BY DEBBIE NAZARIAN, LEMONADE DAY NATIONAL DIRECTOR
November is National Entrepreneur’s Month! Today we are celebrating National Entrepreneur’s Day and so many of our youth entrepreneurs throughout the world that applied what they learned from the Lemonade Day program to develop successful businesses such as Me and the Bees Lemonade, Trashbots, and Ooh La Lemon. They inspire us and motivate us to continue to provide our program to as many children and youth as possible.
Michael achieved what he and his wife Lisa set out to do when they started Lemonade Day back in 2007- provide kids with an entrepreneurial experience through a simple lemonade stand business that is not only fun, but an opportunity for them to learn business and financial skills, character education, philanthropy, and very importantly- to believe in themselves and go on to achieve future success.
I’ve known Michael for more than 10 years now and I am so proud of him. I have seen him pour his heart into helping kids in so many ways- through Lemonade Day, the Holthouse for Kids Foundation, and the Holthouse Boys and Girls Club to name a few. He is incredibly generous in his support of these and other organizations, but he is equally generous in the amount of time and effort he gives them. Michael is also an incredibly inspirational speaker, so on this National Entrepreneur’s Day, I want to share this recent conversation with him about Lemonade Day and entrepreneurship.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Michael: That’s a great question. There are countless studies that demonstrate that understanding what you’re good at and mastering goal orientation early in life are the keys to the kingdom for success. If we help kids set goals and teach them how to achieve those goals by understanding the steps on how to get there, they’ll find success in life. For example, if you’re given a map with an X on it that shows where to go, how do you know how to get there if you don’t know where you are? So, I would tell my younger self “know what you’re good at and set goals to do what you love to do.”
What could a child who has participated in Lemonade Day tell an adult business owner?
Michael: The Lemonade Day program teaches participants to set goals, make a plan, and then relentlessly work that plan to achieve the goals. Summed up in one word — FOCUS! Whether it’s a lemonade stand or SpaceX, focus is most appropriate to the success of every business.
Why are Lemonade Day participants positioned to succeed?
Michael: Most Americans consider a child’s education in terms of academics – learning math, spelling, history, science, etc. While it’s important to excel in academics, what many children don’t learn at school or from their parents is socio-emotional learning (SEL). Academic success and SEL are not the same. Real life success comes from learning things like leadership, how to communicate, how to work together, integrity, trustworthiness, etc. All children start out with the same aspirations to be successful yet they aren’t on an equal playing field when it comes to being taught SEL assets. This gap is more acute in at-risk communities simply because adults don’t have the experiences to share this knowledge with their kids. Lemonade Day is built on Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets. The more assets one attains, the more likely that child will succeed in life. Peter Benson, founder of Search Institute, often stated that ‘parents can’t teach what they don’t know, but since Lemonade Day has more Developmental Assets than any other experiential program, it can help youth rise above their environment and be a successful contributor to their families and community.’
What is Lemonade Day’s greatest accomplishment?
Michael: We started with a goal of helping youth learn skills to succeed in anything in life. Today, more than one million kids have gone through the program and depending upon each child’s situation, the entrepreneurial experiences are deeper for some than others. That’s okay. What we’re doing is helping each individual child see a whole new way of succeeding IF they put the effort into it. That’s extremely rewarding for all the adults involved in Lemonade Day. It’s fascinating watching kids go through the Lemonade Day experience. They are making decisions, gaining confidence, making real money, and using 100 percent of their profits to spend, save and share based on their own goals and what they are passionate about. They take risks and dare to dream. They are inspired and inspiring and they are making a positive and meaningful difference in their communities.
What triggers a business or corporation to get involved in Lemonade Day?
Michael: Let’s face it; there are plenty of worthwhile causes to support. When I talk to someone about Lemonade Day, I know that the individual I’m talking to supports his/her favorite causes and the company might have specific causes they already support. But when I pose this question: ‘if you had an opportunity to invest in your next generation of employees that could add value to your workforce and the success of your organization, would you do it?’, I get a different reaction. Preparing kids to be strong contributors in their future jobs is a self-serving revelation. Once they see that, the wheels start turning and they think of how to get their entire team of employees involved through competitions – helping kids build a stand, pitch competitions to investors, best stand designs, etc. Then, they are all in!
I’m sure you can see now why I admire and respect him so much! I’m grateful for his influence on the lives of so many, including mine and the millions of kids who have benefited from Lemonade Day. With that in mind, we would also like to take this opportunity on behalf of the entire national staff, board of directors, city directors, city champions, and especially Lemonade Day children and youth to wish Michael a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY this week!
Please feel free to share this blog with others and share my contact information, firstname.lastname@example.org with anyone who would like to know how to help us provide our program to more children and youth or start Lemonade Day in a new city!
Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions. For more information about Lemonade Day, please visit www.lemonadeday.org.