With Father’s Day approaching, I’ve been thinking about my father, Dr. Paul Pimsleur, and the role he played in my path to entrepreneurship. My father created the Pimsleur Method, a language learning system that is still widely used today. He was a Romance Language professor, not really an entrepreneur or business person, but he was a visionary. My father created the first method that enabled travelers to learn enough of a country’s language to become conversational in just a few weeks. Fifty years later the same method sells in over 30 countries and is one of the most beloved language teaching systems in the world, favored by the military, the Peace Corps and millions of Pimsleur Method devotees. He was a big part of my inspiration to develop Little Pim, my language-teaching program for kids.
My father passed away suddenly of a heart attack in the 1970s, so by the time I was an entrepreneur, filling orders for my own language-teaching program, I didn’t get to ask him what the early days of his business were like. But I love the stories my mother tells about how she helped him compile pages of scientific research about language acquisition on yellow legal pads and how she mailed out the first Pimsleur programs while waiting for baby clothes to come out of the wash in our basement (that was for my brother and me). It certainly makes me appreciate having Google, cloud computing and Little Pim’s distribution-fulfillment center for launching my business! Both of my parents instilled a strong work ethic in me, but I think knowing that my father had a grand vision for changing the language teaching landscape is part of what helped me think big when I created Little Pim. I didn’t just want a language company. I wanted Little Pim to democratize language learning for kids and become a trusted language partner to parents all over the world.
Now, I am thinking big in a new realm. I have a goal of helping one million women get to $1 million in revenues by 2020. This came out of my own experience raising angel and venture capital for my business and working with amazing women in my Double Digit Academy, a boot camp I created to help women raise capital more quickly and painlessly. After two and a half years of teaching this class, I realize we all struggle with the same three things: the mindset, the skill set and the access to networks. That inspired me to write Million Dollar Women so that millions more women can overcome these hurdles and get to what I call the “Triple Win” of Money, Meaning and Mobility by running successful, high revenue-generating businesses.
I haven’t yet built Little Pim to the heights I want; there are days when it’s frustrating, grey-hair-making work, and days when I doubt I will achieve the goals I had originally set. When those hard times come, I think of my father and how he dreamed of turning language teaching into something available to everyone. I know he met with his share of naysayers and skeptics, but he kept going and 50 years later what he created is still thriving. I sometimes like to think that I am the entrepreneur he never got the chance to be, and know he’d love that the Pimsleur name is associated with kids all over the world becoming multi-lingual and women all over the world thinking big.