This post originally appeared in Minnesota Business Magazine‘s August issue.
Jared Hanks is among the younger Studio/E members, but his contributions compare well to those with far more years under their belt. At Juxtaposition Arts, an organization that connects young talent from the north side of Minneapolis to the creative economy, Jared runs outreach and engagement. In this role, he ensures that young people are interested in the work JXTA does while maintaining sustainable, nurturing connections with each person who walks through the door. Jared is also founder of Helping Hands Brothers, an organization that provides labor work opportunities to youth in the North Minneapolis neighborhood — a gig that helps young men develop ambition and skills while contributing to their community. The youth come predominately from families struggling with poverty, addiction and homelessness, and Helping Hands Brothers provides them with an opportunity to earn money, work hard and develop the entrepreneurial spirit.
Jared talked with us about how he got so clear on his life’s purpose, why he works with youth and the value of social enterprise.
Studio/E: Your life’s purpose is to help other people connect to their own purpose. How do you do that?
Jared: By creating experiences for people to explore who they are, express themselves in unique and creative ways, and engage with the world based on self-awareness. Knowing my desire statement makes it very easy for me to say yes or no to opportunities. Everything I do is predicated on my legacy.
Studio/E: What was your path to today?
Jared: My career started as a sophomore in high school working at a summer camp — my first experience being a mentor. I later went to the University of Minnesota and got a degree in human development and education with a focus on youth studies. After graduation I tutored kids, served on boards and worked in a family wellness facility where I developed and implemented the youth and family programming. I did this on nights and weekends and worked in the schools during the day. It wasn’t sustainable, but it was fun and fulfilling. I was working 60-70 hours a week and of course, got burned out. Eventually JXTA reached out to me, and now I fulfill my purpose there working with experiential education, community development (through social enterprise) and youth.
Studio/E: Why the interest in social enterprise?
Jared: I know business can be used to solve problems and scale solutions for social issues. Therefore, I’m figuring out ways to monetize youth and community development in a sustainable business form. I want to do good and create value while doing well financially. My career path is exploring that intersection.
Studio/E: Why the focus on youth?
Jared: It’s the highest opportunity for impact: working with young people. When I was young I was exposed to an idea that shaped my trajectory. I worked at a church and every Sunday the pastor repeated one of his core principals: “Don’t waste your life.” A lot of people invested in me when I was younger. My motivation is to give those people (my mother, mentors, coaches, teachers, pastors, youth workers) a return on their investment in me. When you invest in people on the front-end of their lives, you have a bigger opportunity to create impact. Youth are in a time of their lives where the experiences they have and information they receive will stick with them for years to come, just like the pastor’s message stuck with me. The ideas and insights we receive as youth inform the decisions we make that affect our adulthood.
Studio/E: How did Helping Hands Brothers come about?
Jared: A woman needed help moving on Labor Day and everyone I could think to help was busy, so I wrangled up some kids I had mentored. They were living at the homeless shelter downtown and before the move I gave them a crash course on business best practices and entrepreneurship — shaking hands, making eye contact and knowing clients’ names. I told them that if they do a good job today, she will likely tell her friends, and they’ll have opportunities later to make more money. After the job was done one of the boys said to me, “We should do this again. We should get some rakes. Fall is coming up and every leaf that falls is another opportunity.” That’s how it started.
Studio/E: Any advice for youth with a dream?
Jared: Know yourself. Identify what you love to do and what you’re good at. Then go all in on that. Nobody else is responsible for your success but you. Don’t make excuses, and take responsibility for your life. Adversity is the way to growth. Your success is not a destination, it is the journey.
Knowing your purpose in life isn’t just about creating your legacy; it’s a guiding needle on your compass. Jared Hanks is nothing if not clear on his purpose, and the community thanks him for it.
Jared Hanks, Outreach and Engagement, Juxtaposition Arts; Founder, Helping Hands Brothers
Description: JXTA – A youth oriented non-profit visual art center; Helping Hands Brothers – An organization that provides lawn care, landscape and labor services and pursues the development of youth leaders.
Jared’s Desire: Help people connect to their own purpose.
Studio/E Competency: Desire – Your purpose; the reason those you’ve impacted will miss you when you depart.