Moolah U Blog

Providing innovative real life-real money education that creates financial stability


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Finding Franchisees Who Embody Our Brand

I’ve been asking myself a question lately: How do we find the franchisees who can deliver the magic of this brand? In the process of re-branding, we have discovered for ourselves and created the truths of our company that make what we do so special. I am not concerned that we will find people who want to start a franchise. Who would not want to start a business that is so needed and wanted right now in our current economy? Financial literacy is in high demand these days. But the people that will be our franchisees will have to be people who “get it.” How do we find them?

Anson and group

Young entrepreneurs conducting business.

Now, here’s what I just realized: when I started working with Moolah U (then The Money Academy), I didn’t get it either! I thought that kids’ behavior should be “managed.” I didn’t get the power of giving a child a real accountability, letting them choose, and asking them questions to help them reflect on their choices. I did’t get that the simple use of the phrase “using money” instead of “spending money” could call kids attention to the fact that how they use their money is their choice and that they have lots of options for how to use it. I didn’t get the power of acknowledgement in a business, or that you could help a child see that real leadership is giving another the opportunity to be great. To reiterate: I didn’t get it. So how did I become a brand champion?

Gift gals 4

Young people being great with money.

Looking back, what made the difference was being willing to think newly about young people and how they learn. I was willing to let go of having to know so much about who they are and what they are capable of. That, and I was blown away by the young people and what they accomplished in our programs.

All we have to do is find people who are willing to be developed in ways they never expected and give up their pre-conceived notions about what kids are capable of. When they do, they will find themselves on a path that will change their life forever. And they will have that moment where they get the potential for what we are up to. Like me, they will be struck with the question:

What would the world look like if a whole generation of kids were being responsible for their choices with money and knew themselves as capable leaders who can accomplish whatever they choose?


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The Holidays Are A Great Time for Your Kids to Learn Money!

Saturday a group of Moolah U families and friends met downtown to donate several of our Blast the Money Trap™ games at the Chuy’s Giving Parade. The parade was lots of fun, and it was sweet to see young people from all over the city giving away toys and games just to bring other young people joy.

The Moolah U Crew at The Chuy's Giving Parade

The Moolah U Crew at The Chuy’s Giving Parade

It all got me thinking about the way we use our money during the holidays. Most of us make our lists, close our eyes, and hope we won’t go over budget. Our young people quickly come to expect a host of gifts and holiday indulgences. It’s easy to think that this free-spirited spending and “generosity” is what makes this time of year so special. Yet many of us stress ourselves out financially trying to make it all happen. With the number one stressor on families being finances, this hardly seems like a healthy path.

So now I am mulling on a question: How would it benefit my family if we focused on purposefully and thoughtfully making the best use of our resources during the holiday season?

Filling up the trucks!

Filling up the trucks!

Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Children:

The holidays is a great time to talk to young people about the best use of resources and model making conscious choices for how to use money. The following questions may be a place to start the conversation:

1. How do we want our friends and family to feel during the holidays?

  • Can having an intention when buying a gift help us make wise choices about how to use our money?
  • What is important to the people we are giving to and how we can support that with our gift?

2. How can we have our money make the biggest positive impact?

  • Does being generous mean spending lots of money?
  • How could we make the very most of your resources while being generous?

3. Will the gifts we give last and provide value over time?

  • What gift will bring the most joy for the longest time?
  • How much does the value of a gift have to do with it’s price? What makes something valuable?

Try This:

Try giving your child an allowance to use for gifts this season. Ask questions to help them consider how much money they are willing to use for each purpose. Engage them in considering alternatives. Help your young person practice creating and using a budget. Most Important: If you give them money to use this season, let them make their own choices about how to use it. You may not agree with the choices they make, but if they make the choices, they will experience first hand the positive and negative impacts of making those choices. This is the best education they can get.

Contributed by Janis Bookout


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Thanks, RISE Austin!

We just wanted to take a minute and thank Claire England and the folks at RISE Austin for hosting such a fabulous event Saturday Morning at Molotov. The Entrepreneurship Express Breakfast featured Roy and Bertrand Sosa, RISE co-founders, Josh Zabar, Summit Chief Samurai, and  Ken Howery, co-founder of Founders Fund and PayPal. 

Aside from the impressive line-up and the excellent bloody mary’s, what impressed me most was the heart and passion demonstrated both on the panel and in the room. The conversation was rich and incredibly valuable to a company like ours, who is franchising and growing our brand. I thought I’d share a few take-home lessons from the discussion.

Generosity opens up new possibilities. 

Each member of the panel shared their own story of how focusing on supporting someone else ended up opening a pathway for them that they never would have seen if they had been focusing only on their own needs. Supporting, mentoring, guiding and helping others often creates an interconnectedness in which people learn from each other in unique and beautiful ways.

Melody (left), from MR Jones Consultant and Associates, helps non-profits, social ventures and entrepreneurs becomes a sustainable contribution to the community.

Be passionate and share your passion.

It was clear from their sharing and simply from their manner of being, that these gentleman are genuinely passionate about what they do, their brand, and how people experience their brand. Each of the four started their company from a commitment to make a difference for people. Ken started his company based on a need he saw his family and friends had. Roy started his company to make a difference for people who weren’t interested in having credit cards. They are also passionate about entrepreneurship itself and helping other entrepreneurs continue to develop and expand. It was clear that Ken is just as committed to mentoring others and supporting new brands through the Founders Fund as he is about growing PayPal as a brand. That’s the kind of leadership you want to see.

Love your people.

Roy’s comments in particular left me very inspired about what it is to be a leader and an entrepreneur. Roy shared that the number one way to grow a brand is to know the people in your company and what matters most to them. This is key to understanding how they connect to the vision and purpose of the company. Growing these internal relationships grows the brand.

Gayle meets Dan Kryzanowski from DMK Consulting. RISE is a great place to meet like minds and big hearts.

Never, ever give up.

Failure is a given as an entrepreneur. Each of these very successful entrepreneurs had in common an unwillingness to stop moving forward. Josh in particular championed this message. It’s a lesson we’ve heard before, but one worth hearing again and again. And we really appreciated Bertrand’s comment that if you are doing something really hard, fewer people will be willing to do what it takes to compete with you.

Austin is fortunate to have such a clear example of what it looks like to stay true to your inspiration as your company grows (and even when it isn’t.) At Moolah U, as we rebrand and franchise, we are continually seeking opportunities to learn from those who have gone before us. Thanks, again, RISE, for a fabulous event!


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Life on The Skinny Branches

“No one likes to feel bewildered. I don’t and I’m sure you don’t either. But disliking that feeling and avoiding it at all costs are two different things. An everyday creative person makes an effort to embrace bewilderment, even though she dislikes the feeling, because she knows that she has no other good choice. Every creative journey is marked by patches and even long stretches of bewilderment as, disoriented and upset, you realize that you don’t know what to do next. These patches of not knowing just can’t be avoided, unless you refuse to create.” ~ Eric Maisel, Ph.D. from The Creativity Book

So we (Gayle and Janis) went to Dallas for the International Franchise Association (IFA) seminar on Thursday of last week. We left late Wednesday night, and returned to Austin late Thursday night with our minds on fire.

Becoming a franchisor is a totally unique experience. We fully expected to be out of our league at this meeting. And in a way, we were. We are at the very beginning of franchising, and we were in a room filled with 30 to 40 major franchise executives and CEO’s, among others.

A great organization and a great event!

But as we introduced ourselves and our business concept, both Gayle and I became aware of a warmth and goodwill from the rest of the room coming our way. Later, we likened it to that experience when you become a parent and all of a sudden, other parents relate to you like you’ve “joined the club.” It doesn’t matter where you are on the path of parenting; you are a member of the club from that moment on. That’s what it was like, conversation after conversation, to receive the mentoring and support from this seasoned group of franchisors. We were in the club called “franchisors,” and while we were at the beginning, we could both see that there was a long and incredible road ahead.

Everyone knows we are new to franchising. And at the same time, no one knows kids financial education like we do. We are committed to expanding the availability of these programs to communities nationwide.

If you are going out on a limb, you might as well have fun!

As we made our way through the glut of incredibly valuable information and fabulous networking opportunities, one thing remained clear–we have a steadfast and unwavering mission: kids get a fundamental understanding of how money works, and know themselves as leaders — responsible people who can accomplish whatever they choose.

As special thanks to Deb Evans and Jason Goodman for their encouragement to get involved with the IFA. We love our franchise mentors!


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New Name! New Franchise!

Introducing Our New Name at We Are Girls

After seven years providing programs for kids in Austin as The Money Academy, we are proud and excited to share that we have a new name and we are now franchising!

Why Franchise?

In our commitment to kids having a fundamental understanding of how money works and knowing themselves as leaders that can accomplish whatever they choose, we have always dreamed of taking our programs nationwide. Due to the overwhelming support and demand for our programs here in Austin, we are thrilled to say that that time has come!

Who would have known that a simple inquiry between a mother and a daughter would turn into a business that makes a difference for kids all over the Austin area and now the nation?

Our New Name and Logo

In the process of franchising, it became clear that we needed a new name. So after a several pots of coffee and some seriously fun brainstorming, Moolah U was born! We love our new name and tagline. We feel that our new brand is fun and really says who we are and what we are up to.

For those of you who have a special fondness for The Money Academy, don’t worry. Our programs are not going away. We will still be offering all of the same programs locally, just under our new name!

Over the next few weeks you’ll begin to see changes in our materials and on the website. We will share our story with you as it unfolds. For now, we want to thank our community here in Austin for making this possible!

Thanks Austin, and Be Great. With Money.

With Love,
The Team at Moolah U


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Failure: The Great Educator

Kids at The Money Academy summer camp interview customers to get feedback about their product.

When did it become our goal as a society to prevent kids from failing? In our culture, failure has become something to avoid. There are million dollar industries built around it. But let’s stop for a moment and take a hard, cold look at failure.

What is failure, really?
Failure is, simply, not achieving a desired outcome by the target date or time. That’s all it is–not meeting a goal.

Why don’t we like it?
It may seem obvious that we don’t like failure because we wanted the outcome that we planned on, and failure means not getting what we want at that moment. Our reaction ranges from mild disappointment to sorrow, to heartbreak. But what we decide in the next moment can impact us greatly.

The Impact of Avoiding Failure
When we resolve to avoid failure, we essentially change our thinking. We stop thinking about what works and start thinking about how to avoid or prevent failure in the future. Nowhere is this more true than when kids learn money. Where is the room for innovation and wonder, the seeds of real success?

What Does Failure Teach Us?
When we embrace failure, and bring wonder to it, we can learn loads about life and the way things work. We can build compassion for others and expand our capacities. At the Money Academy summer camp, we don’t try to prevent failures, and instead, ask questions that get kids thinking. For example, one group wanted to sell cards with only one type of design on it. Sales were low on the first day. After surveying their customers, they added designs and changed their marketing. Sales went up. Not only did they ultimately achieve success, but they learned many things about how businesses work just from that one experience. Consider what would have happened if we had told the kids, “Trying to sell just one design won’t work. You need more than that.” Not only might the interaction shut the child’s excitement down, but also the opportunity to learn from failure would be lost. Sure, the sales might go well, but to whom would the success belong?

Kids have a natural willingness to try things and explore. Let your kids fail every once in a while. Have compassion in their disappointment. Let them say whatever they need to say, and don’t use the opportunity to tell them what you know about how they should have done it. That will only leave them feeling less competent. Instead, ask them questions that leave them thinking about why it went that way and questions that leave them (and you) wondering about what is really possible.

Contributed by Janis Bookout


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A Sneak Peek into The Money Academy Camp

It’s rare that you hear your kids say things like, “I feel more responsible in my own life,” but that’s the kind of thing kids say coming out of The Money Academy, an Austin educational camp that provides kids with a chance to run a business and keep the money they make. In fact, it’s exactly what one of our campers, Trevor said. But why did he say it? Well, this week we’re going to let you take a peek into the week of a Money Academy camper.

Day 1: The Business Plan

Kids meet their fellow business owners. Through fun games and activities, they come together as a team. They each get assigned an accountability in the business for the day. (They’ll switch roles each day.) Monday’s CEO leads the meetings. They work out things like how to work as a group, what accountability is, and how to create a business, all the while having tons of fun. On day one, kids say things like, “We don’t talk about this in school.”

Day 2: Market Research and Revision

On day two of this remarkable Austin educational camp, kids test out their product on the market. They talk to customers and get feedback. They also learn how to deal with it when their team members don’t do what they said they would. They get excited about their product as they make it more sell-able. Today kids say things like, “We wanted to sell duct tape wallets, but actually, the customers want liked greeting cards the best!”

Day 2 and 3: Production

On these camp days, everyone is preparing for sales. Their interactions with the counselors might look like this:

12-year-old Counselor: “I noticed that the production department is using a lot of paper. Do you think that’s the best use of resources?”

9-year-old CEO: “No. And they keep playing around. We’re never going to get this done in time.”

Counselor: “Who do you think you could talk to about that?”

CEO: “The production manager.”

Day 4 and 5: Sales

On Thursday, campers start selling. They deal with when and how to sell as well as how to talk to customers. They deal with both failures and successes as business owners. They begin to take real ownership of their business and take initiative to get support, make revisions, and work problems out. By the end of camp day 5, kids say things like. “I acknowledge Brad for the way he talked to customers. He sold a lot of cards today!”

When they leave this Austin educational camp, kids leave with a check and so much more! They say things like “I learned how to be a leader and work with others.” Kids walk out with new confidence and memories that will last a lifetime. What better way to spend a summer?

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