My New Site & Life Coaching Offerings

Hello Smart Girls!

I’m so excited to show you what I’ve been up to for the past few months! Some of you know that a year ago, I began training with the fabulous Martha Beck to become a life coach so I could take my work with teen girls and young women to a whole new level. Today, almost one year to the day from when my training began, I’m happy to announce that I’m a certified Martha Beck Life Coach and I’ve just launched a new website and a bunch of special life coaching packages just for teens!

I’ve also written a brand new ebook, What Smart Girls Know: 10 Truths to Discovering You, which I’m offering for FREE to people who sign up for my new newsletter over at This book is a passion project I’ve had in my mind for years, but never published with a traditional publisher. I’m thrilled to be able to make it available to you now…gotta love technology!

Oh, and if you’re interested in life coaching, here some of the one-on-one coaching offerings I’ve put together specifically for teens and 20-somethings. You can get all the details on my new Coaching Page:


In a world where teens are bombarded with mixed, and often harmful, media messages, face ongoing pressure to be a “perfect good girl,” and are stuck somewhere between their big dreams and their current reality, it can be challenging to figure out what sparks their passion, let alone where they want it to take them in their lives. This eight-session one-on-one coaching program is aimed helping girls tune into what makes them uniquely them, identify their values and passions, understand the limiting beliefs that get in their way, and build a personal toolbox for moving forward in life in an authentic, purposeful, and powerful way. For motivated teen girls ages 13 – 19.


Today’s overscheduled, overprogrammed teens are dealing with unprecedented stress levels in their quest to be and do it all. This six-week one-on-one coaching program offers motivated teen girls ages 13-19 simple strategies for juggling it all, managing their stress, and creating more balance in their lives.


Today’s teens are big dreamers, and as a collective, they’ve been told their whole life that they can do and be anything they can imagine. But many are missing the concrete strategies and skills they need to shift from imagine to action. This six-week one-on-one coaching program helps motivated teen girls ages 13-19 working toward a specific goal or goals imagine the possibilities, tackle fear and procrastination, create a foolproof plan of action, and set achievable goals.


For the busy teen juggling schoolwork, extracurriculars, and other obligations, a little organization can go a long way. This six-week one-on-one coaching program helps teens ages 13-19 understand the benefits of organizing all different aspects of their lives and give them solid organizational strategies and tools that will help them prioritize, save time, reduce the chaos in their life, and ultimately create a less-stressed life!


Senior year of high school is an exciting, interesting, and often challenging time as big transitions are looming and teens find themselves at the intersection of their familiar high school existence and the unknown of what comes next. This six-week one-on-one coaching program helps motivated, college-bound high school senior girls hone in on their personal values, discover their voice, learn how to tackle fear, and create a strong foundation for personal self-care.


Project You is a twelve-week coaching program for 20-somethings who are feeling stuck, trapped, and limited by their current reality. This intensive program helps 20-somethings hone in on their limiting beliefs, rewrite their personal story, reconnect with their purpose, imagine their ideal outcome, and gain the strategies and tools they need to make it happen.

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With the start of my new site, I’ve also launched a new blog which will feature less newsy news and more insight and reflections for young women. Therefore, I won’t be updating Smart Girls Know any longer. I will, however, keep this site up so you’ll continue to have access to the past 4 years worth of content, interviews, book reviews, affirmations, and more. Thanks so much for being a part of the Smart Girls Know community, and I hope you’ll join me over at!

XOXO Debbie

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Looking to Hear from Teens for Heart of Gold

Heart of GoldHey smart girls!

I’m excited to share the news about a new online venture I’ve been working on, Heart of Gold. Heart of Gold is for girls ages 14 – 18 who have big dreams and want to impact their world. The site, now in Beta, offers a ton of info, practical tools, and inspiration to help you as you explore and connect with your passion and take creative risks. The focus is on entrepreneurship, social activism, and volunteerism, but there’s also a lot of great content that is all about being the best you you can be.

The goal of the site, and the whole reason I came on board as the editor-in-chief, is to support girls just like you as you work towards your goals and make your big, fabulous marks on the world.

While we’re still in the early stages of Heart of Gold, we’re looking to bring in the voices of the real experts in the teen empowerment landscape… YOU. We’d love to feature you, your projects, your causes…your voice, on the site, in the form of video blogs and guest blog posts.

Interested? Here are a couple of things I’m looking for right now:

Teen Entrepreneurs:

  • Video blogs about your venture / concept / product / service
  • Guest posts about your business
  • Questions about any and all things entrepreneurship for our expert to answer

Teen Social Activists:

  • Video blogs telling us about the cause you’re most passionate about
  • Guests posts about an issue or cause you want to spread the word about

Teen Volunteers:

  • Video blogs telling us about your volunteer life (why you do it, who you do it for)
  • Guests posts about your volunteer life

I’m also looking for a handful of teen girls to review books, TV shows, and movies for Heart of Gold, so if that’s your thing, I want to hear from you.

STILL interested? Then here’s what I need you to do:

  1. with your name and age (19 is the cut-off) and a 2-3 sentence “bio” about yourself
  2. Tell me how you’re interested in participating (guest post, video blog, etc.), and what you would write or video blog about
  3. That’s it! Once I hear from you, I’ll be in touch with more details

Sound good? Great! Oh, and before you get in touch, head over to Heart of Gold and click through the site to get a sense of what we’ve got going on over there!

Thanks, and I hope to hear from you!

XOXO Debbie

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Have an Hour to Celebrate Dove’s Self-Esteem Movement?

This weekend marks the second annual Dove Self-Esteem Movement Weekend, and Smart Girls Know is happy to spread the word! The Weekend is about uniting organizations, groups, and women and girls everywhere to celebrate self-esteem and positive body images. It’s about imagining a world where every girl grows up with the self-esteem she needs to reach her full potential, and where every woman enjoys feeling confident in her own beauty.

According to Dove, 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful. And when you consider that the “beauty” they’re after is based on something that more than likely doesn’t exist in reality, these 72% of girls are after a goal they’ll never reach.

To counter the messages that girls receive every day from the media about what they need to look like to have value, Dove is encouraging women and girls to pledge to spend one hour this weekend engaged in some sort of self-esteem building activity. But you don’t need to wait for someone else in your community to organize an event…you can participate with your friends and join the movement all on your own. Not sure where to get started? Here are some ideas, courtesy of Dove’s Self-Esteem Movement, to bring a little feel-good-esteem-building action into your life this weekend:

  • Create an inspiration board by collecting articles, magazine tear-outs and news clippings that represent issues surrounding self-esteem. Create a collage of positive messages and images, and keep it in a visible place as both an inspiration board and a reminder of how individuality makes everyone beautiful.
  • Using a camera or video recorder, take an expedition and capture all of the beautiful things you’re thankful for in people, places, nature, anything! Then, create a slideshow or movie for a feel-good film whenever you need a little boost (my personal fave!)
  • Go around in a circle with your friends and share five things you like about one another and five things you each like about yourself. Focus on physicality, personality and character traits.
  • Ask each other questions about thoughts and feelings: What do you like about yourself? What are your biggest strengths? Talk about opportunities for growth and make a plan to reach tangible goals. How do you want to feel about your own unique beauty? What can I do to help make you feel confident?
  • Be a positive self-esteem mentor and send a girl in your life out with confident reminders by making a Boost Book: Decorate a notebook or sketchpad together and keep a log of inspiring quotations, compliments and positive comments other people have made about the girl in your life. Tuck in a few favorite photos or mementos that remind her of moments when she felt confident and beautiful or just had a great time.
  • Create a personal soundtrack of songs you enjoys and that make you feel good. You can listen to it to get pumped up for an important event like a soccer game or dance recital, or turn it on whenever you need a lift.

Last year, as part of the weekend, I hosted a get-together for a bunch of women in my community where we talked about the role and responsibility we have to be mentors to the girls in our lives. I asked women to answer the question, what do you with you’d known at 13? and then made a short film featuring their responses. So what am I doing to celebrate this weekend, you ask? I’m going to be spending most traveling, as I’ll be returning to Seattle from a family vacation in France (tough job, but someone’s got to do it). So this year will be a little more low-key. My plan is to gather my favorite gal pals for a run or workout, followed by the serious consumption of Parisian chocolates over conversation about mentoring, volunteering, and supporting each other in our collective quest to raise children with healthy self-esteem.

So, the big question is, what are you going to do? Are you willing to take the pledge to spend an hour of your weekend focusing on positive self-esteem? If you are, leave a comment and tell me what your plan is and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of any of my books (your choice) and a special gift from Dove. So bring it on and let’s talk positive body talk!

Click on the badge to take the pledge!

Dove® Movement for Self-Esteem | I PLEDGE TO BUILD SELF-ESTEEM IN GIRLS

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Do Tweens See Fame as a Positive Value Worth Pursuing?

When I think of “values” – a.k.a. those beliefs that matter most to us – I think of my own personal core values…things like compassion, joy, honesty, authenticity, respect. But a recent article on CNN about a study published in the Journal of Psychology Research on Cyberspace found that TV shows most popular with kids ages 9-11 hold “fame” as their number one value. (Hannah Montana, see left, being one of them.) According to the study, this emphasis on fame indicates a major shift: in 1997, the number one value promoted in shows watched by 9-11 year olds was “community feeling,” or the idea of being part of a community, while fame came in 15th out of 16 different values. Today, the roles are reversed: fame is number one and community feeling has dropped to 11th.

Does consuming TV shows that promote fame as the top value have any real impact on young viewers? The researchers behind this study think so. Since fame as an ambition is fairly unrealistic and isn’t tied to academic achievement, some believe tweens could have less motivation to succeed in school which may impact them negatively in the future.

When I was a young girl, I loved to sing. (Okay…I still do). I remember watching Star Search with host Ed McMahon (yes, dating myself) and wishing that could be me up on that stage singing her head off. I dreamed of being on Broadway, of performing…of fame. And it makes complete sense…I grew up at a time when the movie FAME (the original one!) was the “it” movie. I dreamed of going to the High School of Performing Arts and being a struggling singer / actor in the Big Apple. For me, fame was something I dreamed of, just like I dreamed of being an animal conservationist and living with Giant Pandas in China or bicycling across the country or becoming a hot-shot news producer like Holly Hunter’s character in the movie Broadcast News. But I wouldn’t have identified “fame” as a “value” of mine. My values centered around my desire to be a good friend, to help others, and to laugh as much as possible.

Of course, that was before reality TV took over and becoming “famous” for doing very little other than appearing on a reality show became an actual possibility. And there’s no denying that these days being famous just for the sake of it has become a top “career choice” for many girls. Thousands of girls aspire to be a “celebrity” so they can live the glammed up lifestyle we see portrayed in the media…red-carpet premieres, Hollywood parties, the latest in fashion, entourages, invitations, wealth.

The problem is, just like everything in life, things aren’t always what they appear – being a celebrity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Don’t believe me? How would you like it if…

  • there were photographers camping out outside your house 24 hours a day?
  • every little thing you did (the good and the bad) was gossiped about on TV, on blogs, and in magazines
  • the word “privacy” was no longer a part of your vocabulary
  • people wanted to be your friend for all the wrong reasons
  • you constantly had to beware of people trying to steal your money and take advantage of you
  • your physical appearance – from your hair color and shoes to your weight and complexion – was constantly being scrutinized
  • one wrong career move could mean the end of your lifestyle as you know it
  • people expect you to be a perfect role model, when really, you’re only human

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time dealing with my own insecurities and bad-hair days without reading about them in US Weekly.

Pursuing a life of fame and celebrity in the hopes of achieving a lifestyle that we see on MTV Movie Awards pre-show is kind of like chasing a phantom. Because the life that we see from the outside doesn’t exist.

My recommendation? Don’t think about your career goals in terms of what you want to have. Think of them in terms of what you want to learn…how you want to grow…what kind of a positive impact you want to make in the world. Hone in on the core values that go beneath the surface and resonate with how you can be your best self every day. If you can reach these goals, then you really will have it all.

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Actionist Jess Weiner Gets Real About Body Acceptance

My dear friend and mentor Jess Weiner, author of and the Global Ambassador for the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, is in the national spotlight again, this time with an important, and some say controversial, article in this month’s Glamour Magazine.

In her very honest piece, “Loving My Body Almost Killed Me,” Jess writes about her personal journey of body acceptance. In the past several years, Jess examined her approach of encouraging overweight women to accept their bodies at any size after discovering she had some health-related challenges, including being on the verge of becoming diabetic. That fateful doctor’s visit resulted in Jess developing the Conscious Weight Wellness ™ movement, in which Jess encourages women to use their knowledge of their weight as a barometer of their health, not their value as a person.

After the piece came out, I checked in with Jess to find out more about how her journey can positively impact teens. Here’s my question and Jess’s answer:

Me: Body acceptance is just one of many factors most teens struggle with – acceptance to fit in, acceptance into certain cliques and groups, acceptance for sexual orientation, acceptance to be seen as who you are. How might your message of Conscious Weight Wellness translate into these others aspects of teens’ lives?

Jess: My hope with Conscious Weight Wellness is that teens focus on the word Conscious – which is to be aware – to be awakened to your bigger purpose – and to gently inquire within. Whether you are dealing w/ weight, sexuality, or other identity issues that can seem overwhelming and put a lot of pressure on you to ‘fit in’ the consciousness I want to encourage is one that allows you to see your true worth – to ask hard questions of yourself and others – and to know that while you really are valuable just as you are, there is also nothing wrong with seeking to enhance, shift or change areas of your life (or beliefs) as you grow. We are fluid. Our lives are not static. We change and grow – and that includes our beliefs about ourselves, our bodies, and others. Don’t be afraid to allow that growth – be gentle with yourself – and be conscious that the changes you are making are coming from deep within and not a desire to solely please someone else. In particular with girls and weight – I want girls who struggle with being overweight to know that wanting to lose weight is okay as long as it is in combination with the other numbers associated with their health (cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugars, etc.) – and that they recognize that their worth is not just about a number on the scale – they are worthy of full and complete confidence which comes from taking care of yourself inside and out!

I love that answer and the openness with which Jess is going about this shift. In putting her story out there, Jess is so powerfully demonstrating one of my core beliefs: When you speak your truth, challenging though it may be, everyone, including yourself, benefits.

Though Jess admits she has been concerned about a backlash from some about her change in philosophy, she knows it was worth it to boldly speak her truth about body acceptance. Jess’s willingness to have the hard conversations, model beautiful authenticity, and be vulnerable as a way to inspire others is what makes her one of the most powerful role models I know.

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Airbrushed Make-Up Ads Featuring Julia Roberts are Banned in Britain

Julia RobertsMost people are so used to airbrushed advertisements that they don’t even give them a second thought. But Britain has decided to take a stand against such ads – last week the country’s Advertising Standards Agency banned Maybelline and Lancome ads featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington.

The ASA found that the magazine ads (see pics at left) were misleading, and exaggerated the ability of the products they were promoting to cover lines, wrinkles and blemishes. “On the basis of the evidence we had received we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve, and that the image had not been exaggerated by digital post production techniques,” the ASA said.

Even though L’Oreal admitted the photographs it used had been digitally manipulated and retouched, they claim the pics “accurately illustrated” the effects their make-up — Maybelline‘s The Eraser anti-ageing foundation and Lancôme‘s Teint Miracle –could achieve. They described the picture of Julia Roberts as an “aspirational picture.”

The ban was sparked by Jo Swinson, an activist who campaigns against the use of unrealistic images in fashion and advertising.

Kudos to the ASA for sending such a strong message to advertisers and marketers. Such extensive airbrushing on ads is not only essentially selling a lie – there is no product on earth (other than Photoshop software) that can achieve the kind of flawless skin shown in these ads – but it’s also selling girls and women short, by reminding them that they’re not beautiful just the way they are. These “aspirational pictures” send the message that we should “aspire” to look like these beautiful women, even though the look they’re selling isn’t actual real. Where’s the beauty in that?

What do you think about the practice of airbrushing images?

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Geena Davis Introduces New Media Literacy Bill

Geena Davis is no stranger to the world of girl and woman advocacy.  She’s the founder of the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media, and runs its producing arm, See Jane, which works with entertainment creators to encourage them to include positive portrayals of females and male characters into movies, TV, and other media aimed at children 11 and under.

Now Geena has another thing to add to her resume. She has just joined forces with Senator Kay Hagan and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to introduce a bill that would support efforts to improve the image of girls and women in the media.

Here’s what she had to say about the bill they’re hoping to get passed: “What children see affects their attitudes toward male and female roles and impacts the value they place on girls and women in society. The Healthy Media for Youth Act will help ensure we are creating a positive media environment for all our children.”

The legislation would provide grants to encourage and support media literacy programs and youth empowerment groups, facilitate research on how depictions of women and girls in the media affect youth, and establish a National Taskforce on Women and Girls in the Media, intended to develop voluntary standards that promote healthy, balanced, and positive images of girls and women in the media.

We’ll keep you posted on the fate of this bill…we hope it gets passed!

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One Day On Earth

I just saw a trailer for a soon-to-be-released film called One Day on Earth and had to share. On October 10, 2010 (10.10.10), across the planet, documentary filmmakers, students, and inspired citizens recorded the human experience over a 24-hour period and contributed their voice to the largest participatory media event in history. The result is this film, and it looks absolutely amazing. Here’s the trailer…see for yourself:

Here’s how the filmmakers describe their vision behind the film:

One Day on Earth creates a picture of humanity by recording a 24-hour period throughout every country in the world. We explore a greater diversity of perspectives than ever seen before on screen. We follow characters and events that evolve throughout the day, interspersed with expansive global montages that explore the progression of life from birth, to death, to birth again. In the end, despite unprecedented challenges and tragedies throughout the world, we are reminded that every day we are alive there is hope and a choice to see a better future together.

Can’t wait to see this!

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Google Science Fair Winners? That’s Right…They’re All Girls!

Remember this past January when I ran a post about Google’s inaugural Science Fair for teens? They were looking for the brightest, best young scientists from around the world to submit interesting, creative projects that are relevant to the world today, and accepted entries in sciences like environmental science, physics, biology, chemistry and more.

Well, this week 15 finalists were invited to Google HQ to present their projects to fair’s judges, and yesterday the top three winners in each age category were announced. And what do you know? They’re all GIRLS.

  • Lauren Hodge in the 13-14 age group. Lauren studied the effect of different marinades on the level of potentially harmful carcinogens in grilled chicken.
  • Naomi Shah in the 15-16 age group. Naomi endeavored to prove that making changes to indoor environments that improve indoor air quality can reduce people’s reliance on asthma medications.
  • Shree Bose in the 17-18 age group. Shree discovered a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients when they have built up a resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs.

Shree was the Grand Prize winner, who wins an amazing 10 day trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions where she’ll visit Darwin’s living laboratory and experience up-close encounters with unique species such as flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, and domed giant tortoises. Shree will also receive a $50,000 scholarship, her first choice of an experience at CERN, Google, the LEGO Group, or Scientific American, a personal LEGO color mosaic, and digital access to Scientific American Archives for her school.

Congratulations to Lauren, Naomi, and Shree for seriously representing girl power in science, technology, engineering, and math!!

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Puma & Team Up to Promote Girls’ Soccer

You all know that I’m a big believer in the power of sports and exercise in the life of girls and women. Beyond all the research that shows that participating in sports can improve grades, boost moods, improve self-esteem, and basically help one be more successful, there’s also the fact that I just happen to think sports and exercise is good for the soul.

So I had to share this new web series created by athletic wear designer Puma and called My Day My Life. This series follows four professional soccer players – Marta, Karina, Amy, and Alex – who have  worked hard and beaten the odds to make it to the top of their game, inspiring rising young soccer stars all over the world with their athletic prowess and skill. And now they’re on their way to the biggest game of their lives. The series hopes to give teen girls a chance to look inside these awesome athletes’ worlds and find out what it’s like to literally be at the top of your game.

What I love about this series is it embraces the beauty in being strong, powerful, and athletic, which in my mind opinion is an image we see all too little of in the media. So click play below for a sneak peak and get inspired to move your own body! (Be warned: there is a ton of Puma product placement in the video…):

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