It’s never too early to help kids develop healthy life habits. My dad was my greatest inspiration and role model. From a young age, he taught me about responsibility and the consequences of the decisions I would make in my life. He helped me develop healthy habits that still help me today. Things like the importance of saving. The importance of understanding, and enjoying, the business you are in.
And the value of hard work.
When I was six, I started my first business. I bought a six-pack of Coke for 25 cents and sold the cans for a nickel each. Probably my best business! I did the same thing with magazines and gum, door to door. Those early businesses taught me about supply and demand, and location, and the importance of price. Invaluable lessons that were fundamental to my learning. And I had a lot of fun doing it.
The life lessons that I learned back then would serve kids well throughout their whole life. Things like:
- The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself.
- The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.
- Learn from your mistakes, and the mistakes of others.
- Great partnerships make any job easier.
- Fail to plan, plan to fail.
- With business, as in life, get to know people before you judge them.
- It’s not just the outside that counts, it’s the whole package.
These are simple lessons to help kids, and adults, live healthy, productive and successful lives. It is good for PTAs to teach kids financial literacy, which extends well beyond the school day.
Secret Millionaires Club
That’s why we created the Secret Millionaires Club to help kids develop these same healthy habits, and provide a fun way for kids to learn about the “business of life.” I thought the idea of using the power of cartoon characters to carry a message was a good one, as is teaching financial lessons at an age when it can really help kids.
We’ve taken those same lessons from the television series and created toys and books and games, providing other ways to make it fun for kids to learn about business. And three years ago, we created a program that encouraged kids to use what they learn from Secret Millionaires Club to create their own businesses.
The “Grow Your Own Business Challenge” is a national competition available in thousands of schools and youth organizations across the country. The competition offers an educational website and downloadable materials to help kids develop their ideas. Thousands of kids enter the competition every year.
The finalists come to see me in Omaha and present their business plans. It’s a lot of fun for the kids, their teachers, parents, and most of all for me! Each year, I am amazed by the ideas these kids come up with.
For those who are pessimistic about the current state of affairs in this country, they need only spend a few hours with these terrific kids to see that the best days of this country are before us.
The program is proof that at a very early age kids not only understand financial matters, they come up with some pretty extraordinary ideas themselves, and have a lot of fun doing it.