While most college seniors are focused on final exams or securing post-college employment, L. Jeff Shafer II is committed to inspiring his peers to achieve their hopes and dreams.
Shafer, a senior business administration major at Drexel University, recently hosted the event, Entrepreneurship and Motivation. In the two years leading up to the event, Shafer wore multiple hats including funding solicitor, organizer, promoter, host and emcee.
Shafer does not see himself as an entrepreneur, but several chance meetings and conversations in 2010 led to an idea that is now a reality.
“I learned so much in putting on this event,” he said. “I learned how hard it is to take an idea and turn it into reality.
“It takes a lot of effort, a lot of resources and a good team of people,” Shafer added. “This event required contributions from many people. I was able to receive help with the flyer design, a commercial promoting the event, the actual program, marketing material and audio and video setup.”
Troubled by the current economic crisis and state of unemployment and underemployment with recent college graduates, Shafer decided to do something about this.
“The journey started back in 2010,” he said. “My mother and I met Sirena Moore-Thomas - president of Elohim Cleaning Contractors, radio talk show host, author and speaker - at a networking event.
“I thought that she would be a great person to bring to Drexel to share her story,” Shafer added. “Around this time, I also crossed paths with author, speaker, Morehouse valedictorian and Harvard Law School alumnus Darrell Bennett in a very random way.”
Shafter stumbled upon Bennett’s YouTube video and was impressed and encouraged by what he heard.
It was that moment in time that Shafer’s thoughts shifted to a vision for one event with Moore-Thomas and Bennett.
His goal was to bring an entrepreneurial discussion with an inspiring and uplifting message to his peers.
Shafer defines an entrepreneur as someone who takes initiative and takes calculated risks.
He also felt that learning from others who have overcome struggles and achieved success in starting a business was a great way to minimize the risks.
Imani Nia Rutledge met Shafer while singing with him on Drexel’s Gospel Choir.
“Jeff shared his vision with me two years ago while waiting near a shuttle stop,” Rutledge said. “I admire his integrity and dedication. He does not only seek to gain personal success but to help others achieve success as well.
“At his core he is a humble servant and incorporates his personal faith into all he does,” she added. “This is what I believe drives him to help others, and what makes him such a great person.”
Rutledge has been to events about entrepreneurship before but this one was unique in its style. “Jeff designed this event to focus on empowerment, motivation and overcoming obstacles to success,” she said. “I felt like I could relate to their situations and actually create my own business after that workshop. I now believe that I can overcome the obstacles in my life that I thought were preventing me from building my business.”
For entrepreneur Ayeesha Crawford, she enjoyed being able to connect with like-minded individuals and gain a wealth of knowledge to help advance her business, Eden Holistic Health.
“I believe it is important to not only surround yourself with the best, but to seek advice from entrepreneurs with a ‘been-there-done-that’ experience,” she said. “The transparency of two speakers was not only effective but appreciated.”