Teaching the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs
As a founder of two companies, I’ve hired over 200 people. Interviewing, training, and coaching employees has taught me a lot about the skills I want my own children to have—and traits I don’t want them to have when they’re adults. I want my daughters to be hard-working, mission-driven, obstacle-crushing women, which is why I’m training them to be entrepreneurs. I’m doing it just as my mom taught me and my grandfather taught her.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter if they don’t become business owners, but I believe entrepreneurs know how to get in the right frame of mind to tackle their goals and achieve what they want in life. Anyone can take management classes or go to business school to learn tactical skills, so what I’m focused on is helping my daughters develop a kind of mental fortitude that only develops with time and experience.
These are three important skills I’m teaching my children, the next generation of entrepreneurs, so they’ll be ready for challenges in the future.
- Decide if you really want that goal. Many entrepreneurs bring passion to their businesses, but in reality aren’t 100% fully committed—somewhere inside they still waiver. I hate nagging my daughters to practice their instruments or their golf swings. It’s a signal they aren’t completely committed. I want them to feel driven from within, and not need someone else to push them, so now I ask them to decide for themselves if they want to commit to an activity. And if they’re not, we agree to stop and focus on something else. I always remind them that people don’t reach goals when they are still on the fence. Hopefully when they get older, they’ll know that if they haven’t fully decided to commit to something in advance, whether it’s staying fit, starting a business, or finding a partner, then it probably won’t happen.
- Form habits so you don’t have to use willpower. In business, you need a ton of discipline—especially around things that you don’t want to do. In my twenties, I had trouble sticking to everyday habits (e.g. flossing every night, meditating in the morning), and I found it helpful to make to-do lists. Now, I have my children do the same thing. Every day they refer to a checklist of five or six things they need to accomplish that day—simple things like making their beds, brushing their teeth at night, and journaling—and they don’t go to sleep until they’ve marked them off the list. They are learning that things they ought to do should be habitualized until they become rote. After that, the habits become so sticky that they’ll feel unsettled when they don’t do them. .
- Recognize when you talk yourself out of doing things—and learn to flip the conversation. When things get really tough in business, many people simply quit. When my daughter came back from sports camp this summer, I asked her whether there was a sport that she didn’t enjoy. She said that she really hated lacrosse even though she was initially excited about it. I asked her how she stuck with it and didn’t quit. She told me that every time she had a negative thought about playing lacrosse, she changed the messaging in her head. Instead of telling herself “I hate this. I can’t wait until it’s over.” She flipped her messaging to “It’s going to feel good when I’ve learned something new. And maybe the more I play, the more I’ll like the sport.” When the messaging in someone’s head is positive, they’ll feel rewarded by tackling challenges.
What many entrepreneurs don’t realize is that they’ve essentially learned a number of valuable lessons during childhood that translate into the business world, as well as everyday life. While some of these may seem remedial, they are critical in the development of the mental mindset of an entrepreneur as you move through the various points of the lifecycle of leadership.