Kidpreneur: A Teenager’s Lesson
By Dallas Crilley
As a 16-year old boy, I can tell you that I’m seriously worried about my generation. It’s different than any other in history — most of my friends expect their parents to do everything for them. Their idea of being motivated is getting up the energy to ask mom or dad for money! It’s ridiculous, and if things don’t change, this country is in serious trouble.
Think about it. Most grown-ups are in credit card debt now. Just imagine how bad it’s going to be when my generation gets its hands on a few charge cards. I’m a part of the instant gratification generation, and it’s only going to get worse.
We have to teach children the value of a dollar and help them understand that making money is fun. Kids are born entrepreneurs. Just about everyone had a babysitting job, ran a lemonade stand or sold cookies door to door. However, instead of encouraging the “kidpreneur” in their child, many parents send their kids to the mall to get a job in a store and suddenly work becomes a drag.
I’ve spent time studying teenage entrepreneurs and I’ve discovered a pattern. The ones who are successful are the ones who turned their passions into profits. They didn’t start their business looking to make money. They did what they loved and the money followed.
Computer legend Michael Dell is a great example. According to his official biography, he was just 12 years old when he first started delivering newspapers. He soon discovered that the real money wasn’t in delivering papers, but in selling subscriptions. He noticed that the people most likely to buy were either newlyweds or couples just moving in.
He thought to himself, “There must be a place where this information is stored.” He decided to jump on his bike and pedal down to the courthouse where he found the office of marriage licenses and real estate transactions. He started copying down names and addresses and then pedaled over to their house to close the sale. Soon it was no longer worth his time to do the research, so he started hiring other little boys to bike down to the courthouse and bring back the information. According to his bio, Michael Dell was making more than his principal by the time he graduated high school.
Here are the lessons I learned from Michael Dell and dozens of other teenage tycoons:
FOLLOW YOUR HEART Parents should ask their children what they would do with their lives if money didn’t matter. The answer is usually very revealing. If the child says they would work with pets, perhaps they would be interested in starting a pet sitting or dog walking business. If they tell you they would play video games, maybe they could start a business tutoring younger kids on how to take their game to the next level.
ENCOURAGE THE KIDPRENEUR IN YOUR CHILD Don’t discount your child’s idea. Grown-ups are great at telling children why something won’t work. I know that you’re trying to keep your child from failing, but remember, childhood is when dreams need to be nurtured. I’ve always believed that for every person who is out there saying something can’t be done, there’s someone else who’s already out there doing it.
GROW YOUR WINGS Children will create businesses that don’t work out, and that’s okay; that’s where the learning happens. You always learn more from the failures in life than the successes. Just encourage your child to jump from the nest and trust that they will build their wings on the way down.
Now the question is, what are you going to do with this information? We suffer from the same vitamin deficiency: Vitamin A—Action. If you want to really help your child, you’ll love them enough to encourage them to go for it. Who knows? You may discover your child is born to do business and if you’re lucky, they’ll be able to take their passion and sell like Dell.
Emotion Plus Logic
By Dr. John C. Maxwell
As a referee in the National Football League for 31 years, Jim Tunney had myriad opportunities to witness great teams in action. He officiated at no less than 29 postseason games (an NFL record), including 10 championships and three Super Bowls.
Now a respected motivational speaker, Tunney uses what he observed on the football field to help organizations and corporations build winning teams. For example, he believes that clearly defined goals are a key component to team success—both on and off the field.
“If employees don’t understand their company’s goals and its game plan, these goals won’t be achieved,” he says. “Football doesn’t make this mistake. Its goals are always clearly defined. At the end of the field is a goal line. Why do we call it a goal line? Because 11 people on the offensive team huddle for a single purpose—to move the ball across it.”
From a business perspective, not all goals are quite so obvious—or so clear-cut in attainability. But whether you’re talking about players in uniform or team members at the office, one thing is certain: Vision determines the direction of the team.
When it comes to casting a compelling vision, I believe that there are two critical elements: emotional and logical transference. This is where many leaders go wrong. Some are great at explaining their vision logically, but they lack the emotion necessary to carry it forward. Others are very emotional when casting a vision, but they lack the logic to sustain it.
If you want to cast a vision that will send your team in the right direction for the long haul, you must do it with logic and emotion. It’s not an either/or situation. You must have both.
To transfer a vision emotionally, five elements are needed:
1. Credibility. This is the most important ingredient for successful emotional transference. The person casting the vision absolutely must have integrity. His team must know—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that he walks the walk and talks the talk.
2. Passion. It’s very difficult to pass a vision on to someone else if you don’t believe in it yourself. Half-hearted vision-casting simply doesn’t work.
3. Relationships. The closer a leader is to the members of her team, the quicker they’ll buy in to her vision.
4. Timing. There’s a right time and a wrong time to cast a vision. A good vision presented at the wrong time will fail.
5. Felt need. It’s hard for people to catch a vision when they don’t feel the goal is necessary.
On the other hand, to transfer a vision logically, these seven components are necessary:
1. A realistic understanding of the situation today. If you’re not realistic about where you are today, people will know that you don’t have a clue about tomorrow. Leaders often make the mistake of trying to cast a vision for the future because they’re struggling now. In other words, they use the vision to cover up their existing problems. But when you cast a vision, your people must know that you understand your current situation. Otherwise, they’ll simply roll their eyes and think, “If he isn’t realistic about where we are right now, how can he ever be realistic about where we want to go?”
2. An experienced team. It’s tough to keep a vision alive without seasoned players who comprehend why it’s important to the success of your organization.
3. A sound strategy. The step-by-step process of how you’re going to achieve your vision must be well-reasoned and watertight; otherwise it will fall apart.
4. Acceptance of responsibility by the leaders. The success of a vision nearly always is based upon the buy-in of the leaders who are willing to sign their names to the bottom-line number, whatever it is. Don’t even attempt to cast a vision until your leaders are ready to put their names by the bottom line.
5. The celebration and communication of each victory. Such recognition provides an infusion of enthusiasm and gives your people something concrete to hold on to as they continue to move toward the ultimate goal of fulfilling the vision.
6. Evaluation and communication for each defeat. Be as open about explaining the defeats as you are about celebrating the victories. After each setback, tell your team, “Here’s what we did wrong; here’s why we did not accomplish what we need to.”
7. Time. This is interesting, isn’t it? To emotionally transfer a vision, you need proper timing. To logically transfer it, you just need time.
What happens when emotion joins logic in the transference of a vision? People unite around the goal and start working to achieve it because they believe in what they’re doing and they understand why they’re doing it.
That’s how teams win—both on and off the field.
Are your goals clearly defined, goals are a key to success!
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