September 26, 2012
I was in my early twenties when I first met Michael. I was teaching a youth entrepreneurship class in a part of New York City known as "Hell's Kitchen." Michael was a tough kid sitting in the front row. I asked if anyone knew how to spell entrepreneur and Michael raised his hand. I gave him a piece of chalk and he completely massacred the word on the board. What I loved about him immediately was his willingness to take a risk. Little did I know that he was the leader of one of the most ruthless gangs in NY - The Decepticons. Michael was eager to learn about business. He had amazing street smarts which easily translated to business smarts. Two months later, he decided to leave the gang. Apparently, leaving isn't as easy as you and I might think. In order to leave, he had to get shot. Not with a fatal intent but certainly to deter defectors and to remind him to keep his mouth shut.
When I asked Mike what he was passionate about he told me he always loved elevators. He loved the mechanics that enabled them to work. He regularly complained that all the elevators in the housing project where he lived were broken. No repair men would come onto the property because they would get mugged. Michael had an idea. He would become an elevator repairman. After all, who would dare try and mug him. He asked me how he could start his own elevator repair business. I suggested he first get a job working as a repairman to see if he liked it and to also learn the trade. Michael called for an interview and was told there was a long waiting list and it could take months to even get an appointment. He didn't let that deter him. He asked to speak with the president of the company and the receptionist said that wasn't possible.
The next day, Michael put on a business suit and went to the parking lot of the Otis Elevator Company at 6 AM. He found out that the president gets their early everyday around 6:30 in the morning. When the president arrived he was surprised to see a well-dressed teenager waiting at the door. Michael told him he knew the business didn't open until 8, but he came early to meet with him. He explained his passion for elevators, his ideas about expanding repair service to the toughest neighborhoods, and his burning desire to learn the business-even at an entry level position. The president took out one of his business cards, scribbled a note on the back, and handed it to Mike. He told Mike to come back when they open and to give the business card to the front desk manager. With that, they shook hands and parted ways. Mike's heart was pounding as he looked at the business card and turned it over. He was stunned as he read the two words that the president wrote on the back of the card..."Hire him." To make it official, the president signed his name.
What's your burning desire? What old ways are you willing to part with because they don't serve you anymore? It takes courage to make a change in your life. It's not too late. It's never too late!
Until next week...