“Dad, you are so horrible, so horrible!” It was my oldest daughter talking. She and a group of her friends have made plans to travel to Europe. “The parents of the girls are paying for their trip.
So why don’t you want to pay for mine?” “I don’t have money to give away”, I told her. “But … I can lend you the money, if you promise to pay it back”. She was not happy. “You are so horrible”,
she shouted, the tears welling up in her eyes.
I was once told that we learn the most and remember the longest in moments of great emotionals tress. So I took the opportunity to have a talk with my daughter. “Please sit down, I want to tell you a story”.
“A long, long time ago in a faraway land there was a boy who longed to travel the world. He would read the books about all the exciting places he would visit, the people, their culture, their history. But he has never visited any of those places and the chances of that happening were slim. His parents were poor and they did not have the money to travel.
When he was in grade six he heard of a new radio competition for young listeners. The prize was a trip to Bulgaria. He entered the competition. What he had to do was to listen to ten competition broadcasts. At the end of each broadcast there were five questions to be answered. Those answers he posted to the radio station.
And then he waited for the results … After few weeks there came a letter with the station logo on the envelope. With trembling fingers, he opened the envelope.
The letter inside read: “Congratulations, you have been invited to our radio station for the final round of the competition”. For the next few weeks he practically slept in the library learning all he could about Bulgaria. He impressed the judges with his knowledge so much that he was selected to travel to that magnificent country, so full of Roman and Ottoman history.
The following year he took part in another radio competition. The prize was a trip to the Czech Republic. Again he won that competition and saw the most beautiful churches, bridges and castles in the enchanting city of Prague.
Then it was time for the high school. At the beginning of grade eleven the school announced that top two students from each class would, at the end of the year, travel to Budapest in Hungary. He never worked so hard in his life. He finished at the top of his class and had a fabulous time in the land of Franz Liszt and Bela Bartok.
You probably have guessed who that boy in the story was …. “My girl”, I said. “I have seen three most beautiful countries before I even wrote matric. And I had not a cent to my name”
“Don’t ever let the lack of money stop you from pursuing your dream!”
I am so glad I had that talk with my daughter. Some years later she left the house and moved into her own apartment. She wanted to start her own business, but she had neither the money nor the right experience.
One evening, on her way from work, she stopped at the pizza takeaway called Casalottis, close to her apartment. She liked the thin crust and the tasty topping. She started talking to the owners and complimented them on their pizzas. She would talk to them often. Few months later the owners told her they wanted to sell the business. Would she be interested in buying it?
She found investors willing to be her mentors and who provided the finances. They were impressed by her passion and her commitment.
From that one shop few years ago her business has expanded and now comprises six outlets around Johannesburg. There is even a pizza called “The Blonski” on the menu, because it contains a fine Polish sausage!
This year she was selected by Investec to take part in their Young Enterpreneurs trip to Israel. Few weeks ago she returned from that trip. It was a life changing experience, she told me, one that will benefit her and her business for years to come.
Oh, and may I mention that that trip did not cost her a lot of money? A wise man once said: “We are not poor if we are short of money. We are only poor if we are short of ideas!”.
So let me leave you with this message. We don’t need “Money, money, money” to succeed. We don’t have to have it to travel the world, and we don’t have to have it to succeed in our own business. But we have to believe in ourselves and always keep our eyes open to the opportunities around us.