The Wow of a 13-year-old and the Wisdom of her Gram

Calla:         Hey Gram…. I’ve started thinking about helping to make my community a better place. I think it’s very important for young girls like me to speak up and create change. I started at my school. Did I tell you that I submitted an idea to my school about teacher recognition awards? I realized that students got all types of athletic and academic awards, while teachers never received anything. I made a proposal and it went all the way to the head of the middle school. The plan did not initially get approved, but I am working to change it so the plan can be implemented in my school.


Gram:     Wow! I love that you are thinking of ways to make changes that will make the world a better, easier place to live. I am excited that although your plan didn’t get approved initially, you are still focused on bringing about the change. You have an entrepreneurial spirit, one that is fueled by “grit”. Do you know what “grit” is?


Calla:     I hear that word a lot in school and in basketball, but I’m not really sure, Gram.


Gram:       Well, grit is what makes me go to the gym every day and work out even though my hands are swollen and my knee hurts. I refuse to give in to my autoimmune disease and so I push myself, every day. Grit is passion and perseverance. You have grit, too. You are passionate about wanting to recognize teachers and submitted a proposal. Now you continue to work on your idea because you feel strongly that teacher recognition is a valuable part of your school program. That passion, focus, and willingness to fight for your effort, that’s grit.


Calla:         Thanks, Gram. Now I am working on another idea as well. You know how most people find out what their values are and what they truly love to do pretty late in life? Well, imagine what would happen if girls were able to figure those things out between the ages of 10-18. Through an app, I want to take girls on a journey of figuring out what activities give them positive energy, what activities drain their energy, and what their core values are. That will provide them the confidence and support they need to navigate through everyday life challenges and transitions, set ambitious goals, and live their best lives. I believe that I can help girls become their most terrific selves, and while doing that create a group of future leaders.


Gram:     I love your idea to help girls because just as you struggle some days, most girls do too. I find that as a grown woman I also struggle. I guess because my children have grown, and I have retired, I continue to struggle to find meaning in my life. Entrepreneurs follow their passion and generally find their purpose no matter what stage of life they are in.

I know that most young girls find life tough at times. They are often unsure of themselves and can be mean to other girls. If there was a way to help girls feel better about themselves, find what really makes them tick, then they would be happier; if they were happier, they would be less likely to be unkind.

So tell me more about the app, what have you done so far?


Calla:       Well, I have created a business plan, as well as talked with a team of amazing people who are willing to help me. We just had our first meeting. I have also emailed many women leaders from Washington D.C. to ask for their help.


Gram:     You already have a good idea of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. You need an idea that you are passionate about, and a business plan that will entice others to help you reach your goal. And of course you need that grit I was talking to you about. Between school and all your outside activities, you have access to many potential app users who can provide you with much information to ensure you develop an excellent product.


Calla:     Yes Gram I totally agree! This summer I will be working hard each day to get my idea off the ground. Also, I am planning on holding a focus group to see what girls think of the app. Additionally, I want to reach out to more women leaders and get their advice.


Gram:     Yes, entrepreneurs have to be good listeners, and they take the time to find out if their idea is a sound one. I am so excited for you and all the young girls who will benefit from your new app. Keep me posted.

By the way, have you ever heard the phrase, “The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?”


Calla: Yes, I have. In our family, there are several entrepreneurs who have brought about change by their ideas. And like my dad, uncles and aunts, I too, will make the world a better place.


Calla Reese O’Neil
13-year-old student
Honor Student, Athlete,

Mary Ann O’Neil, PhD
Calla’s Grandmother
Adjunct Professor USF, Tampa/Muma Business College
Sports and Entertainment Management Program




by Calla Reese O’Neil