What Mr. Carnival Man Taught me about Business

As a kid I remember walking around a local carnival looking at the array of booths, games and cheesy prizes – mostly Lamborghini Countach mirrors and unicorn stuffed animals. I recall strolling up to a particular vendor, a scraggly looking character, and checking out his set-up of cork handguns. I wondered how these pistols worked and I was contemplating if I could really shoot the cork hard enough to knock down an aluminum can and then win something. After a few questions about the guns, and with nobody in line, the vendor was quick to say, “Kid, if you’re not going to pay, then get the hell out of here.”

It’s funny how we remember certain things. I really don’t know why a memory like this has been lodged in my mind for decades, but I do see a parable here for business (and life). It’s so important to treat people right, whether they end up being customers or not. It’s a real mistake to view others for what we can get out of them, as if people were only potential transactions or targets for profit.

In a day and age where we have amazing technology at our fingertips and incredibly cool gadgets to help us do business, still the best device we have is the way we treat others. That’s the moral of the story. Well, and don’t tell nine year olds to “get the hell out of here” if you’re working a carnival.


  1. Cory says

    Great article, Ryan. I completely agree with this statement: “In a day and age where we have amazing technology at our fingertips and incredibly cool gadgets to help us do business, still the best device we have is the way we treat others.”

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