Teens discussing their future plans

Everything I needed to know about parenting teens, I learned at the Harvard Business School.

I’m only kind of kidding. Let’s start with strategy & action plan…

…and market segmentation.  To sign up or go directly to the download , click below.

Lessons from HBS Entrepreneurial Finance

“Maximize the chances that what can go right goes right, and minimize the risk that what can go wrong goes wrong.”  William Sahlman, HBS professor

Who wants to hire a smelly, sloppy, smart-aleck?

Viewed from this perspective, parental discipline is a key success factor!

How can we help our teens get the picture too?

Fast Forward to Your Future

We led a workshop in Paris to help teens and parents work together POSITIVELY!

Fifty of us got together, half of the group consisted of teens while the others regrouped parents and other adults.

Teens chose an adult coach (not their parent) to go through a goal-setting exercise AND then develop an action plan to reach those dreams. As they developed their steps to success, the teens perceived areas where they just might benefit from some help and encouragement…and parents are the best placed to offer it.

Parents practiced empowering their children.

Click here to find out about trying it with your own kids.


It Worked For Us – I Wanna Be Mr. Fashionable

One youth shared his goal:  to be known as “Best Dressed.”  The coaching sounded like this:

Adult coach:  “What does it take to have the best clothes?”

Teen: “Money.”

“What does it take to have money?”

“A job.”

“What does it take to have a job?”  (Here the teen benefited from some adult insight.)  “Possibly some positive references.  Some indications of good performance like having held other jobs or getting good grades.”


“What kind of comments do you get on your report card?  What is the best that has been said?  And the worst?”

“Well…the teacher did say not to use my desk as a pillow…”

“What kind of a job would that kind of reference get you?  Would it cover a designer clothes budget?”

“Probably not…”

This youth’s parents changed their vocabulary.

[bctt tweet=”Instead of nagging their child about getting homework done, they poined him to the consequences of his choices.”]

They implemented a clothes budget system.  The basic budget covers basic clothes (ex. Target store repertoire).   His budget levels increased according to his grades.  More generous wardrobe budgets were accorded for higher grade-point averages.  Both parents and child esteemed that school performance gave some indication of possible salary levels.

Their son reported, “Before, I used to not care about grades. Now I do.”

The parents replaced nagging and homework battles with words that were meaningful to their son:

“Mr. Future Best-Dressed, how are you coming along with those grades that will help you get that great job that will finance your hot wardrobe?”

“Oh, yeah!”  (as in...”Oh, yes I remember!”…as opposed to “What are you talking/bothering me about?”)

It Worked For Us – School Trouble-Maker

I volunteer to tutor struggling students at our local junior high school.  They send the quick-witted-behavior-challenges over to me.   With one young man, we began our school year with this Teen Dream discussion.

“So, in ten years, when you have beard stubble, what will your teacher/boss think of you?”

“I’ll be in university and I’ll be the best student in the class.”

After some discussion we did identify that the best student completes his homework and participates positively in class.

“That’s where you want to be.  Looks great.  So, your teachers asked for you to be tutored.  What do teachers say about you today?”

“I’m insolent.”

“Oh.  Well, it looks like there is a journey between where you are today and where you would like to be in ten years.  When should you start on this road?”

“In two to three years.”

“How will you know it is time to start?  What is going to happen between Year Two and Year Three that makes it obvious that it’s time to start on this journey?”


“What if you started now?”


And we established two maximize-the-chance-that-things-go-right objectives:

  • I would review the teachers’ notes every week.  Naturally, the goal is to have no complaints.
  • We will only address homework that he has already started.  This tutoring class is not the place where he can get someone else to do his work for him.

So far, so good.  He has been so pleased with himself to show off (!) his report book with very few negative remarks.  When he comes without his work done, I let him work on his own and do my own work.

He keeps showing up every week.


Download the Fast Forward to Your Future questionnaire.  Even better, sign-up for a moderated discussion between you and your teen.

Photo by Ben White for Unsplash

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