February 9, 2023

Life Lessons From An Appalachian Entrepreneur With Dave Yeany

By: Gary Schoeniger
TEMP 8 | Maple Syrup

Today I’m speaking with Dave Yeany, the founder of Yeany’s Maple, a small but thriving maple syrup business located in Marienville, PA.

This is really an amazing underdog story that you won’t want to miss.

I met Dave a few months back when giving a talk in Marienville, which is a small town of approximately 3,500 people located smack dab in the poorest county in Pennsylvania. Little did I know there was an unlikely entrepreneur in our midst.

As a high school dropout, he spent the bulk of his career as a custodian at the local high school. Yet he was always looking for ways to make extra money in his spare time.

One day, he decided he would try to make maple syrup from scratch.

With only a few borrowed taps, he figured out how to make his first batch, which he then gave away to family and friends. They soon came back asking for more.

At that moment, he realized there might be an opportunity at hand. Yet rather than quitting his job and going all in, he started small, selling maple syrup at the end of his driveway on the honor system.

By the time he sold $70,000 worth of maple syrup in his spare time, he decided it was time to make the leap. Today, he not only has a thriving business, but he is also making a huge impact in his community.

This is such a great story, one that not only demonstrates the power of the entrepreneurial mindset to improve our own lives but also the impact it can have on the communities we inhabit.

Listen to the podcast here

Read the transcript below.

Life Lessons From An Appalachian Entrepreneur With Dave Yeany

This episode is sponsored by ELI, the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative. We are the world’s leading provider of entrepreneurial mindset education, training, and professional development programs serving academic, business, government, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. Visit ELIMindset.com to learn more.

I‘m speaking with Dave Yeany, the Founder of Yeanys Maple, a small but thriving maple syrup business located in Marienville, Pennsylvania. This is an amazing underdog story that you won’t want to miss. I met Dave when giving a talk in Marienville, which is a small town of approximately 3,500 people located smack dab in the poorest county of Pennsylvania. Little did I know that there was an unlikely entrepreneur in our midst.

As a high school dropout, Dave spent the bulk of his career as a custodian at the local high school, yet he was always looking for ways to earn extra money in his spare time. One day, he decided he would try to make maple syrup from scratch. With only a few Bauer taps, he figured out how to make his first batch, which he then gave away to family and friends. Soon they came back asking for more. At that moment, he realized there might be an opportunity at hand. Rather than quitting his job and going all in, he started small by selling maple syrup at the end of his driveway on the honor system.

Before he knew it, he had sold $70,000 worth of maple syrup in his spare time. It was then that he decided to take the leap. Now, he not only has a thriving business but he’s also making a huge impact in his community. This is such a great story, one that not only demonstrates the power of the entrepreneurial mindset to improve our lives but also the impact it can have in our communities. Without any further ado, I hope you enjoy my conversation with Dave Yeany.

Dave, welcome to the show.

Gary, thanks for having me on. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you.

You and I met. It was in Marienville, Pennsylvania. I remember I gave a little talk about the Ice House program and the entrepreneurial mindset. You sat there as polite and humble as could be to my whole talk nodding your head, and only to tell me after the fact that you were a modernday version of the Ice House guy of Uncle Cleve.

What you said resonated. I could relate to the things that you were saying. I thought you were pretty much on target with your message.

Thank you, Dave. Folks probably already know that every day, entrepreneurs are everywhere. They’re in every community. They’re largely ignored. Folks like you have a lot to teach us, although you may not even be aware of the knowledge you’ve acquired and how it might be helpful to others. It’s my job to try to tease out not only what it is you are doing but why you’re doing it and how you’re doing it. Let me start with this simple question, which I ask a lot of our guests. How did you get on this entrepreneurial path? Did you even think of yourself as an entrepreneur?

I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur but I grew up pretty much in poverty. I always wanted something better for myself and my family. I’ll always work for somebody else. While I was working for somebody else, I always tried to have something else going on the side to make extra money to help me get ahead. With some of the things I did, people say, “What the heck?” That didn’t amount to much, but I’ve bred dogs for a while. I’ve bought and sold deer hides. I was a trapper. We trapped furs, sold furs, sold supplies, and things that would help supplement the income where I could do other things that I thought I enjoyed. What I’m doing now was by accident.

What was your day job?

When I first started, I was a carpenter. I went to work for a mobile home factory. I left that and went out West, and built houses for a period. On the day I came back to Marienville, the front page headline says, “Marienville Glass Containers set to close.” That was a glass factory here in town that employed about 400 people. I thought, “That’s good.” It’s not that I had ever worked there, but there was always that opportunity to get that job there. They had done a major renovation on our school here in town.

The fellow that owned the grocery store at the time was the board president. I know him. He said, “We need to hire some people to help get the school ready for the station after this construction. Are you interested?” I went to work there as a custodian. I ended up staying there for 30 years because I became the head of maintenance. I was the head of maintenance at the school for 26 years. I retired at 56 years old to do the business that I’m currently in.

There’s so much I want to unpack in that little bit here. The one thing I want to tease out of your story that I hear a lot is don’t quit your day job and some stability in your life and experiment in your spare time. That’s what you were doing throughout your whole life. We tend to characterize entrepreneurs as these big and bold risk-takers. That’s largely a myth. We’re more like tinkerers and experimenters rather than bold visionaries. That’s the typical entrepreneur.

I tend to agree with that. I was trying to find something that I could do for myself and that I could make a living while I was working at a job that had a steady paycheck, insurance, and stability. At 56 I was ready to give that up but not really because I knew I was getting a pension. I still had something that I could fall back onto in case things didn’t pan out.

You had a safety net. There’s no shame in that. That’s the prudent thing to do. Did you have an idea in your head that caused you to retire? Did you retire and then think, “Now what am I going to do?

I had the idea in my head. In 2004, I started making maple syrup.

While you were still fully employed.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Fur-Fish-Game Magazine. It’s an outdoor magazine for the practical outdoorsman. It’s published in Ohio, in your home state. They always have a one-page article at the end of the magazine. In January 2004, the name of the article was titled, “You Can Make Maple Syrup in Your Backyard.” I’ve always had an interest in maple syrup but growing up, we didn’t have it because it was fairly expensive. We ate Aunt Jemima, Log Cabin, and that kind of thing, which is not maple syrup.

You’re well aware of that now I’m sure.

I have four large maple trees and sugar maples in my yard. I thought, “I could get the stuff.” The article laid out how to make maple syrup and be a backyard sugar maker. I borrowed a pan and some taps. I took milk jugs and made them to collect sap. I looked around and people said to me, “You can’t have a hobby because everything always turns into something bigger.”

People are saying, if you’re a tinkerer, you go full-on. You either go big or you don’t do it at all.

Go big or go home. I had twelve caps in my yard. I start driving on my daily travels to town. I can see all these big maple trees. I go, “There’s a maple tree there.” I know most of these people and I ask them, “Can I tap your maple trees? In exchange for that, I’ll give you a bottle of maple syrup.”

That’s the same model as the natural gas and oil guys. They have to give you a 1/8 royalty share.

Everybody is going, “This is great.” They thought it was the greatest thing in the world. I had 56 taps in my first year. I made twelve gallons of what I called maple syrup. I come to find out later that it may not have been the correct density of maple syrup but it was good anyhow.

It’s good enough.

I gave it to everybody. They thought it was wonderful.

At that point, were you thinking that you’re going to be able to sell that at some point? Were you just horsing around?

I was just horsing around. Come about October of that fall, people were saying to me, “Are you going to make maple syrup next year?” I got to thinking, “I’m going to make maple syrup. I have something people want.”

You’re like a drug dealer. You handed out the first dose for free.

People have accused me of that. In the meantime, I find this online chatroom called Maple Trader. The members are sugar makers. They can be anywhere from backyard sugar makers to small professional sugar makers because the ones that have a lot of taps don’t have time for it. I get on there and start talking to these people. I’m learning more. I decided I wanted to buy a small evaporator. That wasn’t in the budget. A fellow was on there. He had one he was giving away. He said it wasn’t serviceable. Unfortunately, he said it’s in Coatesville, Indiana.

You’re retired. You’re not starving to death but you don’t have a lot of disposable income.

At this time, I was still working. This is before I retired.

You’re doing all of this in your spare time. That’s an important point.

It was all in my spare time. I was running a 200-mile trap line at the same time. I went to Coatesville, Indiana, got this free evaporator, fixed it up, and made maple syrup on it. I had 156 taps. We grew this operation. At one time, we had 5,000 taps, and 2,500 of those taps were buckets. I was hiring kids at the school to dump buckets for me. I was taking days off of work to boil sap. It got to the point where we were making a fair amount of syrup. I had sold $70,000 worth of maple products. It wasn’t $70,000 of profit but $70,000 worth of maple.

That’s gross revenue. That was all in your spare time.

I was going to farmer’s markets and small craft shows.

There’s an important point that can help a lot of entrepreneurs. It’s don’t quit your day job. What you did was prove the concept. You derisked the concept before you took the leap.

TEMP 8 | Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup: Entrepreneurs must never quit their day jobs. De-risk your concept first before taking the leap.

I had responsibilities. You have to meet those responsibilities. I felt that my business had gotten to the point where I could leave my day job, but I still had a safety net because I had a pension. I had put 30 years in there and built that pension up. Some people say that was foolish but I had money in my pension fund that was available to me. I could have let it in there and let it accrue money over time and whatnot. In order for me to make my decision work, I needed that money because I needed more modern equipment. I had just leased a piece of wood that I’m still on. I needed new equipment to make it a high-production wood. I took that money and invested it in my business.

My ex-wife was not happy about that. Unfortunately, she was never on board with that whole project. I would have never been able to make that leap without doing that. We now have a modern operation. We have modern equipment, reverse osmosis, and electronic monitoring in our woods. It tells us what our vacuum levels are, so we know when we need to go down there. We know how much sap is in our tank. My wife and I currently are running this operation pretty much by ourselves. It’s because the equipment and things that we have allows us to do that.

The important point here is that you took the risk out of it. You generated $70,000 in revenue. You proved that there’s a demand for it before you went willy-nilly and put part of your retirement fund in jeopardy. You said that without access to those funds, you could have never made it happen. I would have bet that you would have found a way.

I wouldn’t have been able to do it as quickly because I kept reinvesting my money back into the business. For example, I used that free evaporator that I got and rebuilt within a six-week period and made syrup. I used that for three years. I found another evaporator that was for sale but I didn’t have the money to pay for it. I called the guy up and asked him if I could send him a down payment on it. This was in March. I said, “I’m going to send you a down payment on that. I want you to hold that. I’m going to come to pick it up on Memorial Day weekend.”

That’s a couple of months out.

He said, “If you’re going to send me money, I guess you won it. We’re good. We have a deal.” I didn’t have the rest of that money but I felt that from that time until Memorial Day weekend, I could sell enough maple syrup to pay for that evaporator, which I did.

You didn’t have to live on the money. That was the beautiful part of that. Are you still full-time working as a custodian at the time?

I was still a full-time custodian.

You’re throwing your hat over the fence. That’s what you did. Why is the evaporator so important to you?

The evaporator is where you make the maple syrup on. That’s the piece of equipment that you make the maple syrup on. You put in raw sap or concentrated sap, and boil it to a specific density. That’s how you make maple syrup. Without an evaporator, you can’t make maple syrup.

You reached out to a total stranger. He’s got an expensive piece of equipment for sale. You don’t have the money. You’re appealing to this guy, “Work with me.” What I’ve found in my entrepreneurial journey and learning from the stories of others like you is that a lot of times, people see that you are somebody trying to make something happen. They were once in your shoes.

I see that.

You’re out there hustling. People see that you’re hustling, and they want to help you. That’s often overlooked. People will work with you. They’re not going to necessarily give stuff away, but you can create a little edge for yourself by doing what you did.

I agree with that. I got a lot of experience doing that kind of thing being an outdoorsman. I respect other people’s property. I always went up and knocked on the door of the landowner and asked for permission to access their property. It’s a hard thing to do. It deters a lot of people from success because you have to ask somebody for something that they already worked for. A lot of people hold that property dear to their hearts. They don’t want anybody out there mucking it up or doing things that they shouldn’t and things like that.

You have to present yourself as a respectable person or somebody honest and trustworthy. I’ve been in some outdoor organizations where I’ve been in leadership positions where you have to teach yourself how to present yourself. In school, the teachers tell you some of that, “You need to present yourself in a good manner,” but they don’t tell you how to go about that.

I’m sure whenever you were in school, the teacher said, “You need to present yourself in a respectable manner.” Somebody told you that in your life but you are the only one that can decide what respectable is. This is what I had to do. I had to learn to present myself in a respectable manner where people would trust me and have faith in my word. If you can’t live up to your word, it’s not a good thing.

TEMP 8 | Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup: You are the only one who can decide what respectable is. If you can’t live up to your word, it is not a good thing.

Here’s another great point you’re making that people shouldn’t skip over. It’s almost like building a brand. You’re playing a long game. It’s about trust. The brand is trust. That’s all it is. Am I going to deliver on what I say I’m going to deliver? You’re saying some important things. It’s interesting to me that the teacher can tell you, “You have to learn to present yourself in a certain way.” What you’re getting at are the underlying beliefs and assumptions behind that behavior. Those are empathy and respect. Its respect for other people’s perspectives. It’s not rocket science, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle that people can easily overlook in my view.

I feel very fortunate. My father was an epileptic. He could not hold a regular job. He couldn’t hold a driver’s license. My mother left my father with six children that he had to raise by himself. He did odd jobs. He taught us what honesty was about, what the value of your word was, and what the value of a good day’s work was. I feel that he gave me a good foundation in life. We all stray. I always believe you raise a child in the manner that he should go. He will eventually go there, regardless of where he goes in between.

You need to have faith in yourself that you can deliver what you’re saying. If I’m going to tell you that I’m going to give you something or I’m going to do something, I better stick to it. They never remember all the times you did what you said you were going to do. They remember the times you don’t do what you say you’re going to do.

In my twenties, I started a gutter cleaning business. I strapped a borrowed ladder on the roof of my car. I went up into wealthier neighborhoods in the suburbs of Cleveland Heights where I’m not from, and where wealthier people lived. I was trying to see if people would pay me $100. This is in the ’80s. I would climb up on a ladder and clean their gutters. It was exactly what you said. You show up early and deliver exactly what you say you’re going to deliver, and a little bit more. Pretty soon people start asking you to solve other problems for them. Twelve years later, that gutter cleaning business evolved into a $5 million business. Most of it was pinned on what you said, delivering on a promise.

You have to. We’re depending on other people for our livelihood and our success. We do make our success, but it’s depending on other people to help us get there.

We make our own success, but we also depend on other people to help us get there. Share on X

You have to create something useful for other people. That’s your underlying assumption, “I have to create something other people want and need. I have to figure out what other people want and need.

I didn’t know that there was a need for maple syrup in our area. I didn’t know that until I started making it.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. People aren’t walking around with signs saying, “I need this. I need that.” You can go online and look for a job where they’re posted somewhere, but human needs are unarticulated. You have to be a detective. You have to be an observer. You have to be focused on what other people need. I love what you said. You can’t do any market research that’s going to tell you that people in your area want maple syrup. The only way you can figure that out is by making maple syrup, putting it in front of them, and seeing if they will pay for it.

I remember how twenty years ago, I was standing on my horse roof on Labor Day weekend, painting window sills, and watching all the money drive by my house. There are campers, motor homes, and trailers with four-wheelers on them and stuff because we live in a tourist area. I said to myself, “I have to find a way to get my hand in those people’s pockets. If I can ever do it, I’m going to.” I didn’t know it was going to be maple syrup.

I want it to be clear to the audience. If I’m hearing you correctly, you’re not saying, “I have to figure out a way to rip those people off.” What you’re saying is, “I have to find a way to come up with something that those people need or want.

We live in a small community. There is a lot of money that drives through our community. To help the community thrive, we have to get those people to stop there and do business with us. I have two cupboards on my porch that have our maple products in them, and the jams, jellies, and pickled items that my wife makes. They are self-preserved. They are mostly visited by tourists.

I know a lot of people say, “How do they know they’re there?” They find them by accident because I have a sign out the front that says, “Yeany’s Maple Syrup,” out there. People stop but we do some Facebook advertising and things like that. People tell other people. I’ve never kept track of it as closely as I probably should. We probably do between $25,000 and $30,000 worth of self-served business off my front porch. I never see the majority of those people.

That’s amazing. I love this story. It’s such a beautiful story. I have to tell you this. I was at a party a few years ago. I wound up talking to some executives from Smuckers. I started asking them, “I‘m interested in entrepreneurship. What’s the startup story from Smucker’s? Back in the 1800s, Old Man Smucker was a guy trying to feed his family. He was standing on a street corner selling apple cider. He looked at the mash and said, “I have to find a way to use this mash.”

He made apple butter out of the mash. That’s how Smucker’s was born. That’s part of the story. Its a guy like Dave Yeany who starts something. He doesn’t know where it’s going to end, and doesn’t have a big grandiose plan. Little by little, brick by brick, he started building something. You’re selling $25,000 or $30,000 a year worth of stuff off your front porch on the honor system.

We have friends here that come by and see all the people buying stuff. We do a lot of festivals in the fall. We buy and sell pumpkins and mums also. We put those out front. Those are also on the honor system. People say, “Aren’t you afraid of people stealing stuff?” I said, “I’m not.” There are a couple of those folks. We had to let them come over and empty our cash box so they could sleep at night.

There was so much money stuffed in our cash box that they were afraid people were going to steal it. To make them comfortable to sleep at night, we allowed them to come over, empty the cash box, and take the money home with them. It’s nuts. There have been times when we have come home over a weekend, and there has been $1,000 stuffed everywhere in the cupboard and our front door. You go, “Look at this. They got this money.”

You can tell the individual sales because they have all their money wrapped up in one little individual unit. You keep piling out. It doesn’t happen like that all the time but there are certain times of the year when the business is much more active. The amount of money is crazy. We went to Virginia here to a friend of mine who had an event. We took our kettle corn down there to sell it. We made more money at home not being here than we did in Virginia at the event.

That’s great. That’s a whole story in itself. As you’re saying this, I remember reading something about a psychologist doing a study like that with the honor system with coffee and donuts in an office. It’s consistent with what you found.

With that, people like to be trusted.

They also probably like you more for trusting them.

They appreciate being trusted. People say, “You have to put up a camera.” I’ll never put up a camera because the moment I put up a camera, I’m telling my customers I don’t trust them.

I hear in these interviews what I can only call emotional intelligence. It’s not street smarts. It’s not book smarts. It’s an understanding of human nature. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here because it’s so interesting. I can speak to you for hours. It sounds like you’re talking about the present time. I want to make sure we follow the timeline.

That’s the present.

That didn’t happen right from the beginning. I want to make sure folks understand that it took you a while to build that brand. It’s not like you put some syrup and homemade jams at the end of your driveway, and came home the next day with $1,000 stashed.

It has taken about fourteen years to get here.

That’s what I want folks to understand.

I went to a maple conference up in Syracuse, New York about 14 or 15 years ago. There was a producer there. I went to a workshop. He talked about selling on the honor system. He was saying how successful he was at it. I thought, “That’s probably something that I should look into.” When I worked for the school district, one of my jobs was to pick up the school’s mail. The post office is across the main highway across town. I live about 200 yards from the intersection on that main highway up the street.

When I go to the post office in the morning, I would look up, and there would be a car parked in front of my house. I would ask my ex-wife, “Did you sell syrup?” She’s like, “Nobody was here.” She wasn’t wanting to deal with the business. If somebody came to her, she wouldn’t bother with it. I thought, “I need to try this honor system.” My youngest brother is an antique dealer. I went and got an antique cupboard from him. I had the kids at school build me a base for it. I set it out on my porch and filled it with maple syrup and maple products. You’re not going to believe this one. Two hours later, I made my first sale out of it.

You’re still working full-time as a custodian.

I would do all my bottling and stuff in the evening and on weekends. That was my first honor system sale.

What did your first sale look like? Let me back us up because you were messing around the first year. You gave away a bunch of syrup, and people started asking you, “Are you going to make syrup again this year?” Walk us from that point to what happened.

After I picked up that old evaporator out in Indiana, I got 156 taps that year. I found maple equipment dealers and supply dealers. I was able to buy commercially produced maple syrup jugs like those plastic ones you see in the store. I bought some of those with the idea that if I made syrup this year, I was not going to give it all away, and that there was a value to it there.

Now the rubber meets the road.

I can’t say I recall the exact first sale but I would pretty much assume it would have been one of my fellow employees at the school. There was a secretary there. I know her husband loved maple syrup, and she did too. I believe she might have been the first sale. I sold her a quart of maple syrup for $10. My fellow employees saw I had maple syrup. They started buying it off of me. I had probably sold it all. I don’t exactly remember but I know I put a sign out the front that said, “Pennsylvania Maple Syrup for sale here.” I did make a sign that said “Yeany’s Maple Syrup” on it.

I do recall one customer that stopped at the house. It might have been the first one that stopped and knocked on the door to ask to buy maple syrup. Those were some folks from Arkansas. They wanted a couple of quarts of maple syrup. I said, “I got it. Let me go in the house and get it for you.” I brought it out and had these two jugs. They were branded Pennsylvania Maple Syrup. It was a state jug.

I gave it to them and they go, “Look at that. It’s in real maple syrup jugs.” I said, “How did you expect me to bring it out in my hand?” They said, “We figured they were going to be in quart jars.” I said, “If I do something, I’m going to do it right.” He said, “This is wonderful. We appreciate this.” I knew some backyard folks that were canning their syrup in mason jars and things like that. That isn’t the path I need to take. If I’m going to do this, I need to have the proper containers with the proper presentation.

You can’t look like you’re selling it out of the backseat of your car. It has to land.

I might have had a hillbilly-looking operation at the time, but I don’t need to look like a hillbilly when I’m selling it.

That will be the tagline for the episode.

I was a professional photographer for about fifteen years.

Is that another one of your side hustles?

I went to seminars. There’s a fellow by the name of Charles Lewis. He was a master portrait photographer. I remember this throughout my entire life. I was probably 35 years old at the time. He said, “The first impression is the lasting impression, not the last impression.” I try to make a good impression every time I present myself and my products.

That’s the brand idea. It’s part of the promise. It’s like, “You can trust me. I‘m reliable.” It’s not complicated.

For example, we have had some issues with a couple of products that we were using. We stopped making that product until we can get those issues straightened out because we don’t want to put out a bad product. That’s what you have to do. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit to gain in the long run.

Sometimes, you have to sacrifice a little bit to gain in the long run. Share on X

That goes back to our earlier conversation. We’re playing a long game here. You can’t take money from somebody and go, “It’s a subpar product. Too bad for them.” That’s shortterm stupid. As the saying goes, “Overnight success takes 25 years.

That’s the truth.

I also want to go back to something you said, “I went to a seminar.” You said that more than once now. You’ve gone to maple conferences. You were going to seminars. What I’m hearing you say is you got this day job where you’re a custodian. You know what you’re doing, but you’re still curious and you’re still learning well into your 50s. You’re still open to learning. I don’t think that should be overlooked.

I’ve always felt that if I was going to do something, I needed to do it right. I needed to know how to do it. When I first learned how to trap, I went to every trapping convention and trapping seminar that was available to me. I listened to what people had to say. I saw what they did. I was not too bashful to approach people who were considered professionals or at the top of their game in that field to try and pick their brains and talk to them. There are many things that can be learned in a normal conversation. You don’t have to be questioning everybody to gain information. Just strike up a conversation.

If they trust you, they will tell you. It pays to be friendly with people and be friends with people. Whenever I was doing photography, I went to seminars at the school for my job. Things would come across my desk for certain types of training. I would take it to my principal and say, “Here’s this opportunity for me to learn how to do my job better.” In everything I’ve ever been involved with, I’ve always tried to learn the newest and latest technology to get a good education in what I do.

You don’t have to question everybody to gain information. Just strike up a conversation and they will tell you something if they trust you. Share on X

This would be a good time for me to ask you. Were you a good student in school?

I was terrible. I quit school.

What age? What grade?

I completed tenth grade.

That’s not uncommon. I was writing about this in a chapter of my new book. One of the most common things you see in entrepreneurs, and it’s easy to overlook, is that they are not always great straightA students but they’re learning. They know how to learn, they know how to find information, and they know how to unlearn and relearn on their own. This gives the entrepreneurialminded person an advantage over everyone else. It’s this ability to keep learning.

I’m 66 years old. I’m open to new things. I’m open to learning. I probably will be until the day I die. Abraham Lincoln said, “I do not have much respect for a man who did not learn something today.”

I was interviewing an entrepreneur in Salt Lake City in Utah. He was an old guy. I didn’t know how old he was at the time. He was a medical researcher. He was talking about a business that he started. His name was Gerald. I said, “How old were you, Gerald, when you started this business?” He thought for a minute and said, “That was 2017. I was 85.

There you go. It’s what keeps you going.

I don’t understand why more people aren’t curious.

People become complacent.

There’s so much opportunity. I want to connect an idea that you laid out here. Opportunities are everywhere but they’re invisible. There’s no survey that people are saying, “People of Marienville want maple syrup.” You have to find that by being a detective, by being curious, and by looking. The reason people aren’t curious. The reason people become complacent as you said is that we come to assume that the world is the way it is, and that there’s nothing we can do about it. You don’t know you have that assumption. It’s so deeply embedded in the brain.

I always say that you’re responsible for your own success and failure. A lot of people don’t want to take that responsibility. They’re willing to get up in the morning and go to work for somebody else knowing that they have a comfortable lifestyle. They can play, have toys, and all of that. One thing they will never have is the satisfaction of creating something out of nothing. You have an idea.

You’re responsible for your own success and failure. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t want to take that responsibility. Share on X

At the time, I didn’t even know I had an idea but I had an idea. I didn’t know where it was going to go, but by doing what I did, I started making opportunities for myself. As I made those opportunities, I took advantage of those opportunities. I’m not saying I’m successful. I’m an average person but successful people make their opportunities. You cannot wait for an opportunity to come along.

You have to go looking for it. You have to be actively engaged in what I call the opportunity discovery process.

We have expanded our business because of what we saw were potential opportunities. You said whenever you spoke here in Marienville that you find the problem and then create the solution. We have seen problems. We have tried to create solutions for them. We are in plans to hopefully alleviate one of the problems here in the near future.

That’s why we’re selling mums and pumpkins at the front of our house because they aren’t readily available in the manner that we’re doing it in this community. We sold 300 mums off our front porch this fall. We put ads on Facebook for people to see them. We sold fifteen bins of pumpkins out of our front yard. There’s an opportunity for that. There’s a need for that. People are looking for those things. People would always want to go to Walmart or the Big Box stores to buy their things.

That’s what you’ve tapped into. People are tired of fake maple syrup. People are tired of going to the Big Box stores. Everything is made in China or doesn’t have any personal connection with it. That’s part of the value you are providing.

I believe that is true too. A couple of years ago at the beginning of the pandemic, my wife had an idea for a festival here in our community. We’re going to be in our third year in 2023. It’s very successful. We were looking for somebody to sell kettle corn at our festival. I don’t know if you go to a festival or not but kettle corn is a big hit. People like kettle Corn. We knew 3 or 4 people that made kettle corn. They said that it was a new festival that they didn’t want to participate in because they didn’t feel they would make any money or what have you.

My wife and I had been experimenting with making maple popcorn. We hadn’t been able to come up with a product that we were happy with to sell and be able to produce in a large quantity to sell, so we hadn’t done that. My wife looks at me and says, “We need to be in the kettle corn business.” I thought, “You’re right. We aren’t just going to be in the kettle corn business but we are going to be in the maple kettle corn business.” One of the gentlemen we had asked buys maple sugar off of us to make maple kettle corn. One day, he inadvertently gave me his recipe. Recipes are important. We invested $10,000 in the maple kettle corn business. We never made kettle corn before in our life.

Let me make sure for the audience. You’re pretty far into your business now. You’ve quit your job. You’ve got some cash flowing. You’re not just taking these big crazy leaps. You’re learning about your customer. You’re figuring out other things that they need. I’m recalling from our conversation in Marienville that you started a festival. That’s an important part of the story. Can I back you up? What was the idea behind the festival?

My wife and I were sitting on our front porch, enjoying a glass of wine one night, and discussing what we could do to help bring business to our community. We were at the beginning of the pandemic. Our festivals had slowed down. We held two small events in our sideyard to bring business in. We were trying to come up with something that would bring people to the community. My wife looked at me and said, “We should have a Bigfoot Festival.” I said, “You’re right.”

That in and of itself is so interesting to me. Even the fact that you’re sitting with your wife on the front porch in your leisure time and thinking about how you can create value shouldn’t be lost.

We have to help her sell. My wife and I constantly are discussing what we can do to advance our goals and our business, and what we can do to be of benefit to the community also. First and foremost, our community is our customers. Without them, we don’t have a business. Without doing something that benefits them, we may not have them. I may not have said that in the right way but they’re an important part of our business. Your community is an important part of your life. For you to thrive, your community needs to thrive.

TEMP 8 | Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup: An entrepreneur’s community is their customers. Without them, they don’t have a business.

We lost the main source of employment in this community in 1982. We have never recovered. They built a 2,000-bed state prison a mile up the road in 1998. It has never brought anything to the community. All it did was cause Forest County to lose its status as the smallest and least densely populated county in the state by giving us 2,300 convicts as residents. It hasn’t done anything. There are very few people that live here and work there. It has been more of a regional benefit instead of an immediate community benefit. We have empty storefronts. We have a vacant factory. Most of it has been torn down.

It’s amazing to me. It’s such a powerful statement that you’re saying. I don’t know if you understand the power of what you’re saying. You’re a guy who was a custodian at the local high school, and now you’re sitting on your front porch thinking, “How could we generate economic vitality for people in our community?” Thats a powerful story. First, you start giving maple syrup away, and then you start selling it to family and friends, and it builds from there. Over time, do you feel like your belief in your abilities grew with that business?

I am much more confident now than I was 30 years ago. I always attributed that to the more you do it, the more confident you are in what you do. I’m always somewhat active in the community. I’ve never been what you call a big player or anything like that. At one time, I was the President of the local Chamber of Commerce, and I didn’t even own a business. I help organize different things. I’ve never been afraid to step up and do something when it needed to be done.

What I’m seeing here is what I see in these entrepreneurs I interview that you’re demonstrating. You may or may not be consciously aware of it but there’s this underlying assumption, “I have to figure out how to make myself useful to other people.” That’s what’s driving your behavior. It’s a sense of responsibility and community.

I understand what you’re trying to say. I could agree that it’s a subconscious thing because it’s not something that I am consciously aware of.

Your focus is on other people. Your underlying assumptions are constant throughout this whole conversation. You’re thinking about other people first and putting yourself second. That’s the formula. Entrepreneurs think, “I want to make money for myself, and they put their customers second. It’s a formula for failure.

I’ve said more than once that I’m involved in some civic organizations and things like that. My wife said, “It’s time to start putting our business first. Instead of helping all these other people succeed, we need to make ourselves succeed.” I’ve helped write grants for different organizations, but I can’t write a grant for myself.

I would never belong to a club that would have me as a member. It’s the old saying.

We have put a major focus. I remarried seven years ago. My wife is not only my life partner but she’s my business partner. She has been a huge part of the growth of our business here. Her ideas, attention to detail, and things like that have helped the business grow in the manner that it’s grown. I didn’t do it all by myself. My business was growing but not in the manner that it has, particularly in the last five years. We have had some pretty tough struggles business-wise. That’s anybody that is in business. There are going to be times when it’s going to be like, “What did I get myself into? How do I get out of it?”

What I found the key is every day you get up, put one foot in front of the other, and keep going until you walk out of it. In the past few years, we were in the process of doing that. Now that we came out on the other side, how did we accomplish that? It’s a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. It’s like my sugar bush. I have twenty-some miles of tubing and pipes in that woods. People say, “Who did that?” I said, “I did that.” They say, “How did you do that?” I went out every day and worked on it.

It is funny how people want to say, “You’re lucky.”

If I would have thought about the entire project, I would have probably never done it.

There’s something to that. There’s a little bit of naivete. A little bit of irrational exuberance is necessary. If you were rational, you would have never done it.

I looked at that and said, “How can I do that by myself?” I went out every day and worked on it. I worked on a specific thing every day until I got that job done. I went to a different job and worked on that one until that one was done. I had to compartmentalize it and work on that specific thing. We do that every year in getting ready for maple syrup. We’ve got work in the woods to do. You work on that specific job until it’s done, and then go to the next job. You have to prioritize. There’s an ascending order in the way things have to be done. Whenever you get done, you go, “Here we are.” The next thing you know, the season is over and you’ve got all this maple syrup sitting around and you have to sell them.

TEMP 8 | Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup: Work on a specific job until it’s done. Prioritize everything you need to do in ascending order.

You said something that gave me great insight here. There’s management and entrepreneurship. They’re two different things. I think of it like this. Entrepreneurship is about discovering useful things, and then management is more about replicating, producing, and distributing those useful things. If I step back for a minute and listen to you describing your life, most of your day-to-day life is engaged in management, but when you’re sitting on the front porch with your wife, you’re thinking, “What else? What’s next? What other useful things could we envision here?”

That’s exactly the right model. Most people don’t have that. They go to their job every day and do. They go home, sit on their front porch, and have a glass of wine, but they think about their next vacation, a football game, or something. They don’t think about discovery. That’s an important point in your story.

There are times when my wife and I say, “We have to stop coming up with things to do.”

You’re drowning in ideas.

It’s crazy. There’s something she says or something I say to her, “I thought of something. Maybe we should try this or go do that.”

Speaking of that, tell us about the Bigfoot Festival. You’re sitting on the front porch, and your wife said, “We should have a Bigfoot Festival.” You’re at the point where you’ve already quit your job. The maple thing is going. You’ve taken some money out of your pension to invest. You’ve taken some risks but it’s going. You’re starting to expand and sell more maple syrup. You’re selling pumpkins and mums on the front porch. You’re thinking about starting a festival as a way to create economic activity in your community. Once you have that idea, what do you do next?

My wife and I talked about keeping it under our hat, but sometimes you can’t do some ideas. I belong to the Forest County Business Alliance. I was on the board of directors. That is a whole other story too. I go to a meeting. We’re always sitting around and talking about, “How do we raise money?” I’ve suggested maybe a festival like this and that a couple of times. It was always like, “Who’s going to do it?”

I’ve read quite a bit about this phenomenon that I wanted to bring up. Now would be the right time. Ideas aren’t like eureka moments. They’re bouncing around in your subconscious mind for a time. At some point, things connect together, and you have what might feel like a eureka moment.

I had in my mind for several years the idea of a Bigfoot Festival but I was afraid to speak it out loud because people would find me to be nuts.

You got to the point where you’re like, “Screw it. I don’t care.

My wife is one of the smartest people I know. She’s very astute business-wise. She sees opportunities. That’s when I said, “You’re right. That is a good idea.”

Maybe it’s the point where you had built up enough confidence in your business abilities. You’ve developed a brand where you now felt you could pull it off where ten years ago, you didn’t.

That’s possible. I had experience with events. I helped run the local Oktoberfest for a couple of years. I also help organize the State Trappers Convention a few times. I did have confidence in my ability to pull off a festival but it was going to take money, backing, and things like that to do it. Whenever I went to the Forest County Business Alliance, I told them about this idea. They all looked at me like I had two heads. I said, “My wife and I believe in it so much that if you don’t want to do it, we will do it ourselves.”

Two months later, they decided they were going to host the Bigfoot Festival. I was on the committee, and 3 or 4 other people organized the first one and the second one. It was successful. We had Bigfoot speakers. I set the parameters for the festival because of our experience being vendors at festivals. We knew what we liked and what we didn’t like. One thing that we stipulated was every vendor must sell something Bigfoot with no exceptions. We had gone to festivals where it was a festival in name only.

You have to sell Bigfoot maple syrup.

Before we got to that point, we had put a silhouette of Bigfoot on the label of our product. It was already there. There’s a backstory to that also. Bigfoot was becoming popular in the area because of a purported sighting that got debunked a couple of years later. We started seeing silhouettes here and there and bumper stickers. There would be a Bigfoot talk at the library and things like that. Those things were going on.

Once again, you’re tapping into a need that’s there but its not obvious, or it’s only obvious to someone who’s paying attention.

We put it on there. On one of our jugs, there are Bigfoot tracks with a Bigfoot silhouette. We did that. All of our hang tags have a Bigfoot on them. My wife and I discussed changing the name of our business to Bigfoot Maple, but we decided that our brand was too well-established to change it. We didn’t do that. We made it with the festival. We wanted everybody to make an attempt. Whenever you come there, you know it’s a Bigfoot Festival. This thing blew up so big. It was unbelievable.

What kind of upfront is required? Do you have to find a piece of property? Do you have to lease the property?

We held it in the center of town. We have a Bigfoot hunt where we place silhouettes of Bigfoot throughout the national forest, and sell a hunting license. You get a set of clues. It’s like a big scavenger hunt. There’s a cash prize for the person or group who finds them in the least amount of time. We had to get a permit from the Forest Service to put silhouettes in the National Forest. We host a 5K run. We hold a Bigfoot calling contest. We hold the biggest foot contest. We have bands. We have about 5 to 6 Bigfoot experts that speak at the festival.

Do you have to pay those guys to come and speak?

For some of them, we pay. Some of them will do it for nothing. The festival itself pays for itself.


We start each year with zero money. Vendor fees and sponsorship fees pay for the entire festival.

You figured out from scratch how to create a festival in your community, whether it’s Bigfoot Festival or whatever the theme is. It doesn’t matter.

Anybody can do it.

I have to tell you something. I read this book some years ago. This guy studied Inc 500 companies like Walmart, Waste Management, Hewlett Packard, and Calvin Klein. Do you know what he found? On average, these big companies are created by founders who have very little experience in their chosen fields. They don’t have access to money. They’re not doing market research. They’re ordinary people like you. It’s not some big idea that has never been done before. It’s astonishing. What he said was that even founders of large established companies have what he called humble improvised origins. That’s what you’re describing.

Anybody can start a festival without any money. It takes one thing. It takes guts and knowing that you can do it.

TEMP 8 | Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup: Anybody can start a festival without any money. All it takes is guts.

Did you ever have any fear? “What if this doesn’t work out? I‘m going to get laughed out of town. I‘m going to ruin my reputation.”

I didn’t because we were very confident about what we were doing. The other board members and the other organizers were nervous. I kept saying to them, “Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be fine.” They say, “How are we going to pay for this and that?” I say, “Don’t worry about it. We will get the money. It’s going to happen. You watch.” I started posting on Facebook about the festival. It blew up. We had posts that reached 75,000 people. Before the day of the festival, our posts had reached 125,000 people in 48 hours.

This is in a town of how many? What’s the population of Marienville?

Maybe 500.

I want to make sure that people who don’t live in Pennsylvania understand that.

We’re the Southern gateway to the Allegheny National Forest.

Somebody told me that Marienville is in the poorest county in Pennsylvania.

We are the poorest county in Pennsylvania. That’s not a banner that we carry with pride.

Here’s a guy that dropped out of school in the tenth grade, was the high school custodian, and is now making an economic impact in his community. I‘m not trying to make you uncomfortable by saying that if it does make you uncomfortable but it‘s something. What’s in it for you? You’re doing this festival. These people are your customers. This is your community. There’s an interdependence.

There is but if they’re successful, we’re successful. We created a festival to go to in June to sell the products that we didn’t have. It’s right downtown. This is where we got into the popcorn business.

That’s what I wanted to get back to. You’re trying to set this festival up. You call some people that are in the kettle corn business. They’re all saying, “You’re an unknown and unproven entity. I‘m not going to risk my investment of time and money.” You decided you’re going into the kettle corn business.

We spent $10,000 on a kettle corn setup. We paid for that setup at the Bigfoot Fest.

Is it in kettle corn only or the whole maple syrup everything?

It’s the maple syrup and the kettle corn together. We popped in 450 or 550 pounds of kettle corn at that festival in kernels. It paid for that setup.

Did you brand it Yeany’s Maple?

Yeany’s Maple Kettle Corn. Three days later after the Bigfoot Festival, I went and bought a 12×7 box trailer with cash money to carry the kettle corn equipment in. The side of it says, “Yeany’s Maple Syrup and Maple Kettle Corn,” with our name, address, and phone number on it. Whenever we drive down a road, everybody sees it. When we pull into a festival, everybody knows we’re there. People come looking for us. It was an investment to have that put on that trailer. It’s a good advertisement.

People say, “Maple Kettle Corn.” There are people that are like, “That can’t be good,” but we give away samples everywhere we go. It’s a good quality product. I’m sure other people hear the same thing but people tell us, “This is the best popcorn we ever had.” We use a specific kernel that’s patented. It’s wonderful popcorn. It would be good whether we had maple sugar on it or not.

We make our own maple sugar that goes into our kettle corn. That’s also part of the story we tell people. They say, “Maple Kettle Corn. You make maple syrup.” I say, “We make the maple sugar that goes into the Maple Kettle Corn.” They say, “That’s unbelievable.” You hear that thing all the time. We tell a story too whenever we’re out. People are interested, “Do you make your maple syrup?” You don’t know how insulting it is whenever somebody says to me, “Is this maple syrup from Canada?”

Those are fighting words.

You are polite. You say, “I made it myself.”

“This is Pennsylvania.

It has been all a progression. I’m building on what I started and adding to it. We have never taken anything away. There have been a couple of products that didn’t do well, but we have always tried to build on anything that has been successful and reinvest in the company.

Identify the most successful aspects of your business. Always try to build on them and reinvest what you have. Share on X

This is such a great story. Part of what makes it so exciting to me is you’ve done all of this or most of it after you retired. We have talked about investing and reinvesting in the business and so forth. There are a lot of people that try to be entrepreneurs because they want to make money. I don’t think that’s the way to think about it. I don’t want to say that money is not important. It’s not what I’m saying but you have the right formula as far as I can tell.

Your underlying assumptions are, “I‘ve got to create value, brand, and trust for other people. The money will come as a result of doing that.” Let me ask the question in a different way. Why are you doing this? Is it for money? Is it for security? Is it all of the above or none of the above? What drives you to keep going at 66 years old?

It’s for my wife and children. It’s for me too in a way that I’ll never see. I am trying to build a legacy. Coming from the background that I come from, we were never expected to be anybody or anything. It’s my family in particular. There were five of us boys. I’ll give you an example. It’s a girlfriend I had in high school. I felt this growing up too. She has a camp up the road from us about 6 or 7 miles. She’s married and has children. She’s a grandmother.

A number of years ago, she started stopping to visit whenever they come by, which is fine. In the summer, she stopped with one of her girlfriends and was visiting. We were on the front porch talking. She looked at me and said, “I broke up with you in high school because I didn’t think you would ever amount to anything but boy was I ever wrong.” I want to make a living. I want you to understand. I truly enjoy what I do. It’s like that song from Toby Keith, “How do you like me now?”

Theres also a common theme here. People underestimated you and your brothers. People didn’t think much of you. What you’re saying is you turned that into an advantage in your mind. You made it work for you. You hear this a lot. People say, “I owe it all to my sixthgrade teacher that told me I was never going to mount anything.” That lands in our brains sometimes. It’s interesting. I don’t have the answer to this. For some people, it lands in their brains and they go, “They were right. I‘m nobody.

I had an uncle who was like that. He was married six times and was an alcoholic. My granddad always told him, “You would never amount to anything.” He said, “I proved him right.” My oldest son, David, was the valedictorian of his class. He’s an ornithologist. He works for Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and studies birds and stuff like that. He was a pretty good baseball player when he was in high school. He went out for Little League. There were fifteen kids that went out for Little League. The Little League coach would only take thirteen. They left off him and this girl.

The coach’s name was Randy Andrew. After he got into Little League the next year, he played one year, he ended up being on the All-Star team, and went throughout his whole career as a catcher. He told me, “I made up my mind that there would be no Randy ever telling me I wasn’t good enough again.” He’s very driven. He turned that into a drive even in his professional career. He wants to be the best.

That can be a motivator for many people. For some people, it isn’t a motivator. They want to prove them right, “You aren’t good enough.” Maybe that’s part of the drive in me. I want to prove to people that I am better than they think I am. I’m a capable person. I have all my original ideas. I can do things. There are some people that I’ve gone to school with that have stopped to visit me and my sugar house and went, “I never dreamed this.”

Some people will not motivate you and even tell you that you aren’t good enough. You don’t need to prove them wrong. Stick to what you are capable of and your original ideas. Share on X

You have to even think that yourself sometimes. Do you ever look back and go, “Wow?”

Yes, I do. I go, “I can’t believe I’ve done this.”

You did it all after retirement. That’s the crazy part of the story. What is it about Dave Yeany that makes this work? Some of it is a little bit of luck. A lot of it is hard work, but what is unique about you that pulled this off?

It’s getting up every day and doing it. I’ve never thought about it. It is interesting. I don’t feel that I’m anybody special. I feel that I was fortunate enough to have a father I had that gave me the lessons that I needed to learn to get through life and be a respectable individual. I like what I do. They say, “If you will find something that you like to do, you will never go to work a day in your life.” There’s a lot of truth to that but as far as anything that stands out or I can put up my finger on, there isn’t anything. I’m an average ordinary person. I like doing things that make me unique. I don’t want to be like the guy down the street. I want to be different than everybody else.

That’s an important point. You’re mindful of not just fitting in or following along.

I don’t fit in. I’m not comfortable going to community events. Even though I worked at the school for 30 years, I was not comfortable going to public events at the school because I didn’t feel like I fit in. I always had different ideas than everybody else. Somebody would say, “We have to do it that way.” I would say, “Why do you want to do it that way when you can do it this way?” I never had that comfort to walk into a room and go, “Here I am.” Everybody says, “Dave, how are you?” People speak to me. People are polite to me but I don’t have a group of friends. I have a group of acquaintances. I have business associates that I’m friendly with but I want to be unique.

You just want to do your thing.

People say, “Let’s go to Disney World.” I go, “What the heck do you want to go there for?” They say, “Let’s go to the beach.” “What do you want to go to the beach for?”

There’s something to that. You said it a second ago. People don’t understand that work for you and I don’t mean the same thing. For the average guy, that’s going to a job every day. It is a different thing. That’s what people don’t understand. When you can create something with your mind and hands that other people want and need, work becomes a source of fulfillment, engagement, and joy, not a sense of drudgery or a necessary evil.

You and I spoke about this a little bit when I was in Marienville. We have to get this in the schools. Every young person could have some experience in school where they can be engaged in entrepreneurial learning projects, where they’re invited to go outside of the classroom and figure out how to make themselves useful to other humans without a teacher telling them exactly how to do it. Learning and working for you is a sense of excitement, joy, and growth, whereas a lot of kids come out of school where learning and work are something they would like to avoid if they could help it. That’s a real shame.

My downhill spiral in school was not because of the learning. It was more of social adjustments and things like that. That made learning difficult. I have no desire to read. I learned by doing instead of reading about it. I know the smartest people in the world that have read every book in the world but have never done anything.

I’m like you. I struggled in school for very similar reasons. I barely graduated from high school but I came out of school thinking, “I hate learning.” I learn as an entrepreneur some years later. Learning can be fun and engaging. I struggled to read the printed word. One of the ways that I hacked into my brain is by tapping into audiobooks. I can listen while I’m driving at a grocery store, exercising on a treadmill, or mowing the lawn. I can get a little lesson from somebody and find another little nugget that can help me. I probably read 20 or maybe 25 books a year from Audible while I’m mowing the grass.

The problem with that for me is that gets in the way of my mind. My mind never shuts down. My oldest daughter went to school in Wilkes-Barre, a four-hour drive from Marienville. I go on the weekend to visit her. I never turn the radio on in a car out and back. You can’t believe how many ideas I came up with or the problems I solved. My mind is going all the time.

You learn how to create the conditions where you figure out how to maximize your potential.

It can be a problem when your mind doesn’t shut off. It is not a worry at all. I have a friend that yelled at me one time. He said, “I’m sick of you telling me not to worry about it and that it will be fine.” I said, “It will be fine. If it doesn’t kill us, it will be fine.” It’s continually thinking about something. There are some people that are blank slates. There’s nothing going on up there. I don’t know how you can go through life like that.

We could talk for another hour about that. The idea is that you have goals and things you are striving to accomplish. The goal orientation and that action is the greatest antidote to anxiety there is. When people don’t have goals for themselves, they become very anxious. You feel powerless to affect the world. That’s the difference. That’s what he’s saying to you, the guy that’s telling you, “Stop telling me not to worry about it.” It’s the difference in mindset.

I said to my son David one time, “I am a goal-oriented person.” He said, “No. You’re a result-oriented person.” I like results. Whenever I was in the maple syrup business not too many years, it wasn’t long after I leased the woods that I’m currently in. I came to buy some smaller tanks. I was upgrading some equipment. He wanted to see my woods. I went down and showed him the woods. We had 1,000 taps in there at the time. I pointed to the woods beyond those and said, “That’s my next expansion.” He says, “It must be nice to be able to dream.” I looked him square in the eye and said, “Son, the days of dreaming are over. It’s time for doing. You can’t spend your whole life dreaming about it. Do it.”

There’s a lot to unpack there because it’s important that you have to have some time because people don’t dream. They won’t allow themselves but it’s important to envision something in the future. To your point, you have to do it. You have to put your pants on and do it. One without the other is nothing.

TEMP 8 | Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup: It is important to envision something in the future. You need to put your pants on and do it.

There are a lot of people that don’t have any dreams, aspirations, or whatever you want to call them.

We should probably end it here but that’s the single most important factor that distinguishes an entrepreneurial person from a non-entrepreneurial person. They have goals, dreams, a vision, and something they’re actively pursuing, whereas most people don’t. They go to their jobs, come home, and live their lives but they’re not striving toward something. That’s the difference.

You very well could be right. Without dreaming and setting some goals for yourself, it’s hard to accomplish anything.

Dave, I appreciate it. This has been a fascinating conversation. I‘m grateful for the time to share your story. I can’t wait to share this with the world. I don’t know what else to say but thank you.

You’re welcome. I appreciate you having me on, Gary. It has been a pleasure talking to you.

Here are a few quick things before you go. Are you an unlikely entrepreneur with a story to tell? Do you know someone who is? If so, we would love to hear about it. Please drop us a note at ELIMindset.com/ShareYourStory. Do you want to learn how to think like an entrepreneur? Do you want to encourage others to do the same?

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