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.

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

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.

Is What You "Know" Losing You Money?

Today was one of the more interesting days for seeing development in our students during our Build a Biz Kids Lemonade Stand Challenge Summer Camp. Day 3 is all about creating prototypes of their product and then test marketing them with real people; A critical step in any business but more often than not, it's skipped.

No really, it is. Look at your business. When was the last time you gave a sample of your business service or product while in development to a customer and asked for their opinion on it from top to bottom, start to finish & encourage raw truth? And I don't mean an online survey with a score of 1-5 for satisfaction.

Let's take a Mortgage Broker or Real Estate Agent as an example. Many don't even consider their service to be testable or in development. It is what it is and I just do what everyone does. Advertise, have a coffee with clients, do my thing and then send flowers or a gift at the end. But services should be tested formally just as much as products.

The most dangerous entrepreneurs are those who made a tangible product based on their own personal need and fail to ask HONEST feedback on it from strangers. Tangible products cost a lot of money, especially when buying in high quantities so please, please, don't just ask friends and family. Stand on a street corner or go to your potential market and ask them to rip it to shreds. In fact, only ask them for negative feedback and see what you get. Best to know now then once you have spent $100k on a warehouse of widgets only 20 people might be willing to buy.

This is where What You "Know" Might Be Costing You Money. Because what you know is not always what everyone else is willing to pay for.

Day 3 of our Build a Biz Kids Summer Camp is a special day and a BIG eye opener for our students. As many parents know, kids taste pallets are not as developed and, therefore, sometimes their concoctions are not what they thought they would be.

For example, the Red team wanted to create a cherry lemonade & a lemonade and Sprite with pretty straws & pink tissue bows. The Blue team created an orange lemonade and mango lemonade with dainty lemon wedges on the cups.

One mixed, the Red team didn't like the tart cherry juice at all. (I think they envisioned grenadine and not real cherry juice). While the Lemonade & Sprite was better, only half of the team was ok with the tart lemon flavour and fizzy bubbles of the Sprite.

The Blue team battled it out but ended up scraping their orange lemonade due to the "yucky" factor and, again, were split over how successful their mango lemon twist would be.

After pouring and garnishing their samples, they went out into the world and found brave adults to try their mixtures. With notebooks in hand, they explained their recipes and asked direct questions about their product.

"On a scale of 1-5, how do you like the taste? How pretty is it? What don't you like about it? Do you have any additional comments so we can make it better?"

What surprised them was that adults like the taste of the tart lemonade and the feeling of fizzy Sprite on their tongue. They also liked the mango twist and thought it was tropical tasting. The kids who were very certain that no one would like it were a little confused but in a good way. They were relieved they had a recipe that might work!

"It needs to be colder though", "I wouldn't drink this in the morning because it's too sweet but in the afternoon it would be perfect!", "I feel like I should be in the sun drinking this! It's so tropical!"

The kids were sometimes confused by the feedback as some liked sweet drinks and others didn't. Some loved mango and others weren't as big of fans. They learned the value of note taking and, at the end, reviewed their results. The kids who were shy to talk to strangers ended up forgetting their were chatting with random adults because they were super interested in hearing the feedback and write it down.

Aside from becoming better bartenders, these kids explored some important lessons from the day.

- Don't assume your taste buds are the same as others.

- You can't please everyone, so go with the majority

- Don't assume you will get it perfect the first time but keep working on it

- Always welcome negative feedback. It does't mean you did anything wrong or should give up. It means you know more now so you can make it better next time. Negative feedback is just as important as positive feedback

We are often asked, what is the difference between your programs? Well, in the end, nothing, and everything. A child could take our program over and over and over again, especially our after school programs, and never have the same experience. We teach kids how to start a business and to skip any of these critical steps would be setting them up to fail.

While we dive deeper into concepts in some courses more than others, yes, your child will learn how to developed a product or service through exploring passions & solving problem. They will learn how to make a prototype and test it as much as possible. They will develop a marketing plan and test out their communication with a 30 second elevator pitch before going to market.

But guess what, we would make you do all of that too :-)

What's the Purpose of Encouraging Creativity & Imagination?

Asking kids to use their imagination seems like a no brainer, right? If kids used their imagination more then they could occupy themselves through the day without iPads or video games. But are we missing the most important reason for encouraging creativity? And are we also missing out on the day to day opportunities where they can utilize it that doesn’t involve just playing games or keeping busy?

I am going to use a few examples again of our observations from our assorted booths that we set up at a variety of events in the Tri cities area such as Daisy DayRibFestand, coming up, Car Free Day on St Johns Street in Port Moody.

If you have been to our booth, we always have a Problem-Solving game set up where we ask kids to help us solve everyday problems. I will admit, of all the games you see at events, it doesn’t sound that exhilarating but honestly, it is often one of the busier and repeat attending games wherever we are.

3 problems are set up on a whiteboard. An example would be, help us find new or more fun ways to…

1. Keep our shoelaces from coming undone

2. Keeping our teeth clean instead of brushing

3. Keeping our room clean

4. Stopping ice cream from melting all over our hands on a hot day

5. And so on

When the kids enter our booth, they always ask what this crazy looking board is that is covered in other kid’s drawings, writing, or a combo of both. You can see their mind working with “what is this and how can I show off something on there too?”

We ask them one question. “Can you help us solve a problem?”

It’s actually the second best part of this game for us because they light up with the flattery that someone wants their help, even though they don’t even know what we need yet.


We present to them one or two of the problems. Some kids give us an answer right away, others need a bit of help getting their brains going. But no matter what their answer is, we give them a big high five and ask them to write it down or draw us a picture so we can post it on our board.

“Thank you so much for your help! That was a great idea!”

There in lies the best part of the game for us. Giving them the high five because 4 out of 5 times, they ask if they can help with another problem.

Now I will be honest. Sometimes kids really give some crazy ideas. One kids came up with a slide that you go down and because you are smiling from the ride, a brush comes out and cleans your teeth as you go by. Another said a robot cleans your teeth for you that also holds a TV screen. Others come up with some really practical ideas like gum, candy or a lollipop that cleans you teeth.

But for many, they come up with ideas that aren’t all that crazy like wearing Velcro shoes instead of laces, eating ice cream in the shade, or using your finger to brush your teeth.

So why do all kids get a high five? Yes, encouragement is important in kids, but back to the question of this blog, “what is the purpose of encouraging creativity & imagination”? Because it, like everything we mentally or physically do, is an exercise and needs practice in order to get better.

Parents, I’m not trying to call you out here but I really want to encourage self-awareness in you so it rubs off on your kids.

Often when we ask the kids entering our booth if they can help us solve a problem, some parents laugh and say, “he’s a problem maker, not solver”. Or, “she isn’t very creative, but you can try”. Or once their child gives an answer, they say, “is that it?”

Creativity is not something that only comes up when they sit down by themselves and do it out of boredom because there are no other options. That just doesn’t happen much anymore with iPads and video games around. Creativity is an exercise that can be exercised when shopping in the grocery store, or when running errands, or when preparing for company coming over.

Rather than saying, “go clean your room”, or “keep busy while we get this done”, how about “can you help me with a problem? We need to go to the grocery store to buy a bunch of groceries and then get home to clean up before grandma and grandpa come over for dinner. How can we get all of these items off our grocery list faster?” and then wait. What do they say?

Do they suggest that if everyone splits up with 5 items to grab that it could go faster? That if we put rockets on the grocery cart we could get around quicker? That you should wear runners when you go to the store instead so you can run around instead of walk? Who know? Maybe they suggest you find someone to get your groceries for you? (that’s a thing and it is actually super helpful and cost effective depending on the grocery store you use. Order online and find it at your door)

Or maybe they don’t have any suggestions in the moment but they come up with something along the trip. Either way, you got them thinking and engaged in what you are doing. They are practicing practical creativity.

Yes, it actually may end up taking a bit more time or patience for you to complete your to-do list but just like our kids, we, too, need to practice seeking opportunities to find better and more creative ways to complete everyday tasks and help our kids feel more engaged in day to day life tasks.

To read previous blogs, visit our website.

Are You A Problem Solver?

Entrepreneurs are problem solvers and some of the best problem solvers I have met are kids.

One of the fun games we like to introduce to students in our programs or visitors to our assorted booths we set up around the city, is a Problem Solving Challenge.  Since the basic concept of entrepreneurship is problem solving, it seemed like a good way to introduce the concept to children. In this challenge we begin with asking for creative solutions to everyday problems.

At our latest event, we choose problems that kids encounter in their everyday lives and asked for innovative ways to solve the following: How to pour milk from large jugs without spilling, ways to keep our shoelaces from coming undone and a new way to clean our teeth (for the kids who think brushing is no fun.)

Some examples of solutions from visitors to our booth include:

· Chewing gum or candy that cleans your teeth

· Mouth guards with tooth paste in them

· Invent a robot that holds a tv screen to watch while his other arm brushes your teeth for you

· A slide made of toothbrushes that you slide down with your mouth open

· Smaller kid sized milk jugs

· Adding a pour spout to the jug

· Adding a clip onto your shoelaces so they wont untie

· Elastic laces that don’t need to be tied

. Glue you put on your laces

Sometimes there is a moment or two of hesitation in self confidence that is presented as either “I don’t know” or “I’ll just ask my mom to do it.” These are answers that feel safe because if we are not sharing an idea, we cannot be judged. The magic happens when we share some of the craziest ideas that other children have presented such as a "lollipop made of toothpaste" and how amazing that is. Once a child hears that another child is celebrated for their creativity, it gives them permission to have crazy ideas as well. It’s fascinating to hear from a child who does not accept the limitations of imagination. They are not confined by the “that’s not possible” internal dialogue.

At the end of the day, our board will filled with crazy, practical, outrageous and thought provoking ideas to solve these simple problems kids run into every day.

But what else can be done to help these kids feel energized and accelerated by their ideas?

Coaching them to evolve those ideas, work with them through the stages of development, and of course, taking action to see them through and take a look at what happens.

Did it solve that problem? Do people like it and want it? Is there something that can be done to make it even better?

This is entrepreneurship. This is building on ideas and trying them out and then learning from those results. That is success! That is exciting!

At Build a Biz Kids, we want kids to challenge the ordinary. Instead of accepting the way things are or how they’ve always been done, we want to inspire kids to innovate a new way to complete a chore, solve a problem or turn a daily routine into a fun activity. Then we want them to do it! follow through is key.

Our aim is to empower solution oriented action takers and create a community of kids that see the problems around them as opportunities to be creative.

To discover more about our programs, visit our website at Summer Camps for 2018 are registering now!