How can you tell if she’ll grow up to be a successful entrepreneur?

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Whenever I’m asked what is the most important trait an aspiring entrepreneur must possess in order to be successful, my immediate response is “curiosity”.  I’m not sure if it is an innate quality or something one can practice and hone but curiosity, the unstoppable urge to question and need to find out more is, I am certain,  a vital characteristic for the successfully self-employed.

Last week on a camping trip with two college age girls, I witnessed this so clearly that I feel confident predicting which of these teens is more likely to be an entrepreneur. Both girls are very bright, good students, outgoing and personable. But the real difference was evident when we visited my son at his eco-community in the mountains. As he gave us the tour, explaining the solar showers, compost toilets  and told us how to dispose of waste, one girl kept asking questions about how this works, why that matters, where it all goes and who does what when. As he demonstrated how to light the strange stove, Miss Curious asked if she could try it while the other girl kept checking her cell phone for bars even though she knew there was no reception.

At sunset, the mosquitos attacked like air force fighter jets. When my son explained that we should use particular herbs and candles, Miss Curious wanted to know why they don’t use pesticides and what effect the chemicals had on the fragile environment. The other complained and snuck off to spray insect repellant anyway, figuring if no one was looking, it wouldn’t matter.

Now I ask you, which girl do you think will always be an employee and who will be able to make a living without a job? I kept thinking about how the parents of the curious girl are concerned that she is a theatre major and will have to live the life of a starving actress or wait tables. The other teen”s parents are happy she is in nursing school so she will always have work. I thought, if I were their parents, I wouldn’t be  concerned at all about Miss Curious because if she is unable to find work in theatre, she will likely ask enough questions to create her own roles.

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