Imagine More Recap with Anne Jones

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Anne Jones

Co-Founder, District C

Website: District C

Twitter handle: @districtc17

On the beginning: “At that time, 1984, an average team in the NBA took only 2 3-point attempts per game, which is crazy when you compare that to what's going on today, where the average NBA team takes 29 3-point attempts per game… And if you look at young boys and young girls that are starting to learn how to play basketball, elementary and high school, into college, no matter how tall or short you are, you're learning to take the three, you're learning to guard the three, and you're learning the three-point offense, because it's a three-point game. And that is the reality. And if you don't have a three-point game as a player, you will not thrive at the highest levels. And so that is to say, what's happened? That seems like the alarm bells are going off, and they should be. So what is going on here? Well, people will say, "Well, it's the schools. The schools are failing our children."

On District C:District C is focused on preparing our next generation of talent, leaders, workforce, community members, family members, for the three-point economy. We work with high school students primarily, but we are also preparing coaches. So we are working with both adults and students to get these kids ready for this three-point game, because if they are not, same as in the WBNA and the NBA, they will not be able to perform at the highest levels in their future. So that's what we do. And we feel a tremendous amount of urgency around this work.”

On the younger generation: “And I think that you hear frustration around some professional etiquette, I guess is what I would say. They need to know to show up on time. They need to know what professional attire is. They need to know how to write a professional email. Those are some of the things that I hear, anyway, that creates a source of that frustration… So much of their schoolwork is about individual achievement, and this is about collective process. So I do think that what you're hearing from the business community may be layered. There may be more than one thing going on, certainly. But I do think that there is a real gap in the kinds of opportunities and experiences that we're providing for students as they are preparing for ... and honestly, not just their job, but certainly a part of it. But understanding that how to leverage the strengths of diverse teams and solve a complex problem is not just something you do at your job. It is something that you do as part of a family or in a friendship group or as part of your church or in a civic role. So it's bigger than that. But I do think there is a real gap.”

On entrepreneurship: “Doing things differently is scary, not just for us as entrepreneurs but for schools and for teachers. And there's a lot of things that they have to do and are expected to do. And that's just the reality. So sort of taking this leap of faith and trying to find a way to do something different is not easy. And I'll say to the entrepreneurs out there, ‘Stick with it.’ This was a classic case where we met the first person and they're like, ‘Yeah, that's great. Let me introduce you to some people,’ which is nice, but usually you want to come out of those conversations with a ‘I want to work with you’ as opposed to ‘Let me introduce you to some people.’”

On the journey: “And I can't stress enough the importance of finding those early champions and the people that are really willing to take that chance on you and do this work with you. It just doesn't happen without those first partnerships and relationships. As entrepreneurs you have to really stay open to these kinds of things. And you want to have a sense, a clear sense, a clear North Star of where you're headed. But you also really have to be able to sort of continue to take all of the information in and make decisions that maybe weren't decisions you thought you were going to be making. But this idea of kind of following the opportunities and ... Those things happen all the time, as a business in an early startup phase and ... There's no right answer. Some you say no to. Some you say yes to. But they really do usually become part of the story years later.”