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Challenge: Back to School 2021

For tweens, personal growth and emotional intelligence development matter most

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I’ve been running WIT - Whatever It Takes for over 10 years. During that time the program has gone through a variety of iterations. What started as an elementary after-school program has become an international entrepreneurship program for t(w)eens. While entrepreneurship education has always been at the forefront of the organization, if you look a little deeper you will see our commitment to helping young people develop their emotional intelligence.

Personal growth and emotional intelligence development aren’t things that can be measured as easily as the growth of a t(w)een’s business. The metrics and assessments are different. Yet, to me, personal growth is the most important. I mean what good is a successful business if the founder is struggling with their mental health or thinking that their worthiness is connected to the success or failure of their business? Who cares how high the follower count is if the leader feels inadequate to lead? What does it matter if the leader has customer awareness but lacks self-awareness.

Last week I received this message from WIT graduate Alex Llunch. He was in WIT a couple years ago and got all the lessons connected to the 11 Tips for Doing WIT, which are connected to WIT's EQ curriculum.


His message meant a lot to me and It made me want to check-in with our current group of teens. I was curious to see what they have been learning on their entrepreneurial and EQ journey. Are they learning lessons that will stick with them long after graduating?

Here’s a glimpse into what I heard:

When starting out her entrepreneurial journey Jasmine Bastein, founder of j’adorefashionco, felt like she was doing something that would make others happy, but “ultimately would've made me unhappy in the long run”. During her time in WIT she’s learned to be “true to myself and do what makes me happy, which teaches me to to put myself first”.

Tiffany Barnes , founder of Tiffany.artistry, told me she’s learned that “I am not a quitter. When things get hard and I am overwhelmed, I know I can push through.”

Navigating the pressures of the present with the expectations of the future was something that used to be harder for Annika Singh, founder of Algorithmic Alt-right Attack (AAA). Since being in WIT she’s focused on “no longer getting worked up about things far in the future.” Instead, she is making sure she is “focusing on the good things happening now.”

Saying “no” to people-pleasing.

Developing grit and resilience.

Focusing on the here and now.

I’m so grateful these teens shared these lessons with me. It’s so exciting and inspiring to hear about their personal growth. As they continue on in life, I hope that like Alex, they will feel like these lessons will have “made all the difference.”

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