Blogging is ‘Body’ Building

Spencer Burleigh, cofounder of Rent the Backyard once casually
mentioned that he wished he had started maintaining a blog when he was in
school. Later, we at AlligatorZone invited him for a special podcast to hear
more of his views on blogging. Along with reading this essay, please also consider
listening to that podcast (linked here).

Now, back to the topic of this article. By ‘body building’,
what we mean is building a body of work.


Remember the chicken or egg situation that students leaving
college sometimes face, where they do not get hired because they lack work
experience, and do not have work experience because they do not get hired?
Blogging addresses this challenge by allowing a student to display a body of work easily to the outside

A blog empowers students to independently publish their best
work and make it easy for anyone to get a quick glimpse into how they think.

What can be a body of work for a middle-school or a high
school student, you may wonder. School projects in a favorite subject can be a
body of work. Deep thoughts about a passion project or a hobby demonstrate a
body of work.

If you can write about your schoolwork or hobby and bring your
own perspective, it will be unique and refreshing. What you write in your blog
can be interesting to any reader who wants to learn about the subject you love
and to learn about you.

Your blog is one simple way for your self-promotion without

However, the benefit does not end there. Regular blogging by
itself results in a steady flow of creative expression. That makes a blog its
own body of work. Something that every employer in industry, every college
admission official and every professional looks for is whether a candidate has
clarity in expressing ideas and can write in an engaging manner. A carefully managed
blogging strategy, where students write consistently and find their voice will
pay huge dividends for a long time.

This article is a ramp up to our launch of our new module ‘Blog School’. Learn about our other programs at

How to prepare students for the future of work — a synopsis of our recent town-hall meeting.

Do not delay explorations until college.

October 24, 2019 — Recently, NATS Tampa had organized a town-hall meeting where I had the privilege of presenting our findings to a group of high-school students and their parents, on how students may prepare for career success in industries of the future.

In our journey with AlligatorZone, we have learned that a vast majority of college-bound students start with undeclared majors and start exploring the world only after they start college. Our AlligatorZone events, where students and startups come together in meeting rooms to have conversations are one of the greatest forms of exploration you can find, and lately, we see high-school students taking an active part in our programs.

Here’s an excerpt from The Hechinger Report that’s worth highlighting.

Nine out of 10 incoming freshmen think they’ll graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years or less, according to an annual national survey conducted by a research institute at UCLA. But the U.S. Department of Education reports that only 41 percent of them do. The average student takes 4.4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree from a research university and 4.8 years from all other kinds of institutions, the advocacy group Complete College America says.

Changing majors is a huge contributor to this. It means many students end up taking courses they don’t need, then scurrying to complete the ones they do. The result is that bachelor’s degree recipients take and pay for 15 credits, on average — an entire semester — more than they need, according to Complete College America. Some give up altogether.

Explorations delayed till college come at a steep cost, both financial and emotional. Such delayed exploration also impacts student-debt.

That is why AlligatorZone has started an awareness campaign for both students, as well as parents, so that families know there’s affordable help.

I appreciate the invitation from NATS Tampa for this town-hall meeting. They do phenomenal work in Tampa Bay.

Given below is a synopsis of the talk, for those students who missed the session.

It’s hard to seek internships when an employer does not know what differentiates you from others seeking internship.

That is why it is important to think of personal branding.

Personal branding can be about something personal, such as a hobby.

The idea is to provide a peek into your mind, by communicating your thoughts, your ideas, your projects, and your view of your world.

This need not be a high-maintenance endeavor. It could be something as simple as a blog.

What is hard is to know what to write in your blog.

The important thing is to learn how to write like a marketer — to influence, inform and impact your audience in a positive manner. After all, we are selling the idea of having an employer give us that internship position, or we are selling the idea of a college official grant us admission to that coveted seat.

That is where the exploration programs of AlligatorZone help. They help you add substance to your style in whatever you create.

Whatever you create is incomplete until you document it.

The next thing to do is to explore where your values will align with how different industries operate, to figure out where you might like to make an impact.

To make an impact, find out what comes naturally to you and what kind of skills you need to develop.

Last, but not the least, learn about a variety of things with an open mind.

Ideas from completely unrelated areas may help you solve a problem in a unique manner.

Some of the parents approached me for one-on-one coaching, so if you want that, please feel free to reach out to me.

Picture credit: NATS TampaALT

Picture credit: NATS Tampa

Other parents expressed interest in our home-based program.

Finding the right information and making various pieces of the puzzle fit to tell a coherent story, is the hardest part.

That is one of the areas where AlligatorZone helps you.

We believe that one can effectively begin on this exploration in the 8th grade. However, I have seen even 5th graders do really well. Our youngest subscriber right now, is a 9 year old girl, who is doing really well.

College students who are still with undeclared majors, or undecided and switching majors, will also find AlligatorZone incredibly valuable.

In other words, it is never too early and never too late to join AlligatorZone.

We believe in the power of story-telling to create hooks for students to start exploring.

That is why we launched AlligatorZone’s at-home program.

High-school students in the audience mentioned that the school counselors mainly provide advice on colleges.

There aren’t many resources to explore the world of work and industry, they say. Our home-based explorations may be a good place to start by visiting

If you think this talk and the ensuing discussions will help your high-school cohort or your middle-school students, contact us and AlligatorZone will present a special townhall meeting for your school.

The no-nonsense generation

October 23, 2019

October 23, 2019 — Over the past five years, we at AlligatorZone, have observed how digital natives connect the dots between what they learn in school or from friends on the one hand, and lessons from the real-world startups we feature and their transformative products, on the other. It makes me tremendously optimistic and excited about the future that the children are going to build.

Our teens and tweens belong to a no-nonsense generation.

The views of teens and tweens on matters such as personal privacy, customer empathy, or use of natural resources, are going to surprise many businesses in the foreseeable future. The children who meet startup founders in our programs are already making eye-opening contributions to conversations about how a product or service ought to be made differently. They do not mince words, and never fail to surprise and delight the startup founders with their robust common-sense, their maturity, sensitivity, and their perceptive understanding of the world of which they want to take charge.

Sadly, their potential is not being recognized, and unfortunately, very few parents can afford to make the time required to inspire their children. Very few of the well-intentioned parents who sign up for our events are able to actually bring their children to the venues. Very few parents have the time to devote to finding good reading material and sources of information for their children. Most parents seem to have resigned to the false assumption that their children are addicted to screens and will only use sites like Netflix and YouTube.

I was recently advised to consider offering ‘video snacking’ to cater to the limited attention spans of the demographic. I must disagree. Uninspiring content gets limited attention. If the reading material or viewing material involves great storytelling tied to a cause they care about deeply, then tweens and teens stay riveted for long uninterrupted sessions to untangle problems and come up with clever solutions on issues that matter to them and to the world at large.

Parents seem to underestimate the capabilities and sense of purpose of teens and tweens, in my observation.

Many parents do not give enough credit to tweens and teens for staying incredibly curious to learn from sources where they see a path to a rewarding future that aligns with what means a lot to them. In our week-long summer workshop, one 11-year old cared so deeply about cats getting euthanized when pet-shelters run out of room, that he worked relentlessly for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, to craft a program to teach people about the joys of cat-ownership and to support pet shelters.

Other examples are that of teens and tweens being really tuned in to things such as what can make something go viral and how to create a movement for a cause. The teens and tweens who come to AlligatorZone events are amazingly engaged with the knowledge they get to soak up. They do follow YouTubers and may watch Netflix or scroll through Instagram and Tiktok, but that’s primarily their source of entertainment. It builds personality and is part of their social conversations, but they are aware, that alone is not enough. Teens and tweens rise to the occasion when a parent or teacher entrusts them with world class coaching, high quality reading and viewing material, and opportunities for greater self-awareness. That is probably because the students we see at AlligatorZone are indeed very aspirational and very ambitious. More importantly, they seem to care about wealth creation for all.

That is why we are painstakingly building our premium at-home learning program at AlligatorZone, with carefully curated and contemporary storytelling to prepare students of today for the future of work. This holiday season, you can gift or buy a subscription for a low monthly fee

Let’s not underestimate how much our children are learning from various sources, and how eager they are to contribute to the world and to make a positive difference. Let’s not be dismissive about how serious they are to create wealth and their ability to make good choices. Let’s just make sure we spread a lavish buffet of real-world knowledge, besides the knowledge they are already gathering, so that they can make those good choices before they get into college or the world of work. Let’s make sure they have the opportunity to develop self-awareness to figure out what they might enjoy doing in life. Let’s make sure we help them position themselves to easily obtain access to the skills required, the coaching needed, and the differentiation to help them become standout candidates on the path to their calling.

The author is Ramesh Sambasivan, co-founder of AlligatorZone, where students meet startups to learn about the future of work.

What is personal branding for school-age children?

June 1, 2019

There seems to be a misconception about personal branding as it relates to middle-school and high-school-age children.

In my recent essay announcing our new trajectory, I had talked about getting kids ‘started on a journey of building an authentic and distinctive personal brand for themselves’. That has generated some discussion. “You didn’t explain what you mean by personal branding for children,” said my mother, a career-educator and retired elementary school teacher. Another parent said she didn’t really care about branding children’s image for the outside world. Allow me to clarify what we mean by personal branding in the context of AlligatorZone’s young members. In the video below, I have summarized my thoughtfully written explanation, if you scroll down further.

Ramesh Sambasivan, cofounder & CEO, explains what a personal branding journey for a young person would look like in AlligatorZone’s new community membership premium plans.

Branding in general starts with knowing oneself. That applies to products, companies and people. We can’t communicate about ourselves to the outside world unless we know who we are as individuals and what keeps us ticking.

The first step in branding is self-awareness.

For children to know what excites them, why something catches their fancy, and where they can personally create the most positive impact, is a deeply introspective process. It is usually an observant parent or a teacher who knows first about a child’s authentic personal brand. You may hear that in the way a mother describes how her son always knows what colors go together on a greeting card that he’s painting, or how her daughter instinctively knows which song is playing upon hearing the first few instrumental notes.

How will our AlligatorZone Activity Premium Plan help in developing the personal brand of the children? The various activities that we are designing for children are a way for them to wrap their young minds around complex concepts through playful observation of the world around them and asking the right questions.

Through these tethered flights of exploration of the future as it is being created, the children will start getting an idea of what facets of their exploration they enjoy the most and, what areas attract an audience. Along with their parent or teacher, the children too will start recognizing their own personal brand and its value at the confluence of their interests, their positive impact, and their audience.

Along with their parent or teacher, the children too will start recognizing their own personal brand and its value at the confluence of their interests, the positive impact they can make, and their audience.

Then comes the question of how they express that personal brand to eventually arrive at their true calling and a community that cares about the positive impact that the child can create. It is a question also of how they take charge of their personal narrative and make it a coherent story of who they are why they deserve a chance to make an impact in any field. That coherent narrative brings compounded benefits when it is delivered with consistency over a period of time.

That coherent narrative brings compounded benefits when it is delivered with consistency over a period of time.

This is also another way for a child to develop habits that can be fulfilling and rewarding.

That is where the Ambassador Advantage plan aims to step up kids’ personal growth, by giving them opportunities to slow down and enjoy learning without feeling pressured, while taking the time to use their innate talent to express themselves through various media — be it creating poetry, art, coding, writing, public speaking, woodworking, emojis, mime or memes.

Allowing their personal brand to manifest through their preferred forms of expression will help children achieve amazing clarity about the kind of impact they would like to make in the world, and how.

We want to give opportunities to children to do this in a manner so elegant that the slice of the world where they believe they can make an impact, can’t help but take notice of their body of work.

The children’s distinctive and authentic personal brand thus gets built automatically, over a period of time, without conscious effort, without orchestration, while generating compounding returns, over a long period of time or even over a lifetime.

A personal branding journey for children can’t be rushed.

A personal branding journey for children can’t be rushed. It takes time, constant nurturing, and tremendous patience on the part of the parents, but a journey for personal branding is a worthwhile investment for parents to make. As with all of AlligatorZone’s programs, our emphasis remains on providing a learning environment that is forgiving, supportive and uplifting for the young impressionable minds, and provides active support and encouragement from parents and educators.

The author Ramesh Sambasivan, is cofounder & CEO of, a membership community developing tools to help parents and teachers prepare children for the future of work. Learn more at

AlligatorZone’s new trajectory

May 24, 2019

What began as a fun family project has evolved into a serious education company with a noble mission

Believe it or not, it’s been five years of delivering AlligatorZone’s free public events! To celebrate our 5-year anniversary, we are changing our trajectory by setting ourselves some lofty goals, and I am really excited about it.

AlligatorZone is morphing into a membership community. Membership will be free, which means we will continue to have event programs where kids and teens can meet cool startups.

What’s particularly exciting is a new set of premium plans that discerning members will be able to layer on top of their free membership. These premium subscription plans have specific goals.

For instance, you may have observed children binge-watching video clips and shows on the Internet. These are fast becoming the next generation’s primary source of knowledge and entertainment outside of school. Children deserve better choices. I know it is not easy, but we are up for the challenge. Our new premium plan called AlligatorZone Activity addresses this issue through thoughtful, playful and compelling activity-based learning that children can pursue at their own pace in the comfort of their homes. More importantly, the Activity plan aims to ensure that children never outgrow their innate sense of wonder and curiosity, and that they develop habits that make them life-long learners.

The other thing happening, which you may not be aware of, is that several middle-schoolers and early high-school students have been asking to do more with AlligatorZone, in the form of projects and roles, that I would characterize as personal branding initiatives. Our new Ambassador Advantage Premium Plan aims to provide them with amazing opportunities by extending AlligatorZone as a platform for them to get coached, and to practice and perfect skills to become standouts in whatever path they choose, while getting them started on a journey of building an authentic and distinctive personal brand for themselves, and, we hope, gaining priceless clarity of purpose along the way. [Here’s a subsequent blog post, explaining what we mean by ‘personal branding’]

Besides playful learning activities, these new premium plans will include training and certifications as tools to develop good personal branding habits for life.

So that’s where we are taking AlligatorZone. I hope you will continue on this journey with us. Ask your friends to also become members of AlligatorZone and let us make this movement a meaningful one for families everywhere.

On this fifth anniversary, I sincerely thank you being a part of AlligatorZone.

If you have not been a part of AlligatorZone, become a member now.

-Ramesh Sambasivan, Co-founder and CEO of AlligatorZone.

What Makes AlligatorZone® Academy’s Entrepreneurship Summer Camp for Kids and Teens So Special

May 8, 2019

Ad-tech startup Priatek’s CEO, Mr. Milind Bharvirkar pictured hosting AlligatorZone families in his boardroom.

Entrepreneurship is an intensely intellectual and extremely social journey of understanding a problem and solving it in a resourceful manner for people. Entrepreneurship is not just writing a business plan or presenting it to a group of grown-ups to win a medal or a small check.

Entrepreneurship coaching, even for grown-ups, which over-emphasizes the theatrics of a stage performance in a pitch competition puts the cart before the horse. There is a need for public speaking skills, but at a later stage. Entrepreneurship usually starts with being mindful in research, a lot of listening, and rolling up one’s sleeves in search of the best way to make a customer delighted, or just to make the customer breathe a little easier.

The way AlligatorZone Academy’s summer camp curriculum is designed and delivered is therefore different from what parents might typically see at an entrepreneurship boot-camp for children and teens.

In AlligatorZone Academy’s summer camp, we help children and teens (ages 10–15) with introspection so that they figure out what they would like to pursue as a project over the next year or so. Then we provide them with mental models and frameworks to making decisions on various aspects of taking their product to the market, and letting the market decide if their work deserves recognition with actual sales. Participants in the summer camp will use real-world productivity tools just like any startup founder, and learn to think like startup founders, without using jargon. The focus is on first principles of entrepreneurship so that the kids and teens really grasp the core concepts and use them as building blocks of life-skills that will stand them in good stead no matter what their future career and calling. We steer the children, with the support of their respective families, towards the steps needed to take an idea and make a product out of it, working alongside them step-by-step with a compressed launch-program to help them get their project off the ground in the real world.

There are no plans for pitch competitions, no award ceremonies and no participation medals. Just a close-knit community of students who help one another out, and have a blast just being their creative selves, without pressure.

The kids leave AlligatorZone’s workshops with a sense of quiet confidence and pride about a body of work that they started from concept, and depending on the time on hand, progressed sufficiently forward to a stage of creation and validation in the real world. After the workshop, the kids and teens may continue to build in order to differentiate themselves as a distinctive personal brand.

This summer, AlligatorZone is formalizing a layer of support after the summer camp. AlligatorZone will continue to provide the students with a low-maintenance yet highly effective subscription plan to provide guidance to the children and teens with the help of a supportive community, should they wish to continue on their entrepreneurial education and journey.

We hope you will enroll your child at AlligatorZone Academy’s summer enrichment program (

We also hope that you will become a premium subscriber and join our community (

Further, parents may also consider taking their children to attend our free public AlligatorZone events ( Read this blog post about why those events are important. (

The Role of Parents at AlligatorZone®

May 8, 2019

Here are three reasons why it is important that we as parents and guardians must do whatever it takes to make the time to attend AlligatorZone’s events with our school-age children or teens:

1) Startup entrepreneurs are known to change entire industries. Attending AlligatorZone gives families and their children fresh insights into how an entire industry is going to change. When an industry changes, the skills required to find meaningful work also changes. Educators and parents who are able to turn the steering wheels of their children’s education with better foresight about what is around the bend, will be more effective in guiding children in navigating the future.

2) Startup entrepreneurs who make the time to present at AlligatorZone are a very special group of innovators. They spend time preparing on how to present complex concepts in very simple terms so that even a third grader can understand what they are working on. Startup entrepreneurs who come to AlligatorZone to present their work are also usually extremely patient with children in satisfying the children’s innate curiosity, or in talking to the more grown-up kids and teens after the event.

3) In AlligatorZone, kids and teens are taken seriously. We try to make sure that we make the most of the forum to provide the kids with opportunities to learn priceless soft-skills or power-skills. In our observation, this builds tremendous confidence in the children. AlligatorZone attracts a very supportive audience, allowing the children and the startup founders to be themselves and have an honest conversation.

If you haven’t been to an AlligatorZone event, try to attend a free event in your locality and enjoy a uniquely uplifting shared experience with your child, giving the entire family something very meaningful and inspiring to talk fondly about for many years to come.

About AlligatorZone®:

Since June 2014, AlligatorZone®, where kids meet cool startups, has toured 20 communities from Silicon Valley to South Florida, showcasing close to 150 startups to young school-age audiences, helping families learn about the future of work directly from the entrepreneurs who are designing the future. Visit to learn more.

Designing A Summer Camp for Kids To Learn and Try Out Startup Skills

April 4, 2019

A summer camp on skills in entrepreneurship for kids and teens must transcend the cliched business plan, pitch parties and participation trophies. AlligatorZone Academy’s summer camp and after-school enrichment programs aim for a real-world take on imparting startup skills to young minds.

Both 4th graders were good at baking, they had told me. They want to sell baked delicacies. However, in this week’s class, they were simply out of ideas on what to name their bakery. These kids are part of an after-school program that we are piloting to help late-elementary and middle-school students create something of value and make a difference in their world. An outcome of this pilot is going to be the design of a fun and educational workshop to help kids understand startup skills that will serve them in life, no matter what their calling.

School projects are usually done to earn a grade from a teacher. Students sharpen their focus on understanding what is expected of them from the teacher, and they learn to just meet or maybe exceed those expectations. School projects often lie undiscovered, tucked away in notebooks. If they are lucky the students’ projects may get to see the outside world in a parent-conference, or in an exhibition put together by the school, with tri-fold display boards and bright eyed kids standing proudly explaining their projects to distracted parents politely saying “Great job!” before rushing back to work.

Let’s look at a different possibility. What if the child’s project is steered by real entrepreneurs in such a way that it is readied for the market, allowing real customers to support it with their wallets?

Going back to the story of the two girls and the bakery project, one of the exercises in taking their work to the market was trying to come up with a memorable name for their bakery. We went through a few exercises to help them think of names for their bakery. The one thing I do not do as the coach, is to provide them with names to pick from. As a coach my responsibility is to help the students find the joy of discovery, and not deny it to them by spoon-feeding them. I could see the kids becoming quite frustrated because the names they thought of were already taken and could have been confused with random businesses such as a building supplies company. I left them alone to think about it, while I went about attending to other kids in the program.

Wouldn’t the Fedex business plan have earned an A+ if it had been tested out in the real world instead of being graded as a theoretical paper?

As we were about the wrap up the afternoon’s session, both the kids ran up to me in excitement and somewhat breathlessly said “We think we have a name”. It was a catchy name. It was something they had come up with, and I could sense not just their relief, but also their renewed enthusiasm and sense of ownership for their whole project.

Can education for school-age students tap into the joys of discovery through entrepreneurial decision making and be allowed to be scored by the validation of delighted customers instead of grades being handed at school? Wouldn’t the Fedex business plan have earned an A+ if it had been tested out in the real world instead of being graded as a theoretical paper that never left the classroom?

The Summer Camp that we are designing for 2019 is aimed at helping parents and families with tools to encourage their kids to take their creations to the real world while trying to make a difference. That means, the kids will not only have to pick projects that they like, but also something that their world outside would care deeply about, and want it enough to be willing to pay for their creations.

The summer camp for 2019 in Tampa Bay will be held at the inspirational Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in Ybor City in Tampa, Florida, a very dynamic group that has been extremely supportive of AlligatorZone’s work in connecting kids with the world of startups to build channels and communities of learning.

Click here for details of the summer camp, called AlligatorZone Academy’s Summer Workshop on Startup Skills for Kids, or enroll your child (ages 10–15) here. The summer camps help defray some of the costs of the free public event-programs by

The author is entrepreneur and educator Ramesh Sambasivan. principal designer at design and innovation firm SiliconGlades, creating learning experiences and environments for companies and communities.

Learning from ‘Dog With A Blog’

July 17, 2018

Can a TV show inspire an educational activity?

We know kids who love to watch ‘Dog With A Blog’, a Disney TV series about a dog Stan, who can speak English and also type — a dog that documents his life — on a blog. Would it then be a challenge getting the kids who know about such TV shows to use writing as an exercise in reflection?

We decided we would find out if kids would care to write a blog post and also enjoy it.

We dovetailed a specially designed blogging activity to a coursework that we are testing out through a recent workshop of AlligatorZone Academy. Part of the goal of the coursework is to help kids try to understand how product marketers and startup CEOs think and communicate to sell.

Success in any field depends on one’s skills at selling. Unless one has retired and moved to a remote island or to a monastery off-the-grid, we are all on sales-mode, trying to selling something or some idea to someone. Whether it is trying to get an A in a school paper with that extra question answered to impress the grader, or whether it is convincing a parent to go watch a movie with them, or if it is writing out that wish-list for the next holiday season, kids intuitively understand how to negotiate and get what they want.

Last summer, VC Kanwal Rekhi suddenly remembered one thing he wished that he had covered in his talk the previous evening to entrepreneurs — that he considers ‘selling’ as the number one skill an entrepreneur must have. I captured it in his own words on video at a lunch meeting the next day and shared it with others (watch the clip below).

Our focus at the Academy’s recent beta workshop has been to help kids understand how entrepreneurs use communication to get things done — and get them done in a cost-efficient manner. I was pleasantly surprised when some of the kids mentioned blogging as one of the highlights of their recent workshop experience.

It probably helped that the kids were already familiar with the concept of blogging. I am told that ‘Dog with a Blog’ is quite popular among elementary-school kids. Perhaps, blogs aren’t just for Stan, the communicator dog from the TV show, after all. However, only time will tell if those students who were excited to write their first blog post will learn how to continue to retain and rekindle that excitement repeatedly, and take their audiences along with them on their journey, while honing their written communication skills.

The writer, Ramesh Sambasivan is the cofounder of AlligatorZone, and a designer of B2B marketing programs with an eye on social-impact to help enterprises that want to grow while giving. This essay documents his firm’s recent effort in designing a curriculum for AlligatorZone Academy to prepare kids for careers that do not yet exist, created at the request of parents seeking a structured alternative learning environment for their school-age kids. Premium programs of the Academy are expected to help make AlligatorZone’s free event-program self-sustaining.

“Pen-tapping is a thing?”

July 6, 2018

Observations from running a kids’ summer workshop on entrepreneurial-mindset.

Last week, I had the privilege of spending some time with kids of ages 11–14 while running a special workshop series, being designed as a premium alternative-learning launchpad for kids to begin to understand how entrepreneurs think. These workshops are held under the banner of AlligatorZone Academy, to support the free public event-program AlligatorZone®, where kids meet cool startups.

This series of workshops is being designed starting with a big, blank canvas, for families who want to invest in enriched learning experiences despite it being a ‘summer workshop’. We draw from a wide variety of public resources and let the kids have fun as they learn and embark on their own voyage of discovery, if they feel sufficiently motivated. Some leave with an initiative that they can pursue on their own, long after summer is over.

Here are three of the many interesting lessons we learned during last week’s workshop with the kids:

Kids pick up jargon effortlessly.

I am not sure if it is because they want to sound adult-like, or it is because they love labeling things, kids seem to take to jargon very quickly. We deliberately strive to avoid all business jargon. I think that jargon has the life-span of fads, and what they learn may become outdated by the time these kids enter the world of work.

Jargon has the life-span of fads

We would rather use the time with the kids to help them observe the world around them and absorb timeless lessons they can always remember, apply, and talk about, with the help of more contemporary jargon keeping with the times when they get into a career or when they find a calling — if the use of jargon will help them. Our effort to steer clear of business jargon, however, remains a work-in-progress. At last summer’s workshop, I had inadvertently used the word ‘traction’, and found that within minutes the kids were generously using the word, though it was in the right context. Still, it felt like they lost a piece of their child-like quality when they resorted to using business jargon instead of plain talk. Kids pick up jargon effortlessly. That is no reason to teach them business jargon.

Kids love good stories — even stories on concepts in commerce.

Kids love stories.

The workshops are designed to provide an entertaining and enlightening view of the world of business and commerce. One of the goals was to pick up on some concepts in commerce and look at their real-world manifestations using examples as part of story-telling. We refer to them as CaseStories™. We learned that kids simply love good stories — even stories on concepts in commerce.

Kids know media.

Through four years of observing kids interact with startup founders at AlligatorZone’s free public events, I have learned quite a bit about the next generation of consumers and decision-makers. Being native to the digital world, the kids are a natural with the use of modern tools made possible by the mobile web. They know how to empower themselves by finding their audience.

However, interacting with them during the workshop and learning about what excited them was eye-opening indeed. For instance, kids can rattle off names of YouTubers and can articulate why they like or dislike some of them. Another example is the positioning of common-place activities as an art-form for a digitally native medium and audience. Pen-tapping is now a marketable skill, I learned.

Pen-tapping is an art-form!

Kids understand how to build an audience for it online, and perhaps have even made it into a branded art form that wins them accolades. Back when I was in middle school, for pen-tapping and desk-drumming, all I won was a resounding slap from a very strict school teacher.

These are just three highlights from an exhilarating workshop that had kids bubbling with energy and enthusiasm over matters of commerce and entrepreneurship.

Parents and educators can leverage certain strengths in children to get them inspired efficiently.

Parents and educators can leverage these traits observed in kids by engaging them in entrepreneurial thinking through topics and matters that interest them. It would make education more efficient if we could find paths of least resistance to get kids inspired about seeking solutions and opportunities to make the world better.

We are now planning another set of such workshops in Silicon Valley this month. I believe that whatever the kids work on or play with in their early school years with an entrepreneurial mindset, they will derive compounded benefits if they can find something aligned with their interests, making it easier for them to stick with it or find patterns in their varying pursuits during their growing years.

After all, it’s about eventually connecting these dots to a fulfilling and rewarding calling, and somewhere early along the way — finding traction.

The author Ramesh Sambasivan is a designer and cofounder of, where kids meet cool startups. Click here to learn more more about AlligatorZone’s upcoming workshops for kids, being planned in SiliconValley for this summer. Share this essay with family-friends, teachers and tutors who have school-age kids under their care and supervision.