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Lessons from a 7 year old

Posted by Philip Smith on 12 September 2018

We can learn from anybody, if we are paying attention

There are thousands of books on almost any subject one can think of. Many books cover some specific subjects, providing examples and theories, encouraging us to improve ourselves or our businesses.

These subjects would typically include:

Purpose, Belief in outcomes, Focus, Action, Commitment, Confidence, Speaking out or doing a "Pitch", Marketing, Sales, Interaction with people and communications, Being Positive, Reasons for actions, Enthusiasm, Motivation and so on.

How often are we able to observe all these "subjects" in action and to observe the learning process, as it unfolds.

My 7 year old grandson did that for me during the last few days and I will tell the story as it happened, then you can extrapolate the messages that resonate with you, as there are many.

This was all his initiative with no input from any adults, he decided what he wanted to do without telling us why and we will get to that later.  

Monday Afternoon after school :


Returning home after a meeting I found Jack on the verge outside our house where he had set up a "stall" to sell some stuff. He had dragged his little workbench from the garage and had found some stuff due to go to the charity shop.

This included a blender, kettle, a handbag and some old toys. These he displayed on his bench complete with prices written on bits of paper.

I asked him what he was doing and he told me he was selling stuff and so as not to discourage him I told him it was a great idea. Standing back I watched him and listened to his pitch. "Come now, sale only today and tomorrow, we have a kettle and a blender and a beautiful handbag, toys and things, if you go to buy this from the op-shop it will be much more tatty, buy now, sorry but the sale is only on today and tomorrow". 

He had worked out his own pitch and varied it from time to time. He was also having conversations with himself, such as "I will have to speak more loudly next time because the cars cant hear me" and "what rude people, they did not even smile".

He sold nothing and I explained that often when people go for a walk they don't have money with them and he responded that some might, one cant argue with that.

We also discussed that maybe he needs more "stuff" to sell and he thought that might be a good idea.

Tue Morning 6 30 Before school



He got up real early, prepared for school ( no breakfast ) and was out on the verge by around 6-30 am. 

I noticed that he had added some new "products" to his collection and he also changed his "pitch" to include, "we have drums and playmats for the kids to play on". When there was no traffic or walkers he would enthusiastically practise different versions of his "pitch" testing them out, so as to speak.

A lady stopped on the side of the road and called him over. She gave him $ 2 for having a go. He was so excited and declared "you see I can do it, what a nice lady". This encouraged him to speak even more loudly and with more enthusiasm.
Soon it was time to go to school and on the way we had a chat about his success and what else he might be able to sell as his product mix was a bit of a challenge. I suggested he should think about it during the day.

Tue Afternoon after school

Change of product and pitch day 2 of sale


On the way home he said he has had a better idea. Last weekend he picked up some succulent seedlings at my daughter's home and as a keen little gardener he suggested that he will get his grandmother to help him plant these in little pots so he could sell them.

Within ten minutes of getting home he was at it and planted 11 small plants in little pots and two plants in one slightly larger pot. 

He made some paper signs but they did not work in the slight wind that was blowing. I suggested he could use some cardboard I had in the garage and he wrote the sign himself, I just gave him the cardboard and a texter. He asked for some help to add a support to the sign so he could stick that in the ground. Having his plants out on his little table he had added two flowers he picked and placed one of the little pots on the other side of the two flowers. 

I asked about that and he explained that the small pot on the side was a free gift and that the two flowers were a bonus to give away.

He changed his pitch to "beautiful plants, today only, come now get your succulents today only one dollar and one pot for two dollars and a beautiful handbag", somehow he was hanging on to the handbag.

A lady stopped and one of her kids got out and came over with three dollars and was happy to just take one plant but Jack insisted that it was only fair that he must take three.

Once again he was jumping around saying "now I have $ 5, I am so happy".  

Just then a man walked past, asked Jack about his plants and then apologised that he did not have money with him, but that he would come back tomorrow. As he walked off Jack asked "when tomorrow, what time?"  

As he calmed down I asked him what he was going to do with the money and only then did he explain why he was doing this. At school they have a fundraising effort called "a fiver for the farmers" to collect money to assist the farmers suffering as a result of the drought.

He explained, and he is very articulate and expressive, that $ 5 will buy one bucket of water to help the farmers give water to their animals, only one bucket he exclaimed, is only a bit and there are many animals.

I then asked whether, now that he had the $ 5, he was going to put whatever else he made into his moneybox.

He looked at me with withering indignation and said "If a farmer will be surprised and happy to get one bucket of water, he will be more surprised and even happier if he got 2 buckets of water so I will try to get as many buckets as I can". What an amazing generosity of spirit in this little boy. 

But he continued, "some people are so mean they will not even give $ 1 and that is not a lot of money".

I helped him pack up when it was getting dark and he was bouncing around the place delighted that he had one bucket to contribute.

Wed Morning 6-30



Once again he was ready and out there by 6-30 running his "pitch" and commenting on the cars that drove by. He said "some of the people do not even smile and it is such a beautiful day, but at least some people are smiling and waving, they must be the happy ones".

Still later he said "I can make people happy by giving them a plant, but they have to stop to get it." 

After he told me why he was doing this I suggested that he should tell people his reason for raising money and his "pitch" now included "come on we need to help the farmers, they have big drought and we have to help them get water for their animals, I have plants and they are only $ 1 and one pot for $ 2, come on now, today only, I have only made enough money for one bucket and we need two" and on he went. ( the handbag was still there as well ). 

A man came over, bought 3 plants giving Jack $ 5.20. Jack wanted to give the man more plants but the man said no he could have the extra money as a donation. He further suggested that Jack could keep all the plants. Jack became very firm and insisted the man take at least the three plants he bought as that was only fair.

Before going to school Jack asked for a bank bag and put the $ 10.20 into it so he could take it to school. He was dancing around singing "we have enough money for two buckets, I knew I could do it" repeated with other bits added in, as the spirit moved him.

It is Jacks last day at his current school as he is moving to Brisbane today and he had been determined to contribute at his school before he left.

So folks that's the story, no doubt there will be others in the future, but as Jack says "who knows what we can do if we try".

PS -  Jack continued to raise  money and in the end he raised $ 25.50 for the farmers.



Philip SmithAuthor:Philip Smith
About: Philip specialises in getting projects and businesses that are not performing as well as expected, back on track.
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