Glenn Stearns, come to Copperas Cove
By Lynette Sowell
My front porch
I’m not generally a fan of reality TV, but not quite a week ago a show caught my eye on Discovery Channel: “Undercover Billionaire.”
The show’s premise is pretty simple. Billionaire Glenn Stearns, who has a rags-to-riches story, tries to show that the American dream is not dead, and that it’s still possible to build a $1,000,000 business from nothing.
Not quite nothing, though. $100.
For 90 days, Stearns went “undercover” in the city of Erie, PA, where he arrived with $100 in his pocket, an old truck, and a mobile phone with zero contacts (after leaving his family on the yacht, taking a helicopter and then private jet). He came to town under the name of Glenn Bryant and had 90 days to build a $1,000,000 business in that city.
After the first episode, I was sucked in and couldn’t stop watching.
If you want to start and run a business, you should watch, too. I have a few questions about how the money flowed and how leases were negotiated, but Stearns made that $100 grow – by scrounging for large tires to sell for cash, selling items at a St. Patrick’s Day parade, flipping cars and then a house, then sinking the money into a high-stakes festival that earned him still more money to get the business started.
Along the way, Stearns met people in his quest who came alongside him and caught his vision for what could be possible in their city. However, none of them knew who he really is. All they knew was his cover, that he was part of a documentary about being a new entrepreneur in his 50s.
I won’t spill any more of the beans because the “finale” is tonight, when the people who have been working with him all along see who Glenn Bryant – Glenn Stearns – really is.
“If only someone like Glenn Stearns could come to Copperas Cove and build up a million-dollar business, something that would benefit all of us!” I found myself thinking as I watched.
He built a talented team of experts in their fields who worked with and for him – most of the time for nothing, although I suspect these business people were smart enough to see the benefits of working on a documentary in their city.
The whole scenario reminds me of the column I shared a couple of weeks ago about the children’s story, “Stone Soup.” Wouldn’t it be nice if a stranger came to town and showed us the talent and possibilities we have among us?
It takes money to make money, as the saying goes, but this scenario showed me the possibilities that hard work, smart thinking, goal setting, and cooperation can bring to all of us. It would indeed be amazing if someone like Glenn Stearns came to Copperas Cove and showed us the possibilities we have.
Then again, maybe someone like him is already here, and because of their identity, we don’t want to work with them to make things better. It shouldn’t matter if someone is pro-FATHOM, anti-FATHOM, pro-median, anti-median, to work together on a cause bigger than ourselves.
But unfortunately, it does matter to many people. We are our biggest resource and there is no Stone Soup stranger or Glenn Stearns who will come to bring an answer.
Like Erie and its talent, I’m willing to bet there’s plenty of people in Copperas Cove that could do the same thing – make something big from nothing. If only, they could work together.
But I’m still not opposed to a visit from Glenn Stearns. I’d like to pick his brain for ways to make things better here for all of us.