We are YLNI - Charl Franks


Welcome to YLNI's first blog post on our newly reimagined website! For those who don't know me, I volunteer with YLNI's communications team and serve on our board of directors.

Over the past few months, our communications team has been growing. Let's meet one of our new committee members, Charl Franks!  

I met Charl a couple months ago at the suggestion of our organization's vice president. As I always do, I took one quick glance at his LinkedIn ahead of our meeting and learned he worked in the financial industry. After meeting him, I learned there is so much more to his story in northeast Indiana.

In addition to his work in the financial industry, Charl is a returning adult college student at Trine University and operates a small business on the side. If that isn't enough, Charl also has family obligations, which left me wondering just how he balances it all.

So, first, a little background information - 

Tim - How long have you lived in northeast Indiana? 

Charl - I was born and raised in South Africa and moved to the US at age 19. I have been in northeast Indiana for 15 years. When I moved here (July 2004) the summer was so warm and fun and the humidity was something I didn’t expect to be so thick. I kept asking people if we were close to the ocean, because it was so humid here. They kept on saying there were a lot of lakes around this area and that’s why it’s so humid. 

I love the small town feel (of Fort Wayne) with a big city heart. We are small enough not to have major traffic jams every day but big enough where we have great artists and events going on in and around Fort Wayne.

Tim - What has your experience been like as a returning adult college student? 

Charl - Going to school in South Africa wasn’t my strong suit. I had a bad taste in my mouth from day one. Returning to college as an adult was completely different. I love it! 

I encourage every person to go back to school and learn more. You will never in your life be to smart or know enough. Even if you start with just one class, at least you are moving in a direction of bettering yourself and having something to show for it like higher education.

Tim - Any tips for people looking to return to school? 

Charl - Make school a priority and stick with it. Also, make sure you have a great support team that understands how long this could take and home much you have to put into it to get good grades.

Tim - How do you manage your time with numerous family, school, and career obligations on your plate? 

Charl - I prioritize my activities every day, and I don’t feel bad if I have to tell someone "no." Sometimes I do stretch myself too thin and that hurts people around me for not supporting their events or parties. Like a mentor once told me, “You don’t get a medal for being busy.” 

I look at things I value the most and what will bring me and people around me the most joy and focus more on those tasks and events.

Tim - What has your experience been like as a small business owner? 

Charl - It has been really a learning experience for me. Being your own boss takes a lot of time and effort to be successful. If it was easy, everyone would do it. 

It is super fun and exciting, but I would recommend everyone to do your research on what type of business or products you’re trying to sell. Make sure the market isn’t saturated with it already.

Tim - Any tips for future entrepreneurs looking to build a business on the side while working a full-time job? 

Charl - Find something you’re good at and then find a way to make money of it. If you don’t like what you’re doing now, you’re not going to like doing it in 12 months either.

Special thanks to Charl for being our first guinea pig for our new blog series. If you have an idea you want to blog about, get in touch with us at communications@ylni.org.