Practicing Decision Making

Did you know that Decision Making is a Skill? It falls under Soft Skills but it is anything but soft, it's critical!

When kids are given the space to make decisions, and do so, it's important that we use that moment to credit them with that. Not the topic or actual choice that they made, but the action of choosing, making a decision, is one we want to encourage.

For my son, I want to encourage him to try new things. New food, new clothes, hair styles, friend, sports, and so on. You can see that moment in your kids eyes when they over think something and it becomes a really big, painful deal. An easy example for us is trying new food. Our son is not a fan of new food and, when we tell him he has to try it before declaring he doesn't want it, you can see the panic start to rise the longer he thinks about whether he will actually put it in his mouth or not.

The other week he asked if he could try something we were eating. That is an action we want him to do more.

Another example is what he is going to do to keep himself occupied while we work. Often it is a struggle to get him to do anything other than watch his iPad, which is very limited in our home, so when he made a quick decision to take his scooter to the skate park, we were elated!

Teaching moments are all around us, but it is so important for us, as parents, to be aware of WHAT it is we are wanting to praise. Praising results, even if the results are exactly as we wanted them to choose, are not the actions we want to praise. That is what can develop into people pleasing, low confidence adults.

Instead we want to praise the process of how they got to those decisions, the action of deciding what they wanted or thought was best, whatever that may be.


Prepare Them for Anything!

Resiliency takes practice. So does Critical Thinking, Communication, Decision Making, Empathy and Adaptability.
We can hope that they learn it in school or by accident, which they often do to a degree, but to continue their development we must provide real world opportunities for them to exercise these skills & learn from their results. Then, practice it again in a new way with new results.
Build a Biz Kids uses Entrepreneurship as a medium to practice Real Life Skills in Real World Interactions. But of course throwing students into a situation without preparation wouldn't set them up to succeed.
Students attend 10 weeks of programming designed to prepare them for these real world interactions. Step by Step, they role play scenarios, plan and make BIG decisions, gain confidence through leadership and develop empathy for their customers who they will meet very soon.
As adults, we are cut off in traffic on a regular basis. Sometimes by accident, sometimes by overconfident people who believe their schedule is more important than ours.  How do you react?
For me, sometimes I'm glad not to have my son in the car with me, lol. It really get's to me. Other times I really impress myself by how little I react and that I empathize with the driver that they must have someplace important to go; or how sad for them that this is how they feel in control by making power moves that are dangerous and disrespectful. Aren't I the bigger person today?
Which was the better response? To be honest, it doesn't matter. No one was around to know about either of my possible reactions, unless they are in the car with me. The other driver doesn't know. My parents don't know. My favorite teacher who would be so disappointed in one of the responses, also doesn't know.
What matters is whether I did either one on purpose. Did I stop and reflect on how one reaction made me feel over the other? Did I question if one was more right or appropriate than the other? Did I even ask WHY I reacted differently from one occasion to the other in an objective manor?
Here is why these ACTIVE thoughts and reflections matter.
Just in this one situation, I had an opportunity to practice self control, empathy, leadership, self awareness, body language, conflict resolution, personal branding, adaptability, self confidence, resiliency, and possibly depending on the situation, time management and planning. All of the skills that I listed are known as soft skills. There are actually 87 of these skills, each one important in their own way. I prefer to call them Practical or Essential Skills myself. According to top employers in virtually every sector, that's exactly what they are; even superseding technical skills in many cases.
That is an entirely separate write up so let's jump back to the road rage (or not) situation. Everyday we are presented with opportunities to develop skills but instead of being "active" in our approach to practice and be aware, we work on autopilot and fall into habits that are already ingrained and getting deeper by the second.
The statement, "This is just the way I am" has always been one that has made me cringe. It couldn't be further from the truth. In actual fact, that statement is more accurately read, "This is the way I choose to continue to be".
The reaction in the car could be a reaction you are happy that you made. It made you feel good and therefore you just continue on your way. Or perhaps you didn't like your reaction and the rest of the car ride you feel embarrassed or scold yourself for not having control or more self worth. Again, both reactions are not helpful.
During either moment where you feel either reaction, the only thing that can ensure progress and growth, is to be self aware, reflect and contemplate what reaction you would like to have. What reaction would help you or someone else the most? What reaction do you envy when others display? And, most of all, what reaction would you like to train yourself to have going forward. What would you like to have as your new Autopilot?
Our reactions are very similar to addictions in that they are cycles that need to be broken and it takes an active, conscious approach to do it. Most of our habits have been developing for years and have deep pathways in our brains that must be filled with something new. However, the only way to do this is with the desire to grow, to acknowledge when opportunities arise to practice, and then to take action in those moments sooner and sooner in the "heat" of the moment.
I want to leave you with one take away example around our kids that I see often. Sports could easily be looked at as a place where our kids can learn resiliency. They missed the ball, missed the goal or they lost the game but tomorrow still came. Yes, they COULD learn resiliency, but are you and the coaches working actively to develop this SKILL in them?
It was the game right before championships. Both teams were great! It was back and forth and I have never seen a crowd so big at a baseball game for 9 & 10 year olds. The final inning and it is close. My son missed a key catch that could have easily knocked one of their out. No prob, we still have another batter up and either we get the 3rd out or they get a run in. That's it. It's as close as it gets.
Well, the other team won. There was a LOT of drama around a pitch with the Umps and I will save you the chaos but that was it. Our team lost.
WELL, I have NEVER seen such absolutely meltdowns of LOUD sobbing and yelling and tempers and tears in all of my life. These kids were squealing through tears saying words no one could make out. 90% of the losing team just lost it! It took me aback. The coaches did their best to say that everyone did an amazing job. That it's ok that we lost because they won so many and there will be another chance next year and so on. But it didn't work. In fact, there was a brother of one teammate who lost who was melting down as well and yelling how my son had lost us the game for missing that catch.
So, how many of the players were developing resiliency that day? To be honest, I have no idea. What I do know, is that each of them were too young and too emotional in the moment to understand that it was an opportunity for them to reflect and grow. All they could think about was the loss. That is where coaches and parents must come in to lead them through that.
Some parents consoled and said they did great, that it's ok to lose and that they are proud. Kind words, and I'm sure it helped a little to help them with perspective in some way, but it hasn't help them to be active in their thinking. Instead, these words are your attempt to implant positive thoughts in their mind but that's not how new habits are formed.
Other parents were disgusted in the behavior and told their kid to "Stop it! That's enough of that", which most likely came from a place of fear that their child would always act this way to a loss, or the parents were just embarrassed to have one of their own kids meting down.
So what could be helpful? What could start them on the trek to developing positive habits around loss?
Asking insightful, non leading questions. Questions where their answers have no right or wrong answer. The objective is getting them to Think Through their emotions and options with the desire to create a positive outcome.
In the first parent reaction, the parent is trying to implant positive thinking into the child's mind; to think for them about the situation and try to make the child see it their way. The problem is that the next time they lose something it might not be a baseball game where the same thinking applies and their parent might not be there to tell them how to feel again.
Instead, ask them how they are feeling?
Why do they feel that way?
How would they feel if they won and how would the other team feel?
Did they do their best? Was there anything they wished they had done more?
What actions could they take now that would give them a better chance next time?
Lastly, emotions are tough sometimes; especially in moments where we feel defeat and major loss. So keep this in mind when asking these questions. They may still give answers that are considered "not appropriate" or immature. That's ok. This is practice. This is simply helping to equip them with questions they can ask themselves later that night once they are calm and have time to reflect.
**On that note, give them time to reflect. no iPads, no TV. those are escapes. Give them time to reflect and process. that is where the magic happens.
Happy Practicing!!

Never Tell Your Child They Are Smart

That's right! No catch. No bait and switch. Truly, never tell your child they are smart.

I, like many parents, have an innate fear that I will screw up my child in some way. One day, I will say that one thing that completely screws them up. I will be having a bad day, my patience will be low and BAM. It will fly out of my mouth and I will never be able to take it back. Their confidence will plummet, they will throw it back at me when they are 18 and angry at me, and any sadness they have, I know it will because I failed them that day.

Well, that may happen, but I have something significantly more scary to share with you. In fact, you have almost with certainty, already "screwed" them up and it was during a moment that you were calm, thoughtful and even fully conscious of the words coming out of your mouth. You deliberately said these words with the intention of helping them, boosting their confidence and making them smile.

One of the greatest books I have read on parenting is not really a parenting book at all. It's called Mindset and it's by Carol Dweck. I read this book upon recommendation by someone I trust and it is one that I believe every parent, employer/boss, teacher or influencer of any kind should read. In fact, even if you are not an influencer to others, you are to yourself. You determine your own values, self worth and potential. The trouble is, most of these "decisions" that you made around these topics, were suggested to you by others, and you adopted them to heart.

Do you remember that time they got an A in spelling and you told them how smart they are?
Or what about that time she hit the baseball and got a home run and you told them they were the best player that day?
Oh, and what about that time he did that school play and you told them, "you're a natural! I can't believe how great you are at that. I am so proud of you!"

Well, If you have said any of the previous statements, you have screwed up your kids. Crazy right?!?! I know! It scared the poop out of me so I wanted to understand why.

To save my typing and missing some key points, I very strongly encourage you to watch the video below. It is a summary of a study on Praise for Intelligence vs Praise for Effort and the INSTANT ramifications of it. If you have a Fixed mindset yourself, which most of us do, this will be troubling. But if you have or want to develop a Growth Mindset, you will find this incredibly empowering and want to learn more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWv1VdDeoRY

This was such a simple study that was all done in one day that had such dramatic results, for better or worse. Can you imagine days, weeks and months of this subtle change in praise and the positive results that could come if they heard it from teachers, coaches and of course, parents?

Build a Biz Kids trains our facilitators in a growth mindset and are continuing to learn more and more about our impact on students. We would like to encourage the parents of our students to join us in learning and practicing the subtle difference and see the incredible results.

My son would often give up very early on projects and not want to strive to go the extra mile on something like handmade birthday cards, school projects, and yes, even his business when taking our program. But once we discovered that some of this lack of effort might actually be our fault, we made a change, and the results were immediate!

Last week he, not only sat with no iPad or TV in the background, he completed his first ever model airplane. He painted and glued and and did everything he could until he had to wait for everything to dry. He even had a bit of a meltdown when he thought he broke a piece but the next time he was home with time to work on it, he couldn't wait to get back to it! Now he is looking to find the perfect model car to take on next.

We still catch ourselves when talking about how he played at baseball or in his school play wanting to tell him how amazing the results were, but we are getting faster and faster to catch ourselves and praise him on the effort he put into going to baseball practice each day; working really hard on remembering his lines for the play by reciting them in the car on the way to school and how impressed we are by the effort and creativity it took for him to come up with such unique ideas for his handmade birthday cards.

While not everyone in his life may understand fixed vs growth mindset or praising on effort rather than results, as parents, it starts at home. To date, this has been one of the most important blogs we have written and we really hope you will watch the video above to learn more. I really hope you will read the Book Mindset as well. We get zero dollars by promoting it.

Lastly, we hope that you realize that as a parent, an employee, as a friend, an artist, an entrepreneur and all of the other titles you hold, you, too, may have a fixed mindset based on fixed praise and values you were given as a child, and even as an adult. But with awareness and persistence, you can reprogram yourself to want more, do more, and have greater confidence to take on new challenges.

We wish you growth


Our Box of Good News

This last News Years our family started a new tradition. It was something you may have seen on Pintrest or other idea boards. It’s the Jar of Good News!

For those of you unfamiliar, this is a jar where you place your happy moments and accomplishments that you experience throughout your year and then on New Years Eve, you go through them one by one to reflect & relive those moments all over again. Neat right?

Here’s the thing. Last year we did pretty good with writing down our memorable moments. We had lots to celebrate! Build a Biz Kids launched and took off, our 9 year old (at the time) got to check his BIGGEST DREAM off of his bucket list (to drive a go cart all by himself) and overall, it was a great year. We even squeezed in moments of gratitude for each other when the other wasn’t looking. A few times I teared up reading little notes with moments of impact that I had on my partner that I didn’t know had happened. Sometimes you don’t realize what a positive impact you have had on someone unless they tell you.

We loved this “tradition” and wanted to do it again this year.

However….

We haven’t continued. Why? I really have no idea. Maybe the box isn’t staring at us in the face as easily (things get a little messy at times and the box get’s covered or moved). We have certainly had a LOT of incredible moments that we would love to celebrate more. But, as the days, weeks and now months go on, nothing. Zip, Zero, Zilch.

I am already sad to think that next New Years won’t be as full of awesome memories, but something more terrifying actually came up for me when I realized how these happy moments were passing us by. If we aren’t even willing to right a tiny little note and place it in a jar while we are on a HIGH from excitement, then when are we making the time to take pause and appreciate our accomplishments? For ourselves? For our kids?

Our son worked SOOO hard to make it into Majors with baseball and he made it! He not only made it, he has struck out multiple players in pitching, gotten a double plays, and now he is working towards All Stars. Since games are back to back, these incredible accomplishments are just disappearing on us. Sure, as the year goes on, he will do these incredible plays more and more. But if we don’t reflect on where he started, how will he ever appreciate where his hard work has gotten him?

And us?! Well, of course we are even worse. Build a Biz Kids is growing from just a few cities, to nearly the entire Lower Mainland in September. Our students who have graduated have gone on to do even more great things and be a part of some pretty cool, impactful opportunities. The charitable funds we have been able to raise and give to charities continues to grow, but if it weren’t for this blog, who knows when we would really “make the time” to sit down, reflect, celebrate and appreciate our hard work and what it has brought to our lives and so many others.

So, needless to say, after this post I will be writing down a lot of little notes to place in a box but what about you? Are you letting life pass you by without stopping to give yourself appreciation? Reflecting on your growth and what is working and what is not? What are you demonstrating for your kids about working hard for pleasure, not pain & exhaustion?

Take a moment tonight when you tuck your kids in and ask them what they worked hard on today. Ask them what they want to accomplish tomorrow. Help them feel those positive tingles of accomplishment, while connecting the hard work that got them there.


A Letter To Our Students & Kids Everywhere For 2019

A letter to Children in communities everywhere.

Congratulations to our students and children everywhere for everything you have learned and experienced in 2018! Just think of where you started last year and all that you have learned.

Maybe you were introduced to multiplication and division last year. Maybe you got to jump off the diving board for the first time or drive a go cart! Did you score your first goal in soccer or catch a fish? Maybe you read your first book with no pictures and can spell words that are 10 letters long now! I bet you were even introduced to some pretty BIG concepts like what nutrition is, why water is important and shouldn't be wasted and that situations are not always good or bad, black or white but that sometimes there is grey area that should be considered.

Over the next few years, you will continue to grow your mind, expand your thinking, and experience activities and learn new skills that seemed so daunting once before. But once you take that leap and do it for the first time, suddenly you will realize that you can overcome anything just by trying, practicing and taking a chance on yourself.

All of us at Build a Biz Kids are so proud and excited for what's to come for you. 2019 will be great, but it is still just the beginning of what we know you will take on and conquer.

So much of growing up is just understanding how BIG and VAST the world is around you. How kids your age live and learn differently in other countries compared to how you live and learn here. That the number of sports, dance, science, music, professions, ideas and FUN you have been exposed to is just .0001% of all of the incredible things you have yet to see and be amazed by.

You have so much to look forward to and the best part, it never ends! You will always get to look forward to learning something new every single day and find something new that get's you so excited you can't even sit in your seat! Every single day you have the chance to find something that will expand your mind and make the world around you a little better, a little kinder, and little more beautiful.

Are you excited for today? Are you excited to learn something new that will make you and someone you love smile?

Well, here's the thing. Sometimes, if we don't practice finding something new each day, if we don't exercise our brains to find something every day that makes us smile, it forgets how to do it. Doesn't that sound sad? Wouldn't that be terrible if we couldn't learn anything new?

At Build a Biz Kids, we want you to never stop learning. We want you to find something new every day that makes you smile and then have so much fun learning how to do it yourself through practice. It takes practice every day to get better but if you do it enough, just like math or reading or playing sports or playing a video game, it get's easier and even more fun!

To our wonderful students and children everywhere who are about to take on 2019 and learn and grow and hopefully have even more fun then last year, we wish you a Happy New! Take on the world, it is your playground, but only if you never stop learning.

Sincerely, your biggest fans,

The Team at Build a Biz Kids


16 KidPreneurs Launch Their Businesses!

It was an exciting day at Henderson Place Mall on November 24th! 16 Build a Biz Kids, bright eyed and primed with nine weeks of business launch preparation stormed the mall to set up shop. Armed with their handmade signage, display decor and for some, copious amounts of product; the kids each built their own stands ready for their first customers.

Branding and merchandising lessons prevailed as we watched each of the unique businesses take shape. From disco lights & music to chalkboard menus for gift set options and even a ‘Square’ device to take card payments, these kids came ready to impress.

With a bit of nervous excitement and an encouraging high five, each business ‘opened’ and our KidPreneur Students became Real Business Operators. As the typically quiet mall was quickly transformed to a bustling marketplace, it wasn’t long before my shoulder was being tapped by a lineup of kids full of pure joy because they wanted to tell me they made their first sale.

For four hours, we watched our entrepreneur lessons come to life with professionalism. We were so impressed by how disciplined each student was as they presented their products and turned each onlooker into a paying customer.

They practiced! There wasn't an excuse to not buy that they didn't have a rebuttal for.  "I don't have a dog that needs a leash" was answered with "Do you have friends that have dogs?". "I'm not hungry at the moment" was quickly converted with "but you might be hungry in an hour."

But not every customer was so kind. "I don't like slime" and "No, no, I don't want any" were also met with smiles. In fact, the kids all giggled it off saying, "Wow, they are grumpy!"

These encounters, although at first glance may look negative, will build up thier resilience & communication. This one day will provide years of confidence and empowerment for them to draw upon when life starts to feel tough.

The amount of support from parents, friends and our incredible community has left us speechless. Before the market ended, more than half of the business had completely sold out of product. But even though they sold out, not one child left but rather stayed to support one another, talk to customers and some even took back- orders for more products.

Not only did every KidPreneur have an incredible day of success, many, if not most, overcame some form adversity to do it.

We can't wait to hand out these hard working graduates KidPreneur Certificates and celebrate graduation next week.

We also can't wait to meet our next group of students in our Winter/Spring program starting next January. If you would like to learn more or enroll your child into one of our programs, Visit Our Website Here


Trial & Error

Have we forgotten how to let kids fail?

I always want to teach my son how to do everything in the most efficient way. I struggle to stop myself from correcting him before he begins. There is a quote from the developmental psychologist Gordon Neufeld “Never do for a child what a child believes they can do for themselves.” Although I believe this quote speaks to a greater need of empowering our children, it also touches on how the process of trial and error is a powerful learning tool.

In the idea stage of our program, everyone is an expert. They know exactly what their product will look like, what steps to take to make that product and how easy it will be. However, come prototype day, there is a lot of learning. The ingredients were hard to find, the process took longer than expected, there was an issue with the way the materials combined and now our KidPreneurs have to find a solution.

Exhibit A, one of the greatest soap mixing entrepreneurs of our time! Or in other words, my son who wants to make soap as his business idea for his program.

For weeks he went back and forth on which Pintrest soap he wanted to try and recreate and how it would look, feel, and smell. But while shopping for ingredients, he discovered there are way more options for colours, smells and ingredients (shea butter vs. goats milk, lavender vs cinnamon, red vs red and blue swirl) and everything was in it's raw form which looks a lot different than his Pintrest wall.  Every decision he makes on these ingredients will impact the final product. He had to figure out which combination would produce the vision he had in his mind and was determined to create.

After making his careful selection, he took his ingredients home to experiment. Even though this budding entrepreneur loves the process of experimenting and exploring, he was disappointed his first batch of soap looked nothing like the image he has held in his mind for weeks. The colors didn't mix right and the soap had bubbles and an uneven finish. So began the work of trouble shooting and refining the process.

Perhaps mixing the colors into the soap and then pouring into the molds will work best. The white soap is thicker than the clear soap so maybe it needs to be heated longer. What about a 2 color swirl effect?

He was much more satisfied with his second bath of soap and seeing how a new technique could change the outcome.

I firmly believe that if the first iteration of soap was exactly as planned, our KidPreneur would have missed an exciting opportunity for personal growth. What he learned through through this process is a level of confidence that he can find a way to achieve his vision with enough time, thought and a second attempt.

What every entrepreneur should hold dear is the notion that any vision is possible if they are willing to put in the time and effort for trial and error. If we can show kids that the greatest reward comes after effort and tenacity, then imagine how much more of the world they will get to experience.


"So What??"

Our KidPreneurs have had an exciting couple of weeks exploring business ideas by looking at how businesses are started. They have experience taking their passions & interests or solving a day to day problem and turning them into a business.

So What?

Our KidPreneurs have built their confidence by discovering their innate ability to be creative solution oriented thinkers.

So What?

Catching on? This is an exercise that we play with the kids to help them see past the features and into the benefits to really get to the core of why someone would want to buy their product. If you go deep enough with this exercise, you can get down the the real "WHY" you are building your business and attract customers who feel the same way.

This stage of the program reminds me of the famous work by Simon Sinek called “Start With Why.” In his work, Simon highlights that brands who understand the reason they do what they do have greater success in attracting customers and brand loyalty.

Our exercise looked like this;

So you have decided to make a bar of soap that has toys inside… So What?

- "So it looks cool"

So your bar of soap looks cool… so what?

- "So kids think the toy in the soap is cool"

So Kids think the toy in your bar of soap is cool… so what?

- "So kids are more likely to wash their hands to get the toy"

And there it is. You’ve made a product that has features that kids like such as cool colours, toys, etc with a benefit for parents…kids will want to wash their hands.

The Features and Benefits lesson was a lot of fun with these KidPreneurs. They are getting very excited to talk about their products with customers at the upcoming Market Day on November 24th at Henderson Place Mall from Noon – 4:00 PM.

Don't be afraid to ask them "why" or dig deep into their product features and benefits. It's great practice for them as they hone in on their sales pitch.

They hope to see you there!


OH! What If .....???

“Oh! What if….?”

The most amazing part about working with kids is that they have yet to learn what the box is and are not limited to what ideas are “in the box” or “out of the box” thinking.

Only two weeks into our after-school program launch and I’ve found a new favorite phrase. “Oh! What if….?” It’s a phrase that comes with bright excited eyes and usually the student is bouncing a little in their chair. This phrase “oh! What if….?” Is the beginning of possibility and an exercise in creative showcasing.

Problem solving is a creative process and, in our KidPreneur programming, we focus on seeing problems as opportunities to be creative. In yesterday’s class we presented several everyday problems like spilled milk, muddy dog paws, sand on the beach towel and muffins that stick to the wrapper. In teams, the kids began to develop new innovative products to address these problems. Once the kids got a few safe ideas out of the way and were over the fear of being “wrong” the energy in the room began to soar as ideas began to flow.

“We can’t think of anything to clean a dog’s muddy paws”, quickly became “Oh! What if we had socks the dog could wear!”

That’s when the ideas began to flow “Oh! What if we had a brush that sprayed water to get the mud off….. Oh! What if it included a soap dispenser…? Oh! What if it also attached to a hose… Oh! And what if it also blew bubbles to entertain the dog… Oh! Or what if it dispenses a dog treat…”

I anticipate that I will have a new favorite phrases and parts of the program every week but for now, I am inspired by watching these kids discover their creative authority as they take ownership of their ideas a present them to the class. As the kids left for the day, there was an excitement and anticipation for the opportunities in front of them and I could tell the thoughts of “oh! What if…?” was going home with them and I hope this empowerment stays with these KidPreneurs long after the program.