Several Boston-based female enterpreneurs are showcased in this week's Smart Girls Way100x 100 Project (Jan 9-13, 2012). I first found out about the project over last summer and tooks the strengths questsionnaire (SmartGirls Mirror), which any women starting a business should take!
I am privildged to be in the 100X100 group of women to be interviewed about BodiMojo for teen girls. (And like many girls who cringe at seeing themselves front and center, these sort of public experiences are ultimtely quite empowering, quirks and all!)
What is 100 x 100 Project? Let me quote from SmartGirls Way:
The 100 x 100 Project is the first SmartGirls Way initiative celebrating the strengths and success of women entrepreneurs. These daring women entrepreneurs are building the next economy – a sustainable economy -- and each day for 100 days, we will share their start-up stories and advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
These video profiles provide a portrait of today's woman entrepreneurs, showcasing how women in all stages of business growth are leveraging their SmartGirls strengths to build successful businesses.
The goal of the 100x100 Project is to inspire women to create and launch new businesses by shining a light on the bench-strength and sheer grit driving the women's entrepreneurial movement.
Check out videos, and be inspired from so many women forging a path!
I haven't posted in a while because we've been very, very busy at BodiMojo.com.
First, we got some great results from our field test of BodiMojo.com used in high school health classes. Hint: Girls exposed to Bodimojo.com over one month improved their attitudes about their own body image compared to girls who didn't use the site, especially around how they feel about their physical appearance and in comparing themselves to others). Read more from Boston Globe blog post. Now we recrafting the girl interactive tools into a new "Girls Confidence" dashboard, and my teenage daugther and her friends have been helping out. Stay tuned for that this fall!
Second, we optmized the bodimojo site for mobile smaarthones, to now it's easy for teens to set and update thier health goals.
Third, we pulled some of our tools into a Facebook app. Here's the scoop from our Bodimojo blog:
So what's mojo anyway? At BodiMojo for teens we consider it your personal charm, the moment you feel most fully yourself, comfortable, confident... no self-judgment. In the zone. Mojo is also the kind of feeling or state of being you want to share, kind of like paying it forward. So we've gathered a few of the BodiMojo.com tools and packaged them into an app on Facebook: My Mojo. Five things you can do once you "allow" the app:
(1) Take a mojo quiz. We've posted 4 quizzes in the app but have many more on bodimojo.com. Be sure to check out and share with friends.
(2) Visualize your mood with the Mojo Mood Cloud. Feeling freaked out, joyful, silly, emo? Tag your moods here! (The Mood Cloud is on main site and log in is required for all personalized tools).
(3) Send friends a virtual gift to boost their mood or cheer 'em on via email or post on FB wall. We have some cool animations created by our friends at Doink. The 10 teen winners of a recent contest created some awesome art, so support the artists and your friends at the same time. A win win! (DoInk artist, Syas, created volleyball girl.)
(4) Get a BodiMojo Snapshot into your health habits. The app allows you to connect via Facebook to BodiMojo.com where you can get personalized feedback on your lifestyle habits. Just visit the My Page section where you'll find your "Health Mojo" -- nutrition, fitness, body image attitudes, stress and more. So instead of hearing the same old, same old about what it takes to be healthy, you get customized feedback. How refreshing!
(5) Once you're on the BodiMojo's My Page you can create personal health goals, and set up email or text updates, too. You earn points every step of the way. And there's lots more content to check out.
Of course, we want your feedback, too. Teens have helped shape the site and we want to keep working at it to improve your experience! Tell us on Facebook!
Why is it that grown ups seem to think that teenagers don’t care about their health? Or that if you claim to help adolescents navigate the rollercoaster ride of the teen years that you’ll be outright dismissed? (Good luck to you! they exclaim.)
I get this response on a regular basis when I talk about BodiMojo for teens, an online health engagement platform to support adolescents during this weird transition to adulthood. “Teens don’t care about their health” is the most frequent declarative response.
Why does the notion of teens + health = non-starter?
Is it because we remember our own turbulent years and recall that we wanted nothing to do with people telling us what we should do?
It’s a visceral memory. People wince or laugh or self-deprecate as they recall their own teen years. We are afraid of teens as we remember our own pasts!
Why is it, then, when we become those grown-ups, that's exactly what we do? We tell teens what they should be or not be doing. No drugs, no beer, no sex, no texting at the dinner table, don’t you dare miss your curfew, you must get As (or else you have no life). BUT…help with the dishes, mow the lawn, take out the trash, eat your broccoli, oh and, watch your sister while I run to the store.
I’ve become a defender of teenagers in the landscape of health. Not only are they underserved in health care – after all they do not pay insurance premiums or have employee benefits – but teens are elusive, too. They don’t pay much attention to health prevention messages.
Why? Because teens “know” what they need to know. Ya, know what I mean? Teens have been soaking up prevention messages from school health classes, coaches, parents, peer educators, billboards, PSAs and so on (see one video teens created). A good thing, too. We need to keep this education in their faces, because individuals absorb information at different rates and in different ways depending on a host of things: cognitive maturity, ability to problem solve and plan ahead, propensity for risk taking or impulsivity, motivation, health beliefs and attitudes, pubertal status, social support, relationships and peer pressure, self-esteem and so on.
It’s a lucky teen that might get the right message at the right time, though. Health topics, like many things in life, have become so compartmentalized, one wonders how any of the information might come together in a holistic way for a teen. Think about what a typical teen might get: A few hours of puberty ed in 5th grade, a reproductive biology module in 9th grade, an assembly on bullying once a year, and alcohol prevention during prom season. At least that’s how it seems to work in my community.
How about personalizing health information for teens?
How about making it relevant to them when they need it?
Teens have a lot going on while their brains and bodies are undergoing massive shifts. So they forget things. What was taught to 11 year olds during puberty education class (largely experienced as either disgust or hilarity) should be reconfigured each year thereafter through age 18 because reproductive health becomes increasingly more relevant over time (but that’s another rant). Teens “get” the messages about eating fruits and veggies and exercising, just like they get the messages not to do drugs or drive without a seat belt or to use a condom to avoid pregnancy or STDs. That doesn’t mean they actually act intelligently on their knowledge – especially when friends are around. Groupthink overrides the common sense switch in the brain. Hormones override executive function. Social validation trumps IQ.
So let’s meet teens where they are at. They are more engaging than you think. They like to learn about themselves, test their knowledge, assess their personality, track their mood, and then share with their friends whatever they’ve learned that surprises or inspires them. They are inherently competitive and like to show off. Teens are dealing with highly personal issues and behaviors that are emotionally triggering. They may not want to talk about "health" in a classroom or with grown ups. But maybe they do. Choices matter.
Bottom line: People learn new things and change behaviors when it means something to them AND when they have the ability or skills to act on it. Not all teens mature at same rate so why do we think teaching them things at a certain time in a spotty curriculum will actually stick?
Recently, I was part of a community service project with ten urban high school girls ranging in age from 14 to 17. The topic they wanted to address was body image and the task was to bring back to the school community a positive message or outcome of the project. As part of this exercise the girls used the BodiMojo site and took the body image quizzes as a discussion and icebreaker activity. One girl, clearly overweight, read her personalized feedback about her body image attitude. She was delighted with it and cut and pasted the feedback to her Facebook page. This revealed several things. One, the message was relevant and positive to her. Two, she wanted to show it off to her friends. Three, she choose to share a “confidential” experience because it could inspire others, too. (I know this because I asked her why she did this.) What is “social” trumps privacy, in this case, for the good. Her sharing was a choice. For others in the group, they did not jump to broadcast on Facebook. Yet, according to their school teacher, the girls learned a great deal and bonded over the experience.
As a team we also discovered that the BodiMojo platform was effective for teen girls for improving body esteem. Teens care about issues that are emotionally charged and immediate. If we grown-ups can better attend to what is developmentally relevant, we might begin to affect change in other health areas, too.
You still don’t think teens care about their health? Then you might just be asking the wrong questions!
I know I call on you a lot and you’ve been a great support. Now that we are ready to get BodiMojo out to teens and round up sponsors and strategic partners, we need your vote in this business plan competition. Apparently, this exercise shows the committee we’re out there networking (vs. a popularity vote). Please take a few minutes this week and give us your vote of confidence.
I have to say I’m excited
about Michelle Obama’s initiatve, Let’s Move! and the new foundation, Partners
for a Healthier America.This is
great timing for BodiMojo, the online teen health destination we are building,
with help from a Small Business Innovative Research grant from the National
Institutes of Health.But
here’s the question: if the initiative is truly about developing“a strong network of members across the
business, government, academic, and nonprofit sectors who will commit to
accelerating efforts to address childhood obesity,” how does one actually get
in front of Michelle or her group???
We’ve got a terrific online
program built with the help of teens and being testing by about 250 Massachusetts high schoolers: BodiMojo. We’ve got a story to tell and we need to
get the word out as we launch later this spring.I’m writing this on my personal blog so I can be brazen
about my calling on friends and colleagues to help me lead the way to be part
of this important national initiative. Really, I can’t afford a lobbyist.
So why teens, you ask?Because they are the toughest and
savviest group out there and they get short shrift on obesity prevention in
lieu of the “risky” stuff, like sex and drugs.Most obesity prevention programs target youngsters/tweens
and families, but really teens are a key group.(Brands and marketers know this: capture brand loyalty among
teens and you have a customer for life.)
I hear it all time, “Teens
don’t care about health!”I
honestly wonder if these people actually talk to teens.Prevention messages may fall on deaf
ears, but ask any teen if they care about their own health, and they’ll say
yes. It’s just that they see it as part of who they are, not as some separate silo
in their life they have to attend to – which is how grown-ups think (The life
checklist: job, car, gym, kids, vacation, bills, etc.).
Here’s the thing: Teens are
making their own decisions and solidifying health habits that will transfer to
young adulthood. They want to fit in, personalize their stuff, create an
identity, and be part of civic life. They have strong opinions – and for the
most part – make pretty wise decisions in spite of brain blips here and there.
They care deeply about what they look like and just about all of them have body
image concerns. In my estimation, we need to re-position “obesity prevention.”
It’s time to brand healthy decision making as part of style – your personal
charm. You know… your “mojo.”
After reading a number of end of year reviews, end of decade
reflections, top ten lists, about how the technology revolution has forever
changed being in the world, the best and
the worst, and all the great lives that have passed, I am left with one feeling.
What a decade in the scheme of the four I can look back
upon.I have to say this was the
most challenging and I’m not sure if it is indeed because of all the
cataclysmic events that have occurred (not to mention raising children) and the
adult maturity to reflect on their impact, or the simple fact that it was
filled with really difficult moments on a humanitarian scale.
I was a teen in the 80s and looking back it was not all that
bad.My mother might feel entirely
different with all the things she was paying attention to in her world.
But I’m an optimist at heart – and my tendency is always to
look toward the future for hope.The fact of the matter is we received an NIH grant to build an online
teen health destination (a lot of work, good timing -- and luck of course.).I say to people “This was a gift.” And
most say: “No, you worked hard for it.” Both are true.
We plan to launch BodiMojo in 2010.One thing the project has done for me
personally is to be connected with today’s teens and up to date on how they
experience and see their unique challenges. (See our BodiMojo year in review on the
compilation of teen health surveys and initiatives).My twelve year old is a year shy for being allowed on the site (kids
must be 13) but peeks over my shoulder as I work on it, plays some of the games
to help us find glitches, and recently had me set up positive affirmations to go to her cell phone (“Daily Mojos”).
“This IS cool, Mom!” Who could ask for more?
But I do. My personal motto is “Live with intention.” I believe
in setting intention and then follow a chosen path, no matter how big or
small.Can we help this generation
make better choices, live healthy lifestyles, make commonsense decisions, be
kind to others?
So I take a measure of hope from a recent survey, Good
Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens. Leave it to the Girls Scouts to boost the spirits
with their nationwide survey among scouters and non-scouters. This 10-year
follow up finds that today’s kids have level heads and are making a
shift toward more civic engagement and hold more responsible beliefs and values.
Teens are more likely to vote when old enough, give to charity, and volunteer
in their own community.
No information in this blog is intended to diagnose or treat any health or mental health condition. The opinions expressed here are my own. If you have concerns about a personal issue please seek a consultation with a doctor.