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Life-Long Lessons in Confidence and Leadership

BOOST OST Participant Profile: Mel Maese Goldberg, Owner of Pizza Joint

Area of OST Focus: School based afterschool programs

I was fortunate to have parents who were super-involved in my schooling and an older brother who was very self- motivated when I was growing up. When you're a young kid, it seems like everyone wants to tell you what to do and no one wants to give you any real responsibility, except good grades. That was why I loved my experiences in after-school programs. By the time I graduated from high school, I had been the president of Student Council, president of National Honor Society, and captain of the cheerleading team. Although I learned a lot in the classroom, it was my after-school roles that taught me about public speaking, project management, and team leadership — all skills that I still use today.

As the captain of the cheer team, I had to manage a group of friends to make sure everyone attended practice and perfected the cheer routines - our safety depended on it. I learned that it’s not just about organization – it’s also about confidence. In fact, when I first went into business for myself, I would strike a power pose before staff meetings, something I learned in cheer! I also learned how important it is to value everyone’s opinion and ideas, because leadership is about getting people to problem solve together, not doing everything yourself. You get more done when everyone is excited and motivated to work on a project.

Like students today, my friends and I had to grapple with peer pressure. But I learned that getting along with people doesn’t necessarily mean following the herd, and that’s definitely true if you want to be an entrepreneur. I feel that one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a young person is to not explore your interests because you're afraid of what your friends will say. Your middle and high school years are a great time to try new subjects and learn new skills. I hope parents encourage their kids to branch out into different areas – and after-school, weekend, and summer programs are a great way to do it.

“I recognize the skills that I learned while being involved in after school programs gave me the confidence I would need in the future. Though I may be long past my days of coordinating people to decorate for prom or learn a complicated cheer, the skills I gained in accomplishing those goals made it easier for me to tackle countless other challenges as I launched my own business, and they are one of the reasons I have been recognized as a successful entrepreneur.” – Mel Maese Goldberg, Owner of Pizza Joint


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