My babies are going to business school! They may be only eight and eleven, but the time is right! And you can’t beat the commute! Sound like I’ve lost my mind? Not yet! Let me explain.
When I was writing Elon Musk: A Mission to Save the World, my research meant a deep dive into Elon’s childhood. I wanted to understand who he was as a kid and what drove him. There were so many fascinating stories… but as a single mom myself, what really and truly grabbed my attention was Elon’s mother.
Maye Musk and Elon’s father divorced when their three children were still small. Money was scarce. Maye had to hustle to put food on the table and create a stable future for her children and herself. As a trained dietician and model, Maye focused on building her client list. She added modeling jobs. These opportunities did not materialize out of thin air. It took a ton of hard work. And she did not hide this BUSINESS from her children. She involved them. They helped.
Reading that inspired me because I was trying to cram all of my work into the children’s school hours. . . all of the book writing, blog posting, promotion, marketing, communications into five or six hours. That meant I woke up before they did and stayed up long after they went to sleep. When they came home from school, they had my full attention. But I was exhausted. And what were they learning from this exactly. That food magically arrives on the table, from the food fairy? What was I protecting them from? Reality. Why was I doing this? Answering that could be a book within itself. But I’m gonna quickly say that conditioning probably has its roots in sexism and misogyny.
Instead, I began teaching my kids how to behave at book events and brought them along to support other authors. When it came to my own book events, they learned what they could do to help (lead activities, offer mom some water, greet guests and readers, help with set-up and clean-up, etc). I didn’t ask the kids for perfection. But I asked for their best effort because that’s the foundation of our professional journeys, right? Figuring it out as we go along? Applying our training and education? And then we consider our results, tweak, and take another run at it. Right? This changed a fundamental dynamic in how we relate as a family. They were included. It gave them ownership. And we made it fun.
Now, during pandemic quarantine, many of us are in this same boat together. We are working from home. And our children are home from school.
We can take a page from Maye Musk who shared the behind-the-scenes work and daily tasks with her kids and taught them how to help. We can’t exactly argue with her results. All three of her children are entrepreneurs. Maye’s filmmaker daughter, Tosca, founded and runs a streaming romance movie company. Her son Kimbal is leading a food revolution based on local resources, something he tackled long before the pandemic exposed massive problems in our food supply chain. Maye’s eldest, Elon, co-founded PayPal, Tesla, founded SpaceX which is about to launch astronauts to the International Space Station. It will be an historic first for a private company from U.S. soil. Their success did not come with out setbacks and failure. But they adjusted and kept at it. Just like their mother. (Not to mention the fact that today, Maye Musk is a spokesperson for CoverGirl, an author, and has a vibrant modeling career in her 70’s).
So if you feel like you have to hide your work form your kids. Stop. Your children have so much to learn from this part of who you are. They have so much to gain from seeing real time problem solving.
Plus, I believe, our kids need to feel useful right now. They need to be helpful. They need to feel like a contributing part of surviving this crisis. That may be as simple as bringing you a glass of water, preparing the mid-morning snack, or preparing mailers. It will be different for every pint-sized business school student!
IDEA SHARE! Here are some things we are doing in our business school:
- Morning meeting – We gather at the desk, look at this assignments, go over my to-do’s. Then we look at the numbers. What does my business look like in plot charts, trends, conversations, clicks, sales, etc.
- Set Expectations – Co-worker behavior. School aged children can understand this. When we are at the desk, it’s co-worker code. Respectful. Positive. Honest. Best Effort we can muster (ever changing target for both of us).
- Common Ground – New math or writing assignments can feel like climbing Mt. Everest. Well, so can learning new social media skills for business. That’s something we have in common. Sometimes learns is a thrill ride. Sometimes it’s scary.
- Get Good at Failure. Sometimes kids get the answer wrong or forget to turn in an assignment or blurt out something they regret. Well, my business is full of rejection, revision, redirection. And there’s the fear of what will happen to the publishing industry. How do we handled it? Breathing. Brainstorming. Action.
- Own Your Awesomeness – Whether you are in medical billing, writing, acting, cleaning, hospitality, paleontology, running the home front or (ENTER YOUR JOB HERE), what you do is important. It’s real. And that’s fascinating to kids. Own it! Explain it to those babies with pride.
And chances are your job directly ties into their math lessons, writing, reading and development of critical thinking. What you have to say will bring their schoolwork alive.
In all the darkness of this pandemic, in all the fear, and the disruption, there is a unique opportunity to teach our children. One day, our kids will truly lean on these conversations.
Friends, I know this pandemic is serving up a whole host of challenges. This is not a message of parenting perfection. I’m not living that. And I’m not preaching it. But I am seizing this opportunity to tweak my parenting, tweak what I’m teaching them and how. And I’m sharing my ideas along the way. If you have some awesome business-school-for-kids ideas to share, please fill up the comments below!
One foot in the front of the other, friends! You’ve got this!
P.S. Tomorrow, I have a new book cover to show you! I am beyond excited, BEYOND! Plus, we’ve got to get ready for that historic SpaceX launch happening at the end of the month. If all goes according to plan, that historic launch will make headlines around the world. But you’ll have the inside scoop on how SpaceX got here! I’ll have you ready for full geek out by launch time. This is going to be fun!
P.P.S. Check out my debut picture book with Harper Collins. I can’t think of a better moment to introduce you to a brave hero who courageously saved the words that built America. I am talking about the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and more. This man’s TRUE and long forgotten actions inspired me to be brave during a tough time in my life and I hope they’ll inspire you! You can order now. Grab a signed copy through my local indie book shop, PRINT: A Bookstore, and you will be entered to win a bundle of all four of my books!