Members Helping Members - Educating, Informing, Supporting
Today was my third meeting and first orientation. I was so excited to see that I could share some really great inspiration with all of you. I work with Scott Schickler and Juan Casimiro who you have met previously. Each week Scott sends us an empowering thought of the week. This one is soooo appropriate. Hope you enjoy and are inspired, too. Donna Walker
May 4, 2011
"He stole a car? But he's only ten years old. He can hardly see over the steering wheel!" This was crazy and I thought I was in big trouble. I was just trying to help. Maybe I had no idea what I was doing.
It all started when I was asked to be a guest speaker on a Saturday afternoon to a group of students at the Boys & Girls Club in Newark, New Jersey. I had never been to Newark before and I was a little afraid. At the time, Newark was considered one of the most dangerous cities in America and they were number one in auto theft - including the latest trend...carjacking. For those of you who don't know, carjacking is when someone steals your car, usually at gun-point, when you are still in it. Typically you pull up to a traffic light and within seconds you are standing on the side of the road watching your car get driven away.
So there I was, talking to around 40 4th graders and my topic was business. I wasn't a teacher I was just an entrepreneur, fresh out of college. I wasn't even sure if 4th graders would be interested in business let alone comprehend it. I was introduced as a business owner and I saw a spark in their eyes. Out of curiosity I asked if there was anyone interested in starting their own company someday, maybe being their own boss. Almost every hand went up and I was amazed. Then a student asked how he could become a business owner like me and he sort of leaned toward me in anticipation of my answer. I wasn't exactly sure what to say, and while I paused for a moment to think, their teacher in the back of the room spoke up.
She quickly pointed out to the students that in order to start their own business they needed to finish elementary school, finish middle and high school, go to college, graduate and then go to business school, write a business plan, raise a lot of money and then they would have a 3 out of 10 chance in succeeding in a business of their own. In less than 30 seconds she had completely changed the energy in the room. I watched as the students lost their enthusiasm and many literally slumped back down in their chairs. What was strange was that I had heard similar advice before. The difference was, I knew it wasn't the only way to start a business and these students didn't. I acknowledged that the teacher had pointed out one way, but that I knew a way for all of them to become their own boss within a month. And with that, they all perked up again.
Over the next four weeks I continued to volunteer. I took the students to a local wholesaler and gave each one of them a $10 venture capital grant so they could buy merchandise they thought they could sell to their friends and family. I showed them how to make posters, flyers, and marketing materials for their products. I encouraged them to name their business, choose a title for themselves, and I made a small set of business cards for each student. We set up a little market in the lobby of the club and the students sold their products. I took them to a local bank and helped them open a small savings account to keep their newly earned money. They became little entrepreneurs and just when I thought everything was going great... it was about to change.
As I walked into the club to begin my 5th Saturday of volunteering the executive director called me into her office. She said, "Mr. Shickler, I've been getting a lot of calls from parents about this new program we're offering and I didn't know we had a new program." I said I was sorry and that it wasn't really a program I was just teaching the students about business. And that's when she said, "Do you see that kid over there? Last month he stole a car. The month before that he stole two cars!" She was pointing to Jamal. He was one of the students I was helping. I apologized again and almost not wanting to know the answer I asked, "What has he done this month?" "That's just it" she said, "We can't seem to find anything he's done wrong all month. He seems really engaged in your program." I interrupted and said "I don't have a program." She smiled and said, "You do now."
As I reflect on this experience, I recognize how our mindsets can really influence what we do with our lives. When we believe something is impossible or unlikely to come true, we lose interest and often give up without even trying. When we have a glimmer of hope, our energy changes and we might even get inspired to take action toward our dreams. The lives of those 40 students could have gone in either direction that day. They could have succumbed to the unintentional "dream snatching" from their teacher but instead they followed their heart and allowed me to guide them over the next few months. Ultimately, the circumstances that surround us simply create opportunities for us to choose which direction we want to head. We really are in control of our own happiness and success. The only real "dream snatcher" we need to worry about is the one that resides between our own two ears. Change your mindset and you can change your life. Sweet dreams!
Until next week...
Live Your Dreams,
Scott J. Shickler
Chief Empowerment Officer
Magic Wand Foundation