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Dan Hesse CEO of Sprint Nextel, and I, diverge in into a subject many of us are dedicated to... parenting.  Dan shares some of his successful ideas for encouraging children to be excited about learning and excelling in even the toughest subjects like physics and math.  For anyone who has kids, grandkids or teaches any subject, this is an interview you will definitely want to grab an idea from.  Click on these links to view Dan's first and second interviews with The Global Townhall.


Gabrielle Reilly:  I was really impressed when I met your son after he spoke at the Business Executives for National Security (BENS) dinner.   We are also focusing on how to help parents develop the next generation of children... What advice would you offer parents to help them raise successful children?


Dan Hesse:  I try to expose them to situations that will inspire them.

So my son Evan wrote the poem that you heard read at the BENS dinner, "The Helmet".  What inspired him was, about a year before, I took him on a trip with BENS members to learn the military and leadership lessons from Gettysburg.  I called Monty Meigs, the person who was leading the trip, and asked him if he would mind if I brought my 11 year old son with me.  He encouraged me to bring Evan, so there was one boy among all these men.  Spending 2 days walking the battlefields changed his outlook about military service, bravery and sacrifice. 

Many months later, we went to the WWI museum in Kansas City.  After spending 2 days at Gettysburg, he had been exposed to the sacrifices that soldiers make for their country.  He saw a battered WWI helmet in the museum and he wondered who the soldier was who may have worn it.  This inspired him, so he wrote the poem "The Helmet" for a school project which was read at the BENS dinner.


Another example is with his older brother who is in his junior year of high school.  He signed up for Advanced Physics, but his interest began with a business trip of mine to California.  I decided to take my son with me.  While I was in business meetings all day in San Francisco, I arranged that he spend the day in "The Valley", visiting Google, Facebook and EA Games.  He came back excited from all three visits, but with an enthusiasm for physics after learning many of the developers of games at EA were physics majors.  They have to understand physics to make the games, which are really simulations, realistic.  Now he understands how it is applied and this has inspired him to take Advanced Physics. 


As hard as I try, if I tell my kids to do something, that doesn't motivate them very much.  Putting them in situations that inspire them makes all the difference.


Gabrielle Reilly:  Yes, interest is everything in learning.   If parents start with a fun way to show how a subject is actually applied, children are far more likely to excel.  For example, when my daughter was 6 I had her in fits of laughter pretending to bang into stars or planets.  We were imagining what it would be like if Princess Leah hadn't done her maths homework... her calculations would have been wrong and she would have banged into a star or planet.  It helped her understand the big picture of why learning is important and can lead to some seriously fun jobs.  If they are interested in a topic, or even understand why they have to study it, it is so much easier. 

Show them what is possible.  For example, parents with younger children... in the first six years of school eat a treat and create a special moment with them reading the list of students who made the Honor Roll for the quarter.  It may lead to them dreaming of being on the same path when they are older.  I also had really lovely Honor Roll students babysit my kids which inspired them and developed special relationships. 

I am confident these tools can really work.  Not to brag, but to respectfully share ideas for our readers to consider for their children, these ideas certainly helped my children not only achieve honor roll every quarter, but to also be awarded President Obama's Excellence in Education for having some of the highest scores in the nation.  Dan, obviously your son is excelling using a similar concept applied in your way.



And yes you are right, it is really surprising how many people welcome children into typically work establishments.  I've done the same with my children.  Ones of the Lords invited me to the House of Lords (which you would think would be really not child friendly) and had no problem when I asked if I could bring my two children.  Being the only "commoners" there, the Lords played magic tricks on them (many Lords belong to the Magic Circle including Prince Charles) and gave us a private tour through the chambers.  We saw the original portraits of King Henry VIII's wives (before the beheadings and not the after fortunately) and the Queen's chamber etc.  I've also taken them into some of the poorest places like remote areas in North Vietnam.  All these experiences can help your child excel.  Travel and experience is invaluable for their development.  Parents should view travel with their kids (depending on how it is done) as part of their education.  Particularly in this new global village, global knowledge will be an important part of doing business.


Thanks so much for this 3 part interview Dan, I know my readers have really enjoyed it and learnt some really valuable information as have I.  You can find the other interviews with Dan Hesse here:  Dan Hesse Part 1, Dan Hesse Part 2



Gabrielle Reilly, is an Australian American Correspondent and CEO of The Global Townhall.   For more about Gabrielle Reilly.

As you become what you eat, you also become what you read, watch and surround yourself with.  The Global Townhall is dedicated to filling your mind with world-class ideas from people with world-class success. 


To contact Gabrielle email:  gabrielle(at sign)

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