Tommy's Bumper Sticker

Tommy's Bumper Sticker

From Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Anniversary Edition

Tommy’s Bumper Sticker

Action is the foundational key to all success.

~Pablo Picasso

A little kid down at our church in Huntington Beach came up to me after he heard me talk about the Children’s Bank. He shook my hand and said, “My name is Tommy Tighe, I’m six years old and I want to borrow money from your Children’s Bank.”

I said, “Tommy, that’s one of my goals, to loan money to kids. And so far all the kids have paid it back. What do you want to do?”

He said, “Ever since I was four I had a vision that I could cause peace in the world. I want to make a bumper sticker that says, ‘PEACE, PLEASE! DO IT FOR US KIDS,’ and sign it ‘Tommy’.”

“I can get behind that,” I said. He needed $454 to produce 1,000 bumper stickers. The Mark Victor Hansen Children’s Free Enterprise Fund wrote a check to the printer that was printing the bumper stickers.

Tommy’s dad whispered in my ear, “If he doesn’t pay the loan back, are you going to foreclose on his bicycle?”

I said, “No, knock on wood, every kid is born with honesty, morality and ethics. They have to be taught something else. I believe he’ll pay us back.” If you have children, let them work for money for someone honest, moral and ethical so they learn the principle early.

We gave Tommy a copy of all of my tapes and he listened to them 21 times each and took ownership of the material. Tommy said, “It says ‘Always start selling at the top.’” Tommy convinced his dad to drive him up to Ronald Reagan’s home. Tommy rang the bell and the gatekeeper came out. Tommy gave a two-minute, irresistible sales presentation on his bumper sticker. The gatekeeper reached in his pocket, gave Tommy $1.50 and said, “Here, I want one of those. Hold on and I’ll get the former President.”

I asked, “Why did you ask him to buy?”

He said, “You said in the tapes to ask everyone to buy.” I said, “I did. I did. I’m guilty.”

He sent a bumper sticker to Mikhail Gorbachev with a bill for $1.50 in U.S. funds. Gorbachev sent him back $1.50 and a picture that said, “Go for peace, Tommy,” and signed it, “Mikhail Gorbachev, President.”

Since I collect autographs, I told Tommy, “I’ll give you $500 for Gorbachev’s autograph.”

He said, “No thanks, Mark.”

I said, “Tommy, I own several companies. When you get older, I’d like to hire you.”

“Are you kidding?” he answered. “When I get older, I’m going to hire you.”

The Sunday edition of the Orange County Register did a feature section on Tommy’s story, the Children’s Free Enterprise Bank and me. Marty Shaw, the journalist, interviewed Tommy for six hours and wrote a phenomenal interview. Marty asked Tommy what he thought his impact would be on world peace. Tommy said, “I don’t think I am old enough yet; I think you have to be eight or nine to stop all the wars in the world.”

Marty asked, “Who are your heroes?”

He said, “My dad, George Burns, Wally Joyner and Mark Victor Hansen.” Tommy has good taste in role models.

Three days later, I got a call from Hallmark. A Hallmark franchisee had faxed a copy of the Register article. They were having a convention in San Francisco and wanted Tommy to speak. After all, they saw that Tommy had nine goals for himself:

1. Call about cost (baseball card collateral).

2. Have bumper sticker printed.

3. Make a plan for a loan.

4. Find out how to tell people.

5. Get address of leaders.

6. Write a letter to all of the presidents and leaders of other countries and send them all a free bumper sticker.

7. Talk to everyone about peace.

8. Call the newspaper stand and talk about my business.

9. Have a talk with school.

Hallmark wanted my company to book Tommy to speak. While the talk did not happen because the two-week lead time was too short, the negotiation between Hallmark, myself and Tommy was fun, uplifting and powerful.

Joan Rivers called Tommy Tighe to be on her syndicated television show. Someone had also faxed her a copy of the Register interview on Tommy.

“Tommy,” Joan said, “this is Joan Rivers and I want you on my TV show which is viewed by millions.”

“Great!” said Tommy. He didn’t know her from a bottle of Vicks. “I’ll pay you $300,” said Joan.

“Great!” said Tommy. Having listened repeatedly to and mastered my Sell Yourself Rich tapes, Tommy continued selling Joan by saying: “I am only eight years old, so I can’t come alone. You can afford to pay for my mom, too, can’t you, Joan?”

“Yes!” Joan replied.

“By the way, I just watched a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous show and it said to stay at the Trump Plaza when you’re in New York. You can make that happen, can’t you, Joan?”

“Yes,” she answered.

“The show also said when in New York, you ought to visit the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. You can get us tickets, can’t you?”

“Yes...”

“Great. Did I tell you my mom doesn’t drive? So we can use your limo, can’t we?”

“Sure,” said Joan.

Tommy went on The Joan Rivers Show and wowed Joan, the camera crew, the live and television audiences. He was so handsome, interesting, authentic and such a great self-starter. He told such captivating and persuasive stories that the audience was found pulling money out of their wallets to buy a bumper sticker on the spot.

At the end of the show, Joan leaned in and asked, “Tommy, do you really think your bumper sticker will cause peace in the world?” Tommy, enthusiastically and with a radiant smile, said, “So far I’ve had it out two years and got the Berlin Wall down. I’m doing pretty good, don’t you think?”

~Mark Victor Hansen

More stories from our partners