Teens Take Over!

No need to be alarmed: The family comes to work, the office is redone, and something's happening at Borders.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the October 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Generally, in this column, I write about you. This month, though, it's all about me. Kinda.

I'm writing this in the heat of summer--literally. I'm in Phoenix, and it's about 103 degrees. I'm not complaining. That's what happens in summer. Another common summer event: School's out. For some entrepreneurs, that causes a distraction--it's even harder to balance work and family when the family doesn't have somewhere else to go most of the day.

One solution: Bring the kids to work. As you can see from the photos above, I did just that. Pictured are Danielle, my 13-year-old niece, and Ricky, my 15-year-old nephew (they're cousins, not siblings). They came west (from New York and New Jersey, respectively) for about 10 days this summer to spend some time with their aunt--and I (a workaholic, according to Ricky) promptly put them to work. If you have teenage kids, having them actually see you on the job can accomplish several things: They will gain a better understanding of what you do and why it's important; they see a whole different side of you; and they learn about deadlines, finishing tasks, getting along with others, following instructions and lots more. It's win-win.

The work doesn't have to be hard, but don't give them demeaning tasks, either. You know what they can handle, so don't underestimate what they're capable of doing or be overprotective. A few more don'ts: Don't hover, don't patronize, and don't make them work full days if they're on the younger side. Ricky and Danielle took several reading breaks during the day, but they worked hard on big projects like the Franchise 500®, and smaller ones, like helping the art department get organized.

Before you brand me a taskmaster, we made time for fun as well. They say they had a great time, and they certainly added to the productivity around here.

Speaking of productivity, check out October's "The Office." It's not just an office, it's my office. And it's completely made over. Christopher Lowell, host of numerous TV shows and author of many decorating books, redid my office in an attempt to increase my productivity. And it worked. I love walking in there even now, several months after it was finished.

Office redesign is not a trivial issue. Many entrepreneurs have office issues. Perhaps the furniture is not laid out for optimum efficiency, or the wall color is sleep-inducing. My old office even caused me back and neck pains because my desk was too high for computer use. Since the redesign, my pains are gone. And the new conference chairs are so comfortable, people are no longer antsy to leave before a meeting is over.

Finally--and this isn't about me--we're excited to announce a joint program with Borders bookstores--the "Entrepreneur Recommends" shelf. It features picks that we think are particularly helpful for business owners. New titles will be introduced every three months, and you'll get a preview in the "Books" column.

Enough about me--as usual, this issue of Entrepreneur is all about you. So turn the page and get started.

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