Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
My son had his Bar Mitzvah in 1978. Many boys receive presents of cash when they celebrate their Bar Mitzvah. Gold coins were hot in 1978. Many Bar Mitzvah boys exchanged their new found fortune for two gold Krugerands. Gold was being predicted to increase to $1400 an ounce in the coming year.
Not Brad. His cash gifts totaled $1300. He wanted an Apple II Computer. The Apple computer company released the Apple II computer in 1977. I was delighted that he wanted to invest his Bar Mitzvah money in himself and not gold. At age 13, he was certain that he could learn to program the Apple II computer. I asked him how much it would cost. He said about $1300.
The following Saturday, after his soccer game, we went to the computer store to buy his Apple II computer. Brad convinced me during the preceding week that “we” needed an Apple II. After spending $3100 for the Apple II computer and all the necessary peripherals, “we" walked out of the store with all the pieces “we” needed to “create the future”.
As we were walking to the car I had an “aha” moment. Brad’s willingness to spend all his Bar Mitzvah money on his future convinced me to spend an additional $1800. I was sure he had all the characteristics of an entrepreneur. He told me the future was in personal computing. “We have to spend the money on the future”. This was a pretty profound statement for a 13 year old boy in 1978,
He was right. Not only did he learn how to program the Apple II himself, he started a business. He taught boys and girls in the neighborhood how to program in basic for a fee.
In 1982 he was tiring of the Apple II. I needed a program to print out laboratory reports generated in my chemistry laboratory. Brad volunteered to write the program, design the pretty printout and sell me the Apple II computer and all the peripherals for $1600. The laboratory program was a bargain to me. Brad monetized his asset for a profit. He added value to me while he leveraged his acquired talent.
The moral to the story is many of our children are very perceptive. We should listen to them. We have to create the environment for them to want to learn and be excited to learn. We have to make them responsible for their actions. They have to them put “skin” in the game. Our country’s greatness was built on entrepreneurship. It is parents’ responsibility to help promote the tradition of entrepreneurship. I am convinced that by creating an environment in which my sons can be creative and innovative, I have learned more from them, than I have taught them.