Trailblazer Series: Leah Coss, Co-Founder of Build a Biz Kids.
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Leah Coss, a futurist entrepreneur passionate about improving how we educate kids to enter the world after secondary school.
In our conversation, we spoke a lot about “essential soft skills”.
Leah is passionate that entrepreneurship is the best vehicle for learning “essential soft skills” — that is empathy, listening, strategic planning, conflict resolution (and many more — there’s over 90). These skills are often taught indirectly at best, through sports or other social dynamics, and rarely with the same intention as STEAM subjects. Leah believes that kids need a better opportunity to strengthen these muscles so they are equipped to succeed in future unpredictable and rapidly evolving workforces.
“The school system knows that these are important skills to cultivate in kids”, says Leah, but adds that entrepreneurship education still often isn’t a part of formal curriculum. Instead, it becomes the initiative and responsibility of individual teachers to launch these courses.
That’s why Leah co-founded Build a Biz Kids. It’s a non-profit that gives students 7-13 years old the opportunity to build essential soft skills through developing their own business. Kids develop a unique product concept, whether that be dog leashes, slime, soap — whatever, and then run through the same steps as any startup. As students conduct market research, develop pricing, marketing strategy, and cover basic financial concepts, failure is encouraged. And the byproduct is resilience.
"Entrepreneurship education still often isn’t a part of formal curriculum. Instead, it becomes the initiative and responsibility of individual teachers to launch these courses."
Leah says, “It doesn’t matter if you’re an employee for the rest of your life, you have your own business, you are a stay-at-home parent, or you have a mixture of all of those, there’s a 100% chance you will have multiple failures. Times you feel like, ‘ugh, I wish I had made a different decision.’ But the thing is, even if you had made a different decision, you’ll never actually know if that was the best decision. Because you can’t see the 10 thousand directions that you could have possibly taken in every given scenario. So it’s not about getting it right. We believe that there are no right answers in the world.”
It’s true, we live in a very grey world. Or blue, or green, purple or red. But not black or white. Yet our traditional, standardized education model values binary, black or white answers. Maybe it’s time school curriculum more accurately reflected the world it is preparing kids for. I don’t know about you, but when I graduated, the overarching feeling I had was I didn’t know anything.
“It’s time school curriculum more accurately reflected the world it is preparing kids for. ”
Another of Leah’s ventures, BBK Network, also provides students with entrepreneurial and essential soft skill education, through a “sign of the times” online program. And half of membership profits from BBK Network go to providing laptops for kids whose families cannot afford them. If your child is struggling with resiliency or feeling a sense of agency during these “unprecedented times” (typing every letter of those words pained me, I’m so sorry), maybe building their own slime business is the ticket.
Tune in to the entire conversation below and let us know what you think.
You can follow Leah here:
And learn more about Build a Biz Kids and BBK Network here:
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Until next week.
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