How an Old Coin Bank Inspires My Entrepreneurial Journey

The homemade coin catchall (from third grade!) reminds me to look for simple solutions.

February 8, 2021 3 min read

This story appears in the January 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When I was in third grade, my teacher assigned our class a project. We all had to take an item from home and repurpose it to fulfill another need. I took an empty container of Planters nuts, washed it out, cut a little slit into the cap, and called it a piggy bank. It wasn’t the most ambitious project in the class, but I’m proud of my 8-year-old self. The way I see it, I had a hacker’s mentality. I was thinking: How can I get maximum output for the least amount of input?

Related: 5 Ways to Keep Yourself Inspired to Achieve Your Goals

Back then, “maximum output” meant getting a good grade for very little work. But 18 years later, this ragtag container still continues to provide.

First of all, it’s a surprisingly sturdy bank. I still use it in my home office today, depositing the coins from my pockets. Second, when my work life gets complicated, it reminds me to keep things simple. These days I’m the chairman of OneSixOne Group, an accelerator for early founders, and CEO of a content marketing agency called Rootex. As I help our clients, I consider my little bank a kind of reference point. You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel in order to build a viable business or provide people with value; sometimes you just need to take an existing product and repurpose it, or come up with a unique and practical way of solving an existing problem. I was able to create something as an 8-year-old that I still use at age 26, and that’s proof that it doesn’t matter if something is complex or new. What matters is that it’s practical and fulfills a need. 

Related: How the Book ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ Changed My Business

And finally, this little bank has bailed me out when I needed it most. In late January 2018, my agency had slowed down significantly and I was down to my last $12. Credit cards were maxed out, I was a month behind on rent, and I had no money. OneSixOne was supposed to host an important networking event that night, and I wasn’t sure how to pay for the food…until I realized my piggy bank was about 70 percent filled. I took it to Winn-Dixie and poured it all out — and that $94 was enough to buy what I needed. 

No matter what, I now know to keep things simple and save up for the unexpected. As I write these words, my piggy bank is heavy with change.


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