Now, as a female entrepreneur, she has become the relatable role model she sought.
Grasso, the keynote speaker for Foxcroft’s annual school-wide Leadership Day, Friday, September 6, 2019, entertained and educated the audience by telling her story—it really did start with a lemonade stand—and dispensing invaluable advice mixed with a bit of hands-on experience for students.
As a girls’ school alumna, Grasso remembers growing up in an empowered environment. “You all know, in an all-girls school you have to raise your hand in class,” she said. “You have to be captain of this team, class president, or head of the school student body. Girls are the only people who can do it.”
To emphasize the value of that early empowerment, Grasso offered some of the lessons that she used to chart her path in the workforce.
Lesson 1: Believe in yourself, don’t just do what makes you comfortable; continue to challenge and push yourself.
Lesson 2: Ask for help or advice when you need it, but if you know what you want, tell people.
Lesson 3: Know your value and don’t be afraid to chart your own path. Do something you are passionate about so that you keep going when things get tough.
Lesson 4: Build a team of advisors; a mentor to help you grow and a sponsor to seek opportunities for you.
Grasso challenged those in the audience to think about risk not as uncertainty, but as unknown challenges that can be solved “100 different ways.” Additional advice included: research the problem(s) you want to solve, find the deeper underlying issue, and pivot, pivot, pivot until you find your solution. Then, create your pitch—put your idea into three or four sentences, believe what you say, and be strategic and honest with your intent. Finally, be persistent. Even if your pitch is rejected, remember that the conversation is never over; you may just need to come at it from a different angle or perspective.
As her final lesson for the day, Grasso asked three student volunteers to pitch their own ideas to the audience. Concepts were pitched by Leah N. ’22, whose idea is to make a product that will help occupational therapy patients either learn to dress themselves, or help them to maintain motor skills; Jennifer C. ’21, who wants to use the produce from the Foxcroft garden to create Miss Charlotte’s Pantry and distribute to those in need; and Courtney B. ’20, who pitched the idea of promoting a vegetarian style of eating to people in food-insecure areas, providing cooking and nutrition classes, and a garden. Each pitch was followed by cheers and approval from the crowd.
Turns out Grasso was right; if you can see it, you really can be it.
Grasso remained on campus for the better part of the day to have lunch with the Student Council and participate in a workshop with the Junior Class to plan their philanthropic goals for the year.
The Alison Harrison Goodyear ’29 Fellowship program
, offered through the generosity of the family and friends of Alison Harrison Goodyear, Foxcroft Class of 1929, brings distinguished speakers and provocative performers to Foxcroft to deliver a keynote address and conduct small group seminars with students. Fellowship recipients during the program’s 49-year history include such remarkable voices as Maya Angelou, James Baker III, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, Sally Ride, Barbara Walters, tech entrepreneur Sheena Allen, hiker, author, and National Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” Jennifer Pharr Davis, and most recently “Hello Fears” founder Michelle Poler.