David Shands served as emcee at the Future Entrepreneurs Conference. (Courtesy photo)

Youth are obligated to become successful – that was the message to hundreds of local students who attended the Future Entrepreneurs Conference (FEC) last Friday at West LA College.

“I need you all to make a goal. Whoever takes care of you all, you are in debt,” emcee David Shands told the youth at the Dec. 8 event, explaining that children owe a debt to those who teach, clothe and feed them into adulthood. He admitted it took him a while to realize that in his own life.

“I thought I had time,” said Shands, who as the conference emcee for a third year, traveled from Atlanta to share the secrets of his success with LA youth. “It took me a little while to really give her the lifestyle that she deserved.”

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Shands became a millionaire four years before his mother passed away. During that time, he gave her a credit card so she would never have to worry about gasoline or any bills ever again.

“The problem is, she only had four years of that lifestyle,” said Shands, the CEO of David Shands LLC, a business training and coaching firm that specializes in helping people become the best versions of themselves.

Several other millionaire entrepreneurs addressed the youth, who received gift cards, hats and books, as well as opportunities to connect with representatives from local tech companies. Students from Fremont High; Hamilton High; Washington Prep High; Westchester High; Hilda Solis High; and Morningside High participated.

“Your number one goal is to create options for your future,” said speaker Donni Wiggins, a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” who went from a booming career in real estate to a crashing foreclosure during the 2008 recession. Business owners are the new celebrities, Wiggins believes.  “Study those who inspire you. Duplicate their activity and start where they started!”

The FEC was sponsored by PVJOBS, a 25-year-old local nonprofit organization, and the event exposed students to various outlets for their futures.

“We want the kids to know about the options out there after high school and steer them away from the gang influences in our neighborhoods,” PVJOBS Executive Director Mary Taylor said.

Other speakers included businessman/philanthropist Steve Soboroff, who demonstrated how to shake hands and present a business card in a professional manner; the owner of Happy Ice, Lemeir Mitchell, whose food truck distributed water ice treats; TEDx speaker Kiki Ayers, who told the audience not to ignore the signs of a promising future; and music industry figure Gold Toes.