Client:  Luke Eckert, 9 yrs old at the time of this story.

Challenge:  Growing Luke’s self esteem, entrepreneurial skills, and trust of his father.

Situation Overview:  The Eckert’s home and tree farm is on a rural, two lane highway in the Adirondack Mountains. People zoom by at 65 mph. There are no near neighbors, and the end of their driveway is too far away to be seen from the house. Luke wanted to raise money to send to the American Red Cross, earmarked for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Luke approached his dad, Bob, and said he wanted to set up a lemonade stand at the bottom of the driveway.

Intervention:  Bob decided to use POINt as a way of responding to Luke’s idea. “I don’t do this as much as I should, but I happened to be awake at that moment,” says Bob.

Pluses:  He acknowledged some obvious pluses of the concept: low capital cost, low cost of goods, high margin, availability of raw materials, heat of the summer driving thirst, no competition for 10 miles in either direction… all in terms that a 9 year old would grasp.

Opportunities:  Next, Bob shared some additional potential benefits that might derive from Luke’s idea. Positive things that might happen: selling firewood to people who’ve stopped for lemonade or sell lemonade to people who buy firewood. Selling maple syrup and Hannah’s (Luke’s sister) jewelry as well. Creating a farmer’s market stand selling many things, including Bob’s Adirondack furniture.

Issues:  Bob knew that in reality, as proposed, Luke’s idea was very unlikely to be successful. Luke’s parents would also be very uncomfortable with Luke out of sight down by the busy highway. The primary issue Bob saw was no one stopping. He asked: “How to get people to stop?” Bob & Luke generated some ideas, but were not happy with any of them. Bob then rephrased the problem as, “How to be where people are stopped?” which set the stage for a breakthrough!

New Thinking:  As they played with solutions to this new question, the first ideas they came up with really didn’t seem like they would work, but they kept at it. Then Bob remembered, and shared with Luke, that the family was going to a free outdoor concert in Saranac Lake that Thursday evening, and that he thought they would be able to sell lemonade there without a vendor’s license. They agreed that was the best solution and Luke made his plan.

Output:  Using POINt instead of a normal parental response of “That won’t be safe and no one will stop,” allowed Bob to think differently about Luke’s idea, and strengthened their relationship, while at the same time reinforcing Luke’s entrepreneurial drive.

Results:  Luke made a good amount of money which he donated to the tsunami relief effort, and he learned a valuable lesson about strengthening an initial idea with creative thinking.

A personal story from Bob Eckert about how his 9 year old son, Luke, helped him see his gator brain. An evaluation tool, POINt, helped to explore possibilities.

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