TEDTalk: On comic book arbitrage and raising kids to be entrepreneurs

Let's raise kids to be entrepreneurs

One of the forces behind 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, Cameron Herold was a born entrepreneur.  From the age of seven, he was experimenting with ways to make money – from negotiating the price of coat hangers returned to dry cleaners to doing comic book arbitrage by buying comics cheap from the poor kids and selling them for higher prices to the rich ones.

Each business venture taught him business lessons.  By selling comic books he learned to buy low and sell high.  Other ventures reinforced the value of recurring revenue and how much easier it is to return regularly to the same customers rather than finding new ones.

Given his own experience of being a natural born entrepreneur and a somewhat less successful student, he makes a strong case for fostering entrepreneurial tendencies in children in his TEDTalk: Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs.  Natural skills in areas such as sales, networking, handling failure and bootstrapping are often ignored or overlooked and are extraordinarily valuable traits to foster to ensure a child’s lifetime success.  Even worse though is that there are other, non-obvious ways in which we actually dissuade natural entrepreneurial tendencies in children such as giving children allowances.

Herold thinks allowances only set children up to expect a regular and reliable paycheck and advocates that we should instead encourage them to create opportunity for themselves.  He encourages his children to look around the house and tell him what needs to be done and then to negotiate the price.  They learn to create opportunities for themselves, to negotiate, and that their initiative and hard work will get rewarded.

To hear more from Cameron on how to encourage children to be entrepreneurial, watch his talk here.