How to Talk to Kids about Entrepreneurial Women Who Take Risks & Lead

This podcast will focus on women changemakers who are breaking barriers, leading businesses and making great strides in science, entrepreneurship, companies and more. We may have heard of some of these women but many have remained in the shadows. There are great lessons in learning their stories. How did they overcome doubts, negative feedback and failure to become successful? How can our girls and boys learn from their stories and become inspired to try something new? Diana Kapp is interviewed on her book, Girls Who Run the World. It’s the perfect podcast episode to honor Women’s History Month- inspired by the past and bringing us into the future!

Guest Expert: Diana Kapp –

It’s Women’s History Month! So how about a podcast episode on women who have been inspired by the past– while bringing us into the future? These are the women leaders of NOW. Although hidden from many history books, where credit wasn’t provided, or downplayed in media where coverage skewed towards gains boys and men were making, women have been making strides, creating useful inventions and running companies for longer than we know. But credit needs to be revealed if we are going to ensure that girls and boys have strong female role models and understand that women bring greatness, innovation, indomitable spirit, focus, ingenuity and leadership to this world in many of the same ways—and in different ways than do men. Without women’s creativity and persistence, we wouldn’t have some of the greatest inventions that we completely take for granted! Just dip back into history for a moment and we can reveal, for example, that the first dishwasher was developed by a woman. The Brooklyn Bridge? Woman. Windshield wipers, the game of monopoly, the brown paper bag? All developed by women. And today, we also have incredible examples of motivated, innovative women that are positive examples of taking risks, trying again, working hard, knocking off the negative self talk and forgetting about perfectionism on the way to success. We can learn a lot from these women- and today, we are going to discuss how we can use their stories to help inspire children when we are having conversations about such topics as success, persistence, risk-taking and perfectionism. And for that, I have invited author, Diana Kapp, on the show today.

Diana Kapp’s work has taken her inside San Quentin prison and to Afghanistan. Her path to writing has been circuitous. She’s worked for a senator and a biotech start-up, made ads for Nike, and helped launch women’s sportswear retailer She went to Stanford and got an MBA. She’s lived in Kenya, and the Haight. Her work has appeared in the New York TimesWall Street JournalSan Francisco Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle ELLEMarie ClaireMORE MagazineO the Oprah MagazineCalifornia Sunday Magazine, Sunset, ESPN. Her first book Girls Who Run the World came out in October.

The podcast provides:

  • Why so few women are becoming CEOs—and what it means for our girls who are coming up through school today looking for how to frame their future.
  • Some of the key hands-on everyday strategies inspired by these women that can help our girls today.
  • What we can learn from these women in terms of risk-taking—and how we can talk about it with girls
  • What qualities we can celebrate in these women that can inspire today’s girls.
  • How girls can pick up some business-savvy from these CEOs.

Important Messages:

  • Kids learning about historical women like Amelia Earhart in school but women in their midst are often overlooked. Editing genes, putting constructive blueprint online, etc.
  • How is world going to receive our girls who are leadership-bound?
  • As of 1996, no fortune 500 women CEOs. Now, 25 years later, only at 5%.
  • Middle school girls believe that they are not going to achieve their dreams.
  • Entry level women- some women select themselves out. Put selves in marketing and HR instead of finance and numbers.
  • Women-lead companies not being funded- looking for examples who have had success before. So few women on decision-making side and so few who have gone before- it can be difficult to show it can be successful to venture capitalists.
  • Levers to pull then- to make things better.
  • Show your girls- examples of women in her midst who are inventing things, creating things, starting things. Showing women in leadership. Actively counter what girls SEE all the time.
  • Girls are leaders in school and academically. What is getting lost? The very things that make girls good at school are troubling in the workplace. Worried about pleasing others and following the straight path—not helpful to starting something new and taking important risks.
  • What do we learn from these women?
    • Women being told they were nuts- wherewithal that you can still believe in yourself and ideas. Stitchfix, for example.
    • Important- cold email- subject line. Make this enticing.
    • Ask for something short and specific.
    • For example, birchbox. Convince all big name companies to give her product. Ask for- 5 minutes of your time to ask you 2 questions. Bite sized.
    • If you write an email on a cell phone, you don’t need to scroll. Should be just one page.
    • Jen Hyman- figured out email of Diane von Furstenberg. Kept trying.
    • Learn how to tell someone your idea in a succinct manner. Practice. Boil it down to essence. Have your pitch and learn it well.
    • Dealing with no, expect 3 nos before moving on. Girls Scouts- young scout. Troop leader always said you can’t leave the sight of the cookie sale until you have heard 3 nos. Don’t take “no” personally. Feeling confident in what you are selling- in an idea of a cookie.
  • Leslie Blodget. Bare Minerals. Jump up on a table and do the splits. She had great personality! Personality is her power. Did QVC. Be willing to go against the grain. Parent girls- modeling- willingness to go against the grain.
  • Sarah Blakely- biggest gift- her father did not care what anyone thought of him. And that it’s important to fail.
  • Jessie Ganet (Lume)- today’s nerve-wracking thing is tomorrow’s normal thing.
  • Katrina Lake- you might be the smartest or the stupidest person in the room- and you have to take the risk to find out which one you are!
  • Powerful message: Almost none of these women had a background in what they decided to do before they started their company!! That’s empowering! Someone who learned how they went.
  • Farm girl flowers—watched Youtube videos to educate herself.
  • Jane Chen: Embrace. Low cost incubators- 300,000 babies saved. Material- can run under hot water- hold this temperature for 8 hours. Googled the info!
  • Sarah Yoo of Blueland- anyone who would get on the phone with her from LinkedIn who was in chemistry, would give her info and she would keep meeting with people until she knew the answers. Cold emails on linkedin.
  • Wild thing clothes. Emma Macolroy. She finds a prehistoric bone- and her mother goes along with it—and it turns out that it is, indeed, a prehistoric bone! You have to affirm your children and their ideas.
  • Script: (i.e. succulent plant business). “Ok, let’s look at some plants! And let’s see which pots you like. And let’s talk to some other plant store owners and find out how they got started.” Help them lean in.
  • Talk to people. Learn about it.
  • Explore questions: Who is your product for? Who is competing with you?
  • Diane Cambell: Think through all these aspects- business plan. This is a great thing for parents to do with their kids. What is the cost of goods? They should pay you back. That comes out of profits. Interest?
  • These women learn from failure. It’s hard. And there is still value even if they don’t achieve glory.
  • Minted- design business. Greeting cards and wall art, etc. Stationary business began- 40 days- sold like 5 boxes to Dad and business partners. So she wondered how she could make it a more differentiated idea. Design contests. Crowd vote on the design. Designer gets cut. Coder. This was a big idea that changed the way many businesses did things!

Notable Quotables:

  • “The heart of the problem is that girls, from a very young age, due to cultural messages, stop believing that they belong in those places where they are the top leader.”
  • “25% of middle school girls admit they’ll never achieve their dream career. That number doubles in high school. They lose confidence rather than gain it as they move through adolescence.”
  • “Show your girls women in leadership inventing things, creating things and starting things. I believe in the adage, you can’t be what you can’t see.”
  • “Risk-taking involves a lot of failure, vulnerability, mistakes and messing up. If you are going to keep lauding girls for getting good grades and doing the right thing then you may prevent them from going out on a limb and having an idea that is really new.”
  • “People like real people. Your personality is your power.”
  • “When parenting girls, you need to model willingness to go against the grain and not just do things in the conventional way.”
  • “You have to affirm your children- go with it- help them to take steps forward on their ideas and lean in.”
  • “Many of these people never achieve glory. It’s so hard. Many of these people have had so many experiences that didn’t pan out. Let’s dispel this notion that you are going to achieve glory right away or that there is no value in doing it even if you don’t ever achieve glory. There is so much fun and learning to be gained in the journey of these businesses. These women have had so many deep and interesting experiences. They have learned so much about themselves. They have grown tremendously. These are great ways to grow individually.”
  • “When you have something that doesn’t work out, it really forces creativity.”