Entrepreneurial DNA Transcends Context

Posted on December 26, 2009. Filed under: JumpPost, startups | Tags: , |

I got a text on at 10:05PM on Christmas night from a number I did not recognize.  The body of the text simply stated, “Merry Christmas.”  In typical fashion when I don’t know the sender of the message (but obviously I should), I wrote back “thanks.  I got a new phone, who is this?”  Which is a nice way of saying, “I obviously didn’t take the time to transfer your number from my last phone to this one, you must not be that important to me.”  I waited a few minutes, and then the following reply came through “Anthony the guy who sold u the chocolate when we was playing soccer.”

I racked my brain for who this guy could be.  I do play soccer frequently, but I hate chocolate, would never by it for myself, and certainly did not remember buying chocolate from anyone with whom I play soccer.  I started thinking back as to whether or not I had bought a present for anyone, or given anyone chocolate recently, but I thought I would have remembered wrapping up a game of soccer and then transacting with one of the players in my game.  Still, I couldn’t place him, so I wrote back “wrong number bro” assuming that would be the end of it.  A minute later I get back “no its not u live in park slope. U don’t remember?”

When he indicated that I lived in Park Slope, I immediately realized who it was.  About 4 months ago, I was walking back from Prospect Park after a soccer game, dribbling my ball down the street in my neighborhood.  A young African guy wheeling a black suitcase approached me, unzipped the suitcase, and revealed a hodge podge of trinkets, batteries, and candy.  He asked me to buy something, to which I gave my standard response in these situations “no thanks man.”  I kept walking for a few steps, and I heard “hey wait, man…hold up for a minute”  I typically do not like to be “sold” by anyone, but I turned around as he ran toward me.  He looked down at my soccer ball and said, “are you any good?”  He left his suitcase on the street and gestured for the ball.  I kicked it to him and he immediately transitioned from a salesman into a soccer player, much like the guys in my pick up game in Prospect Park.  Despite his brightly shined dress shoes, he moved the ball with an ease which would have placed him in the top 10% of my regular game, and we spent about 15 minutes kicking the ball around, talking about soccer, and finally I asked him why he didn’t come by and play with us in the park.  He sort of looked back at the suitcase he had abandoned and I watched as he visibly returned to a different reality. Quickly our game was over…he explained that he would like to, but didn’t have the time to play (despite his talent).  I learned that he was a student by day, but that every day after school he walks around with this suitcase and tries to sell the contents in an effort to help support his family.  He then asked for my number, and said, “but I’ll call you, and we’ll go play sometime.”

As we prepared to part ways, he said, “so, are you going to buy some chocolate or what?”  Hating chocolate, but wanting to support this hard working young guy, I said, “fine, we’ll have a contest.  If you can juggle this ball more times than me, I’ll buy your chocolate.”  Sure enough, dress clothes and all, he crushed me, and I bought a couple Snickers bars, which I promptly though away.

I remember how impressed I was with him, that he was able to move past the challenges of a guerilla sales effort, find a common ground on which to establish a relationship, and then without sacrificing his integrity, convert that relationship into a sale.  I thought to myself, that this is a bright and resourceful young man, who I would bet will transcend the cards he has been dealt in life.  I told him if he ever wanted to talk about work or his career, he should give me a call, and then we parted ways.

His text on Christmas night confirmed my suspicion that he was, in fact, a special kid.  After recognizing where we had met, I asked why he never called me to go play, and again he explained that he has been busy with work.  He ended by texting “But amma come save my number and my name is Anthony ok”  His maintenance of our relationship (without the aid of a CRM tool, none the less) and his direct call to action, almost “demanding” that I save his contact info and remember who he is (especially when coupled with the work ethic he has shown in his after school job), is demonstrative of an ambition and relentlessness that breeds success.

I should be so lucky as to hire a team at JumpPost that is naturally wired with the character traits that Anthony possesses.  Happy Holidays to all.

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8 Responses to “Entrepreneurial DNA Transcends Context”

RSS Feed for Jordan Cooper's Blog: startups, venture capital, etc… Comments RSS Feed

Well, you could in fact actually offer him a job…

not really. he’s in high school (and i think he needs to make money, which nobody on our team does right now)…but i will help him if I and when i have the opportunity

this is really such a great post; would love to hear how things turn out with Anthony, if you get a chance to follow-up with him

Wow i really like this post. Very cool and it is nice of you to buy from him even though you hate chocolat. personally i would have bough some of the batteries. ;]. i have some questions realting to my and your blog. some promoting questions if you don’t mind.

happy to help if i can. shoot me an email w your questions

wow very cool story. your jenorosity is very complex. nice going. i see a lot of people like that round where i live and useualy dont have the money to buy from them. its nice to know that they make some profits sometimes.

Hi Jordan. I had no idea what to expect from this title, but after reading it, I wanted to say that is it probably one of the most inspirational and touching articles I have read this year. It’s crazy how people connect with each other in this world, but what’s more profound is everybody own story of how they came to be at where they are right now. I hope that man ends up doing well and thanks for sharing this story with us.

P.S. Nice job on that picture, heh.

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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