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Four Lessons from a 15 Year Old Entrepreneur

The Define Fruit-Infused Water Bottle is all the rage.

According to the product’s website, it is a “Beautifully-designed, eco-friendly water bottle that allows you to take delicious, nutrient-rich, fruit-infused water to go. Allowing limitless combinations of fresh fruit, teas and herbs, the bottle provides a great alternative to plain water and removes the temptation of sugary drinks. Give up your plain water habit and define what’s in your water bottle.”

It is a fresh product idea that has already sold more than 150,000 units. The founder has been featured on Shark Tank, recommended by former President Bill Clinton, honored by Entrepreneur Magazine for creating one of the most brilliant companies of 2013, and celebrated by first lady Michelle Obama. What’s even more remarkable: the founder of this hot new concept is 15-year-old Carter Kostler from Virginia Beach, Va.

Carter was inspired to make a difference after learning about the disturbing stats surrounding childhood obesity and the impact of sugary drinks and soda. Unlike most of us who hear of a problem and then ignore it, Carter set out to leave an impact. His company is now unstoppable, and he’s making a positive contribution to society.

I read about his invention and success and decided to study this remarkable story. I want to share four big ideas that we can all learn from this inspiring 10th-grader:

■ Follow your passion — To conquer the overwhelming odds against him, Carter needed to follow his heart. If he were chasing money or fame, the momentum would have likely fizzled. But because he pursued his passion to help other kids live better lives, he was able to break through and break away.

■ Do something bigger than yourself — Customers, advocates, suppliers and the media fell in love with Carter because his company wasn’t about him. It was about preserving the environment, reducing obesity, and battling diabetes and other weight-related afflictions. His success came as a byproduct of serving others.

■ Discover ideas from problems — Carter’s idea (and countless other top products and services) came directly from his frustration with the status quo. In your own life, what are the things that annoy, provoke and disturb you? Look closer to discover limitless opportunity instead of merely wallowing in disappointment.

■ Reject limits — There are a thousand reasons why a high-school sophomore from Virginia Beach could never launch a consumer products business. Luckily for us all, Carter chose to ignore that noise and get on with the real work of bringing his vision to life. We all have plenty of reasons not to pursue our own calling. But the ones who make history forge ahead despite these obstacles.

Instead of dismissing young Mr. Kostler as just a lucky kid, let’s learn from his ageless wisdom. Carter pursued his passion, is making a difference, and is enjoying unprecedented success as a result. You and I can do the exact same thing.

It must be something in the water.

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  • Josh Linkner To Josh Linkner, creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of all human progress. As such, he’s spent his career harnessing the power of creative disruption. His journey has been non-traditional at every step. As the founder and CEO of four tech companies, Josh built his businesses from a blank page into a combined value of ... more

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