Mar 19 2019

Birth of An Entrepreneur

In the past 24 hours, I’ve gotten a bunch of emails with positive feedback about my 81st birthday tribute to my dad and the Storyworth history I posted on how we ended up in Dallas.

I woke up this morning to another Storyworth history from him, this time titled Birth Of An Entrepreneur: Brad Feld. I read it and loved it, especially since it reflected so significantly on how integral he was to the entrepreneurial path I ended up on.

As a tribute to my dad turning 81, I thought I’d share another experience from my childhood in Dallas when he was 46 and I was 13.

I know I have been incredibly fortunate to have the parents that I have. I appreciate and love them both more than words can express. Hopefully this story gives a little flavor of the basis for the depth of that appreciation.

Birth Of An Entrepreneur: Brad Feld

by Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Brad Feld’s Bar Mitzvah in 1978.

Many boys receive presents of cash when they celebrate their Bar Mitzvah. Gold coins were hot in 1978.

Many Of Brad’s Bar Mitzvah friends exchanged their new found fortune for two gold Krugerands. Gold was being predicted to increase to $1400 an ounce in the coming year.

Not Brad. His cash gifts totaled $1300. He wanted an Apple II Computer. The Apple computer company released the Apple II computer in 1977. I was delighted that he wanted to invest his Bar Mitzvah money in himself and not gold.

At age 13, he was certain that he could learn to program the Apple II computer. I asked him how much an Apple II would cost. He said about $1300.

The following Saturday, after his soccer game, we went to the computer store on Coit Rd and Beltline Rd in Dallas to buy his Apple II computer. Brad convinced me during the preceding week that “we” needed an Apple II.

He spent his $1300. We spent $3100. After spending $3100 for the Apple II computer and all the necessary peripherals, “we” walked out of the store with all the pieces “we” needed to “create the future”.

As we were walking to the car I had an “aha” moment. Brad’s willingness to spend all his Bar Mitzvah money on his future convinced me to spend an additional $1800. I was sure he had all the characteristics of an entrepreneur. He told me the future was in personal computing. He was correct. “We have to spend the money on the future”. This was a pretty profound statement for a 13 year old boy in 1978.

He was right. Not only did he learn how to program the Apple II himself, he started a business. He taught boys and girls in the neighborhood how to program in Basic for a fee.

In 1982 he was tiring of the Apple II. I needed a program to print out laboratory reports generated in my office chemistry laboratory. Brad volunteered to write the program, design the pretty printout and sold the Apple II computer and all the peripherals for $1600. The laboratory program he created was a bargain to me.

Brad monetized his asset for a profit. He added value to my practice while he leveraged his acquired talent.

The moral to this story is many of our children are very perceptive. We should listen to them.

We have to create the environment for them to want to learn and be excited about learning. We have to make them responsible for their actions. They have to then put “skin” in the game.

Our country’s greatness was built on this entrepreneural spirit. It is parents’ responsibility to help promote the tradition of entrepreneurship.

I am convinced that by creating an environment in which my sons can be creative and innovative, I have learned more from them, than I have taught them.

Both Brad and Daniel understood my goal for them. I am very proud of both of them.