Changing the World, One Entrepreneurial Teen At A Time

If one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

– Arlo Guthrie, “Alice’s Restaurant”

My daughters turned 6 and 4 recently. I have been thinking very seriously about their future. My goal is to help them understand that anything is possible, that they have control over their own destinies, and that the best way to achieve their goals is to maximize their talents.

I also recognize that my influence over them is waning. My older daughter, in kindergarten, is building friendships that will increasingly have influence over her. It is not that my wife and I won’t influence both of them, it is that there will be competing interests that may or may not steer them in the right direction.

But this isn’t just about my daughters. When I look at the United States I see a country that has too many dependent on others. Someone else provides the jobs, some one else makes sure we don’t go broke during retirement, someone else ensures we get an education. And I see that, given the debt confronting our country and given the changes in demographics, that much of what my grandparents generation and my parents generation have come to rely on will not persist, at least not in its present form.

I don’t see this as doom and gloom. I see this as a chance to emphasize these factors I list above: achieving goals, controlling our own destiny, maximizing talents. So when I hear about teenagers who are forming an art gallery in New York City or another teenager who is writing and releasing mobile apps, I want to celebrate that.

While I try to teach my kids what it means to be entrepreneurial, I recognize that it is their peers as much as me that will influence their direction. And if one kid stands up and does it, well, maybe he’s nuts. But if 50 do it… by gosh, I think we have a movement.