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How To Inspire The Next Generation of Teen Innovators

How To Inspire The Next Generation of Teen Innovators

Today’s most successful entrepreneurs think up completely new ways of executing business that often disrupt the status quo. They have the resilience and gain the resources it takes to innovate. By looking to them, we are able to gain an understanding of what it takes to create success in the modern world.

Startup thinking is a crucial skill that can be developed to help young people become the change-makers and success stories of tomorrow. You can invest in your child’s future by helping them look at the world in ways that allow them to unleash their true creative potential.

The economy is changing rapidly, and a future workforce that produces rewarding careers and a thriving economy is developing. Our children need access to the tools needed to meet the challenges and reap the new opportunities presented, and this level of executive functioning is not taught in school.

Heather E. McGowan, future of work strategist, author, and advisor posits that our new emerging economy requires an ‘internally validated identity born of self-awareness and coupled with learning agility and adaptability,’ which points to re-imagining education. Teen Innovators works to bridge the gap, by fostering and encouraging an innovative mindset in young teens and tweens, through mentorship and leadership classes led by highly-accomplished older teens.

 

Encourage your child to develop a startup mindset
Through our work with curious young problem-solvers, we’ve compiled these 5 key components of a startup mindset that you can begin to encourage in your child:

 

Curiosity
Over the past two decades, Elon Musk has launched several multibillion-dollar companies such as PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX. His success as a serial entrepreneur follows an eventful childhood in which a young Musk played with homemade rockets, and coded his own video games.

Ideation and problem solving begins with fostering a curious mindset. If your child is one of those who asks never-ending questions, try not to shut them down. Encourage them by saying, “good question,” and then recommending they do some research on the topics that most interest them. Suggest that they report back to you 3 new things on the topic, to keep it simple and actionable.

 

Possibility
Encourage optimism and ideation with the idea that the universe is filled with infinite possibilities. Try not to shut down their problem-solving ideas. Even Jeff Bezos thought it was only 30% possible that Amazon would succeed.

Entrepreneurs of today must remain open to possibilities, or they risk shutting down their own ideas before they even see the light of day. Suggest they keep a journal of new ideas and issue solutions. On down days, instead of scrolling social, suggest they review their idea journal to see if anything new arises.

 

Disruption
Harvard Business School professor and disruption guru Clayton Christensen says that a disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative. Showing kids an example of a disruptive business, such as Airbnb can be helpful, as a way of showing them how applying new technologies can create a completely new business model that requires very little overhead expense.

 

Confidence
Life is one big persuasive argument, and people who approach life with the most confidence are much more likely to get what they want. Encourage your child to release the need to be certain, and really believe in themselves. It’s natural for us to have fears, and successful innovators know how to move past them and continue on their path to success. Even something as simple as the now-famous “power pose,” can help your child overcome anxiety and regain self-confidence ahead of an important meeting, test, presentation or event.

 

Adaptibility
Jeff Bezos famously said, “People who are right a lot, they listen a lot, and people who are right a lot, change their mind a lot.” Innovators have to be open to new ideas and to changing their minds. Innovation starts with a great idea, yet startup thinking requires adaptability to make any changes that are necessary for success. It takes a balance of both conviction and openness. Explain this distinction to your child, and ask them to explain it back to you.

 

Inspiring your child’s innovative mindset
Now that you know how true innovators and disruptors will be the big success stories of tomorrow, here are our 3 top tips to OIL your child’s innovative mindset.

 

Observe
Notice what makes him curious, what he’s drawn to and passionate about, and what problems or issues are particularly upsetting or disturbing to him. Try not to let your own beliefs, preferences, and experience influence their passions. This can be tough, because we adults have our own ideas about success, and sometimes want to live vicariously through our kids.

Young minds have the flexibility to disrupt old ways of doing things, and that is the type of thinking that is most beneficial to nurture. Our peer mentors are trained to let our younger students lead the direction of their mentor sessions, following their interests and passions.

 

Inspire
Talk to your child as much as you can about their areas of interest, and encourage them to develop possible solutions. Point to young people who have had success in a similar field. Showing them other young people who are already creative entrepreneurs can show them what is possible.

Limitations are the mind’s biggest enemy. By inspiring your child and showing her what’s possible, you will encourage the best kind of entrepreneurial mindset. Our peer mentors are trained to validate ideas, by offering a “Yes, And” approach to them.

 

Listen
Really be present with your child. Try to sit down for at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to ask them questions, and don’t offer solutions right away. If they’re ‘stuck,’ be sure to offer more than one idea, so there’s still a choice your child can make. By doing this, you’re teaching them discernment and critical thinking, as well as introducing decision-making skills, all key to success in today’s environment. Our peer mentors utilize an ideation funnel process to help them ideate and then narrow the scope of potential solutions to focus on and develop.

 

We hope you will try some of these tips for fostering an innovative mindset in your child. We’d love to hear your success stories and other ideas about how to encourage startup thinking!

 

Christine Hutchison is a serial entrepreneur, mother of two boys, and the founder of Teen Innovators, a mentorship community created to foster innovation in students age 11-16 and provide them with the tools and confidence they need to succeed as leaders of tomorrow. Their peer mentors are highly-accomplished older teens and young adults age 17-21, who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with their younger peers. They also offer free virtual events for teens and their parents. Register here for the next event in our Summer Innovator Series on July 20 at 7 p.m. Central.

Want to discuss a personalized track for your student? Book a 15-minute call with Christine to discuss an individualized track for your child.

 

Three Things I Wish I Would’ve Known Before Applying to College

Three Things I Wish I Would’ve Known Before Applying to College

Scared about applying to college? Need some tips going into the application process? Well, here in this article, I provide some tips and insights I wish I would have paid more attention to when applying to college:

  1. Research, research, and more research!
    I am not referring to the research you should do before applying to a college, such as the location, demographics, and academics (although you should do that as well); I am referring to the research you should do before writing the supplements. Supplemental materials to your application might include personal essays, a video submission, writing examples, etc. I know at first glance research may seem obvious, but you will be surprised at how many times this goes overlooked. Every college is different and is looking for different qualities. I know it can seem tempting to jump into the supplement and begin writing. However, I would advise against that. For example, if you were thinking about applying to Stanford, you should search up past supplements from students who were admitted. If you do this for each college, not only will you get an understanding of what each college is looking for, you are also setting yourself up for success. Once you do your research, you will find that Stanford does not prefer the “well-rounded” individual but an individual who has a peak in a certain activity/interest. If you play the violin, that can be your peak. It can honestly be anything you enjoy. Focus on that one activity instead of scattering your essays about all the areas in which you are successful.
  2. Don’t be afraid to get creative
    When writing your personal statement and supplements, don’t be afraid to sprinkle in some of your personality. Too many times, prospective applicants tend to write in an overtly professional manner, their supplements drained of personality. While grammar and spelling are super important, your essays should not read like an entry in an academic journal. Instead, your essays should be engaging, clever, and playful. Remember the admissions committee spends around 15 minutes per application. You want to make yourself stand out as much as possible. So instead of viewing these essays as an extension of your academic work, consider viewing them as an extension of your personality.
  3. It is not about the quantity but the quality
    Many prospective applicants are under the impression that they need to achieve a certain amount of extracurriculars in a short amount of time. However, it is not about the number of extracurriculars you have, but what you do with said number. Here’s an example: Applicant A is involved in five extracurricular activities while Applicant B is involved in only two. Applicant B has leadership positions in both the extracurriculars they are involved in while Applicant A is simply a member of the clubs and has no positions/titles. Applicant B would most likely stand out more because it is clear to see that they are passionate about the activities they do, so much so, that they have acquired noteworthy positions in both clubs. Most colleges can tell if a student is in a club just to be in the club. Go a step further and join clubs that truly interest you, not because you think it will look good on a college application. If you only have one or two extracurriculars you are involved in, it is completely okay as long as you a) truly enjoy the activity and b) acquired leadership positions.

With these three tips in mind, you will be sure to give yourself the best chance moving forward! By researching each school, you will know when to expect when tackling the essay portion. Adding in some creativity will allow you to stand out from the thousands of applicants applying to the same school with similar credentials. Finally, do not worry about the amount of extracurriculars you need to do, 1-2 will be sufficient, as long as these activities are things you are very passionate about; this passion should shine through in your application. I hope this helps–good luck!

By one of Teen Innovators’ peer mentors, Nellie.

Teen Innovators Provides More Students an Opportunity to Sign-up for The Chicago Student Invention Convention

Teen Innovators Provides More Students an Opportunity to Sign-up for The Chicago Student Invention Convention

CHICAGO – February 19, 2020

Teen Innovators, a company for teens by teens dedicated to fostering an innovative mindset in tomorrow’s leaders, announces a new collaboration with The Chicago Student Invention Convention. Teen Innovators will provide a wrap-around program to sponsor students who are not associated with a current sponsor program (such as a registered local school) and want to participate in the May 1st event. This is an example of how two local organizations are coming together to expand an offering to inspire curiosity and creative problem-solving in our youth.   

 

In the past, more than 45 participating schools have sponsored on average 1,000 students in K-8th grade to present in the Student Invention Convention. Teen Innovators has developed after-school programs to prepare fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students who would like to attend the Convention by offering free virtual workshops during the six weeks leading up to the May 1st event.

 

Beth Krasczewski, a parent of a 5th grader at a local catholic school, said, “I am thrilled to now have the opportunity for my 11-year-old to participate in the Student Invention Convention and to be sponsored by Teen Innovators.  My son is also excited to have access to one-on-one mentoring to prepare him for this event.”

 

“Teen Innovators launched in December and is already innovating how we deliver real-world educational opportunities in a virtual world by providing more access to programming that is fluid and flexible around the child’s academic needs and schedule.  Younger teens, older teens, and business leaders are all learning from each other,” says Julie Silverstein, advisor for Teen Innovators and a member of Chicago Innovation’s Women’s Mentoring Co-Op.

 

Chicago is a town with big ideas and an incredible innovative ecosystem.  Luke Tanen, Executive Director, Chicago Innovation, believes that “In times of crisis, there is usually mass amounts of innovation.” 

 

When Teen Innovators Founder Christine Hutchison looked for talent to build her company, she turned to Chicago Innovation and its inherent network.  She leveraged the strong relationships she built within the Women’s Mentoring Co-Op Networking community to develop her internal team and outside vendor resources. 

 

“The Women’s Cohort Mentoring Co-Op is about women supporting and empowering women.  We have our largest cohort to date this spring, which signifies how material our work is,” says Molly Matthias, manager Manager of Mentoring and Inclusion Programs for Chicago Innovation. “We are delighted that Christine Hutchison, one of our Mentors, is leveraging the programs of Chicago Innovation to create profound opportunities for today’s teens.”

Teen Innovators is now enrolling students age 11-16 in the after-school program on its website, TeenInnovators.com. Students interested in participating in the Convention on May 1st can signup online by visiting https://teeninnovators.hubspotpagebuilder.com/chicago-student-invention-convention.  Together with Chicago Innovation, this company will be on the frontline of making change happen, rather than reading about innovation after it has occurred..  

 

 

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About Teen Innovators: Teen Innovators Teen Innovators is a company for teens by teens fostering an innovative mindset in the leaders of tomorrow. It provides a peer community experience where students practice creative and innovative thinking through flexible mentoring and leadership classes that are led by teens for teens.  Students, ages 11-16, in the after-school program, learn to think strategically, solve big world problems, and lead their peers with confidence.  TI Students and Peer Mentors grow alongside each other and learn life skills that provide a foundation for success as a purpose-driven leader of tomorrow.  The start-up is employing accomplished older teens to mentor younger peers on leadership and life skills and boost a sense of achievement. For more information, visit www.teeninnovators.com.

The Power of Failure: How I Became Valedictorian

The Power of Failure: How I Became Valedictorian

I began to live by a motto– one by my own creation– go to your fullest potential. This was something I would repeat to myself on a daily basis, beginning in middle school. Had to study for a test? I studied my hardest. About to compete in a badminton tournament? I never gave up any point, no matter how exhausted I was. Extra credit offered in Spanish class? I took it. No matter what happened, if I got a bad grade or if lost the badminton match, I was completely satisfied with the end result. Why? Because I knew I gave it my all.I began to live by a motto– one by my own creation– go to your fullest potential. This was something I would repeat to myself on a daily basis, beginning in middle school. Had to study for a test? I studied my hardest. About to compete in a badminton tournament? I never gave up any point, no matter how exhausted I was. Extra credit offered in Spanish class? I took it. No matter what happened, if I got a bad grade or if lost the badminton match, I was completely satisfied with the end result. Why? Because I knew I gave it my all.

Upon reflecting on this motto, I have come to the realization that this motto has helped me attain the position of valedictorian of my high school class. Growing up, I never considered myself a “genius” or brilliant in one subject. In fact, I actually struggled a lot in math class. Despite all that, I was a hard worker. Like I mentioned above, I would always do the extra credit if offered, even if my grade was above 100. If I felt iffy on a topic in any of my classes, I would stay after and ask a lot of questions. No matter the class, math or english, I always studied for a test, always. So, if I received the test back and got a low score, I knew it was not because I did not study, it was because I genuinely did not know the answer. I mean I was my class valedictorian, so it was rare to receive anything lower than a C, especially because I always studied in advance, but that just reinforces the power of my motto.

Currently, I am a peer mentor for Teen Innovators. This program truly teaches teens to go to their fullest potential. The mentorship we offer causes teens to become inspired and invested in their pitch, so much so that sometimes they do not even realize they are giving it their all. We help teens reach their full potential by validating their ideas and by helping them unlock new ideas from their personal experience or through research. Hopefully, this powerful trait that teen innovators helps the youth to acquire, can be carried on into academics or extracurriculars. Who knows, maybe the next future valedictorian or all-state athlete will emerge from this program.

by one of Teen Innovators’ peer, Nellie.

Why Teens Need Good Communication Skills

Why Teens Need Good Communication Skills

Sweaty palms, stuttering, and shaky legs. Oh no, you are about to deliver a speech in front of all your classmates and you have just fallen victim to a common enemy: the fear of public speaking. Many educational systems try to combat this by mandating teens to take one oral communications class, hopefully sometime early in their high school career. However, what happens to the teens who go to schools that do not offer public speaking classes? Fortunately, Teen Innovators is here to help.

With the mentorship that Teen Innovators offers, teens will be able to confidently pitch their big ideas in the business contest. The mentors validate, give helpful advice, and share their expertise in order to inspire the teens to be their best selves. Many of these mentors have a background in public speaking and what better way to learn how to master speaking than by learning from the masters themselves! To actually think that one day, instead of giving a pitch for a contest, these teens could be giving a real presentation of their own to future investors – that’s pretty exciting! Imagine how more convincing and persuasive they will appear to these investors with these amazing communication skills they acquired at such a young age.

Teen Innovators prepares teens for a lifetime of success. In order to be successful, you have to be able to advocate for yourself. By equipping these teens with speech skills, there will be a decline in the fear of speaking, participation in class will increase, and the students will be more likely to take on extracurriculars incorporating speech. Not to mention that most jobs consist of speaking — that is speaking effectively. By beginning early, teens will be more open to innovation and entrepreneurship.
There have been so many times that I stumbled upon someone who is extremely smart. The only problem is he or she lacks the necessary communication skills to relay that intelligence and knowledge to others. The art of speech is essential and crucial for future success.

No matter what career path you choose, speech will be utilized, so it is necessary that the youth become comfortable with public speaking at an early age. Thankfully, the mentors at Teen Innovators work to enhance the youth’s confidence – which will subsequently strengthen the leaders of tomorrow’s communication skills.

By Nellie G., Sr. Editor of her high school newspaper and class valedictorian.

Better Together

Better Together

My first mentors, like most people, were my parents. From them, I have learned countless life lessons, but more importantly, they have taught me the value in relationships. I’ve learned that us humans truly need one another to succeed, and no technology can serve as an adequate substitute to a mentor. However, I did not previously have the same thoughts regarding mentorship as I do now. Before I had any professional mentors of my own, my honest and uneducated image of a one was that they would be someone wiser and significantly more successful than me whose purpose would be to lecture me on the secrets of life! With this narrow vision about mentors, I was wary to connect with others because I’ve never loved listening to formal talks from people whom I barely know. Yes, this initial image of a mentor was seriously skewed and, through time, I came to the conclusion that there was, in reality, no greater way to attain my goals than to use my network and seek the support that I needed to grow and succeed.

I have always been the type of person who does copious research before pursuing anything, whether if it’s for a new professional endeavour or just for something in my student workload. In either case, my biggest breakthrough moments have always been results from conversations with my mentors. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m not nearly as successful with the suggested Google search results as I am with a person whose purpose is to help guide me and give suggestions to things that I would have never thought of. Honestly, any time I talk with my mentors, I learn something. It’s not always a breakthrough moment, but there has never been a useless conversation. Whether the takeaway is that I learn something new about them or something new about myself, when both people put in the time and effort, the relationship never stops benefiting both sides. I always aim to be a sponge during these meetings and absorb the knowledge that these great people give me, but it becomes difficult to remember it all. In order to not forget a memorable lesson, I write it down! On my phone, I keep a running note filled with many bits of wisdom from different people who said something that once sparked an interesting idea in my brain.

From time to time, I will go back and look at all the nuggets of wisdom that I’ve gathered from these extraordinary people. I thought that I’d share one of these little lessons, You don’t need to wake up one morning and be great, but you need to commit yourself to becoming just a little better every time. A little bit more effort every time adds up in the long run. This is something that stood out to me during a conversation I had with a mentor when we were talking about how to know if you’re making progress in life… Because with this new age of technology, everything moves so fast. Oftentimes, from the perspective that I have on my devices, it seems like greatness is achieved overnight, and no media platform shows mistakes or failures. While in reality, I’ve learned from every one of my mentors that the idea of failure is essential in the process of success. I sometimes still forget about the usefulness of failure because of the filter of perfection that I see that’s laid over every post, article, and status update.

What started as a small personal network that consisted of only my mom and dad has turned into a growing tree of connections. I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with those who aren’t so similar to me because that is how I believe that we all grow. By pushing the comfort zone, we allow ourselves to explore ideas and thoughts that may have never come to us alone. Through my mentorships, I’ve been able to learn about rejection and failure while simultaneously understanding how to better incorporate creativity, critical thinking, and an inquisitive mindset towards everything that I do. Mentorship is critical in both career and personal development because it fosters a non-competitive and supportive relationship that is a rarity today in most industries. Everyone has the capacity for greatness but those who truly succeed are the ones who utilize the minds of those around them.

by Eden Kavanagh ’21, recently pitched her business plan at the LA TanK Takes NYC through Loyola Academy.