BrainTrust Query: Lemonade Day Sunday – Battling the ‘Gimme Attitude’

Discussion
Apr 29, 2011
Bob Phibbs

Through a special arrangement,
presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail
Doc blog.

Lemonade Day, started by Michael Holthouse in Houston four years ago,
shows youth K-12 how to become entrepreneurs.

When hundreds of thousands of
kids in over thirty cities participate this Sunday, they will embark
on one of the oldest methods entrepreneurs were exposed to early in life —
opening their own lemonade stand.

But this isn’t about opening a Lemonade stand. Anyone can do that…

Through a series of ten lessons that include setting
a goal, budgeting, site selection, advertising, opening a bank account,
giving back to charity, and others, they learn more than 40 skills they’ll
need in real life. They have to open whether it is raining or sunny. They may
make enough money to pay back their investors, they may not.  If they have
a partner, they have to pay them or split profits in some way. If they want
their sister to wear a sign by the road, they’ll have to pay her

Kids
will learn in life that they won’t get credit just for showing
up — they
get rewards for showing individual initiative and pursuing goals and dreams.
They have to overcome their fears and follow a path they may never have taken,
but that has great rewards.

And that’s great, but there’s more…

Lemonade Day’s mantra
is "spend a little, save a little and
give a little." Last year kids sold $6.8 million worth of lemonade, with the
kids giving back $2 million to charities of their choice.

And
that’s really great but here’s why you should give a damn.

American
Business, small businesses, big businesses, non-profit businesses — you name
it — have been devolving lately.

Where once they were the ones creating
a world of abundance for employees, for communities, and indeed for America
itself, many have become increasingly focused on, "What can be given
to me?"

That gimme attitude has created a true "lack" mentality
in our culture and, most importantly, trickled down to our youth. Just because
they want something, they feel they should have it — not due to hard work,
to being clever or taking risks; that the answer to their golden future was
in someone else’s hands.

Lemonade Day became important to me while I was
chatting with a contractor’s
assistant working on my house. He shared that he hoped his son could grow up
and get a job at the local prison because "that’s the best job
he could get." No one ever tripped the entrepreneur switch for him, so
he figures the same fate probably waits for his kid.

I was lucky. On my own
I discovered entrepreneurialism…

Back in 1967 I wanted the new More of
the Monkees LP which cost $2.99. I was able to find a way to get the money
by becoming an entrepreneur. I went door-to-door selling flowers from my mom’s
garden. I was nine. This was at a time when kids were encouraged to go to college
and get a safe job working with a big company.

In a world where "safe" jobs
are disappearing, it will be up to the individual to make a living for themselves.
If we don’t turn on
that entrepreneur spirit in kids, we are looking at generations of people who
won’t be able
to start anything. And when they show up at your store to work, they won’t
be bringing anything but a "gimme attitude." And how will that
make you or them money?

Discussion Questions: Do you agree or disagree that America’s entrepreneurial spirit is waning? What’s the best way to instill an entrepreneurial drive in kids and younger adults? What’s your “mantra” for successful entrepreneurialism?

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18 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: Lemonade Day Sunday – Battling the ‘Gimme Attitude’"


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Bill Robinson
Guest
Bill Robinson
10 years 6 days ago

What a great piece! As a professor of retail, I am going to insert into the class a Lemonade Stand competition. I’ll organize the class into six teams and ask them to set up some retail store on campus during the semester. This will be the perfect way to demonstrate they understand what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in retail.

What fun we’ll have!

Steve Montgomery
Guest
10 years 6 days ago
Not sure I am qualified with any degree of certainty whether the entrepreneurial spirit in America is waning or not. I do know the downturn in the economy has forced many people to either find their inner entrepreneur or be forced to go without. If we continue on this jobless recovery many more will face that same decision. I, like many, got started in the entrepreneur world at a young age. Frankly that is one of the things that attracts me to Lemonade Day. It gets young people involved. I always stop when I see one of these stands and make a purchase because I remember my kids doing it, selling vegetables out of our garden, etc. I do agree that there can be hard lessons learned–no one stops, it rains shortly after getting set up, etc. I think part of the reason many kids today don’t seem to have that entrepreneurial spirit is because of the “helicopter” parenting that is going on. We all want a better life for our children than what we… Read more »
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
10 years 6 days ago
Bob, great article. I think what Michael Holthouse started is fantastic and what young people today need. Another great source for young people between K-12 is Junior Achievement. Almost every community in the United States has one or more of their programs. I am not sure I 100% agree that Entrepreneurial spirit is waning in the US. The one very good thing that comes out of a recession is a resurgence of entrepreneurs. I don’t have the figures in front of me but Entrepreneurial magazine shared a stat last month on the growth of start-ups in the last 3 years and the numbers were impressive. I agree children today need to have a basic understand of business regardless of their ultimate profession. The simple skills of creating a business plan, developing a simple cash flow statement, understanding the cost of raw materials and labor, communication skills to sell what you created and finally understanding a hard day’s work can enhance everyone’s life. This winter my daughter decided on her own that she wanted to open… Read more »
Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 6 days ago

The best way to instill a work ethic in young people is to make them work for things and not give them everything they want when they want it. As a parent of small children, I understand the impulse to fulfill their every desire, but when I see lazy, entitled teenagers strutting around it reminds me there are negative and far-reaching consequences to overdoing it.

Marge Laney
Guest
10 years 6 days ago

I’m not sure that America’s entrepreneurial spirit is waning, but I don’t think it gets much encouragement. Giving people what they need and want is antithetical to them taking the risks necessary to making it on their own. Taking chances or even keeping score is no longer encouraged because failure may be the outcome and that doesn’t make us feel good.

Entrepreneurialism is something that is nurtured, not taught. You either are a risk taker or you’re not. You either lead or follow. I like the idea of Lemonade Day because it not only encourages the entrepreneurial spirit in kids it gives them immediate feedback on why something they thought of did or did not work.

Lemonade Day typifies the can do spirit that drives entrepreneurs. That spirit is what built this country and made it great. After all we are Ameri-cans not Ameri-can’ts!

Cathy Hotka
Guest
10 years 6 days ago

No allowances for doing nothing in this house! If our kids wanted money they had to earn it, and as a result we raised kids who worked as dog walkers, cat sitters, and baristas. Entrepreneurship is alive and well–read any issue of Inc. or Fast Company and see–but parents can dampen that spirit by loading their kids with goodies they didn’t earn.

Tony Orlando
Guest
10 years 6 days ago
I could spend a whole day on this subject because of my childhood years spent working for my father’s store. With six kids in our family, we worked for everything we wanted, and it became second nature. A baseball glove might have cost me a week’s work bagging oranges and potatoes, and cleaning the bathrooms. My father told us not to depend on the government because if all of us thought that way, there would be chaos, which is exactly what we have now in 2011. I have two sons and both of them understand that earning your way is good for their self esteem, and personal responsibility will lead to better things in their lives. My concern is that the current climate of the day punishes businesses that are successful, and the “gimme” mentality is pervasive everywhere. I will continue to run my business with my head held high and service the folks in a creative way because I plan on being here till they turn out the lights! Long live successful small businesses,… Read more »
Jonathan Marek
Guest
10 years 6 days ago

I support anything that can teach kids that business can be virtuous, in the midst of lots of negative cultural feedback about business. Entrepreneurialism teaches that life isn’t about showing up–it’s about hard work, creativity, and passion for what you do. Those are virtues, and they are the foundation for living a happy life, whether as an entrepreneur or a productive employee.

John Lingnofski
Guest
John Lingnofski
10 years 6 days ago

What a great idea. But let’s be careful not to over-organize it. A look at the website implies that may be happening already. I like the workbook idea and then stand back and let the kids work it out. They will surprise you if you give them the chance.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 6 days ago

We start off life with adventure in our hearts, courage in our souls and dreams in our minds. We are born to be happy entrepreneurs. We know we can succeed.

We bolt out boldly and some potholes can appear. We start to assess what is the cost to be truly free and self sufficient. Then environmental forces, which have been changing, engulf us and either modify us or inspire us to be entrepreneurial.

So America, let’s always encourage the entrepreneurial spirit and tone down expectations to look for safer ways.

Dean A. Sleeper
Guest
Dean A. Sleeper
10 years 6 days ago

Love it! Have to agree with the concerns regarding over-doing it. Helicopter parents could ruin the very intent of the drill.

It really doesn’t have much to do with the topic, but I remember thinking I could make some bank by picking wild flowers, making up bouquets and then taking them in my wagon down the street to sell…on May Day one year. I was cookin’ when one neighbor lady chastised me for profiting from something that I should be giving away in the spirit of the holiday. She “made” me give her a bouquet and then accompanied me back down the street toward my house giving every house their money back! I’m still not sure what lesson that taught me…but I know it didn’t dissuade me from becoming an entrepreneur! :>)

I do truly believe that we are suffering from a sense of entitlement that is robbing us from the very thing which made this country great and I applaud the Lemonade Day efforts.

Kevin Graff
Guest
10 years 6 days ago

Great article, Bob! And Lemonade Day really rocks! It takes the idea of opening a stand on a whim and forces kids to think through every aspect of running a business. Looks like the lemonade stand of old (think old-style retailers) is being replaced by a new, more skilled competitor (just like in the real retail world).

I would never knock parents for how they raise their kids, but seeing so few teenagers get jobs like we all used to, and being doted on is a cause for concern in the world of entrepreneurialism.

The comments above are all aligned, and spot on. Watch out for a brilliant lemonade stand at the end of my driveway this summer!

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
10 years 6 days ago

I don’t think the entrepreneurial spirit is waning. Indeed, I’d venture to say that many consumers have thoughts of hanging out their own shingle. The problem is in taking a thought and making it a reality and then building it into a successful reality. Initiatives like Lemonade Day can definitely help instill the can-do mindset in younger consumers–a mindset that they hopefully maintain. And I echo what others here have noted–we need to ensure kids learn to work for the things they want by doing less handing of things to children and asking more, e.g., household chores.

And if they do reach adulthood with the can-do mindset, keep in mind that simply having that outlook isn’t enough. Entrepreneurs need help in many ways that build their own knowledge and improve their businesses. Minus such, many entrepreneurial endeavors may fail.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
10 years 6 days ago

Curiously, Lucy Kellaway in her Wednesday FT column raised the same question–by which, it seems, we may infer this is an international issue–but her readership came to no firm conclusions. My own 9 cents (I’ve adjusted for inflation): I don’t share the rather pessimistic tone of this article; I think entrepreneurship is doing just fine…hasn’t the flood of hi-tech companies of the past few decades shown us that? Indeed, the seemingly constant parade of dot.com zillionaires and talent shows has probably swung the pendulum too far the other way, emphasizing the roles of genius and novelty over simple competence. So I applaud the Lemonade Initiative; not because it’s keeping entrepeneurism off the endangered list, but because it shows what lies–or should lie–behind success: hard work.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
10 years 6 days ago
I love the idea of Lemonade Day, especially the charitable part. Like Bob Phibbs and many others commenting here, I got started early doing yard work, babysitting, shoveling snow and, yes, a lemonade stand in ’55 with my little brother. My first real job was as a page in the Kansas Legislature (that’s when I got my SSN, which were not automatically assigned at birth in those days). My second real job was at 15 1/2 as a Red Cross lifeguard – which led to seven years of same. And it’s all because I needed the money. My early entrepreneur history is far from unique, but I suspect it is relatively rare in recent decades. Hence, Lemonade Day. I’m smitten by the recent Verizon TV commercial designed to create awareness for their new iPhone offering. It features a little girl operating a lemonade stand, whose father lends her an iPhone on his way to work in the morning. She is inspired by the device’s capabilities which, by the end of the day, help her to… Read more »
Doug Fleener
Guest
10 years 6 days ago

Great article, Bob.

One point about teenagers not working as much as they used to: it’s just a lot harder for teenagers to work and go to school. The workload my kids carry in school is so much heavier than what I had, and throw in some sports and there isn’t a lot of spare time.

I hope everyone including schools see that there’s more to learning than just classrooms and homework. I know my teenage work years were vital to who I am today.

Fabien Tiburce
Guest
Fabien Tiburce
10 years 6 days ago

Nice article and a good reminder about the importance of fostering entrepreneurship. Of course I thought we could have a little fun with the “Wall Street” version. It goes something like this:

1. Build a huge lemonade stand with money borrowed from the entire neighborhood.

2. Don’t bother selling actual lemonade. Sell derivatives of lemonade futures. Be sure to leverage those.

3. Sell shares of your lemonade stand to other lemonade stands so as to create one huge “too big to squeeze” lemonade industry.

4. With the revenue, buy political influence in Washington. Make sure huge tax breaks are given to parents of lemonade stand owners and much R&D goes into squeezing lemons.

5. When the system collapses, reach out to the media and lawmakers and argue that the collapse of the lemonade business will have a catastrophic effect on the American economy.

6. Accept bailout. With the proceeds, open “cookie stand” business. Repeat cycle.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 6 days ago

I enjoy visiting my son and watching the interaction between him and his sons as he introduces them to the value of a dollar and ways to earn it as they grow. Too many young people think money is an entitlement. That can only be representative of their family environment.

Our future economic survival will be in direct proportion to the entrepreneurial spirit remaining alive and strong.

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