# 248: Better Than a Lemonade Stand — Maybe
Story behind the Passage
Today I had a meeting with people who have nothing to do with business. And I really mean nothing. The reason why I am stressing this so much is because it actually hit me quite late that they really have no idea about business — zero. I was talking to grown-ups, just to make this clear. Obviously, they never thought about how the Nutella ends up on their bread in the morning or how their car made it into their garage. Maybe they even think Elon Musk is a rock star and not a business man. Maybe…
I am still stuck in the maybe phase when I think about this memorable meeting. So, I definitely knew I had to blog about it today. I also knew I had to take a look at a book for children’s business education. That was the first thought after the meeting had ended: how to teach people about business in a fun way. I looked for books that have Nutella as an example business case but could not find any. Then I found the Better Than a Lemonade Stand and it really fit quite well. The book really triggered a small kids’ business movement with lots of other material that you find online. And all this really says a lot about culture. The book is from the U.S., the nation where people can rise from dishwashers to millionaires.
If anybody is ever thinking about this in Germany?
The people I talked to obviously do not. They must be caught in the “wonderland” phase of life where everything that is outside their field of expertise is simply a reason to say “wow, I wonder what all this is?.” Or maybe they do not even ask that question. They simply take it as a given that the products around them were created by mystery, that even the institution they work for just fell from heaven and finances itself with air and love. Maybe that is typical of most people. But maybe they should have simply read a book like Better Than a Lemonade Stand when they were young? Maybe…
I have to say, this might have been a funny meeting retrospectively but partly not. There is something terribly wrong in our society in which grown ups with quite some decision-making power in public institutions seem to have NO IDEA about the function of businesses in society. This includes the role of business and entrepereneurship for their own work and the impact it has on society. I am not even talking about business models or anything specifically business- or product-related. I am just talking about the basics — how does knowledge find its way to people?
There is no other way. Even if you decide to write a blog or a book to share your knowledge. Guess what, there is business involved. If you decide to rather not know how that works, you will remain in Plato’s cave. This is actually the crucial point I am struggling with. Maybe it is none of my business to lead people out of the cave. Actually, this is the thing that I have learned in the past years: Do not try to push stuff that does not feel right. Why am I doing it again in this context? Maybe because I think that business is what Daryl Bernstein writes it is but they do not want to see it? So what?
“I had discovered that starting a business was the most exciting, challenging, and rewarding activity I had ever encountered.” When I was a child, I loved playing toy shop (“Kaufladen” in German). I also had a small postal office. It is so weird to remember this now that I have not thought of it for decades. But it is true, I loved it. I loved thinking about how to sell stuff and how to make money with it. Is that something that all children do? Why do I always care about what “all” children do? Is it not enough that I did it and loved it?
What Bernstein is saying about the adventurous nature of starting a business is something I can totally identify with. That is also why I love that he wrote a book about it with hands-on pragmatic suggestions for kids. Even just the headlines are so inspiring that there is some kind of business for everyone — be it cake baker (me), dog walker, or online seller. I know that people from the humanities will say now: “This is the ultimate indoctrination with neo-liberal thought. We should, by any means, try to not let this enter our field or “our” culture. There you go, this is the problem. They should actually be reading the book. But they will most likely not do this.
This is actually the most striking finding I had today. Well, I cannot call it a “finding” yet because I need to sleep over it one night. Still, it is a strong feeling. The challenges and the rewards of founding and running a business are things that you need to experience. If you do not, you have no idea about it. And, what frustrated me even more today, if you do not even have the slightest interest in learning about it, you will certainly never experience it. This is what it is. I think, this was the entire purpose of the meeting for me today. I had to experience this. I had to see and hear where they stand and where I stand. I am an experiential learner after all. I live my life to experience every moment in a way that it fills me with joy and meaning.
Better Than a Lemonade Stand!
1) Do you support the idea of teaching children business skills with a book like this one? Why/not?
2) Did you enjoy playing toy shop when you were a child? What did you enjoy playing most?
3) If you were to found a business — any business you could dream of — what would it be? Why?