Drive Results by Adopting a Growth Mindset

Whether raising your kids or growing your employees, mindset is key to success. In a recent blog, I shared about the Growth Mindset and the Fixed Mindset. A Growth Mindset fosters motivation, resilience, and persistence. A Fixed Mindset kills it. As a parent, I don't have to tell you that you want to raise successful kids, and as business owners and leaders, we need to create an environment around us that fosters a Growth Mindset.

So how do you do?

Seek Out Learners

Often times, in business, as expertise increases, individuals struggle more and more to see new solutions or ideas. Learning stalls, and this leads businesses to get stuck in their thinking. The same thing happens with children in school.

In order to adopt a Growth Mindset that can fuel your organization forward, you must focus on people’s capacity and not their pedigree. As such, recruitment should value people who show a real commitment to learning. These people will help build a learning culture, develop independently, collaborate successfully, and be able to adapt to whatever challenges arise.

Individuals who value learning and show a capacity and passion for continual knowledge have a natural Growth Mindset that can move any business toward success.

Allow Variation

Creating a Growth Mindset means enabling each individual’s work to be more than just their job. Developing new skills—even if they shift outside of someone’s current daily work—is always valuable.

I believe that understanding and learning other roles can help promote empathy, collaboration, and encourage new ways of approaching things. And setting aside time to build skills such as collaboration and leadership is key to making your people more productive and inspired at work.  

The key is to make sure they have the ability to participate in activities, tasks, or projects that are not in their job description. This can be as simple as letting them listen in on a client call, as elaborate as sending them to advanced training, or asking them to represent your company at a trade show. They will learn and grow more confident and committed to you and your company.

Build a Culture of Risk-Taking and Tolerance for Failure

An inevitable part of growth is failure. Adopting a Growth Mindset means accepting the chance that, in the end, you might fail. But innovation, creativity, and fueling a business forward wouldn’t be possible if humans weren’t willing to take risks.

Often, this starts at the top. Leaders should set an example but also allow all employees to take on leadership roles – giving individuals the independence and freedom to try things, fail, and learn from their mistakes.

Taking on challenges is key. And organizations who view their people as capable of taking on challenges—even if it means failing—position themselves for success.

This is the same with our children.

Drive, Commitment, Determination, and Innovation

Employees at Growth Mindset companies feel more committed to their work because they feel they have the potential to grow, learn, and thrive within it. They also feel more motivated to do their best because they know that their personal development and hard work are valued. The same should be true for how kids feel about going to school, don’t you think?

In fact, research has shown that employees at Growth Mindset organizations pursue more innovative projects. They also behave more transparently, cut fewer corners, and work more collaboratively. And these authentically-motivated people will drive innovation and fuel business.

When structuring your child’s learning journey, you should consider what is making them not be transparent about their struggles, what will make them cut corners when it comes to studying, and how you can engage them collaboratively in the learning process and their options.

An Important Note About Upbringing and Its Impact on Future Mindset

Think about your childhood…

I resonated with sociologist Annette Lareau, who addresses the importance of these questions in her book Unequal Childhoods. The booktalks about the different parenting styles around “concerted cultivation” and “natural growth.” It examines parenting style differences between middle class, working-class, and poor parents—and what it does to a kid’s future. The reason the book hit home with me is because, when you are trying to raise or lead Firework Humans using Growth Mindset and encouraging the 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts, understanding the difference a set of childhood experiences has on a human is critical.

I recognize that I was raised in a Natural Growth family and that my life (how I think, the choices I made, the risks I took) could have landed me in a very different place. This is why understanding when to “structure” versus when to “unstructure” your child’s or your employee’s workday is very important.

Mindset is everything. You can’t fully develop a Growth Mindset without first acknowledging the socio-economic impact of your early years. Understanding this about yourself and your employees will make you a better leader.

Understanding your family’s opportunities and limitations will also help you make the right choice in guiding your child’s educational journey by knowing what to supplement and support them within learning and exposure to different activities.

What is Concerted Cultivation?

Concerted cultivation is a middle-class style of parenting that involves deliberate cultivation of a child's development. In this situation, a family puts their kid in the best schools and structures all their activities. The parents are kind of prepping kids in all the ways to succeed. They are providing a success roadmap, and the kid is not really making decisions for themselves.

In many ways, Concerted Cultivation gives children an advantage because it aligns with the demands of the professional world. But it can also lead to a Fixed Mindset and under-develop many entrepreneurial instincts.

If want to learn more about fostering a growth mindset in your employees or kids, pre-order a copy of my new book, Firework Humans, here!

What is Natural Growth

Natural Growth, on the other hand, does not always provide for this same opportunity. Lareau found that children from middle-class families simply have more opportunities due to their economic resources than children from poor and working-class families.

With a Natural Growth situation, many of these parents can't afford all of those activities, and they can’t afford private school, so they leave it up to the teachers, the neighborhood, and the relatives to fill in the educational gaps naturally as opposed to having it planned out.

Good aspects of Natural Growth are that you see families having BBQs and having family get-togethers to hang out, play, and eat together—because it does not require them to spend money at a restaurant. This is fantastic for teaching lessons, passing down generational history, and bonding. These kinds of activities dictate who they step out into the world to be as human beings.

A Natural Growth situation often forces the evolution of Entrepreneurial Instincts and a Growth Mindset because there is more freedom to explore during the day, less structured learning/activities, and because being entertained can ignite creativity.

There are good and not-so-good points in both Concerted Cultivation and Natural Growth mindsets. Imagine what harnessing your child’s or your employee’s mindset will do for their ability to succeed at anything life throws them.

To learn more about igniting a spark with your kids or employees, pre-order a copy of my new book, Firework Humans, due out Spring 2021. You’ll learn more about the Growth Mindset, the 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts, and how to foster these at work and at home. I’m also throwing in a few freebies as a thank you for supporting my efforts to spread this message!

Sparking the Flame of the Growth Mindset

There's something that every human needs to believe with every fiber of their beings. And when they do, they will thrive. Period.

Your brain can grow stronger—measurably stronger—with time and effort.

A Growth Mindset fosters motivation, resilience, and persistence. A Fixed Mindset kills it.

Humans who believe that certain people are just born smarter are quicker to give up, believing that if they can't do something, it's because they aren't smart enough, creative enough, good enough, or whatever enough.

Humans who have a Growth Mindset are more likely to keep working hard towards a goal, believing that all that stands between them and success is the right amount of effort.Some humans are born believing this, but others are certain that they are as they are and that nothing will change that fact. They grow up believing this.

You’ve probably worked with people who don’t believe they can solve problems on their own—it’s frustrating and costly—especially since they don’t have to feel that way. Whether you’re a parent, a business owner, or both, encouraging someone who thinks they have limitations to exceed their own limits is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.

There is a powerful way that we, as the authority figure in their lives, can nurture this belief and set them up to learn, grow, and flourish.

The Big Differences Between Fixed and Growth Mindsets

In Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she explains that while a Fixed Mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, a Growth Mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure, “not as evidence of unintelligence, but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”

The effects of mindset are amazing. Here are some of the big differences between a Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset.

Giving Up vs. Persistence

If humans have a Fixed Mindset with underdeveloped instincts, then traditional learning styles are probably suppressing their love of learning, participation, and increasing their anxiety and pessimism around their education. This is true for kids in school or employees trying to succeed at work.

If humans have a Growth Mindset with well-developed instincts, then traditional education may not impact them negatively.

It’s all about knowing the person’s learning style.

When it comes to deciding if homeschooling is right for your child, you need to look at their current mindset and how standardized testing, grading systems, and classroom learning styles help or hinder them.

When it comes to deciding if you have the right employees in the right positions, you need to look at their learning style, upbringing, and how your company culture supports or works against them.

Lack of Confidence vs. Confidence

Humans with a Fixed Mindset are more likely to interpret difficulty as a clear sign they don’t have what it takes to be successful. If success means they are smart, then a lack of success means they’re dumb. Once humans believe this, their lack of confidence spills into other areas, eventually eroding their motivation and their love of learning.

Praising humans for effort, on the other hand, lets them feel better about trying again. They will interpret a lack of success as a sign to work a little harder or do things differently, rather than proof that they are deficient.

Avoid Challenge vs. Embrace Challenge

Do you know people who, when challenged to something, they’re all in or all out?

Humans with a Fixed Mindset are more likely to choose the easy task. Why? They believe their intelligence is fixed and won’t change, so they choose easy tasks to prove themselves. This leaves very little room for the vulnerability needed to learn and grow. Learning is all about starting at the edge of our capabilities and pushing beyond them.

Humans with a Growth Mindset will embrace challenge, seeing it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Do you see why encouraging a Growth Mindset is the first thing you should be focusing on, no matter what educational path they are on or the role they play in your company?

Failure: Personal Deficiency vs. Opportunity to Learn

Humans with a Fixed Mindset will be more likely to interpret failure as proof of their limited capability. Failure isn't so bad for humans with a Growth Mindset. They have a healthy attitude towards failure, seeing it as an opportunity to learn. Even when disappointed, their confidence stays up, and they find it easy to believe they'll succeed if they keep working at it.

Is this not something to strive to support in our employees and co-workers?

Hiding the Struggle vs. Seeking Help

Humans who believe results are directly related to how smart they are currently will be more likely to hide their struggles and lie about their mistakes. These are the humans that describe themselves as “smart” or “not smart.” They see mistakes as proof the world sees them as “stupid” or incapable. On the other hand, humans with a Growth Mindset are more likely to seek help when something gets in their way, believing the capability is in them, but they just need help getting it out.

Whether it is your child asking for help on homework or for a tutor, or an employee raising their hand and asking for support to get the job done, both are examples of a Growth Mindset. Where our kids and employees “fail” is in being too embarrassed or scared to try and fail, fail and ask for help, and try again until they master it.

As a parent, I don't have to tell you that you want to raise successful kids—we all do—but what I would remind the business owners and leaders of is that we need to create an environment around us that fosters a Growth Mindset. Often , this requires us to go inward and see what we need to change about ourselves to make it happen.

Growth Mindset at Work

I believe an organization that adopts a Growth Mindset can position itself to thrive. At Brandlync, we define a Growth Mindset as a set of attitudes and behaviors that reflect the belief that an individual’s talents are not set in stone. Talent can be developed. Intelligence can be fostered. Creativity and innovation can be strengthened. Leaders can emerge. People hold potential. My leadership team incorporates these principles into company meetings, compensation plans, promotion requirements, and internal communication, as well as how we encourage each other.

This means every employee within my organization has to have the ability to develop, grow, and learn. I believe if more companies worked to help each of their employees’ progress, advance in their roles, take on more leadership capabilities, and constantly evolve their skills and thinking, we as a global community would thrive as a whole.

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Foster These 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts in Your Children (and Employees) and Watch What Grows!

What makes an entrepreneur tick? Why are they always thinking about new ways to solve problems? In my last blog, I shared a bit of my entrepreneurial story and how I believe all humans are born with 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts that become consistent behavioral traits when nurtured and developed.

Fostering these traits in your employees can take your business to new levels (and partnerships). Developing these instincts in your children can spark something truly amazing!

The 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts

When all humans, but kids especially, look within and identify their entrepreneurial instincts, they find personal ambitions and goals rapidly progress, improve, and materialize. Curiosity, confidence, and conviction are what turn sparks into fireworks. Understanding what drives kids and makes them think and act differently might make them "weird," but it means they are part of an extraordinary universe of others that think like them and create entirely new worlds of thought, play, and progress during their time on this planet. When humans understand why they do what they do, they feel included, not as isolated.

I can prove it to you!

Humans That Sparked Early

Bill Gates might be one of the best-known young entrepreneurs we can point to, but it’s happening more and more often.

Gallup Poll showed that 50% of minority students and 37% of white students in grades 5-12 in late 2013 were planning to someday start a business of their own. Here are just a few examples of young entrepreneurs changing the world:

In 2013, Brandon, 13, and Sebastian Martinez, 11, started Are You Kidding. They help the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund and Autism Speaks by selling funky looking socks to schools for fundraisers.

In 2014, Alina Morse invested $7,500 that her grandparents gave her for college into her own candy business called ZOLLIPOPS. Since 2014, her candies are available at SuperValu and Whole Foods along with Amazon. She has been tagged as the Dentist’s Best Friend for her sugar-free treats.

In 2015, Bella Tipping started Kidzcationz.com after identifying a child-sized gap in the travel market, so she created a travel review website specifically for kids.

In 2016, Evan Moana started EvanTubeHD and was named YouTube's youngest millionaire. He was in fourth grade at the time. His channel reviews kids' toys and has more than 6 million subscribers. All the money Evan raises through sponsorships and advertisements and his earnings are invested in college funds and investments for Evan and his sister, Jillian, who is also a YouTuber

In 2017, 10-year-old Hannah Grace started BeYOUtiful. You can find her products on her website. Hannah donates 20% of every purchase to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, as she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was an infant.

In 2018, Jelani Jones, CEO of Lani Boo Bath, visited farmers markets and tested as many products as she could find. One of those vendors became her mentor, and Jelani turned her bath product hobby into a lucrative career. She was 9.

In 2019, David Holston launched his first entrepreneurial initiative when he made $35,000 in 4-days by posting an ad on Craigslist offering his truck for snowplowing during an unprecedented storm in Seattle. See a need, fill a need.

In 2020, Miracle Olatunji, author of Purpose: How to Live and Lead with Impact (at age 19), continues to work with OpportuniMe, a company she started when she was in high school.  She is also the Director of Innovation at Thrive.

Helping your kids start a businessregardless of their school situationis an amazing experience that will stimulate the development of their Entrepreneurial Instincts and help them develop curiosity, confidence, and conviction.

Now, imagine helping your business team hyper-develop the three Big C’s[c2] how would they change the scale and profit of your business? What if an employee came to you with an idea that transformed your company OR with a new business idea that you could partner on?

The first step in getting the 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts to grow and become behaviors starts with having a Growth Mindset. I’ll share more about that in my next blog.

Humans are humansno matter what ageand we’re capable of incredible things. By understanding the 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts we all possess, how to encourage their development into behavioral traits, and how to fuel a Growth Mindset in the people around us, we are helping ignite firework humans at every age.

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How Curiosity, Confidence, and Conviction Combine to Create an Amazing Life

Hot damn! I AM a pretty cool human. How's that for confidence? I'm not arrogant; rather, I am reflecting on the life that I have been able to create for myself and my family. I live my life by intentional design[c1] , and it has led me to create unbelievable things. I’ve evolved into the ME I am today, and I intend to keep evolving. I believe that the average person has roughly 80 trips around the sun, and while I’m still orbiting, I’m going to give this world everything I’ve got.

For me, it’s about fueling the curiosity, confidence, and conviction, and sparking a Growth Mindset in the people around me. This is what I want for my kids and my employees. I want them to make the most of their trips around the sun. I want them to continue evolving into humans that control their own orbit. 

I, like many serial entrepreneurs, did not have a normal childhood—far from it. I was homeless with my six siblings and didn't get two full parents until I was nine. Heck, I didn't even have a home to call my own until I was in high school.

I often wonder, as cool of a person as I've become (and strive to keep evolving into), what if things had been different?

In one version of my evolution, effort was a bad thing. It, like failure, meant I was not smart or talented enough. If I were, I wouldn’t need to try so hard. In the other version of my evolution, effort is what made me smart and talented. My evolution could have gone either way and changed my entire orbit—how I lived each one of my trips around the sun.

Serial Entrepreneur

I'm a serial entrepreneur by chemical make-up—I don't know how to think any other way. It’s like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix when he finds out the truth about life and existence—you can’t ignore it or erase it from your mind.

Growing up, I had a sense that I was the "weird one." What I didn’t understand was that I was actually developing my entrepreneurial instincts. My lack of understanding came from always being broke, hungry, and trying to fit in with the other kids who had a home and traditional family life. My environment dictated my perception of myself and my potential.

I believe there are 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts that every human possesses. I also believe that each instinct can be developed into behavioral traits that allow us to grow more curious, confident, and convicted.

These Entrepreneurial Instincts made me fearless—but let's face it, I didn't have much to lose to start with. I had the spirit and the abilities but no real formal training and encouragement on how to use them. I developed confidence out of necessity, curiosity out of desperation, and conviction from a lack of choices. So, you can say that my childhood forced the evolution of my entrepreneurial journey and gave me the three big Cs.

(Stay with me as I’ll share a bit more on these entrepreneurial instincts in my next blog.)

Homeschooling, CEO Mom

Yes, I've accomplished a tremendous amount in less than 40 trips around the sun. From a fantastic family to multiple thriving businesses, to global travel, and hundreds of unique experiences. I’m living a super cool life, full of fireworks, and controlling my orbit.

But could I have accomplished MORE in the same 40 trips around the sun if I had someone championing my dreams from the very beginning?  I know I would have experienced a lot fewer bumps, bruises, and scars along the way.

I love being a homeschooling, CEO mom!! I am able to help by kids develop their entrepreneurial instincts while continuing to evolve on my entrepreneurial journey.

Answering this question was a large part of what put me on my first homeschooling journey. I also believe in the growing trend of business owners who are choosing homeschooling because:

I'll make the assumption that, because you’re reading this, you're an entrepreneur or business owner or are thinking of becoming one. You’re wondering, can I successfully run a business and homeschool together? Or maybe it’s because you've noticed that your child is different in the most delicious way. Perhaps people even refer to your child as—dare I say it—weird! It's most likely their Entrepreneurial Instincts kicking in; things like resiliency, problem-solving, fact-finding, communication, risk-taking, flexibility, always learning, and dreaming big. You sense that your child (maybe even yourself) is at the inflection point of your evolutional journey, and you know it can go either way.

Think about your childhood, how you were raised, and your experience with school. You might imagine that, if you were encouraged to have a Growth Mindset and learn on your own terms, you would have done some things differently. Maybe you'd have taken chances earlier, traveled the world sooner, met exciting people more frequently, and pursued your passions more fearlessly. You might have more gratitude for each trip around the sun you've taken.

If your “weirdness” was nurtured early on, your unique thinking encouraged sooner, your hesitance coached into fearlessness, your boundaries expanded or blown away, your failures seen through a different lens – who would you be today?

I’m known for saying that we all have these little, timid sparks inside of us, and based on our curiosity, we see those sparks get higher and more intense, and then one day—if we allow it—they turn into full-blown fireworks.

This is why I chose to homeschool my kids (who are just now recognizing their entrepreneurial instincts) while running multiple businesses and evolving my own personal journey. I prefer to homeschool my children because I can provide them a personalized education designed around their abilities. I want to spend my time making it possible for them to achieve their highest potential and realize their biggest dreams.

I challenge you to think about your own capacity for championing your child's and employees’ unlimited abilities in the same way. Whether you work full-time, run your own business, or are the CEO of your household, you can help cultivate lifelong curiosity, confidence, and conviction in the humans around you—helping them succeed through turmoil and creating amazing experiences.

In our journey together, I hope that I can help you see how to do it without losing your mind or creating needless stress and help you feel more connected to your own parenting journey, your business, and yourself.

As I mentioned above, I’ll share more about the 9 Entrepreneurial Instincts in my next blog. I look forward to sharing more with you then.

Until then, keep evolving on your life’s amazing orbit!

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How Any Woman Can Become a Millionaire Mom and Live the Life of Her Dreams

My life now is a far cry from what I had as a homeless kid, bouncing from couch to car to hotel room. I know what it's like to be hungry, but that's not the reason for my success. The past hardships don’t define me—it's my commitment to evolving continuously. Many people have rough starts, but you can't use that as an excuse for staying the same.

My journey to become a millionaire mom didn’t happen by accident. I was intentional, I set goals, and I dreamed really big!

Here are four things I do to live a life of intentional design and achieve my goals without fail—and I know you can do it, too.

1. Don’t be afraid of people leaving.

During my chaotic childhood, I became accustomed to people walking out frequently. As dismal as that sounds, those experiences had a profoundly empowering effect on me.

Here’s the thing: When you’re not worried about if someone is going to leave you, you can instead focus on whether you want to stay. Rather than thinking, “If I don’t do this, this person will leave,” ask yourself what makes you want this person to stay?

Success is difficult to achieve without clear priorities that prevent others from running your life. People avoid hard conversations because they are afraid the other party will react badly and exit. This is how toxic employees stay employed for so long and deteriorate a company. In my digital ad agency, I don’t spend hours debating whether an employee should be coached or let go because one thousand outcomes could come from either decision. Instead, I stay laser-focused on those creating real value in my life.

I follow the same rule for my personal life. With 20 years of marriage and two kids, it’s still important to ask myself if I want to stay in the marriage. I’m not afraid to go it alone because I control my money, my companies, and I’m not afraid to have the hard conversations. So, my husband and I take our marriage year by year.

Even though we’re committed to each other for the long haul, every year on our anniversary, we go to dinner and ask the hard questions: Why are we here? Are we happy? How did the past year go? What do we have to work on? What are our goals? Then, we work like hell for the next 12 months to make sure we like the answers. That’s how you pour the foundation of a life you love.

2. Control your own finances.

I have the opportunity to mentor female entrepreneurs regarding how to handle their finances all the time. If, tomorrow, you woke up alone, would you feel empowered to handle your finances? I’m an optimist by nature and believe in true love; I love my husband more every day, but I know that nothing is more crucial than self-sufficiency. If he cheated, died, or woke up one day and decided I wasn’t his thing anymore, my children and I would be financially secure. That gives me the confidence and peace of mind to chase my dreams. Women especially have to be in control of their own earning potential and investments and protect their wealth.

3. Be ruthless about your time.

A group of people sitting at a table

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After being a homeless kid, I determined to become the architect of my own life. Now, I have it all, and you can too!

I absolutely will not waste time — it’s the one resource I can’t earn back. We only have about 80 trips around the sun, and I believe we have a responsibility to make the most of each one. Effective time management at work ensures that I use my time efficiently so I can accomplish what I truly value: homeschooling my kids, family dinners, exercise, and self-care.

I also don’t get caught in the trap of multitasking, which kills productivity and creativity. Going through your day with purpose—that is, focusing intently on one task before moving on to the next—can be the big difference between where you are right now and a million-dollar career.

4. Make a point to connect with people in meaningful ways.

Believe it or not, some of my biggest wins in business have come from meaningful conversations with people I happen to bump into throughout my day. These days, it’s especially easy to be head down in a text conversation with people you communicate with daily and miss a million-dollar conversation with the person next to you.

I make a point to talk to everyone I encounter and try to ask them meaningful questions. This applies to executives in the airport, the grocery store checkout clerk, or the restaurant server. Being curious has led me to incredible profit opportunities and exceptional new hires. Connecting with people in ways that make them feel noticed and valuable is how you increase your network’s net worth.

These four principles are how I’ve succeeded as an entrepreneur and why I have the freedom to live life exactly how I want to live without fear of the future. I never want to stop evolving. I don’t want to look back in 10 years and realize that nothing has changed in my life except my age. I owe it to myself, my husband, and my children to endure whatever comes my way—even a pandemic—and become my best self!

I encourage you to start with one of the principles above and take steps—baby or giant—to grow and evolve into the amazing human you are meant to be.

-Jessica

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