YLNI Chair Spotlight - Aaron Robles


People are beginning to recognize entrepreneurship as a potential career path for many emerging leaders. This summer, YLNI partnered with Aaron Robles and his team at Founders Spark to launch the Ignite Institute for 16- to 21-year-olds.


What is your background?

- Entrepreneur - CEO/Founder of Founders Spark

- Some college (Ivy Tech)
- Born in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico - Raised in Fort Wayne
**attached my resume, too

Please describe your committee's programming.
- YLNI and Founders Spark are working together to create a two-year program focused on leadership
and entrepreneurship for young adults in the Northeast Indiana region. This program would fill a
gap in education and resources for this particular demographic and enable them to not only start a
business but also create a sustainable and thriving business. We will teach a 15 student cohort various
fundamental skills that will help them build and scale a successful business as well as connect them
to people and organizations in our region that will support their continued success after the program.

How did you first get involved with YLNI?
- [YLNI president] Savannah [Robinson] and I were first introduced by a mutual friend, Tim Zink. From there, Savannah and I sparked an incredible friendship that eventually turned into us collaborating on Ignite Institute.

What is your favorite part of managing your programming?
- As someone who was sparked at the beginning of my career by an educator that really cared about me, it's been incredible to give that back. Finding myself on the opposite end where I now have the ability to teach and mentor young adults at the beginning of their professional lives is a big deal for me. Talking to the students and exploring concepts with them of what their future might look like and how we can make those things a reality is by far one of the most rewarding things I've done in my professional career.

Are you involved with any other community engagement activities in the area?
- St. Joseph Missions (board member)
- Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana (Entrepreneurial Advisory board)
- Bring it, Push it, Own it (Advisory board)

If you were to create a slogan for your life, what would the slogan be? 
- Live Authentically

What inspired you to get into the work that you’re doing?
- As a Mexican immigrant and now DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, I had a lot of people present me with opportunities growing up when the traditional route wasn't available to me. Through mentorship and community, I was able to build a life and a career. Through Founders Spark, I aim to give that back on a wide scale by creating a community of people who want to help one another grow and succeed. Helping those who need it in an effort to empower them to live their life to the fullest is an enriching and addicting experience for me.

Where and when do your best ideas come to you?
- Usually whenever I'm NOT at my desk. Most of the time I'm on a bike or sharing ideas with someone over coffee or a beer. I thrive off feedback, so conversations with a diverse set of individuals usually sparks a lot of ideas for me that I'm then excited to put work towards. Podcasts are also great for inspiration when it comes to examining problems and potential solutions to those problems.

If you were to give a class, what would you love to talk about and what would be required reading?
- One of the best concepts I love talking about is understanding your "why." Knowing why you do what you do. Understanding your motivations is huge in unlocking success. Whether that's running a business, reaching health goals, or otherwise, our why's are what keep us motivated when it gets difficult. The required reading would be Start With Why by Simon Sinek which first solidified the concept of finding your why for me.

What do you do or value outside of work that contributes to when you are at work?
- For me it's all about connections. Whether I'm working or doing something outside of work, connecting with others is important to me. It's how I thrive when it comes to ideas, understanding the world, and strengthening my compassion. There are so many interesting people doing so many interesting things in the world. Gaining more understanding of people and how the world works makes a huge impact on every part of your life.

What do you think of the concept of work-life balance? 
- I think that it's widely misunderstood and far more nuanced than people give it credit for. The concept of work-life balance isn't always linear or rigid, especially for entrepreneurs or anyone doing something that ebbs and flows. Life has many "seasons" that depending on which you find yourself in, require more attention to work than others. Sometimes you gotta hustle and bust ass, while other times, it's necessary to take time off to recharge. 

The concept of work-life balance is difficult because it's different for everyone and requires you to really understand yourself to know how it should go for you. Through that understanding you can achieve something that works for you, but the idea of completely separating work and life is a myth because work is a PART of life and vice versa.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you became an adult? 
- An artist, which as a graphic designer I am! 

What do you want to pass on as your legacy to future generations?
- I would want my legacy to reflect that winning is a group effort and that by helping others get to their success it helps you get closer to yours.  There's plenty of room for all of us and through being good to our neighbors we can all achieve so much more than we can on our own.

Aaron Robles Social

Founders Spark Social