I received an email from one of my LinkedIn
connections, Steve Sammons
, last week. After reading the content of his email, I realized what a great life lesson Steve is teaching his stepson. Read here:
"...I am attempting to provide some help to my step-son in a fund raising project he is doing to raise money to be part of a basketball tour this summer.
My wife and I insisted that he come up with a concept that would require him to provide a product for profit versus just asking his relatives for a handout. Thus far it has worked well and he is very close to achieving his goal.
He needs to sell 30 more units of this back-yard-game to hit is target. So I am sending out a very soft note to see if you have any interest. His website is pretty engaging and fairly innovative for a fourteen-year-old; it even has a few links to a video of him explaining the game.
Not a pressure email; just a favor to my son to help him over the hurdle."
I remember a coworker of mine bringing in a Girl Scout cookie order form to work and laying it out on the break room table. A week later, only a small handful of people had signed up to buy cookies. I knew there were more people that liked Girl Scout Cookies than just that small handful of folks (the Tagalongs
have always been my favorite!!), but this "marketing" method was 1) not getting the word out effectively and 2) not building the character of the girl who was selling the cookies because her parents were doing the work for her.
I admire the girls and boys who stand outside the grocery store and ask us as we walk in if we'd like to support their troop and buy some cookies. Just last week, I was meeting my brother at Buffalo Wild Wings
here in Cincinnati and two people from a local church were outside raising money for a youth athletic program by selling chocolate candy. I told them I didn't need the candy but gave them the last $2 I had in my purse because I remember being that person standing outside the store trying to raise money, or walking up and down the streets of my neighborhood selling Girl Scout cookies.
Steve's stepson is learning a very valuable lesson here: he's learning, as Steve points out, that instead of asking for handouts, he would do well to provide a product (or a service) in exchange for the financial assistance he needs in order to attend his basketball camp. He will also be able to appreciate attending the basketball camp this summer much more than the other kids because he earned his ticket there by his own merit.
I don't know if Steve's stepson has reached his financial goal yet, but I would still encourage you to check out this young man's website and support him. In fact, I would encourage everyone to buy a candy bar or a box of cookies from the kids who are selling outside the grocery store instead of passing them by saying "I'll catch you on my way out" or "I don't have any money" (oh please - come on, we've all blown them off with this line at some point in our lives!) If you don't want/need what they have, give them a couple of bucks anyhow and encourage them. Stop at the neighborhood kids' lemonade stand this summer and when they charge you a dollar for a glass, give them ten and watch their eyes light up. Ask them what they are earning money toward. Encourage their work ethic and entrepreneurship; they are the ones who will not grow up stricken with victim mentality, always looking for someone else to foot their bill. They are the ones who will value the things they have in life because they worked to earn them.
Steve - I know your stepson will reach his goal! Congratulations!