Leah Goold-Haws, first shared her startup experiences for our 1000 Stories Campaign

Leah-Goold-Haws-Mindevices-The Story Exchange
Leah Goold-Haws, Founder of Mindevices

Raising her three boys on her own in a town typified by big store chains, Leah Goold-Haws wanted to teach her teenagers about the economic opportunities behind small businesses as well. She knew that the fastest way to their hearts and minds was through games. So she set out to create Mindevices, fun and colorful board games that help high school students learn about entrepreneurship and career choices.

Reason for starting [pullquote] I define success as having an impact on someone’s life and helping them to feel empowered, to feel capable, to feel hopeful. [/pullquote]I am a single mother of 3 sons and I run a small marketing firm that works with many educational instiutions and public health agencies. My work has allowed me to better understand the impact education & economics have on health and quality of life. Living in a rural community with teenage sons, I wanted to provide them with the perspective that they can create their own economic success, even in a small town. I also wanted them to understand how their education can benefit their own community. From my son’s love of games, I created a board game & curriculum that teach entrepreneurship to high school students. I also created a career exploration website for middle school students. Both programs seek to engage all types of students at all levels – those with little focus on their future to those highly motivated – by using humor, engaging graphics, role play and interactive processes.

How do you define success?
I’m passionate about kids and I’m passionate about empowering people. I am a life long entrepreneur and in my marketing firm – I work with many small business owners. I see entrepreneurship with a global perspective as one of the best ways to empower people, impact communities (large and small) and shift from a fear of global competition to an understanding of global partnerships. I define success as having an impact on someone’s life and helping them to feel empowered, to feel capable, to feel hopeful.

Biggest Success
My biggest success has been being given the opportunities to play the board game and use the curriculum with a wide array of students and to get honest feedback that has been overwhelmingly positive. Kids have even asked where they can buy my game! My other big success was in attaining a business loan after numerous rejections. I would also add that until I had the funding to produce prototypes of my board game – I was still able to generate interest and investment from my humble original drawings I did by hand on butcher paper that I took around and shared with people.

[pullquote]I think a positive mindset is the key to achieving goals – but it is also the toughest challenge at times.[/pullquote]

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My top challenge has been to keep a positive mindset in the face of setbacks. I think a positive mindset is the key to achieving goals – but it is also the toughest challenge at times. After my divorce, I did not have a job or financial support for myself and my 3 boys. It took courage to start a new business and then to grow another business along the way. Living in a small community can also be a challenge – opportunities take time to find, networks are smaller and decisions seem to move slowly. But, I am fortunate in that I have surrounded myself with positive people who believe in my vision and support my goals.

Who is your most important role model?
My friend Ann. She was a hair product sales rep and I was in school to get my fine arts degree while raising my 3 children. She ended up leaving her job and against everyone’s advice saying she was too old – it was too late, she got her law degree. She worked in compliance at pharmaceutical firms. She now heads international compliance for one of the biggest pharmaceutical firms in the world. After my divorce, she was my biggest supporter as I faced starting all over and starting a new business.

Editor’s Note: The Story Exchange is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching the annual Women In Science Incentive Prize. Apply now for a chance to receive $5,000 in funding for your climate-related research or startup. Deadline: July 31. 

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