(Photo courtesy oatsy40 via Flickr)
(Photo courtesy oatsy40 via Flickr)
A view from David Angelo

Wake up your 'inner scrappy'

The founder and chairman of David&Goliath remembers a field of golf balls that fed his entrepreneurial spirit

We are all born with this spirit – a quest to reinvent or just make stuff happen. I call it your "inner scrappy."

For me, my scrappy kicked in back in the day when there was no Internet (that we knew of) and no cable TV.

I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood, during the recession in the ’70s. It was a time when imagination flowed out of necessity to survive as opposed to anything else.

We lived next to a playground and a vast open field that was home not to raccoons, but rattlesnakes and thousands of stray golf balls. On the other side of the field was a golf course. I don’t know the exact day it happened, but that field gave birth to an entrepreneurial spirit that has been alive in me ever since.

Each morning at dawn and again at dusk, I would comb the wild field looking for abandoned balls that I could sell back to the golfers at a reduced price: a dollar for almost new and two bits for the nicked balls with more character.

For my first sale I garnered six bucks, which was a lot for a 10-year-old growing up in those times. The effect of earning money and providing value back to people gave me a sense of pride and determination. It also inspired me to think beyond the field and look for golf balls in creeks on the course itself. One of the creeks was located right next to the cyclone fence – the barrier that separated me from that pot of gold. And since random neighborhood kids weren’t allowed to trespass, you had to be extra scrappy in order to bring the additional balls in.

From behind the fence, you could literally see the balls shining in the water. They were little beacons of hope to any wide-eyed youngster determined to get his fill. At the time, golfers didn’t have the tools (or the patience) to fish them out. Nor did they want to step in the putrid mud that surrounded the creek – mud that would stain your shoes and clothes, much like the stench of a skunk.

And that’s when my "inner scrappy" kicked into overdrive. Using pure intuition and whatever we had in our garage, my brothers and sisters (my business partners) and I created a golf ball catcher using a 20-foot-long bamboo pole with an empty pudding cup attached to the end. With great precision, we slid the pole through the cyclone fence and brought in balls no one else dared to go near. We quickly increased our quota from 10 balls a day to 40, and, in some cases, sold the balls right back to the golfers just as their golf balls hit the water.

We made a pretty good living as kids, during a time when jobs were hard to come by.

We used our money for pinball, donuts and splurging on a round of ice cream from the neighborhood ice cream man. Having access to money allowed me to share it with others as well. In a sense, I was the Santa Claus in my tribe and felt privileged to be the one to share the fruits of my inner scrappy.

Since then, the creek has been filled in. But the memories are still there.

This "inner scrappy" has fueled me to go on and experience some pretty amazing things. It taught me that you don’t need an army to make a difference, just plain old passion and ingenuity. That you don't need abundance to make a difference. In fact, it's the scarcity that awakens the scrappy in you.

Yes, we are all born with this spirit.

Somehow, it just gets lost in a creek along the path of life. In order to keep my inner scrappy alive, I’ve built a brand dedicated to awakening the inner scrappy in all of us. It is powered by a philosophy called "Brave." A single word that gives us the permission to speak louder than the fray.

Whether you are a person, country or a bar of soap – we are all brands with an inner scrappy. The key is to recognize it once again. Embrace it. And believe that no matter how big of a brand you may become, there will always be an "inner scrappy" inside us all.

David Angelo is founder and chairman of David&Goliath.