My son just spent a few hours trying to get a sandwich business off the ground. He was initially depressed because he only had one order, but he decided to give away free samples in exchange for email addresses of people who want to be notified next time he delivers.
He started with a prepared script. He was pretty nervous about approaching anyone at first. But after he pushed through and finally got his first sign-up, everything changed. Soon he was surrounded by people and began to ad-lib and even make self-deprecating comments about how people expect a kid’s sandwich to be white-bread and bologna.
On the way home he looked over the 25+ emails he collected and told me he’d never been so pumped. He relived the interactions and talked about ideas for the next sale and new menu items and marketing.
Then he stopped mid-sentence.
“Can you imagine if I was sitting in a classroom right now instead of trying to run a business? How are you supposed to learn about business without doing it? I feel bad for those kids. Even if they do well in school, they’ll be starting from scratch when it comes to business.”
I just nodded and the conversation moved on. It made me sad, but also hopeful. Sad that so many are languishing in classrooms in a social/educational system designed to shut kids up and keep them out of the real world. Hopeful, because every day more people realize it and opt out. Kindergarten through college, more people are jumping off the education conveyor belt and creating their own life and career.
By the way, this experience was no picnic (pun very much intended), and my son is not great at math and figuring out his costs, margins, etc. The whole thing was a little annoying at times, he needed my help more than I would’ve liked, and he did a lot of things wrong. But that’s just it; the bar is really low. He came up with an idea. He executed it. He experienced the results in the real world. What he gained from one good sales interaction after initial rejection is more valuable confidence and social awareness than whatever he’d get from a week being force-fed algebra or history texts.