So last monday, I hopped on a plane and headed down to Guatemala to visit this beautiful country for the 1st time since living here over 17 years ago as a kid.
Not many people know this about me, but my parents actually served as missionairies here in Guatemala City for 2 years when I was a child, and not until now have we been able to come back to visit as a family.
So far, since arriving, we´ve climbed an active volcano, forged a raging river with our rental van due to a washed out bridge, and I got to have beers with one of my best childhood friends (after 17 years) with the help of Facebook — Go Go Gadget Social Media!!!
Anyways we´ve had a really busy travel schedule as you can imagine because there´s so much we wanted to see in our short 10 day trip, but thankfully we had some free time today after church and I thought you might appreciate hearing some of my breakthroughs since being down here for almost a week.
I´ve always said that living overseas in a developing country for 2 years as a child was one of the best gifts my parents could have ever given me. Not only was I able to learn spanish as a child, but I was also exposed to extreme poverty and a beautiful culture other than what we´re used to here in the U.S.
It´s crazy because many of my close friends now have barely ever traveled outside of Illinois, nor had the opportunity to experience a 3rd world country. And for this I am extremely greatful!
So as I expected, being back in Guatemala has brought back a flood of emotions, but one of the strongest is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the opportunities we have in America.
Mainly the fact that anyone with an ounce of the entrepreneurial sprit and an internet connection can make a simple video, send a few emails, and make more money in an hour than most people in the villages we´ve visited this week make in an entire month or even year!
This is reflected just about every where you visit outside of Guatemala City where you´ll find streed vendors selling bracelets and other home made items just to make enough money to feed their families and barely get by.
The really sad part is that alot of these ¨local entrepreneurs¨ are actually kids (ages 7-12) and don´t get to spend their days playing play station (like most american kids do) but rather are forced to enter the ranks of adulthood at an early age because there family needs them to work to bring in an additional income.
I met two kids on the street this week that really pulled a heart string for my in particular. I met them during our short 1 day stay in a small village called Panajachel on the coast of Lake Atitlan, about a 4 hour drive from Guatemala City. Their names were Tomas (age 12), and Dani (age 10) and I first met them as they approched me on the street trying to sell me home-made stuffed animals and bracelets.
Now just to set the tone a little, this was probably the 50th time this day that I had been approached by kids like these all trying to sell me the same stuff.
But this time rather than politely saying ¨No Gracias¨and sending them on their way, I felt inspired to invest a few minutes into these young entreprenuers by holding a quick marketing seminar on the street.
So with my best broken Spanish I asked them how much money they had made today selling their goods. With a defeated look in his eye, the older one (Tomas age 12) told me that they hadn´t sold any, and were exhausted.
Now perhaps he was saying this just to get a sympathy purchase from me; but either way, I gently explained that they reason they weren´t selling much was because they were trying to sell the same unwanted goods to tourists just like all the other kids on the street.
I then preceeded to explain (in the best Spanish I could), the principle of selling to ¨NEEDS over WANTS.¨
To help ilustrate this even more, I then planted the seed of how they could differentiate themselves from all the other street vendors competing with similar goods.
You see, during the rainy season in Guatemala, it rains every single afternoon like clockwork for about 6 months out of the year. With this in mind, I advised the boys that they should use the rain to their advantage and start selling umbrellas and ponchos (or pieces of plastic) to wet tourists, caught in the rain as they would be much more inspired to buy once their need was high enough.
After explaining the concept of selling to NEEDS rather than WANTS, I could tell that these two young entrepreneurs understood what I was telling them, and could see little wheels turning in their heads as their tired faces turned to smiles.
To then conclude our little street seminar, I reminded them that they would be the 1st kids in the entire town to have rain gear to offer the tourists and would have a monopoly on all the other kids who would still be competing for the pity purchases of $1 bracelets and stuffed animals.
So… why is this important?
I´m not telling you this story to brag about how we had this radical life changing experience with these two young boys; but rather, to inspire you to look at your own business and find the ¨rain gear¨ to sell in your own market. My experience talking with Tomas and Dani has definately inspired me to take a deeper look at how I sell things online, and I hope it will inspire you to do the same.
Anyways, we´re packing up to head to the last leg of our journey where we´ll spend 2 days on the Carribean coast of Guatemala in a small fishing town called Livingston. I´ll do my best to post some pictures on facebook when I get back, but until then, stay inspired, and remember that no matter where you´re at in life, chances are you´re alredy richer than you can possibly imagine!