A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mom

By Susan Ford Collins

When my daughter Cathy was in grade school, she wanted me to be “a chocolate chip cookie mom” like her friends’ moms who had cookies waiting on flowery plates when they got home. I was hardly that. Divorced and struggling to be “mom and dad”, I woke up at 5 and stayed up till my pen squiggled meaningless marks on the page! Unlike those “stay-at-home moms” who had “go-to-work dads”, I was working to make a living, take care of the three of us, and be the best parent I could... all at the same time. But how?

When I was a girl, my mom was an alcoholic and my dad was a workaholic so I knew I couldn’t go on automatic and do what they did. What could I do to help my children succeed? When I began my career as a researcher at NIH, I committed to shadowing Highly Successful People (HSPs) so I could discover the skills they were using, and start using them myself. I had just initiated my research when my husband was offered a job that was too good to refuse and we moved out of the area… and away from my job. A few years later my husband and I divorced and the reality of being a single mom set in. I would have to put my research on the back burner and devise a new plan. I decided to go back to school to earn a teaching certificate. Working in my daughters’ school would mean we would have the same schedule, plus holidays and summers off together!

Sad to say, my girls could only understand how my plan affected them at the time. They were the only kids who wore house keys around their necks so they could let themselves in after school, eat a snack and watch TV till I got home. They couldn’t yet see how my “being a different kind of mom” would help them in the future. As they grew, I was able to devote more and more time to my research. Over the years since then, I shadowed HSPs, developed and taught The Technology of Success Training in over 3,000 corporations across the country.

When my daughter Margaret finished college, she went to work for The Upjohn Company. One morning her director called to ask me to speak at their regional sales conference. After we pinned down where and when, he said he had something special to tell me. "We will be honoring your daughter Margaret as our top sales rep that day. When we told she won, we asked what her secret was. She said it was the 10 Success Skills that you discovered Highly Successful People use consistently, the 10 Success Skills Margaret saw you use her whole life. We want you to teach your skills to rest of our team. There’s just one thing… we don't want them to know you're Margaret’s mom till it's over." I chuckled and agreed.

At the end of the day, I was standing in a crowd of participants when I heard her director announce, “I’ve asked our award winner Margaret Collins to say a few words.” And my younger daughter slowly stood up and pointed her finger straight at me, "That's my mom!" The room went silent for a moment and then everyone shouted, “No fair, Margaret. No wonder you won!” You’re lucky that your mom taught you the Success Skills we all need!

Fortunately life is long and our childhood perspectives continue updating as we become breadwinners, parents and spouses. Cathy is happily married and has never personally experienced the pain of divorce or of supporting her family and parenting alone, but some of her close friends have. When she began seeing her “chocolate chip cookie” days from a new perspective, her old childhood disappointments started melting away. We giggled that she had become a “chocolate chip cookie mom” herself. Cathy is known for nurturing everyone who needs it with a tray of her now-famous vegan chocolate chip cookies.

This Mother’s Day, as Cathy’s son was about to graduate from college and her friends were finally living new and fulfilling lives, Cathy texted me an even more up-to-date perspective, “You are a great mom. Thank you for all of your sacrifices. I know there were many. I love you.”

And I cried. I had always hoped this day would come, and it had.


Susan Ford Collins is the Founder and President of The Technology of Success and author of The Joy of Success (#1 Best Seller Kindle), Success Has Gears, and Our Children Are Watching. “Susan Ford Collins is America’s Premier Success and Leadership Coach”- CNN.

Our Children Are Watching: Ten Skills for Leading the Next Generation to Success

By Susan Ford Collins

“This may just be one of the most important books you will ever read in your life, important for you and for your children. A positively stunning book, Our Children Are Watching captured both my heart and my mind. It could revolutionize the way we live in the world, and, quite possibly, revolutionize the world itself. Susan Ford Collins shares insights that will help us remember and revitalize our dreams. She speaks of learning to create the life we truly want, a life that serves our deepest selves and brings true success. To her, success is learning to live a life that springs directly from our hearts, a life that nurtures our relationship to our soul and its deepest longings; and, as parents, isn’t this what we all seek to teach our children? Collins’ writing is infused with vitality. In plain, direct language, Collins explains step-by-step the ten skills that lead to success, skills that apply to any situation or any person, whether a child or a CEO.

I read hundreds of books every year and I can count on one hand how many books I have ever read that hold the potential to transform lives as deeply as this book does. Without any hesitation, I give Our Children Are Watching my absolute HIGHEST recommendation. Whether you read it for yourself or for your children, it has the power to change your life forever, if you are willing.

—Chinaberry Book Service

Mom, I Want to be a NASA Astronaut

By Susan Ford Collins

I was speaking about the power of children's dreams, and the even more awesome power adults have to make or break them, when a woman in the audience raised her hand. "Susan, I've got the perfect story for you to share."

"When our daughter turned five, she told us that she was going to be a NASA astronaut when she grew up. She would sit mesmerized in front of our TV during every space shot. And while her father and I were sipping our soup at dinner one night, we realized simultaneously that she actually saw herself as a member of the crew.

Suddenly we moved beyond the glaze of day-to-day living long enough to realize that we were at a crucial decision-point: Was this a passing fancy or her mission? We could continue silently pooh-poohing her dream as something a boy could do but not a girl—a feeling we both knew was definitely there inside us. Or, we could line up with her.

We decided to line up with her. So when she asked us what she needed to do to become an astronaut, we took her seriously and found out. When she needed help completing elaborate science projects, we made time to support her. When she wanted to go to science camps instead the camps her girl friends attended, we remembered her dream and continued to nurture it."

"And you'll be happy to know that our daughter is a NASA astronaut. She was aboard the last shot. And as the roar of the rockets blurred our words that morning at Cape Kennedy, my husband and I shouted agreement that we had made the right choice."

Our children's dreams are the seeds of the future, precious future solutions to the problems we face today and tomorrow. As we build our children's self-confidence, the second most important thing we can do is to nurture their dreams—agreeing with their possibilities, arguing for their success... not their failure, and appreciating their greatness in advance.

(c) Susan Ford Collins, 2016. All rights reserved.

* For more on Success Skills 3 and 4, Dreaming and Co-dreaming, read The Joy of Success or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

The College Admission Process is Underway… and Your Kids Are in the Gap!

By Susan Ford Collins

Your seniors are half way through their last year of high school and the college-selection | student-selection process is racing ahead. Applications and essays are in, but chances are the tension is higher than ever! And if your kids are juniors now, you’ll be going through it next year.

First-round college choices have already replied. If the answer was yes and it was your senior’s top choice, hurrah! But many students are caught in the emotionally straining and self-confidence draining gap between being turned down or deferred… and finding out which college wants them. A rough period for students, and for parents! What will the next four years really cost… tuition plus expenses? And how will you pay for it?

Your senior, who was probably diligent last semester, may have come down with a serious case of “senor-itis”… that energy-draining disorder that sets in after three and a half years of long hours, hard work and after school sports when the accelerator was constantly pressed to the floor. But now it isn’t.

What to do now: Two all-important steps

Here are two things I learned by studying Highly Successful People for 20 years, and teaching The Technology of Success in major corporations, schools and universities for 20 more! Two things you need to do with your kids now. Or support them in doing on their own.

Step One: Make time to Success File

There is still time left for you and your kids to learn and practice the First Success Skill: How to “Build and Rebuild Your Self-Confidence”… a skill your kids will need more and more in the years ahead. First you will need to create a file… an old-school manila folder or, better yet, a computer file or One Note… bottom line, a place where you can permanently store your kids’ successes and they can continue adding them on a daily basis. A place they can quickly access when the going gets tough… and from time to time it will, like it or not.

But first, here is a key question: What is success?

Most people have never asked themselves what success is. And most students and teachers haven’t either. But this is a question you and your kids need to consider before they enter college and have to maintain their self-confidence and enthusiasm, courage and determination without you there beside them. Or when a phone call can’t reach you.

Success has three essential parts. Colleges want to know that you have the ability to produce all three kinds.

1-Success is Completion: Yes, this is the part of success most people know about… accomplishment. Starting, doing and finishing what we set out to do, and others set out for us to do. Colleges predict future success by looking at past success. They want to know you’re a “completer” not just a starter, a contributor not just a taker, so it’s smart to start filing times when you completed something most kids would have given up on. Or a painful experience you turned from a loss to a win. Times when you helped someone else win. Or when you led others at school, sports, in your family and community.

2- Success is also Deletion: Sometimes success is not doing, knowing when to let go of what no longer works for you: old habits, methods and relationships, foods that make you revved up and racy or stuffed up and sleepy. Friendships that encourage you to wander off track. Colleges want to hear about your Deletion Successes because they tell them about your character, your ability to make vital choices and avoid needless injuries, detours and mistakes. What have you let go of that could have ruined your life or another’s, but didn’t? Some deletion successes may seem too private to share but revealing them in a positive light in essays and interviews shows colleges that you’re willing to share experiences that can help you and others in the future.

3- Success is Creation: Success is being able to go beyond what you’ve been taught, beyond the methods already in use. Success is coming up with new ways. In the world you are entering, it’s no longer enough to succeed by only by completing and deleting, you also need to be creators and leaders. Your ability to create and innovate is what colleges and future employers will be looking for, first and foremost.

Do you know who Jeff Bezos is? Have you ever ordered anything from Then you know Jeff Bezos; he’s Amazon’s creator. Do you know Blake Ross? Have you ever used Firefox? Then you know Blake Ross. He co-founded Firefox at 16 and appeared on the cover of Wired Magazine at 19. Then he became Director for Product at Facebook. More and more top innovators start their life work at your age! Who else can you think of? How about in fashion, music and dance? Do you know Julianne Hough? She is a highly successful young TV and movie star who is asking Miriam Webster to redefine success in their dictionary so kids won’t get caught working longer and harder and never feeling satisfied the way she did. This is an important topic I will be giving a keynote on at the Redefining Success Conference at Smith College in April.

Two Laws of Success Filing you need to remember now and forever:

*** When your Success File is full, you feel Success-Full. When you Success File is low, you feel dependent and needy. And you tend to lie around, eat, drink and procrastinate too! So fill up that file now.

*** Success is your past gives you confidence in your future. And, success in your application, essays and interviews gives colleges and future employers the confidence they will need to tell you YES! And to stick with you in the years ahead.

STEP TWO: Dream Your Future Now… in full sound and color

Your parents’ world of science fiction will be your reality! Here’s what’s already underway… Bioprinted ears (in 3 years) and bioficial hearts (in 10) made from extra fat from around the recipient’s own stomach so rejection will be avoided. What will you create that will change the world? What is your passion and mission?

Prelive your future success… like skiers do who are about to successfully head downhill, or golfers about to make a crucial putt, or exams you are about to pass with flying colors, or jobs you will want and earn. Start imagining and filing future successes as well (yes, add them to your Success File past and future now. What do you want to do and be in your life?

Start creating your life like a movie producer would… with that much color and clarity, that much sound and emotion, all the completions, deletions and creations that will make life worth dreaming and living. And inspire others to succeed too.

c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

* For more on Self-Confidence, read Skill 1 in The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.


$14.95 paperback | $3.99 eBook


The 10 Responsibilities of a Leader... a Parent or Grandparent

By Susan Ford Collins

As the stages of life advance, the stages of our responsiblities advance too. From taking care of ourselves, to taking care of our spouses and businesses, to most exciting and most challenging of all... taking care of our children and our children's children. What is expected of us then?

First, we are responsible for being trustworthy leaders, for allowing those who follow us to have confidence in us until we can help build their self-confidence. We are responsible for keeping them safe and educating them until they can take over these responsibilities themselves.

Second, we need to sense when those who follow us need more freedom, when they’re ready for more independence. We must sense when to shift from acknowledging compliance to our rules, to acknowledging their production and competition, their creativity and innovation. And teaching them how to acknowledge themselves.

Third, we need to assist our children as they begin dreaming their own  dreams—pre-experiencing desired outcomes with them and assisting them in finding appropriate methods for completing them.

Fourth, we need to communicate patiently and skillfully, making it safe for them to share likes and dislikes, choices and preferences—handling their “infant dreams like tiny precious butterflies.” By respecting their wishes now, we encourage them to respect others’ wishes in the future.

Fifth, we must provide the expertise they will need until we can find other experts to assist them, or they learn how to select experts on their own.

Sixth, we are responsible for updating their fears and disappointments, for learning how to do this ourselves or finding experts who can. We need to regularly update old rules and limits we’ve set for them, helping to expand their Safe Zone and contract their Danger Zone. Opening the door to The Potential Zone, the zone where they will create our future as well.

Seventh, we need to hold their outcomes with them, especially when they don't have the foggiest idea what to do next, when they get discouraged or fall into the depths of impossibility. We need to cheer them all the way to completion and greater self-confidence.

Eighth, we are responsible for shielding their dreams from the cold drafts and scorching heat of others’ disagreement. We need to say things they will need to say to themselves. Yes, you can.(Yes, I can.) You need to think of another way. (I need to think of another way.) Or, let's hold this dream together until we can find co-dreamers who will nurture it with us.

Ninth, we are responsible for switching negative thoughts to positive ones. I know you feel you can't, but I know you can. What do you really want? How will you feel when you've completed it? What difference will it make in your life, and others’ lives? Even when they’re frustrated or disappointed in us, we need to encourage them to keep asking for what they want from us, and from others.

Tenth, as leaders, we are responsible for maintaining our health and balance—monitoring our food and exercise and the effect it is having on us, on our moods and emotions, so they will know how to maintain their balance as well. We need to remember… we are leading by example 24/7.

And, of course, we need to extend the same care and sensitivity to our followers at work and in the world.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

 $14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com


Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Becoming a Grandparent... a Hard to Believe Moment!

By Susan Ford Collins

Exhausted from a 14 hour day, I had been asleep for 15 minutes when a call from my daughter Cathy suddenly woke me up, "Mom, I think my water just broke."

Those words took me back to 31 years before. I had been baking cookies with one eye on late news, when a sudden gush of warm water rearranged our evening’s plans. Grabbing pre-packed bags, my husband and I immediately headed for the hospital and, in less than two hours, I was holding Cathy in my arms.

With that memory prodding me, I packed quickly and drove an hour and a half north to West Palm Beach, praying I would arrive there before the baby did, and rehearsing what I'd say if I was stopped by a state trooper.

But what happened to me didn't happen to Cathy. After two hours, anesthesiologist Dad-to-be Alan and I were still tossing and turning on lumpy cots in her room. At sunrise we took pictures of her sitting up in bed, ready and beautiful. But she wasn't in labor. The birth was 34 days early, so the doctors ran tests to determine her baby's maturity. Twelve hours later, the results were all positive. They would induce labor the next morning at six.

After 20 minutes on Pitocin, a printout of high spikes and low valleys confirmed that Cathy was in labor. Alan stood to her left, breathing through the pains with her. Her sister Margaret and I took turns on the right.

The pain increased and she needed anesthesia, but the anesthesia failed to work for this anesthesiologist’s wife… despite three painful attempts at correctly inserting the needle in her spine. My doctor-daughter Margaret and I winced as we watched her husband stand helplessly by observing a procedure, he had done successfully 200 times, go wrong on his wife. Having instantaneously assessed that jumping over the bed and jerking the needle out of that doctor's hand was illegal and inappropriate, he remained as calm as those circumstances allowed.

Cathy rose to the occasion. Focusing on her breathing, she managed herself masterfully for 12 grueling hours with only a minute between pains. As the baby’s head crowned, the obstetrician shouted, "Keep your eyes open!” On the next push, he helped Cathy reach down and deliver her own baby. At 5:47 p.m. Dylan's cone-shaped head and slippery supple body finally emerged, and Cathy pulled him up to her chest lovingly, gasping and sobbing as she glimpsed their new son for the first time. We all stood awed by the miracle of birth.

His waxy face looked exactly like Cathy's had when she was born—the same tiny nose, the same peachy complexion. But this baby was my daughter's, not mine. Our babies looked alike, but our deliveries were quite different. I had been taken off to labor alone, comforted only by a call button and overwhelming anesthesia. My husband paced the halls while my mother, recovering from electroshock therapy, sat limply by in the waiting room, knowing I was her daughter but not remembering my name.

As Cathy began to nurse her new baby, I reflected on the profound changes that had occurred in the generation between these births, changes in my life and my society. Today I can ask for what I want, and, even when I'm told No, I still hold my outcome. And I've long since learned how to avoid individuals who try to manipulate and control me—attempting to get their way by blocking mine.

But I hadn't known how to ask for what I wanted when I was Cathy's age, and even if I had, the hospital staff would have told me no. What I wanted didn't matter to them, bound by procedures, right ways and wrong ways, have tos and musts. So I simply did what I was told.

This birth was different. First and foremost, Cathy and Alan focused on their baby's safety and health. Second, they expected their staff to perform effectively and efficiently. Third, and most satisfying, Cathy and Alan had made choices. Dylan's birth was their creation. They had been preparing for months—visiting local hospitals to discover the one they wanted, interviewing obstetricians, pediatricians and delivery nurses to ensure their personalities would be compatible. Cathy had chosen a room with a sunrise view of the water.

It had never occurred to me to look at rooms when I delivered, to find which ones I liked and I didn't. So when Cathy asked me to walk through the halls to check out rooms with her, I was constrained by a certain residual compliance. I had taught her to make choices and she was comfortable doing it—even more comfortable than I was at times.

Cathy and Alan chose to leave the phone turned on during labor so friends could check on her progress. Nurses came as needed, doctors did too. There was no secrecy, no separation or aloneness. Anyone could hold her hand. Anyone could brush her hair, not just genetic family but family of heart. The entire birthing process took place in her room. Alan and I slept there the whole time. Dylan stayed there too, his tiny rolling glass-sided bed always within eyeshot. We bonded as a family in those precious first days.

I had reached a new level—The Grandparent Level. My leadership responsibilities had expanded again.

The Grandparent Level

My children are now asking me how to raise their child—how and when to feed him, when and how to bathe and pick him up. I am no longer just parenting, I am teaching them to parent.

Cathy and Alan are temporarily dependent on me, not knowing how to handle their screaming child in the night. Not knowing what to do when a fever spikes suddenly, or a rash erupts painfully. Their phone calls have increased. Their visits have increased. And my perceived value has increased as well. Oh how I wish I’d known about this stage when we were going through the rebellious and unappreciative teenage years. The years when I was viewed as "stupid and out of touch.” The years when my only value seemed to be paying their way.

Soon we will be teaching Dylan how to deal with new experiences—which ones are safe for him and which ones are dangerous, which things he can reach for and which ones he should draw back from. What’s possible and impossible for him, temporarily. We are installing his “basic life program.” And we’ll be responsible for updating it as he grows.

By the second week, I began noticing Cathy's resistance to my input. Her self-confidence was building and she was beginning to feel competent again. I was already backing off, remaining nearby in case she needed me. Even when there was nothing she needed, I was busy holding the vision of Cathy and Alan as successful parents and looking forward to Dylan's creations and inventions, to what he will teach us, to what he’ll contribute.

For the 10 Responsibilities of a Leader... a Parent or Grandparent, go to the Resources page or The 10 Responsibilities of a Leader... a Parent or Grandparent.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

 $14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com


Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Time to Create a New Tradition… Parenting Vows

By Susan Ford Collins

Infants’ capabilities are limited. They can move, fuss, cry or smile. But they can’t feed themselves, change their diapers or safely get in and out of their cribs. In this stage of life, they’re totally dependent on us to figure out what they need, to make time to meet their needs completely, and to replace ourselves appropriately when we have other responsibilities.

The choice to have children is one that impacts the rest of our lives. It requires five years of being totallyresponsible and sixteen more years of being heavily responsible, an even harder job since we’re not always there with them at that stage. And it’s demanding financially too. It takes $100,000 to $500,000 plus to pay for a child’s health and education.

Have you seen the Nyquil commercial where a man wakes up feeling awful and seems to be asking his boss for a sick day? As the view widens, we realize he’s asking for the day off... from his son who is standing up in his crib! Fun but true. In good times and bad, in sickness and health, there are no days off from parenting! With all this responsibility in mind, something seems to be missing.

It’s time to create a new tradition—Parenting Vows

We promise to love, honor and cherish when we marry. But there are no vows when we create a new life!

It’s time to initiate a new tradition—Parenting Vows—sacred vows that affirm our mutual willingness to be responsible for our children's lives. Let us vow to support their growth and future contributions forever. Then, if one of us dies or we decide to live apart, our children will truly know that the form of our relationship has changed. But our love for them hasn't.

Before that precious moment of choosing to parent, let us make a solemn promise to each other…

Repeat after me...

No matter what—no matter how much money we have or we don't have, no matter how much time we have or we don't have, no matter what happens in our lives or what doesn't happen—we will make certain that our child is supervised, safe and secure. That he or she will have the support and independence needed to develop skills and gain experience. And that—no matter what—we will parent so he or she will be able to lead our families and our society in new directions in the years to come.

We promise to manage our lives and relationships so we can meet the parenting needs of our child—whether we are living together or apart— until death do us part.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. Contact me for permission to use it.

* For more on Parenting Vows, read The Gate to Fulfillment: Beyond Personal Success, the final chapter in Our Children Are Watching: 10 Skills for Leading the Next Generation to Success.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins