Recently, I had the “pleasure” of helping my ten year old son do his homework assignment. As any parent of a primary school aged child will tell you, homework assignments can be a challenge as you try to keep your child focused and get the assignment done as quickly as possible. This week was slightly different though because I took some real life lessons from the homework and it was all done to the story of a little boy called Caine.

The assignment required my son to watch a youtube clip titled “Caine’s Arcade”. It is the story of a nine year old boy called Caine Monroy who has grown up in basic surrounds in a country town in the United States of America. To pass his summer holidays, he worked in his father’s second hand auto part store. His father encouraged him to use recycled cardboard to build arcade games and caineCaine went about building a basic but elaborate version of arcade games. As a method of payment, he developed his own version of a “fun pass” and waited for the customers to come through.

Sadly, it was a month into the summer holiday and nobody had come through the door. His father’s business, which was slow at the best of times, relied almost solely on internet enquiries so Caine’s Arcade lay dormant. This changed however, when a customer called Nirvan came through the door looking for a part. Nirvan is a film maker and he was immediately inspired by Caine’s creativity and positivity and he decided to make a documentary about it. Using the power of social media, Nirvan arranged an event, a type of “flash mob”, where thousands of people from all over America and the world descended on Caine’s Arcade to play his games. The film has now had over four million views and has raised money as a fund for Caine’s education. They now have the international cardboard challenge (which is the basis for my son’s homework) and the filmmaker has established a charity called the “Imagination Foundation” which aims to foster creativity among our children.

So, as a business owner, what did I learn from helping my son with his homework?

  • Creativity is the key when it comes to resource allocation. Caine had only scarce numbers of resources and was able to create and elaborate arcade with effort and creativity. He was persistent and kept working to get things right. He focused very much on what he had as opposed to worrying about what he didn’t have and he found solutions to compensate for his lack of resources.
  • The theory of reciprocity is alive and well. Basically, if we project a friendly and positive demeanour we will meet people who are attracted to this and do the same. Caine was such a positive young boy and his enthusiasm led to the film maker getting behind his project.
  • Social media is such a powerful tool when used correctly. With this, I am not talking about the gossip garbage that people put on their facebook pages. I am talking about things that really resonate and get a life of their own. The story of Caine’s arcade has had over 4,300,000 views and has become a global movement. It has become the inspiration of a charitable movement and it all started in a second hand auto parts store with few customers. It is incredible how far this message reached and how deep it went. The story was inspirational and social media was the vehicle that delivered it globally.

The story of Caine’s Arcade was one of the best learnings I have taken in recent times and I encourage readers of this blog to take 15 minutes out of their day to watch the youtube clip. I know when I watched it, I couldn’t believe that a nine year old boy had the drive and creativity to achieve so much without losing faith. He had no customers for so long yet he continued to create. One day, I have no doubt that Caine will do something great in whatever field he so desires. I just hope my son can do the same, which reminds me, I should have made him start his assignment by now!

Brad McMahon – Managing Director 

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