By Jenny Shi
The Youth Entrepreneur Society had a monthly meeting on April 15th. YES had the honor of hosting the guest speaker, Jeff Cheney, the Frisco mayor. Cheney is a mayor and entrepreneur, who has served Friisco as a city council member for 9 years and eventually became the city mayor for 6 years. Today, he has come to discuss his journey to becoming the Frisco mayor.
Cheney first describes how he was always a hard worker in school with high grades, but Cheney was an introverted speaker with no aspirations to become a city mayor. However, throughout his experiences as a mayor, Cheney worked hard to improve his weakness in public speaking and became a well-speaker. He teaches YES to not just focus on our strengths and to identify our weaknesses to improve on them. After high school, Cheney went to UT and eventually got a high-paying but exhausting job at a hedge fund in Frisco. After having his first child, Cheney had an inflection point in his life, where he reflected that he wanted to put his family first and quit his job. Cheney took a risk by following his aspirations of being an entrepreneur by starting a real estate company.
Shortly after Cheney’s second son, he founded a Frisco forum called Frisco Online Media Board where Cheney and his wife became more involved, eventually advertising the website. This catapulted Cheney’s real estate business and the owner of the Frisco website contacted him to buy the website from him for 25k. The website’s advertising created more recognition in the community, becoming an integral part of Frisco and Cheney started going to council meetings and met the mayor. After his third child, Cheney decided to run for city council and successfully got elected to the Frisco city council.
During his nine years in the city council, many people suggested Cheney run for mayor, but the actual turning point was when he was complimented by a significant political individual who boldly stated that Jeff Cheney was the best council member. Hearing this, Cheney became motivated and decided to run for mayor. His opponent had been campaigning for a long time and had gathered a lot of support so Cheney did his best, campaigning door to door explaining what he can do for Frisco. After almost a year of campaigning, Cheney won the election by 10 points and continued serving as the mayor for 6 years. As mayor, Cheney describes his method of leadership: to set sight on the impossible, put a plan in place, and execute the plan to their best ability, leading to multiple successful projects that advanced Frisco. When Cheney leads as a mayor, he manages his time through time-blocking management and finds it important to trust the people around him. His lesson to YES is to not be afraid to fail and take opportunities. Cheney encourages us to operate with a mindset of focusing more on what could go right than what could go wrong and to take risks to follow our aspirations. He tells us to release the fear of failure and understand that failure is only a learning experience to move forward and makes us stronger.
After Mayor Jeff Cheney’s speech, YES members split into YES launch groups to brainstorm new business proposals to practice entrepreneurship. Each group would choose a mentor to meet with to help discuss ideas to present for the business launch presentation. The presentation would be similar to the Shark Tank show with each group describing their idea within 5 minutes and offering a proposal. YES members presented interesting and innovative ideas such as boba vending machines and new online tutoring websites. The April YES meeting ended with a productive entrepreneurship practice.