Posts Tagged ‘Lemonade Stand Economics.’

Effort is the great equalizer

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

At this year’s DECA state competition (, Lemonade Stand Economics led several breakout sessions teaching students how to juggle with lemons. Well, first we watched a video about a shirtless guy dancing and discussed the importance of leadership and being the first follower. ( ) Then we juggled. Students have a lot going on in their lives with classes, homework, sports, friends, parents, siblings, a job, and for these particular students…DECA. Students today have a lot of balls…or should I say lemons… in the air. Our breakout session brought attention to the fact that managing all of this is literally juggling, and the better the juggler you are the smoother everything goes. It was also some fun and levity for these students that were pretty serious about competing the next day and really feeling the pressure.157052_512144798824539_508805066_n

In the first session, there was a girl in the front row who learned to juggle in ten minutes. I was there- I saw it. She was right in front of me. When we started – she could not juggle. She started with one lemon, then two, then three. Ten minutes later she could juggle three lemons consistently for two or three minutes. She picked it up that fast. She was a natural. I’d say everyone is a natural at something and hers was obviously juggling. Was it hand/eye coordination? Her friends encouraging her? I’m not sure, but she was very good, very quickly.

Later that day we were with another group of students. One young lady wanted to juggle in a bad way. She was not going to stop until she could juggle those three lemons. At her ten minute point, we were all ducking because she was chucking lemons around the room. She kept saying, “I’m going to get this. I’m going to do this,” more to herself than to us or the other students. She was progressing, getting better each time she tossed the lemons up and she had friends there encouraging her too. And laughing…boy, did they have a good time. It did not come as naturally to her. But she did it. Nearly 60 minutes in, we were all cheering when she kept those three lemons up for two minutes. She had learned to juggle! And she was loving it! And she was beaming with pride as they left.

Both ladies accomplished the juggling challenge set before them. One took ten minutes and one took an hour. Both had fun. Both had friends on the sidelines telling them they could do it. One got it very easily and one had to work harder, but in the end they both walked away jugglers.  The difference in how they got there was effort. The first girl had to use little effort. She literally picked up the lemons and juggled them. Once she got it, she started helping her friends get it too. The second girl exerted much more effort to achieve this lemony juggling pinnacle. She simply would not give up. Lots of kids quit before the third lemon, but she would not let it beat her.

Effort is the great equalizer. Anyone can pretty much accomplish anything with enough effort. I look back at my own personal shortcomings in life and most of them were because of the lack of effort on my part. I stopped before my third lemon.

Don’t be afraid to put in the effort. If something does come naturally to you, be grateful and move toward the next challenge.  I’m glad these two girls – and the hundreds of other students – learned how to juggle and I’m glad we were there to watch it, but I’m also grateful they had fun. That’s important too.

Everyone has a million dollar idea

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Some say that every person has a million dollar idea at some point in their life. You know, that brilliant idea that can change the world. Maybe your idea is something simple or a new way of doing something that won’t change the world, but will still put a million dollars in your pocket.  Often this idea comes to you at the most inopportune time (you are super busy, you have no money, you have a huge project at work), yet it’s there, right in your head. I’d even venture to say that some people have had several million dollar ideas in their lifetime. So why doesn’t anyone take that brilliant idea and make a million dollars?  Well, some do. But most don’t. Maybe this is why…
million dollar idea
1) People don’t recognize how realistic their idea is. Everybody can’t know everything.  Sometimes people just don’t realize the magnitude of their idea. They just don’t see it. It’s easy to have an idea and think someone else already had it.

2) People get caught up in the minutia of everyday life. You have your million dollar idea-  then someone texts you and you are late for work and you forgot your uniform and you need get gas just to get to work. Yup, brilliant idea-gone!

3) People are not willing to put in the time.  Who has extra time in their life? I don’t. Bye bye brilliant idea, I can’t fit you in today.

4) People don’t know where to start or what to do.  I have this brilliant idea. Now what?  What should I do? What should I do first? Will this work? Is this such a brilliant idea? Never mind.

5) People are too scared to take a risk. I don’t know if I can do it. I will try, but if I fail I will have wasted all this time and effort. And people will laugh at me. Fear often wins the battle of the brilliant idea.

6) People have a daily routine.  Everyone has a daily routine. Often that brilliant idea doesn’t fit into the routine. So it’s quick to pass.

So before YOU end up being the guy who watches late night tv and sees a commercial for the brilliant idea that YOU came up with years ago…do something about it! Don’t sit on it.Take action. Move toward making your idea happen. If your idea is truly a million dollar idea then treat it like one. Get off your ass, start educating yourself, get to work and earn that million dollars! It’s not the idea that makes the money… its the person that makes the idea come to life.

Be THAT person

Parents- Are you doing your children a disservice?

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Parents: This blog is for you (believe me kids, you don’t want to read it!)

Remember the days when your kids were little? When they relied on you for everything? You fed them. You cleaned up after them. You made sure they were happy and experienced all the good things in life. Every parent wants to raise a good kid and see that child flourish into a good adult.  It’s a huge responsibility if you think about it. After all, you as a parent (either by your action – or your inaction) are the single biggest influence in your child’s life.Jack

Little by little we give our children more responsibility. We give them opportunities to prove that they can do things on their own. Remember teaching your child to walk? I do. We got on our knees and I held my son’s hand as he stood with stiff legs. I let go of his hand and he took an awkward step toward mom…and fell over. I picked him up and we did it again. Words of encouragement and excitement echoed through the living room. This time he took two steps before hitting the floor again. Was this stumbling seen as failure? No, of course not…WE realized that stumbling and falling was how he learned.  I knew he would eventually get it… and like every other kid, he did.

We encourage our kids to clean up their toys and put things away. We purposefully don’t do everything for our children so they can learn on their own. It fosters independence and responsibility all the while they do these tasks with a huge smile on their face. The sense of pride is found early with children. Kids love to be independent and show their parents that they can do it all by themselves. My oldest son Jack used to say “Jack do it, Jack do it,” as he tried to impress me with whatever goofy thing he was doing his own goofy way.

As your child becomes a teenager the thrill and pride of doing things on their own passes into everyday function. All of a sudden your teenager is more or less self sufficient doing things like cooking, driving and completing math homework that look like Chinese to you. Some days things go smoothly and he aces the test, other days he falls down a few times before he gets it.  All those independent moments of responsibility as a child have gradually influenced this tall awkward sometimes sweet, yet often crabby, teen into a young adult you can’t help but be proud of. Which brings me to my question…

Are we doing our children a disservice by paying for their college education?

If we were such good parents making sure our children learn to do things on their own then why do we abandon that theory when it’s time for college? Because they deserve it? Because we are tired of finding creative ways to get them to learn on their own? Do we owe our children a college education? If you are the parent that can’t afford your kid’s college education or choose not to pay a dime, then this point is moot. Or is it? Maybe you are simply teaching your teen a lesson of a lifetime.

Why would I say that?  Let me give you the most unscientific answer possible. Of all the people I know, the most successful ones put themselves through college. I have nothing against college grads who did not pay their own way… but again, the most successful people I know had to find a way to pay for college themselves. Some paid for college with an academic scholarship in which you need to maintain a certain grade point and credit level. Some, like myself, worked our asses off hour after hour to pay for it. Some lived in their Mom’s basement. Some took a few years off and ate ramen noodles every day to save up and then went to school. All of these  students experienced struggle and the pride that accompanies it. These students had to plan, save, work hard and sacrifice to pay for their college education. Regardless of HOW they did it, they figured out a way to pay for college without help… to which I have the utmost admiration. They might have had some verbal encouragement in the living room… but those students learned to walk into adulthood without anyone holding their hand and they are better for it.

So parents- Maybe you should quit worrying how you are going to pay for your kid’s college education and start guiding them as to how they can pay for it themselves. I have said many times that the education I received by struggling to pay for college was as much or more valuable to me than the lessons I learned in the classroom. Don’t deprive your student of the chance to beam with pride as they do it themselves. Just like when they learned to walk. The first few steps are wobbly… then the next thing you know they are running full speed with a smile on their face and not looking back.

Parenting didn’t end when they lost the diaper. Parenting didn’t end when they got the braces.  And parenting is not going to end when college approaches. Parenting never ends…and personally, I’m okay with that.

Flip your switch – no matter where you are standing

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

I was a freshman in high school when I took a summer job cleaning windows at Rochester Window Cleaning for $3.35/hour. It was minimum wage and I was high school kid. To be honest, cleaning windows was kinda fun. I got to work outside a lot. Cleaning windows means that you are moving around all day…keeping in shape…nice. By the end of that first summer I was one darn good window cleaner with a killer tan. My sophomore summer I went back to RWC to clean some more windows. But this year, things would be different.

One day that summer, I was cleaning windows in the mayor of Rochester’s office. In fact, I was standing on the mayor’s chair cleaning the big window behind his desk. While I was cleaning, his secretary peeked her head around the corner and asked, “Do you clean house windows on the side?”  I said, in a very unsure teenage tone, “Sure.”  But honestly, I had never thought of that. I could clean windows on my own?  She gave me her address and I went out there after work and looked at her house. This was the point I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to price a job.  So…I guessed.  $60??  I’m sure it sounded more of a question than a statement. She agreed to the price, and said “Let’s do this next Saturday.” As I walked away I realized that I didn’t have any tools of my own so I bought some tools from the local janitorial supply store and entered the great unknown of cleaning windows for myself.

As agreed, I cleaned her windows the following Saturday. When I was done, she paid me with three fresh twenty dollar bills. I remember looking down at them and doing some quick math. I had worked three hours. That’s $20/hour. $20 PER HOUR!!!!  It took me half a week to make $60 cleaning windows at $3.35 /hour. I had just given myself a $17/hour raise!

I remember driving away and all I could do was think about the fact that I just made $60 in three hours. It was so easy! I wanted to do it again!  My mind has never worked the same after that. I had flipped the entrepreneur switch in my brain. The realization that I could make $20/hour instead of $3.35/hour was just mind blowing. That was a life-changing moment for me. All I had to do now was find more homeowners that wanted me to clean their windows…and my first business was born!6486047_s

What does standing in the mayor’s chair have to do with Lemonade Stand Economics? My business in high school was literally launched when I was standing in the mayor’s chair. A unique story and 100% truth. In Lemonade Stand Economics, I use that story as a “this could be you” situation to show high school students that opportunities can happen anywhere, at any time…even standing in the mayor’s chair. (Which I really wasn’t supposed to be doing in the first place.) 

Why high school & college are ideal times to start your business

Thursday, February 21st, 2013


I have talked to many high school and college entrepreneurs who have already started their own business. Several of them mentioned that they wish they would have started their business earlier. Every time I hear that answer, my question is always, “Why?”  Sometimes these students are already working for themselves at 16 or 17…or 10…and they wish they’d have started earlier? It surprises me. Or it used to.

One student told me “Because having a business is so much fun – I wish I had started earlier instead of wasting my time at that awful job.” Another student told me that he would be “making even more money now if he had started earlier.”  Yet another student said, “You have so many more resources available to you as a student. People want to help you. Lots of them. For free!”   All valid points that bring me to my big question.

Why do students think they have to wait until AFTER college to work for themselves?

Is it because you will have so much more knowledge having already graduated? Is it because you won’t have to worry about classes anymore and you can concentrate on your business? Is it because of the fear of the unknown? Maybe you are too busy and you don’t have time when you are in college? Or is it because you think you are supposed to wait until college is over to work for yourself and enter The Real World?

To me, I don’t see any reason to wait to start your business. Maybe I’m biased because I started my first real business at age 17. I see it this way: If a student has a great idea to make money now why not pursue it – now?  Why not start making it happen RIGHT NOW? Who says you can’t go to class and have a business? I know many students who are doing it – and doing it well. They have figured out that high school and college are ideal times to start a business and here are a few reasons why…

1) Age advantage. While you may not be the most worldly soul as a student, you do have youth on your side. Ask any adult, they will surely agree. You have more energy. You have more fresh ideas. You have more optimism. You have more free time. You have more energy (I said that twice for a reason!)

2) Access to mentors. Whether in high school or college you have access to a great pool of mentors – your teachers. I am willing to bet if you went to your accounting teacher and said, “I am starting a business would you advise me?” They would gladly help you. Same for your business, marketing or economics teacher. Part of the reason they became teachers was to help students, especially a student that has a plan to do something great.

3) Ideas fade.  If you have a good business idea now then act on it. If you don’t act on it that idea will fade. The minutia of everyday life will fade it. Other good ideas will come and cause it to fade.  Doubts will make it fade. Exams and roommate disagreements and video games will make it fade. That good business idea will end up being “that one idea” said in the past tense when you are older looking back on your life.

4) Now beats later. Whatever reason you have for not starting now, will inevitably stop you later too. If you let the reasons to do it later make the decision for you now, you will get used to waiting until later, which many times turns to never. The next thing you know you never started your business and all you can do is wonder what it would have been like. Would it have worked? How much money could I have made? Who would I have met? Would I still be doing that now?

5) There is no ideal time to start. Really, when is the best time to start a business? Is there a better time than another? Is there ever a perfect time?  So if there is no perfect time… then why not NOW?? I’ve heard it said this way, “If you want to, you will find a way. If you don’t want to, you’ll find an excuse.”

Every business is started with a good idea, some effort and willingness to push back that little fear of the unknown. It has nothing to do with age. It has nothing to do with your grade point average or what year you are in school. If you are considering starting a business as a student I say, “There is no time like now!”

Join us for “What to do with your great idea”
If you already have a business idea or want to be prepared for when you do, please join me for the presentation, “So you have a great idea – Now what?”  sponsored by the  UW-Oshkosh College Entrepreneurship Organization. I will be speaking on how to get started making money with your idea NOW so you can avoid student loans.


How to Find Success Despite Doubters, Downers and Debt!

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

catherine get rich in college

A guest blog from Catherine – Sophomore at UCLA and creator of Get Rich in College

Every single day of your life is a trial. It’s a test to see whether you’ll make it through successfully or fail miserably. So far, you’ve succeeded! You’ve made it through every day. But have you ever looked back and examined your days to pinpoint your triumphs or failures?

On a daily basis, people are told that they’re not good enough, that they don’t have enough money, that their dreams are too big, they are too young and a bunch of other negative beliefs. People are constantly doubting each other and believing the impossible is really, well impossible. Your friends, parents, teachers and even you do this. But you overcome it, sometimes without even realizing it. YOU make it through, you prove them wrong and you convert the haters! Think of all those times when someone told you that you couldn’t do something and you did – so let the doubters, doubt – they’ll just give you motivation anyway.

What’s one thing that that all successful people have? Positivity. What do a lot of other unsuccessful people have? Negativity. Some people, especially the ones who aren’t successful or happy, are just caught in the mindset that life is too hard, that nothing ever will ever work in their favor and that others should feel the same. This is a TRAP! These downers are around you almost every waking second, ready to weaken your mindset. But you escape the majority of their beliefs each and every day. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning…but I have a feeling you do! So don’t let negative beliefs or people stop you. Don’t use all of your energy trying to convince the doubters not to doubt, let your actions convince them. Don’t get caught in their web of “I can’t – I don’t” and “it’s not fair.”

Sometimes the hardest part of trying to become successful is debt. People see it as a physical problem rather than just a mental one. Debt can be overcome and you need the correct mindset – and patience – to do it. However those that think that they just need more physical cash to correct the problem are just digging themselves a deeper hole. They also need to understand that if they have the motivation to get out of debt and become successful, then nothing can stop them. Again on a daily basis, you are reminded of this debt by those negative beliefs and by those who doubt you, but if you want to change your financial situation, you can do it. You overcome so much in just one day, without even thinking about it, so why can’t you overcome this?

By examining your day, you’ll realize that you never get a break. Constant people, things and beliefs are trying to bring you down. But you’ve done it! You’ve made it through thousands and thousands of obstacles. So all you have to do is expand a single day to a longer period. If you want to get out of debt, or work for yourself – just realize that you’ll have hurdles but despite the doubters, downers and debt, you’ll make it through because you’ve done it everyday for years. You’re a pro, so always remember that YOU CAN DO IT. Put in the time, the work, the effort and stay focused. If you think you can, you can. But if you think you can’t, well, you are one of them….and who wants THAT?

To read more of Catherine’s blogs visit

Don’t panic

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Working for yourself means you will be thrown into situations you may not fully comprehend…yet.  Maybe it is something you don’t quite understand, didn’t expect or maybe you have never seen before. Those panic situations will arise, so expect them. These tips will help.

Tip #1
The more prepared you are… the less times you will panic. Be proactive and learn as much as you can about your new business environment.  Read books, read blogs, find mentors, watch your competition, get consumed and fill your head!  More knowledge = less panic.

Tip #2
Be confident and have faith in yourself. Panic is a reaction. If you are confident and have faith in your decision making abilities you will naturally be more calm when there is reason to panic. You can do it, you just need to know you can!

Tip #3
Fake it til you make it. If you do panic, keep it in house. Don’t let your customer see you panic. Fake a calm exterior so that the customer does not join you in your panic – this will erode their confidence in you. A little acting goes a long way.

In Lemonade Stand Economics I address the stress of being an entrepreneur. Starting a business is a lot of work and often quite stressful. Everyone panics at some point, but keep this in mind: Panic is only a bad thing when it negatively affects your business. Panic is actually a great platform for learning. When a panic situation arises use it as a learning tool. What circumstances happened to cause the panic? What could you have done to avoid it? Did you react the right way or did you increase the panic? What will you do differently next time? All of this information will help you so that next time a potential panic situation happens you are as cool as a cucumber.1045399-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Cool-Cucumber-In-A-Lounge-Chair

Watch the players on the sideline

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

If you watch football you will see the players on the field and those on the sideline. It’s interesting to watch the players on the sideline. What are they doing? Are they paying attention to the game and their teammates – or sitting looking up at the clock? Some jump around slapping hands and shouting. They are jumping around on the sideline waiting to get back in and play some ball. Now, look back at the players sitting on the bench watching the clock. Watch those players then watch the scoreboard. I’ve watched my fair share of football and it always seems like the team that is most energetic on the sideline is in control of the game.
Your actions off the field do indeed affect the actions on the field. The better you practice the better you play in the game. The better the attitude on the sideline the better momentum you have on the field.

What are you doing when you are not on the playing field? Are you jumping around trying to get in the game or are you waiting on the bench watching the seconds tick down? Action trumps no action. Get to work and cross things off your list. Decide what to do and do it to the best of your ability. Win the game. You never know who might be watching.

Financial Literacy: Get Nosy

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

A guest blog by Chloe Siamof – Freshman, Yale University

I see you reading the term, “financial literacy” and already expecting a lecture similar to one in a personal financial management class where you learn to balance a checkbook. You’re already rolling your eyes, but WAIT!! Because financial literacy is just a fancy way of talking about everyone’s favorite thing…MONEY.

The educational definition of financial literacy goes something like this:Met

“Financial literacy can be defined as the ability to understand, to evaluate, and communicate information about money and financial services. This includes
the selection of appropriate financial options, the ability to plan for the future, and the capability to respond to life events and their effect on personal finances.”

But honestly, it is much simpler to understand money when you approach it from a four year old view and use the only resource you have: your parents. During my senior year, I took an economics course that taught me a few things, but one homework assignment in particular made me realize I might have unrealistic monetary expectations. It was a hypothetical budget based on the average starting salary of my future job as an architect. In this exercise, I had to determine what portion of my salary would be designated to my mortgage, food, car payment, etc. I wrote what I thought were reasonable numbers and ran it by my parents before submitting the assignment They laughed.

But it’s okay, because I then proceeded to grill them about how much they pay for utilities, property taxes, auto insurance, mortgage, etc. Quickly I realized that my best financial learning resource was right in front of me. Moral of the story: Get nosy (within reason). I have always asked my parents questions about their finances, with the understanding that whatever they tell me is not repeated.

Here are some of the questions I have asked:
What do you earn in a year?
What part of that do you pay in taxes? How much goes into your checking account? Savings account?
What did you pay for the house? What is it worth now? What amount of money did you put down? Do I have a college fund? When did you start it? What is your credit limit? What is a credit score?
What is a 401K and 529 and a Roth IRA? And why is everything in code?! (Just so you know, a 401K is a retirement plan, a 529 a college savings portfolio and a Roth IRA a special type of retirement plan)

In addition, I go on all errands with my mom; as a result, I have realistic expectations for grocery costs, insurance co-pays, etc. Money is an awkward subject, but feel your parents out by asking pretty harmless questions like, how much did dinner cost today? How much did it save vs. going out? Agree to confidentiality and see where it goes. You will be shocked. Especially if you’re a teenager and you want to know the grocery bill.

In the end, if you are applying to colleges, you will have to fill out a FAFSA and/ or CSS profile to determine your financial aid amount. You will know everything about your parent’s finances then. So why wait? When you can learn from them now.

Many people wonder where our future leaders will come from

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

530954_3428580132883_73494425_nI see high school students every day hanging out in front of the school and I can’t say I’m impressed. I see the ones dressed like they are homeless. I see the ones with so much attitude that I wouldn’t hire them to sweep my floor. I see the ones standing outside smoking with a t-shirt displaying a four letter word I will not let my own teenager use. I see potentially smart students making apparently dumb choices. I see students who are just getting by until high school is over. What a waste! The teachers put in their time. The community pays a sickening amount in taxes to pay for that school and the students don’t seem to care at all.

Unfortunately, that’s what most people see when they pass a high school, those kids hanging out in front. To us outsiders, us taxpayers – that is our impression of high school students. But if you look closely, inside the school, you will find some kids that take high school seriously. These are the students that are there to learn and maximize the system put in place to educate them.

These students dress and act properly, not suits and ties all the time, but presentable. These students shake my hand and make eye contact with me when I meet them. These students pay attention when I speak in their class. You know how I know they are paying attention? They are looking at me when I speak, making eye contact, taking notes, asking questions. Sometimes they even shake my hand AFTER class and thank me for coming. These are the students that will run America some day and many of them are wearing blue blazers. You may have seen them in school, blue blazers with a gold DECA seal on them.

I have had the opportunity (the privilege actually) to work with some of the DECA students and their advisers. They impress me every time. Every. Single. Time. They are always professional and their effort level is through the roof. If the DECA students were the ones hanging out in front of the school, your image of high school students would be very different. But that’s part of the point – they aren’t hanging out in front of the school. They are too busy organizing fundraisers for local charities. They are too busy prepping for the next DECA competition. They are studying, getting good grades and playing sports. They are not hanging out in front of the school…they are making the most of their high school experience.

There is a lesson for me here too. I shouldn’t judge a school – or it’s teachers or students – just by the kids I see hanging out front. I should take the time to look further, look inside and look for something impressive. Because chances are…if there is a DECA chapter inside…I will be impressed.

For more on DECA go to