Originally appeared in Platte County Landmark

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

–John Lennon

There’s a new billionaire out there, folks, and it’s a 44 year old woman. Her name is Sheryl Sandberg and she joins the roster of 1,426 billionaires worldwide, according to CNN.com. Only 138 of those are females.

Sandberg made her billion by becoming the Chief Operating Officer of a little company called Facebook.  Before that, she worked for another startup called Google.  Both companies were born out of meager beginnings, by dreamers.

Dreaming is a tricky thing. For every one dream that becomes a reality of any success, thousands of dreams fail to net any substantial value.  America prides herself on being a country that fosters dreamers. Land of the free. Home of the brave. McDonalds, Apple and Coca-Cola were all born by dreamers right here in America. But so was Paul Silvio’s Pizza and Lemonhead’s Attic.

Those two companies are, sadly, not common household names.  Paul Silvio’s was a pizza shop that gave me one of my first jobs. It was a small pizza place just off the I-35 ramp at Parvin Road. I was their first driver. The pizza was, simply, the best you’ve ever eaten. Light years ahead of Pizza Hut or Domino’s, our primary competition.  But we were the little guy, and never seemed to take hold in the neighborhood.  It also didn’t help that the owner went to jail for a short time, but I digress.

Paul Silvio’s Pizza was a dream, and a damn good one. It just didn’t take.  Pizza Hut was the same dream, with different circumstances.  This Sunday, when you’ll be sitting down watching the Super Bowl, you’ll likely be eating Pizza Hut and not Paul Silvios.

Lemonhead’s Attic was an eBay business I started in the early 2000’s.  The company was named after my favorite candy, Lemonheads. And the idea was that I’d sell stuff from my house and also the “buy crap low, sell crap high” philosophy. Predictably, this company didn’t take off and make me rich contrary to  the three books on eBay selling I read that made the respective authors rich.  One guy bought pool tables because he knew a guy that sold pool tables, then sold them for a profit on eBay.  Why couldn’t I replicate the same success selling DVD’s of Star Trek The Next Generation?

So, why was Lemonhead’s Attic not the next Facebook? Why is Sheryl Sandberg a billionaire and Paul Silvio out of business? The truth of the matter is that most of it’s luck. Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett put their pants on the same way we do – by hiring servants to put them on for us – or something like that. There’s not much different. Sure, they might have a little higher IQ, or been born into some pretty fortunate families, but the point of all of this is that I’m not going to stop trying to find that brass ring. I might not be a billionaire at age 44 like Mrs. Sandberg, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to quit.

First order of business… order some pizza.

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