Archive for » October, 2009 «

October 30th, 2009 | Author:

You can tell a lot about a person’s character by playing a round of golf with them.  It doesn’t matter if it’s mini-golf or real golf.  The basic principles are the same.  Golf is a game of honor.  Each player is responsible for enforcing rules on their own game.  It would be pretty easy to hit two strokes and only count one.  You may be the only one who knows you cheated but what will that really get you?

In any part of life, either business or personal, wouldn’t you want to deal with honest people?   Some people feel it’s okay to bend the rules as far as they can without breaking the rules.  There are also those who think it’s okay to break the rules if it benefits them but not okay if it benefits others.  No matter how you look at the situation, it’s better to be honest with yourself and others.  You will get a lot farther in life.

So the next time you make a new friend or business contact, invite them to play golf.  You may learn a lot about them that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Category: Biz Tips, Kid's POV  | Tags: , ,  | 2 Comments
October 20th, 2009 | Author:

Are you a square peg or a round peg?

Most people will probably answer “round peg” because the idea of being a square anything isn’t that appealing.  Why do you think people use the expression, “think outside the box?”  A box is square or rectangle and considered pretty limiting.  What if the saying were, “think outside the ball?”  Just doesn’t sound right, does it?  A square also has four points.  When you think of a point, you normally think of sharp things which can be dangerous.  A square also has four sides.  Since I’m still in school, when I think of sides, I think of team sports in PE. Depending on which side you’re on, it isn’t necessarily that much fun.  Apparently in the 1960’s, being called “square” meant you were the guys in suits, the people who worked at traditional companies, the ones that followed the rules.   I guess there were probably a lot of grown-ups that were considered “square.”

When you think of being square, there are a lot of negative meanings associated with it.

But being something round, without any sides or points seems pretty good.   A round peg can fit into a square hole but a square peg can’t fit into a round hole (of course given that the diameter of the circle isn’t bigger than the width of the square).   The round peg has more options.

Have you ever wondered why manhole covers are round, not square?   It’s because round covers won’t accidentally fall into the hole.  No matter how you hold it or tilt it, you can’t push it through the hole.  If it were square, it would be really easy to turn it diagonally and drop it through.  Wouldn’t you rather be a round cover than a square one?

Use whatever expression or saying you like for this situation.  When it comes right down to it, I think it’s better to be round than square.  To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be flexible and able to, as my grandpa says, “roll with it.”  You can’t roll if you’re a square peg.

October 12th, 2009 | Author:

There are probably those rare situations where someone becomes famous or successful overnight but they are definitely the exception.

Most of us have to work hard, whether it’s starting a business, becoming a musician, athlete, or actor.  Pretty much anything you choose to do is going to take a lot of effort.

This is easy to say but that doesn’t mean I always like doing it.  Everyone, no matter what age you are, is going to get tired of work, work, and more work, especially if you can’t see the reward right away.  That’s why everyone, but especially a kid, needs someone to support and encourage them when they want to quit.  And that will happen at some point.  That’s where a parent or other mentor really helps.  Maybe it’s their age or their experience but somehow my parents can see the possibilities and opportunities much farther down the road than I can.  But I keep learning as I go.

Success won’t happen overnight.  The only guarantee is that if you quit, nothing will happen.

Category: Biz Tips  | Tags: , , ,  | One Comment
October 06th, 2009 | Author:

Free advertising?   It really does exist.  The only thing is, it takes a lot more effort and a little creativity.  You need to keep your eyes and ears open and take advantage of every opportunity.

Contests are one way to get some free advertising.   You would be surprised at how many people skip by this option for various reasons.    One of the reasons is that there are usually a lot of details to follow in order to qualify and many people just don’t want to spend the time to enter.  Another reason someone, especially a kid, may not enter is because of age restrictions.  But sometimes you have to ignore that rule and still submit your application WITH an explanation of why you’re entering even though you may be under age.

This has happened with me a lot but I don’t let that stop me.  Depending on who is sponsoring the contest and what the specific rules are is how I handle the entry form.  Sometimes I try to contact them ahead of time and ask permission to enter explaining why I think I should be allowed to.  Sometimes I just send in my entry form with the explanation attached.  Believe it or not, I haven’t been turned down yet.  And if I do get a “no”, it’s not a big deal.  There are always other contests.

The very first contest I entered was sponsored by the Young Entrepreneurs of America.  The rules clearly said you had to be 16.  I was only 11 at the time but I had had my business for about a year and a half by then.  I figured that I could go up against anyone over 16 and have just as much of a chance to win as they did.  The prize was being named “Young Entrepreneur of the Year.”  I knew if I won, that would give me some really good national recognition, especially because I was so young.

So I entered.  I filled out all the forms exactly as requested but in my essay, I explained and justified why I felt they should consider me.   The worst they could say was “no.”  After a few months, I got a big surprise.  Not only did they consider my entry but they said the judges were so impressed that they created a whole new category for kids under 16 and I was their first recipient.

There wasn’t any money attached to it, no prize, no trophy, and not even a certificate.  But the national recognition from them and what would follow was worth more than any piece of paper or statue.   Less than a year later, we got an email from Forbes saying they wanted to include me in their first Top 10 List for role models 18 & under.   They said they found me because of my Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

I’m not saying it’s easy to find contests of any sort for young entrepreneurs so sometimes you have to think outside the box.  Just this year, I found out about a contest sponsored by Intuit.  I was way too young according to the rules but I found a person to email and actually got written permission back to enter anyway.  I didn’t care if they even put me in the actual contest because they said they would at least post my information on their website which gave me a lot of exposure.

When I was a contestant on NBC’s game show ‘1 vs 100’ for their all-kid episode, I lost on the second question.  I got teased and people actually sent me nasty emails about it but the 2 minutes or so that the host, Bob Saget, talked to me on camera about my Pencil Bugs business was worth more in the long run than what the remaining kids finally won.

I also entered a contest from Kohl’s department store.  Not only did I win a college scholarship but my picture was on a huge poster in our regional stores which was pretty cool.

Free advertising?  Absolutely.  Can you afford to pay for advertising like this?  Probably not.   Remember, contests are just one way to get more exposure for your business.  It’s always worth the effort even if you don’t win.

October 01st, 2009 | Author:

A lot of people use the TV commercials for bathroom breaks or getting a quick snack.  Me?  I actually like watching the commercials too.   Some are so funny but the ones I don’t like are the ones about medicine.  It seems like there’s a medicine for just about everything and some of the so-called diseases or problems are just plain silly.

Take for instance RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome).  I think the drug companies give common problems a name just so they can justify and sell their drugs.  My grandparents are 76 and 85 and still do all the work themselves on their ranch.   Grandpa’s solution for someone with RLS is to get out there and do something like walking around or exercising in some way.  It makes sense that if you just sit or lie around all day that your muscles won’t work as well.  It doesn’t take a scientist to figure that out.

There are lots of drugs that companies are making for different problems.  But have you really listened to one of those commercials?   Just the other day I saw a commercial for a drug called Chantix which is supposed to help people quit smoking.  Quitting smoking is a good thing so everyone should try the best they can, anyway they can . . . but.   As I was watching the commercial where an old guy was talking about how it helped him, the narrator started telling all the side effects the drug could cause.  The commercial seemed to go on a lot longer than most 30-second commercials so I decided to rewind the DVR and time it.  Here is the unbelievable part.

The advertising FOR the drug lasted just 40 seconds and the warnings AGAINST the drug went on for 110 seconds.  It was a 2 1/2 minute commercial.  Those aren’t cheap and the fact that the warnings took longer than the advertisement should make people who might be considering this drug to reconsider.

All drug commercials have warnings about possible side effects but I’d worry when they say taking the drug could cause you to think about suicide but stopping the drug could also make you think about suicide.  Geez! You’re taking a huge risk either way.  I wonder how the FDA can even allow companies to make drugs that could make people think about suicide.  That doesn’t make any sense to me.

My grandpa quit smoking about 30 years ago.  He didn’t use any drugs and wouldn’t have anyway even if they would have been around back then.  He just quit ‘cold turkey’ as he says.

Anyone can do anything they choose if they just set their mind to it.   You don’t need dangerous drugs to do it either.  Of course what do I know?  I’m still 13 and my worst habit is wanting to play video games too much.

From this kid’s point of view, I’m just saying, maybe it’s better to rely on your own will power than to depend on some drug that some company says will work but the side effects could make you worse off than before.