A story, judge not.
When I was 17 I hated going to class. Actually, that’s not true; I hated not having the choice. Missing a class in High School means engaging in a ridiculous process involving parents, paper, a skeptical secretary, an even more skeptical teacher and the almighty “absence note.” I decided to circumvent this tyrannical system. And so began my first ever “creative assignment.”
So, I downloaded Photoshop, and taught myself how to use it. I spent hours recreating the (actual) note pictured above. It was flawless—an exact replica. I stayed up all night fumbling through a foreign world of layers, typefaces and line weights. I didn’t think about anything else. I was totally absorbed in the work—the reason I love design. Next, I needed a catalog of well-written excuse notes with “parent handwriting”. The loopy and organized handwriting of mom, the rushed chicken-scratch of dad—the reason I love copywriting. Finally, it was time for monetization and personal freedom—the reasons I love business. Over the next two years I sold hundreds of notes. I sold them to classmates I trusted, and who also believed in “absentee freedom”—a lesson in finding your audience. I released only a precious few every week—a lesson in supply and demand.
Demand grew. By high school standards, I made a lot of money.
When I got caught (you didn’t think I would get away with it did you?) my guidance counselor invited my parents to school for a “family discussion.” He opened with this, “Folks, what Robert has done is wrong, against school policy, an offense worthy of suspension.” He took a long pause followed by a hard swallow, “However, it was also creative, and very entrepreneurial.” The look on my parents’ faces were priceless. “If we can just find a way to unlock his creative, business-minded potential and steer it in a more positive direction, I think he may have a bright future ahead of him.”
I have been following that man’s advice ever since.