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Entrepreneurship starts at a lemonade stand in Connolly's 'Moo, Loo & Kayla Do Lemonade'

A Media Lab team gathers after interviewing author Mychal Connolly Sr. Standing, from left: NEPM's Nancy Cohen, Jomar Rodríguez, Javed Sánchez, Nashaly Gómez and Nekhi Gibbons. Sitting, from left: Connolly, Maggie Kocsmiersky.
Ismary Santiago-Lugo
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MediaLab
A Media Lab team gathers after interviewing author Mychal Connolly Sr. Standing, from left: NEPM's Nancy Cohen, Jomar Rodríguez, Javed Sánchez, Nashaly Gómez and Nekhi Gibbons. Sitting, from left: Connolly, Maggie Kocsmiersky.

Mychal Connolly Sr.'s book, "Moo, Loo & Kayla Do Lemonade," is the story of some entrepreneurial kids who learn a lot about business while selling lemonade.

Connolly, a Springfield resident, is a business owner himself. He owns a mobile billboard company — trucks covered in advertisements that drive around the region.

Connolly shared his motivation for the book during an interview with Maggie Kocsmiersky from NEPM's Media Lab. She's a recent graduate from Central High School in Springfield, and is now attending the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Maggie Kocsmiersky, Media Lab: I just have to say, I'm so glad that you're here. I'm a big fan of this book because I used to do lemonade stands with my sisters when I was younger, and now I'm going to college studying entrepreneurship. So I'm very excited to be talking to you about this book.

Mychal Connolly Sr., author: That's awesome. Congratulations on that.

Thank you. So, was there an event that happened in your life that inspired you to make a book about children and business?

Yeah. So I started my first business when I was nine years old. It was a candy business. I was able to help my grandmother retire in two years with that business. She was a waitress, and then she ended up making more money selling candy to the kids in the neighborhood, because of the marketing that I had done, I just always remember that experience. And I know kids can become entrepreneurs, become marketers and do it. And I wanted to create the blueprint that I wish I had when I was younger, and that's why we put the book together.

Are any of the characters influenced by people in your own life? 

Yeah. So Moo, that's my youngest son, Aiden. Lou is based on my oldest son, Michael. Miggy is based on my other son. Kayla — I don't have a daughter — but if I had a daughter, it would have been Kayla.

And then all the other characters are ... people in my life that I love and admire. So I kind of put them in there. Even my driver, he's uncle J.P., he's one of my drivers for Stand Out Trucks. So everybody's in there ... all people that I know and love.

That's a fun way to give a little Easter egg and throw it back.

That's it.

What message were you trying to get across to the readers?

Well, I wanted readers to understand that anything's possible, and I mainly wanted them to understand — be able to work with others, be able to build a team, be able to accept your flaws, be able to accept your strengths. And I think once people understand that, it becomes so much easier to become successful.

And I got to tell you my definition of success, and I get this from Earl Nightingale. He's got this audio called "The Strangest Secret." And in it, he says success is the steady progression of a worthy ideal. So if you look through [my] book, there was a lot of things that had to go right, a lot of things that had to happen, a lot of persistence, a lot of trial and error, a lot of just adjusting to get to the goal. So those are a lot of the things that I want people to get out of the book.

So, as someone who's interested in starting a business, what advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

So the first thing is you've got to believe in yourself. Business and entrepreneurship is not a negative thing. It's not a positive thing. It's whatever you think it is. So when I when I talk about being an entrepreneur or being a business person, what I love to say is it's simple, but it's not easy. And it's not easy because you have to do the work.

And in the book, we break down the five types of work, because a lot of people think, "I got to work hard, I got to work hard." But when you go through the book, you realize you have to work hard — yes. But you also have to work smart and you have to work right. And then you have to network, and then it has to be teamwork. So I like to tell young people that are looking to embark on that journey — as yourself — just embrace doing the work. Incredible work ethic is what is going to help you to reach your goals and surpass your goals.

I really like that. When I was reading the book, I really appreciated the part that the student or the children kept reinvesting into the business. I think that was really smart, the way it's not just an entertaining story. It's also teaching kids how to make smart business choices, because that's something I did not do. As soon as I made my first dollar, I was off to the Dollar Store! So I think that's very exciting.

Yeah, I'm happy you caught that, because the way we put the story together, it's really, truly a blueprint on how to become successful in business. I've been blessed to have some really, really high-level mentors. I have three millionaire mentors and one billionaire mentor. And a lot of the things that they taught me, I realized how simple they think. It's not complicated thinking. It's a lot of common sense thinking.

So much of success is checking your ego at the door. And, like you said, being able to reinvest in what you're doing ... and that comes from having bigger goals. So that's why, in the book, the kids wanted the game system or the sneakers or the headphones, and they had to keep working until they did that.

There are so many kids who I know are entrepreneurs at heart, who I feel don't have the self-confidence or the motivation to just really put themselves out there. But I think this book makes it really accessible for kids to learn about it and to empower themselves to do it. Because I know that people are out there who are trying, who just don't have the knowledge yet. So I think this is so amazing. Thank you, I love it.

Appreciate that.

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