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sega game gear

How a Video Game turned an 8-year old into an Entrepreneur

This originally started off as a text message to thank my mom for something after a long phone conversation. We were talking about childhood memories and random stories. I still wrote it as a thank you, but added more context. Here goes…

Hey mom, remember when I wanted that $200 Sega Game Gear video game system when I was 8 years old? Remember when you didn’t buy it for me?

I do…

Instead of agreeing to buy it, you came up with an innovative way for me to afford it myself…

As a kid, I knew it was impossible to get this thing. It was the first full color handheld video game system, and it was expensive. This was not an action figure or some cheap toy from a happy meal. This was a high-end electronic device with a high-end price tag to match.

When you factor in annual inflation of 2.27%, $200 had the same buying power in 1992 as $350.16 does in 2017. For a kid, that’s a lot of cash.

Instead of saying no and forgetting about it, you presented me with a business opportunity. You came home from work one day with a sales brochure full of things I could sell. The products were mostly household gadgets and bath items. The company rewarded its associates with points to get prizes or a $2 commission for each item sold.

I obviously went for the cash option. I immediately started having visions of ripping my new Sega Game Gear out of its packaging and playing it until my fingers bled.

After the fantasy faded, I started to run numbers. I would have to sell 115 items to buy the Sega Game Gear, cover tax, and get a Snickers bar.

With a goal in sight, it was time to hit the streets and sell. The neighborhood was spread out, so I covered the close houses on foot the first day. When I got the first taste of money, I was so excited. The best decision was to have you hold on to it for me to keep me focused. I had a lot of ground to cover if I wanted to buy that Sega Game Gear. I didn’t need that money distracting me into buying things I didn’t need.

In the next several weeks I would ride my single speed huffy to every house I could find. It didn’t matter if you were walking down the street, sitting in your car or mowing a lawn, I would try to sell to you. If you lived within a six-mile radius, gave someone a Christmas card or owned a wire whisk, chances are you got them from me.

As time went on, sales started to dry up within bicycle range. You saved the day by driving me to other neighborhoods a few times per week.

I still remember a certain customer. She was pregnant, had a barking dog in the background, and quickly turned down my sales pitch. You were in the car so I was embarrassed to come back without a sale. Even though it didn’t work out that day, I went right back the next week to try again.

This time the same pregnant woman answered the door. She seemed a lot happier this time. She explained that she had just received a bunch of gifts from her baby shower and still didn’t need anything from my catalog. She said thank you and I turned around and started walking back to the car.

Something about her saying “thank you” gave me an idea. I quickly ran back to her door, where she was still standing. “Excuse me miss, how about a box of thank you cards for all the people who gave you the gifts?”

This was a question she couldn’t say no to. I quickly closed that sale and ran back to the car with a big smile. You told me I did a good job, and we were off to the next house!

mom and I

I was learning more about sales with each day that passed. In some cases, I think people bought something just to get rid of me. I don’t blame them, but it still counted as a sale and brought me closer to my goal. The vision of the Sega Game Gear was becoming more clear, and it was exciting!

It took 3 months to reach my sales goal. Not bad for a world without cell phones, social media, or internet. After the orders were in, the goods were all shipped directly to our house. I remember when the shipments came, everything was so heavy.

This job was way too big for the Huffy.  You came to the rescue again and helped me deliver everything with your car. You always knew just the right amount of help to give without making it seem like you were taking over.

It was a lot of fun making the deliveries. We would listen to music while I jumped out at each stop to deliver. I was always so impressed how you knew all the words to every song. You would tell me it was magic when I asked you how you knew, and I believed you. I still remember how excited people got when I delivered their packages. I felt like an 8-year-old Santa Clause.

When all the work was completed, I started to think about the whole experience. Something started to really click. To achieve a big goal, you have to visualize yourself achieving it. You helped me do this when you gave me that sales brochure. It made the work needed to achieve the goal measurable. Now that the goal could be measured, it wasn’t so overwhelming anymore.

On the flip side, if you visualize a goal being impossible like I once thought, that too will become a reality. Instead of creating a plan, I would have just written it off as impossible and not worth trying. But thanks to you, that didn’t end up being the case…

Think bigger concept

I still remember the big day like it was yesterday. You drove me to Costco where I would buy my Sega Game Gear. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. Even though I was happy, I felt a sense of pain come over me when the cashier asked for the final amount. It took so long to earn that money and the cashier was about to take it away in a few seconds.

The feeling of pain was quickly replaced again by excitement. Well, temporary excitement. When I opened the package I realized that a game cartridge and batteries were not included, WTF!

Long story short, I had to go out and sell some more items. This time you felt bad for me and brought the catalog to work where your coworkers bought a bunch of stuff for me. A week later I had a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog and a rechargeable battery pack for my Game Gear. All was perfect in my 8-year-old world!

To close, I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am. You taught me how important the power of visualization is. You showed me that there was always a way to get whatever I wanted with patience and hard work. You showed me the value of money and how to earn it. Most importantly, you showed me how to turn “I can’t” into “how can I.”

When I have my new company space, I will have a Sega Game Gear on display in my office. If I’m ever feeling overwhelmed or challenged, I will think of that 8-year-old boy and the biggest gift he received from his greatest teacher.

Sega Game Gear Facebook Post

Thank you mom, for helping a young boy achieve his dream. And above all, thank you for not buying me a Sega Game Gear!

I love you mom!



This article has 6 comments

  1. Daniel stone

    Thats so awesome….its amazing to look back and see the things a loving parent will do, to help a child grow in so many different ways. To a child, it may seem so long away, or such a hard, daunting task, but you carry these lessons with you, forever shaping and carving out new paths in life. You have a good mother!

    • The Learning Addict

      Hey Daniel, thank you for taking time out to read my story. The world is such a new and exciting place for a kid. Judging by your kind words, it sounds like you may have a few stories of your own…

  2. Mkelso61

    I love you son, you’re always in my heart ❤️

  3. Mona Tenace

    This is a wonderful memory and tribute to your hard working, loving mom. She is a smart woman and she has passed that knowledge on to you to take far into your future. It is also a testament to your strength and perseverance. I know your mom is very proud of the adult human you have become and she loves you with her entire heart and soul. Lovely story. Keep on being you.

  4. Jim Jacobson

    What she did and how she helped you is such an important loving act. You are a lucky man to have a Mom like that.

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