- I’m pregnant with my first child and looking back at things my parents did that I want to replicate.
- They taught me how to be entrepreneurial, and that’s something I want to teach my daughter too.
- I want to help future generations create solutions for their problems.
I’m seven months pregnant with my first child. I’ve never thought more about how I was raised until now, as I’m faced with raising our baby girl. In fact, I have a countdown app that tells me how many days until I’m responsible for another human life, which is as terrifying as it is exhilarating.
I think about what my parents did that I want to replicate, like celebrating with a cake when I got my first warning in school for talking too much — they’d been afraid I was turning into a goody two-shoes. And I think about what I might want to leave behind, like my mom texting me a breaking-news headline every morning.
But the biggest thing I want to take with me as I raise my own kid is about being an entrepreneur. Maybe that’ll look like becoming an entrepreneur in the literal sense and starting a business just like her mom. More importantly, I want to teach her how to be entrepreneurially minded, just as my parents taught me.
My dad left his job to start a new business
I didn’t always grow up in an entrepreneurial household. For years both of my parents worked in the fitness industry — until one Wednesday in middle school my dad came home from work and sat us down for a family meeting. He told us he wanted to leave his job and start his own business because the idea he’d been thinking about for years couldn’t wait any longer.
My mom and sister hugged him and asked him countless questions about his idea, and I asked what we were having for dinner. I couldn’t have cared less, because I didn’t understand what being an entrepreneur meant. All I knew was that he would renovate the upstairs bathroom into his new office and that we had to cut back on spending until the business got off the ground. Neither of these adjustments was exciting to my middle-school self.
About six months into his business — which he and my mom grew for 10 years and eventually sold to live full time in an RV as volunteer park rangers — we went on a family camping trip. I was entering my rebellious teenage years, so I decided to bring my Walkman and listen to Backstreet Boys rather than the babbling brook.
As I was trying to plug in my headphones, the cords kept getting tangled in a knot, and I grew more frustrated with each attempt to untangle them.
“Dad!” I shouted. “Headphone cords should just roll up like a Slinky so they don’t get tangled.” Then a light bulb flicked on as I said, “I’m going to invent that!”
I remember this next moment so clearly because it changed the course of my life.
He sat me down and said: “Jess, that has already been invented, but I really want you to keep thinking that way. Keep looking for problems and creating solutions.”
That was the moment I became an entrepreneur. I started to live by three words: inspiration from frustration. I started to look at the world through a lens that I could fix it.
I’ve launched several businesses
It eventually led me to start Headbands of Hope, an accessory company that donates headbands to kids with illnesses, out of my dorm room in college.
It also led me to start other businesses, including Mic Drop Workshop, an e-learning company that helps women get paid speaking engagements, and Prompted, a guided online journal with prompts from experts.
Most recently, it led me to write my newest book, “Create Your Bright Ideas,” which helps tweens do exactly what my parents taught me: create what you wish existed.
My parents never told me to marry a doctor or to color inside the lines; they taught me to be the architect of the world I want to live in. That’s exactly what I hope to inspire in the next generation of creatives, including my little girl. I just won’t be sending her daily news articles.