A middle school girl sighs.
A brand new school year is well underway...so why does everything feel exactly the same? The after-school club lists are up - and sure, she’ll join the same one as last year. “Try out” posters hang in the halls...she’ll audition again, as usual. Same teams, same cliques, same councils, same mix. Is she jaded at this early age? Cynical already?
She blows a yawning bubble of gum over her braces.
And we get it. Its one thing to join something - a committee, a sport, a chorus - and these are valuable experiences to continue. But it’s quite another to start something. To bring something new and fresh to your school, and leave the place just a little bit different when you head off to high school.
Less boring, she thinks. But scary.
Perhaps, but ask any accomplished woman in a leadership role for her best “back to school” advice and you’ll probably get something like: Be A Founder.
Mmmmmkay...what’s a founder?
Founders are innovators. Originators. People with purpose, passion and a great idea who get there first. We know, when we say founders you think of grown ups who built giant companies in tiny garages. With...black turtlenecks. And bank accounts.
But here’s the thing...many of the traits that define famous founders can be cultivated at an early age. Your age. Maybe even while wearing a hoodie. And no matter what you do next in high school, college or beyond, the qualities you develop by founding something NOW could last you a lifetime.
Yeah, I SO don’t have those traits.
Spoiler alert...you do. And to prove it, here’s a list of five characteristics often shared by founders. See if any of these...cough, pointed look...sound like you:
1. Founders RECOGNIZE A NEED. Is there a club or sport your school doesn’t yet have? A chapter of a larger organization no one has started? Think about an issue over which like minds might connect or a problem diverse minds could solve. When you find yourself leaning against your locker saying “I wish our school had...,” stop. It could have it. It has you.
2. Founders CREATE. If the issue or activity resonating with you isn’t being represented, you’ve found an opportunity. A niche. That’s how you know it’s time to innovate and build. And, hey - it’s okay to think big here. There is huge freedom in creating something entirely new where nothing existed before...enjoy it.
3. Founders TAKE RISKS. Sure, starting something can be scary...but founders are fearless! Step out of your comfort zone and stand up to the mic at the next school assembly. Have the courage to present novel ideas to new faces and - this is important - listen to their contributions in return. Then be brave enough to move the best ideas forward.
4. Founders LEAD. And here’s where it all comes together, girls...the opportunity to lead. You’ve matched a solution to a need and communicated it well - now it’s time to organize, rally a team and get to work. Raise awareness on campus and on social media (where, we know, you rule), generate enthusiasm and lead the way.
5. Founders leave a LASTING CONTRIBUTION. This one is icing on the cupcake - the way you pay your mentors forward and your school back. By establishing a new club, contest or committee at your school, you are leaving your mark. Ensuring a legacy. Guaranteeing that your school will be different - and better - simply because you and your classmates were there.
Don’t kid yourselves...we know you recognize some of these characteristics in the mirror. And you admire the others in your friends.
So this year - be the girl who starts something.
It’s not just that clubs we know and love make it easy to start local chapters. Or that colleges say they look for impactful leadership roles in future applicants. It’s that school communities grow when new ideas are planted. And some of the best clubs out there can be started by a single kid with a great idea.
Girls who can do this are the ones colleges will recruit.
Employers will hire.
Voters will install.
Because girls with the courage to launch will become women with the confidence to lead.
So this year, be an originator. Be first. Start something new and see it through.
Girls...step up. #BeAFounder.