Saturday, March 10, 2012

Business Is Good

Give a kid a camera and they'll take a thousand silly photos.  Give them encouragement and they'll set up an office, build a web-site, crank out audio-visual material and have you delivering dinner to them while they work.

At the age of two, we stuck a computer in front of our son and said, "Here, you can't tear it up.  Try every button and have fun."  He first met "Reader Rabbit", a Disney software character, who led him down the proverbial rabbit hole where he discovered his love of all things high-tech. While he was supposed to be learning phonics from this rabbit who threw random letters on the screen, Joey learned color schemes, layout and effective user interfaces. He just didn't know it at the time.  Knowledge of all things computerized came quick.  By the age of ten, he was banned from on-line gaming for real world trading and turned to building

his own web-site.   His toys had turned into capital purchases and were no longer the kind you can share with the neighborhood kids.  By the age of sixteen, he had an established DJ business and was playing for private parties and corporate functions around the state. Cheerleaders discovered his ability to mix music and soon started arriving at our doorstep for Joey to crank out original dance tracks.  Joey discovered that cheerleaders were nice customers to have around and that business segment thrived.  One Friday night, when I thought we were attending a football game to hear the music he had provided, I noticed my son out on the field with the coaches, filming the oncoming players.  He had no permission to be there, but he learned early that nobody questions a kid with a camera in hand.  He used his skills learned from one Reader Rabbit to create a "Media" badge and soon was spending every game out on the field capturing great shots of our team.  He was preparing the music for the cheerleaders before the game and getting paid.  He was filming the players and editing great plays for college application videos and getting paid.  And then he was DJing the after game dances and once again, getting paid.  This kid can figure out more ways to make money in a single night than I once made babysitting all summer long.

Business was booming and since cell phones aren't allowed in school, he was texting clients from under his desk during Chemistry and AP History.  This plan worked well until people began to drop their deposits off with the school secretary.  Once again, employing the philosophy that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, he found an empty closet at school and converted it into his office.  First time he called me from the school office, I just knew he was in the trouble until he explained that he was in "his" office.    Coaches began to see the value of his videos for their players and they never questioned his use of this unofficial office.  It wasn't long before the mayor discovered his talent and one day the police chief, mayor and Chamber of Commerce president came to the school to find Joey.  He wasn't in trouble for his unauthorized use of school space and secretarial staff.  Instead, they wanted to take him to lunch to discuss business.  I learned, just today, that instead of being in History class, he was busy working with a local business on how to promote their Wednesday Night Chicken Wing special.  I'm not sure how this will help when he takes his college entrance exams, but I feel it is a worthwhile learning opportunity.  While my funds disappear quickly and my 401K doesn't earn what it should these days, I figure I've invested wisely in the tools my kids need to be successful.

Someone asked me one time,  "How does he know how to do all of this?"  I think it's because he learned early that we trusted him with the tools placed in his hands.   And of course, he figured out that girls, in front of the camera, love the guy behind the camera.  That helps, too.

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