I wasn’t raised as an entrepreneur.
Even though my dad runs his successful law firm, he never sat me down to have “The Talk.” The Talk about Business, I mean. Our first business talk didn’t take place until I was a year into my startup.
“We need to talk taxes,” he texted me. Yay. Riveting.
My mom is a first generation Asian American nurse with traditional views on the American career path: go to school, go to more school, become a professional. I’m not one for stereotypes, but this one fits so well. My Asian Tiger Mom left little room for me to be anything other than a doctor, lawyer, or professional pianist.
I played those roles as all good children do, until we discovered that I’m not made for any of those roles. The slow pace and complexity of medicine irritated and confused me, which eliminated a medical profession. I had a tough time following someone else’s rules, so law was out. Finally, I tired quickly from playing pieces by Mozart, Bach, and any other dead composer who wore wigs.
Does your kid sound like me?
I noticed that I had an instinct to be on the opposite side of the three things my mother wanted me to be. Instead of slow and complex, I had an affinity towards speed and simplicity. I had a preference—and a knack—for breaking rules, rather than obeying them. The greats in music were great, but I didn’t want to play their pieces forever. Instead, I wanted to have others play mine. In other words, I wanted to be Mozart, Bach and wear wigs.
Does your kid push Bach like me? I had to do that; I’m sorry.
If so, there might be hidden potential for entrepreneurship. In your role as a parent, I suggest you dig in.
“I don’t have any kids,” I told my dad last Father’s Day. “Happy Father’s Day.”
The number of children I have hasn’t changed since that Father’s Day—still zero—and I don’t pretend to understand what it’s like to have kids. My gut tells me it’s tough, and my parents tell me my gut is correct.
What I do have is entrepreneurial experience.
Here are some simple ways to challenge your kids to think more like successful entrepreneurs. This mindset is useful regardless of which professional direction they go. Using these three games will help your youngster think in terms of “what’s possible” rather than “what’s not possible.”
1. Walk through a mall. Pick a day to stroll through your local mall or shopping strip. Have them find something they want to buy. Hold the item, and start the game. They have to answer three questions well to get the item. Ask them, “What do you think others like most about this store? What do you think your friends would like about this item? What’s something else you think this store should sell?”
2. Combine two things. Take two seemingly unrelated items and ask, “What could you do with these two things?” Let their imagination run wild. Don’t stop there! If a good idea surfaces, have them draw it on a piece of paper. Often, innovation comes from the combination of two unrelated ideas.
3. Give a dollar away. This is my favorite. Success is fulfilling only when it was gained through generosity. Have a discussion about someone in need. It could be a homeless person, charity, or a friend. Have them brainstorm ways to help them, and then give them the dollar to give away. A way to play this game on a higher level is to give them a dollar, then have them buy something that will help more than that lone dollar. This is full use of the “Teach a man to fish” philosophy.
Thinking more like successful entrepreneurs is crucial to success in our ever-changing business environment. The Internet has knocked down many barriers into entrepreneurship, and the wise are leveraging that new access. Employees are now often being asked to be intrapreneurs, meaning entrepreneurs inside of a company. These fun, simple games could get the ball rolling on their creativity and generosity.
And they don’t even have to be brilliant like Mozart to play.
Photo: Flickr/ Lemonhead