Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TED Tuesday - Let's raise kids to be entrepreneurs by Cameron Herold

When I was a child we used to run a lemonade stand in front of our house in the summer time. We would make lemonade and charge 25 cents a cup and close neighbours would come, pat us on the head and buy a glass. When we realized we had tapped out our market, we offered lemonade AND iced tea. After that fizzled out and most of our nearby friends and neighbours had a taste of each, we realized we needed more business. We set up signs and sent little sisters and brothers out on their bikes to holler our address at people to get them to come. Then we realized that my cousin lived just two blocks away but directly in front of a playground, and the walking traffic there was ten fold what we were seeing. Soon, the lemonade stand was moved and we were on our way to riches as far as an 8 year old can see!

Our lemonade stand would have never gotten off the ground if we didn't get the help from our parents. A float to make change, cups and materials offered for free, and emotional support when business became slow - they constantly asked us what more we could do to sell lemonade to people who wanted some.

Maybe they simply thought it was cute, but I'm sure they knew that even though we didn't rake in big money - enough to buy a ton of candy, I'm sure! - we were learning valuable life lessons with every quarter we earned.

This TED talk was filmed at my local TED gathering and Cameron Herold is a home-grown Canadian boy who speaks of a school system that tried to fit his square peg into a round hole - and how he and his father cultivated certain skills which allowed him to succeed despite the odds.

Here is where I disagree with what he has to say:

  • Cheating to get to the top is never okay. If it isn't working for you, find another path. But don't cheat those who work hard out of what they have earned.
  • If you are going to be an entrepreneur, offer fair trades. Better your own situation by bettering the situation of those around you at the same time. Everybody wins when people are paid what they are worth.
  • Not all schools and teachers are out to crush your kids into a mold.

Here is where I agree with what he has to say:

  • Kids do need to be taught to negotiate, to think critically about the service they receive, to be creative, to handle failure and still move forward, and to be comfortable speaking in front of a crowd.
  • Entrepreneur does not have to be a dirty word.
  • Our life mistakes should lead us to where we are, not bring us down. Did Mr. Herold partake in a few activities that would be considered unethical? Yes. But ultimately he learned from those mistakes to create his own success.

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