My guest today is Margot Machol Bisnow. She is the author of Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers, and Change Makers. Reading this book has been an awesome experience for me because it’s such a nice blend of where I’m at being an entrepreneur and also having a one-and-a-half year old son. This book really resonated for me at this point in my life and I can’t wait to dive into this materialfiverrpodcastselfinthecity001here.

Story behind the book

Margot had no intention of writing a book. In 2008 her son Elliott started Summit Series which are conferences for young entrepreneurs. Through that Margot started meeting a lot of young entrepreneurs and hearing their stories. They all said they had a mom who believed in them. This stuck with Margot and she told her kids, who encouraged her to write a book.

Overcoming fear

Many parents fear their kids won’t make money if they follow their passion and many adults have the same fear. If you are doing something you love you are going to be better at it because you are going to work harder. You will be more successful than if you end up doing something you don’t love and just go through the motions.

There are several stories in the book about parents who had kids with quirky passions. The parent’s friends ridiculed them for letting their kids pursue those passions, but those kids are hugely successful today.

Let go and relax and trust the process and don’t force people to do things they don’t love. People today would rather make less money doing something they love than to make more money sitting in some windowless office doing something they hate and waiting until they retire. Parents are well meaning but they need to stop being so practical and let their kids follow their passion.

Finding your purpose

Everyone needs someone who believes in them. Some people are strong enough to believe in themselves without outside support but for most people it takes somebody (parent, grandparent, uncle, mentor, teacher, etc) to say “you have talent, you should go for that.”

Often what happens is people get interested in something so they examine it closely and realize something is missing. There is some way it could be done differently or modified and that’s how they end up with an idea for a business.

Margot’s background

Margo was not an entrepreneur. She spent twenty years in the government, mostly in political positions involving international development. She was setting up economic think tanks in Eastern Europe in the 90’s and things like that. For the last eight years she has done an online daily social newsletter about life in Washington D.C. What she is doing now is a totally different experience for her.

The Process

The process of how people become entrepreneurs varies all over the map:

  • Some people pursued things they loved and it developed naturally.
  • For other people a passion evolved over time. For example someone might love acting and then that evolved into a love of storytelling then public speaking.
  • Other people developed the grit, perseverance, determination, focus and will to succeed at an early age. They developed the right mindset long before they became an entrepreneur. One example of this is Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms Shoes. He didn’t have a passion for shoes growing up but he had the confidence, personality and mindset that when the opportunity came along he jumped on it.

Is this personality and mindset something you can teach?

You can’t make someone an entrepreneur. Most of the people in the book have siblings and most of their siblings are not entrepreneurs. A parent can’t force it on somebody. If you have that internal disposition then there are definitely things your family can do to give you the confidence and the courage to put it all on the line.

Lead by Following

There are a lot of articles that say things like “here’s how to make your kid an entrepreneur!” but they miss the whole point. You shouldn’t make your child anything. You should let your child be and see who your child is and listen to your child. Everybody is born with passions and strengths. So often these passions and strengths get squashed by the time they are in high school because these poor kids are trying so hard to please their parents and give their parents what they think their parents want. As a result who they are and what they love just gets buried.

Listen to your child and see what they love and then nurture and support it. Every child is different and has something they are good at.

When your child is six weeks old write down who you think they are. Go back and read it every five years and you will see that you nailed it. They come out who they are. You nurture that but they come out who they are.


Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers, and Change Makers