In our last discussion, Academic Failures Can Make The Most Successful Entrepreneurs, we introduced Cameron Herold through a Ted Talk he did entitled “Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs.” A fundamental basis for his strong encouragement to teach children to be entrepreneurs, is the fact that every problem humanity has ever had has been solved by an entrepreneur. Henry Ford gave us the automobile so that we’re no longer relying upon horses and carriages to get around. Lewis Howard Latimer created the carbon filament that gave us long lasting light bulbs so that we’d have light whenever we need it. Garrett Augustus Morgan created the traffic light to help regulate traffic. I think you get the point. These people had ideas and built products that developed into companies to fulfill a need. Children have these pure limitless imaginations that enable them to envision things that the jaded adults who live within the limitations of “reality” can’t see; and so do entrepreneurs. This type of imagination enables both groups to identify unmet needs and create methods of fulfilling those needs, from nothing.
So, Mr. Herold’s resounding point is instead of encouraging children to grow up to become doctors and lawyers and any other profession that will cause them to have to look for employment in a dried-up job market once they complete school, encourage them to become entrepreneurs who are trained to identify needs, develop products and systems that fulfill those needs, create businesses that produce those products and use those systems; and the result will be the creation of jobs for those who are looking, a reduction of the need for government assistance for daily needs (i.e. Food Stamps…etc.), as well as an advancement for humanity.
So, how do we train children to do this, especially if we were never taught this ourselves? Here are a few methods:
Method 1: Take inventory of what you have and see who can use it.
Mr. Herold said that when he was younger, he realized that they had an abundance of wired coat hangers just lying around the basement. So, he called around to all of the dry cleaners and asked how much they’d pay him for hangers. Once he found out what they were willing to pay, he sold those he had and then went around from house to house collecting hangers from neighbors.
Method 2: Find a wholesaler.
As Mr. Herold branched into other products, his father made him look for wholesalers of the products or parts he needed so that he could maximize his profit potential. Additionally, he practiced negotiating what he had to pay his suppliers to get the best deal and largest profit margins possible. This, my friends, is a priceless skill to get your children used to early on. When they become adults, the art of negotiating will be second nature, and they will not have any of the fears that many adults have of asking for the sale and getting the most out of any deal.
Method 3: Leverage other people’s everything.
This is something that my business coach preaches all of the time. Many of us have heard of the power of using OPM (Other People’s Money), but William R. Patterson says use OPE (Other People’s Everything): their time, their energy, their money, their skills…etc. The way Cameron Herold’s dad taught him this is by making him take up two paper routes and hire someone else to deliver for him. When he did this, he realized that most of the money made from selling papers came from the tips, not the profit from the paper itself. So, Herold went around and collected from all of his customers then had his employee deliver the papers and paid him a wage. Herold said that once he experienced this, he was hooked on entrepreneurship.
The next question is, how does this relate to “Special Needs” children? Here’s a fact that Mr. Herold hipped me to. He said that Bi-Polar Disease is nicknamed the CEO Disease, because so many mega successful CEOs have been diagnosed with the disease. As examples, he cited that Steve Jobs (Apple), Ted Turner (CNN & TBS), Marc Andreessen & James H. Clark (Netscape) all had/have it. That sheds a totally different light on Bi-Polar Disease now doesn’t it? And let’s not forget that Cameron Herold said that he has severe Attention Deficit Disorder.
In our culture, we’ve been groomed to feel shame about any and all of our challenges. From financial illiteracy to mental illness, we’ve been raised to feel shame about these factors when they’re present in our lives, versus being proactive about getting the knowledge and resources to find solutions to remedy or work around those perceived challenges/problems.
Now just imagine if 50% (or even a little less than that) of our community reared our children to become hooked on entrepreneurship, whether they’ve been diagnosed with learning/mental disorders or not. We’d not only change our own economic condition, as a people, within a couple of generations; but we’d also change the job drought that our country and the world is currently facing. Our children pickup concepts and skills vastly quicker than we do, as adults. We could literally create the solution to our own money problems through changing the habits of ourselves and our children. We’ll talk more about the many lessons in this Ted Talk in our next article. Until then, be fruitful.