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For the first 12 years of my daughter’s life she wanted to be a singer, dancer and teacher.  I had no idea how she came up with all three career choices, but I figured she’d likely outgrow the idea at some point.  And she did.

By the latter half of her 12th year of life, I introduced to my daughter the complexities of money.  She quickly learned the power it had to buy her things, to offer her experiences and to make decisions as to how to spend it.  She learned how tempting it was to have money leave her hand and how oftentimes it was more difficult to replenish the pot.

When I created Biz in a Boxx for my daughter it was more that I wanted her to learn how to be financially dependent upon herself rather than someone else. I wanted her to know how to monetize her talents so that she could be passionate about her future career without having to starve.  I wanted to instill an entrepreneurial mindset so that as an adult, she would have choices.

My daughter wasn’t entrepreneurial – at all.  She didn’t show early signs of innovation.  She wasn’t that kid who schemed up sales strategies or went door-to-door selling lawn care services.  If there was something she wanted but didn’t have the means to buy it, she’d simply wait for a birthday or gift-bearing holiday to request it.

As I began teaching her about entrepreneurship, I saw early signs of the mindset emerging.  When her friend gave her a $20 gift card to Dunkin Donuts (she loved donuts) she’d buy a dozen at a time along  with a drink.  She would save four donuts for herself and friends then sell the remainder for $2 a pop at school.  The extra money she made kept her in donuts for months on end.

When she figured out it was harder to monetize a singing and dancing career, she moved onto writing.  That choice changed by the time she reached high school and discovered psychology.  Yet in order to do as well as she wanted to financially in that career, she would have to opt for medical school and that was too academic for her.

Back to singing and dancing.  By the age of 16 she figured what she really liked about the two fields was the music.  From infancy music was always blaring throughout the house.  She not only learned of different genres but the sounds helped her tie emerging emotions and thought to what she heard.

In the Fall she will be off to college where she will study arts management and music business.  With six years of entrepreneurial training under her belt, she is already identifying problems in the industry and opportunities in which she can capitalize.  Instead of talking about getting a job like she once did, she envisions owning her own business one day and helping to move the industry through to the next emerging level.  She doesn’t just see how she might fit within the industry but how she can be a big part in moving it forward.

We don’t know what our kids will become when they reach adulthood, but we can provide them with tools and experiences that can help find their own path successfully.




For the past 18 years or so of your life, your number one job is doing well in school.  You hear it all the time – get good grades, get into a good college and you’ll get a good job.  It’s a simple recipe heard all too often.

What happens between high school and the time you enter the workforce is a transitional period from grades to experience.  Think about the information placed on a typical resume and you’ll soon see that your efforts to prove a right angle in Geometry and score A’s on your tests get no bragging rights on your resume.  In the workplace, no one cares about that semester grade you achieved long ago.  What the workforce wants is to see how you’ve applied (and can apply) that knowledge to help a company make (or save) money.

Now don’t throw away your homework and assume grades aren’t important. If you’re college bound you’ll have to jump the hurdles of the admission process that values your ability to learn on your past academic performance. And it’s at college where you will study topics more in depth so that you can carry that knowledge into the workforce.

Your youth is spent focused on grades.  The minute you get out of school and try to get a job, the workplace demands experience.  Employers want to see how you can use your hard skills.  They also want to see your soft skills and how well you can communicate and work productively in a team environment.

The problem is the work environment is far different than a classroom setting. Real world experience is key if you hope to land a job after graduation rather than move your stuff back into your parent’s home.

Experience is based on time and you cannot short change time.  The essay you wrote in Economics class doesn’t equate to real experience in the field.  If you know what it is you want in a career, start gaining experience and do it while you are young.  Those of you who do will be light years ahead of your peers.  Don’t rely on the traditional formula of good grades, good school, good job – the world doesn’t work that way anymore.



Financial literacy.  Who really needs it especially when there are plenty of apps and other advanced software to tell you just what you need to know.  Balance your bank statement?  Phooey.  The bank will tell you when you’re out of money.

My kid got my math gene which means that if a math problem requires the use of letters and numbers in a predetermined formula it’s not getting solved.  Our brains just don’t seem to be hardwired that way.  I don’t fret too much about it seeing as most of her friends are in AP Calculus.  If she ever, in her adult life, needs a formula computed, she can hire one of them to do it.  Or she can Google it.

Being more mathematically challenged gets you into other math classes in order to fulfill high school graduation requirements these days.  My daughter got placed into Applied Math.  What’s Applied Math?  Here’s a snippet of my conversation with my daughter’s math teacher and how I found out.

Me:  ”Mrs. Owens, I just want to make sure that if my daughter is struggling in your class this year you reach out to me so we can help her.”

Teacher:  ”Oh, don’t worry about that.  She’ll be fine.  She’s in Applied Math.”

Me:  ”What’s Applied Math?”

Teacher:  ”It’s project-based math where they learn how to budget and save; how to calculate income taxes and interest; whether buying a car might be better than leasing one; and, how to determine the cost per person when feeding 30 people a five-course meal they create.”

Me:  ”Oh…so it’s real world math.”  (Yea.)

Now I’m not one to belittle academic math.  I work in education so I understand what it’s all about.  And it certainly would be an easier road if my daughter’s high school transcript showed Calculus versus Applied Math.  But let’s face it, most of us live our lives getting by and solving problems without the use of complicated mathematical formulas.  Many of us will never see letters and numbers together in one equation outside of school, and it’s quite likely no one will ever ask us what grade we once got in Algebra.

Yet, most of us will have bank accounts, pay taxes and possibly have to live within our means.  And that math education is reserved for the kids who are less mathematically inclined.

Apparently, there aren’t very many of them.
Dollars and Sense: How Wise Are We With Money?
Image source:


Should financial literacy be a requirement for all kids?




You know you’ve seen them before – those cardboard displays outlining high school science projects with titles displaying a mishmash of scientific words that make you say, “huh” but sound important.

I seen quite a few.  I was at a high school science fair recently and stumbled upon a bright high school senior whose project was to determine which remedies were best for heartburn.  Although she failed to tell me her methodology, she concluded that carrot juice worked just as well as TUMS.

“So now what?” I asked her.  She seemed a little puzzled by my question.

“So why should I care?  Now what?” I asked again.  Still no reply.

My intent at these occasional science fairs isn’t to berate kids into thinking their hard work of running through the scientific method is pointless.  It’s actually quite the opposite.  What I’m hoping to do is something their science teachers fail to do.  And that’s to help them think beyond the project, add some real world relevancy to it and look at opportunities  as a result of their outcomes.

“Let’s think about it, ” I told her.  ”As a consumer, I might be apt to pop a natural supplement full of beta carotene to relieve my heartburn rather than a couple of TUMS.  But the challenge is a bottle of TUMS has a decent shelf life and a bottle of carrot juice (that I never have in the house) does not.  And I really don’t think that if I’m doubled over in chest pain that I would be willing to rummage through my vegetable bin, grab a bag of carrots, whip out the juicer and gulp down some juice.  The $3 bottle of TUMS is a much better option.”

“So do you see a possible opportunity here in the supplement market for heartburn sufferers?”  She just stared at me.  I moved on to the next presentation.

I never participated in a science fair in high school.  Looking back, I figured it was probably because I opted for Physiology and Aquatic Biology over Chemistry and Physics.  I came to find out that, at least, at this science fair, it was for the brightest science students. (Too bad for those who didn’t get A’s in science on their report cards.  They probably don’t have much to contribute anyway.)

Each science fair project is relatively the same.  There’s a problem, possible solutions get tested and findings are reported.  No one ever says, “So what?”

For those of you who have long completed your formal education, you know that there’s a disconnect between what and how our kids are being taught in school and what the real world demands from them.   In a job interview, no one will ask you what grade you got in your high school Chemistry class or inquire about your data on carrot juice as a decent antacid.  What you will be asked is, “What can you do for this company?”   In other words. “So what?”

Yet, our educational system is still bent on producing factory line workers who follow the rules and label outcomes with “critical thinking” and “creativity”.  We’re good at fostering the bright ones who show interest in science, engineering and math with well-funded robotics clubs and math and science academies.  But no one ever says, “hey, here’s a kid who can think outside the box, has an entrepreneurial mindset, can bring new innovations to the marketplace and who can quite possibly create jobs for the factory workers we’re so good at creating.”

Do You Want a Future Factory Line Worker?

When I asked my daughter, a junior in high school, what she does all day in school, she told me she essentially takes notes, memorizes things and takes tests.  I’d bet to say millions of kids across the country spend their days doing the exact same thing.

If you don’t want your child to be a factory line worker, step back an assess what you know now as an adult.  Can your child find opportunities, make decisions and build relationships?  Can he or she think outside the box, communicate well and plan strategically?

Realistically, in a world of “so what’s”, how prepared is your child to answer that question?



What it Takes to Become a Successful Young Business Owner

January 23, 2013

Do you have what it takes to become a young entrepreneur? If you find yourself bursting with ideas and brimming with ambition, it may be time to leave the ranks of the job-seeking student and capitalize on your brainstorm by turning it into a self-owned business. Becoming a successful young business owner, however, takes more [...]

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How to Grow a Community

September 20, 2012

  They say it takes a village to raise a child.  Certainly there are challenges to child rearing, and the notion of drawing upon the help, knowledge and skills of others lends itself to a sense of a well-cared for, well-rounded child.  But what about an entire community?  Can a group of people raise a [...]

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Will STEM Education Alone Solve Our Workforce Challenges?

July 11, 2012

Before I begin this discussion, let me just say I am a believer in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, particularly science. Everything I use on a daily basis has an origin in science as well as my interactions with people and the social sciences. But in light of this acknowledged urgency to get [...]

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6 Things Entrepreneurship Can Teach Your Child

July 5, 2012

Entrepreneurship is about as Americana as baseball and apple pie, and while Americans have excelled in the field of innovating new products, taking appropriate risks and living out the American dream of being an entrepreneur, we do little in our public education system to foster the entrepreneurial spirit. The concept of taking an idea for [...]

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Biz in a Boxx Teaches Lemonade Stand Lessons

April 19, 2012

Our recent segment on Sonoran Living, ABC15 in Phoenix.  The Science & Business of a Lemonade Stand.

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Compartmentalizing Education

April 3, 2012

As the US education system grapples with ways to improve, are we really seeing innovative ways to prepare today’s youth for the challenges of tomorrow?  And if those challenges involve complex solutions, critical thinking and creativity, why do we compartmentalize education? The academic subjects our children learn day in and day out in school have a [...]

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