The genius 11-year-old New York City entrepreneur sells five minutes of emotional advice to anxious commuters for $2 a time.
11-year-old boy turns subway platform into therapy office
Ciro Ortiz is not your typical middle school-aged child. At just 11 years old, the Brooklyn-raised boy is not only already fending for himself — he is also giving back. Inspired by a desire to help, Ciro decided he would set up a stand and offer emotional advice to stressed-out New Yorkers on the Williamsburg L train line of the city’s busy subway network. Ortiz charges $2 for a 5-minute session, but it’s clear the wise and caring youth’s advice is worth a lot more.
“It’s a good way to give back and make money,” — says 11-year-old commuter counsellor
Ciro Ortiz is a 4’8” (142cm) Bushwick sixth-grader, who has been counselling anxious commuters at the Bedford L train stop in Brooklyn since last November. For a mere $2 a time, he offers five-minute “emotional advice” sessions. His office hours are between noon and 2 p.m.
“It’s a good way to give back and make money,” the 11-year-old told The New York Post.
One afternoon last December, a couple stopped by Ciro’s “Peanuts”-style card table for some marital counseling. The husband was unhappy that his wife had recently gone vegan.
“I told him that she didn’t get mad at him for eating meat,” Ciro said. “She likes to eat what she wants and he likes to eat whatever he wants so they’re just gonna have to deal with it.”
In the past, Ciro has been bullied at school, and that inspired him to offer counseling instead of channeling his entrepreneurial tendencies into a lemonade stand.
“Ciro is really sensitive and he’s had a hard time,” his mother, Jasmine Aequitas, a 35-year-old poet, told The New York Post. “The first day he was out there [on the subway platform, giving counseling], he was very nervous and unsure of himself . . . A few Sundays later he’s come back saying, ‘I’ve met so many wonderful people. I’m gonna end up having so many friends.’ ”
“He’s always been much more mature than whatever grade he was in,” added his father, Adam Ortiz, 36 and a nonprofit marketing director.
On a good Sunday, Ciro can make $50, but he has no plans to pursue a career as a psychotherapist; he says he wants to be a video-game developer. A student at MS 577, he “hates” school but is on the honour roll and excels in science and English classes.
The young counselor thinks he gets his wisdom from his parents, who have always encouraged him to be kind to everyone and to pursue his dreams — even if it means that they have to spend their Sundays hanging out in a subway station as Ciro works.
Clients say the young boy’s advice is right on the money
“Somebody came up to us and said that what he told her is what she’d been feeling in her gut that whole time,” proud Dad Adam said.
Ciro loves “Minecraft” and comic books, but he hasn’t been on a shopping spree with his earnings. “He buys food or snacks at school for kids who can’t afford them,” Adam said. “He’s not selfish with his money.’’
The most common problem he’s seen, Ciro said, is adults having trouble dealing with change. “They feel a certain way in the past and when they look [back] in hindsight, they say things were so much better back then,” he said.
Ciro’s advice? “We have to accept change. It’s going to happen — it’s always going to happen. Life is always changing.”