A friend recently sent me this story about a 14-year-old young man from Beryl, Utah who as an author and on social media used the pseudonym of Cole Summers. His real name was Kevin Cooper. Please do yourself a favor and read this introduction as well as Kevin Cooper’s own writing. It completely knocked my socks off. I identified with Kevin so much, as an entrepreneur since childhood and as a self-motivated lifelong learner myself.
Bari Weiss writes that Kevin “started his first business, breeding and selling rabbits, at age seven. At nine, he started paying his own taxes. By ten, he had bought and was running a 350-acre farmstead where he raised goats and turkeys. For his eleventh birthday, he bought himself a tractor. Also: he transplanted trees; he wrote a feature-length film; he bought a run-down house and renovated it himself.”
So I bought his autobiography, “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t: An Ambitious Homeschooler’s Journey,” and read it in one night. It’s short but compelling.
Have you ever heard of something like this from a nine-year-old? “When I was nine, I had to pay taxes for the first time. I’m being nice if I say that wasn’t a fun experience. That was around the same time that news headlines were talking about Amazon making billions one year and owing zero in taxes. My dad was still on social media back then, and I wasn’t yet. He showed me how angry a lot of people were over it. The only thing I was mad about was that I didn’t know how to do the same thing for my company. I started studying tax law that day, and corporate tax law eventually became my 5th-grade math class.”
One thing successful business owners usually are is lifelong learners. My clients and I constantly read articles, books, watch videos, go to conferences to seek out, find and apply those “gold nuggets” that help us make progress and become more efficient and effective at delivering our products and services to our customers and clients. Kevin’s schooling was via unschooling: “Unschooling is simple: the kid chooses what to learn, when to learn it, and at what pace.” And learn he did!
On top of his incredible drive to learn and grow, Kevin had a huge heart in helping his family and his community with his plans to solve the water crisis in his region.
He wrote about how he was weird and different. “Most of when I was hauling water during 2021, and even a lot of the time I wasn’t, I spent time alone, focused on embracing being different. Being different is just a tool that we have to help us achieve whatever goals we set for ourselves. And my experiences have helped me set some very different goals for my future.”
Tragically, his many plans for his future will not be achieved because Kevin died in a kayaking accident on June 11. I donated to his family’s Gofundme and I hope you will consider it, too.
The world is a better place for having had Kevin Cooper in it. I mourn his passing.
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