My guest today is Jordan Langer, a wildly creative and successful business entrepreneur, the founder of Non Plus Ultra, and a high-school dropout.

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Project Wreckless: Teens Building Bespoke Cars to Change Their Minds and Their Trajectory

“Let's think about things differently. Let's not get angry and upset and stuck in the problem. Look to the solution and power through it because the sh*ttiness is not going to last forever, the outcome is something we will always remember.” Click To Tweet

The American school system is outdated and some may even call it broken. The way we manage education has been a public debate for years now. While other first-world countries shift to more diverse models, here in the US we maintain the standardized systems of testing and teaching. 

It’s clear that this education system doesn’t work for everyone. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, and the Education Data Initiative in 2019 there were 2 million student dropouts (16 to 24-year-old students), that’s a 5.1% rate. Plus, students from families in lower socioeconomic status percentiles are 5 times more likely to drop out of high school.

The situation has worsened especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2019 to 2020, public schools lost more than 1.1 million students, 2 percent versus an anticipated decline of less than 0.4 percent before the pandemic.

The health and economic crisis also affected students in their path to higher education. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center college enrollment in the US dropped by around 560,000 students in the fall of 2020 compared with 2019. Among students from low-income high schools, enrollment dropped 29 percent for four-year colleges and 37 percent for community colleges. 

Where are these young people today?

My guest today is Jordan Langer, a wildly creative and successful business entrepreneur, and a high-school dropout. As the founder of Non Plus Ultra, best known for hosting large-scale parties or conferences in its myriad portfolio of properties, Jordan works 20-hour days, but still found time to invest in the community. His desire to do something truly impactful for people and his own story with the American education system led him to create Project Wreckless, a San Francisco-based capacity development non-profit organization centered around the restoration of badass old American classic cars. 

This year-long program works with the most at-risk youth around the bay area improving job readiness, collaboration, communication, and grit. Jordan doesn’t believe in band-aid fixes, he bets on long-term solutions. Homelessness, hunger, and many of the issues that the US faces today can be completely avoided, stopped, or redirected if you work with individuals at an early age. 

Project Wreckless’ goal is to educate youth on seven different unique roles and responsibilities using a car as a vehicle: Mechanic, Programme Manager, Account Manager,  Human Resources Manager, Parts Manager, Community Manager, and Safety Manager.

I have known Jordan for many years now and I have always felt inspired by the energy and drive that he puts into this project. In today’s conversation, I dive deeper into the source of his passion, his mindset around youth, and how he manages to spread positivity and confidence to the community around him. Join us in this conversation!

Key Takeaways: 

04:48 – Doing something truly impactful: Jordan Langer’s story and the mission behind Project Wreckless.

13:30 – Project Wreckless: A capacity development program centered around the restoration of old American classic cars. 

17:59 – Bringing excitement and joy to the table: Jordan’s thoughts on being confident, exuding excitement for your project, and connecting on a human level.

23:05 – How are you communicating?: The importance of words, working with our flaws, and being intentional about maximizing today’s opportunity.

33:41 – Growing as a community: Asking companies for true engagement and learning through connecting with others.

42:47 – Jordan’s words of wisdom about understanding what’s important: Finding the sense of meaning and purpose in every activity.

Notes and tips from this conversation:

  • Let your heart sing: Let your excitement show and allow your energy to be infectious to the people around you. Positivity, energy, and wholeheartedness will act as a magnet for people, and opportunities.
  • Visualize your words as objects: Imagine that every word that comes out of your mouth is a tangible thing. Are you throwing flowers? Are you projecting bright colors? Or are you shooting darts? Words are powerful, use them wisely!
  • Smile and show interest: Whenever you have an interaction with others show joy through your body language and express interest in others. The most basic human connection is born from feeling welcomed and listened to.
  • Think about the past with gratitude: Every day think about the challenges you’ve sorted out and the learnings you’ve gained from past experiences. Focus on the growth and not on the negative aspects of the past. 
  • Maximize today’s opportunities: Think outside the box and try to detect opportunities for yourself today. Knowing there are a ton of opportunities for you will make you feel more at ease and confident about your present.
  • Work in community: Get in touch with people around you and create meaningful connections with them. Community is a powerful tool but also a comfortable safety net that you definitely want in your life. We are social creatures and no one can do it on their own and that’s ok!

A bit more about Non Plus Ultra!

Non Plus Ultra is best known for hosting large-scale parties or conferences in its myriad portfolio of properties. It rents out SVN West, an old Honda dealership at Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue that is now the site of a new immersive Van Gogh exhibition, and also holds events at the Midway music venue and Jones, a restaurant and rooftop bar near Union Square. The company also leases several historic landmarks in the city, including the Old Mint, the Palace of Fine Arts, and Pier 70, paying the city tens of thousands of dollars in rent each year.

Visit: Non Plus Ultra 

Learn more about Project Wreckless!

Project Wreckless is a San Francisco-based capacity development non-profit organization focused on changing the lives of at-risk youth through the restoration of classic, badass cars. Designed to have a significant, meaningful, and lasting positive impact on each participant, Project Wreckless provides tools for life through an immersive curriculum centered around the restoration of cars.

Connect with Jordan

through LinkedIn

Episode Resources

Project Wreckless

Non Plus Ultra

[email protected]

[email protected]

How NPU – an event venue – fared during the shutdowns.