This morning was the official kickoff of the Millennial Trains Project in San Francisco. We started off with an Idea Morning session hosted by participant Jason D’Mello where there was free coffee and had guest speakers Elizabeth Gore, resident entrepreneur from the United Nations Foundation, and billionaire serial entrepreneur Karman Elahian talk about their work in entrepreneurship. One important lesson that I took away from Karman Elahian’s speech was the notion of celebrating failures and that success is only the management of your failures. We then had a 90-minute purpose-based leadership seminar hosted by Dr. Max Klau. He explained how our journey on the Millennial Train Project will change our outer world that we live, but also our inner worlds as well. We were also challenged to create our own personal mission statement, a statement that goes beyond the realm of our everyday tasks in a 9-5 work period and resonates with who we are as individuals.
Today I was able to begin gathering information from students about their personal finances. I traveled out of our hub and outward to the University of California- Berkeley where I surveyed students about their knowledge of personal finances. Overall I was impressed how willingly students were to have me come up to them and talk to them about this issue. I gathered basic information from students about their knowledge and familiarity of student loans, credit cards, credit score, and basic budgeting. I was surprised to find that most students knew the different types of student loans they had. I even ran into two students who mentioned they have already started saving for retirement…wow!
One student I interviewed that particularly stood out was a woman named Tatiana, a junior at UC-Berkeley who is from Arkansas. When I asked about her thoughts of financial literacy she opened up to me and said that it is not something her parents stress on her and that they would rather have her focus on her education first. She explained to me that her parents come from Russia and that culturally it is more important for her to focus on education and have her parents guide her with her personal finances while in school. All of the students I spoke with agreed that financial literacy is something that should be taught by schools and heavily promoted by financial institutions.
Tonight we will be enjoying a dinner at our hub location and finally moving onto our train! More updates will be coming along the way and you can follow me on Twitter @SeanKolodziej to see what I’m up to throughout the day. Tomorrow we will be in transit all day and arriving in Denver in the evening. I’m looking forward to sleeping in and being able to enjoy the landscape of the Rocky Mountains, as well as the company of the 23 other participants on this journey.