I just got back from a mastermind weekend with a few business associates where we exchanged ideas about our business prospects, challenges, and best practices.
I had a chance to introduce PrepWell Academy to the group. Needless to say, they were very excited, as many of them have children in 6th - 11th grade.
One particular participant, however, took me by surprise.
He told me he had a 9th-grade son who would be thrilled to do any one of the things I've done in my life.
This guy absolutely loved the idea of PrepWell and having me as a role model for his son; however, he wanted more. He wanted me to be his son's full-time college coach.
"I'll pay you $25,000 to coach him over the next 3 years," he told me.
Wow! I wasn't expecting that.
We spent the next 15 minutes chatting about his son, his $25,000 offer, and what type of coaching I thought would be most useful to him and his son.
By the end of the conversation, I had talked him out of spending $25,000 and into enrolling in PrepWell...
In this post, I share our personal experience introducing smartphones to our 14-year old twin sons for the first time. If you're grappling with how to deal with this issue, maybe it will give you some food for thought.
Admittedly, our 8th-graders were behind the power curve when it came to smartphones. Until two weeks ago (on Christmas Day), our twins had been using slider phones with no data. This was atypical for their peer group and they had to find ways to deal with the blowback (e.g. Dude, what's with the slider? That thing's ancient).
We knew we were treading on thin ice. Teenagers are more concerned about impressing their friends than their parents - and our sons were on the wrong side of that trade.
We struck a deal with them a few years ago. If they could demonstrate maturity, responsibility, and patience with their slider phones, we would consider upgrading someday.
That someday had finally come. We couldn't justify leaving them in the Stone Age for...
7 Essential Skills for Teens
I believe professional success is directly related to how well we master 7 essential skills. If we master these skills, it won't matter if we go to Princeton University, Wichita State, or East Lansing Community College.
It won't matter if we ultimately enter the private sector, public sector, or outer space - we will succeed in life.
I deployed (and re-deployed) these 7 skills hundreds (if not thousands) of times during my 30-year journey from Yale University, to Investment Banking, to the Navy SEALs, to Harvard Business School, to Firefighting, to Entrepreneurship, to Shark Tank, to PrepWell Academy.
The daily roles and responsibilities in each of these fields were dramatically different. The skills required to get into each of these fields were dramatically similar. And that's the point.
The reason these skills are so "essential" is because they are so "repeatable".
Learning these repeatable skills will allow you to adjust, change, regroup, and...
Every Thanksgiving, my extended family gets together in Palm Desert. Our group includes eight adults and eleven cousins from 4 - 17 years old.
For the last few years, I have organized a "Thanksgiving Day Junior Olympics" competition for the kids. This year, 8 of the 11 cousins participated.
The specific events (which are kept secret until game day) test a wide range of physical abilities, athletic skills, and random gameplay. It's an all-day affair (11am to 6pm) with a few breaks for water and snacks.
2016 List of Events
For children, trying new things can be hard. Whether it's acquiring a new skill, making new friends, dealing with a new environment, or taking direction from a new coach - it's hard to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
This ability to push through discomfort at a young age is an early and accurate signal of how well children will do in high school, college, and life. Children with this type of "grit" fare better than those without.
Angela Duckworth, an expert on this topic, defines grit as "perseverance and passion for long-term goals". Duckworth found that students who made a regular practice of doing "hard things" during their childhood, were better prepared to deal with the challenges and obstacles of adulthood.
How do we, as parents, manage the balance between supporting our children to push through hard things and forcing them to do so?
Below is one method, based on Duckworth's extensive work, that can be adopted by any family.
The Hard Thing Rule
Sports, music, clubs, community service and other extracurricular activities will soon become very important in the college admissions process. They paint a picture of who your child is and how they choose to spend their time. Deciding which and how many activities to pursue can be a challenge. Deciding when to quit a particular activity can be fraught with indecision as well.
What do you do when your son or daughter wants to quit something? Do you let them? Or do you force them to stick it out? Consider these factors first:
Getting into college is becoming more and more competitive - and expensive. Here are five reasons that suggest why competition has increased so dramatically:
1. More international students
International students are applying to U.S. colleges and universities in record numbers. These students are often the best and brightest from around the world and many are willing (and able) to pay full-freight for a U.S. education. Imagine how enticing these candidates are for colleges. They deliver an admissions trifecta: (1) geographic diversity, (2) high-performing students, (3) paying customers.
2. Common Application
Back in the day, high school students thought long and hard about where to apply to college. Each college had its own application, unique essay questions, quirky formatting instructions, and different submission deadlines. Adding one additional school to the target list might add weeks or months of extra work. Students proceeded with caution. With today's Common Application,...
We are inundated daily with warnings about social media use and misuse by our teens. How are we supposed to keep up?
We need to stay current on what's happening, what to look out for, and how to mitigate potential risks.
I don't mind when teens make mistakes. In fact, I promote it. Mistakes can drive personal growth. However, I also warn teens to avoid the big mistakes - mistakes that are life-altering. Avoid these at all costs:
I recently added #4 to the list - and for good reason. Social media problems are ruining peoples' lives everywhere. Unfortunately, the use of social media has become so widespread, that the odds of someone doing something disastrous are increasing by the minute.
The transition from middle school to high school can be tricky. Teens immediately begin searching for an identity, social acceptance, and a path forward.
As confounding as this is, we (as parents) aren't always in the best position to influence our kids during this period of uncertainty. We're still a major player on the surface - but at the edges of their psyche - they often prefer external voices and opinions.
Enter the mentor.
Mentors come in many shapes and sizes. Your child's mentor could be an older sibling, coach, music teacher, Boy or Girl Scout Leader, guidance counselor, aunt, uncle, grandparent, neighbor - or person like me. Some children have multiple mentors.
Does your son or daughter have a mentor(s)?
Benefits of having an early mentor in high school
Wisdom and learning. Mentors share important life lessons from past successes and failures.
Expertise and knowledge. Mentors can provide answers and guidance in a field most parents know nothing about.
After a lot of experimentation and teen-testing, I found that a creating a LinkedIn profile is the most elegant, efficient, and effective solution for your child to capture and order important milestones throughout their high school career.
You may already have your own LinkedIn account, or likely have heard of the professional networking behemoth. If you don't have an account, maybe now is a good time to create one alongside your child.
My recommendation comes after reviewing the Common Application in detail and noticing the vast similarities between the two formats (the Common Application is the universal, online college application that is accepted by hundreds of colleges).
When I tried this myself, I pulled up www.linkedin.com, and within 15 minutes, I had created a robust profile for an imaginary student that I named -- Chris Prepwell.
To be clear, LinkedIn is not really for kids. It's for adults looking to advance their professional careers. I say, "Who cares?" It's perfect...