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What Parents Can Learn from Carly Fiorina’s (not) Primetime Success

August 13, 2015

a_orig_gopcarly_150806.nbcnews-fp-1280-700by Nancy Weinstein

No doubt Carly Fiorina was supremely disappointed those first days of August when she didn’t make the cut for the primetime Republican debate on August 6th. She was effectively relegated to the “B Team” or, as most Americans perceived it, the candidates who were out before the race really began.

And yet, she clearly didn’t give up. Instead, she swung for the fences. And the consensus from the pundits is that she knocked it out of the park in Cleveland. Not only is she considered the clear winner of the “Happy Hour” debate, but, according to some, she won the primetime hour as well. While polls of Republicans before the debate showed only 40% even knew who she was and less than 2% would vote for her, her impressive performance at the debates has now earned her name recognition and 4th place in the polling according to the latest NBC News/Survey Monkey poll.

A lesson in politics? Maybe. But perhaps this is one of those larger “teachable moments” for parents and kids alike. Particularly as we launch into a new school year, concerned about whether our young athlete, scholar or artist’s talents were appropriately recognized during tryouts or school placement decisions.

Sometimes you really are better off being at the top of the “B team” than the bottom of the “A team”. A study from Michigan State University shows that students on the margin are no better off academically being in an accelerated class than their academically similar peers who didn’t make the cut. But they might be a lot unhappier, as discussed in The Atlantic. In Carly Fiorina, we now have a living example.

So, as we get ready to kick off a new school year, keep Fiorina in mind if your child doesn’t make the cut for the varsity team, the advanced math class, or the lead in the school play. Maybe, your child is exactly where he or she should be.

Maybe this could just be your child’s Carly Fiorina moment. The chance to grab the spotlight on a smaller stage. And along with it, the opportunity to have more enjoyment, build self-confidence, and, in the long-term, be far better off.


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