My wife and I were having coffee this morning and we somehow
found ourselves talking about homeless people so she challenged me to come up with a
business model that would help these folks.
Frankly, I had no idea how to do that until I had (sort of)
a brainstorm—I’d give every homeless person who wanted it a copy of Great Quotes to Inspire [https://brucemfirestone.com/product/quotes-for-entrepreneurs/] that my students and I put together a few years ago.
Here’s what this biz model might look like:
The only reason I came up with this is that I imagined
myself standing at a street corner. What could I ask people for other than a
Some people “sell” hugs or quotes from the bible or poems or
caricatures or jokes.
I’ll trade them a personalized quote from my list of more
than a 1,000 that’ll make their day better, and maybe teach them (pedestrians and motorists) something about
the human condition or entrepreneurship…
I’d wear a long-sleeved t-shirt saying, “I’ll trade you an inspirational
quote for 5 bucks!”
And I’d have a sandwich board (A-frame) sign next to me saying
the same thing plus giving some examples of great inspirational quotes.
And I’d turn it into a game—if you can guess who said, “You
miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” you’d only owe me 3 bucks…
I’ll bet I’d make more than a lemonade stand.
NOTE: the answer to the above question is, of course, Wayne Gretzky.
Ps a young coaching client of mine, Tyler LeBlanc, actually tried the above, and, amazingly,
it worked. Here’s his report:
Let me tell you, Prof Bruce, about my experience with the quotes!
with one of the regulars I give cash to while I was running around in the (downtown Ottawa) Byward market
at all hours of the night.
Anyway, after an all-night banger, I bought 60 dollars worth of McDonald’s and gave it out to my homeless friends.
Next, I found myself sitting with one girl (Nancy) who begs for a
living, and she kept asking for change but was getting nothing but ugly looks.
I said, “Why don’t we introduce a morning quote?”
So, I would
say to passersby, “Hey, would you like to hear a morning quote?” and 80% of the people
actually stopped. I would give a quote, you know, something like, “Imagination is more
important that knowledge” or “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re
Then Nancy would add, “Hey, can you spare a little
We made $30 cash in 37 minutes outside Tim Horton’s on
Rideau street… that’s almost 50 dollars an hour! Not bad, huh?
Frank, another homeless person, gives jokes in return for spare change. He makes $80 to $125 a day with this gimmick. He hustles.
Everyone down in the market who has good success actually gives something like the guy who does one-armed pushups.
And there’s Scotty who takes three steps forward then three steps back and flips a lit cigarette into his mouth. He gets three tries to do it, after which he charges 5 bucks.
This goes with the universal law that every exchange has to have near equal energy in order to maintain balance. If you constantly ask, ask, ask, and don’t give, universal energy is imbalanced. You’ll actually get more if you give more. Didn’t John Lennon say, “The love you take is equal to the love you… make?”
Prof Bruce, if you can get more of those books of yours (Quotes for Entrepreneurs), we’ll sign them–you and I–and then go to the market and give them to everyone (the homeless) to try it out on as bigger scale.
Pps OKAY, now I am really getting going—how about setting up
a lemonade stand for your kids next summer and then letting them sell not only lemonade
but great quotes and, while I am at it, quotes from Shakespeare as well. If customers
guess correctly which Shakespearean character said which quote, they get their glass
of lemonade for $1 instead of $1.25… Hey,
and your children learn something too.
Ppps In Stockholm they not only give their homeless people
magazines to sell (it’s called Situation
Sthlm), they also get a handheld credit card/debit card processor for on
the spot payments from what is now a mostly cashless society, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/oct/18/izettle-mobile-payments-homeless-sweden.
MORE: here’re some sample quotes from the book–
If you don’t ask, you don’t
get,” Mahatmas Gandhi.
“Some men see things as they are
and say, why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?” Bobby Kennedy.
“Chase your passion, not your pension,” Denis
“Make each day count,” Jack
“Any intelligent fool can make
things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a
lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction,” Albert Einstein.
“Only those who will risk going
too far can possibly find out how far one can go,” TS Eliot.
“Your theory is crazy, but it’s
not crazy enough to be true,” Bertolt Brecht.
“An engineer is someone who can
do for a dollar what any fool could do for two,” Anon.
“All people are entrepreneurs,
but many don’t have the opportunity to find that out,” Dr Muhammad Yunus.
“Everything that can be invented
has been invented,” Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.
“Entrepreneurs would rather ask
for forgiveness than beg for permission,” Anon.
“It takes at least 10,000 hours
to master a craft, any craft,” Malcolm Gladwell.
“You can think your way to
wealth a lot faster than you can work your way there,” Bruce M Firestone.
“I am the world’s worst
salesman, therefore, I must make it easy for people to buy,” FW Woolworth.
“We live in a cynical world and
we work in a business of tough competitors,” Jerry Maguire.
“Standing is more tiring that
“Success is simply a matter of
luck. Ask any failure,” Earl Wilson.
“Today each of us lives several
hundred years in a decade,” Marshall McLuhan.
“Steve Jobs believes that the
most important decisions you make are not the things you do, but the things
that you decide not to do,” John Sculley.
“You miss 100% of the shots you
don’t take,” Wayne Gretzky.
“For startups, SM is now
crucial: it has never been cheaper and easier to reach one’s customers.
Entrepreneurs should thank God for Twitter, Facebook…,” Guy Kawasaki.
“Don’t kid yourself.
Entrepreneurship is an absolutely brutal lifestyle that will demand everything
you think you’ve got to give and more,” Geoff Livingston.
“Good judgment comes from experience.
Experience comes from bad judgment,” Randy Pausch.
“The thing I ask myself almost
every day is—am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?” Mark
“A life spent making mistakes is
not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing,”
George Bernard Shaw.
“Never drink and think,” Bruce M
“A failure is a man who has
blundered, but is not able to cash in on the experience,” Elbert Hubbard.
“I am not a saint, unless you
think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying,” Aung San Suu Kyi.
“It always seems impossible
until it’s done,” Nelson Mandela.
“Empty pockets never held anyone
back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that,” Norman Vincent Peale.
“The greatest gift you can give
others is to show them what they can do for themselves,” Larry Bravar.
“No one who can rise before dawn
three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich,” Malcolm
“The only way to do great work
is to love the work you do,” Steve Jobs.
“Money isn’t everything, you
know, but you can buy freedom with it and freedom is everything,” Arian Foster.
Some folks see dead people like Cole Sear did in The Sixth Sense, prof Bruce see biz models… everywhere:
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