570. Turning Youthful Curiosity into Passion and Skill
Steve was a solid athlete in school, but no scholar, especially at math. Then in the tenth grade, an inspiring teacher changed all that. More importantly, he came to understand that reshaping an attitude can change a person’s life dramatically.
Steve Robertson is the CEO of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs (JKCP), an organization specializing in youth-to-adult programming that turns curiosity into passion and skill. He has been with the company for 18 years. In this role, his primary responsibility is to cultivate a culture that results in memories lasting a lifetime. Steve is an expert on youth development and education as well as on understanding and adapting to youth.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I was an athlete in school, playing in many sports. I did enough in the classroom to get by, but didn’t really care whether I was there or not. At an early point, I figured out I wasn’t particularly good at math. Fast forward to 10th grade and a math teacher who had a different perspective and approach: he didn’t allow me not to be good at math. He didn’t let me slip under the radar. I realized through that process that, not only did I love math, but that I could be good at it! That’s important to me where I am today because so many times in life we are in a situation we don’t think is where we want to be or doing what we want to do. Shaping an attitude can really change a person’s life dramatically.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“I came to the United States on a tennis trip with some of our more talented youth and we toured around playing tournaments. In Philadelphia, I met Julian Krinsky. He said, “Why don’t you and your family come and join us?” He was prepared to take a risk to give me an opportunity. Here was an organization that was doing tennis and golf camps, a program called Enrichment, where students could sample anything from robotics to coding, public speaking, fashion, cooking, even college credit classes. I looked at this and thought, they have taken something they were passionate about—tennis—and they have grown it far beyond that! When I got home from that trip, I said to my wife, ‘If we’re ever going to do something like pick up and move, now would be a good time to do it.’ She pondered that for a month or so, and we decided to leave South Africa and come to the U.S. Yes, it was scary. We had very little in common with Americans. Culturally, it was a bigger shock than we anticipated. But the transition was successful. My children have grown up wonderfully here. This is our home.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“As I look back on almost 20 years here, the result has been spectacular. The choices you make and the growth you enjoy almost always happen out of difficult times. We don’t necessarily revel in difficult times, but we do embrace them and use them as real opportunities to grow. I feel we’ve done that on a number of different occasions. I started as a tennis coach and now I’m in the role of CEO. Those growth steps and opportunities would never have come about had we decided to stay in South Africa. I’m sure I would have been successful there in other ways, but I see all the things that have happened as a result of our being willing to take a chance.”
On His Bookshelf
The 4-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferris
Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us, by Seth Godin
Fish!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results, by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, John Christensen
Steps to Success from Steve Robertson
1. Consider this: how often do your fears actually come to fruition?
2. Fear keeps people in a place where they are not using their talents, so they are not happy. Whether you are 30, 40 or 60, it is never too late to make a compelling and impactful change in your life.
3. We’re a generation that wants instant results and convenience. It’s inconvenient to change. To make a real change, you have to be stretched and inconvenienced.
Connecting With Steve Robertson
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