An Awesome Book . . . For Entrepreneurs
Case in point: My dad is an entrepreneur (prefers to be called a mechanic) and loves children's literature. He and my mom are a funny pair. She is usually found wearing a bright-colored "librarian" jumper (She is going to hate me for writing that, but it's true.), and he's a 6'2" muscular guy with permanently oil-stained hands and fingernails.
He started his own business in his early 20s, shortly after he'd married my mom and shortly after he'd returned from Vietnam, where he was in the Navy during the Vietnam War working as a mechanic repairing things on ships.
To start his business, my dad stole a lot of tools he says the Navy was going to "throw away anyway" and enlisted his younger brother, also a handy man, to help him out. Around 35 years ago he started Wilson's Repair and Agricultural Equipment, and it's still going strong. A lot of his success is due to his inquisitive nature, fostered over the years through reading children's literature.
He likes to master new subjects. What's interesting to point out is he always starts with children's books, which cover anything and everything you could think of. Want to learn about fuel cells? Children's book. How about marketing techniques? Children's book. Want to learn the basics about investing? Children's book. My mom was also an entrepreneur before she got her master's degree in library science and information technology. She had a flower business, and it goes without saying she got her inspiration from children's books.
Actually, my parents based their life on a book about children's books: How the Heather Looks (A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books). In this book, two parents take their young children to England to visit all the important English authors' homes and/or sites that inspired the famous works of children's literature, like Treasure Island, The Wind in the Willows and The Hobbit, to name a few. Since my dad was an entrepreneur and his own boss, my parents did just what the characters in How the Heather Looks did and took my big brother and me on several trips to England throughout our childhood to see the sights for a month at a time each time.
There's a lot to be said for getting inspiration from children's books. They remind you of how to think like a child: there are no limits and anything is possible. Over the years this mentality inspired my dad's inventions. Being in "wine country" about 25 miles north of St. Helena, Calif., his customers are farmers and wine grape growers. He saw the need for a mechanical harvesting machine that worked on the numerous terraced vineyards in Sonoma, Napa and Lake Counties. Many a farmer had previously met their demise by attempting to navigate steep terraces on tractors, spray rigs and other heavy farm equipment. He sketched out his ideas for a ski-lift inspired contraption, and boom--went into production. An awesome idea. If you haven't already, check out An Awesome Book, and start dreaming up your big entrepreneurial idea.