Female Alone

I would like to share a story.

Yesterday I travelled from Breckenridge, Colorado to Sulphur, Oklahoma. I followed a friend most of the way because my phone was broken and I did not want to get lost and have no way to contact help. My friend will only drive the speed limit, never over. I am a firm believer in the 5 miles over is the speed limit rule; especially after 12 hours of driving. Because of this, when we got to Oklahoma City I decided to go ahead of him because I basically knew the way home from there. Bad idea.

If you know me at all you  know I am horrible with directions, so of course I ended up going back west on I-44 instead of south  on I-35. When I realized I was backtracking I took the first exit I saw and pulled into a gas station. I was in South Oklahoma City, near 70-something street and Penn, alone and without a phone. I needed gas so I tried to pay with my card. It would not let me even though that is how I had been paying the entire trip. The machine told me to go in to see the cashier.

I had chosen this gas station because it seemed well-lit and there were multiple cars. Somehow, by the time I was walking in there was only one car parked in the shadows and two guys sitting out on the curb smoking. I was wearing a t-shirt dress. It was short-sleeved, covered my collar bones, and maybe an inch above my knees. Suddenly I felt very exposed. I carried a twenty and a ten, planning on putting $25 in. When I entered the store there was nobody behind the counter. I could feel the eyes of the two boys on me from behind.

I turned nonchalantly, because I was NOT afraid, and walked towards the door. “Are you the cashier?”

“Yeah,” he said taking a drag of his cigarette, not budging, “You gonna put all that in?”

“No, just twenty-five. I need a five back,” I replied walking back to the register.

As I paid, the other guy walked in behind me. I couldn’t fight the feeling of a trapped animal. I was acutely aware of any skin showing and the eyes going up and down my body, as well as the glances shared between the two strangers.

“Thanks,” I said feigning confidence and tried not to run to my car. I put the gas in, realizing my tank could only take fifteen of the twenty-five I paid. I did not go back in for the ten, broke as I am.


I share this story because it was the worst experience I’ve had in all of my experiences traveling alone. There have been seemingly worse scenarios; walking alone at night in Limoges, London, Edinburgh, Paris. Those night I was scared, yes. I didn’t have a working phone then either. I had even walked past hooting groups of guys before, I had stayed in hostels where I was the only girl, obviously alone. But there was something different about this night, I never felt so close to a horrible experience. There was difference in the looks of their faces.

I believe in traveling alone. I believe in not living in fear. I believe in overcoming gender expectations.

I also believe in being smart. In being careful and in listening to your gut.

I share this experience because I think about if something had happened what the responses could have been. “She should not have been traveling alone.” “She was wearing a dress, maybe if she were wearing something less revealing.” “She should not have left without a phone.”

And sure, these things are all good pre-cautionary things. But when does that end? What should I do, hole myself in after dark? Never leave the house? Find a husband so I am never alone without a male to protect me? Get a gun, keep it on me at all times? These are real questions women are faced with, and blame shifting seems to be the answer most of the time.

I think of what MY response is to the experience, “Those boys probably did not have dads who taught them to respect women.” “They should know the fears of women alone and try to alleviate them with respectful behavior.” “Do they even realize the fear they instill? Do they like it?”

I hope as parents, educators, role-models, or whatever you are to those around you that you teach others to respect and empower those who have been dis-empowered, I hope that you realize the truths of what it is like to live as the other gender.

Driving home I thought of how lucky I am to have a car, to be born when and where I was, to have had the education I have had. I thought of the millions of unfortunate around the world, male and female, who have not had these fortunes. It is an overwhelming and helpless feeling. But this can change. Through a change in the cultural perception of men and women. The change in value system of sex and of others. I know I am a drop in the ocean, but I come in contact with countless other drops, and so do you.



Rejecting long-held notions such as “boys will be boys” and sending the clear message that buying sex is wrong is not just a task for governments, but will require partnerships throughout society, including the faith and business communities. Business leaders can adopt codes of conduct that prohibit purchasing sex. And leaders in civil society—from teachers to parents to ministers—must foster the belief that it is everyone’s responsibility to do their part to reduce the demand for commercial sex. It is especially important to reach young men with a strong message of demand reduction to help them understand the exploitation that permeates the commercial sex trade.

Interview with Jack Gilmore of Salt Traders and Jack Allen's Kitchen

One of Austin’s most famous restaurant owner and chef, Jack Gilmore, of Jack Allen’s Kitchen and Salt Traders, made some time recently to talk about how he developed his passions and provide a ton of great insight for those looking to pursue the culinary arts.  In just a brief amount of time, we could tell that Jack was the real deal.  He not only gave his best to our students who had the privilege of cooking with him, but he also opened up about his story and made it obvious as to why he is one of the best in his trade.

Catalyst: Part of what we do at Catalyst is help young people find their unique gifts and passions in life. So, how did you first know that cooking was a passion?

Jack: I got thrown in a kitchen when I was sixteen...And I said, this is kind of cool. Growing up I just knew food, I got hooked on the bug and the bug sent me to Austin and I worked with some incredible chefs throughout my whole career.  That's kind of the way it happened.

Catalyst: So, you have a passion for it?

Jack: It's a bug.

Catalyst: How did you develop this [bug] into a talent?

Jack: Well, I don't think I'm talented, even to this day, enough to be where I'm at.

Catalyst: And that gives us all hope because I still burn toast, so how do you get to where you are today?

Jack: It's like every day I go home and I think, how could that of been better? How could that meal have been better? So, you go to the next day and go to work and say, I'm going to out do what I did yesterday.  Now I haven't had the perfect day yet in my whole career. Perfect means great timing, perfect food, this, that, you got your water on time, you got your wine on time, steak is cooked perfect… I have never had a perfect day --- but I'm going after it. 

Catalyst: How did you come up with the idea, specifically, for Jack Allen's?

Jack: My partner and I, Todd, worked together for twenty years and he was the best front of the house person I have ever known. I was the best back of the house person he has ever known and he just said one day; ‘man I'm done, let's open a restaurant.’ So we opened Jack Allen's Kitchen.

Catalyst: How many years were you in the industry before you opened up your own restaurant? 

Jack: Forty years.

Catalyst: What is the process of creating a dish, coming up with something new?

Jack: You know it's a little bit of everything. So, number one, we have really - really good people working for us, incredible people. Some people have been with us for twenty-five years from our previous jobs and some people have been with us for fifteen, ten, so they know what we want.  It’s just a matter of listening to the guests, understanding the guest, and giving them what they want.

Catalyst: Take me to a moment where you realized that all the hard work, all the being on your feet, the back issues, the shoulder issues, all that kind of grind, the long hours, it was worth it.

Jack: It was day one, day one opening in Oak Hill and we had no idea what we were doing.

Catalyst: What is your advice to others on how to really succeed in this industry?

Jack: If you're in it to be on Food Network or Chopped or whatever, you're in the wrong business.  My deal is to be humble, listen to your guests, have no ego.  Ego gets checked at the back door. When I come in, I have zero ego, I just go in and take care of guests. Walk through the restaurant and talk to people, our staff knows that we touch each table, we ask them how everything was and get them what they want.

Catalyst: If you were to get in a time machine, travel back in time, what advice would you give your sixteen-old self? 

Jack: When I first got married I had three jobs, I was a cook, I served room service at a Hilton and I did yard work.  Be ready to work hard, have no ego, be humble and listen to the people around you.

Catalyst: What are your thoughts on culinary school? For a young person starting out is that the best way to go or are there alternative ways? 

Jack: Here's how I did it with my son. He got to open up six restaurants with me all over the country right out of High School. He was eighteen years old and he said, I don't know what I'm going to do. I said, you don't need to know what you got to do when you're eighteen, so let's just hit the road and let's open some restaurants. So, he got the bug and then he said, dad should I go to culinary school? And I said, yeah, you're ready.  I didn't go to culinary school, but no matter what you do, you have to work with somebody who is really, really talented that's going to teach you and then you move on. I told him, where ever you go, learn what you can from them and then move on. So, he did that.  He worked with the most talented, best chefs in the country and that's why he's where he's at today.  I worked with some incredible people instead of going to culinary school. I got lucky because I was in Fredericksburg working with a German master chef.

Catalyst: For people in Austin who have yet to come to Jack Allen's Kitchen or Salt Trader's, what's the one thing that you think they should order?

Jack: Man, you're putting me on the spot. I have two kids and I don't have a favorite one.  I have four or five restaurants and I don't have a favorite one. I have thirty-five or forty menu items on the menu, I don't have a favorite one but there is a reason it’s on the menu, because I like them all.

For more information on Jack or to visit one of his award winning restaurants, visit http://jackallenskitchen.com/ and https://salttraderscc.com/


25 Summer Job Ideas for Teens

Welcome to Catalyst Teen Center’s top 25 ideas for teens who want to make some extra cash this summer!  While not every teen is a born entrepreneur, developing business skills is something schools traditionally do poorly and summers offer the best form of “learn by doing” environment.

If you are scared to fail, we get it.  Here are a few success tips.

You are broke now, so you got nowhere to go but up.
Every business will get 9 rejections for every 1 sale.  
Price is always negotiable, start high, then offer discounts.
Use social media/video to showcase your sick skills.
Use Canva to create some sweet flyers.
Use the NextDoor app to market your product/service.

And finally, I know this is painful but….

Get yourself a Facebook account so you can hit up ALL of your parents friends!  This is where the money is and where every adult on earth focuses their attention.  You can delete your account before school starts.  Your friends never have to know.


1. Lawn Care or Landscaping
Set up a list of clients and make a schedule for weekly or monthly maintenance. Post flyers around your neighborhood with your contact information and rates.

2. Pet-sitting
If you really love animals, this is a great opportunity! Make a profile on Rover.com (click on “become a sitter”) and download the app. Contact friends and family with pets directly and let them know you’re available. Advertise your services on Facebook (and ask your parents to share your post).

3. Flip Used Items from Amazon or eBay
Buy used items cheap from online, a thrift shop, or a garage sale and then refurbish and resell them. Look up craft or vendor fairs near you to sell your restored items. Create a Facebook page or Insta account to post pictures of the things you’re selling. Post your items online on Craigslist (watch out for creeps!), eBay (takes 10% of your profit), or Amazon (fees differ depending on category of product).  Or Etsy! (fees = around 7%)

4. Babysitting
Depending on how often you work and how much you do, babysitters can make anywhere from $10-15 per hour.  An older teen who can drive can work as a nanny and make closer to $20 per hour. Make an account on Care.com (click on “I want a care job”). Ask your mom to spread the word among her mom friends that you’re looking for work. Take a first aid or babysitting course!

5. Tutor Elementary-Age Kids
Help kids catch up or get ahead by tutoring them over the summer.  Advertise on Facebook and other social media, of course. But sometimes the best way to get this kind of work is to talk directly to people you know. 

After you have a client, make a plan.  Syllabus planning doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to happen.  Talk with the parents (and maybe the kid too) about what they want to accomplish by the end of the summer.  Once you know your goal, plan smaller milestones that move towards it. Work out a schedule.  Figure out how many times a week you’ll work and how long the sessions will be. Work out a rate. Decide whether you want to be paid by the hour or the session.  Most tutors can make $10/hr.

6. Clean Houses
Everyone’s kids are out of school for the summer, that means the house is a wreck.  Capitalize on the chaos and start a housecleaning business. Post flyers around your neighborhood and advertise on social media. Put together a cleaning kit of supplies you’ll need on the job (make sure you bring gloves). Establish an hourly rate.

7. Give 1-on-1 Lessons
Swim lessons, soccer lessons, piano lessons - whatever you’re good at.  Evaluate your skill set and what you have to offer other people. Type up a bio.  You need to convince other people that you have experience. Post on social media!  Use your newly-created bio and let people know where they can get qualified 1-on-1 help with the skill you offer. Come up with prices.  It may be helpful to offer the first lesson for free if they agree to purchase 3 or 4 lessons.

8. Photography
Give photo shoots for money!  Whether it’s a wedding, a graduation, senior pics, family pics - whatever - offer to shoot it. Create a portfolio.  CarbonMade is free and easy! Create a Facebook page. Consider investing in photo editing software, like Adobe Photoshop.

9. Market for Other People’s Businesses
Pass out flyers, canvas, or cold call.  Find out where a small business owner needs help marketing and do it. Contact small business owners your know or who are in your area and ask about potential marketing work.

10. Hire Yourself Out as an Organizer
Garages, messy desks, sheds, etc.  People likely have messes they can’t deal with anymore.  If you’re good at problem-solving and organization, offer to straighten things up for them. Look at Pinterest for organization hacks!

11. Design & Sell T-shirts or Jewelry
Again, make a Facebook page or create a vendor account on Etsy. Keep track of your cost of production so that you can price your items to make a profit.

12. Paint Keds or Converse
People LOVE these.  So if you’re artistic and you know a lot of people who aren’t, this is a great way to make money. Set up a portfolio or collection of potential designs. Use Google Forms or create a PDF form for customers to place orders.

13. Play Paid Gigs with Your Band

14. Throw Kids Birthday Parties
Birthday parties have become elaborate ordeals so you may want to get a couple people together for this business idea. Advertise your business around your neighborhood. Decide how much you want to take on.  Are you in charge of just the decorations and the games?  Or is the cake and party favors your responsibility too?

15. Become a Lifeguard
It pays well and you get a nice tan.

16. Be a Personal or Administrative Assistant
A lot of people who work from home often need administrative help - things like filing paperwork, scheduling meetings, and ordering supplies online. Put together a simple resume that includes an explanation of your work ethic (responsible and organized), personality (pays attention to details), and technical skills (do you know how to use Word and Excel, Outlook or Google calendars, or Slack?)

17. Website Designer
Using Wix, Wordpress or Squarespace makes it really easy to create websites and blogs, but not everybody has an eye for that kind of thing and plenty of people are looking for help creating a nice (non-clunky) website.

18. Organize Garage Sales
Offer to come to people’s houses to price and organize items in bins and on tables for the garage sale their putting on.

19. Consign Clothing
Name-brand old clothing can gather a good sum at consignment stores like Plato’s Closet or Just Between Us. Offer to take people’s used clothes off their hands and sell it to a consignment shop.

20. Create Pre-Made Meals
A lot of homes have two working parents, preparing meals everyday can be difficult.  This is an opportunity for you to help a family out AND make money.

Step 1: Make sure you actually know how to cook.  It’s not in everyone’s skillset so don’t build your income around it if it’s not your thing.
Step 2: Make a meal plan with your client.
Step 3: Make a spreadsheet of ingredients, costs, and final price.

21. Canvas for a Political Candidate
Canvassing is a great way to be politically active and earn 10 to 12 bucks an hour.  Also, even though it’s politics, don’t dress fancy, you won’t be giving speeches - you’ll be walking door to door asking if residents will vote for your candidate next election.  Running shoes are a safer bet. Think local, contact county representatives in your area to see if positions are available.

22. Story Editing
If you’re a strong writer and enjoy reading, story editing is a perfect fit. Be fluent on google docs.  That’s the best platform for shared documents with live-editing features.  Make sure you know how to use the suggesting feature to run edits.

23. Be Someone’s Golf Caddy
Not even joking, being a caddy can bring in $50-100 per game.

24. Graphic Design
Design flyers, business cards, brochures, and more for businesses seeking to promote themselves. The best way to start is with a design portfolio (CarbonMade). Consider investing in better design software, like Adobe Illustrator.  But if you don’t have the money for that yet, Canva is a great free resource to get you started.

25. Movie Editing
If you’re looking to pursue a career in film, or have film editing skill already, use your gifts and passions to generate income.

There you go!  Hope that helps!  Need additional help flushing out some of your ideas? Comment on this post and we will respond!

20 Free Things Teens Can Do This Summer In Austin

We know it can be hard to find things for your teens to do over the summer so our staff has collected a few ideas to share with you.  Our goal is to encourage teens to try out new things, explore some potential passions and skills, engage in stuff they normally don't have time or opportunity to do during the school year.  The more they try stuff out, the faster they will land on something that is meaningful to them.  

If you are a parent of a teen that just refuses to get involved in anything, we recommend forcing them to do #2 on this entreprenurial list. Pay them, bribe them, blackmail them...whatever it takes to get them to complete our Purpose Project: Express Edition and sit down with one of our coaches.  They may go in kicking and screaming but they will be thanking you when after they meet us.

Here are our 20 ideas.

Entrepreneurial Workshops and Ideas

  1. Free workshops at Apple store at the Domain.  Pick up new skills like how to mix and edit music, create videos and movies, and edit photos on your mac.

  2. Meet with Catalyst Teen Center success coaches for FREE to help discover your unique gifts and passions.

  3. Catalyst Teen Center live student broadcast.  Catalyst is looking for teens who are not camera shy and can articulate their opinions well.  This is a weekly live video on Facebook beginning June 6th for teens to talk openly about issues, events and hot topics in their world.  

  4. Free Entrepreneurial Workshops for teens at Laura Bush Community Library.  A five part program where teens can learn the basics of starting and running their own business.

  5. Podcast Writing & Recording Workshop at Austin Bat Cave

  6. Austin’s Post-Apocalyptic Writing Workshop (Austin Bat Cave)

  7. Free Mobile App Development Camp

  8. Free workshops at Microsoft store at the Domain

Places for Teens to Volunteer

  1. Habitat for Humanity

  2. The Contemporary Austin - Teen Volunteer Program at the art school (ages 13-18)

  3. Inside Books Project - sends free books & educational materials to inmates in Texas

  4. Creative Action Summer Camp Volunteer

  5. Vacation Bible Schools (VBS) - Just about every church does one over the summer and they are always looking for teen volunteers.  Contact a local church near you for more info.

Things To Do

  1. Monthly Ukulele Jam Sessions

  2. Sound & Cinema at the Long Center.  Live music and a movie!  Tons of Austin food trucks to choose from too.  Co-produced by Do512 and Alamo Drafthouse.

  3. Free Dance Lessons at the Long Center

  4. Free Summer Workouts by Camp Gladiator

  5. Free Parkour Classes with BAM Academy

  6. Free Art Classes

  7. Free Theater Workshops

Please feel free to comment on this post and share some other ideas you have found in the Greater Austin area that are free or affordable for teens!

Stuff every Parent & Employer of Generation Z needs to know

The most successful parents, employers and individuals who work with or lead young people today have one thing in common.  They study the rapidly changing culture and adjust their leadership accordingly.  So to have success influencing teens and young adults in 2017, you should start with these 3 truths.

#1  Gen Z distrusts authority even more than previous generations

Scrolling through their social media feeds 6-8 hours a day at what do they find? Police beatings, Church Scandals, Political Corruption, Teachers sleeping with students, Parents getting yet another divorce....anything that presents itself as a form of authority in our culture has let them down.

So how do parents and employers adjust our leadership as a result?

We lead by recognizing our positional authority means nothing to them, we must build relational equity by modeling consistent behavior.  "Do as I say not as I do" has not been an effective approach for decades and is even worse today.  Gen Z is deaf to what comes out of your mouth and highly tuned in to what you actually do and a consistent basis.  Yes, actions speak louder than words but in this case, your actions are the only thing that have a chance at earning their respect.

# 2  Gen Z is our first digitally native generation EVER

They grew up being babysat by tablets and smart phones!  This is where their attention is and this is where it is staying.  You have a better shot of connecting with them through an app than you do if they were sitting at desk right next to you all day.  

So what does this mean?

That as a parent or employer you need to find out what social platforms or games have their attention and enter their world by connecting through those same platforms.  I know you have no desire to be on Snapchat but if you want to be a factor in their world, you need to learn it.  Young people are early adopters of technology and older generations are late adopters or laggards.  You need to close that gap and show them that you can communicate in the same language they are speaking.

Remember, this cycle has gone on for generations.  The young don't conform to the old, they set the standards for whats to come.  If your mindset is that they must learn to interact with adults, you're going to lose the opportunity to influence them in any significant way.

#3 Gen Z is starving for Mentorship

We live in a dual income society which means parents are just not as accessible as they used to be.  Our schools are over populated, our churches have lost much of their influence and traditional mentor programs are of little to no impact once a child reaches middle school.  A young person today would rarely admit how great of a need this is for them primarily because being on their own is all they have ever known or felt.

How can this be addressed?

It's easier than you think.  It ties back in to consistency.  Parents and Employers need to establish regular check points in at least 2 of these 3 main categories: Personal Growth, Professional Growth and Spiritual Growth.  Help those you lead become self aware of who they are and invite them to think beyond where they are and into where they want to go.  We discovered an easy way you can do this with our Catalyst Purpose Project.  Once you have a map of how each young person is uniquely wired, you can help them set goals on how they can discover and develop some of their passions.  The process of doing this on a regular basis is called Mentoring.  

If you win Gen Z's heart because your actions show you care, you will win their loyalty and trust.  

Find some of this helpful?  There's more!  If you are local to Austin, we invite you to a Free Presentation on June 8th entitled "What are they thinking?!".  We will take you into more detail on these issues for Generation Z and Millennials and help you establish your own plan of action to be a greater influence as a parent or employer.  All guests in attendance will receive a Free Access to our Catalyst Purpose Project PLUS a 1 hour Free Coaching Session for you, your teen or your business!

A Few Strategies to Avoid Being THAT Parent

Few, if any, expectant parents would view the upcoming 20 years of childrearing as a battle; after all, no parent sees his or her child as an adversary.  Instead, parents see their offspring as a valuable gift worthy of protection and care. But – make no mistake about it…  Raising a child into adulthood is not a walk in the park!  And, if you want to successfully protect your child and prepare him or her to become an independent adult, you would be wise to implement strategies to help prevent common mistakes made by parents of teenagers and young adults.


Mistake #1

Failure to establish authority in the home.

Many of today’s parents suffered under heavy handed discipline, while being raised. As children and teens of a generation which encouraged and allowed corporal punishment in the home (and in the schools), there was no shortage of punitive consequences for the slightest infraction! In response, we parents of millennials often fail to establish consequences for rebellion in the home. We don’t want to be accused of following in out parent’s footsteps, so we have tried to relate to our kids as friends – not as ones who need clearly defined expectations and consistent consequences, if expectations aren’t met.

Establishing a clear hierarchy of authority in the home is not unkind – How could anyone successfully go into battle, if someone with more experience and foresight did not establish the plan, oversee the process and lead the troops? Be the Leader your child desperately needs … Friends are a dime a dozen.

Punishment 2.jpg

Mistake #2

Failure to impart wisdom to your child.

In today’s world of information overload, most teenagers and young adults would say that they have all the answers to life’s questions or problems. They have been raised on technology and are able to access any fact, search any blog, vlog or video or connect with hundreds of virtual friends with any question or advice within seconds.  Many parents of Millennials, however, aren’t as technologically savvy as their kids. We often feel out of touch, uninformed … and even “old fashioned “, when discussing the cultural, societal and emotional situations that kids face every day.

Because we feel like the generational gap is too wide, we often step aside and allow the opinions, convictions and lifestyle choices of our kids to be shaped by their teachers, peers, entertainment role models or their virtual friends. What a mistake! While we may not have all the answers, we do have something much more valuable: Years of life experience to share with our child and a personal interest/ investment in the well-being of our child that began the moment they were born and will last until our last breathe.

Even when our advice is not followed – or even appreciated – we must keep talking …. Sharing wisdom with our kid, and continually helping him or her correctly evaluate and apply or discard the wisdom that is coming from the culture around him, is one of the best skills we can develop in our child to insure future success. Be the voice of experience and guidance that your child needs in a world filled with no absolutes.

Mistake #3

Failure to develop character as well as competence.

We live in a world of accomplishment! The smartest, fastest, strongest and most skilled are applauded and envied. Today’s teenagers and young adults have participated in more training during their childhoods than any previous generation: afternoons, evenings and weekends have been filled with dance, team sports, tutoring, music lessons and many other areas of interest, in order to develop skill that will increase confidence, boost self-esteem and – if we are lucky – even earn a college scholarship.

As parents of Millennials, we have set out to provide every advantage to our children, as they search for their place in the world. We have been able to expose our children to culture, education, and opportunity like no other group of parents – and we are happy to do so. But – in our busyness – and with the best of intentions – we often fail to train the hearts and will of our children with the same focus that we train their bodies and minds.

As we raise our children, if we build muscles, but neglect developing motivation, what have we accomplished?

If we focus on transcripts, but never teach truthfulness and integrity, what have we accomplished?

If we spend hours reviewing playbooks and coaching speed drills, but never teach following the law of the land, respecting those in authority and keeping one’s word, what have we accomplished?

Be the teacher your child needs … first in the areas that can never be taken from him or her, and then, in all others. If you do so, your child will be prepared for a lifetime of success.

Written by Michelle Hiller.  Michelle is a Parent, retired Teacher and Advisory Board Member with the Catalyst Collective.