Just the other day I received a note from an 85 year old gentleman in the USA. It was about my TED Talk where I talk about looking for entrepreneurial traits in kids, and nurturing them to be entrepreneurial.
Here are a few of his points…
- Hello Cameron: I am eighty five years old and I saw your video on TED. It cleared up something which has bothered me and I have been trying to figure out for many years.
- My father was an entrepreneur who started many businesses, one of which, a food concession business was bought by the Minnesota Vikings and still exists today.
- My grandparents were poor newly arrived immigrants when my father was born in Minneapolis. They were still very poor when my father was taken out of school after the fourth grade, at age ten, and went to work. He did what a ten year old could; swept floors, ran errands, shined shoes and sold papers.
- I have always wondered why he never seemed to resent what seemed to me to be very cruel behavior by his parents. Taking him out of school while his older brothers who were going to be a rabbi and a doctor got to stay in school.
- I now see that he was bored in school, didn’t find it interesting, and was a behavioral problem that my grandparents couldn’t understand or deal with.
- I now also see that it was as much his decision to go to work and help support his family as theirs to take him out of school.
- Thank you very much for clearing up something that has bothered me for fifty years.
Those are the kinds of notes that make what I do for a living worth while… Touching the heart of an 85 year old – who now understands why his grandparents did what they did, to his father… WOW.
He wrote me again today and added to the story…
- I don’t know if I fully expressed how much I was riveted when you started to discuss the entrepreneurial child and how he would respond and feel in school. I immediately said to myself: “he is talking about my father” I can only imagine how it was in 1900 when he was bored with how easy everything was and impatient for things to get moving, and probably disruptive. He might well have been expelled, and how my grand parents, who did not speak English, would have been unable to understand or cope with what was happening.
- I mentioned that I never really understood how my father could be so close to his mother, who I always thought was a real witch for taking him out of school and making him go to work at such a young age. I now see that she realized that this young ambitious boy could provide for the family in a way her husband, who couldn’t speak English, and who spent most of his time praying and studying the Talmud never would.
- I can now understand that my dad was proud to be able to bring home the proceeds of his work to his mother so she could buy food for the family, and how this led to a real bond between them.
- I have a doctorate from Harvard.
- My father, who taught himself how to read and write, taught himself accounting, journalism, public speaking, business administration, finance, and the other things necessary to start and run five businesses was the one who was the smart one in the family.
We NEED to remember – that entrepreneurial kids are NOT like the doctors and teachers who want us to ‘conform’. We are different. Nurture us. Don’t medicate us. Imagine if they’d told this gentleman’s father to sit still, pay attention, and put him on medication…
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