In the lead up to Labor Day, we have put together a Q&A series we're calling "Q&Aid" with some of the top entrepreneurs and city/business leaders to get our volunteers' creative juices flowing.
For the latest installment of our series, we sit down with Caren Kelleher, president and founder of Gold Rush Vinyl.
Editor's Note: Caren Kelleher is a Lemon-Aid Project board member. We are grateful for her ongoing support! Parts of this interview have also been edited and condensed for clarity.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
When I was thirteen I had my first big business idea: a Beatles-themed restaurant called The Octopus' Garden. It was such a good idea that the Fab Four's lawyers threatened to sue me! This unofficially started my career in music and business. Today, I am the founder and owner of Gold Rush Vinyl in Austin, Texas. Prior to starting Gold Rush, I was Head of Music App Partnerships at Google and launched both Google Music and Google Play. I also led business development at Songkick and Paste magazine. I hold an MBA from Harvard Business School and serves on the board of the Lemon-Aid Project and The Recording Academy.
Please tell us about your favorite lemonade stand experience.
I grew up in Maryland and remember my first lemonade stand, hosted with my friend Katie. We decided that her house had better foot traffic than mine and set-up shop there. At the end of the day we had made $8.00 and I remember her dad teaching us that we didn't really make $8.00 because of the costs of materials. It was an early lesson in the realities of business!
Who is your biggest role model or mentor and why?
I'm so lucky to have such amazing parents, who have taught me so much and always been my biggest fans. They have shown me, through their examples, the importance of humility, kindness and hard work. It always meant so much to me growing up that my parents put our family first and that they showed up for all of my sporting events and concerts, but also that I got to see how well they treated their teams at work.
What did you wish you knew when you were a kid that you know now?
It really is true that if you dream it, you can do it (so long as you are willing to learn, work hard and make sacrifices). I've seen so many of my dreams come true as an adult, but not without the support of my friends and family. Adults may tell you that your ideas are not realistic, but often times it is because they are trying to protect you from hurt feelings if your dreams don't come true.
What has been your greatest failure and what did it teach you?
After high school I really wanted to go to one college but did not get accepted. I was very upset and thought I was a failure. But the college I did go to gave many lifelong friendships and introduced me to opportunities that would not have been possible at the school I wanted to go to. It taught me that sometimes our failures are just making room for dreams we have yet to realize.
What drives you to keep going when things get difficult?
Being an entrepreneur can be a very lonely job, so I really try to let my friends, family and mentors know what I'm going through so they can boost me up when I am feeling low. It is important to share the good and the bad with people who are important to you, so they can help you see things clearly. My sister is someone who I especially trust to help me when things are tough.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
As a business owner, I take great pride in making jobs for other people. It makes my work very real and gives me an opportunity to share my blessings with others who want to work in the music industry.
Anything else you'd like to share?
It is never too early to put your ideas out there into the world and to see how far you can chase them.