Moving on Up
Bill Rancic was the first winner of NBC's popular reality show The Apprentice. An energetic entrepreneur, he has headed several winning businesses of his own and now works for Donald Trump. Last year he wrote a book to teach adults how to "think outside the box" to start enterprises of their own, and now he's written one for children. Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Starting Small to Make it BIG! coaches kids on how to succeed in business while being honest, smart, and giving. Between writing books, working, and playing, Bill's schedule is packed. But he managed to squeeze in some time to answer our questions about his business beliefs. Here's what we learned about his experiences with kids:
P&C: You've already written a book about business and money for adults. Why was it important for you to write this one for children?
Bill Rancic: I wanted to get a message out to young entrepreneurs. I learned a lot of important lessons along the way and wanted to pass them along to children. A lot of kids are fans of The Apprentice, and this book is something more on their level that they will be able to relate to.
P&C: Why is it a good idea for children to learn about money and/or business? At what age should children start learning about such topics?
Rancic: Young children need to develop good habits that will be useful to them the rest of their lives. It is important to keep the lessons age-appropriate. For example, when your children start earning allowances, that would be a good time to teach them how to put some money in the bank instead of spending it all. I don't know if there is a set age that children should start learning about these topics, it depends on the maturity level of the child, but the younger the better.
P&C: It doesn't seem like kids are being taught much about money management in school. What do you think about this?
Rancic: I wish it happened more. Teaching money management is a practical tool that will help shape kids' futures. One of my nephews, Zack, is in 4th grade, and he took a class last summer that was called "The Apprentice"! He learned a lot about money management, stocks, types of businesses, etc. The teacher made the lessons fun and interesting, and Zack now knows so much more than I ever did at his age.
P&C: Outside of the classroom, what is the best way for parents to introduce young children to the concept of money? How can parents relate the importance of money without overemphasizing materialism?
Rancic: There are many simple ways to introduce the concepts of money and its uses. Each time you go to the grocery store with your kids, it is a potential learning opportunity. In order not to overemphasize materialism, focus on other things to do with money. In Beyond the Lemonade Stand, I try to emphasize the importance of saving money, and of using it to help other people.
P&C: Once a child acquires a basic understanding of money and business, how can a parent encourage her entrepreneurial spirit?
Rancic: Offer support. Recently a friend of mine told me a story about her 13-year-old daughter. Her daughter wanted to set up a four-day kiddie camp in her basement. My friend helped her daughter with the flyers, told her it might be better to start out with a 2-day camp, and let her daughter take it from there. The camp was very successful; the kids had fun and her daughter had a sense of accomplishment. It's important (but difficult) not to micromanage your child. Steer her in the right direction, but then be sure to give her some space.
P&C: When parents teach about business, numbers are not the only things children learn What is one of the most important life lessons you think young children can learn when being taught about money and business? How can parents teach this lesson?
Rancic: One important lesson is this: It is okay to try and fail at something, but it isn't okay to NOT try. Parents need to encourage their kids, and it all starts in the home.
P&C: It seems like you must have gotten a lot of encouragement on your way into the world of business. Who were your role models when you were becoming an entrepreneur, and who are your business role models now?
Rancic: Growing up, my role model was my father. I was always interested in what he was doing and learned a lot from him. When I started earning money as a kid, he took me to the bank to open my first savings account. In the business world, one of my role models now is Mr. Trump. I have been working with the Trump Organization for over a year now and have been able to learn so much.
P&C: When you were a kid, you learned a lot about business from adults. What, as an adult, have you learned about business from kids?
Rancic: Kids are fearless and they have a zest and passion for life. They are not afraid to try something new. I recently spoke to my nephew's 3rd grade class. I broke the class into three groups, and they had to create a business and then make a business model. I was amazed with the ideas they were able to come up with. I walked out of the school that day truly impressed.
P&C: What were some of their ideas?
Rancic: One group came up with a video-game tournament. They created a business plan that went into great detail about what the business would entail, how it would run, what the rules would be, etc.
P&C: Clearly, you are very successful. Have you learned more about how to succeed in business from your successes or failures?
Rancic: I have definitely learned more from my failures, and I believe the biggest failure is when you make the same mistake twice.
P&C: How can parents turn failures into positive experiences for their children?
Rancic: Make the situation into a learning experience and figure out together where you went wrong. Try to analyze the situation and talk about how things could have turned out differently.
P&C: How is it working with Donald Trump? Is it different than you expected?
Rancic: Life is great working with Donald Trump. I didn't rush in and try to take over. I sat back and listened a lot at first. Now, I feel comfortable with the Trump Organization. I am in my second year here, and it has been an amazing opportunity. The Trump Tower Chicago is moving along smoothly and has been a great learning experience for me.