Serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and BusinessMakers favorite Michael Holthouse returns to talk up entrepreneurial events and how you can help. One of the most successful entrepreneurship events ever, Lemonade Day was first held in 2007 and in 2010, 150,000 youth participated across the nation, selling 4.2 million glasses of lemonade. Holthouse is on The BusinessMakers Show today promoting another event being held for the sake of our kids: the Big Tent Conference, to be held in Houston November 18-20, 2010.
Russ: This is the BusinessMakers Show, heard here and seen online at TheBusinessmakers.com. It's guest time on the show and we have a repeat guest with us this morning, Mr. Michael Holthouse, founder and former CEO of Paranet and now founder of Lemonade Day. Michael, welcome once again to the BusinessMakers Show.
Michael: Russ, thank you. Always a pleasure to be here.
Russ: You bet. You're definitely welcome.
Michael: Well thanks.
Russ: Now I mention Paranet and it was a major success story. In fact there was a sale to Sprint, the kind of sale that puts a lot of guys just out on the beach and never looking back and cruising the rest of their lives but that's not what happened to you.
Michael: Well I guess that did happen to me in that I could be on the beach, but are you kidding? W hat would I do on the beach?
Russ: Well that's precisely my point because you've dived head first into multiple philanthropic initiatives. The one people probably know of most, Lemonade Day, but there might be some people that sort of haven't been paying attention for the last couple of years. For them tell them about Lemonade Day.
Michael: Well Russ, in the simplest terms what Lemonade Day is we're teaching kids how to start their own business using a lemonade stand. I mean we've only been doing this for the last 200 years in America and one could probably say that all great entrepreneurs started with a lemonade stand.
Russ: Well I think that's probably exactly right and man you've done it to a major degree. In fact give us a couple of numbers from last year's event.
Michael: Well last year we were in 14 cities around America. We expect to be in 28 cities this year. Last year, well 150,000 youth across the country participated in Lemonade Day and in Houston alone we did 38,000 stands and those youth sold 4.2 million glasses of lemonade.
Russ: My goodness. Way to go. Now and when you mentioned this expansion into 14 cities I know of one major success story outside of Houston, Texas. Tell us about that one.
Michael: Well we were in San Antonio and Austin and San Francisco and Minneapolis and Indianapolis. I mean we're all over the country but specifically there's this great entrepreneur by the name of Scott Jones. You may not know Scott but you've certainly been touched by some of his companies and products. His first company, he invented this kooky little thing called voice mail.
Russ: [Laughs] Absolutely.
Michael: Who invents voice mail?
Russ: No kidding.
Michael: Unbelievable. So we started talking to him about teaching at risk youth entrepreneurship. He immediately got it. Last year, first year, he did over 7,000 lemonade stands, a record I don't think any city will ever break.
Russ: That's in Indianapolis, right?
Michael: It is. It is.
Russ: That's more than you did the first year in Houston, right?
Michael: Our first year in Houston, of course it's the blind leading the blind. We did some 2,600 stands. Then 11,000 stands. Then 27,000. Last year, 38,000. It's crazy because everyone can identify with it. Russ, what's so fascinating is that we take caring adults and we pair them with youth and for the entire month of April they go through this step by step process from setting goals to building a plan to literally going out and borrowing $20.00, the seed capital they need for their business.
Russ: Cool. Says it the real world.
Michael: Advertising, building their stand, making their product and then all of those youth start their business on a single day called Lemonade Day when it becomes this community wide event where literally a million Houstonians go and look these entrepreneurs in the eye, ask them about their business and buy a glass of lemonade.
Russ: So cool. So cool. We do know Scott Jones here on the BusinessMakers Show. We interviewed him about a year ago with his new initiative, that Chacha.com, the search engine and the text engine.
Michael: So cool.
Russ: It doesn't surprise me that he dived in head first.
Michael: Oh he did.
Russ: Now you mentioned at risk kids and I heard you speak once and in fact it was in front of the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship University Based Programs and you described that at risk focus in a way that just grabbed me deep down inside because I think that's what America needs. But describe that thing about generational exposure.
Michael: Russ we have a wealth of opportunity in our greatest at risk youth which sadly are the poor of America which is about 20 percent. The challenge for these youth is - there are many, but one of them is role models. These kids don't know anyone who knows anyone who has ever been successful. So unfortunately they don't have a guidebook or a set of guidelines on what does it take for them to achieve the American dream. You know Russ when our youth go through Lemonade Day and it's all said and done what we hear back from them repeatedly goes something like this, "You mean all I have to do is set a goal, make a plan, work that plan and I can become anything I want to become? Well how come nobody ever told me that before?" Well the crazy part is the - they probably have told them but you can't learn that by hearing it. You have to learn that experiencing it. So Lemonade Day becomes this pivotal, life changing event where youth start looking at their future in a very different way. It's fascinating.
Russ: Well that is so cool what you're doing. Talking with Michael Holthouse, the founder of Lemonade Day. We're going to be back with him more after this discussing another initiative that he's involved in. You're listening to the BusinessMakers Show, heard here and seen online at TheBusinessmakers.com. This is the BusinessMakers Show, heard here and seen online at TheBusinessmakers.com. Continuing on with Michael Holthouse, the founder of Lemonade Day. So tell us about Lemonade Day 2011. What's the date and what does one have to do to get involved?
Michael: It's always the first Sunday in May. So it will be May the 1st and all day long there will be tens if not hundreds of thousands of lemonade stands across 28 cities in America and others sprinkled all around the place. So I'd like to encourage anyone listening to this show and you've got so many people that are just religious about listening to your show -
Russ: Thank you.
Michael: - to get involved whether it's to get your business involved in doing this as an activity with their employees and their youth. What's so great is as the employees are teaching kids about entrepreneurship they're learning it themselves.
Michael: Of course the youth learn how to make their own money. When it's all said and done we ask the youth to do three things, to spend some, to save some and to share some.
Michael: Last year our youth they gave back to the community of Houston over $1 million.
Russ: Goodness gracious, from the sales of their lemonade [laughs]?
Michael: Out of the proceeds of their Lemonade Day to -
Russ: That's surprising.
Michael: - the food bank, to the Boy Scouts, to their church. Unbelievable.
Michael: So we'd love to get youth from every aspect, youth organizations, faith based, schools, neighborhoods. It's a way that the entire community can focus on kids and build the only future we've got and that's the youth of America.
Russ: Okay, let's say somebody's listening or watching right now and they say, "Boy, I'm exciting." Where can they go?
Michael: LemonadeDay.org, www.LemonadeDay.org.
Russ: O-R-G. All right, real cool. All right, now I keep mentioning that there's other philanthropic missions and initiatives that you're involved.
Michael: There are.
Russ: I know there's one coming up here in Houston, Texas real soon. Tell us about that one.
Michael: Russ, as you know the Holthouse Foundation for Kids focuses on proactive programs that do life skills, character and entrepreneurship. As you know we have some real challenges in education in America.
Russ: You can say that again.
Michael: So there is a really big, important nationwide conference that the Holthouse Foundation has underwritten that's coming to Houston and it's November the 18th through the 20th called The Big Tent Conference.
Russ: The Big Tent Conference.
Michael: The Big Tent. So I want to explain that by asking you a question.
Michael: Russ what do you think is the goal of school?
Russ: I would like to think that it's preparing students for the future, making them smarter, giving them a comprehensive education. That might be kind of a broad answer but I don't even think we're doing that these days [laughs].
Michael: You know it's interesting because that's really the point. Whether you talk to a teacher or a superintendent or a business leader or a legislator they all have different answers. Some will say to pass standardized tests. Some will say to prepare them for high school or to graduate high school or prepare them for college but I believe it's ultimately preparing these youth for life. Well that's what The Big Tent Conference is all about. No question academics is really important. I mean reading; it's the basis of all future. I mean and science. It's critical for us going forward but there are other skills like discipline and hard work and setting goals and a vision for the future and having a moral compass that guides you, choosing your friends, the ability to lead teams, to work in teams, to communicate, to get along with others. These are the kind of skills that the business community would refer to as 21st century skills that prepares our youth to be healthy, happy, contributing members of our world. To me that's what school is all about. Whether that's the obligation of government, whether that's the obligation of our families collectively we've got to figure this out. I think you'd know that over the last 50 years families have changed a lot.
Michael: Between dual income families, dads being gone, moms working three jobs. I mean there's a thousand different scenarios including the overall moral decay of our country. Well we've got to come to grips as a nation on what does it take to pull together and bring life skills and academics combined for the future of our youth. I mean just look at the dropout rate that we're dealing with.
Russ: I know. You're doing a great job of describing the challenges and problems. So at The Big Tent Initiative what kind of people will be there and what will be presented?
Michael: There are nationwide presenters. We've got 150 different sessions. We'll have superintendents. We've got folks from America's Promise and the National Collaboration for Youth. We've got them from Ready by 21 and many, many national organizations all coming together to figure out how do we collectively move education forward in America. It's a big deal and it's right here in Houston.
Russ: Okay, can anybody attend?
Michael: They can. You just go out to TheBigTentConference.org.
Russ: TheBigTentConference.org. Okay, all right. Well I really appreciate you giving us some of your time Michael.
Michael: Russ thank you. I love what you do. Great, great addition to the community and to the world and thanks for having me on.
Russ: Well and please keep doing what you do. All right, that's Michael Holthouse, founder of Lemonade Day, founder of Paranet, a driving force behind The Big Tent Conference and I'm sure there's going to be a lot more coming from him in the future. You're listening to the BusinessMakers Show, heard here and seen online at TheBusinessmakers.com.