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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Hidden Treasure


This month, a story made headlines that I believe contains an important reminder for those of us who lead students.

Thomas Schultz bought a house in New York, and noticed it had a stack of paintings in the garage. They were paintings by a little known artist Aurthur Pinajian. The previous owner suggested Tom should just “throw them out.” He assumed they were worthless. Instead, Mr. Schultz and a friend asked if they could purchase the artwork, and did so for $2,500. As the Huffington Post reported, “Well, it turns out their decision to buy Mr. Pinajian’s art stash along with the house was a good one, as the collection has now been valued at a remarkable $30 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Individual works have already sold for a whopping $500,000, and now the abstract impressionist artist’s works are on view at a gallery opened by Schultz, as well as in Manhattan’s Fuller Building.”

Mr. Schultz is now rich. Great investment.

But that’s not the only lesson we learn from this episode. I believe those of us who stand in front of young people every day or every week have the same experience. At least we should.  Just as Thomas Schultz somehow saw something in those masterpieces that the former homeowner didn’t see—we must see the potential and the value in every student we meet. They are, if you will, masterpieces.

I love the fact that Schultz saw something valuable that others did not see. He rejected their suggestion that the masterpieces should be tossed aside. He invested in them, knowing he had no guaranteed return. He treasured the art, framing it nicely and displaying it for others to enjoy. And in the end…he was right. There was incredible value in that art.

I don’t know your story, but I personally have had the undeserved privilege of investing in thousands of students over the last thirty years. They’re masterpieces.

And I am now richer for it.


  1. Parenting Power on March 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for this Tim, Bottom line – this is the same for all people. Every person has a story and while they might not all be gold, looking for the gold within them pays off for us and them.

  2. Antone on March 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    To have this mindset, though, I think will demand that educators know and understand their “pieces of art” beyond just being a content expert. I believe today’s teachers are more important than ever partly because of the reason you discussed above, Tim – they see something that others do not. Many educators miss out on the opportunity because they do not see anything of “value” with the student. But many time it is the teacher who has not taken the time or interest to truly understand this generation of learners. That is one reason I appreciate your Gen iY book so much is that it forced me to deal with the needs of the learners instead of just assuming they do not get it. Teachers must be teachable as much as the students. It is a two-way street.

    • Tim Elmore on March 25, 2013 at 5:46 am

      Great reminder, Antone! Thanks for taking time to comment. Teachable teachers are critical for leading this emerging generation well.

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Hidden Treasure