Q1/ How and when did you join up with Mid-America Mensa?

Eli/ I joined Mid-American Mensa soon after graduating high school. I had been given an IQ test as part of the school’s gifted program and figured while I had access to the test results, I should get my name in the system and see what it’s like. The thought process was it might be a good networking opportunity and I thought it might spur some interesting conversations, as well as help me broaden my social circle, as I grew up in a small town and was about to go out into the world where it would become more difficult to meet new people.

Q2/ What is one important lesson you will always remember from growing up?

Eli/ I think the most important lesson I had to learn growing up was how to reach people, get along with them, and influence them. I struggled with this a lot as a kid and when I went back to public school after being homeschooled through middle school this problem only became more pronounced. Some important things that helped me in this area were: (1) My dad told me to read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I have read this book a few times through my preteen and late teen years, but the main point is essentially People don’t care what you know until they know that you care, as my dad liked to put it and would tell me multiple times when I would have seemed to forget it. I think this quote can be especially useful to people who are smart and like to look at problems analytically, as opposed to emotionally. While you may be correct and you might have a solution for someone, unless you make a personal connection with them before offering said solution you will be ignored and discounted. Through my childhood and my early high school years I struggled with this a lot; however, when I finally learned it (which is ironic because we’re supposed to learn things quickly) I quickly became pretty popular among my peers and got along with most everyone, culminating in my becoming student body president my senior year where I started a new homecoming tradition that has been repeated this year in my absence. In summary, I think one of the most important lessons I learned growing up is one that most people could use, and that is: No matter how right you are, you have to show people you care about them before they will listen.

Q3/ If you could accomplish something on a grand scale to change the world, what would it be? Are you involved in missionary work, for example?

Eli/ I have been contemplating what I want to do with my life a lot over the past couple of years as I transition from high school to “real life.” I would like to get to the point and acquire the knowledge so that I can teach people how to become financially free. My dad and uncle are both entrepreneurs who started their own businesses and have impressed on me a strong financial basis and I am exceedingly grateful for the knowledge and opportunities they have given me. I would like to be able to pass that on to more people to help them accomplish their dreams without just working until they die. I think this will be a multi-pronged approach that will include creating some education and maybe some politics that make it easier for the “little guy” to get started. I think a lot of people have the potential to make their life better but sometimes lack the confidence or stability to “go for it” and I would like to be the one to help offer those things.

Q4/ Which is better: being comfortable in life or wise with many stories to tell?

Eli/ I would definitely be wise with many stories to tell. One of my greatest fears in life is getting to my deathbed and looking back and wondering what I even accomplished. I want to leave my family, church, community, and hopefully country as a whole, better than I found it, and would be extremely disappointed in myself if I reached the end of my life and accomplished nothing of substance outside making my own life “more comfortable.” I think if you spend too much time “comfortable” it’s a sign you are not doing enough for yourself or others and that is when you end up dying.

Q5/ What are your other goals in life? In Mensa?

Eli/ I’ll start with my goals in Mensa. I’m still learning about the organization. However, I have always enjoyed the “political” side of things so once I become more established I will likely look towards some elected positions and try to leave a lasting impact for the better. It’s too early to tell for now though. For life as a whole though, I have a multi-step plan setup that is currently in the planning stage. First, I would like to get a real estate license and start selling real estate. I don’t plan to sell real estate for a really long time, but the goal is to learn the market and get some connections so that I can start developing/investing in real estate. The goal is to use that to build some capital for some other currently undecided entrepreneurial investments and ventures, to the point where I can fund my own political journey without “selling out” to lobbyists and large corporations. (That might be my teenage naivety to assume that possible, but one can dream. Right?) I would hope to use my influence there to accomplish the goal stated above and help middle-class Americans be able to live more fulfilling lives without living paycheck to paycheck as an increasing number of them do.