10 Signs Your Child Has ‘Start-Up CEO DNA’

By Glen Hellman

There’s an old adage that leaders are born and not made. So, if your three-year-old complains that you’re trying to dilute her when you add more milk to her chocolate milk … you just may have a budding startup founder on your hands.

In that spirit, here are 10 signs that your child has the startup founder gene:

  1. Understands the Value of a Dollar. She doesn’t stop crying when you give her a bottle; she stops crying when you give her a dollar.
  2. Everything Is a Negotiation. You ask him to take a bath, and he asks you to prepare an ROI to convince him it’s a valuable use of his time.
  3. Short and to the Point. She has an elevator pitch down pat for her birthday present wish list.
  4. Delegation. He’s hired your cleaning lady, the pool boy, and the lawn care guy to man his multiple lemonade stands.
  5. Practiced Preparation. She has a 10-slide PowerPoint pitch trying to convince you to upgrade her stroller.
  6. Values-Positive Attitude and Work Ethic. While watching Sesame Street, he keeps yelling at Oscar the Grouch to stop whining and get a job.
  7. Well-Placed Hero Worship. Instead of pictures of Mother Goose characters on her wall, she has pictures of Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Marissa Mayer — and when you ask her who is Marissa Mayer, she just laughs at you.
  8. Valuation-Focused. You tell him you’ll be paying him an allowance, and he wants to negotiate the pre-money.
  9. Understands Voting Rights. When you try and discipline her, she points out that you only have common stock with no voting rights.
  10. Creates Barriers to Entry and Exits. All his friends are locked up with non-competes that won’t allow them to change playgroups for a year after resigning from his playgroup.

Glen Hellman is an angel investor, serial entrepreneur, and has worked for venture capitalists as a turn-around specialist. He’s a principal at Driven Forward, board member at the University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, a Vistage coach, and a mentor at the Founder Institute. You can e-mail Hellman at glen@drivenforward.com.
Originally published: Oct 26, 2011

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