by Starr Hall
Now that I am becoming a grandma for the first time, I guess I am expected to spend my days scarfing One-A-Days and rocking gently in my backyard gazebo. Not happening. (Especially since I don’t own a backyard gazebo). I am an entrepreneur, and I have been most of my adult life. Maybe the risk taking is in my genes. I am half Lebanese, so that probably has something to do with it, and I am also related to former U.S. President Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson. Then again maybe both are irrelevant. Whatever the reason, I am always looking for a challenge.
I have never had much use for the corporate world. Collaborating with teams can be productive, but too often it is just nonsense and time -wasting. I call it the chowder. Stuff too many creative and analytical minds in a room and not much will be accomplished, just a lot of “look at how smart I am” comments. I know what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur whether you are 20 or 60. I built a PR firm at 27 that I sold for a sweet profit at age 30; there was also a 4.9 rated restaurant and a champagne bar in Avila Beach, as well as a retail shop and an online venture, too. I have spoken about entrepreneurship on over 400 stages in seven countries, and over 40 states. I’ve made millions, invested millions, and even lost millions. But I keep moving. Perhaps most satisfying is knowing that my speeches and columns have helped thousands of entrepreneurs grow around the globe. And as I embark on my latest entrepreneurial endeavor as a grandma, I offer the following advice to other grandma-preneurs:
- Sit in boredom- even if only for a few hours, days if possible- start to take in the world around you, write out or think about what is working, what isn’t, things in your home or environment that could use fixing or attention. Watch some funny movies or a few documentaries, read some books, go on walks, ask lots of questions, and recognize what sparks you. Meditation helps the entrepreneur process too. This can be difficult because grandmas have spent so much of their lives “mommying” that when their kids are grown, they must re-learn how to think about their own needs first.
- Monitor conversations – specifically in the space you are interested in- Reddit and Quora are underutilized platforms. Get in there. Medium is also a great way to read deeper thought-leadership. Reach out to these authors. Connect and perhaps you can collaborate. I have found better content on Medium than on LinkedIn.
- Be vulnerable yet authentic- this is the toughest one of all, but you must put yourself out there to get feedback and engagement. My latest venture is a podcast with one of my best friends about grandma-ing (“Aba and Lolli”). It started as more of a fun project with the idea of building it into a business. I have begun discussing very personal things in our podcast that have happened in my life, and I am receiving some of the most heartfelt responses I have ever encountered. My stories are helping others. (And isn’t that why we do what we do on this planet?) And as proof that people are responding to this authenticity, the podcast is only three months old and we already have interested sponsors, celebrity guests, and merchandise outlets who want in.
- Approach as a Designer- everything I want to build and grow I always color out with crayons or a storyboard on canvas. I play with the concepts. Pinterest is great for inspirational quotes and visuals. Opportunities to collaborate with others often emerge within the pins, sometimes through something as simple as signing up for a complimentary product. No exaggeration. I have hundreds of these conversations and shares going on right now.
- Tie it into a cause- I do not necessarily mean a non-profit. For ex., it could be anything that helps our sick planet. Whether you believe in climate change or not, trees are being cut down, species have been rendered extinct, oceans are filling with more toxins. The list seems to grow daily. And the environment is just one issue. There are tons of “causes” needing defenders . . . and you never know what that will lead to. I have started turning my entire property into a food forest, and have begun reporting on that journey on my blog and podcast. Lo and behold, one of our first interested sponsors is an organic food plant company. Amazing.
Remember: everyone can be an entrepreneur, regardless of their age. And those of us who have become glammas (glamorous grandmas) are in a better position than many others to succeed. Mommying is done, so there is nobody monopolizing our time. You can be bored more, dig deeper into conversations, be more vulnerable and authentic, and become the entrepreneur (or in this case grandma-prenuer) you have always dreamed of. Use all the knowledge you amassed during those years of mommying to make your mark on the world. It’s your time now.
Starr Hall is 47 years old and has been in PR/branding/marketing since she was 9 years old, working after school and every summer marketing the family biz, Aleene’s Tacky Glue. She has worked with dozens of Fortune brands such as Sprint, RIM, UPS, NHL, Activision, Samsung, and Lucky Brand. She is also Former columnist &/or contributing writer for: Entrepreneur Magazine, MSNBC, AOL, AmEx Small Business OPEN, Business Insider, PR Newswire and Biz Trends. Hall also wrote three successful children’s books. She is the co-host of “Aba and Lolli”—a podcast for all “Glammas” (Young Grandmothers).