Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

How an email to The Wall Street Journal led to a Profile Article

Monday, December 19th, 2016

For years I’ve been an avid reader of The Wall Street Journal. The Journal informs and entertains me. I especially look forward to the weekend edition, filled with fascinating articles.

One Saturday morning, I was reading Encore profiles, profiles of people who in retirement have done something interesting–something entirely different from their previous career. I sent off an email to the editor, telling him of my unlikely path from UCI English instructor to children’s math book writer. I mentioned how my father had been an entrepreneur, building two companies, and the lessons learned from him. I’d seen firsthand the risks and the rewards. To my astonishment, I received a response from the editor stating: “One of our reporters will be contacting you.” For a minute I stared at my computer screen in total disbelief!

Within a few weeks, one of their journalists interviewed me and asked me about my background, my math workbook and my company, TeaCHildMath. The morning of publication, I was up at 4:00 in my California home. Within three hours, PayPal orders poured in from East Coast to the West Coast. It was like seeing the map of the USA light up before my eyes. Hundreds of orders poured in!

Never would I have imagined the WSJ writing a profile article on me and my second-career story. How did it happen? I took the time time to write an email. Ten minutes paid enormous dividends. My father would’ve been so proud.

The Pursuit of Happiness and Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

On this day, it’s worth remembering that our Declaration of Independence states that we are endowed with “certain unalienable rights” and that among these are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

While in high school, my daughter Gina was a national finalist in the Junior Achievement Young Entrepreneurs competition and was eligible to enter their speech contest. The topic contestants were given was: “The Quest for Success.”

Gina came to me to brainstorm. Given my background as an English instructor, I suggested she look up “quest” and “success” in the dictionary. She found that a synonym for quest was pursuit and that one for success was happiness. “The pursuit of happiness?” we said to one another, recalling the phrase from the Declaration of Independence. She went on to write a speech stating that the “pursuit of happiness,” guaranteed to us in the Declaration of Independence, also meant the right to strike out on one’s own and become an entrepreneur.

I’m happy to report that Gina won the speech contest! The cash prize helped pay for her first year of college. Pursuing entrepreneurship as a high school student set her on her path toward success.

In launching a business, entrepreneurs fulfill their right to strive for success and pursue happiness on their own terms. Entrepreneurship, in fact, is a declaration of independence.

How to Become a Mom Entrepreneur?

Monday, November 1st, 2010

v401rcat2qicwcad0em4bcai5vbkncal7izubcaw6cg9zcazxqfejcasuo2ppcailvec9ca1n5n3hca5z76p8caklebbacabwwvn6cabl13x5cajx997aca68r29bcaeokuvucab3mgmtcaia1jl11I enjoyed watching  Donny Deutsch’s show, The Big Idea.  Donny Deutch, an advertising executive, got his own cable tv show after appearing in an early episode of Trump’s The Apprentice.  On his show, Donny would interview entrepreneurs about their products.  The question he asked his guests was:  “How did YOU come up with THIS product?”  Restated the question was:  “How did you come up with your BIG IDEA?”  Invariably, the guest entrepreneur would answer:  “When I was confronted by X problem, I found a way to SOLVE it.” 

The story the entrepreneur told was compelling, sometimes arising from a personal tragedy such as designing a better infant car seat after having had a child injured in a car accident or a nagging, everyday irritant such as not being able to fish out car keys from the bottom of one’s purse (what woman hasn’t had this problem?) or how to keep bra straps from showing when wearing sleeveless tops with wide armholes.   The products featured on his show might cost but a few dollars.  Donny would urge his audience to find solutions to problems in their daily lives. A problem solved could the BIG IDEA for a new or improved product. 

I would dream of being on Donny’s show and telling him that I too fit his entrepreneur pattern of:  frustrating PROBLEM prompts BIG IDEA and determination to SOLVE that problem.  It’s not that difficult to come up with a BIG IDEA.  What is difficult is carrying through on a BIG IDEA and transforming it into a product consumers will actually buy.  I imagined telling Donny how frustrated my son was filling in pages of mindless drills to learn the multiplication tables and my deciding right then and there that there HAD to be a better way!  I would tell him how I drew a grid for tables 1-10 and found amazing patterns for all the tables.  I would tell him how each day my son and I papered the fridge with our discoveries. I would conclude by saying I decided to hire a graphic artist, design my book from cover to cover and publish Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables to help other families and how in four years I’ve sold almost 10,000 copies!

Every day, moms are confronted with frustrating problems such as discovering toilet paper cascading down the stairway from a child’s bathroom.  An enterprising mom invented a toilet paper dispenser to keep that from happening.  Another mom used her creativity by improving the design of the standard baby pacifier. Why not a pacifier shaped like a rasberry in an eye-catching color?  Look at everyday items in a new light.

Moms spend their days solving problems large and small.  Why not take the leap and become a mom entrepreneur?  Hats off to dad entrepreneurs too!  The results of improving other people’s lives are rewarding.

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Halloween Candy Entrepreneur?

Friday, October 29th, 2010



Sunday night your little goblins, witches, pirates and fairy tale princesses will be dragging home bags full of Halloween candy.

Now like any good parent, you will want to go through the bag with your child.  Maybe you don’t want them to eat all the sugary hard candy or squirrel away bubble gum that somehow appears in their hair the next morning.  Maybe you want to limit them to an assortment of favorite candy bars.  Snickers was a real get in my house.  At this moment your little princess or pirate will make a sour face and loudly protest that it’s not fair that mommy or daddy is taking candy from them.  Whoever  popularized the notion that something was as easy “as taking candy from a child” did not have children and, therefore, never experienced the outrage of a five-year old Dracula or the weepy indignation of a Strawberry Shortcake.  What is a concerned parent to do?

I suggest you and your child lay the Halloween loot on the kitchen table in order to decide how much and what kind of candy your child keeps.  Sort by type.  This is a good lesson for the little ones.  Instead of counting all the candy, arrange in rows of 5 or more and then multiply to find the answer.  You’re taking inventory just like a candy shop owner would. 

Now after you and your child have determined what and how much to keep, offer to buy the candy you don’t want your child to have.  Why not a penny for each of the hard candy, 5 cents for the candy bars and so on?  The idea is to have your child do the math.  Let your child see the value of what she or he has collected.  A few dollars in exchange for the candy can be saved for a special non-candy treat.  Your child has not only learned a math lesson but also a lesson in entrepreneurship:  this much candy earned me this much cash.  “Hmm, how much can I collect next year?” your child may be thinking.  So this Halloween taking away some of your child’s candy will seem less of a mean trick and more of a  . . . fair exchange.

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Marketing for Small Businesses: A good press release can make all the difference

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Last week I was quoted in this blog:…/small-business-shoulda-coulda-wouldas.html  on marketing strategies for small businesses.

Eugenia Francis ( wishes she had learned the value of press releases sooner. “A well written press release is a good investment. ‘Times Tables, the Key to Your Child’s Success?’ (which I wrote) was blasted over the internet. Not only has [the press release] appeared in several languages, but [it] was reprinted in EDUCATION MATTERS, a periodical for teachers. I should’ve done this earlier,” says Ms Francis.

Press releases are important, and with so many free and low-cost press release distribution services online, it is possible for even a small business to develop a strong marketing campaign that includes press releases. Just know that to see tremendous return on your investment – like anything in life – it’s not just quantity, it’s quality. Send out press releases often, but you have to have a great story to tell before you decide to send out a press release.

And don’t do any new marketing strategy unless you can evaluate its effectiveness and your ROI (return on investment). Ms. Francis suggests adding coupons to your newspaper ads. “Advertising in magazines [and newspapers] is expensive. Every quarter, the ad exec would beg me to renew my ad. I decided to include a coupon in the ad. When not one coupon was redeemed, I dropped my ad. My advice: include a coupon in your ads to see if indeed you are reaching/persuading customers.”…/small-business-shoulda-coulda-wouldas.html

Teach Your Child Entrepreneurship

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

As the owner and founder of TeaCHildMath and small business entrepreneur,  I am frequently asked how to teach children entrepreneurship. 

My recommendation is to have your child actually run a business such as a lemonade stand.  Have your child compute the cost of the lemons, the sugar, the cups and other incidentals. 

At the end of the day, have your child count up the sales and figure out the net profit.  Your child is solving some real math problems in a real context, not only addition and subtraction but multiplication and division.  What was the net profit at the end of the day if 15 cups of lemonade at 50 cents each were sold and the cost was 5 cents per cup?  Math in a real context is powerful.  Your child is holding a fistful of dollars and a cup full of change.  He/she is very interested in how much money he/she made and how to increase profits next time. 

Discuss what factors increase sales such as selling on a summer day, cost of products, lemonade stand location and developing salesmanship skills by engaging with customers.  What of advertising with a bigger sign and maybe one posted on the corner?  Discuss whether diversifying the product line by selling chocoate chip cookies would increase sales.  One lemonade-stand entrepreneur in my neighborhood found, not surprisingly, it was cheaper to buy chocolate chip cookies at Costco and reselling them.

A dollar your child earns is worth so much more than the dollar you give him. Think also of your child’s pride and satisfaction in running his or her business.  Why not teach your child to be resourceful at an early age?  Why not develop these entrepreneurial skills?

Entrepreneurship is developing an idea, product or service and selling it.  Start with a lemonade stand; the lessons learned here are Basic Entrepreneurship 101.

Women are natural entrepreneurs

Monday, August 17th, 2009

This morning I was asked what attributes women possessed that made them entrepreneurs.  Here’s my reply for all the moms who each day invent a better way of doing something or refine a product and dream of developing it to help others:

Women are natural entrepreneurs because they are wired to be innovative, always seeking better and easier ways of doing things.  Men evolved relying on physical strength; women had to use their wits to survive.  Whereas men were focused on the big target such as killing the mammoth, women had to care for children and multi-task.  Women also see connections that men often miss.  Entrepeneurs must be innovative, creative and able to perform a dozen things at one time.  Women’s social skills also serve them well in entrepreneurship.