Aside from taking classes, freshman business and computer systems major Leland Jones is busy trying to make a difference in his community.
Jones spends his spare time in the Air Force ROTC, volunteers at the small business development center, participates in local Christian organizations on campus and leads as a Boy Scouts adult leader.
Jones is also the CEO of T-Quotes, a company that sells customizable and inspirational t-shirts, and author of “A Journey with Purpose.” Since he was 10 years old, he’s had a passion for business and motivational speaking.
“I literally had a store in my bedroom. I had tables set up and I was just selling different things. Entrepreneurship was in my blood, if you will. It was something that I found great interest in and just loved to do,” Jones said.
The Quest program is a year-long project-based learning program that seniors at Singapore American School can join. Throughout the year, they focus on different projects to improve their community. Being in the Quest program his senior year, Jones was able to find his passion for motivational speaking and clothing.
“We would go out and find problems that were in our community, we would start testing solutions to that problem, and we would write a report on it,” Jones said. “My first project was an electric door that conserved energy and money. I dropped this project halfway through the semester and decided that I wanted to focus on something that I enjoyed more.”
Jones started his company “T-Quotes” at the age of 17 with the intention of giving back to others.
“I decided to register my first company, which was a clothing brand I started with three of my friends,” Jones said. “We decided that, in order to set ourselves apart and to help others, we would donate 10 percent of all profits to service organizations in the U.S.”
The small business recently started a new project called Project Africa with a goal to provide clothing to 100 villages across Africa every year.
However, Jones said it wasn’t easy getting to where he is now.
“Nobody took me seriously because I was so young. People say young people are inexperienced, and the problem I have with that statement is that it is true, but it is also not true. I believe experience comes with time, but time is not the only way you can gain experience,” Jones said.
To further develop his experience, Jones wrote a book, titled “A Journey with Purpose: A Guide to Starting and Succeeding as an Entrepreneur.” Through detailing his journey to becoming an entrepreneur, along with tips on how to become successful, Jones highlighted other entrepreneurs and their paths to success.
“The principles I talk about in this book can pertain to all aspects of your life, not just succeeding as an entrepreneur,” Jones said.
During his time at UAA, Jones has already started to make an impact on the community through his work ethic and passion for helping others.
“I think he works very hard. He is very active in class and has gone above and beyond my expectations,” Zhanjiang Liu, Chinese professor at UAA, said.
Derek Wampradit, a friend of Jones, meets with him every Monday to discuss their shared interest and involvement with Cru, a Christian organization on campus. They also check up on each other and talk about their experiences.
“Sometimes he will use me as a sounding board to sound off ideas that he has and to practice some of his speeches,” Wampradit said.
Jones’ philosophy of success is defined by a willingness to do what you love to do despite any difficulties you may face and never giving up.
“The stars are never going to align perfectly; so many people wait until everything is perfect. I succeeded because I didn’t wait for the stars to align. So just start, don’t waste time. Time is limited,” Jones said.