How do we teach our children values? Join Jen Du Plessis as she interviews the mother-daughter duo who wrote a book to help you do just that. Sharon Brown and Heather Hough are the co-authors of A Heart of Gold: The Greatest Gift, a children’s book that aims to introduce and teach values to kids and bring families together. They share the inspiration behind the book and what they hope it brings to each household and classroom. Tune in and discover how your child can start learning about how to develop a heart of gold.
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Teaching Values In A Heart of Gold With Sharon Brown and Heather Hough
On our show, we have a mother-daughter duo that I cannot wait to share their story with you. We have Sharon Brown and her daughter, Heather Hough. Welcome to the show, Sharon.
It’s awesome meeting you in so much fun to be here. Thank you for having us and sharing us with your audience. We’re excited.
Heather, I know that you are on the other side of the world from us now. We will have you on here in one second as I do a little bit of introduction. First, I want to say if you’re reading for the first time, thank you so much for taking time out of your day and if you’ve been reading for a while, thank you for your patronage so that we can bring beautiful great stories that impact your life. With that said, I want to share a little bit about how we met. Sharon and I met at a networking event locally here, which is so odd for me because I’m not doing that very often. I thought, “I’ll go to this one because it was at a winery and it’s close.”
Because of that, I thought, “I’ll go.” Lo and behold, I met Sharon and said, “If you’re willing and able, I’d love to have you on the show.” That’s how we met. A little backstory here. The reason I have you on the show is that you are about ready to publish a book that is very adorable. It’s called A Heart of Gold: The Greatest Gift, and it’s a children’s book.
I want to share what this book is about because our readers, I know, will want to get a copy of this book. The first thing I said is I can’t wait to show it to my grandkids. I’m excited about that. Here you are, a mother-daughter team. Mom is on the East Coast. Heather, are you still in Hawaii or are you someplace else?
I have joined you all now on the East Coast in North Carolina and going to UNC, but I just moved from California. It has been a spectacular experience and to be able to create a connection with my mom by creating this from across the country together.
I think that’s what’s so neat about it is creating it. I know that you both have a love of life, family and faith. There are a lot of parts to this, but tell me where this started? Where did this idea come from, that you thought, “We need to write a book?” We’ll tell everybody about the book, but where did the idea come from?
Years ago, I started a nonprofit called Birthday Blessings, giving birthday presents to children in need. Heather grew up in that and her brothers did as well, selecting the gifts and wrapping those things. It was so much fun. We rarely ever gave a gift to a child that was done through social services. I had written some little stories down and things like that.
[bctt tweet=”Experience is the best education.” username=””]
Heather said, “Mom, we should make a book out of that and teach kids values instead of a book about a birthday party.” We would have it teaching values and make it interactive because, in our family, we were always about sitting down at the dinner table and sharing stories with each other about our day, and doing a variety of different activities. We thought this would be a great opportunity for families to be able to do the same.
What is your background, Sharon? Have you been a domestic engineer for years, as I call it? Have you been that or were you a teacher? What propelled you even to write down the pieces that you wrote down in the beginning?
I was a domestic engineer for the first ten years of my career life, but I’ve always been entrepreneurial-minded or spirited and have always had a love of children. Pulling those together, gift-giving, celebrating children’s lives and people’s lives is so important, making them feel special. That combined, and then Heather, I’ll let her say but she has such a heart of gold herself and a gifted heart.
Heather, let’s talk about that for you. You’re in school. You’re young Millennial, maybe not even Millennials anymore these days. I don’t remember what the age groups are but you’re doing this. What is pulling and compelling you from a passion perspective that you felt that you needed to participate in this book and be able to give back?
Birds of a feather flock together. Children have always been a huge part of my heart. Birthday Blessings was my favorite after-school activity to run downstairs and play Santa’s workshop, hand-selecting the perfect presence for each kid, their wishlist, wrapping it, and the presentation matters too. My mom got us involved in volunteering a lot. When we were younger, we would volunteer at orphanages. I went to a Spanish-speaking orphanage in Nicaragua and it was so enlightening to me about communication. I felt like I knew these kids, even though I spoke their language brokenly because they were able to create that heart-centered connection.
As I grew and got older, I became a babysitter and a nanny for some of the most wonderful families. I’m also an ambassador with Work Play Love, which is an orphanage in Guatemala. A dear friend of mine founded that over a decade and helped with the girls’ part of the orphanage because all the boys were included. She said, “I would love to also have their sisters be able to join them.” I’ve also taught Ecology classes at the boys and girls club. What I’m studying at school right now is sustainability but I love to bring that in education to all of our young sprouts, too.
Let’s talk about the book. This is setting the tone and I know, Sharon. You have a copy there to share with us right of the cover. It’s called A Heart of Gold: The Greatest Gift. It’s about this little girl who goes to a birthday party. Tell us what happens because on the cover of the book, the party she’s going to doesn’t happen to be a party of other human beings. It happens to be a party of a lot of different characters. Tell us a little bit about why it was a birthday party? We don’t want to give away the whole book but give us one example of what you mean by values and the story behind each one of those gifts.
The cover is the little girl who has a birthday party and she invites her animal friends. When they come to the birthday party, instead of bringing a toy, they bring a gift of value. Each goes through an adventure to get to her. For example, the one I like to tell is about Luca, the dog. Luca got invited to the birthday party, he accepts, and he’s so excited but then a day later, he gets invited to go bowling with the big dogs. He’s like, “I’ve always wanted to go bowling with the big dogs. What do I do?” He has to wrestle and decide if he keeps his commitment or not. He decides to still go to the party and he brings with him the gift of loyalty.
That’s an opportunity to talk about that. I was talking to a businessman and he said, “Tell me about your book.” I told him that story. He said, “That happened to me.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “I accepted the business meeting for Friday and then I got invited the next day to a better one.” I said, “What did you do?” He said, “I went to the better one.” I said, “I think you need a look.” He bought a book as soon as we got up for a Zoom call. After the story about Luca in the book, there’s an activity page where the children can talk with the parents or the teacher, they can write in there the examples about being loyal and they can also drop pictures.
I think this happens every day and even though it’s a children’s book, it’s something that parents can do with their children. They will learn as well because we get into these habits. It even happened with this show, not this episode. We booked someone on a Friday to be on the show on Saturday and right before the show, they called and canceled because they had a travel thing. I was like, “Didn’t you know you had the travel thing yesterday?”
It does have a ripple effect when that happens for at least for us in business, because I planned for it. It’s not like I show up. I’m thinking about it and I’m doing some snooping. I think, “I wasn’t as important as the next thing was that they weren’t committed the day before when we scheduled it.” It’s ironic because I talk a lot about values in my coaching and in speaking.
One of my values is integrity and accountability. Those two things are important to me. I love that you shared that particular story. Why did you think that it was important to have animals in here as opposed to other children? I’m curious about that from that standpoint. I love that you have animals. It’s just, I’m curious.
Heather, do you want to answer that one?
I think the animals are so fun and relatable because you can attach their value to who that character is. A great example is that we have a character who’s a caterpillar and he developed a tenacity to become a butterfly throughout the story, which is how he gets parties. Some of these animals also use their specific animal superpowers to get into the party. I believe that experience is the best education.
I love what you said, Jen, about how parents can get a lot out of this too with their kids because no one has ever too old to be reminded of or inspired by their own heart of gold and they’re shining light within. It’s like a muscle that we get to practice. We feel better and everybody else around us skills better when we shine our light and set those values into practice. We’ve come up with some pretty enriching activities throughout the book to find that.
It does bring the fact that these characters needed to be animals because I’m not sure how you would do a transformational child unless it were a child that doesn’t feel transgender or something, and I know that’s embarking on a whole other situation. I love it that we use our gifts to be able to come up with solutions to ensure that we’re at this party and that we’re showing up in a way that is the true us. The true value that we’re bringing, not in the attribute of loyalty or the attribute of change. On the example of the caterpillar saying, “I know how to get there. I’ll wait until I can become a butterfly and then I can fly there.”
[bctt tweet=”No one’s ever too old to be reminded of or inspired by their own heart of gold.” username=””]
I love that they’re exploring those things within themselves, and that’s something that we have to do quite often. I ask people all the time, “What are your values?” It’s the number one thing we start with my coaching. People respond to me like this. They say, “Family?” “I don’t know. Do you have convictions for that or are you asking me should family be one of your core values?” What are your thoughts on how people could determine what their values are?
They’re going to experience a multitude of values here and it is the way that we are. If you’re a dog person, you might try to attach yourself to loyalty because you like the dog. If you like the giraffe, you might attach yourself to that particular value and it is an ownership of the value. It’s attaching yourself to something that you thought was cool. How do you find out your value? How do you all express that and try to share that with people? Maybe through activity, they’re asking people, “What is the value that I have?” What is that?
I’m glad you asked that and I’m also glad that Heather brought up the part about the caterpillar becoming a butterfly because the word that we focused on there is tenacity. Tommy the caterpillar, becoming a butterfly, so he’s determined, motivated, driven, working hard to become that butterfly. The activity page is more about how do you show tenacity? How are you tenacious?
In fact, our editor suggested we change that word for children’s book and we make it determination but we said, “Part of this is also learning a new word and vocabulary is important.” We thought that would be cool but I think what I love so much about our book is that the parents or the teachers and the child are working together on this. For example, our giraffe, Carl, brings the gift of positivity and on the activity page, it says a grateful heart is the beginning of positivity, so what are three things you’re grateful for? That starts the conversation about having values.
Luca, who’s the dog and loyalty is like, “Honor your commitments.” As you were saying about business commitments, it’s also about friends. If you get to a friend to meet for a glass of wine, go to a movie or something, and at the last minute, they say, “I can’t come.” Except for something extreme like they’re sick, they can’t, or something changed. If you’re not honoring your commitments, people aren’t going to want to keep making commitments with you and split billing time with you, whether it’s a friend, a family member or a business person.
I think in discussing values with each other, with teachers and guidance counselors are excited about the book and then in the back of the book, there’s a final activity where the child can talk about what makes their heart a heart of gold. They earn an award that’s in the back of the book like the teacher does with them. It’s not the book you give to a child and say, “Go to bed and read this.”
I have a couple of other quick questions and I want to make a comment on something too is a colleague of mine, Dr. Greg Reid, who is the Founder of Secret Knock. He’s also published my book Impact and he learned an acronym that’s in the book. I’m going to give credit to him, but he also learned it from someone else, I don’t recall who it is. The acronym is CPC. The first one I did that, I go PCP because that sounds right. It’s CPC and its Clues Patterns and Choices. I use this quite frequently when I’m talking to my students and speaking. Of course, my students are adult entrepreneurs that I’m coaching.
What you’re pointing out here are these clues, patterns and choices that people are making. A clue is someone who shows up late. When they show up late every time, it becomes a pattern and your goal is to make a choice whether or not to continue with that relationship. I think it’s exactly what you’re saying. Of all of these people or all of these animals and characters had all made other choices, the main character, whose birthday it is, would have been sad. It would have been defeating. They’d question themselves and their confidence level would go down and all of this can be applied to adults, every one of them.
The book is also about the animals bringing their values, that’s the gift they give. There are five of them in the book. Those values create and Sam, our birthday girl, a heart of gold. What we say in there is that these are the best gifts ever. They don’t wear out, break down and they grow. When you give them away, you can keep giving them. It’s not a toy that batteries die, get thrown away or you’re going to grow out of. As I said, I was on the Zoom with the businessman. He was probably 60. It’s a spread and a wide age range of that.
The next question that I wanted to ask you is what age is this book for? I know you’re going to tell me everybody because we all learn from it. Those that are reading, they’re saying, “I’ve got children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and some people at my church. This would be great for me to give to my employees who have children.” It can go on and on. I read, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss in a sales meeting all the time because I love that book for sales. When people are thinking about, “Where can I apply this? Who is this good for?” I know you’re going to say everybody but for children. What is the good age that you think has such an impact on children as they’re learning core values?
What I usually tell people is the age range of about 3 to 11ish. People say, “That’s a big age spread.” I say, “Yes, because it’s a beautiful story for the younger kid.” As you get older, one of the values is unconditional love. What does that mean? I know you love yourself. Is that conditional love? Let’s have a conversation about that.
A friend of mine has two boys that are 8 and 12, and I said, “This is perfect.” When you read one of these stories at the dinner table and you start talking about values, the eight-year-old is going to have a completely different answer than the twelve-year-old, and those are valid. They both offer discussion upon the parents.
Making sure that the preteen is set for life. I’d say to my husband and I like, “How did you raise these beautiful adult children that I have that are now 35 and 33.” They’re married, I have grandkids and of course, we always say values. We did set it up, as they started becoming a little more defiant in the preteens.
We said, “The bottom line is you can do whatever you want. I’m still going to love you. Stop trying to do all these crazy things because I’m going to love you anyway but it’s your decision how our relationship will be in the future. If you put lack of trust actions into what you do on a daily basis, then you will have privileges taken away, and over time, that’s going to affect our relationship as you become an adult. It’s up to you for how this relationship is going to go,” so I put the ball in their court. That’s why we all have such a very tight for some of the four of us. Even though we have in-laws there, we’re still tight. I think that’s an impressionable time, no question.
With younger kids, how does a young child spell love? It’s T I M E. It’s not buying a toy and saying, “See you.” It’s that interaction that time you’re spending with them, but it’s valuable and important. We also have a preschool in the Northern Virginia area that is super excited about using our book as a course curriculum in the spring of 2021. That’s going to be fun because we’ve got coloring pages. They can send it home with the parents and they can do it at home. They can do interactive activities at school, talking about the different values and focusing on them. They want to gift each kid that’s graduating to go to kindergarten with a book to take with them.
It’s a cute little certificate and a little graduation ceremony. How fun is that? I love that. Is it published now because I think when you and I talked, you were almost getting ready to publish it, so I imagine it is, but how do people get the book right now?
[bctt tweet=”Be intentional with conversations. Be intentional with people where you are. When you’re talking to your children or to your parents or anyone, be present.” username=””]
They can go to our website, which is HeartOfGoldForKids.com and that’s the best place to go now? They will be pre-ordering the book. We are self-publishing, which is so exciting and has been a fun thing to do with Heather and putting all this together. They can go there and pre-order the book and they will have the book by the end of December of 2021.
Is it going to be out before Christmas of 2021, do you think?
We’re hoping but not making that promise. For those that want to give it as a Christmas gift, of course, we have a very special certificate that we can give to them that they could still wrap, put under the tree and then celebrate again when it comes.
Are you going to be doing the $0.99 special or anything like that when you release?
We hadn’t thought about that.
We can talk about that in the green room yet because I don’t want to do it here but go in, pre-order and then come back to this show right around Christmas. If they are doing some special for the release, we’ll go ahead, put the link in and make sure the link is in here so that everyone can go on the same day and get it because that’s how you get to number one status. What would you like to leave with those that are reading? Maybe a mantra, a quote, or a poignant thought. Heather, I will let you go first.
I want to share that this story, A Heart of Gold: The Greatest Gift is so much more than a storybook because it’s something that children can bring to life and do with their bigs so that everybody can get something out of it beyond the family and in the classroom as well. It’s something that teachers can do with their students. It may be cliche to say but the younger generation is our future leaders, so to equip them with emotional intelligence, confidence, trusting who they are, and knowing the gifts that they can give to the world is priceless.
Sharon, how about you?
I think it’s important to be intentional. Our books certainly give people the opportunity to spend time together. I would say a COVID perk is that a lot of families have gotten together. They spend more time together, and it’s forced on them. They’re like, “I’m getting to learn my child and learn who they are.” Our books are set up to be able to guide people through that but be intentional with conversations and with people where you are. When you’re talking to your children, parents or anyone, be present. I think that’s super important.
Being present is a gift. I say that all the time. Ladies, I want to say thank you so much for sharing this cool story. I hope children are important to everybody. I thought that this was something unique, new and different. One of my friends is Mark Victor Hansen, who wrote Chicken Soup For The Soul and his wife, Crystal. They have a great book out called Ask! right now.
They’ve been on this show as well. He holds a record for the most number of books sold in the world. I cannot wait to tell him about this book because I think he’s going to go crazy about it. For those of you that are reading, please click on the link to pre-order the copy and know that when it comes out, share it with as many people as you possibly can.
You never know. You might even learn from your spouse. If you don’t have kids in your life, you can do this with your significant other and learn about them as well. That’s what I’m hoping to do with my husband, “Let’s read this together.” I want to say thank you so much for joining us and I wish you all the best in this endeavor of you getting us out into the big bad world. Thank you so much for creating this and having the tenacity to push forward and self-published this book to share with others and help their lives as well.
Thank you for having us. We’re honored to be here.
Again, thank you so much for reading. Be sure to grab the link to pre-order the book and thank you for taking the time to sharing this book and helping others be successful in what their endeavors are as well. I look forward to catching you on the next episode.
- A Heart of Gold: The Greatest Gift
- Birthday Blessings
- Work Play Love
- Secret Knock
- Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
- Mark Victor Hansen – Previous episode
- Chicken Soup For The Soul
About Sharon Brown
I’m a lover of life and believe that a life well-lived is one lived in positivity with lots of love, laughter, encouragement—and unconditional love!
Children have always held a special place in my heart and I’ve been super blessed to have 3 of my own—Hunter, Heather and Parker. Working together, to create a Heart of Gold for Kids, with Heather is beyond fantastic!
The most important things in life to me are my faith, family, pups, traveling, boating, and anything on or near the water or beach. What fills my heart is precious time with family and friends. I strive to encourage others and leave a legacy that will make a positive impact in this beautiful world!
About Heather Hough
I am a true believer that experience is the best education. I have lived on both coasts and even on the Big Island of Hawaii. Creating A Heart of Gold: The Greatest Gift while on opposite sides of the country has been an amazing way to create a connection with my mom.
I hope to continue to enrich the lives of children and families in all the work that I do. Beyond the creation of this book, I have volunteered throughout Central America to support orphanages, taught ecology classes at the Boys and Girls Club, and lead family-friendly yoga classes.
I am passionate about all things that promote healthy living, especially sustainability. I am completing my Environmental Studies degree and plan to found a permaculture food forest that will provide nutrients and education to the community. My purpose in life is to do all things with authenticity, courage, and joy!