Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Interview with Mark Victor Hansen, Best Known for the Chicken Soup Series and Now Helping Kids Everywhere Become Entrepreneurs

One thing I love about homeschooling is that it allows me to follow my children’s interests as the basis for their education and, in turn, encourages me to continue learning myself.  Case in point: Right now, two of my three young ones are interested in creating a business.  I have never been that business-minded, but have always loved seeing creative ideas come to fruition.  Thus, I now find myself looking into ways  to help my children achieve their goal of making money through a real business.

Enter something  I love about blogging:  Opportunity!

Through blogging, I get to share ideas with people I never would have met otherwise, and, occasionally people reach out to me with opportunities I am both astounded by and grateful for.  Such was the case recently when I was offered the privilege of interviewing  Mark Victor Hansen, best known as Co-Creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, who is now rolling out, a project he's doing for kids to teach them how to become entrepreneurs.

When I first received an email about it I wondered if it was a spam or a joke.  A little checking into and I realized it was for real.  I was being given the opportunity to pick the brain of an inspiring celebrity author, motivational speaker and philanthropist.  Someone whose name I had seen on books I have read, but with whom I never imagined talking to.

Unfortunately, I still cannot say I have talked with Mark Victor Hansen.  Because my children are known to get up to their most challenging antics when I am on the phone, I thought it more prudent to send an email interview than to jump at the chance for ten minutes on the phone with Mark.  Yes, as the mother of three children, who are but six, five and two years old, I realized I’d likely do more hushing of my boisterous brood than hearing Mark’s gems of wisdom during a brief voice-to-voice, so I can only say I have corresponded with Mark Victor Hansen through an intermediary, not that I have actually talked with him.

A disappointing choice as far as bragging rights go, but one that I am so glad I made.  Why?  Because gems abound in the responses Mark offered to my questions.  Gems I am so excited to share today!  So, please, sit back, relax and get ready to be as inspired as I am!

An Interview with Mark Victor Hansen about Kidpreneurs and sets out to do something my husband and I feel strongly about: to educate children to be entrepreneurs, not employees. In a culture where the message “Go to school.  Get a job.  Enjoy your interests as hobby, but trade hours for pay doing whatever you have to do,” persists, the potential of children (and adults for that matter!) is squelched.  Why do you think our society continues to teach children an employee mindset?  Why is inspiring children to be their own bosses by educating them in entrepreneurial skills still an exception rather than a norm? 

I agree with your appraisal completely. If we teach entrepreneurship, we will make the employee-mindset obsolete which is absolutely necessary for our future. A few weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal, it was pointed out that half of kids can’t get a job no matter what happens. There aren’t going to be any jobs for them. So, we’ve now set our kids up to fail. Well, this makes the employee-mindset sillier than silly.

Thanks to the paradigm shift of our culture, we have changed and parents now need to understand this dynamic. Most of us have been trained for the workplace with an industrial perspective. The video I want you to watch is by Sir Ken Robinson. It can be seen at You will be wowed. We’re set up for an industrialized culture where everyone has been trained to go into a factory job. This was great during the time of America’s building because most people didn’t have an entrepreneurial desire.

Your question is also your answer. The only way to fulfill the potential of a human being is to be an entrepreneur. You can be an entrepreneur in sports or you can be one in music. What we’re saying is there are 360 degrees of freedom in entrepreneurship and this opportunity is better now than ever before. I also believe parents ought to listen to entrepreneurial and self-help action tapes in their cars while driving with their kids. The kids will then internalize these concepts.

My own kids had no choice but to listen when they were all strapped in the backseat. They were too young to know that they could have listened to music. Instead, they were listening to my tapes like those by Jim Rohn,  Cavett Robert, Zig Ziglar; or about leadership with Dr. John Maxwell or Warren Bennis. When you’re listening to high-minded material, you become high-minded and the earlier kids can be exposed to these concepts, the better. seems geared towards a nine-and-up crowd.  Can younger children benefit from it, too?  I know my own five and six year olds are already itching to start their own business.  My husband and I want to foster their initiative, but have little direction ourselves in how to guide them.  Can Richest Kids Academy help a wide audience that includes younger children and adults?

Yes, it can.  It will support all precocious kids starting at ages 5 or 6.  We've got stories in there, and you can go anywhere you want on the stories, but I'll just take you through two of the right now.  We have 154 video stories, by the way, and we are adding more each day.

I love Josh Shipp’s story. He was orphaned at a very young age and lived in numerous places. When he 6-years-old, he was living next door to a lady who had a lemon tree in her yard. This tree was 20-years-old but producing thousands of lemons each year. Her husband had died and she couldn’t keep the lemons cleaned up by herself, so she told Josh that she will pay him to clean up the lemons. Where Josh got his entrepreneurial leadership ability is beyond me, but he said to her, "Let me think about it, and I'll have a solution for you tomorrow." 

Josh then recruited 20 other orphans by telling them, 'Here's what we're going to do. She wants me to rake up these things and throw them away.  That's a bad use of resources.'  He got these 20 kids to pick up all the lemons, put them in bags and  then go throughout the neighborhood selling fresh lemons for lemonade!  The kids sold all the lemons. Josh had reasonably priced the lemons so when they finished, Josh paid the kids 50% of the profit. He paid the neighbor lady 10% and he kept 40%. After that, he took the same enterprise to other neighbors with lemon trees and continued the same process. So, Josh did that, made his little fortune at 6-years-old. Now, at 22-years-old, he is making about $2 million per year in other businesses.

The other video story on is about an amazing little guy who when he was about 5 or 6-years-old, began making Pencil Bugs. By the time he was 9-years-old, he was making $3.6 million a year with Pencil Bugs; which by then, had become a full family enterprise.  He lives out in Riverside, California. 

Young kids can do it, but their parents have got to be there to guide them and guard them.  Josh Shipp had no parents. All of a sudden this kid had spending money which came from his own initiative. I think his story, which you can see on the video, will inspire your kids to do something like that or even better.

Readers of my blog come from three basic backgrounds:  homeschoolers, families of faith and parents of children with special needs such as Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD.  Obviously, will speak to moms, homeschoolers and faith-filled families.  (Your work always encourages meeting one’s call, gifting forward and tithing -- Love that!)  Out of curiosity, might it also speak directly to families gifted with children with unique neurology?  Are all of the featured kidpreneurs neuro-typical? Are all of the featured kidpreneurs neurotypical?  Do some of them have any learning differences or are they gifted in other ways?  Could you also speak directly to families with gifted children as well?

Well, the two smartest guys of the last century were Drs. Albert Einstein and Buckminster Fuller. Both believed that everyone is born a genius but the genius is crushed by societal, parental and educational school overlays.   I also believe that every kid is a genius and what does is show them how to plug back into their genius.  Professor Howard Gardner at Harvard teaches multiple intelligences, or geniuses, and I have interpreted that into high and easy usability to anyone and everyone in my course.

You can have a learning difference like Chelsea Eubank who says she is really a slow learner but she made enough money selling Faithful t-shirts to pay her way through high school at a cost of $19,000 a year. She then she went on to the only learning-difference college called Beacon College and graduated towards the top of her class. 

I did not know that I was an LD kid, myself. I took remedial reading for 6 years because my parents were illiterate Danish immigrants. So, I understand the challenges for kids who are different.  As I said, I do believe everyone has a genius. For example, I believe my genius is speaking and writing, promoting and building businesses and empires.  The turning point for me was that I started hanging around people who didn't know I had a learning difference. It was this new perspective that brought the genius out. My speaking genius was developed by Cavett Robert, the dean of professional speakers and founder of the National Speakers Association.  At intellectual levels, Dr. Buckminster Fuller saw that I could become a comprehensivist (a term coined by Fuller). I realized I could work on a global level and become a leader. 

These things are not taught with the 3 R's.  What I'm saying is that every kid has got this extraordinary genius potential if we apply the requisite stimulus. I'm saying the requisite is

In today’s economy, many people do not even have an extra few dollars to take their kids out for a meal, much less to spend $347 on an online course for them.  Yet, there are those who will do what it takes to find the money because they believe in teaching kids to fish (for themselves, with their own boat, or even fleet of boats) rather than just to just give them a fish for the day (or, worse, have them work for someone else in trade for said fish).  What makes a unique and worthwhile investment?

Nearly everybody invests $4 or $5 a day to go to Starbucks and they think nothing of it. I'm suggesting an investment of about $1 a day and I believe it will make you a fortune- whatever a fortune is to you - all of which we teach at  So, it's a little investment that's going to give you a big return. All I'm saying to you is switch from squandering your money to investing your money. I always teach that everyone has money but most people spend it, which means, it's gone. If you're buying a latte or a Coca Cola, and there's no return on your investment, you maybe  squandering your money.  My recommendation and teaching is that you sacrifice a little money to get a lot by investing the greatest appreciating asset ever—a human mind, soul and experience.

When you invest in your mind power, you won't have to use your behind power. This is why some people think they don't have any money because they haven't learned how to use their mind as effectively. I want the parents to go through this program with their kids and learn it as well.

Let me also say that I guarantee you will be 100% satisfied.  If you go through the whole year, through all of it, and at the end of the year you don't think your investment of around $1 a day has been worth it, I personally will write you the check, no questions asked. I am going to look back on your program and see if you have participated to the fullest, however.

Really, this is a no-risk investment.  First, invest if you can.  We also have some wonderful scholarships in some cases that are available if you truly believe you do not have the financial means. Write us because you could qualify for a scholarship.  We've been faithful to giving away a lot of scholarships around the world, because this is too important not to get done.  I'll tell you something, if you truly are in dire need, and you write me a long letter and promise that after your child takes the course that 10% of whatever he or she makes will be reinvested back into to help other kids who are in need take the course, I'll give it to you free right now.

Is the material significantly different than what is in The Richest Kids In America: How They Earn It, How They Spend It, How You Can Too book?

Yes, it is.  The new material amplifies it, expands it and makes it visually and verbally entertaining and understandable. It takes you through a year's worth of principles by watching it virtually. Participants also have access to myself at least once a month, so it is the deeper, richer process.

My husband often says that he wishes someone in his youth had told him that he could pursue his passions and make a living doing so, instead of encouraging him to just get a job. What tip might you offer for parents of young children to begin training them to live out who they are inspired to be, instead of boxing themselves into what they can be hired to do?

You've got to ask kids what it is they want to do and then help them find the experiences to support their interests. The more experiences that are positive, healthy, uplifting and inspiring, the better.  It can be anything, like taking tours of a bookstore or visiting a publisher or going to a manufacturing plant.

When I was a little kid, my dad owned a bakery called Elite Bakery. He had a cornucopia sign because that's what he wanted to have for his family, a cornucopia of unlimited good.  All the kids came there, and they got to see how a cash register worked in the front, they got to hear what all the pastries were and how he'd make cakes, and he would let them all of them do everything from stir peaches for a peach pie to cleaning the ovens on weekends.

The same thing was true with our kids when they were growing up. We had all of our kids help plant all the beets, the lettuce, celery, and all the citrus trees. Then, they had to water them and take care of them, and we even used organic composting. This experience taught them about the sources of food. Food did not come out of the refrigerator or out of the grocery store.

The more you can take the kids to the original equipment manufacturer or agricultural farm to show them what it is and how it works from a seminal level, the more the kids are going to be ready for life.  Just sending a kid to school every day and not helping him or her to understand how things works is a bad practice. 

What is the most inspiring story you’ve heard from the experience?
One stand-out story to me is about a young man named Cameron Johnson. He is now 27-years-old and contributes his time to our program. He says, I am his mentor and has read all of my business books like The One Minute Millionaire. Right now, he is a marketing consultant to one of the biggest Ford dealers in America and a sought-after motivational speaker.

Cameron started out as a pre-teen entrepreneur. His first business was selling gift cards, but he quickly moved into making millions by the time he finished middle school selling beanie babies. If you recall that craze, Cameron found it to be a very lucrative niche. He started with buying his sister’s beanie babies and reselling them on Ebay. This effort not only made him some good money quickly, but also showed him that the time was right for buying these toys wholesale and reselling. By the time he was in high school, Cameron had made several million dollars which his parents had invested for him. He used this savings to buy and create at least ten other businesses in his relatively short life.

He points out to kids that the first thing they need to do is learn about money. One thing his parents did early on in his life was to give him a few stocks as presents each year. These small gifts inspired Cameron to research and learn about the stock market and how money and business really work. It has been said that by the time he was 21, Cameron had enough money in his own 401K to fund the rest of his life.

He is a great communicator and really wise beyond his years. This is one of many reasons why we invite him to our Success Summits. Cameron is really excited about our concept of teaching kids entrepreneurship. He wants to make a real worldwide impact too. He believes as do I that we can eradicate “have not-ness” and cause fundamental abundance to produce “have-ness” in the world by bringing entrepreneurship to get every kid. I guess you could say our goal is to have poverty on permanent display in a museum.

I love the idea of “young people teaching young people” through videos, but am curious about how some of these adolescents, teen and twenty-somethings might speak to the “everychild”.  There are no sample videos of this on the site.  Are there clips of kid entrepreneurs which interested parents and kids might access as a preview?

There are some videos and a preview of a TV interview for NBC with me and some of the kids.  I will put up more kid entrepreneur stories.  If they will call my office directly and ask Josh to give them one free month of access. We are glad to do that for everybody who calls.  The number is (949) 764-2640, extension 100. 

I know my own children are brimming with ideas and I am sure other people’s children are even further along in thinking about business.  What's the best way for children to finance their ideas?

In, we teach 21 ways to finance their ideas. I want to tell you the one I like the best personally and the one I've used to sell my way forward in my different projects.

When I wanted to buy the lawnmower and I didn't have enough money, I went around to all the neighbors and said “I'm buying this lawnmower. I'm going to cut your lawn and this is how much it's going to cost. You get to pay me in advance and I'll come here once a week. You're buying a summer's worth of lawn cutting starting in June when I'm out of school.”  I did the same thing with hedge trimmers, which were very expensive, and I had to buy a ladder. Well, I had to go out and sell my business plan. Why should I do all this work with hand tools over an 8 hour period to do something I can do with motorized equipment in an hour? 

What technology allows us is to do more with less and our kids have grown up in a technological age. We're going to have more technology and better technology so our children and grandchildren’s horizon is virtually limitless.

Thank you for taking the time to share both your wisdom and your new venture, Mark.  I know I, for one, am eager to check our with my children and to add it to their curriculum.

Want to learn more?

  • If you want to check out more about the Richest Kids Academy at, click here.
  • If you already know you want to begin the Richest Kids Academy course, you can opt in here.

  • Or, if you just want a little inspiration, check out any of Mark's books:

NOTE:  If you click on Amazon links in this post and others on Training Happy Hearts and choose to make a purchase, our family may receive a small commission.  This costs you nothing extra, but is much appreciated by us.

Also, in full disclosure, let me explain that I had no affiliation with Mark Victor Hansen nor before receiving the answers his answers to my interview questions.  After reading Mark’s answers, however, I was so impressed with the time, courtesy and wisdom he took in offering thorough answers to each and every one of my questions that I looked up how to become an affiliate of his.  If I did things right (which is questionable since being a tech savvy blogger is not my strong suit), I may receive a small commission if you click on one of the links above and buy into Richest Kids Academy program at  If you choose to do so, or to ask others to do so by directing them here, I thank you in advance.  As with any earnings (however small!) our family makes from this blog, commission we earn will go right back into training our children up and sharing our experience with you.  I have a feeling that experience is going to get even more interesting as the kids and I explore


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