June 12, 2024

You Cannot Be What You Cannot See, With Camillo Archuleta

By: Gary Schoeniger
The Entrepreneurial Mindset Project | Entrepreneurial Children | Camillo Archuleta

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Entrepreneurial Mindset Project 

Today, I’m speaking with Camillo Archuleta, an aspiring entrepreneur who stumbled into an opportunity to teach his eight-year-old daughter how to think like an entrepreneur. 

It all started when he challenged his daughter to raise the money she needed for a school fundraiser. Drawing on the lean startup principles he learned while earning an MBA, Camillo challenged his daughter to leverage her capabilities in ways that might create value for others. 

What unfolded is a masterclass in how to raise entrepreneurial children; one that clearly demonstrates the power of entrepreneurial discovery learning as a way to promote creative and critical thinking, effective communication and resourcefulness, financial literacy, and so much more. 

Ultimately, Camillo’s story clearly demonstrates the idea that children are not only desirous of more but capable of more. 

So, without any further ado, I hope you enjoy my conversation with Camillo Archuletta.

Listen to the episode here

You Cannot Be What You Cannot See, With Camillo Archuleta

I started talking to many parents. I talked to hundreds of parents. Almost every parent that I talked to when I asked them. how do you teach your kids about money? What are you teaching them? What do you want? Almost every single one of them says, “I just want my kid to get a good job and I want them to start saving money sooner than I did.”

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 Camillo Archuleta, an aspiring entrepreneur who stumbled upon an amazing opportunity to teach his eight-year-old daughter how to think as an entrepreneur. It all started when he challenged his daughter to raise the money she needed for a school fundraiser. Drawing on the lean startup principles he learned while earning an MBA, Camillo challenged his daughter to leverage her capabilities in ways that might create value for others.

Businesses take capabilities and resources and turn them into value. Share on X

What unfolded is a masterclass in how to raise entrepreneurial children. One that demonstrates the power of entrepreneurial discovery learning as a way to promote creative and critical thinking, effective communication and resourcefulness, financial literacy and so much more. Ultimately, Camillo’s story demonstrates the idea that children are not only desirous of more but that they are capable of more. Without any further ado, I hope you enjoy my conversation with Camillo Archuleta. Camillo, welcome to the podcast. 

It’s great to be here, Gary. Thanks for having me.

I’m excited to have this conversation with you. We met in San Diego, I think, at the VentureWell conference. 

Yes, at the VentureWell Open conference. 

You were telling a story about your daughter, this amazing story. Your daughter was eight years old when you wandered into an entrepreneurial project with her. Do I have that right? Eight years old? 

Yes, she was eight years old. 

Entrepreneurial Journey

Before we get into that, Camillo, how did you get involved in entrepreneurship? Do you have any background in entrepreneurship or how did you come to be teaching your eight-year-old daughter about entrepreneurship? 

It’s a fun story. It goes a little bit around the way. Initially, I did not ever think of myself as going down this entrepreneurship path. I did construction work for about a dozen years. I did concrete and tile work, and I also put up really big tents. Then when I was about 25 years old, that’s when I went back to school to get a bachelor’s degree.

I eventually got a degree in finance and that’s when I took a job working at Hanover Insurance as a commercial lines underwriter, which the cool thing about working at Hanover and doing that was that I got to see hundreds of businesses. I was spending my day looking at all of these small businesses across America. 

I say across America. I looked at breweries across America and then other mainstream-type businesses right near where I live, but it was crazy seeing somebody that’s making screws and doing $13 million a year in sales and seeing all of that. Also, just learning how things work in big companies eventually led me to the MBA program at the Eisenberg School of Management at UMass. 

They have a big online program and that’s where all the revenue for their graduate degree comes from but then they have a small boutique type of in-person MBA program. If you get in, it’s a full fellowship. There are no expenses related to that and you get a fellowship stipend. I got into the program and then while I was working in the program, I got a fellowship working with what was called the Institute of Applied Life Sciences.

That’s where I learned all about lean startups using business models and all of that, but we were applying it specifically to the life sciences space. After graduating from UMass, I was introduced to the I-Corps program and that’s where I learned about VentureWell. It just so happens to be in my backyard. It’s basically on the UMass campus. When I saw that they were hiring, I was very interested in working there. 

You haven’t done an actual startup yourself. You’re just around the space.

Yes, I did work with a company, it was called Social Worker Connect, and I was there right from the beginning, and we did end up getting $100,000 in VC funding for it. The general concept of that startup was that the referral process for social workers to get the kids that they’re working with seen by therapists is terrible. 

They have to go out and submit referrals to every single individual health agency and then they get put on a waitlist and then all those waitlists get backfilled and dirty because people are on it. Then eventually they get seen somewhere else. We made a solution that made it so that way a social worker could submit one referral, select the different options, and that referral would go out to the agencies that they selected. This is what got me into the concept of the lean startup and figuring things out faster.

We developed a cool solution for a problem that social workers had, but we did not have a payer. We didn’t have somebody to sell it to because the agencies to who the referrals went out, had no problems. Their wait lists were super long. They did not need the service that we were offering. Unless we were able to get a deal with the state, we had limited ourselves to basically being only to sell to one customer. When we didn’t get that customer, it was game over.

We started that company though. It’s interesting. We started that company with two social workers. They were our subject matter experts, so to say and then we managed tech development and the business components of it and did a lot of work on the venture siding, but they’ve pivoted into becoming an agency themselves. That’s when I exited that startup but the original intent coming out of school was actually to do that job. 

You’re working at Hanover. What was it about learning about these small businesses that intrigued you? Somebody sitting in the cubicle next to you might’ve just not been interested in that at all. 

Two components hit me. One, I grew up in a small business. I didn’t know it at the time and I didn’t think about it that way. I was in a business where we were out putting up tents and there was an amazing amount of freedom to that. It was just so clear, the job that you had, the team that you were with but my thought was, I have to go get a corporate job. I’m growing up and I’m going to go to school and I’m going to do this thing. 

I did the thing and then I started to learn. I don’t know that I love being in a big corporation either. There are so many challenges to value creation and needing to get buy-in across so many different departments and individuals. I saw how everyone had different incentives and initially, I thought that I had to figure out how to do this.

At the same time, for the most part, they were small and medium-sized businesses. I was in a small business, but I was seeing all of these different things where there were so many founders doing so many other businesses and I could just see the freedom that was in it. They were creating value and I was a finance guy. 

Getting to look at all of their numbers and stuff, I did not realize how much opportunity there was. In the US, we don’t talk about money at all, which I think is a thing. My parents didn’t talk to me about how much money. I had no idea how much individuals were making. I didn’t know how successful small businesses could be either. 

You’re hitting on a lot of stuff that’s good stuff here. There’s so much opportunity as you said, it’s about creating value.

Creating value, but for me, it was about even just seeing it. As I said, I grew up in a small business, but it was a very small business. We did, I’m guessing maybe $300,000 a year in sales and there were five of us and it was seasonal, but I had no idea that there were so many businesses out there making a million dollars a year.

That there were so many near solopreneur-type businesses doing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Not to get into academic stuff, but there’s the MIT paper called The Lost Einsteins, which, long story short, is if kids don’t see a thing, then there’s no way that they can be the thing. That we. humans in general, just model ourselves off of what we see. I just didn’t have those things to model after. 

The Entrepreneurial Mindset Project | Entrepreneurial Children | Camillo Archuleta

Entrepreneurial Children: If kids don’t see a thing, then there’s no way that they can be the thing. We, humans in general, just model ourselves off of what we see.

That’s a really good point, Camillo. You’re not likely to be exposed to those things in higher education. You could even ask if there’s an incentive not to expose you to them. There’s a guy who teaches entrepreneurship at John Carroll. I talked to him this morning and he’s talking about these kids are on fire. They got these little businesses, they’re freshmen and sophomores. They’ve got businesses and they’re getting traction. Now, the problem becomes keeping them engaged in their other studies.

At VentureWell, where I work, we have programs called E-Teams and stuff, where we’re working with student entrepreneurial teams. We often see cases where the student has a faculty member overseeing them, oftentimes the faculty member will think that the business is getting in the way of their education. There is an incentive for students to participate in our programs and the same thing happens with I-Corps, the National Science Foundation Program for Innovation, where it’s some faculty members see it as a distraction for their students from working on their PhDs and generating publications. 

I would say parents also. I’ve wondered about this aloud, Camillo, that college is the best place to expose kids to startups, to entrepreneurship, because they’re already on this track that the parents are just so eager for their children to get degrees and get that good job at the insurance company or at whatever the consulting firms or what have you that is looked at as a distraction. 

I’ll tell you this fun thing, Gary. We can dive into more of what I did with my daughter, but a key component of Lean Startup is doing customer discovery interviews. As soon as I did this thing with my kid, I started talking to my parents. I talked to hundreds of parents. Almost every parent that I talked to and I asked them, “How do you teach your kids about money?” “What are you teaching them?” “What do you want?” 

Almost every single one of them was, I just want my kid to get a good job and I want them to start saving money sooner than I did. That is pretty much everyone that I talked to. Granted I live in a very blue-collar area and that’s the type of people that I interact with as well. They all wanted them to go to school to get a good job and save money faster. 

The fascinating thing, and this is what sparked me, is that every time I would have those conversations and learn about how they did allowances and stuff too, I then ask them, “Can you tell me about a time that your kid might have started a business or did something entrepreneurial?” No matter what, Gary, whether it was great or not that great, the parents got excited. They get excited to tell that story. Even to this day, I don’t know exactly what that is, but the same way that I get excited to talk about my kid finding her path. 

Every one of these parents, whether it was like, “My God, they did this lemonade stand and sold two, but it was awesome. Then our neighbors came and just gave them 20 bucks because they were excited for them.” or, “They did this garage sale or whatever it was.” Whether it was successful or not, they got excited to tell that story. I think that it’s embedded in our culture almost. I think that many more people want to be entrepreneurial, but it’s seen as the harder, more dangerous path. 

Many more people want to be entrepreneurial but it's seen as the harder, more dangerous path. Share on X

I think that’s true, Camillo. I think that, first of all, you said something really important a couple of times a few minutes ago, freedom. The need for autonomy is one of the most potent psychological needs that we have. I think that’s a huge driver of entrepreneurial behavior but to skip ahead to your next point, I think a lot of people don’t understand the process. 

They think it means I need to invent something that’s never been done before. I need to have access to venture capital. I’m not smart enough. It’s too much risk. I’m not in a position to put my family in jeopardy. Risk my house or my family’s financial stability, whatever, security. In my work, I’m studying the everyday typical entrepreneurs and that’s not really what they’re doing. They’re not taking these big risks. They keep their day jobs and they experiment in the margins. They try things on the perimeter in their spare time. 

There are two huge things that I think are happening right now too. One gigantic thing and this is a major thing is the baby boomers are retiring and I don’t have the numbers, but it is an insane amount of the small businesses that are out there that are going up for sale. There’s this whole movement of entrepreneurship through acquisition for a whole generation of people, because somebody whose parents owned a cleaning service business for the last 30 years and their Gen Z kid may not be wanting to get that. They don’t want to handle that business. 

Probably wants to run as far away from it as he possibly can, at least in their 20s. 

That’s one thing that’s happening there are tens of thousands of businesses a day going up for sale. Oftentimes they’re quite cheap, comparatively because the owners are ready to retire. The other thing that’s fascinating and happening too is just the internet alone has created this whole other opportunity. It’s not just the internet, but it’s the internet combined with the manufacturing base, both here in the US and globally, that there is a legitimate rise of the solopreneur. 

Yes, something I wrote about in my new book is that at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the barriers to entry were enormous. They’re almost gone now. The barriers to entry are like a speed bump at best. If you’ve got a cell phone, you’ve got access to pretty much everything you need. The problem is the industrial era mindset still lingers. The deeply held assumptions about someone else are going to tell me what to learn and do to be successful.

Entrepreneurial Mindset

That’s become so deeply ingrained. That’s the power of your daughter’s story, which we got to get into, I think. Let me just say this, Camillo. I think of this there’s an entrepreneurial mindset and there’s a managerial mindset. The managerial mindset is important. The managerial mindset is the best way to replicate and distribute useful things out into the world but the underlying values and assumptions baked into that paradigm, let’s say, are focused on efficiency and replication and bottom line. We need that, but those paradigms tend to be intolerant of exploration and experimentation. 

That managerial mindset was once sufficient and very effective in stable environments. As the rate of change continues to accelerate, that managerial mindset is becoming increasingly maladaptive. Maladaptive is not quite the right word. Insufficient is a better word. I think kids especially, will need to develop the cognitive dexterity to be able to code switch, to be able to move back and forth and understand which situation you are in so which mindset to apply because if all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, all your problems look nails. 

It’s great that you went that direction, Gary, because when I was in grad school, The Lean Startup was a book that we did a bunch of work on and we studied it as part of our coursework. Part of why I like that book so much is because it’s called The Lean Startup and it gets its name from the Toyota way. It’s coming from Toyota who created lean operations and how to think about minimizing the eight types of waste.

Except what Eric Reis did in that book says, “Let’s use that managerial thinking, but let’s let’s think entrepreneurial about it and look at the waste that we need to eliminate in building a startup or in starting a new business.” That combination of ideas is what I was attracted to. It’s those same lessons and we can talk about it more, but that’s what I did with my kid. It was right when I was in grad school. I took what I was working on and applied it to her. 

That’s so interesting and we’re going to jump into that in just a minute. The thing is that I’ve gleaned from interviewing what I call underdog entrepreneurs or everyday entrepreneurs. People start with a few hundred or a few thousand dollars looking for the common and controllable factors in their stories. What I found, Camillo, is that the lack of resources works to their advantage. 

This is riffing on the lean startup, but giving people money when they have an idea, for the vast majority of entrepreneurs is a horrible idea. That’s not where you start. What I’ve seen is not that these underdog entrepreneurs are masters of decision theory or risk mitigation. It’s simply the fact that because they don’t have access to money, they’re forced to develop a minimally viable product. 

That minimally viable product, they don’t even realize it in most cases, enables them to engage with the world in this feedback mechanism that provides them real-time evidence of the usefulness of their idea, empirical evidence rather than theoretical. The minimally viable product should replace the business plan is what I’m saying.

Not only does it provide this feedback mechanism, but it also starts to generate revenue on which the entrepreneur can build. The organization that comes out of that, the biological comparisons are worth noting, is much more robust than some kid with an idea that somebody just humped in a million dollars into their idea and they got the foosball tables and the lava lamps and all the fancy computers. They don’t have a customer yet. They don’t understand their customer. I think that’s an important part of the entrepreneurial conversation. I’m shouting that from the rooftops, the minimally viable product, that you can get people to an MVP as quickly as humanly possible. 

The other piece that I’ll add to that, Gary, I think about not having a lot of resources is I’ve done this to myself. I’ve talked myself out of entrepreneurship to some degree because I think that the risk of doing that thing all in, compared to the job that’s paying me well today. Whereas, if I didn’t have my job today, then I’d be all in. I might have fewer resources. 

The good is the enemy of the great. 

I think that’s a very real thing. Honestly, that’s one of the main reasons why I’m so interested in teaching kids because kids, they’re wide open. They’re going to leave high school and they can go do almost anything they want and they could be eating ramen. 

Raising Entrepreneurial Children

Let’s go back to I-Corps. I said this in my new book, Camillo, it’s all understand the economic value of entrepreneurship. That’s not controversial. That’s the engine of our economy. Yet, why do we run kids through this 12-year program of telling them exactly what to do when to do it, and how to do it, and control every aspect of their lives? 

Then expect them to miraculously show up at university and come up with some big idea that’s going to change the world. The analogy I made in the book is we don’t expect Lionel Messi to just step off a farm somewhere as a fully developed soccer star. We fully understand that at four years old, we start training that kid.

Why aren’t we doing this? Why isn’t this made a regular part of standard education starting in, I don’t know, third grade, which is about eight years old? Let me get off that soapbox for a minute. I got to get into the story of your daughter, you and I could talk about this stuff, it sounds all day long. I was so intrigued by the story of your daughter and it resonated with me, Camillo, because something I’ve been saying for years is kids are not only capable of more, but they’re desirous of more. 

We’re not providing them the opportunities to express that. I think your story with your daughter provides that opportunity for her. Tell me a little bit about that. How did this all start? I remember you were saying that she’s eight years old, she came to you for some money to buy something, and you seized that opportunity as the entry point.

Yes, she was eight years old. I think it was third grade and she came home with the Scholastic Book Order form. I don’t know if you remember that, but it was a form that kids get every month, basically in class and they can pick different books to order. Based on how many books the kids buy, then the school also gets books. It’s a great program. Typically I will buy her one or two books.

This time she came home and she had $64 worth of books circled on that thing. I was in grad school at the time and I said, “Darling, we go to the library every single Saturday, I will get you as many books as you want there, but I’ll buy you one or two from the book order.” We talked about freedom before and when I said that to her, she just, her face turned defeated. I just shut her down. She didn’t complain, but she shut down and was disempowered. 

Not unlike how you describe your job in the corporate world. You have ideas and somebody comes along and says, “No, you can’t do that.” 

100%. I was willing to spend some money so I said, “I’ll make you a deal. If you can earn half the money, I’ll give you the other half.” She did the math and she said, “Dad, how in the world am I going to earn $32 in less than 10 days?” She still had the same defeated look on her face. I was reading Clayton Christensen at the time and he often would just say, “Businesses take capabilities and resources and turn them into value.” That is all that a business does. I said, “Let’s talk about your capabilities and resources.” I didn’t use the word capabilities, but I said, “What can you do and what do we have in the house?” 

Those are such important questions that should be chiseled into a stone somewhere. 

We just started making a list. I ask, “Can you read?” She said, “I can read.” I ask, “Can you write?” “I can write.” Then she started stating. “I know how to bake. I know how to ride a bike.” We were listing everything that she could do. Then we also just started to list things that we had in our house. She started listing games and books and things that she would be okay with selling potentially. 

Then we just looked at that list and started to talk about different business ideas that she could do with them. The first one, of course, I think that every kid is drawn to the lemonade stand. Maybe it’s just because it’s the one that they’re shown. That was her immediate thing. She said, “I know how to make lemonade. I can get a recipe. We have the ingredients even. I said, “Let’s talk about what type of problem you’re solving.” 

I love that you asked that question and were critical of the lemonade stand. In my book, I talk about it as it’s promoting managerial thinking. It’s a franchise operation. There’s no real exploration and discovery. Here’s a formula, go execute it. The kids not discovering for themselves what’s useful. 

Not even that. It’s a flawed formula because it’s just, “Go ahead and start a lemonade stand in your front yard.” That’s the typical formula that you see. 

Yes, you’re not thinking about what people need. 

In this case, it was the middle of September. Why do people buy lemonade? What problem are you solving for them? She said, “People get thirsty.” I said, “All right, why are people thirsty?” She said, “It’s hot out.” I said, “Is it hot outside right now?” She said, “No.” I said, “Where are we going to do this?” She said, “We could do it out front of our house.” I said, “Do we get that many people walking by our house?” She said, “No.”

I love the way you’re going about this also, Camillo. It’s just Socratic questioning. You’re not telling her why it’s wrong. You’re just asking her questions and letting her arrive with answers. That’s super important. 

They were somewhat leading questions, Gary. I think. 

They’re leading questions, that’s right but you weren’t just saying, “No, that’s a bad idea, and here’s why.” 

I needed her to say it. This is a thing from I-Core. Kill the idea quickly. That’s equally as good as “Let’s go.” There’s the whole, “Go, no go” decision that gets made on these things. The whole concept of lean is failing fast. In this case with the lemonade stand, we failed before we even got out of the building, we didn’t need to talk to anyone about this one. She said I don’t think that’ll work for how fast they need it. 

Then we looked at the things that she had and eventually she said, “I can draw, I can color and I can write words.” I said, “Okay, what can you do with those three skills?” She realized that she could make cards, birthday cards, and greeting cards. She colored one, but she didn’t design it. Then it was the same question, Gary. That is the beauty of it is, “What problem are you solving with a card? What’s the actual job that a card is doing?”

She said, “I don’t know.” I said, “When do you get cards?” She said, “I got cards for my birthday. I’ll get Valentine’s cards. I’ll get cards when I graduate from kindergarten. I got cards.” I ask, “Why do you think people were giving you them?” On her own, she said, “I guess they just want to share happiness with me for doing something or they’re excited that it’s my birthday.” I was like, “Cool.” It’s about spreading joy or whatever. 

Did you already think the card thing like you that has legs and thought that it is better than the lemonade stand or were you still in your mind? 

I immediately put it together that it had legs. In part, because I was already this is a fascinating thing. I was already in the mindset of getting a birthday card because my wife’s birthday is on September 30. I knew that I needed to get a card and I was in the process of trying to figure out what I wanted to get her for her birthday. Once she went in this card direction, I thought that solved a problem for me. 

You’re the first customer. 

She eventually realizes that people buy cards for birthdays, holidays, and events because they want to just show people that they’re remembering them on their important days. I ask, Do you know anyone that’s having a birthday that’s coming up soon or something? We got down our calendar and looked at birthdays that were on it. As I said, my wife’s birthday was at the end of the month. 

She said, “Mom’s birthday is coming up soon.” I said, “Cool. Who might want to buy Mom a card? Who might want to show Mom that they’re thinking about her on her special day?” Same thing, Gary, all I do is make my kid make lists. That’s it. I said, “Let’s make a list.” Then she started listing Uncle Tommy, Uncle Scotty, and Auntie Jess and made a giant list. Except now, this is her cold lead list. 

We made the list and then I said, “Now you got to call them.” This was one of my favorite parts. Watching her figure this out brought me crazy joy. These were all warm leads. They’re people that she knows and they’re in her family. The thing that I loved about this was that she was legitimately solving a problem for them. These were all people that were actually in the market for a card. It wasn’t one of those annoying school fundraisers where they’re just trying to sell you braided bread. 

Yes, trying to sell you something you don’t need. 

She identified people who had a problem, the thing that they were trying to do in their life but watching her call them. Her first few calls were terrible. Just her working through the words, even understanding what it was that she wanted to say, and getting lost. After a few calls, she nailed it on her own. Her calls turned into, “My mom’s birthday is coming up in 10 days. Were you thinking that you would get her a birthday card?” “Yes.” “Great. I can make you one instead of you having to go to the store to buy one and I can even send it to her for you.” That was her wholesale pitch eventually. She sold $75 worth of cards for my wife’s birthday. 

She was trying to make $32 in a short window of time and she more than doubled it. 

Yes, the one part that I forgot to include in the story is I didn’t go into the product development piece. She realized she could make cards. We did all the stuff on that customer side. We talked about designs and we found YouTube videos, she loved drawing things cute, cute toasters, cute cats, and cute cups, and she was pretty good at drawing them. We also went to the grocery store in Target and we just started looking at all the cards in the card aisle. Just for, A) For some ideas. B) To look at the pricing of what people were paying. 

She quickly realized that she could be charging $3 to $5 for a card. That was the number that she used. For the most part, almost all of the cards she sold were $4 cards. She varied depending on how fancy of a drawing they wanted her to make on it, but it was right in line. For an eight-year-old kid, that amount of money was crazy high. For her, it was a very profitable business very quickly.

The way you walked your daughter through that, people need to hear that story. There’s so much baked into that. I interviewed this guy 14 years ago in Philly, Teddy Moore. He came from a family with 11 kids, no dad, single mom in Brooklyn. He was the youngest of 11. He had a disabled brother who his mom turned over to the state. 

At seven years old, he surmised in his brain that if he didn’t contribute to the family, he was going next to go. At seven years old, on his way to school, he asked the barbershop if he could sweep up his hair and he stopped at the grocery store on the way home and offered to sweep up or polish apples or whatever he could do. There’s no way of knowing, but these early experiences of self-directed value creation can make an enormous impact on someone’s life throughout life. 

The Entrepreneurial Mindset Project | Entrepreneurial Children | Camillo Archuleta

Entrepreneurial Children: These early experiences of self-directed value creation can make an enormous impact on someone over the course of their life.

When I first started this with my kid, it was around that one problem of the books but in the end, solved a huge problem for me because once she realized that she had a path and had a thing that she could do to earn money. That changed our conversation around money altogether because the next thing that she came forward to me, at one point, I forgot what movie it was. 

There was some movie that had come out in that situation where you could livestream it or buy the download. It was still 20 bucks but it wasn’t available for renting yet. She asked me if I could get me this movie. I said, “No, that’s not something that I’m going to buy but if you want to get it, you can with your money.” We were driving when we were having this conversation. I look in the rearview mirror and I can see her thinking and counting on her fingers. 

She’s doing the math to see how many cards she would have to sell to be able to buy the movie. She asked, “When do you think it’ll be on Redbox instead?” Then I gave her my phone and she looked it up and she said that it was going to be in the red box in two weeks. “I’ll just wait because that’s only $2.” Not upset, not fighting with me. She did multiplication basically on her own and decided that it wasn’t worth the effort.

Entrepreneurial Mindset Education

Camillo, you just articulated it in a way that I’ve not been able to. The real power of teaching kids to be entrepreneurial is the adjacent learning that’s happening. I think even more importantly, it’s cultivating or igniting, depending on where the kid is in their life stage, the innate desire to learn. We don’t have to be prodded and poked, and carrot and stick into learning. 

I helped one of my friends and his kid do the same thing. The same thing happened to him. My friend Joe called me up and said, “Liam just did multiplication.” It was the same thing. He wanted a Buzz Lightyear Lego set. Joe said, “I’m not going to get you that, but you can get it.” Liam did the multiplication to figure out how many cards he needed to sell. He said, “I’m going to go do that now.” Joe said that he had no idea Liam could do multiplication. He hadn’t been taught it, but he just needed to have a problem that he needed to figure out. 

A short break and we’ll get right back to the show. This episode is sponsored by the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative. We’re the world’s leading provider of entrepreneurial mindset education, training, and professional development programs. We’re also the creators of the internationally acclaimed Icehouse Entrepreneurial Mindset programs. Learning how to think as an entrepreneur can be a transformational experience, one that not only exposes opportunities and optimizes engagement, but also cultivates the attitude and skills the world now demands. 

Our workshops and professional development programs have empowered thousands of leaders to transform their classrooms, organizations, and communities. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of students, both traditional and non-traditional, have been impacted by our Icehouse Entrepreneurial Mindset programs. To learn more about how you can develop an entrepreneurial mindset in yourself and others, visit EliMindset.com. Now, back to the show. 

Why is that so hard for educators to understand? The context is as I remember being in 10th-grade algebra, just getting completely lost and trying to understand why N multiplied by Z minus three is important. I have a carpentry construction background like you. I started cleaning gutters and wound up in the construction business. If somebody had explained to me how to calculate the space between boards or the pitch of a roof or whatever, I probably would have figured it out. That’s the real benefit of entrepreneurial mindset education in my view. 

Yes, big time. Then one other piece that I’ll throw in that’s related a little bit differently. Has my kid started making way too much money? Suddenly everything was worth it. We went into Staples one day and she spent $17 on junk, squishes, and garbage. I said, “We’re going to have a new lesson now. This is when we learned about saving, investing, and giving. I just got boxes. 

The Entrepreneurial Mindset Project | Entrepreneurial Children | Camillo Archuleta

Entrepreneurial Children: The Millionaire Mindset : How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Income

I read a book years ago, it was called The Millionaire Mindset or something like that. The guy had used different jars to separate your income. I’ll just make boxes. Me and my kid made four boxes. We had a spending box, an investing box, a savings box, and then a giving box. That immediately cut down on how much disposable cash she had.

We had whole other conversations about what that is. Even today, she has her investing box and I talk about how she can invest in raw materials, and things that she might need to make cards. Then we also talk about how she can invest in companies and stocks. With that box, I let her buy whatever stock she might want as well. That, I think, is another key piece in just thinking about how to effectively use resources too. 

Have you noticed how that impacted your daughter in terms of school or other areas of her life? 

Yes, my daughter now goes to an experiential-based school. It’s a charter school called Four Rivers because that’s the person that she is. The traditional school just doesn’t work all that well for her. She does struggle and I don’t know if it’s entrepreneurial mindset related or growth. She’s having a hard time with things, she still struggles. That’s still a piece where that she is working on. She’s interested in exploring what she can do next. She’s perhaps a little too quick to quit things but she’s also always looking for what else she can do. 

I came across some really interesting research recently about the cognitive value of having a future positive orientation in your mind. I think what a psychologist would just say is a future positive orientation, I would call it a compelling goal. Essentially what this research is showing is that when we’re struggling towards something in the future, we have something in our imagination that we’re trying to make happen, we’re able to access problem-solving abilities that just we don’t otherwise have access to. 

I’d love to know what you think about this, but I think in my understanding of the entrepreneurial mindset, Camillo, I think that is probably what distinguishes the entrepreneur, let’s say from the non-entrepreneur. A mindset is like an autopilot. We draw from the past to navigate the future. What the entrepreneur is doing, she probably doesn’t know she’s doing it, is using their imagination to see something in the future that isn’t there yet, that’s not from the past. 

The problem piece, I think, is the key. You talk about this in the Ice House too, just opportunity. With my kid in particular, she’s become much better at recognizing and seeing problems, even if it’s problems that she’s having, or I’ll often do little games with her where we’ll go out to dinner with somebody else or we’ll be around other people.

I’ll say, “People love to complain about stuff. Just listen to what people are complaining about while we’re having dinner then let’s think about ways that we can solve that problem for them afterwards.” We have not pursued any of the business ideas that we’ve come up with, but just that’s one of my favorite games to do with her is just to listen. It’s doing customer interviews without actually doing customer interviews because people talk about things that they’re struggling with. 

It’s being mindful that it is just the very idea in the entrepreneurial mindset that solving problems for others is the way that we empower ourselves. 

In the entrepreneurial mindset, solving problems for others is the way that we empower ourselves. Share on X

That’s well put, Gary. 

It’s counterintuitive because most of us were struggling to do our best at our jobs and get the bills paid and try to save a little bit of money, do whatever we got to do. Our brains just don’t orient that way. If I can geek out with you just a little bit further, our brains are inundated with millions and millions of bits of data that pour in through our five senses every second. 

Our brains filter out essentially everything deemed irrelevant or non-threatening. If you’ve ever watched the gorilla basketball video, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Your brain just filters it out. You’re hitting on something so important, Camillo. It’s just teaching your daughter to orient some modicum of her cognitive abilities toward paying attention to problems and frustrations. It’s huge. It’s going to give her an enormous advantage over others. It’s such a subtle cognitive shift that makes all the difference.

I never thought about this until just now, my whole family were big Vipassana meditators. I say, my whole family, it’s my family mostly. The introduction to it is a 10-day course where you meditate in silence for 11 hours a day. I’ve done the full course one time but just the amount of time that you spend just observing your own body.

Your breath and the sensations on your body, that one time changed the way I think about observations in general. That is what led to my thinking of how to do this with my kid. There’s just the level of observation of what is happening right now and pulling yourself out of it. She’s still involved in the conversations, but let’s just observe what’s happening. 

The minimally invasive aspect of your approach is also very important. I’ve studied the way hunter-gatherer kids learned, and that’s how we learn for vast preponderance. 98% or 99% of the time we’ve occupied this earth, we’ve done so as hunter-gatherers and we had to learn a lot of complex things. We learned most of it, the vast majority of it with very little instruction. 

We learned it through observation, imitation, play, and experimentation. The adult intervenes only when asked. It’s so interesting. I think that’s what entrepreneurs are doing. It’s this organic learning that is occurring. It’s a potent form of learning, Camillo. It’s called the Implicit Learning. Our brains are much more adept at implicit learning because we’ve been doing it for millions of years before we ever had schools or books or the written word or spoken word. 

Can you go a little more in on that implicit learning because I’m interested? 

Arthur Reber is a scholar, you should look up and I’ll put a link to one of his books in the show notes here. Implicit learning occurs without effort or awareness. It’s a learning that’s just occurring as a natural byproduct. This is how we perpetuate the myth of entrepreneurship, the knowledge acquired through implicit learning is tacit. We’re not able to convey it to someone else because we didn’t learn it explicitly. It’s not a formula.

It’s just we’ve internalized it. You ask the successful entrepreneur, “Camila, you borrowed $5,000 from your mother-in-law 20 years ago and you got this thriving business. How did you do it?” You’re going to provide answers that aren’t going to be that helpful. You’re going to say, “I worked hard.” “I’m passionate about what I do.” “I never gave up.” It’s useless. I’m working hard too. It’s not that helpful. 

I approach this work as an anthropologist. On the surface, we can see what you produce, but what’s not visible are the underlying values and assumptions that produce those outcomes. I think of mindset in culture as more or less the same thing. A mindset is to a person what culture is to a group. It functions the same way. You can use the same analogies in the study of culture as you can in understanding a mindset.

Entrepreneurial Conviction

Gary, I have a question for you. I grapple a lot with this concept and its mindset related, but it’s almost at some point, you have to act with certainty or to be, I don’t want to say all in, but to be, “All in.” It seems that’s one thing that separates a lot of entrepreneurs as well as they do discovery to figure out a direction to go but then you need to get to a point where you’re acting with certainty. Whether it’s certainty that you’re right or certainty that you will figure out the path. 

I think conviction might be a better word than certainty. I’m plagued with self-doubt all the time. I just keep marching forward despite it. 

That’s a challenge for me. 

Yes, but we also need to walk that back a little bit and think about the iterative experimental nature. I want to get away from the entrepreneur as the risk-taker. The literature just does not support that. You can read what Drucker wrote about that. If entrepreneurs have anything in common, it’s that we’re risk averse. 

The literature shows that non-entrepreneurs are more prone to risk-taking than entrepreneurs. Where was I going with that? All I’m saying is the typical entrepreneur is more likely to try their idea in the margins and experiment and explore. What starts as selling cards morphs into selling cupcakes which morphs into something completely different. 

The Entrepreneurial Mindset Project | Entrepreneurial Children | Camillo Archuleta

Entrepreneurial Children: The typical entrepreneur is more likely to try their idea in the margins and experiment and explore.

I think over time, what happens to a lot of us, Camillo, is that we entrepreneur our way into the right venture-venture-er fit. I took a borrowed ladder, strapped it on the roof of my car, and went knocking on doors offering clean gutters in 1987. I’m afraid of heights. I was desperate. I was broke. I didn’t have any money. 

I think that’s an important part of the conversation. It’s not just you got to be careful, and people say, ”Just go all in.” The way that I think about this, it’s a really good question, Camillo, is that the desire to fulfill human needs is an essential part of what makes us human. That’s not just in some of us, that’s in all of us. When properly harnessed, That desire can be harnessed in such a way that can empower an ordinary person to do extraordinary things. 

It enables us to tap into the most potent form of human motivation, which is known as intrinsic motivation. It can also drive you to the side of a cliff or off the edge of a cliff. We can become so enamored with our ideas that we can just drive the bus right off the cliff. I think, yes, there’s got to be some modicum of conviction and you know this, but good ideas don’t sell themselves. 

They’re just little kids. They need parents to advocate for them while they’re in their adolescent state. I just found another Steve Jobs quote about that today on social media. I don’t know if that answers your question, but I think that’s the way to think about it. The guy that said this, I’ll think of it in a second, “The reasonable man conforms himself to the world and the unreasonable man expects the world to conform to him. Therefore, all progress relies on unreasonable men or women.” 

I know that quote too. 

It’s that. On the other hand, doing something new requires some modicum of unreasonableness. I think that nails it, Gary. For me, that nails the idea that it’s not that you’re going all in and being risky. You’re committed in your heart and even when you realize that there’s a clear path and you’re de-risking it all the time, cause you’re so right.

That is what entrepreneurs do it’s constant de-risking. All of the lean startup stuff is, “How do I de-risk this thing as quickly as possible?” At some point, It becomes you saying, “I found this path and I think this is a good path to be on.” But society and culture are telling you differently. When I say the term certainty, it’s that you have to be able to persevere in those moments. 

You have to have some evidence that what you’re doing is useful to people. 

Yes, 100%. 

To absent that evidence, you’re just you’re just spinning your wheels. 

That’s the lean part of de-risking the thing is showing that you’re solving a problem for someone. When you’re going to your parents and saying, “I’m going to start this business because I’m doing this little bit of sales now.” They’ll say, “That’s crazy. Go to school.” At some point where you have to say that I think that it’s real. Michael Dell started a massive computer business when everybody thought he was nuts because he wasn’t doing his schoolwork.

There’s a bunch of ways to answer this. I have a friend who sold a business for hundreds of millions of dollars and he told me, I think he was at 50 million in revenue before his dad stopped telling him to get a real job. Paul Graham wrote a really beautiful essay, which I put a chunk of with his permission in my new book, but not clear to us how building a tree fort is a path to engineering or architecture. 

The school does a completely formal education that obfuscates that idea and discourages it. As parents, we discourage it. I think that’s what you’re getting at. “Yes, your little card business is never going to amount to much. Forget that and just put your nose in the books.” Eh, that’s not the right way to think about it. The bigger idea nested in this conversation, I think, is that what I’ve observed in these everyday entrepreneurs who don’t have big ideas don’t have access to resources.

Those two factors are essential for developing their attitudes and skills, by the way. What they’re essentially doing if you zoom out a little bit and blur the picture is they’re abiding by the scientific method. The minimally viable product that we talked about a minute ago is the laboratory experiment. When somebody pays for it, that is empirical evidence of usefulness. 

They’ll say, “Milo, let’s go back to seventh-grade biology.” How does an organism orient itself in unfamiliar terrain? It goes around trying lots of little things on a small scale to increase the probability that it will survive long enough to find a connection. That’s what entrepreneurs are doing. There’s no mystery to it. 

I’ve interviewed 600 entrepreneurs around the world. I could count on a butcher’s left hand how many of them had formal entrepreneurship training. What you have is a human organism searching for a connection with its environment. That connection, you articulated beautifully. What do how to do? What are you capable of doing? What do you to do? What resources do you have? How can you make yourself useful with those things? 

The connection to somebody else’s problem is the connection.

Here’s what’s also interesting about that. I have a friend who built a successful surgical medical device company. He said that he would ask the surgeons what instruments they needed to make their job easier and they were never able to tell him but when he stood next to them in the OR and asked them, “If those little tweezer-like things had a little hook on it, would that be easier?” They would answer, “That’s a great idea.”

It’s for how long did we carry suitcases through the airport, just unwittingly assuming that’s the correct way to do that until you see somebody put wheels on the suitcase and roll it with extended a handle. That’s the interesting part and that goes back to what you’re teaching your daughter about sitting in a restaurant, listening, and looking for problems to solve. That’s so powerful, I just love that.

Entrepreneurial Discovery Learning

What became the biggest value prop for my kid’s little business? It was a reminder. The fact that she was calling people for two weeks. After my wife’s birthday, we had all of the birthdays in our family mapped out. Everyone that she knew. She would use that as her list to work off of. It became valuable to people that she was calling two weeks in advance of a birthday that was coming up and offering to help them at that moment. 

They would say, “Yes, that person’s birthday.” I’m terrible at remembering birthdays myself. What was so beautiful about it for me was that the call alone was immediately a value for the person. Then when she says, “I make a card and send it for you or give it to you and you can give it to them.” She was connecting to someone on a real problem that they were trying to solve. 

Here’s the other part of that story that’s very typical. Your first idea isn’t your best idea. You’ve got to get into the arena and start interacting with the world. Only through those interactions that you going to discover the real opportunity, which no amount of planning and Google searching could have ever anticipated in a million years, which is why I continuously rail against the business plan as the starting point. 

You've got to get into the arena and start interacting with the world. It's only through those Share on X

It becomes prudent later on, once you’ve proven an idea, it’s something to be said for planning, but it’s that discovery process. Most of us have been taught to figure everything out before we act. It’s called Causal Reasoning. It is the scholarly term for it. This is the work of Sarasvati, you’re probably familiar. That’s prudent when the cost of failure is high and data exists. You should look both ways before you cross the street. That’s causal reasoning. The result of failure is bad but what’s never taught to us is the exact opposite. 

It is effectual reasoning, which is that you have to go to know. That’s what your daughter learned. There’s this adjacent thing here. I taught a high school class a decade ago almost now, Entrepreneurship. I did what you did with your daughter. What are you interested in? What are you capable of? What do you have? This one kid wanted to start an office cleaning business. I had him go out and do customer discovery and no one’s interested in hiring a 17-year-old kid to clean their office. 

He encounters a guy who says, “I don’t need my office clean, but I manage all these strip malls all over the region. We have the big Zamboni trucks that come in and sweep the parking lots, but we need someone to go twice a week and empty the trash cans, pick the litter up out of the landscaping, and so forth. Could you do that?” The kid comes back in the classroom, scratches out office cleaning, and writes out parking lot cleaning. This kid made $40,000 in his senior year in high school in his spare time.

Then that turned into something entirely different. The guy who was hiring him asked him to go clean out a light industrial building and the guy was going out of business. This kid, Steve is now 20, goes to this business and says, “Cleaning up.” The former owner is pulling out and he asked Steve, “How much will you give me for this forklift?” Steve just said 500 bucks and the guy agreed.

Steve didn’t even know what a forklift was. He looked on social media and he sold it in a day or two for $1,500. He and his buddy put together $35 each into a bank account and created a company that over the last 12 years, generated $64 million in revenue buying and selling used forklifts. This is what’s so lost in entrepreneurship education. You can hear that story. You can hear from him in my podcast. It’s the Ideas Doesn’t Matter. It doesn’t even matter. Get in the damn arena and start interacting and looking for problems to solve. 

I just saw a story on Instagram, but it was probably 20-something-year-old kids. Not quite a kid but he realized that he had to take the trash out every Tuesday morning. That’s trash day. He lived in a big condo complex with hundreds of condos. He just started knocking on doors and charging $2 to take out trash for people. He has 300 customers. He’s making 600 bucks a week, just taking the trash to the curb. Yes, it’s a Tuesday morning thing. He gets up early Tuesday morning and he take the trash cans to the curb. That’s it. 

The kid’s name is Steve Orlando, his father called me up when that parking lot cleaning thing was happening. He said to me, I can’t believe the change I’ve seen in my son. I couldn’t get him out of bed in the morning to go to school. Now he’s getting out of is out of the house at five o’clock in the morning, cleaning parking lots in the rain before he goes to school. 

It’s the control. I think that he created something for himself. 

Business Trends Today

He did. I’m sorry to interrupt you. I think that I’ve studied this idea from Deci and Ryan called Self-Determination Theory. We’re all acorns with the desire and the capacity to become a mighty oak tree. That’s in every living thing, this innate organismic tendency towards self-actualization, but we need three essential psychological ingredients, which are autonomy, competence, and relatedness. 

When those three nutrients are attainable, we are ly to self-actualize. Lifelong growth, social integration, and psychological well-being will ensue. That’s the story, Camillo. The entrepreneur unwittingly stumbles into that trifecta. They have autonomy, they have meaning in their work and purpose, they develop competence, and they flourish. 

The problem is because we don’t understand that and because most of us are looking at the world through a managerial lens, we tend to think that entrepreneurs are somehow born with some scientifically unfathomable traits. In social psychology, they call this the Fundamental Attribution Error, which is the tendency to attribute a person’s behavior to who they are and ignore all the situational factors that are at play. 

The Entrepreneurial Mindset Project | Entrepreneurial Children | Camillo Archuleta

Entrepreneurial Children: Because most of us are looking at the world through a managerial lens, we tend to think that entrepreneurs are somehow born with some sort of scientifically unfathomable traits.

Camillo, I want to shout this story from the rooftops and if every parent could understand. This is essentially what I’m advocating in my new book, The Entrepreneurial Mindset Advantage. Preserve the core. You don’t have to yank your kid out of school, but we need to encourage discovery learning in the margins. If your kid wants to go to law school or medical school or whatever, you’ve got to learn some things. 

We still need to transfer explicit knowledge but what’s absent from the curriculum is discovery. I’ve coined the term EDL for Entrepreneurial Discovery Learning. Starting third grade and fifth grade, whatever. Encourage kids to explore the margins. Take what they’re interested in and capable of and the resources they have and then try to figure it out.

The one thing that I’ll add to that, is I always hated the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m 42 now and I haven’t solved that question for myself. The question that I ask my kid now is what problem do you want to solve? 

That’s the famous Jaime Casap thing. What problem do you want to solve and what do you need to learn to solve it? 

I have another daughter with Down syndrome and we talk about this a lot. If you want to do something to help people with Down syndrome, then you go to school to be a doctor. That’s the resources and the capabilities that you need to develop for yourself to do that. If the problem you want to solve doesn’t require you to go to school or you don’t need to be in university. 

I’m now open up to the idea of her not going. Originally, college was huge and beneficial to me but now I’m realizing there are so many other alternatives for learning. If she’s focused on a problem that she cares about, I’m okay with her going an alternative path even to get there because she will embrace the learning required to do it then. 

That’s it. You have this innate desire to solve problems for other humans using your faculties and your intellect. Camillo, non-entrepreneurial behavior is learned. We’re all born curious, creative, and asking questions constantly. The literature is also clear on this. Almost the moment you set foot in school, you stop asking questions. 

I’m sure you’ve seen this, but there’s a famous study that they did where NASA wanted to assess creativity. 

That was George Land’s study. Go ahead to the readers. 

What the study did was a longitudinal study where they had some creativity IQ tests that they gave kids when they were three or five. I can’t remember exactly when it started. 

The study was done by a guy named Dr. George Land and you can learn about this, I think, in Ken Robinson’s TED talk. George Land talked about a little bit in his TED talk, but NASA approached him originally to design a psychometric tool that would enable them to identify the most creative scientists at NASA so they could give them their most vexing problems. 

It worked fairly well. That’s when Land got the idea, “I wonder what would happen if I gave this same test to a bunch of five-year-olds.” What was interesting is that, at NASA, only 2% of the scientists scored the genius level of this test. When he gave the same test, I think it was 1,600 five-year-olds, 98% studied genius. It just went down. They went longitudinal from five years old to ten years old, it dropped from 98% to 32%, and then it went from 32% to 12%. Since then, I think 270,000 adults have been tested, it’s 2%.

Yes, that study alone is one of the most fascinating pieces, it makes me question school altogether because creativity is being taught away from people. 

100% and this goes back to my earlier point, Camillo, that the industrial era values and assumptions deeply held, taken for granted, that we’re not aware of from the Industrial Revolution are still driving that thinking is still deeply embedded in our individual and collective conscience. That worked in post-war industrial United States, you could fog a mirror, you could get in today’s dollars equivalent to a $150,000 a year job with benefits and a pension, and lifelong security. 

Those jobs are all gone but that thinking remains. Your point also goes back to the idea that kids need the cognitive ability to move back and forth because sometimes you need to follow the rules and sometimes you don’t. I think the managerial mindset assumes that we have the correct way to think, perceive, and feel about a particular problem. It’s focused on execution. It’s just not thinking if there is a better way. That’s why the surgeon can’t answer the question but the entrepreneurial mindset assumes maybe we don’t have the correct way. It’s that simple. 

The Entrepreneurial Mindset Project | Entrepreneurial Children | Camillo Archuleta

Entrepreneurial Children: The managerial mindset assumes that we have the correct way to think, perceive, and feel in relation to a particular problem, but the entrepreneurial mindset assumes maybe we don’t have the correct way.

Sometimes, “No, this is good enough, let’s execute.” You probably also know that the other side of the coin here, Camillo, entrepreneurs love inventing and experimenting but they can’t execute. They have a reasonably good idea and they want to go fiddling around and finding new ideas but they can’t execute. It doesn’t go anywhere. They can’t code switch into replication, efficiency, and execution. 

Isn’t there a book that talks about how every business needs a visionary person and the person who executes? They need to be a pair. They talk about Jobs and Wozniak. Jobs was the visionary one and Wozniak was the one that could get the things done. 

I recognize that in my own life. President of ELI, Rob Herndon is a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Air Force. He’s the get-things-done guy. They get annoyed with me because I would say, “I got an idea.” They say, “For God’s sake, Gary, we got to X.” It’s finding that balance but to take that idea a little more broadly to parents.

There’s a time when you have to have your kid in a structured environment, but you also make room for them to explore and experiment. Same in the classroom and at work. Ultimately, what I’m saying, Camillo, is that there’s this vast reservoir of untapped potential that is dormant in people and places that we’re overlooking or ignoring. 

Just to circle it back. Kids don’t even realize that these opportunities are out there. 

Humans don’t realize it. We’re probably living in the most opportunity-rich time in human history. The barriers to entry are almost invisible. 

We talked about this, I think, in San Diego. Kevin Kelly and the Concept Of 1000 True Fans. In today’s world in terms of opportunity, you don’t need to build a giant business. 300 million people in the US, if you find a hundred people who are willing to spend $100 on the products that you’re offering, you suddenly have a hundred thousand dollar business. 

I was talking about that very idea this morning with my publisher. I’ll add to that. Camila, we don’t need to invent anything new. I do a lot of work with Ice House and Grassroots community entrepreneurship and people always say, “I got to invent something.” It is like making a sandwich. Do you have $20 to go buy a loaf? Don’t just go slap some bologna on a piece of Wonder Bread with some mustard. Take some time to find out how to make a really good sandwich.

I think that there’s a big opportunity and she doesn’t want to do it so we’re not doing it. It’s just lawn mowing but I call it the lawn mowing when needed service. Walking down the street, seeing somebody’s grass is long and saying, “Do you want me to mow your lawn right now for 20 bucks?” I think she could just clean a house. To your point, there’s nothing special. It’s just lawn mowing but putting the twist on it, of being like, “This person who has this problem right now.” That’s where it’s going different from other landscapers. 

You’re getting at something that Clayton Christensen also wrote about. I think that typical entrepreneurs do this again, without knowing that they’re doing it. They’re looking beneath just the transactional or functional dimension of the need and they’re looking at a deeper social and emotional dimension of it. I think with that idea, you can take a ridiculously simple idea and make it into an empire. 

I interviewed Brian Scudamore some years ago who started 1-800-GOT-JUNK with a thousand bucks. He was driving through a McDonald’s drive-through and he saw these trash-hauling guys, who were trying to figure out how to pay for school. These rough-looking guys were in a rough-looking truck and he connected with an idea. 

If I was dressed neat, reasonably neat, golf shirt and khaki pants and I had a clean truck, I could go door to door and often clean people’s garages, attics, basements, and yards and haul away their junk. It’s the deeper social and emotional dimension of that need is what it is. It’s the convenience thing. It’s the trust thing. It’s the wow factor.

I have a different one, Gary. I was in the construction world and a lot of construction guys are just very gruff and not great at customer service. I said, “You could clean a house just by creating a construction business that is super eager to explain everything to the customers and is extremely nice when a phone call comes in. I say construction, but it could be autowork and stuff because you run into the same thing there. 

Anything. I was at a Home Depot out in Seattle last year and I was trying to help my son to make some repairs at home and I had to go back and forth on multiple trips to Home Depot. I kept finding this kid there that was super helpful. Going out was a way to help me. I came back the second time, I asked where is this kid. I went and found him again. I came back a third time and I found him again. 

I said to him, “I don’t know what they’re paying you here, but if you were to put an ad on social media for small home repairs, in Seattle, you could get $50,000 or $60,000 an hour without blinking an eye. In your spare time, don’t quit your Home Depot job.” The kid just looked at me stunned. To me, it seems obvious. You have something valuable, but was so deeply embedded in the kid’s brain, I’m assuming, that I can’t figure out what’s useful. Somebody else has got to tell me what to do. I’ll do it. 

That’s the limiting idea that limits our access to human potential right there. It’s self-directed value creation, that’s all it is. Camillo, I know that we’re running overtime here and I want to be respectful of your time. I’m really happy to get this story out into the world. Any final thoughts you want to share? Any insights from this experience?

I guess the one thing that I would share is, that all of the work that I’m doing with this is around me solving my problem. I’m not saying my problem is needing my kid to know how to make money, but it’s where I am in my life. I always joke that I’m eight years behind. It’s cause didn’t realize. I’m not upset about the eight years, but I think about it. 

When I say eight years behind, it’s like my peers started their careers eight years ahead of me. I went and had a detour before I went to school and all that stuff. For me, the new driving force is how can I help prepare my kids, to see all of the possibilities and the directions that they can go. I was so close to my vision of where things could go. That I didn’t even know about all of the opportunities that existed.

My real goal is how do I expose my kid to enough ideas and potential opportunities so that she eventually finds the thing that she cares about. The faster she can figure that out or the faster any other kids can figure that out, just given the nature of compounding, it makes such a difference. The nature of compounding and the nature of responsibilities growing. As you get older, you eventually perhaps get married and have kids and things. It’s not that things close off, but you have more responsibilities that stop you from doing those things. 

The window starts to close. It starts to narrow. 

If you’re able to figure out a direction you want to run when you’re 17 versus being 27 years old. I’m not saying you can’t do it when you’re older. I’m 42 and I’m just finding the direction that I want to run but if you’re able to do it that much younger, then there’s just so much more compounding that can happen on it. 

If it makes you feel any better, Camillo. I started ELI when I was 47. The risk of sounding like I’m boasting, we become the world’s leading provider of entrepreneurial mindset education. I could make an argument that starting late puts you at an advantage. Also, it’s all necessary. I guess if you’re following a traditional path, yes, you’re eight years behind but if you’re not going to follow a traditional path, you’re probably well ahead. 

I guess I’m in the mix right now because I’m on the traditional path and I’m looking at other alternatives. I’m in a whole bunch of online communities with online entrepreneurs. They’re all running businesses online. It is unbelievable how many of them are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, either with digital products or with products that they develop, but they’re made by somebody else, they’re shipped through Amazon. They are living these completely remote digital lives and creating real value. 

Yes, self-directed value creation, that’s it.

 I had no idea that was a path and you see some people online and you’ll say that it is cool or if I’m on Instagram, I’ll see ads for things related to that. I’m actually in communities and nobody’s trying to sell me anything. They’re talking about their business problems and things that they’re trying to do related to their business. Here are thousands of people who are doing this thing. 

That goes back to what you were saying at Hanover. It’s the same thing, you’re getting a front-row seat to seeing it and something inside you is stirring. That’s the self-actualizing tendency. I’m fond of saying this, maybe we’ll close with this. The entrepreneurial mindset is not the cause of entrepreneurial behavior, it’s an effect. 

The entrepreneurial mindset is not the cause of entrepreneurial behavior; it's an effect. Share on X

The cause of entrepreneurial behavior is the self-actualizing tendency. It’s the human being trying to self-actualize. They’re trying to search for autonomy, develop competence, purpose, or relatedness in their lives, or try to do something meaningful. 

I think that does nail it, Gary. 

Camillo, thanks so much for doing this podcast. I appreciate it. Are you open to people reaching out to you to learn more about this story? Do you want to put your email or contact information in there, social media, or anything? 

I’ll give that all to you. This was great. When I first started this, The Ice House was one of the first books that I found. I read that multiple times now at this point. It’s exciting for me to be able to be on your podcast now talking about this stuff. 

That’s awesome. We’ll get your social media accounts, we’ll put it in the show notes. Camillo, thanks so much for being a part of this. I greatly appreciate you sharing the story with the world. 

Thanks, Gary. 

Thank you. 

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