Below is an excerpt from the book, Girls, Who Do You Want to Be? Wise Words For World-Changing Girls by Être founder Illana Raia,
Be innovative. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean you need to go out and launch the next big thing that’s so amazing that SpaceX makes you an offer . . . all before gym class? Um, no. But that would be cool. What it means is that there are problems big and small that need solving and products that need inventing, and we think you are just the girls to do it! Yep . . . you. With all the resources available online these days, developing an idea and sharing it with grown-ups who can help bring it to market has never been easier.
In this chapter, we’ll talk about what it means to innovate, why girls make great founders, and why you are not too young for any of this. To further that point, you’ll meet inspiring teen founders, entrepreneurial female mentors, and a slew of targeted resources to get you started. So mute that doubting voice and believe this: That project you’ve been toying with . . . pursue it. Your ideas have worth. And the world is listening. “Be the girl who invents the product, patents the process, or creates the startup that changes the world.” —Être
Five Reasons Why Girls Make Great Founders
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. OK, sure, she’ll join the same one as last year. Tryout 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.
Nope . . . she’s bored.
We get it. But here’s what we’d tell her, and you: It’s one thing to join something—a committee, a sport, a chorus—and these can absolutely be valuable experiences. 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. 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.”
Mmmmkay . . . what’s a founder?
Founders are innovators. Originators. People with purpose, passion, and a great idea who get there first.
When you hear the word founder, you might 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 #BeInnovative 31 yourself leaning against your locker saying, “I wish our school had . . . ,” stop. It could have it. It has you to make it happen.
2. Founders CREATE.
If the issue or activity resonating with you isn’t being represented at your school, you’ve found an opportunity. A niche. That’s how you know it’s time to innovate and build. And, hey—it’s OK to think big here. There is huge freedom in creating something entirely new where nothing existed before.
3. Founders TAKE RISKS.
Sure, starting something can be scary, but founders are fearless! Step out of your comfort zone and walk up to the mic at the next school assembly. Have the courage to present novel ideas to new faces and 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, 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.
You know what that sounds like? It sounds like changing the world, little by little.
So this year, be the girl who starts something.
It’s not just 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 do this are the ones colleges will recruit. Employers will hire. Voters will elect. Because girls with the courage to launch will become women with the confidence to lead. Girls . . . look around. Step up. Be a founder.