Thinking outside the lemonade stand
The other day I was reminded of a story about Marty and Chris, two young entrepreneurs. They decided lemonade stands reminded them too much of archaic, outdated business models that made average homogeneous products (Ok, this is my version of the story). They did want to do something different from every other kid in the neighborhood. I mean, how much better can you make lemonade than Molly or Jimmy down the street?
Chris and Marty ran a mildly profitable lemonade stand each of the last two summers. The only problem was, each summer, new stands were popping up. The James twins, as did the Thompson kid, now had a lemonade stand. In addition, the youths living three streets away sold pink and regular lemonade. The "market" was a populous neighborhood between two main roads that brought many prospective clients.
Unfortunately, this summer's business was slow. It was almost as if they became invisible to the drivers passing from Market St. to Oak Ave. The pitcher of tart nectar quenched the thirst of passers-by, except for the police officer parked one block north of their plot. He emerged twice a day from his hiding spot — a canopy of pines and elms that stretched their arms towards the sun providing him shade and stealth. This gave Chris and Marty an idea.
The following day was like most days. Brad White was running late. He had a lunch appointment across town and didn't give himself enough time to make it. As he sped across the cut-through street, he saw a boy sitting in a lounge chair under an umbrella, sipping lemonade, and holding a sign that read SLOW DOWN!! COP WITH RADAR 1/4 A MILE AHEAD.
Brad's foot compressed the brake pedal. His truck's speed dropped just below the speed limit at the moment he noticed a police car crouched in the tree line like a lion waiting for unknowing prey along the Serengeti.
"That was close," Brad mused.
About a quarter mile past the radar-wielding officer was another boy, fashioned much like the first, with a sign which read TIPS PLEASE.
Brad pulled over to where the boy sat and tossed him a $10 bill.
Everyday opportunities are hidden in plain sight all around us. Like in The Matrix, the passing parade of humanity glides through life in a conscious coma of mediocrity. Only those who challenge the status quo and battle the enemy of the average will have the veil of ordinary lifted.
When we step away from the masses, our creativity gains strength, no longer drained by the kryptonite of the mundane. We see the opportunities to contribute in ways others haven't. The more significant our contribution to our community and marketplace, the greater the rewards we reap. We must continue to cast off restraints and free our creative minds. Then we will have the vision to see the opportunities that lie invisible to the crowd.