On Sunday I was washing some clothes outside the house as my nephew was riding his bicycle. He came to me and tried selling me some books that were on his bicycle. He told me each book was 80 bob and I should buy. I told him I was washing so he should come back. He went away with his bike and kept coming back to try to sell to me. I was impressed. My nephew is around 6 and a half. He started trying to sell when he was about four. He would put newspapers on his bike and tell us that he is selling newspapers.
I told him to try to sell to his mother. His mother was busy so at first she ignored him. He went back another time. I started giving him tips on how he should approach a customer every time she declined to buy. I told him what he should tell her. Eventually she told him she would put the money in his bank. After so many attempts he got mad and ran off in a huff. Only to come back five minutes later. You got to love his spirit. I tried to tell him that people don’t only pay buy cash but they pay through the bank or Mpesa as well.
At the end of his like 18 attempts (he was counting every time he came to approach us) I told him I would buy from him. I had finished my chores and thought I should encourage him. If he was in the states I told my sister, he would have a lemonade stand where he would have sold out. Or he would have a newspaper route.
It got me thinking are we equipping our children to succeed in business or are we expecting the education system to do everything? Indians train their children from a young age in the family business. In the states children start earning money early by doing chores in exchange for pocket-money. They also raise funds for organizations like the girl guides or scouts. These skills that they learn like negotiation, persuasion, etc they later on use in order to become successful individuals.
We were having a conversation about Uhuru Kenyatta with my mum on Sunday. She was talking about the fact that he has been breed to be a leader. She says he knows our traditions, he has manners etc. Uhuru spent a lot of time with his father. He got to learn from his father how to be a diplomat (I hope). He learnt how to mingle with people and how to deal with different kinds of people. My mother was basically saying that his parents set him up for success by his upbringing.
My father had a kiosk which he used to run after work. I spent a lot of time in that shop helping him sell. Later he hired somebody to run the shop. But that is where my career in sales started. I learnt how to deal with customers and the art of persuasion there. When I went to high school I sold bread, biscuits, chips and success cards to supplement my pocket-money. By then my dad had died (he died when I was ten). Later when I was in college I sold second hand clothes and jewellery (plastics) as well. I even did a stint selling health insurance. By the time I was in university I was selling silver jewelry. After University I worked for a local tobacco company selling cigarettes for six years.
I have now changed career paths to concentrate on my first love which is communication. But at heart I am a sales person. I love dealing with people, persuading them to buy something. I see a lot of myself in my nephew. He could end up being the best salesman the world has ever seen. But he won’t if he is not nurtured. If we don’t pay attention to his talents. If my father hadn’t spent time with me and nurtured my interest I might not be the person I am today. Uhuru and I have both lost our fathers, but their impact is still felt today in the people that we have become. Our mothers and others have impacted on the people we have become.
There is the debate about nurture versus nature. It’s important to know that both play an important part in making a child who they are. The question you have to ask yourself, do you want your child to succeed? If you do, then you have to make an active role in nurturing them to be the best person they need to be for the future. Who knows your child might be the next president?
Potentash Founder. A creative writer. The Managing Editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories and stories about the inclusion of minorities. Find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We're all stories, in the end.” ― Steven Moffat