It was a crisp fall day in north central Pennsylvania.
The sun was out, and the town was packed with community members sipping homemade apple cider and crushing fresh grilled hot dogs.
It was my town’s “Heritage Day” and this year was not like the prior years.
Why? Because I was going to be able to retire at 12 years old.
My good friend and I were in our school library, and we had a bunch of pencils and a bunch of paper.
With no pencil case it was a hassle for a 12 year old to carry around 8 Ticonderoga’s without being disgruntled. (First world problems, I know).
Armed with a ream of what I wish was Dunder Mifflin’s finest, we came up with a quick fix.
A poorly manufactured, half-assed pencil carrier made from low-quality notebook paper.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Well, we had a product. We had mass produced them. And we had a price point.
Time for distribution.
My grandparents had an area in the town with high foot traffic. So we negotiated a deal for free table space at their yard sale.
The supportive nature of our families was incredible, and something I am still truly grateful for today.
We set up the table armed and ready to own the 7th grade. The amount of extra milk we could buy when we went to school Monday was unbelievable.
What happened next? Reality struck.
Monday we showed up to school accepting the fact that we had to put our nose back to the books and drink only one chocolate milk per lunch.
We had sold a whopping 8 units bringing us $2.00 to split between the two of us. I am willing to bet that the sales were a result of poor pity rather than wanting the product – but I am going to go with the theory that people believed in this product as much as us!
Our dreams of not having to graduate were crushed. Our spirits low. But one thing we have to this day is not having to regret never trying to sell our ‘Piss Poor Paper Pencil Holder’ to the masses.
So what is it that we can learn from 12 year old me? Honestly, I feel there is a ton of value in looking back.
As I try to not let the corporate world get to me so much, and remember my roots a little more (think of me as Stella trying to get my groove back) – I can draw a lot from this memory and I hope you can too.
You Have to Believe in It
While we didn’t understand target demographics, market research, marketing, accounting, etc. we had a product that helped the 12 year old version of us.
We believed in what we were selling even when no one else did.
Obviously there is a point when it becomes sunk cost if no one buys it, but honestly…you never know until you try.
The stuff you supposedly need to know – you can learn along the way. If you believe deep in your heart that your product or service is needed, go for it.
You only get one shot at life – so shoot your shot!
Remember those supportive Grandparents and Parents? I know I always will.
Gratitude is a powerful tool. No matter how good or bad things are going for you – you have to be grateful for what you have. No exceptions.
Looking back, we had a product we believed in, and people who believed in us. They supported this batshit crazy idea and allowed us to succeed or fail on our own.
A funny thing happens when you are grateful. Your fear dwindles, your confidence rises, and you build momentum.
What are you grateful for in life? Continually remind yourself and watch how life changes!
Quit Giving a Shit About Others Opinions
This one is way easier said than done.
However, 12 year old me lived by this. Think of the pressures of just starting Jr. High.
A non-athletic, goofy little kid peddling paper pencil holders is a “PR Disaster” for someone of that age.
You know what, I never thought of that. And I never gave a shit about other’s judgement. I did my thing. I accepted my loss and I moved on.
Nothing or noone was going to stop me from peddling those paper pencil holders.
We will constantly be judged by others. People get off on it, everyone knows what success should be for you, and they will try to convince you or shame you into fitting that mold.
Judgement should be treated like the old anti-drug campaigns…just say no! It’s your life. Don’t let others judge you. You are in control of your destiny.
So go make what you want out of your life. You only get one, and it is finite. Don’t waste a second on other people’s judgement.
Feedback and Comments
This blog has exceeded my expectations in even just the first few days.
I am having the time of my life pumping out content!
It would mean so much to me if you would like, share and especially drop me some feedback in the comments.
Let me know what your earliest memory of hustling is! This is a fun conversation and we should definitely get it going!