My name is Erika Rath and I am the Director of Student Services at the Sacred Heart School of Montreal. I want to thank you in advance for reading and partaking in this forum. The goal is to hear different points of view on various topics that will ideally help our students by enriching their lives in and out of the classroom.

How to Support an Entrepreneurial Mindset

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I am feeling quite inspired as I sit down to write this blog post. Last week, I was fortunate to meet Katlyn Grasso, founder and CEO of Genheration. I was a bit hesitant when we decided to have her speak at our school because I wasn’t really sure what to expect or how our students would react. Luckily, my concerns melted away upon meeting her. Katlyn is a dynamic and energetic young woman who truly cares about empowering females and whose hope is to eliminate the gender gap in leadership positions. 


Katlyn shared many of her experiences, but what truly stuck with me was that she believed that women would automatically be in leadership positions. Grasso attended an all-girls Catholic school in her hometown of Buffalo, New York, so she just assumed that girls could be whoever and whatever they wanted because those were the messages that she learned in school. She shared that she can always tell who went to an all girls school and who didn’t. She knows by their level of confidence and the way they carry themselves. According to studies conducted on single sex education, girls do not lose the confidence they acquire while in school. Instead, they use the skills they’ve learned. Girls are entering a variety of fields and rising to the top. Grasso’s company GenHeration aims to ensure that young females continue to rise to the top in any field they desire. 


I felt as if I were in the presence of a celebrity as wherever Katlyn went, her exuberance and good nature followed. It was difficult not to smile or want to be around her and it felt like we were sitting in my living room chatting over a cup of coffee. Katlyn has the ability to make one and all feel comfortable no matter where she is. I was struck by her charisma and I began to wonder if this came from having an entrepreneurial mindset. She spoke so much about not examining the steps with too much depth or they would scare you off and make you want to quit. She talked about just doing it, taking risks, and knowing that failure is part of succeeding. During a lunchtime meeting, one student asked how Katlyn knew how to get from point A to point B. Katlyn calmly responded that she in fact didn’t, but her lawyer and her accountant, and the team she surrounds herself with did. Katlyn admitted that she has an entrepreneurial mindset, but she still needs guidance in other areas. It was important for our students to see that Katlyn didn’t have all the answers, but that she asked for help when she needed it.


At the parent session, she spoke about parents supporting their daughters, but also taking a step back and not spoon-feeding them or helping them through every step. She talked about her dad being her biggest fan because he empowered her to hold her own and be independent. She spoke about the lessons she learned along the way and how luck plays a role, but one needs to make one’s own luck as well. The worst thing that can happen is that someone says no. She started a company called Tap for Tots and went to every local daycare and day camp to promote her business. Many said yes to her dance company, but many said no and she began to understand that rejection is a part of life. The important thing was that she took risks and lives without regrets. 


The Stanford Innovation Social Review highly recommends that we nurture entrepreneurship at a young age and that we encourage girls to have many interactions with female role models. “If girls don’t know or interact with female entrepreneurs, they are less likely to see themselves as one.”


Teaching our girls how to take calculated risks, how to set and meet goals, and how to be confident, determined, and resilient will serve them well regardless of the fields they choose to enter. Young people need to learn these skills at a young age so they get the opportunity to practice them. Parents can include their daughters into conversations regarding family budgets and decision making, and discussions about financial empowerment and independence are important as well. 


Katlyn likes to say, “If you can see it, you can be it” and that’s been her motto since day one. She’s persevered and been turned down, but has been rewarded as well. She didn’t come from  an entrepreneurial family, but there was a spark in her – not just make money, but to help and do good as well. 


I think the message here is that adolescents need our help as they form their identity and part of that is having us take a step back so they can cultivate their independence.


Erika Rath, Director of Student Services
514-937-2845 ext. 121