The 4 Surprising Things I Learned from “Take Your Child to Work Day”

Take Your Child to Work Day, officially known as Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, takes place each year on the fourth Thursday in April.

Let me share my experience of participating in it for the first time.

What is This All About?

This event is overseen by a non-profit organization called Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day®, and it is most popular in the United States, Canada, and Australia. While originally focused on girls (daughters), this program expanded to include boys in 2003.

Many school districts encourage parents and guardians to invite their child to leave school for one day, in order to experience a work situation first-hand.

From their website, this program “encourages girls and boys across the country to dream without gender limitations and to think imaginatively about their family, work and community lives. This national, public education program connects what children learn at school with the actual working world. Children learn that a family-friendly work environment is an employer and family issue and not just a woman’s issue. Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work helps girls and boys across the nation discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life.

As the parent of three school-age children, I have heard about this phenomenon before, but it seems to vary depending on the area in which you live. Here in Washington State, participating is quite popular; in fact, about 1/4 to 1/2 of my kids’ classmates participated this year.

What Happened When My Son Joined Me at Work

This is the first year in which I decided to fully embrace the opportunity to introduce my children to what I do as a consultant. Although I had been in work environments where staff brought their children in for a day, I hadn’t considered doing it myself until my son Luca (age 10) asked if he could join me.

We talked about some of the tasks he could help me with and decided on a schedule. Luca was especially excited about taking part in handing out Pop-By packets to contacts in the area.

More About the Pop-By

A “Pop-By” is marketing tool that has been used mostly by the Real Estate industry. It includes an item of moderate value, along with a catchy saying, a “play on words,” or a corny joke on a card that includes your name and contact info. You keep several of these items with you as you travel and share them with potential clients on your route.

My son helped me develop a few Pop-By designs (as corny as possible!). Here is the one we used:

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Although I had prepared several Pop-By bags a while ago (which included the tag above, tied to a cellophane bag with a pair of colorful scissors and business card inside), my schedule got busy and I never got to actually delivering them. So Luca decided that one of his priorities for Take Your Child to Work Day was to visit chiropractor offices and hand out the bags.

How the Day Went

Our work day began by taking Luca’s younger sister to school.

We returned to my home office and completed a 10-minute meditation (I use Insight Timer; read more about it here).

Insight Timer, meditation timer, meditation, guided meditation, Insight Timer logo

Then, we reviewed our list of things to do:

  • Evaluate and analyze a marketing plan
  • Edit a marketing sheet
  • Proofread spelling and punctuation
  • Prepare and print marketing material
  • Analyze the map and develop a plan for chiropractor office visits
  • “Keep Mom on track” (Luca’s words 😃)

At 11 a.m., we gathered our marketing material and left to visit some chiropractic offices. By 12:30 p.m., we stopped for lunch at a Panera restaurant, where we saw a dozen other children who were accompanying their parent as well.

We then visited 4 more locations, returned to my office, and created some Instagram graphics like the one below:

What We Learned

With my son at my side, I had a lot of chances to answer his questions about what I do and why. Here are some of the things we both realized after this experience.

1. A new perspective can be eye-opening.

As I mentioned, making “Pop-By visits” is something I had prepared for but hadn’t actually completed.

This could be partly because my top StrengthsFinder talents are in the Influencing and Strategic Planning categories, not so much in the Executing and Relationship building ones (see chart below). Strengths, StrengthsFinder, Gallup, Leadership domains, leadership strengths, executing, influencing, relationship building, strategic thinking

Read more about StrengthsFinder here.

Children often tell us things that we may not be able to tell ourselves. One of the greatest gifts I got from spending the day with my son was his singular focus on visiting the offices of my target clients, chiropractors. As uncomfortable as it is to go on Pop-By visits, I realized that a child’s perspective can really help to reveal aspects of my business that needed more attention.

2. Kids tell it like it is.

Another benefit of spending the day with my son is his total honesty. The perspective of pre-teens is fantastic because they’re tech-savvy, creative, and authentic.

It’s been said that a 10-year-old child’s description of your business is more accurate than an adult’s. And if you explain your business model to a 10-year-old and she or he can’t repeat it back to you, then it needs some fine-tuning.

After spending the day together, here is how my son Luca describes my work:

You’re a marketing consultant, which is someone who tells people what problems are in their business and suggests what can help fix the problem.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

3. People are really nice.

While meeting new people, we were pleasantly surprised at how kind everyone was.

If you’re an introvert like me, you’re more reserved and prefer not to go into a situation unless you’ve done a lot of planning. And when it comes to meeting new people, you’re probably more cautious and less outgoing.

My son is an introvert, but he’s also fearless when it comes to meeting new people (which is something I tend to avoid). He really enjoyed walking into a chiropractor office, greeting the front desk employee, and telling them why we were there (to introduce my business and share some information).

We were both pleasantly surprised at how graciously every single employee treated us. The highlight of our day was meeting one of the practitioners, Dr. Tiffany Thorne, and getting a tour of the Life Force Chiropractic office.

4. Business failure is really, really common.

The last thing we learned was that a lot of companies go out of business, even though it looks like they are still operating.

I had meticulously researched all the active chiropractic offices in the area (104 in the Vancouver, WA region alone). I kept notes on their website, social media sites, owner’s name, street address, and operating hours. But despite all this preparation and the active online façade, several practices had inexplicably disappeared.

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Of the 10 offices we visited, 4 were no longer in operation. Some still had a sign outside the building, but no actual office to visit. Two practices had closed for the day despite their website and other online sources saying they would be open. Of the 4 that remained, we had a great experience meeting friendly staff who graciously allowed us to share the Pop-By item, and one owner even invited us to get a tour of their high-tech office.

We decided that for the next round of Pop-By items, I will be calling the offices to confirm they are still open and double-check the address before driving there.

 

Final Thoughts

All in all, bringing my son to work with me was really enlightening.

Luca helped open my eyes to some things I could be doing more efficiently. He edited some of my writing and inspired me to get out and meet prospects face-to-face. And he got a chance to “sit in my seat” and see what it’s like to work as a marketing consultant, which he told me “what you do is interesting, but I think I’d rather be a retail business owner when I grow up.

 

If you have the chance to invite a child to shadow your job for a day, I highly recommend it. You can find some tips on how to do this at Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work.

 


Grace LaConte is a Strategic Niche Marketing Expert who helps healthcare practice owners to develop a high-profit specialization in a crowded market. Using her experience as a Risk Officer and Marketing Director for hospitals and IT services, Grace shares a refreshingly honest approach to uncover hidden risks and opportunitiesLearn more at laconteconsulting.com, or connect with her on Twitter @lacontestrategy.

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