Genevieve Griffin, Founder of Small Steps Go Places

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My formal life began when I became a first generation college student in 1978. (GO BLUE).

From then it has been an unexpected adventure.  I headed down a pathway that had no familiar road map, and led me beyond my town, state, and country toward the land of discomfort. 

Although there were plenty of times I wanted to run away and hide, I learned by embracing the discomfort, acting as if I knew what I was doing, that I would put together the most unanticipated life.  Note the words unexpected, no familiar road map, and discomfort.

Around 2012, with our first child getting ready to head to college, I had this overwhelming feeling that I was sending them without directions.  I wanted so much to make sure I shared all of the pertinent and valuable advice I knew I had amassed!  I regretted all of those conversations and stories of my own college experience I hadn't shared.  It was a poignant and memorable moment.

So, I stepped back and took a breath.  In fact, I am a good parent, I did have many conversations.  And, those were MY stories based on my experience from another time and set of situations.  (This is how we registered for classes. I spent so much time at Drakes--oh, their closed now...) Neither my children, nor their friends, needed me to do the work they were about to do. And, they did not want to sit and listen as I lectured them about what I thought they needed to know. I do not fantasize very long about what it must be for a student to make it through high school; in addition to the awkwardness and peer stuff that has always existed, there are so many different pressures, unrealistic expectations, and unforgiving schedules.

The takeaway from this poignant and memorable moment was that using a blueprint means you don't spend time figuring the basics out.  I like to think of it as I was keeping my head above water, but never learned to swim. This is time that can be spent actually benefitting from the experience in the first place.

I did not need to reinvent the wheel. Transition needs to be engaging in this world of short attention spans. Learning how to do something new (in this case, going to college) requires sitting next to those going through some of the same things, not looking at your phone.  And, it needs to be something that uses a guide, and doesn't require a teacher.  Although we as parents and teachers would like to be there during bewildering college situations, we are not.  Our kids and students can and will figure things out.  And, they will have the advantage of building up confidence by practicing.   I spent many years learning how to recognize the insurmountable steps I had scaled to live the incredible life I have.  I would have benefitted from the blueprint I have created, when I designed OPTION PLAY.


Everyone transitions into something.  Defining, and breaking the transition into manageable steps--and then building an engaging blueprint enables people to reap more from the situation.

I believe I can help people do what they do, more effectively.
Sticking with my own vision has taken hours of research, trial and error, low-tech adaptations, and spunk. It has meant checking my ego at the door, learning to feel proud even when my output is not perfect, correct, or even pretty.

According to Peter Senge, there are four challenges in initiating changes.  At first, I applied these to me:

  • There must be a compelling case for change (that would be learning to go to college)
  • There must be time to change (I have had so many opportunities)
  • There must be help during the change process (my experiential approach)
  • As the perceived barriers to change are removed, it is important that some new problem, not before considered important or perhaps not even recognized, doesn't become a critical barrier (using my core principles to choose ways to adapt but not box me in)

When people have a description of challenges, and possible solutions, they will decide what works for them and that will be a foundation for their success.

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Genevieve Griffin CV

1986, Masters, Urban Planning & Game Design University of Michigan

1982, BA Family Psychology   University of Michigan

1980s highlights:  University of Michigan, international trip through Poland, Russian, East and West Germany, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, and Israel.  Relocated to the northeast.  Residence Life work in the State University of NY system.

1990s highlights: Relocated to Washington, DC area, worked in Office of HUD, World Bank, and learned about food monetization.   Refocused on HIV prevention.  Relocated to NYC and developed CDC-funded program for adolescents in NYC. Married and had three beautiful children with the LOVE of my life.

2000s highlights:  Home-schooled our three beautiful children and lived a full life.

2010s highlights (so far):  Finished home-schooling, parenting high school students who became college students. Started a blog, trademarked a phrase, had an idea that has grown into Small Steps Go Places Inc, OPTION PLAY, and more to come.

I was a first generation college student at the University of Michigan, and now have come full circle by designing the game that would have helped me benefit more from that amazing opportunity.

I was a first generation college student at the University of Michigan, and now have come full circle by designing the game that would have helped me benefit more from that amazing opportunity.