The Godmother Bond. . . and Its Return on Investment
I am blessed to be the godmother to some amazing kids. I take this role very seriously, as should anyone who is lucky enough to be asked to take on such a responsibility. Here’s one special way a godparent can “gift” his or her lifelong commitment to the role. Hint: the phrase “godmother bond” is not what you think it is. At least, it’s not all there is…
A godparent is someone who bears witness to a child's christening, as well as his or her lifelong spiritual formation. Typically chosen by the child’s parents, a godparent promises to take an interest in the child's upbringing, to offer mentorship, and to claim legal guardianship of the child if anything should happen to the parents.
This Christmas, consider this idea to ensure that your godchild is loved, is supported, and leaves a positive long-term impact:
As my godson Tate’s baptism approached, I scoured the Internet for unique gift ideas. Nothing inspired. So then I reached out to friends who had undeniably crushed the godparent gig. From them, I found inspiration. I borrowed an idea from a friend, who had borrowed it from a friend (tough to go wrong with “borrowing” great ideas). This idea felt particularly great because I had spent a decade on Wall Street and have subsequently had a career in the private investment world. Over my career, I have done literally tens of thousands of transactions. However, the most important transaction of my life was executed on my godson’s baptism.
Let’s start with some historical context on my career. When I was five years old, I started my first business. Unlike most kids’ businesses, mine was not a lemonade stand. Courtesy of some fun park adventures with my grandfather, I was drawn to abnormally large pinecones. Initially, I spray-painted said pinecones and went door-to-door with my little red wagon selling natural Christmas cheer. My first Christmas season, I made a few hundred dollars -- a small fortune for a kindergartner. Unbeknownst to me, I instantaneously developed a relationship with free enterprise capitalism. I was providing a “good” (festively decorated pinecones) and a “service” (direct-to-consumer delivery), and being compensated by simple supply/demand rules. Were some customers buying from me because I was a cute five-year-old with a wagon knocking her precious little hand on doors selling things I had found? Sure. But by the end of my pinecone-selling career, I was selling to interior designers. I had built a strategic partnership without knowing how to spell the concept.
I was blessed that my parents “backed” the business. They bought the spray paint, the wagon, and the gas to take us to the park, and of course, they spent many hours supervising a small child with spray paint (this seemed normal in the 1980s, but I would not recommend giving kids toxic fumes today). I would wager healthy sums that my parents won’t make me pay them back for the capital expenditure of my first small business.
Since then, I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in sales. Sure, I have done entrepreneurial ventures here and there and learned great lessons as an adult, but I learned the hardest part of sales during my elementary years. And good thing, because learning sales skills is a requirement for almost any job. Everyone sells, not just people in business: my minister sells God and the church; my mom, the middle school teacher, sells ideas; a lawyer sells his side of the case; a doctor sells the concept of taking care of your body.
In addition to sales skills, I learned operations: during my pinecone venture, in a way I learned how to run a business. This lesson continues to pay dividends -- benefitting not only myself, but also my community’s economy. What we need more of in America is more people with not only the courage, but the skill set and experience to start their own businesses. Almost 50% of Americans are employed by a small business. Naturally, many of the world’s largest enterprises started out as small businesses.
All this relates to my godson, Tate: I have an endless list of what I would like my godson to learn. Entrepreneurship, salesmanship, and independence are absolutely up there toward the top of the list. And I know firsthand that a great way for a youngster to learn these skills is by starting his or her own business.
So on my godson’s baptism, I gave him a “godmother bond.” What is a godmother bond, you ask? It is when a godparent invests in a child’s first business. My godson’s godmother bond reads: “Lila will invest $X in Tate’s first business with the approval of the board.” To make this bond official, memorable, and “giftable,” I took a stock certificate template from the Internet and customized it with a digital editing tool (click for Primerrily’s printable godmother bond!). I had this document framed, and today it hangs on the wall of his room. He sees this on a regular (if not daily basis), and as he grows he will learn the importance of the bond. The phenomenal play on words is only a bonus!
Some years from now, I envision my godson getting dressed up in a child-sized suit to present around the dining room table. He will pitch to his personal Board of Directors — his most important grown-ups. In this friendly “shark tank,” we will ask him the fundamental questions that anyone needs to know when starting and running a business, such as “Why do you want to start this business? What problem are you going to solve? How are you going to make money? How much money do you need to start?” And like any good Board chair, I will do my part to ensure the company -- and its CEO -- succeeds.
The return on this investment is unlimited.