Always Leave Them Asking for Mow

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By Mike Johnson

You may be the only bible some other soul ever reads.

When it came to the gospel of income generation, Paul, Kevin, Mark & Greg were the first books in my bible.

Paul always had money in his pocket.
Few 11-year-olds did.
He told me it came from his morning paper route.
He also told me he was tired of the route and was quitting.
I immediately volunteered and got the job.

Kevin was an afternoon paperboy.
This made him softer than us 4am warriors but he surpassed us wildly with his ability to save.
We were required to build up a $50 savings “bond” by depositing a few dollars every week with the newspaper company.
This protected them if we did not pay our wholesale newspaper bills.
Once I hit $50, I stopped contributing.
Kevin never stopped, and deposited ALL of his earnings.
He had over $500 in his savings.
As a 13-year-old!
This made him a legend.

Mark was a smart aleck.
It made him fun to hang with.
He’d do the most outlandish things.
Like shovel a neighbor’s driveway for two hours, then when it was time to collect his $5, he’d offer the homeowner a coin flip for double or nothing.
I found that mind-blowingly risky.
Especially when Mark lost.
But it expanded my mind to the bigger possibilities of writing my own rules.

Greg owned his own lawn mowing/snow plowing business.
In junior high!
He had a huge inventory of professional equipment to complete the jobs fast and easy.
Self-propelled mowers. Battery-powered trimmers. Self-propelled snowblowers and a pick-up truck with plow!
The value of his gear was amazing in itself without calculating all his income.
He was pulling in bigger paydays than many adults, as a teenager!

I remember helping Greg mow a lawn at a ritzy home on Lake Minnetonka.
I learned he was charging $40 for just that lawn.
Forty dollars! Holy crap!

Greg said something I’ve never forgotten.
“Forty dollars to us is like a nickel to him.”
This taught me that income could be higher if you served wealthy customers.
It also taught to bravely ask for a higher price than the limits of my self-esteem.

Just this weekend, my grandson was taught how to use, maintain and repair a riding mower.
He’s 14, coming into summer, and can now legally apply for employment at several local businesses he's been eying.

Or, he can use that mower to generate his own income.

He can make $14 an hour in an air-conditioned hut at the mini-golf.
Or he can rustle up some lawncare customers with a per-hour income that’s only limited by his courage, ambition and the speed of that mower.

Which will he choose?

Both will earn income.
Both will teach life lessons.
But one will provide far more freedom and independence than the other.

Guess which one I’m rooting for?



Love Your Kids? Make Them Work

I Fought the Lawn & the Lawn Won


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