So money has been an issue around our house lately because both of my teen girls haven’t been working much lately; however, I’m confident this won’t be a problem for long because thankfully, both of my girls are very entrepreneurial.
For example, in the past, my youngest daughter often came up with different ways to make money, such as by holding photography shoots for her friends or by selling clothes she grew out of through various social media sites and she was a constant babysitter as well. My eldest daughter made money by doing makeovers for young people to help them get ready for the photo shoots and she also did a fair amount of babysitting.
Also, from very young ages, they both worked at a local daycare where they were paid a training wage and then last year they were both employed by Subway for a short time and made hordes of money considering they were only 14 and 15 years old. My eldest daughter worked way more hours and so earned a lot more money, which she banked and my youngest daughter worked fewer hours and so she had less money to put in the bank, but now it’s been over six months since they worked for Subway and as I said, there haven’t been as many babysitting jobs lately, so money has become an issue once again.
For the time being, their dad and I decided to reinstate their allowance to cover incidental costs. As with most young people, they have very particular tastes in many areas and so the allowance gives them the chance to exercise some control without my having to be nagged every time they run out something they feel they can’t live without. And the idea of being in control of their own lives brings me to the reason why they don’t have time to get another job for the time being.
Lately, my daughters have been working on launching a business. They have developed and launched a marketing brand called JulesnClara and their first project for that brand is to create a YouTube channel called JulesnClara, which they have been working on since last spring and they launched on July 1st. Their channel and their brand is all about promoting health and wellness to teen girls just like themselves. Our goal is for them to spend their last 2-3 school years learning to become competent and prosperous businesswomen.
Of course, this whole situation got me thinking about the big picture of how kids can be raised to get the life they want without having to settle or compromise and this time, I was reminded of a job I used to have as the circulation manager for a national magazine. That magazine was called Realm, Creating Work You Want and there was also a French version of it called Sphère, Le Monde Du Travail Recrée. The magazine was, as the title suggests, all about helping young people, ages 18 to 29, create the kind of work they wanted in their life because the world of work was changing and the only way a person would truly be able to survive and thrive in the future was if they approached life with a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
This fact applies not only to an actual business if a young person chooses to be an entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word, but it also applies to all regular employment situations where young people must be very entrepreneurial to be able to achieve their goals and secure promotions and raises. Corporations are struggling more and more with each passing year and so they are putting crazy pressure on their workers to generate solutions to increasingly complex problems.
This problem with the world of work began more than 20 years ago with the advent of the information age, but it has intensified with each passing year since then. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for young people to have to hold down 2 or 3 or more jobs and contracts to be able to make ends meet. And this is also true of people who have multiple college and university degrees. Even in the late 90s, it was believed that young people would need to change jobs 14 times by age 38, which is quite a bit different than the last century when once you got a job, generally, you had it until retirement.
So, if having an entrepreneurial spirit has become a matter of survival for young people in the recent past and if this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future, is there anything parents can do to help them down this path while they are still young. What exactly does a parent do to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in their children right from the toddler years?
When I thought about how I helped my children develop an entrepreneurial spirit in their lives, it made me think of the idea of speed dating. I’m sure by now we all know what that is; you attend an event where there are lots of single men and women registered and you spend 5 to 7 minutes with each member of the opposite sex asking questions and get a getting a general sense of the person. Then at the end of the night, the men are given the contact information of the women who would welcome an invitation from them. When you think about it, it is probably a very effective concept, even though I’ve seen many episodes of many television shows that have poked fun at this dating ritual.
But what about kids? How do you use the idea of speed dating to help your children become entrepreneurial? Well, I think moms need to introduce kids to dozens of activities and let kids undertake dozens of projects all through childhood so they have many years to develop and perfect the complex skills that define entrepreneurialism, including flexibility, adaptability, critical thinking, problem solving and many more.
When I completed my Masters degree in business, the thing I noted most about the program was that I took 13 mostly unrelated courses during the program and each course just gave me an introduction to the subject matter. It seemed strange at the time because a Masters program is about mastery and so how could having only an introduction to all the different subject areas involved with running a business lead me down the road of becoming a successful business person?
Well it comes down to the fact that an MBA program is designed to train CEOs or chief executive officers and a CEO does not need to know the specific subject matter in any given area because a CEO will, of course, have staff who have specialization in all the different areas and all the CEO needs to be able to do is keep a handle on the big picture of the company as well as its bottom line and they do this by holding staff accountable for the work they have been hired to do instead of doing it themselves. The best CEO’s are more like effective coaches than they are direct workers.
Modern kids need to be like this too; they need to be coaches in their own lives, figuring out strategies, accessing resources and leveraging opportunities rather than just being worker bees. And I feel there is plenty parents can do right from the toddler years to help them accomplish this outcome.
The first step is to allow children to explore as many passions as possible all through childhood. I used the full immersion parenting model. I used to say that my job was to follow my girls around with a credit card and make sure they didn’t burn down the house. Whenever they expressed interest in something, no matter how crazy or obscure, I would find a way to help them immerse themselves in it until they had learned what they needed to learn and were ready to move onto something else.
I think it is impossible while children are still young to know where their passions lie and it’s critically important for children to be allowed to explore their passions. Because they get distracted by every cool thing that comes along, it’s important for parents to create a system where children can try things out because this allows the true passions to emerge slowly over several years.
For my own kids, they dabbled in all kinds of things, but overtime, my eldest moved strongly in the direction of the performing arts and into the arena of fighting for social justice causes and my other child instead has become more passionate about things that help people be seen and heard such as photography and learning sign language. She is a true peace maker at heart and she wants people to have peace in their lives. I guess she believes she can accomplish this by helping people be seen and heard.
But none of this would’ve been possible had they not been allowed to immerse themselves in the dozens of different interests they had all through their childhoods. The same is true for me; I would not have emerged as a passionate health, stress, parenting and business coach had I not dabbled in dozens of different fields throughout my life.
I believe that every person’s big picture stress management goal should be to get to do the work they love because that is how they will have the least amount of stress and that is how they will need the fewest destructive coping mechanisms to cope with stress and get through life. However, it takes experimentation to find out where your passions lie and that’s why parents need to focus on helping their kids develop an entrepreneurial spirit while they are still toddlers.
Parents can do this by demonstrating an entrepreneurial spirit in their own lives and by encouraging entrepreneurial activities at home such as working on projects and letting kids lead. Kids must be encouraged and supported to develop and implement endless ideas and plans, they can put on events and they can constantly try new things. Most important, we must let kids be in charge while they do all this work. Parents must be willing helpers only.
I can’t tell you how many events, projects and activities my kids initiated, planned, implemented, evaluated and wrapped up by the time they were 13 years old. And I did this at home as well as creating opportunities for them to do this in their neighborhoods and communities.
Over the years, they have developed rock solid entrepreneurial skills that they now use and will use for the rest of their lives to be successful in business and in life. And even if they end up not being self-employed, they will be able to use the skills in their careers, successfully working for the companies and organizations they choose. And I truly want that reality to be possible for all kids.