Train Youth in Wisdom and Virtue: The Value of Hard Work and Hard Love

by June 11, 2010

Our mission is to build and launch the next generation of the world’s market based solutions to positively contribute to the economic, political and social fabrics of our community, cities, states, and ultimately improve the fortune of the entire nation.

If you believed the statistics, young Black youth are supposed to be in jail or dead. The statistical reports that being Black in America most likely meant we were not supposed to be able to escape the hood.

As you probably know, there are two different worlds of businesses operating in America’s inner cities – legal and illegal. In many neighborhoods where legal businesses are failing, young people are exposed to a drug-glorifying culture that is thriving. The career path is more common to become a drug dealer and make lots of money than to go to college graduate and get a job or start a legal business.

With the school year over in June and financial resources lacking, millions of parents are asking – how can my teen or young adult make money this summer? Okay, maybe its somewhere between having a neighborhood lemonade stand and working at a real job, so what should a young teen do?

Many states have laws that limit when teens can get a job and how long they are allowed to work per week, so how are they expected to make the money for clothes, dates, cars, etc.? The answer: Go into business -become an entrepreneur. 

Make no mistake about it, the deficit of opportunities is mainly predicated upon lack of hope not lack of brain power. Have confidence in your teen to succeed.  I know it can be done because I lived it — by the time I was 6 years old I sold homemade body lotion and hand-painted rocks as bookends door-to-door. At age seven, I was carrying business cards reading”21st Century CEO.”

At 8, I became co-founder of Urban Neighborhood Enterprise Economic Club (U.N.E.E.C.) on Chicago’s tough Southside. It took hard work, an ability to listen and a persistent drive with smart decisions to succeed.

For budding young entrepreneurs to succeed involves creativity, faith, determination and family.

To provide the greatest moral support possible for the “bold and adventurous”, and rookie entrepreneurs is to plant the seeds of success providing age-appropriate know-how and ethical practices for all young potential venturers.

Plant the seeds of success. Let your home be a place where ideas and inspiration are abundant. Tell your child the following: “You can become and do anything you set your heart and mind to.”  Let your child grow up believing that there are no limits to what you can do and that anything – and everything- is possible.

Shower them with words of encouragement and affirmation.  Let there be plenty of “can do” conversation in your house. Eliminate any and all evidence of overwhelming hopelessness from your home.  Remind your children daily that they are destined for great things.

Show them the values of hardwork and hard love. Get them up with a kiss as you leave for work. Kiss them as you come home after a hard day.  No matter how much money youhave or don’t have, be a culinary and financial genius and a super parent – and show them how to turn a bag of potatoes, a can of beans, a package of ground beef and a loaf of bread into delicious meals that last for a week.  Put TLC – tender loving care into the small things you do no matter how scarce there sources are.

Encourage them to work and make money.  Believe in them and help them taste the sweet smell of success.  Teach your child to get out of the lottery ticket mentality and work to make money to support hobbies and the purchase of personal items.  Let them start a business from a hobby or work for a community-based business.  Encourage them to be creative and make things to sell. Let them experience the thrill of creating something themselves and selling it. 

“Nothing is more important for the public wealth than to form and train youth in wisdom and virtue. Only avirtuous people are capable of freedom.” -Benjamin Franklin

Farrah Gray is the author of The Truth Shall Make You Rich: The New Road Map to Radical Prosperity, Get Real, Get Rich: Conquer the 7 Lies Blocking You from Success and the international best-seller Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out. He is chairman of the Farrah Gray Foundation. Dr. Gray can be reached via email at or his website at


Print Friendly, PDF & Email