Fireworks taught Jim Dolan the time value of money.
The media mogul’s signal characteristics include becoming easily bored and getting a thrill from taking calculated risks. In fact, he took his company public in 2007, having long ago learned about timing investments—that lesson came when he was a little kid.
As he tells it, he bought a bunch of cherry bombs and had some left after the Fourth of July. He found them during the winter holidays and was about to blow them up when a friend offered him a dollar for one.
Dolan had paid a quarter. “And the lightbulb went on.”
He sold them all for a dollar apiece.
The following year, he took all his savings and bought fireworks when they were on sale. He put them away for six months, then sold them at an even bigger markup.
“This rolled forward over several years until finally some law enforcement people came calling because I was ordering such large quantities of explosives,” he says. “They didn’t know I was a kid.”
Lesson: Start early.
— Adapted from How They Did It, Robert Jordan, RedFlash Press.