For girls, Barbie has been a good role model, showing them that attractive females can be astronauts, diplomats, and doctors. But when Ken launched his aggressive social media campaign to get Barbie to take him back by Valentine’s Day (she did) after their 7-year breakup, Barbie’s work-life balance seems to have gone out of kilter.
Message to Barbie: Ken’s great, but don’t let him distract you from your serious career goals. Like many young professional gals, Barbie has been successful working for others. But she’s also occasionally worked for herself and been entrepreneurial, as an aerobics instructor, veterinarian, wedding stylist, photographer, pediatrician, and makeup artist, to name a few.
If, like Barbie, your girl has a nose for business and dreams of owning her own company one day, here are some ways you can help her grow into the role. If a girl can learn these skills while she’s still playing with dolls, she’ll be well on her way to success in any future profession.
1. Tell her she’s good enough. Even the young businesswomen I coach hit a brick wall of fear. Can I do it? Can I learn it? Will I succeed? Yes, yes, and yes. Remind your girl often that she’s got what it takes.
2. Stop her when she’s self-critical. There’s a difference between having high standards and beating yourself up. Women and girls tend to be hard on themselves. Teach your girl to do the opposite.
3. Don’t discourage her inner Barbie. These days, I see lots of beautiful, successful women in business who have embraced their femininity. It’s okay to be a girlie-girl. In fact, I’ve found it has some real business advantages.
4. Help her be honest, not nice. Our mothers taught us to be nice all the time, which was not always to our advantage. In business and in life, your girl needs to learn how to be polite, but honest. She’ll garner more respect that way.
5. Tell her not to wait to be called on. Girls raise their hands and then wait for their cue to talk. Successful businesswomen speak up and contribute their ideas before they’re asked to.
6. Help her think big. No goal is too big for a young girl to believe. When girls create an ambitious vision for their future, it will shape everything they do — in school, extracurricular activities, and socially.
7. Encourage her to fear not. The fear of going after something and being rejected is often stronger in girls and women because they are taught to be safe, while males are taught to be risk takers.