A Letter to Readers from
Mark Victor Hansen
Chicken Soup for the Soul Enterprises
I first realized I was an entrepreneur when I was about nine years old. I desperately wanted a bicycle, but my father said he wouldn’t let me have one until I was 21. I negotiated him down to 16 – if I could earn the money.
It was right before Christmas, so I ordered cards from the American Greeting Card Company. The agreement was that I could sell the cards for $2 a box and keep $1 a box. I was pretty aggressive about selling, and all the neighbors seemed to love my smile. I just kept making a bigger and bigger circular “sweep” from my house and eventually out to other neighborhoods. That’s how I became the number one door-to-door card salesman in the “nine-year-old division” of American Greeting Cards. Ultimately, I bought the bicycle with half the money and put the other half in savings.
When I started writing and speaking at age 26, I had no idea that I would eventually sell 80 million Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Thirty-three major publishers turned down our first book. Our agent fired us, and said this book of soppy stories would never sell. Then we went to a book expo and 134 more people turned us down. From my selling experiences as a youth, I knew that somebody would eventually say “yes” if I kept looking – no matter how much resistance or pain there was – and they did.
The most important advice I have for any young business person is to keep dreaming until you have the whole picture of what you want to accomplish. You have to know exactly what you want to achieve. Next, put the goal in writing, look at it every day, and begin to visualize yourself reaching that goal. Then, put together a team to get your dream. Find somebody who is a success in your field of interest, and ask them to teach you what they know. If you follow these steps, you will achieve even more than you dream.