George Shinn

How Courage Is Built Into Kids with George Shinn – Show Notes

This month we have talked about courage.  We continue our conversation about courage with George Shinn – a self-made, successful businessman and visionary.  George was raised by a single mom in North Carolina and is the former owner of the NBA Basketball Team, The Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets.  If you look up the word “courage” in the dictionary, there is a good chance you will find a photo of George.  In this podcast episode you will hear several stories from George about how his single mother taught him courage.

We will also discuss how to set our kids up to have the courage and confidence they need to face their own relationships, opportunities, and challenges?

From Janitor to Student Recruiter

After many careers, George enrolled in business school, his mom taught him that education was important.  Before starting business school, George owned a beautiful corvette, but he made the choice to sell it to pay for business school.  He also met with the business school director and told him he couldn’t pay all his tuition.  The director gave George the opportunity to stay after school and clean the facilities to cover the cost of his tuition.  Then, George’s bill for his books arrived, and he couldn’t cover the cost of his books.  George again, met with the business school director and this time the director told him he could come in on Saturdays to do extra cleaning to cover the cost of his books.  George took the offer!

One Saturday after George finished cleaning the facilities, he got cleaned up and ready to take his girlfriend out on a date.  George heard a knock on the school door – two young girls were standing there, hoping to come in.  The girls asked George if he worked at the school (they wanted a tour of the school), and without telling them he was the janitor, he gave the girls a tour.  George encouraged the girls to consider attending the school.  The next Monday morning the girls came back to the school and asked to see Mr. Shinn.  The office assistant was confused and didn’t know who they were talking about.  The girls explained that Mr. Shinn showed them around the school on Saturday, and they were ready to become students because of the tour Mr. Shinn gave them.  The girls had brought in their application and money for the first semester.  The assistant spoke to the director, and they realized it had to have been George that showed the girls the campus.  The director pulled George out of class and brought him into his office.  The girls gave George a big hug and told the director they were going to school because of him.

After this event, George was quickly promoted from janitor to student recruiter.  At that time, there were four other recruiters, and within the first quarter George had enrolled more students than all of other recruiters combined.  Because of George, the school started becoming one of the largest schools in the country.

George knew he could do a good job based on the courage his mom taught him.  His mom taught him to use a soft-sell approach through experience and examples.  She taught him to get to someone’s heart, so they know you care about them!  There is great strength in going after someone’s heart.

Fried Chicken on Sundays

George’s mom never pushed him to go to church, but she did encourage him to attend.  So, George did attend church regularly, but one morning he decided not to go.  And even though he didn’t go to church, he still expected his regular Sunday lunch - fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy.  That Sunday, there was no lunch.  George asked about lunch and his mother told him he didn’t earn lunch because he didn’t go to church.  The next Sunday and every other Sunday after, George went to church so he wouldn’t miss out on fried chicken.

Running Away from Home

George and his mother were arguing one day, and George got upset and told her he was going to run away from home.  George walked out the door and went to his friend’s house for the day, but later that evening, George decided to return home.  When he got there, all of the doors were locked.  He beat on all the windows and doors. His mom wouldn’t let him in.  He tried and tried but he couldn’t get in.

On the front step, George’s mom left him a few sandwiches and a note.  In the note, George’s mom told him she was so sorry he decided to run away from home, and that she loved him very much and would be praying for him.  George went back to his friend’s house and slept on their porch that night.  The next morning, George went home – his mom was cooking breakfast when he arrived, and she thanked him for coming home and told him how much she loved him.  George never threatened to run away again.

The Balance of Courage and Confidence

As a single parent we have the tendency to overcompensate to make our children happy.  George shared how his mom showed him the sweetness of fried chicken but also the strength of saying - you need to count the costs of your choices - there are consequences.  Try to understand what motivates your children, like fried chicken...

George’s mom wasn’t afraid to teach him a lesson, she portrayed courage and strength in raising him as a single parent.  Sometimes as single parents we struggle to have the courage to teach our children lessons because we don’t want them to be mad at us, but we are parents and there are lessons to be taught.

Steak & The Power of Perspective


George had steak for the first time in high school at a football banquet.  Then, a few weeks after the football banquet, he was at a friend’s house and was offered steak again but had to pass because his mother had hamburgers waiting at home.  George asked his mom that night, “Why do I have to come home and eat hamburgers when I could have steak?”  George’s mother replied, “Don’t insult your friends just because they can’t afford to have their meat ground up.”  For a year and a half George thought hamburgers were more expensive and a better meat than steak.

George’s mother used the power of perspective!

All of George’s stories are tied to a loving and courageous mom who wanted the best for her child – she used every technique she could to help George succeed in life.

 Takeaways from Ms. Shinn:

  • Acknowledge disputes with family and friends.
  • Listen to your kids, let them get it all out.
  • Remind your children of Jesus.
  • Remind your children they can overcome obstacles and rise above!
  • Remind your children they are special and there is no one else like them.

George makes a correction regarding his introduction at the beginning of this podcast episode…  No one is “self-made” – every person’s success comes with the help of God and others.
Robert adds, “All confidence and courage comes from God.  Our confidence as parents must be with God and we have to be deliberate in our walk!”

Talk to God

It was the dead of winter and George’s mom wouldn’t let him turn on the heat.  Later that same night George walked by his mother’s room and found her on her knees.  George told her to get in bed so she wouldn’t be so cold, but she refused because she had a lot to talk to God about and didn’t want to fall asleep in the warm covers before she covered it all.  This one night made a significant impact on George as he saw his mother practice her talk firsthand.  This was an incredible message for George and is an incredible message for us as single parents.  George’s mother didn’t just talk-the-talk, she walked-the-walk - she was obedient.

God is the anchor to everything!


Takeaways from George:

  • Show your kids that Jesus is THE WAY and THE ONLY WAY!
  • Love your children with good judgement.
  • Believe and you will achieve!

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