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Jun 17, 2013

"There are three ways to win the young. You can preach at them; that is the hook without the worm; you can say, ‘You must volunteer,’ and that is the work of the devil; and you can tell them, ‘You are needed,’ and that appeal hardly ever fails."

- Kurt Hahn, Founder of Outward Bound.

It’s not just about the dishes they clear and the pots and pans that they wash, though I can’t deny that it’s nice to have time after dinner to work or relax. As parents, my wife and I want our children to know that they are valued and that, as much as they rely on us, there are ways in which we count on them, too.

Executive Function Coach, CEO Michael Delman

What has amazed us is how little we have made them do and how much they choose to do. They come up with service projects that are not required of them and, at ages 9 and 13, think about the future and how they can do some good in the world. When we discuss with them the issues of the day, we emphasize our belief that the difference they can make really matters, that the world is calling on them to offer their unique contributions, not to be perfect. Kids want to feel important and know that what they do matters. While doing dishes may not sound particularly enticing, telling them, “Holy cannelloni! You sure know how to make those dishes shine! Thank you,” makes them smile, even if they’re mostly laughing at me. I love these teachable moments and the lessons that last a lifetime. 

As the CEO of an Executive Function coaching company, what matters most to me is having students realize that they can effectively manage their lives and accomplish what is important to them. Once students have learned to manage their time and attention and have strategies to overcome whatever obstacles they are faced with, students will often find that they have some time available to contribute to others. Each person has something to offer to the world, and with every student we coach, we let them know, “That means you.” It's exciting to think about the difference our students might make in the world 10 or 20 years from now.


Massachusetts Distinguished Educator Michael Delman founded Beyond BookSmart, previously Thinking Outside the Classroom, in 2006 and serves as its CEO. In addition to being a highly sought after Executive Function coach (his favorite part of the job), he also helps the members of his leadership team achieve greater levels of efficacy. An avid researcher and developer of tools and strategies to help students become more effective, Michael led Beyond BookSmart to become the first organization to apply Dr. James Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model of Change to help students improve academic performance.

Michael is also the co-founder of the McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School in Framingham, Massachusetts, a middle school in its 11th year of operation teaching over 350 students through the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound school model. He served as McAuliffe’s founding principal and has been an active member of its Board of Trustees since 2008. Prior to that, Michael taught in the Southborough Public Schools for eight years, during which time he received the Anti-Defamation League’s Teacher Incentive Award for creating a superior learning environment for his students. As an educator since 1982, Michael’s primary mission has always been to make learning relevant and to help young people find capacities in themselves that they don’t know they have. His undergraduate degree from Brown University is in Public Policy and American Institutions, and his Master’s degree from Lesley University is in Middle School Education.

About the Author

Michael Delman

Michael Delman is an award-winning educator, author, and entrepreneur. In 2006 he founded Beyond BookSmart, which he has grown into the world’s largest Executive Function coaching company, as its CEO. Prior to that, Michael co-founded and was principal of McAuliffe Charter School in Framingham, Massachusetts. In 2018, he published his critically acclaimed first book, Your Kid’s Gonna Be Okay: Building the Executive Function Skills Your Child Needs in the Age of Attention, and toured the country speaking with parents about how to help their children be productive and confident. A popular speaker at conferences, Michael has also been featured in The Times of London, CBS Boston affiliate WBZ TV, and dozens of media outlets across the country. Michael brings his unique combination of business acumen and an educator’s perspective to his visionary work. His passion is helping people discover their strengths, develop their confidence, and become more effective at whatever challenges they face.

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