We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Hernholm and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
It was the end of the school year and I had been laid off again. Teacher lay-offs had been a common occurrence over the last 4 years so this wasn’t new, but this time my response was new. I was done with the disfunction of the public school system and the way I was treated as a teacher. So instead of waiting till fall to see if I would get my job back, I decided to embark on something new. I asked myself an important question, “if you could wake up tomorrow and do anything, what would you do?” Honestly answering that question led to doing work today that I still feel passionate about.
In the beginning, the idea was to create a TV show (I had worked in TV in my 20s) about young people making a difference in their communities. After I pitched this idea to ABC they said to go get footage of young people making a difference. Capturing footage led to the launch of WitKids, which later became WIT – Whatever It Takes. In those early days, I spent a lot of time researching what was already out there in terms of leadership and entrepreneurship programs for young people. There weren’t a lot, so were able to create a niche for ourselves.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m grateful that my life journey has provided me the chance to work in a variety of fields. I’ve worked in tv/film, elementary school classrooms, and the non-profit field. Each experience gave me the chance to be creative, learn, give back, and grow as a leader.
Today I spend my days running WIT – Whatever It Takes and working on creating programs that can help tweens/teens around the world use their voice and make an impact. When I’m not doing WIT work, I get the privilege of speaking on different stages (or zoom!), working on a new podcast, and I am still have fun working on different tv show concepts to showcase the work teens are doing in communities around the world.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Parc Bistro in Bankers Hill – Sam and the team are just the best! Starlite because it’s a must and they are back open! Balboa Park but not the usual places – I know some hidden gems. Of course Sunset Cliffs at sunset is always a perfect spot.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to Shout Out all the kids/tweens/teens who have participated in the WIT program over the years. We wouldn’t exist without their willingness to step outside their comfort zone and make an impact. Our young entrepreneurs and leaders inspire me and remind me of my “why”. Also, thank you to all the parents who trust us with their children and believe in the work we do. We also couldn’t “do WIT” without our amazing partners at UCSD Extension (shout out Ed!) and everyone on the WIT Team who really believe in showing up for our t(w)eens.