Roanoke’s Cameron Johnson has been named as one of the 2009 Ten Outstanding Young Americans (TOYA) by the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees).
Johnson, 24, is one of the most successful young entrepreneurs in the world. Author, businessman, entrepreneur, and internationally recognized public speaker, Johnson is President and CEO of Cameron Johnson Inc., and serves as consultant to several Fortune 500 companies.
Johnson started his first business when he was nine years old. By age 12, he was making $50,000 per year and by the time he was 15, Johnson’s company was generating $15,000 per day in revenue. That same year, he became the youngest American appointed to the board of a Tokyo-based company, and his autobiography, “15-Year-Old CEO,” was published in Japan and became an instant best seller. Johnson used his platform and recognition in Japan to work with the Japanese government to promote computer literacy, and his book inspired Japanese young people to consider entrepreneurship as a path in life.
Especially for someone as young as he is, Johnson has received more awards and recognitions than many amass in a lifetime, but this one is especially meaningful to Johnson due to the award’s longevity.
“It was quite an honor earlier this year to have been chosen as one of ‘Ten Outstanding Young Virginians’ …so, to also win the national award, it’s very exciting. The history dates back to the 1930’s and the past winners are a group we can all admire, like JFK, Henry Ford II, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, and others,” Johnson said.
The TOYA selection process begins in the spring of each year. Following the submission deadline, all nominations are forwarded to a panel of screening judges who, working independently, select and rank their top 20 choices. The top 20 point getters become the finalists. The finalists’ nominations are forwarded to a panel of finalist judges who rank their top ten choices.
According to his website, Johnson received his first computer as a Christmas present from his parents at the age of nine. Only a few months later, he started his first business printing greeting cards, stationery, and invitations for family and friends using his computer and printer. Just before he turned 10, his parents allowed him to open his own checking account. This allowed Cameron to be in complete control of all of his finances and to learn to manage his money. From depositing his weekly allowance to writing checks for office supplies, he learned how to manage his money and how to keep track of his expenses. Cameron was raised on the principles of giving back to his community and at the same age (just 10 years old), he began giving an annual gift to his local church.
Before turning 21, Johnson had started 12 profitable Internet companies and been featured in more than 250 media outlets worldwide including Newsweek, BusinessWeek, and the New York Times. In 2007, Johnson published his latest book titled “You Call the Shots: Succeed Your Way—and Live the Life You Want—with the 19 Essential Secrets of Entrepreneurship.”
Today, Johnson primarily spends his time traveling (to speaking engagements) around the world. He is also very involved with several non-profit organizations, and says he plans to take his platform and use it to promote financial literacy among young people.
“True prosperity isn’t something you take from the world; it’s something you share with the world,” Johnson writes in “You Call the Shots.”
In 2008, Johnson was a finalist on Oprah Winfrey’s first-ever primetime series, “The Big Give,” and he went on to host Season 4 of “Beat the Boss,” a successful kids’ business competition show that airs on the BBC in the UK. Today, Johnson continues to volunteer his time and speak at various schools across the country, focusing on promoting financial literacy among young people in America, and he has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for a wide variety of charities.
Although he has little idle time, outside of his tenacious passion for his work, Johnson enjoys many of the things a “regular” 24-year-old would.
“Outside of the business – author, speaker, TV world – I enjoy traveling, concerts, sporting events, all the same stuff your average 20-something would enjoy. I’ve been afforded a lot of opportunities and I’m fortunate that travel has been one of them,” he said.
Even in the midst of tremendous success and accolades, Johnson keeps his eye on the future.
“Any award is flattering, and this is especially no exception, but I always try and stay focused about the future and ‘what’s next’?’” he said.
The presentation of the 71st annual black-tie awards ceremony will be held September 26, 2009, in the Orlando, Florida Ramada Inn Orlando Celebration Resort & Convention Center.By Pam Rickard [email protected]