My father is and always will be an entrepreneur at heart. He obtained this entrepreneurial spirit from growing up on military bases all over the world. The challenges of that upbringing, particularly the financial hardships that his family endured, gave him skills that fostered his entrepreneurial spirit. Lucky for me, he taught me how to become a go-getter like him.
I will never forget the day when my dad taught me how to market myself.
Somehow, when my father was young, he got his hands on a shoeshine kit. He’d go around whatever base they happened to be stationed at, offering to shine soldier’s shoes for a nickel or a dime. On a great day, he could make between $5 to $10. So what did my father do? He bought me a shoeshine box, complete with the foot rest and everything. It was perfect. He taught me how to shine a pair of shoes and let me practice and practice until I had the technique down perfectly.
The day came when he took me downtown to find the best place for me to market my shoeshine business. We settled for a high-traffic site—the local CoCo’s Restaurant. I stopped every single man and pitched my business. Most people ignored me, but there were a handful of men who took the time to put a shine on their shoes, a smile on my face, and a dollar in my coffee can cash register. I was at this location from lunchtime until the sun went down. At the end of the day, the coffee didn’t hold a fortune, but I felt confident that I was successful. I was seven years old.
From that day forward, I guess you could say that I have been out there hustling ever since. Opportunities abound for those who are willing to put in the work and take the risks. It’s never too early to begin to develop the fundamental principles and work ethics that will serve you well for life.
And so, all-in-all, the simplest answer to “How do I find my entrepreneurial spirit?” is this: get out into the world and don’t take no for an answer.
Build your “shoeshine box,” whatever that might be for you.
You can read more about my entrepreneurial philosophy in my book, No Off Season: The Constant Pursuit of More.