The CEO and the Lemonade Stand

At a presentation I attended this past week with a group of Chicago business leaders, the presenter asked that everyone who had ever run lemonade stand in their youth to raise their hand. Almost every person in the room raised their hand! The presenter, Michael Holthouse, then informed us that every time he asked this question of a group of CEO’s he get a similar answer; his conclusion is that the lemonade stand is a fundamental feature of American culture.

Michael Holthouse, who heads up a group called Prepared 4 Life, was in Chicago to talk to business leaders about transplanting a successful youth program called Lemonade Day to the Chicago area. I and others had been invited to the meeting to hear about the project and perhaps get involved. I was very impressed with what I saw and heard. What follows is why!

Lemonade Day is an educational experience, “designed to teach children how to start, own and operate their own business – a lemonade stand”* Lemonade Day, as it was described to us in that meeting, is a chance for community members to come together to teach children about free enterprise, but also to inculcate in children a whole raft of skills, including such business skills as Business Plan Development, Sales and Marketing. Not only business skills, the program also teaches children how to be a giving member of the community and works to build self-confidence.

The impressive program teaches these skills to children one at a time, with each child sponsored by a caring adult. At the same time, Lemonade Day marshals the forces of the greater community to support the program financially and logistically so that all necessary program materials get to the kids and their sponsors.

In Houston last year, Lemonade Day led to the creation of more than 75,000 lemonade stands and more than 1 million glasses of lemonade served. But more importantly, it was the individual stories of transformation in the lives of young people that touched one the most.

One young girl who just wanted to earn enough money for a dress for her fifth graduation wound up finding the courage to improve her academic standing by entering a special program that she had resisted. Another enterprising young man persuaded a golf course manager to allow him to set up his stand at the 9th hole of the course. Many young lives have been touched by this program, and there is now a chance to reach out to young people in other communities.

Teaching our young people about free enterprise is important; giving them the skills and self confidence to make something of their lives is even more so. If you would like to take part in Lemonade day in the Chicagoland area, or just find out more about Prepared 4 Life, you can find out more at the websites below. I plan on being involved, and I encourage anyone else who is interested in our youth to consider becoming a part of Lemonade Day.

Prepared 4 LIfe
Lemonade Day

* Prepared 4 Life © 2010 Prepared for Life. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “The CEO and the Lemonade Stand

  1. In a variation on this theme, my HR team and I once used the lemonade stand as an activity during one of our “Take Your Daughters to Work Day” programs at a former company, an accounting firm. We made a temporary stand in the conference room where the girls were gathered, had some of the employees line up as customers, and posted our price of 25 cents per glass. A male partner volunteered to act as emcee; he asked who could help us figure out how much money we’d make if we sold 50 glasses that day. The group of girls who rushed to figure it out were later sent to spend the day with volunteers in the audit department. We asked the audience to help us decide how much money to put aside for the government and another group then self-selected to go with the tax department volunteers. We made a glass of lemonade for the first customer, then asked if anyone had ideas about how to improve our process. I’ll never forget one little girl of about seven who looked the male partner in the eye and said, “You have to make a pitcher! No one will wait for you to make one glass at a time!” She and a number of other young ladies spent the rest of the day with the management consulting department. All of the girls related to this activity and were able to understand how the exercise connected with what their parents did for a living, and perhaps what they might one day do as well. I can’t help but agree that the lemonade stand is (or at least was) a part of American cultural landscape.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jean Pickering, Len Bland (Business). Len Bland (Business) said: The CEO and the Lemonade Stand « The COO's Bulldog: Know any Chicago celebrities that can help? […]

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