Dylan Shively’s journey to becoming an entrepreneur was an unconventional one. An East Stroudsburg native, he shared that he was a troubled and highly unmotivated teen.
“I wasn’t the greatest student,” he said. “I wasn’t the kid getting straight A’s or [the] teacher’s pet, I got suspended all the time, I didn’t do the work…I barely graduated.”
Shively shared that a teacher told him and his parents to their faces that he wouldn’t amount to much in life, and that–at best–he could hope to obtain a manual labor job post-graduation. Those harsh words changed Shively’s life.
Instead of continuing to be a self-proclaimed “disappointment” to his parents and to himself, Shively decided to take a sharp 180 on the road of life. He built a moral and ethical network around himself, primarily on social media, and this eventually led him to start working for Verizon. “I was taught that you wanted long-term, not short-terms gain,” he said.
In December of 2017, Shively felt called to give back to his community. “I was saving money, and I wanted to do something good,” he said.
“I saw a post on Facebook that said how cool it would be to help kids pay off school lunch debt. I created a Facebook fundraiser and offered to match dollar for dollar what I raised…I raised over $4000, and went back to my old highschool and paid off lunch debts for every single student in grades 9-12.”
This act of generosity gave Shively the opportunity to come face to face with his former teacher who once said he would never amount to anything. That teacher was suitably shocked.
Shively’s journey from businessman to entrepreneur followed this act of generosity. After purchasing his own Verizon store turned out not to offer the freedom as a business owner he had hoped for, he started a part-time credit repair company. He eventually left Verizon completely to focus on his company.
“[That’s what it means to be a] true entrepreneur,” he said. “[You] leave guaranteed money to take a chance.”
After relocating to Berks County, Shively began traveling to schools and delivering motivational speeches to high school students–many of them troubled teens, like he once was himself. His biggest message to students? Focus on the power of your circle of influence.
“It is so important to have the right people around you,” said Shively. “When it comes to [asking for] advice, look at the person you are talking to. Are they currently where you want to be? Most times, you will find that answer is no…audit [your ] conversations, and who you talk to everyday.”