My father was a realtor, old school style. This was before Zillow, Trulia, and Craigslist, where he walked the neighborhoods, got to know the people and schools, and could provide some qualitative insight for prospective buyers. Despite this, he was affected by some wild market swings in the late 80’s and early 90’s. At home, this meant tighter budgets, different food choices, and other cuts. Of course, being kids, we complained about the changes.
To supplement the household budget, my mother started a day care business out of the house the summer before I started high school. She had 12 little “clients”, and used the whole house to run her business. I was often told, “When you come home from school, don’t use your room. There might be a napping baby.” I thought to myself, “If she’s going to entrepreneur the house, I’m going to entrepreneur the garage.” My little brother and I moved into the garage.
The garage was unfinished, consisting of skeleton walls, shelves, the washer and dryer, and the water heater. Dubbed as the “The Pad,” we found some used carpet, a couch, and some other odds and ends. I’m sure this was totally against code, sleeping with gas appliances. There was no Extreme Home Make over back then. Fortunately, it was Southern California and I could survive the winter with an electric blanket.
Since we moved out of our rooms into “The Pad”, my mother took her entrepreneurship one step further and rented our our rooms to strangers, college kids, divorcees, or anyone else who needed a room. My mother was AirBnB before it was cool. Our home was a zoo. It was interesting, but we always had food on the table. My parents sacrificed many inconveniences to provide for the family. I had inconveniences too. Everyone was in my “room” doing laundry and on Saturday morning at 6am my father would open the garage door and yell, “Rise and Radiate, time to work.” I’m sure he enjoyed waking us up in our underwear to the world.
My father never bought anything new. He rigged everything to save a dollar, always had a garden and had very few wants. My mother always believed in us. If I wanted to do anything, my mother always encouraged me, even when my brother and I restored a ’66 Mustang. My parents were some of the hardest working entrepreneurs I saw. From their example, I caught the self starter bug and started my journey to entrepreneurship. From their example, I was prepared to handle the budgetary ups and downs of becoming a self made man. From their example, I learned the skills and work ethic to make my businesses work, and recover when they didn’t.
Have you ever been through an interview process for a job, and have been asked what seem to be oddball questions? Sometimes, it seems like the Bridge of Death from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
HR people will tell you that simple questions like, “What is your favorite car?” are designed to probe deep into your psyche and reveal your inner thought process. I’ve decided to do a simple example of crazy interview questions, a classic answer, and what I believe to be the entrepreneurial answer.
HR: What is your favorite animal at the zoo and why?
Classic Answer: The Lion, because he is King of the Jungle.
Entrepreneur: I own the zoo. Which animals do you need? I’m sure we can come to some arrangement.
HR: If you could be a tree, what type would you be?
Classic Answer: A redwood, with a large trunk and vast network of roots.
Entrepreneur: You need a tree? I have a truck and a chainsaw. Tell me which one you want, and I’ll be back tomorrow with it.
HR: What’s your five year plan?
Classic Answer: I’ll have your job in 5 years (wink, chuckle).
Entrepreneur: You’ll be working for me at my new startup.
As you leave the interview you think, I could start a business like that. If you answer these questions like me you have an entrepreneur spirit.
It may be obvious I have never had a job from an interview.