It All Started with a Turtle: Revitalizing American Business

Michael Holthouse, Founder, guest blogged for Spark Energy.


Who knew that what started as an innocent question from a child asking for a pet turtle would turn into a life changing opportunity for hundreds of thousands of children across the country.Four years ago when my daughter pulled me out of bed early one Sunday morning to do a lemonade stand, I had no idea what an amazing day was about to unfold. A few cups of lemonade, lots of answered questions and some real world experience, and my daughter had earned enough money to buy her now famous turtle. It was a simple lesson in entrepreneurship that had been passed on to me by my father. Instead of just giving her what she wanted, she learned how to earn it for herself. She did. She won, and I won – not the turtle, but a set of life lessons that have touched both of us. In many ways, she experienced what our great country is all about – daring to dream, making a plan, working the plan and having the guts to go out and be successful. Fulfilling the American Dream.

That one day sitting along Memorial Drive with her inspired what is now known as Lemonade Day. It is a fun and experiential learning process that culminates in a single day where literally tens of thousands of lemonade stands all over a community demonstrate what business is all about. It’s where an entire community shows its support for youth through the simple act of buying a glass of lemonade. Children from every walk of life and geographic location learn what it takes to start a business – to fulfill their own dream. Caring adults and youth learn together using a free backpack filled with materials on how to start their very own business – a lemonade stand. Lemonade Day gives them their first taste as entrepreneurs. It changes the way they see the world forever.

There is the story about the little girl with learning challenges whose dream was to be able to buy something new for her fifth grade graduation. It would be the first new thing she ever had in her life. While afraid she would not succeed, she was encouraged by a school counselor to take a chance … and she did. Today, she is not only the proud owner of a new pink dress that she bought with her own money, but a little girl whose academic progress has dramatically changed. She has now tasted success for the first time in her life, and she knows how it works. Her future story has changed forever – she is only one of thousands.

Her story is replicated in stand after stand, each of the youth with their own unique experience. In America everyone has the opportunity to become whatever they choose and are willing to work for. Lemonade Day is the spark that ignites a new passion.

Read more on Spark Energy’s blog.

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