The Spark of Entrepreneurship

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“It’s time to get up!”

The familiar sound of my father’s voice at 5 am every morning calling my brothers and I to work the family business.

My father was a contractor by trade and every morning during the summer started the same with those familiar words pulling me from a deep sleep to a day of work I dreaded. 

Any attempt at pretending I hadn’t heard my Father’s voice was futile, as he would reenter the room five minutes later to sit on my bed and poke me until I would grumpily roll out of the covers.

I remember the frustration I would feel every morning, but I will always be grateful for a father who wouldn’t ever lose his patience on those hard mornings with his lazy sons. 

After a quick breakfast we would hop in his 2005 Chevrolet Silverado and head off on the 90-minute drive into the mountains to work on the luxury cabins my father’s company built. 

We would each find a corner of the truck to curl up and sleep in, which was quite easy for me at just 10 years old, and each of us would drift off to sleep. 

My father would pop in a CD with a popular business speaker that he would listen to quietly so as not to wake us up. 

Today was slightly different, I remember feeling much more rested when my Father called and as I rolled over to look at my alarm clock, I noticed that it was 7 am and the hope of a day without hard construction work could be avoided and I could take the day to go play with my friends. 

No such luck. We ate the same quick breakfast, and hopped into the truck, but this time my Father asked myself and my 3 brothers to listen to a leadership talk on one of his new CDs. 

I remember catching snippets of his talks as I dozed off on other days, but we could tell my Father was excited about this particular leadership talk. 

We listened as the speaker told the story of a father who taught his sons to love learning by paying them to read business books and report on what they learned from the books. At the end of his talk, he revealed that he was one of the sons of this amazing father who took the initiative to teach his sons how to love learning.

I remember thinking to myself, “wouldn’t that be great to be paid to be lazy!?” 

SOOOO much easier than sanding 500 pieces of wood, staining entire cabins by hand, or digging sewer lines with a shovel. 

At the conclusion of the CD my Father pulled over the truck and turned to face us and said, “I know you’ve all got what it takes to be just like the guy from this talk, and I want to make you a deal. If you will read a business or leadership book from my library and report what you learned, then I will pay you $35 per book you read.” 

At just 10 years old my father paid me more than I was worth at $8 per hour, but I remember doing the math in my head that if I could read a book in under 4 hours I would make more money by reading a book than if I did the hard work I didn’t want to do…

and I could do it from the comfort of my couch!

I couldn’t wait to get home to find the first book I would read that evening and I could see the dollar signs in my mind.

While I worked, I devised a plan to find all of the shortest books my Father owned and read all of those first because he hadn’t told us the books had to be a specific length. 

When we got home, I ran into my Father’s office and found myself standing in front of multiple bookshelves filled with thousands of books to choose from.

I quickly scanned the shelf for the thinnest book I could find and then it caught my eye: The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clayton. 

I wanted to skip dinner to read so I settled into my bed and began to read. I was barely paying attention to the words because all I could think about was that mountain bike that I was going to buy with the money I made from reading books. 

Then something happened that I didn’t expect, I started to get sucked into the story of this incredible book, learning about the factory fire that lost this man his fortune, but then seeing him rebuild it all from scratch, Learning about the process of being paid for creating value, and the power of using your brain and strategy to create money that didn’t require you to work day in and day out.

When I closed the book a few hours later, something had changed in me. I realized then that I had been missing out on a world of books I hadn’t ever imagined to be worth reading. 

These books always seemed boring compared to Harry Potter or The Lord of The Rings, but after reading this book I realized that making money could actually be fun and that there was way more money to be had If I applied what I learned in this book. 

A spark was lit in my heart that day and as I reported to my father about the book I had just finished, and he handed me $35 in cash I remember talking to him for hours late into the night about how I could start my own business at 10 years old.

I learned the invaluable lesson that I had what it takes to become all that I wanted to be and that I had gifts to share with the world even at the tender age of 10. 

I’m sure my father understood exactly what would happen for us boys if he paid us to read books, and I know at the time that money was very tight for him, but he knew that this would be the best investment he could ever make. 

It was an investment in me.

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