Updated: Aug 7
The cofounders of WEquil School, Sumay and Aila McPhail, gave a speech to group of Girls Scouts in Falls Church Virginia on April 29, 2021. Their speech titled “Think Like an Entrepreneur” has been published below in full. The key message is that you don’t need to start a business to think like an entrepreneur. All you need to do is learn to see problems as opportunities to leverage your unique strengths and interests. They also discuss the growing success of WEquil School, a project based virtual leadership training platform that helps young people learn to think like an entrepreneur.
Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. My name is Aila and this is my sister Sumay. We are sister Co-Founders of WEquil School, a project based self-directed virtual learning platform. We believe young people are most likely to achieve success and happiness by learning to leverage their natural strengths and interests to provide service to others. We founded WEquil School upon this principle. Our mission is to help young people leverage their natural strengths to create real things, solve real problems, and add real value to the real world.
WEquil School is free to join and we have many exciting developments to share with you. But before we do we would like to tell you a little bit about who we are and how we came to be running our own school.
Our Startup Family
Every family is different, and what makes us different is that we are constantly learning by creating. We write in our blogs about books we read, or speeches we watched, new technologies, and inspirational movies. We make movies about songs we have written, jokes we share, and places we want to visit. We share things we create with the world because we love connecting and learning from other people and the best way to do that is to add value to their lives.
My favorite part about our family is that, for the most part, we have learned to see problems as opportunities to make the world better...and that’s why we say we are a “Startup Family”. You see...every problem can be viewed as a burden, or as just another step along the path toward making life better.
Sometimes these opportunities point us to valuable lessons we can learn. Sometimes opportunities can turn into valuable startup ideas. What makes our family different is that when we see these opportunities we go after them...together.
This creates a rather exciting home life. For as long as I can remember we have been creating projects...many of which turned into startups.
When Aila was three years old we launched our first business idea...a Lemonade Stand. Simple...I know...but it was a value experience that taught us basic economics like how to calculate profits by subtracting costs from our revenues.
Next we created our own music label on SoundCloud … making music using software like GarageBand and singing songs together like "I Believe I Can Fly" and Chinese songs like "Little Apple Remix". Not all together unique but we learned a lot about using platforms to create entertainment and a little about sound waves and creating a music studio.
We started programming around age six and started a TV show to share called “Saturday Morning Live with Panda”. Not many people watched our show. Turns out not too many of our friends are into panel data analysis … which was the focus of our show. Hence why we called it Saturday Morning Live with Pan-Da … short for Panel Data … get it! Of course you do! …
One of the best ways to learn is to teach...so our next startup was a programming school called “Code Academy”. This school's one and only teacher was a nine year old named Sumay. I taught other kids Python for $10 an hour...and that’s good money when you don’t have any expenses.
We still teach kids programming...but now we do it for free through WEquil School. We also teach Flutter which is kinda like Minecraft but better because you can build anything...not just things made of blocks. Google designed Flutter so grownups could build apps that would work for Android and Iphone from a single code base.
Turns out kids can build apps too. If you don’t believe us then come to our App Building Demo Day on Saturday May 8th at 2pm EST live on Facebook.
Another great way to learn is to create. We didn’t learn Flutter by just watching YouTube videos or going to school. We learned to build apps by … building apps!!
Aila’s first app was called the GirlsHealthApp. We failed mostly because we got an even better idea...called WEquil School...that incorporates many of the aspects we like most about the GirlsHealthApp like connecting people around shared deep interests such as health.
Our second app was WeGrowMe … which was designed to help improve relationships by offering suggested “Love Actions” tailored to your relationships personality, communication style and “Love Language”. That app also failed because we got an even better idea...called...you guessed it...WEquil School! Just like the GirlsHealthApp, WEquil School incorporates our favorite parts of WeGrowMe such as developing better relationships by deeply understanding yourself and other people’s personalities.
Everyone should get to know themselves and others better by studying personalities. Don’t know how? WEquil School can help! We have our Personalities Demo Day this Saturday May 1st at 2pm EST live on Facebook!
You may have noticed a pattern. We have tried many things...and failed many times. But every failure was an opportunity to learn and grow. Each failure was a stepping stone that taught us valuable skills that we are using today to help improve and latest and best opportunity to leverage our unique strengths to make the world better...WEquil.School.
Thinking like an Entrepreneur
We were asked to share thoughts today on how to think like an Entrepreneur. That’s a great question. It’s hard because we live and breathe it every day.
In short … thinking like an entrepreneur means seeing opportunities where other people see problems. Entrepreneurs solve these problems … oftentimes by starting a business. But you don’t need to start a business to learn to think like an entrepreneur.
We put together seven steps to thinking like an entrepreneur...not three, not ten, turns out it takes seven steps...and the first is to be yourself.
1. Be yourself - This is a necessary first step to becoming the best version of you that you can be. It's hard to do. Especially for young people...because you may not believe in yourself. But you need to take a leap of faith and trust that you are a capable of becoming a powerful person that can do amazing things. You need to accept yourself...and love yourself...especially when you fail. Only when you accept yourself for everything that you are...both the good and the bad...can you silence the little voice in your head that tells you that you aren't good enough. Once you believe in yourself you will be free to learn and explore without fear of failure, and fear of failure is the only enemy of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs need to accept and love themselves because when you think like an entrepreneur you embark on a journey unique to you. It can get lonely walking down the road less traveled by, but it truly does make all the difference.
2. Know Yourself - Only by being yourself can you get to know yourself. You may think you already do! But I promise you that your relationship with yourself is just beginning. Once you accept yourself and quiet the little voice that tells you that you are not good enough you will start to see the world with new eyes. You will no longer be afraid to apologize ... or accept responsibility for your actions. You become more willing to listen to your parents and get feedback from friends. You start to how much better of person you can be. You stop fearing failure and start trying harder. Great entrepreneurs need to know who they are because they need to know their strengths. Great entrepreneurs solve problems that leverage the best of who they are because those are the opportunities where they are most likely to find success.
3. Be curious - Realizing how little you know about yourself is exciting...because you then start to realize how much there is to learn. And not just about you...about everything!! That's why great entrepreneurs are so curious. Cultivate your curiosity. You will need it because reality is complicated. The best opportunity will not be easy to find. The challenge of solving important problems is hard. The only way that you can find and solve meaningful problems is if you combine deep knowledge about yourself with a broad understand of the world you live in. And the only way you will have the energy to learn really fast ... is if you are relentlessly curious.
4. Problems = opportunities - You may be wondering how a young person like you could ever find an opportunity to make the world better. After all ... you are just a kid ... right? It turns out that everyone can find these opportunities. The problem is that many people mistake opportunities for problems. They spend a lot of time complaining about problems...when they could be seizing an opportunity! For example, is your little sister driving you crazy? That’s not a “problem” … it's an “opportunity” to learn more about your relationship. Hate doing homework? That’s not a “problem” … it’s an “opportunity” to learn about yourself and why you are not motivated. Confused as to why so many boys are obsessed with violent video games? That’s not a “problem” … it’s an “opportunity” to understand addiction. Every problem is an opportunity to learn something and potentially make the world a better place. Learning to see problems as opportunities is how you get the best startup ideas. So when you start feeling negative, feel pain or see something wrong, don’t complain...ask yourself how can I turn this into an opportunity?
5. Fail often - Once you learn to see problems as opportunities you will start generating project and startup ideas faster than you will know what to do with. So here is what you do. First, drop all the ones that don't interest you. One secret to learning fast is to love learning so don't burden yourself tackling opportunities that bore you. Second, drop all the ones that you don't think you are well suited for. You will know by this step what makes you powerful so don't waste time tackling opportunities better suited for someone else. What you have left are opportunities that are a good match between your strengths and interests. The beautiful thing about tackling opportunities that match your strengths and interests is that you will be highly motivated to accomplish them. You will try harder, go further, work faster, and attempt to do things that few others would dream because you will want to succeed. Other people may see you as a bit crazy...attempting the impossible and leaving a trail of spectacular failures in your wake. Ignore anyone that tries to bring you down for following your curiosity into opportunities down a road no one else has traveled by. If you are not failing often then you are doing something wrong because it means you are either not motivated, or too afraid to take risks. The most important problems look impossible to solve until an entrepreneur like Elon Musk comes along and shows the world that they were wrong...and they never get their without a lot of failures along the way.
6. Specific Knowledge - By trying to solve real problems uniquely suited to you...you begin to develop “Specific Knowledge”. This is a set of unique experiences that is specific to you. This is what makes you powerful enough to solve important problems that appear impossible to others. By following the opportunities tailored to your strengths and interests you become the best version of yourself and that you is irreplaceable. No one can be a better you...so use your specific knowledge to carve your path in life. If you do that you can achieve Escape Velocity.
7. Escape Velocity is the point where your natural strengths are leveraged to provide service to others. When you reach escape velocity you are free...because your passions and ambitions are in equilibrium with the wants and needs of the world. We call this escape velocity because once you get there...nothing can hold you back from being a successful entrepreneur or anything else you want to be.
Our mission at WEquil School is to help young people achieve escape velocity. That is our goal. You are welcome to join us. You can learn more at WEquil.school.
Thank you for your interest and please let us know how we can help you.
WEquil.School was launched during the 2020 pandemic by Sumay and Aila McPhail with the support of their parents. They originally called it Makeshift Homeschool but changed the name to align with their family blog at WEquil.com. Sumay, Aila, and Joseph were interviewed by GoGuardian shortly after launching WEquil School. Our first promotional video contains excerpts from this interview. WEquil.School is hiring programmers to help build an app so that we can scale our education solution to the world. If you believe in what we are doing then reach out at www.WEquil.School.