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Practically Brand-Spanking New

Growing up, everyone in my neighborhood had regular jobs. My parents were teachers. The neighbors were a steel worker, a postal carrier, and other people with “regular” jobs. That is why it was such a shock to us when a new family moved in two doors down.

The dad did not have regular job! However, they seemed to be making a decent living. He often had a couple of cars for sale in the front yard, and was working on different opportunities. He seemed to work as a salesman on occasion, but never in the same job for very long.

Given that they had a daughter one year older than me and a son who was a little younger, we got to know them pretty well. There were not many kids in our neighborhood, and they were a lot of fun, so we became pretty good friends. We played release most summer nights, hours of Monopoly and swam together in another neighbor’s pool.

One of the most memorable things to me was how their son was already becoming an accomplished salesperson at the age of 9. On occasion, he would try to sell something to me or my younger brother. From a skateboard to a cap gun, they were used items he no longer wanted. So, he would describe all of the features and how it was “practically brand-spanking new.”

While we rarely bought anything from him, it was clear to me that he had a very different role model growing up. There was nothing wrong with it, it was just completely different from my home life. In contrast to the careful budgeting in my family, my friend’s family clearly went through booms and busts, then booms again. It was absolutely fascinating to me.

After three years as neighbors, it was with great sadness that I said goodbye when they told us they were selling their house and moving to Florida. If I remember correctly, it was to pursue some great opportunity...

When I graduated from college, I pursued the more traditional employment route that most of my family and neighbors had done. However, 15 years ago, I chose an entrepreneurial path that has had some booms and busts along the way. And it is with fondness that I think back to the neighbors who were the first I had ever met who were following an entrepreneurial route. While I have never tried to sell something as “practically brand-spanking new”, I know that I learned a lot from them.

This is message #12 in 21 Days of Authenticity. If that would like to receive the rest of the 21 Days of Authenticity via email, please click here to sign up.

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