By Briana Taylor

CEO and Founder of 1-800-CONTACTS spoke to the 2018 Youth and Government Delegates about entrepreneurship and the importance of taking risks during convocation Thursday evening. 

Jonathan Coon, CEO and Founder of 1-800-CONTACTS, is no stranger to risk. As a young college student, Coon established the contact delivery service in his dorm room with only $50 capital. Over time, he has been able to watch his company grow to become one of the largest suppliers of contact lenses in the United States. Coon accredits the company’s success to their excellent customer service, and the idea that if they take care of their employees, those employees will, in turn, take care of the customers. This philosophy has proven effective, as seen by the company’s incredible success since its start in 1995.

At the commencement of the 2018 YMCA Youth and Government State Conference, delegates were fortunate enough to have Coon attend the Opening Ceremony as the keynote speaker. Coon spoke about how he started his company, the rocky times along the way and his brother’s well-known film “Napoleon Dynamite”. Coon addressed the crowd with a message of encouragement and advocated for the possibility of the impossible. 

Coon’s message clearly impacted those in attendance, and it soon became apparent that the keynote speaker inspired a spirit of ambition in many of the students – ambition that they hope will one day change the world.

“He reminded me a lot of myself,” said Hannah Garcia, senior at Hays High School. “His humor is very similar to mine, and he made me realize that I can do anything I put my mind to, however far-fetched it may be.”

Coinciding with Coon’s message of entrepreneurship and perseverance, delegates were encouraged to think about what entrepreneurship meant to them personally.

“I think it means taking anything that you see the world needs and making it happen,” said Jillian Smith, senior at Duncanville High School.

Coon’s message revolved around the idea of taking risks, making connections, and understanding our legal system – three ideas that are similar to the duty of Youth and Government delegates. Coon’s speech encouraged delegates to utilize these ideas this weekend as they head into the 2018 Youth and Government conference.