Twenty-six years ago, a group of New York City educators reached out to the Ms. Foundation about a troubling pattern of behavior they had been noticing with young women in their schools.
The Ms. Foundation was involved in research that found young women’s loss of self-esteem to be a primary reason for their making poor life choices and for their not doing well in school. In concert with child development experts and educators, Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms. magazine, launched a pilot program aimed at improving young women’s self-esteem.
As part of the program, professional mentors asked participants a poignant question: “If you could grow up to be anything, what would it be?”
An article about Steinem’s program subsequently appeared in Parade Magazine and led to the first ever Take Our Daughters to Work Day. The event, now celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday of April, was expanded in 2002 to include young men and renamed Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
I love the premise of the occasion. It’s more than a career day or even job shadowing. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is an opportunity to share and inspire. It’s an opportunity to impact the future.
I wanted my daughter Laken, a fourth grader, to experience Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. For an entrepreneur, however, taking my daughter “to work” was a little challenging. I didn’t necessarily have a specific work place to take her, so I improvised.
Since I wasn’t scheduled to speak at any events on that day, I decided to let my daughter assist in writing this week’s blog. The two of us sat in a Starbucks—where I typically write most of my blogs—sipped our respective beverages and typed away on my laptop. We went through the entire process of how my blog starts with an idea, gets refined through online research, written, posted to the backend of my website, and ultimately ends up as a chapter in a book.
It was a mutually memorable experience.
The Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day website listed some recommended activities to help facilitate a meaningful day for the participants. We incorporated part of one of those activities into what we wrote.
The activity was called “When You Were My Age” and revolved around the child interviewing the parent. I agreed to let my daughter pick two questions from the list to ask me, in exchange for her agreeing to answer two questions from me about being a good teammate—a bit of quid pro quo, if you will.
(*In an effort to capture the authenticity of my daughter’s thoughts, I chose to not correct her spelling, grammar, or sentence structure. I left everything exactly as she wrote it.)
Laken: Did you follow your original career path?
Me: No. When I was your age, I wanted to be a professional athlete. That’s the path I started on, but that’s not where my journey took me. I never imagined I would be doing what I currently do. I didn’t like reading and I had a bad speech impediment when I was your age, so becoming an author who gives speeches wasn’t the direction I would’ve expected my career to take. But that’s what makes life so amazing, we never know what surprises await us. Everything that happens to us is part of the adventure and prepares us for the next stage in our journey. I love what I do for a living and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Laken: Who helped you make your career dision?
Me: I had several incredible teachers and coaches who had an impact on my life. They all influenced my career choices, and I am grateful to them more than they will ever know. But…YOU are the one who helped me make my career decision! I wanted you to have a better life and for you to be equipped with the skills to make the world a better place. You are the one who inspired me to write Be a Good Teammate and pursue a new a career. Every decision I make in my career is influenced by you.
Now it was my turn…
Me: Why is being a good teammate important?
Laken: It is important to be a good teammate because if there were not good teammates in the world everyone would argue. People wouldn’t share their knowledge, so some people wouldn’t be able to get an educashun. People also wouldn’t listen to others, so nobody would understand each other’s problems. Finally, no one would care about anything and the world wouldn’t be happy.
Me: How can you get others to be good teammates?
Laken: You can get others to be good teammates by spreading the word about it and by doing the teammate actions (which are care, share, and listen). You can set a good example. When you see someone make a good teammate move, you can recanaze it. You can encorige them to continue doing that. They will realize how it feels to have a good teammate help them, which will cause a chain effect to being a good teammate.
Isn’t it enlightening to step back and see a complex world through the eyes of a child? Adults tend to overcomplicate problems, but children seldom do. I made a point to not influence my daughter’s answers and to let her replies be genuine. And I think they were.
I continuously emphasize the importance of being a good teammate to her, but it’s still emotionally moving to discover how much she has absorbed.
You may have noticed that the name of the event is Take OUR Daughters and Sons to Work Day; not Take my Daughter and Son to Work Day. The event takes a village/team approach. Any parent…or grandparent or aunt or uncle or mentor who unselfishly shares the experiences of his or her life with a child influences the future in a positive way.
The good teammate lesson to be learned from all of this is that the future of the team always matters to good teammates. Good teammates are committed to perpetuating the team’s success and that means having a willingness to share themselves with the younger members of their teams.
This is true on sports teams, corporate teams, and life teams.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.