In support of its vision to create the world’s most influential community of entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) encourages new ways of inspiring entrepreneurship through education and experience sharing. One motivated EO member and enterprising parent has taken it to a new level with his commitment to raise the next generation of entrepreneurs in his own home!
Joel Gandara is an EO member in South Florida and CEO of Morro Capital who is now focusing on a new venture, Freedom Experts, which helps fellow entrepreneurs optimize and automate business processes to reclaim the time and freedom entrepreneurship offers. In addition, Joel instills an entrepreneurial mindset in his kids by sharing insights and strategies he learns through EO. At this rate, it won’t be long before the Gandara family has four more EO-eligible members!
We asked Joel (JG) about his entrepreneurial parenting technique. Here’s what he shared.
How did you start teaching your children about entrepreneurship?
JG/ When my sons were around 4 and 5 years old, we walked by a three-person merry-go-round, and they asked me for some quarters to ride it. I explained that, yes, we could do that and they’d get about 60 seconds of enjoyment―or, we could save those quarters toward buying one of the machines ourselves. (For the record, I had no intention of getting into the merry-go-round business, but I wanted to teach a lesson.)
I explained to the boys that if we saved money for a long time, we could buy our very own machine that they could ride anytime. But even better―they could let other kids ride it, and those kids would pay them a whole lot of quarters. Ryan, who was 5, had a look of astonishment on his face, realizing that this was possible. He loved the idea and told me to save the quarters. He preferred to forego immediate gratification for something that ultimately would’ve been forgotten in a few minutes, opting to go for the long-term investment.
What’s your motivation for teaching your kids these lessons?
JG/ As a kid, I didn’t have the toys that others did. We were a lower income family, despite both of my parents working full-time+. I was born in Cuba and left on a boat when I was a kid. I feel blessed to live in a great country that allows entrepreneurship and self-growth. When you’ve grown up experiencing socialism first-hand, you tend to gravitate as far from it as you can. Entrepreneurship is 180 degrees the opposite of socialism. I share lessons from EO with my kids in hopes of opening their minds and educating them as early as possible.
Some of our kids’ friends barely know what their parents do for a living; our kids can explain our balance sheet and P&L statements to you.
In our house, it’s a team effort: My wife, Jessica, sees what entrepreneurship has done for our family and also wants our kids to learn these lessons. Schools teach reading, writing and math, but entrepreneurship and basic life skills are often ignored. Jessica and I speak to the kids about our businesses and explain financials along with the ups and downs we face. Some of our kids’ friends barely know what their parents do for a living; our kids can explain our balance sheet and P&L statements to you.
What do your kids think of these entrepreneurial lessons?
JG/ They are receptive to what we share with them and they’ve taken on challenges that I’ve suggested. Our oldest, Ryan, now 12, has had a job since he was 10 years old: He convinced a local barber to hire him for a couple of hours every Saturday. He sweeps the floors, rolls towels, cleans and answers the phone.
Being an entrepreneur, Ryan has realized that a job is great, but making extra money is even better. Ryan buys wholesale chocolate bars and sells them at the front desk of the barbershop to make extra money. When Ryan’s not at work, he sells chocolate bars at school, on the school bus, door-to-door in our neighborhood, at the front door of Home Depot, while I run in to buy something―anywhere that he can find people!
Our 11-year-old son, Adrian, has also taken to entrepreneurship and, seeing Ryan’s success, has been selling candy for a few years himself.
Our 5-year-old daughter, Reagan, has even gotten the itch. She’s learned a sales pitch from her brothers and actually closes at a much higher rate―it doesn’t hurt that she’s adorable!
Our youngest is 4-year-old Austin, who mimics his older siblings by saying, “Hi, my name is Austin. I’m selling chocolates for a dollar. Would you like to buy some?” He’ll likely follow in their footsteps, but we’ve told him he has to wait until he’s five to start selling.
Tell us about your son, Adrian’s, latest undertaking.
JG/ It started when our family attended an EO event featuring James Lawrence AKA the Iron Cowboy, who completed 50 Ironman triathlons in 50 states in 50 days. Adrian, an accomplished runner at age 10 who had won his age group in about 90 5k races, was inspired. He decided to run a 5k (3.1 miles) every day for six months. I thought that might be pushing his limits and asked if he wouldn’t rather start with 30 days or maybe 60 days―but he was determined to go for six months.
Adrian started on 9 December, 2017, and is more than halfway to his goal. His tenacity is impressive: He wakes up early every morning before school to run his 5k, even when he’s tired, has a stomach ache or a cold. His goal is to help motivate people to make more healthful choices in their own lives. He started his own YouTube channel, Fit with Adrian, and is trying to get 1,000 subscribers by 1 June.
I see a strong connection between entrepreneurship and running since both involve setting specific goals, executing on them and “hustling”
I see a strong connection between entrepreneurship and running since both involve setting specific goals, executing on them and “hustling”―which I believe is the secret to success. I’m very proud of him!
What’s been the biggest surprise on this journey?
JG/ That my kids have actually been convinced that saving money is the right thing to do! We make it a point to teach and show our kids that material possessions don’t bring happiness. We help them understand that a secure future, good health and a stress-free lifestyle is more important than a Lamborghini. They’ve taken this lesson to heart and have saved every penny they’ve made. Our two oldest boys have set a goal to reach US$50,000 in savings before they turn 18.
Do you know anyone else teaching their kids these lessons?
JG/ I don’t personally know anyone who is teaching their kids as much about entrepreneurship as we do. All of my friends know about my kids’ entrepreneurial journey because I don’t keep it a secret. I think it would be great for other kids to learn about entrepreneurship because it teaches them real-life skills. Graduating high school with US$50,000 in the bank sets you up for a great start in life. I wish I would’ve been taught these things as a kid.
I think it would be great for other kids to learn about entrepreneurship because it teaches them real-life skills.
How has teaching your children about entrepreneurship impacted your EO experience?
JG/ I definitely appreciate my EO membership even more now, because it doesn’t just benefit me: It benefits my wife and our four children. For me, learning events are the No. 1 value in EO. Every time I learn something, I share it with my family. It’s like I’m getting 6X the value of my EO membership because it’s benefitting our entire family of six.
For me, learning events are the No. 1 value in EO. Every time I learn something, I share it with my family. It’s like I’m getting 6X the value of my EO membership because it’s benefitting our entire family of six.
And it works both ways. I share the lessons that my kids learn with the team at my company because if you keep an open mind, there are always learning opportunities, even from kids. So, we are all growing and benefitting from this cross-pollination of ideas and entrepreneurial lessons learned.
The theme in our house is, “Today we should be better than we were yesterday, and tomorrow we should be better than we were today.”
Questions? Feedback? Email Joel.
Read more on raising entrepreneurial kids from the Octane blog. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is the premier global network for founders, entrepreneurs and pioneers. Learn more about what it means to be an EO member.