A few weeks ago, there was an article in the NYTimes on entrepreneurial parents raising the next generation of chief executives by encouraging their children to join along. I read with great interest, and thought back to my own work as a teenager – petsitting, babysitting, tutoring – and how I started what would become Green Ivy Educational Consulting when I was just twenty-two years old. In my ways, it could seem that starting Green Ivy in 2001 was just an accident: I had a job as an investment banking analyst at a large finance firm, and was laid off after 9/11. Not wanting to go back, and not knowing exactly what to do next, I just started doing what I enjoyed most: working with kids. Since then, Green Ivy has expanded organically, and we’ve worked with students all around the world.
In this month’s issue of More Magazine, I wrote a brief column on a piece of advice I often give to entrepreneurs, and how my advice often seems counterintuitive (especially in the more! bigger! better! entrepreneurial nature of the Silicon Valley, where I was raised). I have built Green Ivy on my personal values of helping people, traveling, and writing, and am proud to have an incredible staff who are consistently kind, enthusiastic, encouraging, energetic, and charismatic. We’ve helped tens of thousands of students and families with improving organization and time-management, and decreasing stress in an increasingly high-pressured environment. We’ve visited schools, spoken at conferences, penned articles, and run workshops – all with the hopes of making school and life a little easier for many junior high and high school students and their families.
When I look back on my daily work, as well as Green Ivy’s greater work, I realize that some things have changed and expanded in ways I never could have imagined 14 years ago. I am also reminded of how many times I stepped back and thought about how to align my daily work with my own goals and sense of personal purpose. This idea of personal purpose, and what intrinsically motivates each and every one of us, is often lost in the shuffle of achievement and accolades. As we move into summer, I encourage students to think about what they enjoy (hobbies, personal interests) and find a way to incorporate those activities into their daily or weekly life. During the school year, so many students become over-programmed and over-scheduled that they can quickly lose sight of what they enjoy. Once that happens, it becomes a whole lot easier to give in to what others think or say you should be doing.
I started Green Ivy without a big picture, long-term plan, and I focused on doing the best work possible. As opportunities come our way, I continue to say yes more often than not, and trust my gut. This year, I plan to spend more time writing and working on some new projects to continue to help students. I feel incredibly lucky to have had such a great ride so far.