Do you ever wonder how moguls are made? Margot Machol Bisnow spent her life raising two of them, inspiring her to write a book about it! In “Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers and Change Makers”, Margot shares ten powerful “rules” for raising creative, confident and resilient leaders who can change the world. Margot interviewed 60 entrepreneurs including TOMS Shoes founder, Blake Mycoskie; Under Armour founder, Kevin Plank, Pencils of Promise founder, Adam Braun and others. What she found was that there were common threads that propelled them to success.
MK: What inspired you to write this book?
MMB: I believe parents need to change how they’re raising their kids. Many kids are unhappy because they aren’t spending time doing what they love. They’re doing what their parents and teachers expect of them. If a child is thriving doing something they love outside of school, and they aren’t brilliant students, it’s okay. It’s more important to have a child with a passion, who throws herself into something, and who is happy, than a child who does well in everything that she’s asked to do.
MK: Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this book. What did you learn from the interviews?
MMB: I had met many of the country’s top young entrepreneurs through Summit Series. I asked them how they were raised. I wanted to learn why they were willing to put everything on the line for an idea, to take on so much risk, to work so hard to turn their passion into a project. They all told me the same thing: “I had a mom who believed in me. She told me I could achieve anything I set my mind to.” This made me want to learn if there were similarities in how they were raised. I believe an entrepreneur is anyone who starts something for profit, not for profit, artists, activists, even “intrapreneurs” who start projects within other organizations.
MK: Why and how did you pick each entrepreneur?
MMB: I chose as diverse a group as I could find: 30 men, 30 women; many races, ethnicities, and religions; from different kinds of families. They ranged from single moms barely making it to upper middle-class families who could lend their kids $10,000 to get started. There were anywhere from one to seven kids in the family. The entrepreneurs were born in small towns and big cities from across the country, and even, like you, born outside the U.S. Some had parents who were married, some divorced, some were raised by their moms. Their education (both the entrepreneurs and their parents) differed. As did their birth order. And, of course, what the entrepreneurs were interested in varied widely: music, drama, computers, sports, selling things. It was very important to me to have a diverse group, to see if there were similar patterns in their upbringing. And to my amazement, while in some ways they were raised differently, in core ways they were all raised the same.
MK: What are some of the lessons you learned?
MMB: You can’t make someone an entrepreneur. Most of the entrepreneurs have siblings, and most of their siblings aren’t entrepreneurs. But there are definitely things you can do to nurture it. The biggest differences between entrepreneurs and other people are their willingness to take risks, and their attitude toward failure. Billie Jean King said,: “We don't call it failure, we call it feedback.” Looking at failure as a learning experience, not as a mistake, is important if you want your child to become an entrepreneur. Being willing to put it all on the line for an idea, and not to mind if it doesn’t work out, even if you’ve given it all you’ve got. Being willing to regroup, retool, and start again.
MK: Why was it so important to you to write this book?
MMB: I probably wouldn’t have done it if my kids hadn’t been so insistent. It’s only since I realized what the lessons are, that I’ve become so passionate about the topic.
MK: What is in the future for you, as a new author?
MMB: I’m on a mission now to get parents to change the way they’re raising their kids. So many kids work so hard trying to do what their families expect, studying subjects they don’t like, instead of doing what makes them happy. Michael Mulligan, head of the Thacher School, cites research showing that so many millenials are depressed because they’ve had to work so hard to succeed in areas of their parents choosing. They spend their high school years studying subjects to the exclusion of working on what they love. Then they go to college and spend four more years studying subjects that don’t interest them. They graduate with debt, and can’t get a job. Instead, they should turn their passion into a career – like you did with Tigerlily Foundation! My book was published last month, so I’m on a tour, talking about this nationwide.
MK: What brings you bliss?
MMB: Doing what I love. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all kids could find something to do that would make them happy for the rest of their lives?
Pick up Margot’s book today to read her tips! Margot Machol Bisnow is a wife, and mom who lives in Washington, DC. She spent twenty years in government, including as an FTC Commissioner and Chief of Staff of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. Her son, Austin started the popular band Magic Giant. Her other son Elliott, founded Summit Series, an international conference for millennial entrepreneurs, and led the purchase and development of Powder Mountain ski resort in Utah as a home for their community. Her husband, Mark Bisnow, founded a national newsletter company, Bisnow Media, which was acquired in 2016.