with some of these 20 year old guys and I’ve done 445 pound back squats, Annika.

AVN: Good for you!

JW: Well, I paid the price, don’t worry about that. But I did get it done five of them. The last two not so clean, but anyway, I got it done. But my point here is I’ll tell you what, I like to have died afterwards.

AVN: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

JW: But your grandmother is out there living her dream. And so this is called… Our podcast is called Live a Life By Design. So tell me this, you’ve got another semester coming up, you don’t know if it’s going to be online I’m guessing at this point, we don’t know who’s going to have what decision to make about that. So I can’t control that Annika. Tell me what you’re working on that you can control as a Gen Z in 2021.

AVN: Yeah, that’s good. As I mentioned before, definitely my goals for the business, it will be our first birthday in April. And I think it takes five years they say, for your business to make it to be sustainable. And then I don’t think a pandemic year is really included in that. So just making it through and growing in that and so definitely goals for that. And then I guess, just personal goals and finishing my first year strong. I say even having the first semester freshman year under my belt is refreshing because I know where I am, I know what I’m doing and obviously that’s going to change if we start to go more in person or more online or whatever. But yeah, I have a lot that I’m going back to in Nashville, a lot of work, a lot of school, all the good things. I am definitely a go, go, go type person and home is for sleeping, otherwise I want to be out in the world and getting it done.

JW: So I do not advocate you to accept this as a philosophy of life. But my first 45 years of life, my whole theory was, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. In college, I could sleep for five hours and I could just rock. I felt just so great. Now I’m a big believer in sleep, Arianna Huffington’s book, I highly recommend it about sleep and the importance of the brain resting as we age, as well as our body getting rebuilt. So when I lifted heavy weights and I don’t do that anymore at my age, but when I lifted heavy weights, I needed to stop and let those muscles. Because when you’re growing muscle, you’re tearing it down, right? You got to let it heal. So tell me, how are you healing mentally from the disruption you’ve had in Nashville? Now you’re home, you’re more in that area of comfort, how are you healing yourself mentally and physically and spiritually now?

AVN: Yeah, I definitely am a reader too. And so finally having the time to sit down and read a book. I’m at school, I definitely am a big believer in sleep. And a dang good cup of coffee in the morning. So it’s like I have my hours of day-

JW: Shameless plug. Shameless plug for breaking for a coffee. Yes, I-

AVN: I have my hours of day that are go, go, go, but yeah, I definitely believe that sleep is important because I definitely… functioning the next day and that’s not even about outward beauty at all.

JW: Well, I think you’ve got that covered so don’t worry about that part. I mean really.

AVN: I appreciate that. Yeah, a good cup of coffee are my little joys in life. I definitely believe in little joys – yoga, obviously for me, reading a book, traveling, which is not really a thing right now. But I can dream about it. I can watch the YouTube videos and plan my next excursion. I also… This might come as a shock to you, Jimmy, but I love to work.

JW: Yeah, I am very shocked knowing your mom. I’m very shocked. And your dad. Both are very tireless workers. I will say this, they taught you the importance of a work ethic. And we’ve taught our children, both my daughters are tremendously involved not just in work that pays money, but what we call fun work. And that’s where they’re working with charitable organizations. And they’ll spend all day and they’re just loving it and they gain a lot from the heart, not the wallet, which is just as important as the wealth in my opinion.

AVN: Yes.

JW: But go ahead. Yes.

AVN: Yeah, my first job, she came up to me and we were talking and she offered me the job before knowing how old I was. You had to be 15 to work there and I was 13. And so we just didn’t talk about it. That was my first job, I’ve been working ever since. And I just love… I think for me, when I travel, I love to be able to pay for my own plane ticket because then I enjoy it more and I look forward to it more and things like that. And being a daughter, my parents definitely spend more money on me than they do on my brother. It’s homecoming dresses, and it’s haircuts and it’s whatever.

JW: So you’re implying that girls cost more? Folks, you heard it right here on Live a Life By Design, I have two of them. I’m going to start a GoFundMe page for their dresses.

AVN: So valid. I was telling someone yesterday, I’m like, “I probably could have milked my parents for more if I really wanted to.” But I think there’s so much to be said for being able to pay for it myself. And I don’t know, I loved working, I loved the people I’ve worked with and all the things. But that being said, I’ve been working full time while I’ve been home on break. And that’s a good thing for me. I need to stay busy and that somewhat healing too, is not sitting in my bed all day.

JW: A woman and a man, I always say like this, that the Bible tells us a man’s got to have purpose. He meant there, actually the writer of that passage meant a person. A woman or man needs to have purpose and you do that. So I want to ask, this has been awesome to open my eyes today to such a talented young person as you are with great potential that you’re realizing. And that’s the key. A lot of us as the great Greek philosopher said, die with our music within us. In other words, they don’t realize their potential in life from the capabilities they have. So what is that one statement? If you could just look at the camera and you see all the eyes of people your age, your experience level and you could give them one statement of advice about leadership, entrepreneurship or life in general, what would you do if you could look them in the eye and tell them today? What would it be?

AVN: Oh my gosh! I could go on for hours. I definitely think just on the topic of everything we said today is that you are not defined by your age. And I think that has been huge for me for sure, people will look over me for certain things or only want me because I’m younger, or whatever it is, is that you’re not defined by your age. You’re also not defined by your past and some of the poor decisions you might have made. I think there is definitely purpose for everyone, there’s potential for everyone. And I think that you can put whatever it is you put your mind to no matter your age, no matter your upbringing, no matter what it is, you get to live your own life by design.

JW: Hey, shameless plug, and I’ll take it too kiddo. I will say this, we’ve interviewed some millennials over the last few weeks on our podcast and I’ve always learned from them. As a Gen Z, you have been remarkable today in opening my eyes to a few aspects and also given me assurance of the future that people give unrightly and undeservingly the tagline to your generation, well, but our country is just going to fall apart, right? Because these kids don’t do think they have their face in those TVs or games or phones and that is just not what I’m seeing and hearing from what your generation is doing. The remarkable things you’re doing in your career already at the age of 19 and accomplishing those things that you have, are phenomenal. I only see great things in your future. And I hope to be a part of that. I’d like to follow you and continue this discussion in a few more years after you’ve gotten out of college.

AVN: Absolutely. Thank you. I appreciate that.

JW: So one thing of advice I’m going to give you, is I like to try to help everyone on our podcast, one of my pieces of advice, here it goes, is do not put your age on any of your resumes or anything that could help them to note an age because I think you’re a far talented young lady than your age can denote. I think you got great skills, I think you’re going to go places big time. And your mom and I will just pick up the money for you when you travel through. That’s what’s going to happen here.

AVN: Perfect. I’ll hire you someday.

JW: You betcha. And I’ll be glad to help. So thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been an obvious pleasure on my part to get to speak with you a few moments. You’ve got great family, you are a talented young lady and brilliant and I look forward to big things coming from you in the future. So wishing you the best of 2021.

AVN: You too. Thank you so much for having me.

JW: One of the great things about this next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders is the creativity they exhibit. How can we learn – and I did say learn – from the younger generation, as we are much older? One of the things I gained from today’s discussion with Annika, is that there are no boundaries. I’ve said it before, there are no boundaries to what you can accomplish if you simply dedicate yourself to earnestly seeking out those goals that are bigger than you. Annika has got a great future ahead of her by her approach. She’s already done more in her 19 years than some of us have done in 50. But the reason being is because she believes in what she’s doing, her capabilities have been honed to have that belief come into fruition, and the third thing is she is continuing to grow as a person. That is the key to success.

It has been a pleasure to have you today and my challenge for you this week as you go out to 2021 and face it head on, no matter what comes in 2021, I want you to have a big, hairy, audacious goal that will help transform your mindset, your emotions, your spirit your body. I want you to have some goal identifier that really changes you in 2021. If you would go to our Facebook page at Live a Life By Design and put your big hairy, audacious goal in the comment notes, and let’s see if we can help each other become bigger, better, and boulder in 2021. Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you have a wonderfully productive and positively powerful new year.

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