SUCCESS LEAVES CLUES

The Entrepreneurial Life! For me, it began at the ripe old age of 6 years old. I was that kid…if it could be sold – goods or services – I was SELLING! Lightbulbs door to door, paper route, peanuts in the strip district of Pittsburgh, shoveling snow, raking leaves… you name it, I did it. 

I grew up poor, and this was my only chance to have a little taste of the lifestyle I saw the rich kids at my school living… the candy, the movies, the treats. 

The house we lived in growing up in Pittsburgh was on a hill. A pretty steep hill. And in the wintertime, that hill got slippery! Man, did it get slippery. Tires spinning, breaks squealing. It was a bad deal if you didn’t have the right tires, if you didn’t have the right gear (a shovel and salt), and if you didn’t have some help.

Well, my brothers and I banded together, because we saw an opportunity. And along with a couple neighbor kids that we brought onto our team, we took action. On those cold, snowy, icy, winter days of Pittsburgh, there we were, standing at the top of that hill, five of us ready to go to work. And we would stand there, shovels in hand, salt bags beside us, and we would wait.

And sure enough, in due time, we would see a car approach the bottom of the hill and start to make its way up. And then more often than not, you guessed it, the car would get stuck. So, what was there to do?? Here’s some poor chump stuck in his car in the middle of the snow and ice on this hill – can’t go up, nearly impossible to get back down. Like a sitting duck. 

I was the youngest of the group. But I was also the most entrepreneurial. So, when we saw that car come along, and sure enough, get stuck, my brothers and the neighbor kids would say to me, “Okay Paul, go talk to them now… we’ll get them unstuck but they’ve gotta pay for it…”

So just picture me… a little 8-year-old kid, bundled up in all my layers of sweaters and jackets (we were too poor to afford proper winter coats), socks on my hands instead of mittens, and I would run/slip through snow, over to the driver’s side of the car. Sometimes the driver would see me coming and would roll down the window, anticipating the reason for my visit. Other times, I would get right up close and knock on the window to get his attention. 

I would look right at him, with my big bright brown eyes, “Sir, my friends and I can help you out. I see you’re stuck here. Would you like us to shovel you out and put some salt down? I guarantee we’ll get you up this hill.”

Right away, the driver would say, “Oh yes, that would be so helpful…. I really have to get going. Can you do it fast?”

“Of course! Look, there’s 5 of us ready to go,” I would say, pointing up the hill towards the others standing there waiting. “All it takes is $2 and we’ll have you on your way in no time at all.” 

Out came the two bucks. I would wave the group over – shovels, salt, and all – and to work we would go. 

I laugh as I think back on those days. I was all about the “hustle.”. But I also think about the lessons I learned back then. I really did want more in my life, even at that young age. My spirit was looking for more. At the time, my life was full of struggle. My home was a horrible place to be. And my entrepreneurial endeavors gave me an escape, they gave me hope, and they also developed in me a very strong sense of self-reliance, determination, and drive.

I bet you, of the five of us kids shoveling those cars out, if I wasn’t the one to go over and sell each driver on our services, none of the other kids would have bothered. They just didn’t have that same burning desire for more. It’s a small example. Maybe it doesn’t seem that significant. But it’s important, nonetheless, because success leaves clues. 

It was my determination and my desire for more that motivated me to talk to every person I could talk to, to sell them snow shoveling, or whatever else I was selling, to help them in whatever way I could. To get it done! To do the work! To have conversations that others would find uncomfortable! To ask people to buy! To talk about money! All of it, that led to more in my life. 

And even in this simple example, you can see the clues that this story leaves, the clues of my own learning model for success. One of the clues for me that I latched onto in my other businesses, is that I will DO whatever is in front of me to do, and I will do it immediately, no hesitation. And so that has become part of who I am and how I operate, and I have leveraged this habit to achieve greater levels in every area of my life, not just in my business and financial life. 

We each achieve success, in whatever way you define that for yourself, through a bit of a different process. Each one of us is unique; each one of us has unique gifts, talents, skills, and abilities. And the way you will walk towards success in your own life is going to be different than me. 

So, look at your life. Where do you see success showing up? And what clues do you see in those successes? What are the thoughts, feelings, and habits that are leading you to success? Remember, success leaves clues. If you can identify these clues for one area of your life, for one success in your life, then you can apply them in all areas of your life.

I believe in you and I believe in your dream!!

Hold Your Image!!