The 35U began with a vision to inspire the leaders of tomorrow by telling them about the leaders of today. With millions of people involved in government, education, business and community service across the country, it sometimes may be hard for the 35U to connect to leaders individually simply due to an age barrier. The 35U to us is any young adult from the ages of 18-35 in this country. These individuals have a voice – they can vote, serve, and most importantly, they can make a difference for future generations.

Today’s Q&A feature is Joe Russo, CEO of the Palm Beach Tech Association. The mission of Palm Beach Tech is to build Palm Beach, Florida into a hub for technology.

In 2018, Palm Beach Tech launched 1909, a nonprofit supporting entrepreneurs throughout the Palm Beaches by partnering with Florida Atlantic University’s Adams Center for Entrepreneurship and with $350,000 in support from the Knight Foundation and local cities.

Since 2013, Joe has served on the Palm Beach Stem Council, Business Development Board Taskforces, Chamber of Commerce Councils, Sunfest Committees, Boards of Kayla Cares 4 Kids, and the Big Heart Brigade.

Joe is an inspiration to the youth that want to get involved in entrepreneurship and leadership.

We caught up with Joe to find out what leadership means to him and what advice he would give to the next generation of leaders.

Why did you choose this career path?

My career path was not ordinary by any means!
First, I worked with The James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, a free market think tank focused on Florida public policy. There I saw a need for tech & innovation organizations around the state, and our country for that matter as well. Later I was doing public affairs consulting in West Palm Beach and saw there was a massive opportunity to start a Tech Association here in the Palm Beaches.

Who inspired you to get involved?

My father served my hometown as Mayor and Councilman while I was growing up, and was an elected public servant for 33 years. There are plenty of people who we look up to as leaders in life, but I had the best at the dinner table every night to learn from.

How do you define a leader?

“A leader is someone who motivates and inspires a group of people towards a common goal.”

What projects are you currently involved in?

1909 is an organization started from Palm Beach Tech that’s been an absolute joy to help launch. Palm Beach County was founded in the year 1909, and today we work with the next generation of founders to launch their generation of ideas into successful startup businesses. These leaders come from all backgrounds, skillsets, and passions – one day we’ll look up to them as our community’s best and brightest.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders who want to get involved?

Take a chance –
Most people are fearful of asking or showing up, yet getting engaged is the first part of being a good leader. More specifically, ask the questions, spend time learning, and ask for mentors every step along the way.