I came across a book written by a 14-year-old kid while scrolling on Twitter. Intrigued, I downloaded it. It’s an excellent read. I read it one sitting.
Beautifully written, I was able to read it in about an hour. I love short books. It shows the author has respect for brevity, clarity, and simplicity in his writing.
The author, Cole Summers, is an amazing person with much to teach us. His book, Don’t Tell Me I Can’t: An Ambitious Homeschoolers Journey, tells the story of how he’s been running his own businesses since the age of 6. He’s started several businesses while taking an unconventional approach to schooling known as unschooling.
You can read the book for free by signing up for a free trial of Kindle Unlimited.
Always Be Learning
Cole Summers is a relentless learner. He’s constantly coming up with new ideas to make money and acting on them.
Cole’s father is a disabled vet, unable to work. His family doesn’t have much money. He wanted to know how to get rich. At 6 years old, he asked his dad about money.
Daddy, how do people get rich?”…“I wouldn’t know. Go watch videos on YouTube about Warren Buffett or something.” So I did… My company was earning almost a thousand dollars a month by the time I turned eight.
He realized he was learning more from watching YouTube videos than from the homeschooling curriculum his parents bought for him. He persuaded his parents to allow him to continue learning through YouTube videos alone.
By 10 years of age, Cole was learning plumbing, roofing, flooring, painting, and electrical work from YouTube. He needed the skills to refurbish the $10,000 house he bought with the earnings from his business of selling rabbit meat to high-end restaurants in California.
He got a good deal on a dilapidated house by scouring listings for low-priced homes in his area. An old woman sold it to him for cheap so long as Cole promised to refurbish the home her late husband built.
Cole has a lot to teach about having a positive mindset. People tell Cole that he’s lucky. He doesn’t think so. He works hard.
From everything I’ve read and grown ups I’ve talked to, good luck almost never works like bad luck. Good luck requires us to do something on purpose to earn it.
Cole seeks out aspects of life he finds interesting and pours himself into them.
Embrace Your Individuality
Cole’s friends and colleagues often wonder how he manages to learn things like math if he only studies what he likes. Cole accepts that he isn’t good at everything. He uses just-in-time learning rather than just-in-case learning.
He recognizes the principle of specialization and opportunity cost. You can’t be good at everything. Even Cole and his brother excel at different subjects.
I don’t understand why we don’t encourage being different as a good thing. Michael and I aren’t the same. He works numbers through his head like magic but doesn’t understand much of anything about business… We’re different people with different skills and different interests. That’s a good thing. We’re supposed to be different.
If he needs to learn something for his business or hobbies, he takes the time to learn it. He doesn’t see the point in wasting valuable time learning esoteric subjects when he could be building his businesses.
When friends asked him what he was studying, he had this to say:
…they asked me what I was studying. I started talking about how companies can pay certain expenses, like payroll, in stock, creating paper losses that reduce their taxes and maybe even create net loss carry forward. Wow, the looks I got from everyone. They told me they had no clue what I was talking about. I just shrugged it off and said, “yeah, I’m weird,”…
Keep Forging Ahead
Cole has big plans ahead. He wants to raise meat goats. He has plans to reduce water usage in his county by transforming farmland. Goats can eat almost anything and they use a lot less water than crops. He hopes to save the aquifers in the Great Basin Desert through regenerative farming.
The crazy thing is, I believe this kid might actually pull it off.
5 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t: An Ambitious Homeschoolers Journey”
I have no doubt he will succeed! Awesome story. Thanks for sharing. My 18 year old has learned so much from YouTube . Actually all five of my homeschooled boys have used YouTube to learn things. It’s such a great tool.
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YouTube, one of the best educational products ever created! Well, maybe second to books
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Kevin Cooper (Cole Summers was a pseudonym cause he was just 14) sadly passed away this week in a kayaking accident. What an incredible, inspirational young man.
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This makes me incredibly sad. I can hardly believe it. He had so much going for him. I had hoped to talk with him someday on my podcast. He had so much life in him. Would’ve loved to get know him. If you know someone who wants to do a memorial podcast in his memory, let me know.
Thanks for the update.
I found out just a bit ago after reading this article on the local news. Just floored. What an incredible young man that we can all learn from and emulate. A friend of mine, Ryan Condie, runs a podcast called Let’s Buy a Business. I think it would be really cool for you to be guests on each other’s podcasts and talk about Kevin’s story. He is an inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere.