Lesson 10.8: Real World Connection

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Money-Making Marvel

His latest Internet company started up in September 2004, and Cameron Johnson is riding high. The Internet company is this 19-year-old's eleventh business venture. He started his first company at the age of nine!

When Cameron was just a small boy, his dad took him along to business meetings. As soon as Cameron was old enough to understand how people could work to earn money, he became determined to learn ways to earn it on his own. Gifts of a computer, printer, and $50 were what Cameron used to get started. Soon he was on a path towards becoming one of the youngest and most successful teenage entrepreneurs ever.

Cameron's first venture was a company he called “Cheers & Tears,” for which he used his computer to print greeting cards, business cards, invitations, flyers, and stationery. Then, when his sister gave him her stuffed animal collection to sell, he used his sales know-how to become the second largest retailer of that type of stuffed animal on the Internet.

Can You Read Japanese?

After applying for the “Young Information Technology Entrepreneur of the Year Award,” Cameron became one of three finalists. A Japanese businessman read about this. Soon Cameron received a letter from Japan. It was an invitation to visit Japan to speak to tech-savvy teenagers about how he developed his businesses ideas.

A Japanese author interviewed him and then wrote Cameron's life story — in Japanese! The title of the book translates to “15-Year-Old C.E.O.” You would have to know Japanese to read this book. Cameron says that he wanted to do an English version of it, but he has never had the time. Cameron traveled all over Japan on a book tour — speaking about his book and signing many of the tens of thousands of copies that were sold.

What Every Student Should Know

Recently, a reporter asked Cameron, “Why aren't there a whole lot more Cameron Johnsons?”

“I think the main reason is that nobody teaches kids about money. I was fortunate enough to learn about money at an early age. When I was ten, my parents gave me two shares each of three different stocks. That got me interested in the stock market.”

“It's also important to have credit cards and an understanding of how to manage your credit wisely.” Cameron talked about how young people get into credit-card debt. “It burns me up more than anything, because (learning about money is) not taught in schools, and it's not taught by the parents.”

Word Wise

venture:
A risky undertaking: This business venture seems unlikely to succeed.

entrepreneur:
Person who creates and takes on the risks of a new business: An important job of an entrepreneur is getting the money to start a business.

retailer:
Person who is in business to sell things to the public: When the mall closes for the night, all the retailers lock their doors.

C.E.O.:
Abbreviation for “chief executive officer,” the highest-ranking employee of a company: The C.E.O. is responsible for hiring department managers.

debt:
Something owed: It took me two months to pay back my $40 debt to my sister.

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Activity

Make a word web. Choose one of the words above, and write that word in the center of a piece of paper. Write down all of the words that you associate with the center word and connect them to the center word with a line. You may use a dictionary or thesaurus to help you. Be sure to include different forms of the word in your word web.

Data Hunt

Many young people earn some money by babysitting, raking leaves, shoveling snow, and performing other household tasks. As a child, Cameron Johnson's business ideas earned him a great deal of money. But his ideas were not typical of a young person.

Work with a partner or with a small group. Try to develop some exciting ideas for student-run small businesses. Think about what you like to do, then “run” with your ideas. For example, do you think you might like to be a birthday-party planner? a comparison-price shopper? a clothes-closet organizer?

In a column, list five or six of your best small-business ideas. Then, take a poll. Ask 100 students to vote for the best idea on your list. Record their votes by putting tally marks next to the ideas.

Display the results of your poll in a chart or graph (horizontal or vertical bar graph, pie chart, etc.). Your chart or graph should reflect the percent of students that voted for each kind of business. Don't forget to give your graph a title.