Hey you guys. I am actually excited to share this story with you guys. This is a personal story. This is something that happened to me and I’m laughing because I’m looking back at it, thinking how crazy it was. I grew up in Littleton, Colorado and I loved it. I had a fantastic childhood. I look back at all the crap that I did growing up and it’s just fun. I had a really awesome child. I had awesome friends and grew up in a cool neighborhood with tons of other kids on the street. You know there was like two kids in every house on our street for the longest time. It was kinda fun because at night, I feel like everybody came out and the street became alive which is good and bad for various reasons.
Growing up, I went to this high school called Chatfield High School. I go and my brother and I were always trying to find stuff to sell to other people. I think it started because we grew up on the back nine of a public golf course. It wasn’t like crazy nice or anything, but it was kinda cool because we’d go sneak on there, run from the golf rangers. We’d have our backpacks on, but the top open, and we’d have our swimsuits on, and we’d go jump in this pond. There’s tons of them, it’s a golf course. We’d go riding our bikes through this golf course on the paths and everything or just straight down the fairway just collecting golf balls. Then, we’d clean them up and we’d go sell them back to the golfers. I think that started us on this, I don’t know, downward spiral.
One day, we got out of high school, and my brother and I we’re pretty close in age so we were usually in the same school buildings. We get out and we’re like “Hey, let’s go over to- there’s a Walgreens nearby.” There’s a Walgreens over there and its not far away. It was not uncommon for us to take like huge detours before we’d go home just for fun, just doing whatever. I don’t know at that time that I’d necessarily call myself book smart, at all. I think I barely graduated high school like literally. I know some people say that figuratively, but I think I actually literally barely graduated. I had straight D’s for a very long time in all the major course subjects. I guess you could say I was “street-smart” or whatever that is.
We go over to this Walgreens and we’re looking at this toy aisle, which is the coolest aisle. You always go to the toy aisle when you’re a kid, you know, even when you’re an adult. I go over to the toy aisle and we’re looking in there and we’re like “What can we get?” We only had a couple bucks on us. We started looking around. We didn’t even know what we were looking for. All the sudden, something catches our eye, and it’s this little tiny … It was kind of shiny, actually, but it’s these pens, like writing pens.
They’re in these awesome cases, like plastic cases to make them look really nice. Some of you will probably know what I’m talking about. There’s two buttons on the side. It was a nice chrome pen and it’s like one of those twist pens and on the side, there’s two buttons. The top button makes this blue light come out the top. It was really cool. The bottom button shined a laser pointer out of the top of this pen and we’re like “Holy crap, that’s so cool!” We love that stuff. So we’re like “This is awesome.” We look at the price and you could get two of them for five dollars. We’re like “What, this is ridiculous!” We each had like 20 bucks on us. We bought all the pens that I think that they had. We’re like “I think we can go sell these,” so we grabbed our pens, there was dollars in our eyes, we were thinking all about it.
We get back and my mom had this labeler and so we went and we were making these labels that are like “eight dollars”, “twelve bucks,” I mean like huge mark-ups from what they currently were. We marked all these things up and as a big fan of cargo shorts back then for their “utility and comfort,” we loaded up our cargo shorts full of these pens in these nice looking cases. We’d taken off the original price tags for 2.50 and put on like 12 bucks. We go to school the next day and those were always the days I was excited to go to school.
I didn’t necessarily love school. I liked it for all the extracurricular stuff that was going on there. I was a bit of a geek for sure. I was one of the head editors for yearbook and for computer stuff, go figure, not writing or taking pictures and stuff like that, but for layout and stuff like that. I was in choir and theater and stuff like that, but I did awful in all the other subjects. The days where we were trying to take over the world and sell stuff to people, those were fun days.
We go to school and we start showing these pens in our classes. We’re like “Hey, check it out,” almost like we’re doing a drug deal. It’s funny to talk about it now. I never really thought about that, but it must’ve looked bad. I was like “Dude I got this sweet pen, do you want it man?” It was totally the drug dealer clothes. We’d play with them for a second and someone would be like “Oh, that’s totally legit man! Can I have that pen?!” We’re like “It’ll cost you 12 bucks, I don’t want to lose money on it.” It showed 12 dollars on the price tag and they’re like “Dude, I’ll totally buy that from you!” We’re like “Okay,” you know? What’s crazy is at the end of that day, we had sold all of the pens in a matter of like 20 minutes individually in our classes in one class period. We were like “Oh my gosh, we’re going to be rich!”
We went straight back to that Walgreens, used all the money we got, bought more pens, which I’m glad they restocked and such, and went back, used the labeler, and the next day, we were loaded up with more pens. We sold all those pens in like a matter of hours, not even another class period. We go back and forth and we’re doing this several times and we’re making crazy margins on this thing. We’re like “These pens are so under-priced, this is ridiculous!” We’re selling these things to people for even like 15 dollars, 20 dollars, and they’re two and a half bucks! We were making a killing on these things. We just kept going back, taking all the money we were making and dumping it straight back into our product.
It’s funny because looking back on it, people were buying from us, turning around and selling again. We had our own freaking distribution channel starting! It was nuts. It kind of got out of control. It got to the point where people, I don’t know how they heard about what … I guess it was pretty easy to see and hear about us. You’d walk into the commons and there was all these red dots all over the walls, like I didn’t grow up in a small high school. There was like 3,000- no, what was it? It was about 2,300 people in our school. It wasn’t small. We had been pumping in tons and tons of these pens in there. Like I said, it got to this point where people were like interrupting us in the middle of a class. They seriously would open up the door in the middle of my english class and they’d go “Uhh …”- like the class would be going on. They’d be like “Uhh, are you the kid with all the pens,” and I’d be like “Dude, come on! You’re stupid, man. Get out of here,” and then I’d be like “Uhh, yeah,” he’s like “Do you have any more of them?” I’m like “Yeah,” like “I’ll meet you- here, I’ll just wait right outside when your class is over and I’ll get them right there.”
We had caused so much freaking desire for these pens. It was starting to get us in trouble. What is funny because one day, like I said, you can start to see all these red dots all over the place. One day, I was sitting in algebra class which I think I failed, well no, I got like a 60.1% in that class. That’s what I got in most my classes. Math for sure, English for sure, because you had to read a whole lot, definitely got straight D’s every single semester in Spanish, like mercy kills- 60.1%, barely passing these so I could move forward. I think they knew that I just wasn’t a kid that was into drugs and had good intentions so they just kind of grace killed me and moved me forward.
I was sitting in Algebra and all of the sudden someone comes in and they’re like “Hey Steve Larson,” they’re like “Here you go,” and they handed me this red card. If you get the red card, you’ve been red-carded, kind of like soccer. If you have been red-carded, you were busted, because it meant that the principal wanted to see you. I was like “Crap,” so I get up and everyone’s like “Ohhh!” I was like “Don’t worry, I’ll go sell him a pen too ha ha ha,” trying to act all tough about it, like totally crapping my pants though at the same time. They had no idea.
I was walking down this abnormally long hallway that day. It seemed so much longer. It was a big high school. I walked down and I go inside the principal’s office and I sit down and my brother turns out had been in there for like two hours already and they had been grilling the crap out of him. They had just been smoking his butt. I get in there and they’re like “Do you have one of these pens on you?” I was like “Yeah,” and they were all like pre-sales for like 6th period. We we’re going to cash in like 2 or 3 hundred dollars that period. Everyone wanted them.
I was like “Yes,” so I took the pens out and I one by one was like stacking them on his desk. I still remember the grains of wood in his desk like to this day. I’m closing my eyes and remembering how dim the room was abnormally. So funny! I ended up stacking, just like, “chk… chk… chk… chk…” this huge pyramid of pens, and the look of surprise on his face was just priceless. He was like “How much are you selling these things for?” I was like “Anywhere from 8 bucks to 12 bucks,” and I started like nervous laughing. He was really interested. I thought he was. He wasn’t, of course.
I was like “We’re selling them for like 15 bucks,” he was like “How much are you getting them for,” I was like “2 and a half dollars.” He was like “What??” My brother’s pyramid of pens was already … Our cargo shorts were bulging to the point where our shorts were like swaying when we walked. We were selling so many of these things every single day. He just sat back and he’s like “You know the principal wants to expel you,” and I was like “Oh really?” Thinking about it now, I was like “What the freak, are you kidding me? For selling … Kids can openly sell pot in the hallways, but I can’t sell laser pointing pens?”
Eddie’s like “Yeah, the principal wants to expel you,” and he’s like “You’re directly violating our code of conduct,” and I was like “What?” He pulls out, and I know now … I still remember now the bottom of page 6 in the code of conduct book and we all signed that stupid piece of paper saying we read it and no one reads it. There was one sentence down there at the bottom that says “You cannot posses laser pointers and shine them, bring them in, do anything like that.” I guess what had happened is people were selling after we were selling. We had all these people who were selling.
There was a mentally handicapped kid that ended up getting a hold of one of these laser pointers and was like shining it in everyone’s eyes in the commons, things like that. They said “Hey where’d you get that?” Then they asked the next kid “Hey where’d you get that,” “Where’d you get that?” They just followed the bread crumb trail straight to my brother and I. It totally makes sense why you cannot have laser pointers. We just had no idea. We didn’t think it would- there’d be no harm or foul in it. What ended up happening is they were like “Yeah, we want to expel you.” We’re like “Holy crap, oh my gosh!” He goes “I don’t think we’re going to do that,”- this is the vice principal- “I don’t thin we’re going to do that, I think that you will have a few days of suspension though.” We’re like “Oh, okay, what?!” He’s like “Okay, go on back to your classes,” and we’re like “Oh my gosh,” and so we walked back.
My brother and I were just shocked. We’re generally good kids like we weren’t into drugs, we weren’t doing any kind of crazy crap. We were generally good kids, we were just trying to make money. We walked back to our classes and everyone in the class was like “Dude, what happened? Like oh my gosh!” We were telling it and our teachers were listening and they’re like “Are you kidding me? They’re going to suspend you for that crap?” We ended up creating like a teacher army. All these teachers started going down and fighting on our behalf. They were like “You can’t expel these kids for doing what we’re freaking teaching them. They’re doing what we’re teaching. They’re going out, they’re trying to make money, they’re hustling, they’re actually selling stuff.” I think it was because of those teachers that we didn’t get even suspended.
They brought us back in and we sat down and they’re like “Hey, you can’t do this,” and they called our parents, you know, things like that. We ended up getting off with like a couple hours of community service. We were punished for being entrepreneurial. That’s one of the purposes of me telling you this story is that society doesn’t exactly like entrepreneurs. They know that we’re necessary, but the breed of myself, because I would consider myself an entrepreneur, I make money online by myself and a good amount of it. People don’t really know where we fit inside of society. If you listen to Alex Charfen, he talks about what’s called the entrepreneurial personality type. I think I was an EPT or whatever, but 100% I am that personality type. If you’ve never heard of him, go look him up, look at his stuff.
He talks about in there how we’re not really a breed or a class of person, a way of thinking of person that is very much accepted. If you are entrepreneurial at all, I want you to know that that’s okay, just expect that people are not going to like what you’re doing. They’re not going to know where you fit. They’re not going to know how to react to you. “Oh, oh, wait a second? You’re not willing to follow all the rules? Oh, that’s too bad!” I’m like “No, I’m not, I don’t care. There’s no such thing as rules, there’s only models.” I’ve said that before, but I really believe that. What’s the model for staying out of jail? Well here’s a list of things that you shouldn’t do. What’s the model for being successful? Well here’s the things that you should go do. Here’s the model for being a professional baseball player or basketball player. We all know the model it takes to get to where those people are. Most of us don’t have the discipline to follow through with that model.
It’s the same thing with being an entrepreneur or anything else. We got punished for that crap. That’s stupid. What was funny is that we ended up taking the remainder of those pens, luckily they gave them back to us, we took them home. I think they could see that they scared us to death and we weren’t going to do anything else. We took the pens home and we ended up selling them to all the neighborhood kids anyways. We kept selling stuff. For whatever reason, that experience really opened up my eyes. I was like “Oh man, I can get something cheaper and sell it for more.” That’s the base of business.
Later on in college and I failed out my first semester in college, too. It’s funny because when you start doing this stuff, people look at you like you’re a genius. Guys, I’m not a genius. I just work my butt off and there’s a model that I’m following. Just like Tony Robin said “All you have to do to be successful, model those who are already successful.” That’s all I’m doing and I’m loving it. It’s been so fun and I’ve been doing it for the last five years and man, it works! It’s good stuff. Model what I’m doing, listen carefully to what I’m doing. Anyways, that’s the story I wanted to tell you guys is that if you’re finding that people aren’t accepting what you’re doing, get over it, they’re not going to. It’s not like Steve Jobs was an agreeable person.
Socially, that dude was a bit of a jerk. It’s not like Bill Gates was a bit of an agreeable person. To the rest of the world, the people who just want a 9-5 job and they’re fine staying in what Robert calls “the rate race,” that’s not an acceptable way of life for a lot of people. If you’re in that and you’re feeling that, that’s 100% okay.
In college … I don’t know if I have actual ADD, I don’t think I do, but my brain gets sidetracked, for sure. In college, I remember we built this student run business from the ground up. We were making 2 or 3 grand a week in this company. They voted me as the CEO of it so I was like “All right cool,” so I was the CEO of it. Man, I ran that thing hard. It was good. We made a lot of money for, you know, students. It was all on campus. We were pulling 2 or 3 grand a week from students and just in the middle of campus. It was nuts, it was crazy. I’ll have to tell you guys that story later. I remember there was this girl who was just businessly naïve. She was like “Wait a second, we’re going to buy something and sell it for more? Isn’t that like totally unethical?” I was like “Who are you? Are you kidding? You have no idea how it really works out there. It’s not like business owners are making 3 cents every time they sell you something. No, they’re trying to make as much money off you as possible. Like stop being naïve.”
Anyways, if you find yourself getting punished because society is not accepting what it is that you want to do, don’t worry about it. Just get out there and keep going. Take the “punishment” and it will make great stories later on when you’re telling podcasts early in the morning. All right guys, I’ll talk to you later, bye.
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