Developing Young Entrepreneurs, with Dario Otero, Youth Lens 360

Youth Lens 360 is a for-profit marketing company that works with youth.

Dario Otero, Youth Lens 360

Dario Otero, Youth Lens 360

Youth Lens 360 provides visual communication, product marketing, and branding services through the lens of youth ages 14-24.

Dario Otero, the founder of Youth Lens 360, has seen first-hand how the education system does not support, nurture or value entrepreneurial thinking. “I’ve found in my teaching and leadership experience that underrecognized youth of color have a naturally creative and resourceful entrepreneurial spirit. That gets ignored in traditional education settings,” he explains. “As a result, youth will eventually lose that capacity and enthusiasm for education. They don’t stay engaged when we don’t connect what they are learning to the real world of self-sufficiency or survival.”

To address the problem of lack of entrepreneurial opportunities, Dario has developed a model called L.E.A.D., or Learn, Experience, Apply, and Debrief. “LEAD allows youth access and opportunities that ignite their desire to start a business, create a product, or become self-sustaining while they work with entrepreneurs,” Dario says. “It is about finding themselves as contributors, leaders, and money makers.” According to Dario, LEAD is not about a single path. “It is about changing the way we see youth. It shatters the stereotype threat that we have about our youth and changes our focus from what they will do to what they can do. When we see them in a new light, they become the light we need to see. “

Dario Otero, editing with one of his young entrepreneurs

Dario Otero, editing with one of his young entrepreneurs

The vehicle he uses to empower youth is Youth Lens 360, a for-profit marketing company that provides visual communication, marketing, and branding services. “There is an assumption that because my company has a social impact, we are a nonprofit. However, we are for-profit. It is essential that the youth who work for me and with me make money for their talents. It is a model that I hope a lot of for-profit companies learn and apply. Profit and social impact should not be mutually exclusive. It is imperative today that our communities see how the products and services big business provides also contribute to our health and welfare on a daily basis. We are all in this together, and we can still make a ton of money. Nobody loses.”

Dario’s passion is to empower youth. He encourages them to set their goals high and to implement a plan to achieve those goals. Dario believes that all youth should acquire the necessary skills to become entrepreneurs. He also thinks that the young people need to be community leaders and mobilize other young people to be successful.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Dario Otero:

“There’s this core group of youth from 19 to 24. There’s a gap there that we try to focus on.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360 Click To Tweet “I’m trying to tap into that untapped potential that so many overlook.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360 Click To Tweet “We started think-tanking with companies.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360 Click To Tweet “To allow young people to step into their brilliance, you need to facilitate that energy.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360 Click To Tweet “The kids just flourished.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360 Click To Tweet “The system of school didn’t understand what we were doing.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360 Click To Tweet “If you’re doing business in 2018, you need a visual.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360 Click To Tweet “I didn’t know I was a social entrepreneur. I didn’t know they had a name for it.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360 Click To Tweet “That even exchange back and forth is where the magic happens.” Dario Otero @YouthLens360 Click To Tweet

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

 

About the Author
Tony Loyd is a TEDx speaker, podcast host and the author of Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. He is a former Fortune 500 executive with extensive experience in strategic planning, talent management, and leadership development. Tony is the host of the podcast Social Entrepreneur where you can hear the stories of changemakers who are making an impact on the world.

2 comments on “Developing Young Entrepreneurs, with Dario Otero, Youth Lens 360

  1. Sandra Woods says:

    Great story. Why is this not implemented in our schools!!!

  2. ryancrist218 says:

    Absolutely love this! Dario and I were close friends in college and I always knew he would create something successful like this! The major that we studied at BGSU really influenced where we landed today! Way to go Dario!

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