On Saturday, the No. 1 Son attended a Business Etiquette Workshop that was part of my sorority’s E.M.B.O.D.I. program (Empowering Males to Build Opportunities For Developing Independence). This was the last session, but it was also the first official day of summer and the guys were asked to be suited and booted to learn the do’s and don’ts of résumé and cover letter writing, social media activities and interviewing.
Sitting in a classroom for a few hours on a sunny day—even if food and cake was involved—wasn’t an easy sell for my kid. I’d seen plenty of interns and entry-level job hunters get it all wrong, so it was great that at 13, someone other than myself, would school this young grasshopper.
Obvi, I was all in.
My son must have envisioned himself as a new wave Steve Jobs or Russell Simmons because he wore a pink button-up shirt, blue bow tie, khakis and—white-on-white unlaced Pumas. Before we left, he grabbed a bucket hat to complete his “look.”
I expected him to wear shoes, but the No. 1 Son is so used to seeing wealthy millennial entrepreneurs in casual clothes. He was mad trendy. But I gave him points for the bow tie. I explained that some companies don’t allow employees to wear sneakers, jeans or flip-flops. He was shocked, especially since he’s seen my laid back/creative workspaces and his dad, who owns tons of shoes, wear boots to work. The No. 1 Son was waaaaay more up dressed up than Mark Zuckerberg, but hey, he’s the billionaire CEO of Facebook. He can rock a clown nose and biker shorts because Zuck calls the shots.
Instead of shutting down during the workshop, the No. 1 Son appeared to be super attentive and scribbled a bunch of stuff on his paper.
I sent him a text: I hope u r not drawing over there. I hope u r taking notes.
He wasn’t drawing snakes or comic book characters. He wrote notes about the importance of spell checking and proofreading his résumé and was honest about his strengths and challenges, and the need to put in more effort in English class. The No. 1 Son even asked: “What does it mean to be overqualified or underqualified for a job?”
He explored stem cell research in school, so I just knew he’d created a clone and sent this 2.0 model in his place. Maybe all of my rants about hard work didn’t slide in one ear and fly out of the other, or maybe this was information that’d help him earn more than his $15 allowance. Before the workshop began the presenter had trouble setting up the projector and he fixed the problem. When she spoke about skills, she mentioned that the No. 1 Son must include his tech abilities on his resume.
Wait. My son has viable work skills?
It was the second time in the last few months that someone mentioned his tech savvy. Recently, an AT&T store manager overheard the No. 1 Son explain WiFi, iCloud and the importance of killing apps to my mother. The manager was impressed with his poise, patience and knowledge. He said, “Too bad he’s not 18. I would hire him.”
Hire who? Not the boy who runs out of the house at 7:42 a.m. to catch the 7:45 a.m. NYC bus!
I was forced to see him as others do—not as the guy who leaves his sweaty basketball shorts on the floor and toothpaste in the sink.
When he walked up to receive his certificate for completing E.M.B.O.D.I., he’d already stuffed his bow tie into his book bag and popped his collar. I laughed and let him have his moment.
The next day I suggested he become a TEENprenuer. He was into it, but he had questions about the cost of materials, profit and working with younger kids. I may be onto something, you know, wealth building, leadership and all that. We have to flesh out the details, but this is a chance for him to run the show. And as the CEO of his own enterprise he can rock those ridiculous bucket hats, if he wants to.
Does your teenager have a résumé? What’s your take on letting him or her start a business?