Women in roles of leadership and especially those building their own business are becoming more commonplace in modern times. As a culture, women have made considerable strides in the last few decades making their way into positions of authority. Women in business are stepping outside of traditional roles and thriving in the professional world. With every step forward that women take in society, there were women before them who were breaking ceilings and making room at the table. Today, with hard work, sweat, and determination, women can lead and build businesses successfully. Women can help other women learn from the lessons they faced in the past, helping and encouraging the future of women in business.
Women entrepreneurs know that the entrepreneurship grind does not come without hardships and struggle. Relying on the experience of other entrepreneurs who have gone before them can help them make the trek slightly less complicated. Seasoned and experienced mentors can be an excellent resource for budding women entrepreneurs. Sharon Bush is an entrepreneur who has expressed that women with more life experience can extend a helping hand to younger generations. Bush has started several businesses of her own and knows a thing or two about starting your own business.
Sharon Bush took the initiative to start several companies and foundations that help children in the United States and internationally. One of these ventures is called Teddy Shares. When a teddy bear is purchased from Teddy Shares, a Plump’Nut supplement is given to children who need nutrients and nourishment. Sharon Bush has also worked to leave a greener and more environmentally conscious world to future generations. She oversees business development for two companies, Protein Matrix, and GreenStract. Both focus on how we can better improve how we dispose of and break down waste. Sharon Bush has also invested her time as a board member in organizations that are vessels for positive change. Some of these include the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and the UN Women for Peace Association (UNWFPA). As a mother, entrepreneur, business-woman, and teacher, she brings a wealth of information on the matter of balancing business and life. Sharon Bush passed on her entrepreneurial spirit to her children. Her daughter Lauren Bush is the CEO of a company called FEED, which also focuses on tackling the problem of world hunger. [LinkedIn]
As an experienced entrepreneur, Sharon Bush’s advice is to be open about your gender-related struggles. When we share stories about our experiences, our efforts, and how we grew through them and overcame them, we can give hope to those going through their own experiences- that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and hardships can produce great learning. Society places high expectations on women. To have it all together all the time and not look like you are breaking a sweat is delusional and a reality in which a normal human being would not thrive. To truly succeed, there naturally will be struggles along the way. Being open and authentic about those struggles allows people to relate, not feel alone, and give them a boost of confidence. To know that others who have gone before you and made it through also provides a sense of comfort. Women entrepreneurs are becoming more common, but you still might be a minority in a business world of men; know that what you feel, see, and experienced is not uncommon. Being vulnerable about your past struggle while navigating the entrepreneur world, can make a newcomer not feel so alone.
Bush also talks about intentionally seeking out high achieving professionals and being a mentor, taking them under your wing. To build up the next generation of professional high achieving women, it is essential to see them for where they are at and give them the advice and guidance you wish you could have had. It is crucial that women give each other a hand up and spread knowledge and wisdom where one can. With this mentorship comes a level of honesty that is intended to help. Bush also talks about giving feedback, even if it’s negative. To grow we need to be aware of where gaps exist, and sometimes it takes an outside eye to identify areas of growth.
Starting your own business is no small undertaking. Thankfully today, women can connect with those who have gone before who can mentor and advise on the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship. It’s safe to say that being an entrepreneur can bring some extreme highs and lows and having one person to lend an ear or offer advice can make a significant impact on your experience.
Pictured: Voss Road Flooded by Hurricane Harvey
I was so proud when my son Pierce was named CEO of Big Brothers & Sisters Lone Star in 2015. As the largest Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in the world, it covers Houston, North Texas, and West Central Texas.
Weeks ago, as the news focused on the impending hurricane, Harvey, my thoughts were with Pierce, and the children he helps every day. Then, on August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. By Sunday evening there was catastrophic flooding in Houston and the surrounding areas.
As the disaster continued to unfold, and life-saving measures were taken– from opening shelters to rescuing people from rooftops- I could only imagine the fear and heartbreak being experienced by the children who are part of Big Brother Big Sisters.
I raised my own children in Houston, and was devastated when I saw that Voss Road, the street I used every day when I drove my children home from school, was underwater.
Pierce may or may not remember those trips with the same fondness I do, but while I’m heartbroken at the photos, I couldn’t be prouder of my son now as he responds to the overwhelming problems that face all of Houston as they emerge, literally, from the floodwaters.
This is the note he sent:
Because of my involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters, I have often told friends that the divisive news cycle we see on the television screen is not the reality I get to see every day. For every day when I arrive at work, I get to see a world in which people sacrificially give their time, energy, love and resources to young people whom they would likely not meet otherwise, all in an effort to make their lives better. They simply understand that when a kid is suffering in our community, we are all suffering no matter if that kid is related by blood or not.
In the face of tremendous tragedy, we have seen tremendous care. I am deeply moved by the stories of people helping their fellow neighbors during this tragic storm and love the city of Houston which I am honored to call my home. It is a city that embraces the incredible diversity of its people and takes pride in being the most diverse city in the USA. It is a city that is open and friendly to all who want to make a better life for themselves. It is a city that looks today what America will look like tomorrow. Because of how Houston has acted during this storm, it is safe to say that America will always be the greatest, most welcoming place on earth, because its people are good.
Thank you, Houston, for being so awesome! We will rebuild our great city for all of our neighbors.
— Pierce Bush
Clearly, even with the courage, strength and optimism of people like my son, it will take years to rebuild Houston. But Houstonians are big hearted, and always help each other.
Texas Governor, Greg Abbot, said, “We need to recognize it will be a new normal, a new and different normal for this entire region.”
Right now the focus is on emergency relief. But, as the waters recede and the people in this place I love come together to create their “new normal,” it uplifts me tremendously to know that all the water, and destruction, have not damaged the spirit of the city– the people.
I couldn’t be prouder of my son and my city.
Saying prayers for everyone.
Girlboss. Lady boss. Mompreneur. No matter what you call them or how you feel about the cutesy nicknames, there’s no denying that women entrepreneurs are having something of a cultural moment. From the Netflix Girlboss TV show, featuring a woman who starts her own fashion empire, to the real-life moguls rounding out Forbes’ list of the most powerful women in business, women have made it into the big time, and people are paying attention.
The best part about more women breaking into the ranks of boardrooms and corner offices? It puts us in a position to recognize and identify other capable women that we can pull up to the top with us. Here are some specific ways that we can act as mentors to our fellow females:
- Be open about your own gender-related struggles.
Don’t think you’re doing a good deed by sweeping any difficulties you’ve faced as a woman under the rug. If women don’t hear other women talking about how frustrating and lonely the working world can feel sometimes, they’ll wonder if there’s something wrong with them instead of with the situation. So tell them about the time when you were the only woman in the room and you felt like everyone doubted your right to be there. Tell them about the time when you felt like your voice wasn’t being heard. Tell them about how hard it is to succeed both in the office and at home, and about how sometimes on your worst days you’ve felt like you’re failing at both. Most importantly, tell them that you pushed through it and stuck with it.
Feelings of gender-related frustration are completely normal, and it’s important for women to hear that from more accomplished women that have lived through it all. Honesty breeds trust. It also sets expectations appropriately. You may not be able to give her the magic answers to all of the struggles she’ll face, but at least she’ll be prepared to face them.
- Don’t wait to be approached. Look out for high-achieving young professionals and take them under your wing.
Asking for advice from a senior-level professional can be intimidating, and women new to the working world may be unsure about how to broach the topic of mentorship. Instead of putting the pressure on her to make the first step, take the initiative and do it yourself.
First, let her know that your door is always open if she ever needs advice or wants to talk. Remind her that you were in her shoes once, too. Then, take an active interest in what she does. Start small by always asking questions and showing interest in how she’s feeling about work. Ask what frustrates her and what excites her. Walk her through some of the tougher leadership decisions you’ve been making so that she gets an insider’s view on your thought process. Keep the conversation going.
You don’t even need to officially apply the “mentor” label; let your relationship grow naturally.
- Establish a formal support group for women within your company.
From “Lean In” circles to Women’s Issues working groups at work, a more formal affinity group or support group for women can be an excellent way to expand the idea mentorship besides the traditional one-on-one approach. If your company doesn’t already have one, consider starting one.
In this way, you can be one of a group of senior-level mentors that helps tackle company issues head on and encourages women to support each other in the workplace. By talking about your experiences in groups instead of one-on-one, everyone involved will be exposed to a wide variety of advice; different things work for different people. Plus, you’ll develop your own professional network at the same time.
- Never hesitate to give her feedback, even if it’s negative.
As a mentor, one of the most useful contributions you can make to her future success is to give her specific, actionable feedback. Especially in a large and more formal workplace, honest feedback can often be hard to come by.
Don’t just focus on the positive feedback, either. Tell her what she’s doing wrong, and what she can improve on. Tell her that you noticed she seemed nervous speaking in front of everyone, ad recommend some practice tips or that she join a Toastmasters group. Tell her that you think she needs stronger leadership experience, and recommend specific ways for her to improve.
If specific and genuinely constructive criticism comes from someone she respects and who she knows has her best interests at heart, she’s more likely to listen. A true mentor wants their mentee to become stronger, and that means having the tough conversations.
For women entrepreneurs over the age of 50, the odds seem to be in their favor. Recent data shows that the 55-to-64-year-old age group boasts the highest rate of entrepreneurship among Americans. Female founders are on an upward trend, too. Older female entrepreneurs may not meet the common caricature of the spectacled young techie founders running Silicon Valley, but they’re clearly thriving–and with good reason. Middle-aged women are at a time in their lives that’s ripe for innovation and entrepreneurship. Here’s why:
- We know from personal experience what over-50’s want.
Companies are tripping over themselves to market to millennials, the largest demographic in the U.S., numbering about 80 million. If they can only crack the code to being “cool,” the thinking goes, they’ll reap the financial rewards accordingly.
But their laser focus on the young adult market carries risks. Over-50s hold 80% of the developed world’s wealth, and as more of them make their way to retirement, they’re ready to start spending. And with women making the majority of household purchasing decisions, who better to lead the way in developing new products for the over-50 market than female over-50 entrepreneurs themselves?
- We’ve spent a lifetime building up our networks.
One critical factor in building a successful business is finding the right people on your team. While a just-out-of-college entrepreneur can hire a headhunter and perform multiple rounds of interviews, it takes time and effort to form an effective group of key employees. Older entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are more likely to have already built a deep bench of people that they have worked well with before and can trust. Drawing from that bench will let them hit the ground running.
Those strong networks built up over the years will come in handy not just for hiring the right people for the job, but also for marketing products and generating excitement and publicity. With a full career behind us and the contacts to show for it, we’re starting two steps ahead of fresh-faced college graduates.
- The numbers and the research are both on our side.
From Mark Zuckerberg to Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the media loves to tell stories about twentysomethings with fresh ideas building successful enterprise giants from the ground up. It’s interesting, it’s exciting, and it’s dramatic. But when you look at the numbers, these young founders are far from the norm. In fact, they’re actually the ones who beat the odds; there are twice as many entrepreneurs over the age of 50 as there are under 25, and 38% of founders are over the age of 40.
Research shows why those findings make sense: according to a Kellogg study, people are truly becoming more innovative at older ages. It takes time for all of our education and work experience to settle in our brain and trigger new ideas about better ways of doing things. In today’s world, where people are living longer, healthier lives, older entrepreneurs have the energy and the resources to act on those ideas.
- We’re thinking about building our legacy.
As a general rule, women over 50 are starting to think about building our legacy for the future, meaning that we’re not slowing down–we’re speeding up as we start to envision the finish line off in the distance. Psychology bears this theory out. 50-year-olds are solidly in the seventh developmental stage, “generativity”, of psychologist Erik Erikson’s eight developmental life stages. The “generativity” stage is defined as a time of increased productivity and creativity, as people want to contribute to society and the world around them. Think of it like a “midlife crisis” in the sense that 50-and-overs are ready to take risks and make major life changes–but in a good way, and not actually a crisis at all.
- We’re pursuing less crowded markets.
Popularized by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, many modern entrepreneurs aim to pursue a “blue ocean strategy” in which their product won’t have any competition, so that they can expect to capture a greater share of the potential market. With the product landscape targeting tech-savvy twentysomethings oversaturated, that creates a prime opportunity for over-50 entrepreneurs to innovate new products targeting the increasing number of older Americans, a market that is relatively wide open: only 10% of marketing budgets are designated for the 50+ age group, even though they account for over half of all consumer expenditures in the U.S. That’s a huge missed opportunity, and older entrepreneurs are in the perfect position to take advantage of the imbalance.
Keep Your Eyes on Women Over 50
While Forbes touts its youth-focused “30 under 30” list, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the next great innovation will be born out of youthful exuberance; it’s more likely that it will be born out of old-school wisdom, and that that wisdom will come from a woman over 50.
Below is a video of Sharon Bush speaking at the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague at the European Families in Business Conference for Campden Wealth. She was a keynote speaker discussing overcoming the glare of the spotlight and empowering the next generation to become healthy contributors to society.
Just because Mother’s Day has come and gone and Father’s Day is around the corner, we can’t lose sight of the many women who play the part of both parents at home. According to the 2016 census, 23% of families with children under 18 are single-mother households, and out of the 11 million single-parent households, 8.5 million of those are led by moms.
I know that balancing work and family can be difficult for any parent, but for single mothers trying to be there for their children while earning enough money to provide for her household, balancing both responsibilities is even more of a challenge.
Luckily, there are many nonprofits around the country that provide help and guidance for moms doing it all on their own. Here are four organizations that do everything they can to improve the lives of single moms on a local and national scale.
Women’s Banking Worldwide
For over 30 years, Women’s Banking Worldwide has helped millions of low-income women around the world gain access to the products and services they need to become financially literate, independent, and responsible. With a network of 49 financial institutions within 32 countries, Women’s Banking Worldwide develops means through which women can set up and use saving and checking accounts, receive health microinsurance as well as loans for their entrepreneurial endeavors. The organization’s ultimate goal is to give women the opportunity to build a financial safety net that is easy to use, convenient, and conducive to a successful economic future. And through conducting thorough market research, they are able to evolve their products and create new ones that fit the needs of women today.
National Partnership for Women & Families
Paid Family Leave is a hot topic and for a single working mother, having the ability to stay home and care for their sick child without having to dive into her savings account makes a big difference not just for the child, but for her as well. That’s just one of the many issues that National Partnership for Women & Families is fighting for. The organization is a heavy lifter when it comes to campaigning for more substantial health care coverage including workplace benefits like paid sick leave, eliminating the gender pay gap and ending discrimination against pregnant women and new moms in the office. With a team of policy experts and attorneys, the nonprofit goes directly to the government to improve the lives of women, children, and families.
Children’s Health Fund
No child should have to compromise their health because of their economic status and no mother should have to sit by and watch as her child stays sick because she can’t afford to pay for a visit to the doctor or take off time from work. That’s when Children’s Health Fund goes to work. With 53 mobile pediatric medical centers operating throughout the country serving 290,000 individuals each year, the Blue Busses bring the doctor’s office and the experts to the young patients. Children’s Health Fund also provides support to pregnant women and mothers through a group care program, giving mothers the opportunity to bond with other mothers while doctors provide checkups to their children from birth to 18 months. For single mothers, having the ability to form a support group outside of a traditional family structure can make everything much easier.
I wouldn’t be fulfilling my role of “proud mother” if I didn’t mention my daughter, Lauren Bush Lauren’s nonprofit FEED. In 2007, Lauren’s travels as a World Food Programme (WFP) Honorary Spokesperson led her to see the impact of malnutrition on a global scale. Determined to find a solution, she founded an organization dedicated to alleviating hunger in the United States, parts of Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. Through the sale of specially designed (not to mention stylish) accessories like bags, jewelry, tees, and scarves, FEED is able to provide healthy and satisfying school meals, locally sourced ingredients, and crucial vitamins and micronutrient powders to households around the world. With a special focus on new mothers and mothers-to-be, Lauren’s organization keeps these women strong and energized so they can care for their families.
The important thing to remember is that if you’re a single mother, you’re not alone. There are organizations and individuals who have your back, even if you’ve never met them.
When you think of “New York City”, what do you think of? Many would call the urban jungle an epicenter of culture, a pioneer for the global marketplace, and a champion of culinary achievement. But would any of us call New York City a leader in sustainability?
Think of the congestion of traffic at rush hour, the over-saturation of trash on the city streets, and the dearth of recycling initiatives. Compared to a more sustainable city like Tokyo (recently named the “Greenest City in Asia”), New York certainly has ground to cover before it’s considered eco-friendly.
At the same time, New York has launched and is launching a slew of initiatives to try to catch up. Let’s take a look at what is on the horizon for New York’s environmental movement, and how these programs are faring.
As New York resident, I’ve had the opportunity to experience several sustainable efforts NYC. Recently, I’ve been enjoying frequent school field trips to the Botanical Gardens, the Bronx Zoo, and even learned all there is about The River Project this past October.
Sustainable efforts are being taken all over the city. Just last November, the Hotel Association of New York City awarded seven NYC hotels for promoting and practicing sustainable hospitality initiatives. The NYC Department of Education not only talks the talk but walks the walk, aiming for zero waste by 2030 as well as promoting education awareness and management to schools.
It’s also on the forefront of the political scene. Achieving the status of “sustainable” has been on the agenda of government officials in New York for the last decade. Between former Mayor Bloomberg’s roll out of PlaNYC in 2007, Mayor de Blasio’s announcement of OneNYC in 2015, and recently Governor Cuomo’s host of the regional sustainable development conference this past September, we’ve seen a concerted effort from our governmental bodies.
But how are these efforts holding up? Let’s examine two of the biggest initiatives, PlaNYC and OneNYC.
Bloomberg’s plan to implement PlaNYC began in 2007, and focused on 10 areas of interest. Each area aimed to help environmentally sustain NYC for the projected surge of 1 million new residents by the year 2030.
Here are the 10 areas of interest:
- Housing and Neighborhoods
- Parks and Public Space
- Water Supply
- Air Quality
- Solid Waste
- Climate Change
The plan also called to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.
Several successful initiatives have come out of the plan. According to a 2011 PlaNYC update, 97% of the 127 proposed initiatives were accomplished in the first year, making it wildly successful in its execution.
One successful initiative, the renovation of Freshkills Park, the world’s former largest landfall in Staten Island, is projected to be three times the size of Central Park.
Eight years after the original PlaNYC, New York City Mayor de Blasio’s updated proposal, OneNYC encompasses four ‘visions’, one of them called “Our Sustainable City”. There are five main components with 30 initiatives in de Blasio’s sustainability vision:
- 80 x 50 (Greenhouse gas emissions from the city will be reduced 80% by 2050)
- Zero waste (sent to landfills by 2030)
- Air Quality
- Brownfields (putting to beneficial use vacant lots that are majority in low-income areas)
- Water Management
- Park & Natural Resources
De Blasio’s plan is more demanding than Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, but so far, it has been generally well received. That being said, it’s still in its early stages, so it’s still too early in the year to check up into the progress. However, according to nyc.gov: “Over the last year, the City has made significant progress toward OneNYC’s goals. In fact, over 95 percent of OneNYC’s 202 initiatives are already underway.”
It’s always good to see politicians successfully delivering on promises, but it hasn’t been all smooth sailing.
Not all of efforts made through Bloomberg’s PlaNYC were without criticism. In April 2008, Bloomberg submitted a costly proposal of congestion pricing, creating an $8 charge on cars entering the busiest part of Manhattan during peak hours. This was in an effort to discourage New Yorkers from contributing to car exhaust, but it was struck down in Albany. The overwhelming opposition came from a majority of NYC politicians calling those benefiting from the plan “elitists”. It’s unfortunate, as funds collected from congestion pricing would have gone towards supporting public transit availability and efficiency.
Many of the criticisms of de Blasio’s OneNYC focus on the program’s lack of executables. Critics wonder how he is going to achieve his lofty ambitions in a city as complex as New York. Environmental justice groups, such as New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, support the vision, but they also note that it “lacks a genuine engagement of community involvement” and needs more actionable details.
NYC’s future for sustainability
While New York might not be a paradigm of sustainability yet, these initiatives prove there is progress on the horizon. Support from government agencies, the Department of Education, and local businesses has put the city on the right track.
But, as the Environmental Justice Alliance points out, community involvement is always at the heart of these movements. It will take support from all New Yorkers in order to make a green NYC a reality.
This article was originally posted on HuffingtonPost.com
Maybe all your children have left for college or left the family home for good to get married and build their own life. This is a big time of transition for many parents, and even more so for those who have always been very close to their children throughout their lives. It’s not uncommon to feel sad, anxious, and even depressed when your children leave. In fact, psychologists have a name for those feelings of loss you’re experiencing: Empty Nest Syndrome. Even though your children may be happy and in good health, busy moving on to the next chapter of their lives, you may be feeling anything but positive about the situation.
Is Empty Nest Syndrome Real?
In a nutshell, yes. Psychology Today defines it as, “feelings of depression, sadness and/or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes.” In addition, parents with ‘boomerang kids’ — adult children between 25 and 34 years of age who are still living at home to save money or get back on their feet after a personal crisis — often experience the same symptoms.
The experts at Family Health Psychiatric & Counseling Center, Pc in Michigan point out that about 30% of the 78 million baby boomers in America are about to be ‘empty nesters’ and many will be looking for support to help them through this difficult time. In an interview for TheScope University of Utah Health Sciences Radio, Dr. Kyle Bradford Jones explains the duality of emotions many parents experience as their kids grow up and then leave. You’re obviously excited for your kids to be moving forward in life and experiencing new things but you’re also experiencing negative emotions like grief, loneliness, or even depression, explains Dr. Jones.
Symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome
It’s normal to cry when your child leaves home and you may even find yourself feeling nostalgic when you see the child’s room or come across things or places that remind you of them. You might find it hard to watch your favorite shows you used to watch together as a family or you lose interest in cooking and daily activities since there’s no ‘family’ to cater to anymore. If you’re a single parent, the impact of having an empty home can be even more significant.
For many empty nesters, there is a noticeable grieving period and it may even feel like a death in the family. The Mayo Clinic emphasizes that this isn’t considered to be a medical condition but can be painful for many parents on several levels. Some of the symptoms of empty nest syndrome might include:
Random periods of sadness
– Crying episodes
– Difficulty sleeping or restlessness at night
– Feeling like you have lost your purpose
– Difficulty concentrating
– Not feeling like getting out of bed in the morning
Watching out for the signs of depression may be the most important thing when dealing with an empty nest. Depression can take its toll on your well-being and leave you stuck in a negative cycle. Seeking help early and even considering medication may help you get through this difficult time.
Benefits for Empty Nesters
While many parents can get hung up on the negative side of ‘losing’ their child and now living in an empty home, there are some benefits of this type of change in the household. Consider how having fewer people at home could reduce family conflicts. Married couples will have more quality time together and may be able to try new hobbies, spend more time with friends, or even travel. The pressure of having to take care of children — even adult children — is alleviated and parents can focus more on themselves.
Still, if you’re having a hard time coping with changes, you can seek some support from close friends or even a counselor. For many parents, parenting is part of their identity so saying goodbye to a child affects the parent at a much deeper level. Try and stay positive and focus on the new activities you can enjoy now that you have more time to be on your own. You can still make an effort to stay in touch with your children with regular visits, phone calls, and even video calls so it feels like they are still at home. Just recognizing that Empty Nest Syndrome is a very real thing can make it easier to cope and accept that this is just another chapter of your life.
When we think of raising our daughters to be entrepreneurs, we often think first of developing their money-smarts. And that’s important. No entrepreneur will be successful if they can’t develop, market, budget and invest in a savvy manner. But being an entrepreneur takes a certain mindset. A willingness to take calculated risk, the ability to know when to stick to your guns and when to change course, a love of brainstorming and the ability to understand what people want. That entrepreneurial mindset comes more easily to some kids (and adults) than others, but it’s a skill that can be encouraged, and it pays dividends in all areas of life.
Here are four ways we can help our daughters be entrepreneurs — not just in business, but in life:
1. Set the example.
Long before Melinda Gates became half of the Bill-and-Melinda-Gates powerhouse couple, she was Melinda French, one of four children growing up in a solidly middle-class family in Dallas. Education was key in the French household, and her parents, Ray and Elaine, were determined that all four children — sons and daughters — would attend college.
So Ray set up an entrepreneurship project on the side: operating rental properties. But it wasn’t just Ray and Elaine doing the work every weekend. The kids pitched in, too, on all aspects of the venture. They cleaned. They mowed grass. And they learned all about the financial end of the business, too.
“We would help him run the business and keep the books,” she told Fortune in 2008. “We saw money coming in and money going out.”
That fundamental equality, that requirement that all the children participate in all aspects of the business, laid the foundation for Gates as she went on to college at Duke University and then, eventually, when she herself became a parent.
As her first daughter got older, Gates told Fortune, she realized it was her turn to set the example. So Gates ramped up her involvement in the couple’s philanthropic foundation. “I really want her to have a voice, whatever she chooses to do,” she said of her daughter. “I need to role-model that for her.”
2. Break the mold.
Not every entrepreneur — surprisingly — is a natural at forging her own path. But that willingness to try, to adapt and to be persistent can be nurtured in our daughters.
When Indra Nooyi was a child in Madras, India, “there was a well-defined conservative stereotype,” she told Adi Ignatius of Harvard Business Review last year. But even within the boundaries of not embarrassing her parents, Nooyi stretched her wings — and her parents permitted it.
“Everything I did was breaking the framework” of 1950s and ’60s Indian society, she told HBR. “I played in a rock band. I climbed trees. I did stuff that made my parents wonder,’What the hell is she doing?’” But they didn’t hinder her exploration.
And in the process, she learned that she could not only hold her own, she could thrive.
Today, as president and CFO of PepsiCo, Nooyi continues that idiosyncratic exploration. She watches replays of Chicago Bulls games to study teamwork. She studied design with the late Steve Jobs of Apple, she told FastCompany.com, and adapted those lessons to PepsiCo products. She gives permission to — no, expects — those under her to find ways to adapt PepsiCo products to localized markets. And that leads us to …
3. Don’t hide your light.
Encourage your daughter to develop her unique point of view.
We often tell our daughters to “be yourself.” For years, that often wasn’t possible in the business world. But companies and, certainly, marketers, are finally discovering the benefit of listening to what half of the world’s population has to say. So tell your daughter: If you have an idea, share it. If you have a suggestion, speak up. If someone disagrees and you still feel your idea has merit, don’t abandon it.
PepsiCo’s Nooyi has many stories of the ways being a woman, and a business executive whose roots were outside America has given PepsiCo an edge. She has a sense of how some products and changes will be perceived outside the American framework. If she were trying to fit into the traditional “American businessman” mold, she’d lose what makes her unique — and she’d lose much of her influence.
Figure out what makes you unique, we must tell our daughters. Celebrate it, don’t apologize for it or diminish its importance. Once they have that confidence and that self-knowledge, they’ll have a set of qualities that sets them apart.
4. It’s OK to fail.
A dozen rejections for her first book. Unemployment. Divorce. A family member’s death. Welfare.
The early 1990s were not kind to J.K. Rowling.
Now, of course, she’s known as the mother of the Harry Potter universe. Her wealth has been compared to the Queen of England’s. But in interviews, Rowling well remembers what it was like to be labeled a failure when measured against what society calls “success.”
Our kids often feel pressure to “be perfect.” They don’t want to disappoint us, or fall out with friends, or be unpopular at school, so they stick with what they know: They may find it difficult to take chances.
It can be hard as parents to watch our daughters fail at something. We want to step in and smooth the path for them. But failure, Rowling says, can be freeing: If you’re self-motivated, it can clear life’s clutter and force you to focus on what you really want to do. She even titled her commencement address to Harvard’s Class of 2008, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination.” “Rock bottom,” she said, “became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
Show your daughter how to recover from failure. Demonstrate how to set a big goal, and then how to set milestones along the way to measure her progress. Help her figure out what lessons her failures are teaching her.
And remind her that, once she’s on the right path again, she should share that encouragement and experience with others.
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.com
Sharon Bush is an accomplished philanthropist who has worked for nearly four decades to bring resources to underprivileged women, children and families around the world. Her altruism and business acumen have had a powerful results, and many global organizations have recognized her humanitarian efforts with awards and accolades.