The New Stuff


Finding and recruiting entrepreneurial types

When I was about seven, I leafed through a magazine, found, and ordered, on my own, one hundred boxes of Christmas cards from the Cheery Card Company. The company actually sent them! I piled those cheery cards into my little red wagon and trudged out to do business. My neighborhood consisted of a house about every mile or so, so it took a while. I remember dragging that wagon up dusty rutted roads to the farmers’ homes. All their dogs would come roaring out to greet and escort me. “Creak, creak, creak,” my old wagon’s racket and the yelping dogs would bring out the farmer’s wife. I’d get a glass of juice and maybe unload one box of cards.

Within a week I was out of houses, but I still had ninety boxes of Christmas cards. My dad had to buy them.

Later, I went into a paper doll network marketing business (don’t ask). I’d draw paper dolls for my little schoolmates and sell them for 50 cents apiece. That was the exact change from their ice-cream money. By selling three sets of dolls, I could buy ice cream with two cents left over.

I suppose this kind of thing runs in families. When my daughter Summer was seven, she began making jewelry and selling it to her schoolmates. She was so successful that her grammar school had to make a new rule: NO SELLING ON THE SCHOOL GROUNDS.

Apparently Summer was so aggressive with her wares that she was getting all the children’s lunch money. She was causing children to be late to class, and fights were erupting over favorite jewelry pieces. However, the new “no selling” rule on campus didn’t stop Summer. Each morning she’d calmly bundle up her handmade jewelry and set off for school a bit early. She was right there at the crosswalk each morning, barely off the school grounds, doing business as the kids came to class. After school, she’d run out to the same spot and promote more frenzied buying.

Keep an eye on these enterprising kids. You’ll want to nab them when they’re old enough. In the meantime, start asking grown kids, “Did you ever have a lemonade stand? Shine shoes? Play on the ball team, sell candy bars?” Even though they’re older and heavier, they still have network marketing, entrepreneurial hearts.

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