Today’s conversation is a special one as I’m talking with my friend Jim Sheils. I have to tell you, this won’t be a typical episode where we talk about tactics to improve your marketing, appointment process, or how to scale your business. We hit on a topic that’s far more important… how to make sure running a successful financial services practice doesn’t sabotage your relationship with your Family. Unfortunately, over the last decade of working with advisors, I’ve seen this happen far too often. I’ve seen those with a massively successful business and huge bank account that came at the expense of their spouse and children. A big bank account means nothing if you have no one to share it with, which is why I thought it was important to have this conversation with Jim and share it with all of you.
Personally, ever since being introduced to Jim a few years back, I’ve been doing much of what we cover in this conversation today and as a parent, this is the most impactful thing I’ve ever done when it comes to developing an incredible relationship with each of my children. Besides my personal experience with Jim’s teachings, his “Family Board Meeting” framework has been shared across the country with groups like EO, YPO, and even on Harvard University’s campus. In fact, we recently brought Jim into Advisors Excel’s headquarters and his talk was the highest rated in the history of 12-year-old company.
Here are a just a handful of the things that you’ll learn:
- How Jim’s Family Board Meeting framework came to be and why his entrepreneur friends felt so strongly about it that they literally forced him to write a book and share it with others. [05:13]
- How to avoid the entrepreneurial excuse of “I’m building a business for my family”—and find out what truly matters based on Jim’s time speaking with a number of entrepreneurial families. The children’s viewpoint on their parent’s businesses may surprise you. [18:18]
- Discover the magical combination of Jim’s 3 step Board Meeting formula, why it works, and the simple way to implement your very own quarterly meetings with your kids [27:36]
“We all think that as we build our business, our kids will understand.” – Jim Sheils
“We all think that as we build our business, our kids will understand.” – Jim Sheils
- [05:13] What is the Family Board Meeting and how can you use it to build a deeper, more meaningful connection with your spouse and kids.
- [09:43] The power of holding a separate quarterly board meeting with each one of your children.
- [15:03] Are you accidently delegating yourself out of family life? Learn how to run up the entrepreneurial mountain and bring your family with you!
- [18:18] Don’t fall victim to the entrepreneurial mindset—recognize that the #1 thing your family wants, is you.
- [20:10] Find out why the opposite of addiction is connection and that there is no substitute for quality time.
- [23:04] Why bringing success back to the home will bring more success to your business.
- [26:50] The importance of 1-on-1 time—learn to strip away the distractions and create true connection with your kids.
- [32:29] Why it’s so important to let you kids choose the 1-on-1 activities you build into your quarterly family board meetings.
- [36:26] Once you create a rhythm, the questions your kids start asking you will blow you away!
- [41:22] “That which we schedule, get’s done.” Learn to carve out time for your most important clients—your kids!
- [45:41] Find out who Jim thinks of when hears the word successful and why.
- [47:39] Hear about some of Jim’s favorite books and the impact they had on his life.
- [50:00] Discover the 3 skills your kids need to build a solid foundation for success.
- [53:05] Jim shares one thing he would like to see as absurd 25 years from now.
- [01:1:59] Sacrificing profit upfront to continue to build trust and reputation that comes back in bigger ways down the road.
“1 or 2 hours of quality time beats 20 hours of passing-by time.” – Jim Sheils
“1 or 2 hours of quality time beats 20 hours of passing-by time.” – Jim Sheils
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Jim Sheils
Website | Facebook | LinkedIn
- The Family Board Meeting: Is Business Success Hurting Your Family?
- Education Matrix
- Dads Retreat
- The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
- Advisors Excel
- The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children
- Man’s Search for Meaning
- The Richest Man in Babylon: Six Laws of Wealth
- How To Win Friends and Influence People
PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE
- Jon Vroman
- Hal Elrod
- Yanik Silver
- Dr. Shefali Tsabary
- Jon Berghoff
- John Kane
- Viktor E. Frankl
- Napoleon Hill
- Tony Robbins
- Jeff Hoffman
REVIEW OF THE WEEK
Thanks for checking out the latest show, here’s this weeks featured review! This one comes to us from Trib Reader who says:
Thanks for the review, kind words from anyone who’s studied under Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach model are extra appreciated. I’ve definitely been a student of everything Dan has to teach that’s ever been shared with me. Glad you enjoyed the Shark Tank analogy as it applies to financial services as well. For those of you who haven’t checked out the episode referenced yet, you can get to it by clicking here.
Already heard it once or twice? Please leave a short review here, and tell me which guests I should have on!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
TRANSCRIPTSClick here to Read the Transcript
Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast with your host, Brad Johnson. Brad’s the VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, the largest independent insurance brokerage company in the US. He’s also a regular contributor to Investment News, the Wall Street Journal, and other industry publications.
[00:00:25] Brad: Welcome to the Elite Advisor Blueprint, the podcast for world-class financial advisors. My name is Brad Johnson and I’m the VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, and it’s my goal to distill the best ideas and advice from top thought leaders and apply it to the world of independent financial advising.
Today’s conversation is a special one as I’m talking with my friend, Jim Sheils. I have to tell you, this won’t be a typical episode where we talk about tactics to improve your marketing, appointment process or how to scale your business. We hit on a topic that’s far more important, how to make sure running a successful financial services practice that doesn’t sabotage your relationship with your family. I have to say, unfortunately, over the last decade of working with advisors, I’ve seen this happen far too often. I’ve seen those with a massively successful business, a huge bank account that came at the expense of their spouse and children. And a big bank account means nothing if you have no one to share it with which is why I thought it was important to have this conversation with Jim and share it with all of you.
Personally, ever since being introduced to Jim a few years back, I’ve been doing much of what we cover in this conversation. And as a parent, this is the most impactful thing I’ve ever done when it comes to developing an incredible relationship with each of my children and besides my personal experience with Jim’s teaching, his Family Board Meeting framework has been shared across the country with groups like EO, YPO, and even on Harvard University’s campus. In fact, we recently brought Jim into Advisors Excel’s headquarters and his talk was the highest rated in the history of our 12-year-old company.
So, here’s a quick recap of what we cover and then let’s get to this conversation. First, we get into how Jim’s Family Board Meeting framework came to be and why his entrepreneur friends felt so strongly about it that they literally forced him to write a book and share it with others. Next, we cover how to avoid the entrepreneurial excuse of, “I’m building a business for my family,” and find out what truly matters based on Jim’s time speaking with a number of entrepreneurial families. The children’s viewpoint on their parents’ businesses may surprise you.
[00:02:23] Brad: Finally, the magical combination of Jim’s three-step board meeting formula and why it works, and the simple way to implement your very own quarterly meetings with your kids. Okay. This is a first, but I thought why not, as worst-case scenario, I’ll buy a few books from a friend and share them with a few of my loyal listeners. It seemed like a win-win to me. So, here’s what I’m going to do. Jim’s book, The Family Board Meeting, it’s my most gifted book probably ever so I thought I just continue the trend and ship them out free of charge to all of you. All that I ask is that you leave an honest review out on iTunes for our show which we’ve made super easy to do. Just visit BradleyJohnson.com/iTunes. Once you’ve left a review, just drop us an email via [email protected] with your iTunes username and a mailing address and we’ll drop you a copy in the mail as a thank you. That simple. Other than that, as always, everything we cover is in the show notes over at BradleyJohnson.com and that’s it. As always, thanks for listening and without further delay, my conversation with Jim Sheils.
[00:03:28] Brad: Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast. I’m incredibly excited. I’ve got my buddy, Jim Sheils, here with us today. Welcome to the show, Jim.
[00:03:37] Jim: Hey, Brad. Good to see you again. Thanks for having me.
[00:03:39] Brad: This conversation is long overdue. I think we’ve known each other for a couple of years now, met originally at, of all places, a dad’s retreat which I think most people in business don’t even know these things exist. Our mutual friend, Jon Vroman, he was out there looking for, you know, there’s all these business conferences, how can I become a better marketer, how can I become a better speaker and he was out there and he said, “How can I become a better dad?” and looking all over the place and there was nothing. So, he just decided to create his own dad’s retreat of which you were one of the featured speakers the first time. So, I’m excited about today because we’re going to go way off track from what a normal podcast than the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast is for me but in my opinion, this might be the most impactful conversation I’ve ever had on the show. So, I’m excited to have you, Jim.
[00:04:28] Jim: Yeah. Good to be here. Good to get to talk to you at a new format. Usually, it’s at your table with a glass of wine.
[00:04:35] Brad: Which, hey, we need to have some more of those too. So, as we dig in here, I’m going to just, for those following along on video, how Jim and I originally connected. He has a concept called the Family Board Meeting and for those looking at the video, this is about the skinniest book I think you’ll ever read but it’s the most impact per page I think I’ve ever seen in a book. And in fact, I’ve gifted this book more to friends, clients than any other book I’ve ever come across. So, what I want to do is I’m going to turn the mic over to you, Jim. I know I’m giving you a big buildup here, but I’d like to dig into just right here at the get-go, so we can hit it and everybody can kind of – and then we’ll see where the conversation goes. What is the Family Board Meeting? How did the Family Board Meeting come to be? Can you just give us kind of the overview of the whole thought process behind it?
[00:05:27] Jim: Yeah. The Board Meeting Strategy, and again, The Family Board Meeting is the company I founded for helping entrepreneurs succeed in homes and connect deeper with their kids, not lose their status at home, their connection at home. And I started working with entrepreneur families before I even had my own family. I have a family of four now, but I actually started working with entrepreneur families almost I think because I’ve started a young age into entrepreneurship. So, when I spoke at events, people would come to me as like the young fun uncle because I was in between the age of their children and the age of the parent. And so, somehow, I just fell in the backwards of working and starting to do retreats with entrepreneurial families. And as you know, you’ve met my family now, my own family came along. And I needed to connect with my sons. Again, I have two biological and two adopted sons. My two older sons are adopted. When you come in someone’s life at the age of seven and five, it’s a pretty odd circumstance. It’s like asking a girl to dance for the first time at the seventh-grade dance. We all remember that. Awkward, you’re not sure, you want to make it work but you’re a little uncomfortable. And the Board Meeting Strategy was just a simple rhythm and I have been taught by some mentors to develop rhythms. If you can rhythmize, you can be successful in your relationships.
So, I just created this rhythm that was based around the premise that I should be able to, as an entrepreneur and as now I have my own real estate investment company, I should be able to treat my family members, especially my children, with the same attention and respect that I give my key clients, my biggest clients, make key team members and biggest investors in my business. And so, the Board Meeting Strategy, which originally came from a group of surfers making a promise to treat their children with this promise, was to develop a rhythm that kept me grounded with them and in sync with them. And that’s how the Board Meeting Strategy came about. It’s a simple rhythm that can be followed throughout the year that doesn’t overwhelm but keeps you grounded and helps keep deepening the connection.
[00:07:27] Jim: And you see, you’ve used it for a few years now. The principles are sound, they’ve been tested, and I never would’ve thought that – I didn’t even want to write the book. My friend, the Strategic Coach, Shannon Waller, pushed me to say, “This is too important. You need to write it.” And thankfully I did because I would never have met guys like you. But I never thought that the difference that made for me and my sons and now my other daughters and sons, my all four kids now, I never thought it would make such a difference in other families. So, you just never know where things are going to turn. But I guess it’s gone semi-viral and it’s making a difference which is what it was all about. So, I’m humbled and just so grateful for that.
[00:08:03] Brad: Well, and it continues to go viral by the way. So, just yesterday got back from Pete Vargas’ event out in Colorado Springs, I’m sitting at the dinner table. Hal Elrod, author of the Miracle Morning, sitting across from me and Nick Silver who I know you know as well and a topic of conversation over dinner was the family board meetings.
[00:08:23] Jim: Really?
[00:08:24] Brad: Yes, absolutely, and Hal was talking about how big of an impact it made for him and even this last dad’s retreat which you were out of Jon’s, but it was a topic of conversation there and I think some guys have kind of have been doing half family board meetings and that was kind of the topic of conversation is let’s make sure we do it by the book. So, while we’re here at the front of the conversation, can you just give us the three simple steps just as an overview, so everybody can get an understanding of exactly what a family board meeting is?
[00:08:52] Jim: Yes. Absolutely. And one of my biggest goals, Brad, and I know you and I’ve had hours of conversations, I really want to do something that would stick. I want to do something that was so easy that I could talk to you about it and you could test it out and then you could share it, just a simple framework, and that’s what the board meeting strategy is. Family board meeting is so easy to put into practice and I had to make it simple. I’m an entrepreneur with ADD. I mean, my follow-up skills are semi-par at certain levels. That’s why I have help in certain areas, right?
[00:09:22] Brad: You’re on a good podcast, Jim. I think all of the listeners and myself also have it.
[00:09:27] Jim: Yes. So, all of my Kolbe people are out there, they’re like, “Oh yeah. Okay. You have a quick startup in the eights and nines. Yeah. That’s me.” So, I want to stay grounded. I didn’t want to get to October of every year or November and turnaround and go, “Geez, I feel like I might have done some business stuff, but I feel disconnected at home.” So, the Board Meeting Strategy was set to principles that were already in my head as an entrepreneur and I just set into action and they’ve worked. And so, it works like this. Just like in the old days and still with a lot of companies, Advisors Excel groups that have the entrepreneurial spirits though, you have a quarterly board meeting. And a quarterly board meeting for good companies had a purpose and that was to reunite the team and look ahead to the next 90 days, reflect on the last 90, reunite the team and look ahead to the next 90. It’s a very good principle. I’m not talking about the old boring, IBM stuff suits board meetings where people are like, “Oh man, crunching numbers on those long spreadsheets.” That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m looking at more exact principles, bringing people together, reuniting the team and looking ahead. I said, “Why can’t I do that with each one of my children?”
So, what I do and what I’ve done now for six years, haven’t missed one is I hold a board meeting with each one of my children every quarter, a quarterly board meeting. And so, that’s every 90 days I have a board meeting and there are only three principles. Besides this, it has to be a minimum of four hours uninterrupted and I could go into the science of that of decompression and connection but every quarter at least four hours I have a board meeting with my children and there are only three steps to it, only three. First one is one-on-one, the second one is without electronics, and the third one is called fun activity with focused reflection. And we’ll get into that. That might sound a little confusing but all that is is the shortest definition in the world for experiential education. And experiential education, I’m kind of an alternative education nutcase because I really get into the how’s the best ways we can educate our children, to build relationships, and experiential education is just off the charts with success.
[00:11:29] Jim: So, I just used it with my children and I’ll explain exactly how a fun activity of focused reflection works. But when you put those three things together and get into the simple rhythm of once a quarter, every 90 days for at least four hours uninterrupted, one-on-one, without electronics, a fun activity of your child’s choice, not your choice and with focused reflection, these become absolute pillars in a relationship, absolute. In fact, I’ll show you this. The Power of Moments was just at a cadre event that I was just at and these guys were a lot smarter than me, Brad, Ivy League guys who have designed how do we have memories that stick with our family with things.
And basically, without me knowing so I’m not that scientific, we’ve plugged into these exact science is that once they go together, we set pillars in the relationships, they deepen the relationships, they take away barriers from your children, they help set up things for when you want your kids to come to you for advice instead of their friends or the internet, this simple strategy is, again, one of those just stakes in the ground that hold steadfast in the relationship and I watch it build year-after-year. And I never thought it would make such a difference. You’re saying, “Oh is 90 days enough?” It makes the time in between each board meeting more special, more connected, builds the family. You got to separate the parts to strengthen the whole, and we’ll go into each step but that’s pretty much how it works. You can put it at the back of a napkin of how this strategy works and it can be used over and over and over.
[00:12:57] Brad: And it is an absolute game changer. Doing them personally with my two oldest boys who are seven and six now the last two years. What’s interesting from at least for our family dynamic and I think most families, the older child’s kind of the dominant one. They’re older. They kind of tend to take over conversations. I find the one-on-one with my second oldest, Nash, it just allows his personality to come out because he does not have that older sibling that’s kind of always looking over his shoulder telling him what to do. But before we go into kind of the power of the actual board meetings because we can spend a long conversation on that, I want to back up because quite honestly, I was like, “Should I have Jim come on the podcast?”
For those out there, financial advisors listening in to this, this is not a marketing conversation. This is not a, you know, what’s your appointment process or how to scale your business but in my opinion, I was like especially after you came in and talk to our company, Jim, the emails I’m getting from people thanking me and the impact to your short little hour conversation had on families and the compound effect that’s going to have over time, I’m like, “I absolutely have to have Jim on,” and this might be the most important conversation that I ever have on in this podcast because I’ve seen it the last decade or so, high performers, A-type personalities, in business you tend to go all in and it’s consuming.
[00:14:19] Jim: Yeah.
[00:14:19] Brad: And so, I want to spend a little bit of time because to me success is not the money in the bank account if your kids, you don’t have a relationship with them, you don’t have a relationship with your wife. So, let’s go back because I’ve heard you a couple of times some entrepreneurs where this was kind of like a massive wakeup call to them where they had an ultra-successful business but then when they went back home, they really didn’t have that relationship established with their kids and with their family and how the board meetings impact to that. Could you share a story or two around that?
[00:14:47] Jim: Yeah. And it comes from feedback of the strategy for the last five years. And also, as you know, I run private retreats for entrepreneurs and their kids and I had some mentors go through it who are business mentors and probably I can say I became a family mentor to them. So, we’re able to leverage off each other. But what I found is the way that we’re wired as entrepreneurs and I’ve worked with a lot of financial advisors, we have the best intentions. We have gusto. We have get up and go. But what can happen is with the best intentions, because most of us got into the career, we got into to create a certain amount of wealth, to create space and to create certain freedoms. And we say, “What do we want to do with those freedoms?” We want to spend time with our family, pursue our own passions, get into causes that we care about. All these things are super important, but we can get so focused on running up on the entrepreneurial mountain.
What I saw happen, to put in the most simplest stories, we start to run so hard, so fast and so dedicated up the entrepreneurial mountain, that and it’s with the best intention that we finally stop and really with moments of clarity look around and the people we’re closest to or supposed to be closest to are not there anymore or even worse, they’re still there but if we’re really honest, we’re pretty much a stranger to them. We put ourselves in a position where, in honor of the business, we’ve actually delegated ourselves out of family life. And the power and the art of delegation is phenomenal for growing a business. It can absolutely be a curse if we bring in at home too much. Because what I’ve had to explain to a lot of very successful and I’m talking guys worth hundreds of millions, if we completely delegate ourselves out of family life, we can lose that connection that we all really vie for deep down. When we stop to really think about it, that’s what we want. We want a deep and more meaningful relationship. We want our kids to be able to turn to us for help, for advice, for fun. We don’t want to be looked at as a simple bank source, parole officer or shift manager.
[00:16:47] Jim: None of us want that and that’s the role that we get stuck into. So, what I found is I am the last person, Brad, to take away ambition. You and I have lots of talks about building businesses, investments. But what I’ve found is I want to save myself from myself and what I found is if I set really powerful grounding without-a-doubt no exception rhythms in my life, that it’s saving from myself, it doesn’t take away ambition. It helps fuel more ambition because I’m feeling such success where it really counts and it’s a huge recharge and it’s the reminder of balance. So, I didn’t have to think about it.
So, for people like us that are wired a certain way, rhythmizing your life do not take away freedom. They actually create more freedom, more meaning and that’s what we want. From the success, no one wants to just build a huge business and have no one around them. It would be a very rare case but at the same time, I understand how we’re wired. I’m saying let’s work with how we’re wired. Let’s put some concrete rhythms in place that as you run up that mountain, your family is coming with you. The time that you spend is not just passing by time as I talk about in the book. It’s true quality time and there are principles to quality time. In an hour or two of quality time, it does way more than 15, 20 hours of passing by time, if that makes sense. You know what I’m talking about now because we’ve had this conversation.
[00:18:18] Brad: Let’s go to I’ve heard you share kind of the entrepreneurial mindset. It’s almost like you’re, I want to say this the right way, you’re giving yourself an excuse because you’re like, “Hey, I’m dedicating my time in the business so that I can have the cash flow or the money so that my family can take these fun trips or have nice stuff or all of that.” Can you share maybe, and obviously no stories that give away personal identity here, but maybe sometimes where you’ve seen like somebody that was using that crutch or that excuse from an entrepreneurial standpoint where the light bulb went off and then they made changes, put some stakes in the ground and the impact that created with their family? Do you have some of those maybe to pull from?
[00:19:02] Jim: Yeah. I mean, and I have a theme of them which is probably the most powerful. And one thing I have to start with is we all think that as we build the business, our kids will understand that they all have our perception, that they’ll have our 20,000-foot view of what we’re trying to do. I’m just learning, “No, right now they don’t. They won’t understand.” And kind of a relief for me from the more and more I’ve worked two, three days at a time with families, you hear it finally come out. The theme that really comes out, Brad, the most is, “I don’t want all this stuff that you just talked about. I want you. I want your attention. I want to be able to talk about you. I want to be able to know about the things that interest you outside of work,” and that was a huge aha for me with my sons. So, as I build, I have to also remember what’s really important. Before you figure out what’s next, we figure out what’s important. And what’s important to them is the things that I can give them from the things we’re talking about today.
And to give the strong example in the theme because I’ve seen it a few times, unfortunately, but the people that have responded in the right way, they’ve actually had huge turnarounds and that’s with one of the biggest fears of any parent that I know is addiction. Addiction is a terrible thing. I’ve had some alcoholism and addiction in my family. It’s a very painful thing. We all have that concern for our children. And I learned that in events, it was actually a female entrepreneur, very successful now but went through the trenches with her own addictions and she said, “The opposite of addiction is connection.” And that stuck with me forever, Brad. The opposite of addiction is connection. So, one of the best ways that we can be on the offense and defense of addiction for our children and let them live a fulfilled life avoiding pain like that is connection, true meaningful relationships with them. And I actually got to sit with some rooms where I was invited to support some different families with children and parents who all their children were addicts, teens, young adult addicts.
[00:21:02] Jim: And as we started to pull out the stories, as we started to pull out the “what happened” question, there was a common theme. And especially in one instance I was in a room and every single person there had a successful business, every single person, but the theme was they had sacrificed quality time to build the business. And whether it was direct to that or the child didn’t have the supervision or they have an endless bank account which is also something that I’ve seen great danger in and not showing giving financial responsibility to our children, a lot of us are first generation wealthy and we want to give. But if that lack of connection, lack of supervision and an endless ATM card really cause some problems and the block, Brad, was a lot of the men and women were saying, “Well, look, by building this business I’m able to pay for this best rehab that we’re at here in the world to be able to get my kid help for the addiction.” And so, you sit back and you go, “Oh man, which came first, the chicken or the egg?” And it’s just such a powerful example.
And when we started to unravel and said, “Look, there has to be a balance here,” the opposite of addiction is connection and there is no substitute for quality time. What are they really vying for? The people that I know that went home and started to lessen the delegation, delegate themselves back into family life, have committed rhythms, did unbelievable things for their kids. Now I’m not saying it’s the cure for all addictions. That’s a very serious and big problem but I’m telling you right now, it is absolutely a huge proven offensive move to help people in that situation. And there’s been definitely a few that a simple thing of slowing down and spending quality time not only reignited their relationship, help remove that pain and suffering but also their business did great.
[00:23:04] Jim: And that’s the thing that’s amazing is everyone thinks, “No, no, no, if I take my foot off the gas, I got to be going 90 miles an hour in this 25-zone or we’re in trouble.” Actually, it’s the opposite. With having that kind of meaning and fulfillment at home, usually, they’re making better decisions at work. So, the addiction thing has been huge. Bringing quality time back to successful business people at home, game changer. Absolute game changer.
[00:23:28] Brad: So, let’s speak to quality time because I think there are different definitions of that. And I remember you sharing a story, I think it was one of your retreats actually, one of your recent ones and it was around cellphones and actually you didn’t ask the parents. You asked the kids. So, can you share kind of that? And I think that’ll segue into what makes quality time, and how you define that?
[00:23:51] Jim: Sure. When I started doing these retreats and created the Board Meeting Strategy I started to interview just scores and scores of entrepreneur families. People were very generous with their time. They’re with something that they really care about and we start to see a pattern. And the pattern that you see is we as entrepreneurs might be saying something but not eating our own cooking. Now the easiest one I can talk about which is principle number two, without electronics, is definitely the electronics. So, I was in Utah in June and did a retreat with about 30 entrepreneur families and Dr. Shefali, she’s been on Oprah, wrote a book called Conscious Parenting, really good principles. Cool lady. We had a great time with her and she separated – we were playing this fun game and the kids were ranging from again 8 to 24. So, there was a big range there.
We’re all having a good time and laughing, beautiful mountaintop spot and she said, “Okay. Let’s separate two sides.” And she asked the question about electronics and she said, “How many of your parents give you a hard time for being on your phone all the time for doing the little thumbsies?” And almost every kid raised their hand. I think every kid did raise their hand. And she said, “Well, let me ask you. How many of you think your parents are hypocrites then?” And a couple of the younger kids didn’t know what hypocrites meant. They said, “What’s a hypocrite?” And she explained what a hypocrite is. Almost every arm went up. And what I found is so many times the electronics you had a disconnect and reconnect. We’re not eating our own cooking. And one thing I’ll say, and this is out of humility, believe me, because this was not the case. This was absolutely not the case. Only three kids did not raise their hands. There was one young girl and my two sons. And Dr. Shefali went and really drilled my sons and said, “Hold on, your dad’s running the event,” and she’s a pisser. She’s funny.
[00:25:47] Jim: And she’s like, “Don’t give me that. So, he’s not on his phone doing that?” and they’re both like, and believe me, if my boys joke, they could throw me under the bus, they would. They’re 11 and 13 and they just said, “No, he’s not like that.” And that meant the world to me and this comes from someone who didn’t have it under control, Brad, who would take that text real quick, he would take that email at the table that when they’re trying to talk to us and it really is there a block in having a connection in true quality time. You can’t have it. So, that’s one of the principle things that I found that quality time, there are certain additives that have to be set. A certain environment has to be set for true quality time. Rushing here and there and having been on the phone and the radio going and driving your kid from this place to that, that’s passing time. That’s not quality time and quality time is the meat and potatoes. That kind of time is the garnish and we want more meat and potatoes.
[00:26:40] Brad: I almost find it – it’s like an awakening. Honestly to me, that’s something I struggle with, I really do, and we’ve talked at the dad’s retreat. In fact, one of the guys out there shared. This is a fun little tip for some parents out there, if you struggle that much with kind of turning the business off, the emails, the text, the late-night phone calls, he actually, I’m trying to think who it was.
[00:27:01] Jim: Sean. Yeah. Sean.
[00:27:03] Brad: Sean out of the event actually went and bought one of those little gun safes, those handgun safes and when he gets home for dinner, he will actually take that, actually he’ll give it to one of his children. They’ll take it, they’ll lock it up in the gun safe and it’s gone until they’re in bed that night.
[00:27:19] Jim: Yeah.
[00:27:19] Brad: And so, that’s something I’ve actually done because out of sight, out of mind and just going back to the board meetings and doing those the last two years, you realize how bad it is when you literally are like, okay, four hours unconnected and you start to get this urge.
[00:27:38] Jim: You get these shakes.
[00:27:39] Brad: Yeah. It’s crazy how addictive cellphones are. And what it’s made me realize, number one, when you don’t have them, your relationship with your child exponentially, I mean, you’re 1,000% more present. But number two, now I start to become an observer. I go to restaurants and I start to see people at family dinners and they’re not at family dinners.
[00:28:02] Jim: No. They’re just glazed over.
[00:28:03] Brad: They’re literally, you’ve got a table full of people in their own little world. They might as well not even be eating together. And this is something I think as society progresses we weren’t ready for this and it’s something now that you know it’s there, you have to actually constantly guard against it or it naturally happens without you even trying. And so, have you had some of those types of experiences with some of the stories that you’ve seen where it’s just like, “Oh wow, this is what quality time actually is and here’s what came out of it once I actually realized what interacting with my child looks like?”
[00:28:37] Jim: Yeah. Well, to take the first two principles, one-on-one time and without electronics, it is so rare. So rare, Brad, and people go, “Oh my gosh, I never thought about that to have those two combos.” One-on-one time when you have a busy family of a couple of people and then you say, “Why don’t we get together for the holidays?” And that’s great. I love big holiday get-togethers but it’s crazy. It’s pandemonium. People are running around. And although I consider that quality time because you’re bringing the whole family together, one-on-one time, game changer. It is literally, that is the deepening tool of all deepening tools. You look at any professional team, they separate out. I remember I used to go, and I talk about it in the book, I used to watch the Giants play in my hometown where I grew up in New Jersey. They’d separate. The quarterback’s out. The wide receiver is out. You know this, being an ex-football player, the line out and you’d have separate practice and then you’d bring the team back together and you’d play better as a team.
Family works the same way. You got to separate the part to strengthen the whole and one-on-one time puts the magnifying glass on a relationship in a positive way. And here about couples’ retreats, well, you’re not going to bring your kids even though you love them on a couple’s retreat. That’s not what they’re there for. This is about you and you wife or you and your husband reconnecting. Not that you don’t love them, but they’re not invited to that. I found the same thing was important with one-on-one time like you talked about your two sons. When you’re one-on-one, it takes away that sibling rivalry which I don’t care what family you have. It does exist. It’s almost primal. It takes away distraction. If you’re the busy entrepreneur and your husband or wife stays at home, your kids might lean more into that relationship. If your spouse is in there, that’s a good thing because they can’t do that. They can’t stay separated. It’s just you guys. Now there is no best friend on, “I love my kids’ friends. We always bring along,” but on a board meeting, you’re not coming. You’re not invited. I need that one-on-one time. How many teenage kids want to talk about puberty in front of their little brother? Like, “Oh my gosh, I’d cut my arms off before I do that.” And you’re saying, “Well, all my kids don’t talk to me.”
[00:30:36] Jim: One-on-one time helps set the stage and then without electronics. I mean, getting one-on-one and without electronics like you said, “These dinners you see, Brad, and people just were all like this,” it serves a purpose to a point, but it’s been overused. Like you said, I don’t think we’re ready for the stimulation. And it is almost like a new frontier where you say, “Okay. I’m going to turn off my phone and you turn off your phone,” if you have a teen and you’re allowing them to have electronics or some younger I guess. It’s a whole new thing like, “Okay. What crutch do we lean on now?” Well, all that’s left is true connection. It’s really a stripping away of the distractions and nothing I think, and this reports back and letters back, takes away wars from a board meeting. If you try to break that rule and you keep that phone on, you take that one text, that one email, you’ve totally lost them. You’ve proven that that is more important than the relationships in front of you and it just kills them.
But for otherwise, they can see that if they had possibly been taking that one call, if they’ve been taking that one text, during this potential time where your child might be trying to open up, it would’ve been totally lost. But the fact that there was not that distraction, it’s led down the road that they’re like, “I can’t believe my son or my daughter opened up or started talking about this or asking me about this,” and that absence of electronics has been really, really important. I can track it back to see that it’s so key not to have for this type of quality time.
[00:32:03] Brad: It’s really sad when you think about it. If you’re in a business meeting, an important business meeting, and a text goes off or your phone starts to ring, if you and I are here, Jim, and we’re having a meeting, I’m not going to pop up my cellphone and say, “Hey, sorry, Jim. We’re talking about really important stuff here. Let me take this.”
[00:32:19] Jim: Yeah.
[00:32:20] Brad: And we do it with our kids.
[00:32:21] Jim: Exactly.
[00:32:22] Brad: That’s a much more important relationship, no offense. We’ll sit there and do it with our kids and it’s just I think it’s huge just the whole framework. Well, we just hit one and two, so we might as well go into three with the focused reflection and letting them pick the activity and then I want to come back as how the listeners can actually make sure they actually take this and run with it.
[00:32:40] Jim: Sure. So, yeah, this is the peanut butter and jelly, one-on-one, once a quarter, four hours uninterrupted at least and one-on-one without electronics, fun activity of their choice with focused reflection. Again, that is the shortest definition of experiential education and I won’t go into it today, but it is the most powerful form of education with the best results and it’s the most fun. And now you’re just using it to strengthen the relationship with your son or your daughter. And people say, “Can we use this board meeting strategy with our spouse?” Yes. We won’t get into that today, Brad, but as you know I do, without a doubt, weekly date night with my wife and that is one of the most important things in our marriages. It’s one of my firmest commitments. No, I’m not available. Now, this is important. But getting back to fun activity with focused reflection with your child, if you let them choose the activity, we always think we know what they want and then, I’m sorry, we’re going to lean toward something we kind of want. Something I said at Advisors Excel, look, if you guys really like to choose and your son or daughter, they kind of do, they’re not really into them but then you drag them off into a Chiefs game for four hours in the cold, they’re not really that into it and you’re saying, “Isn’t it great? We bonded.”
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing but if you really want connection and ownership and vying especially from teens, you let them choose the activity. Now you’re going to get a better feel of their creativity. You’re going to get a better feel of what they’re really interested in. They’re going to get a feel, it’s a test to say, “Okay. Will they actually do something I really want to do? And they might have no interest in.” So, with my kids, it’s been really cool over the last six years to see the things that they come up with that they create. It gives ownership. They get so excited to plan it out and to put it together. And all it is is creating that time. They plan it and then the fun activity with focused reflection. And all that means is what experiential education is you put students in direct inspiring experiences and then you save time at the end to have focused reflections where you ask certain questions that help clarify values and instill the lessons and concrete reapplications moving forward. That’s kind of the geeky definition.
[00:34:45] Jim: So, all you’re doing is having this fun together that they plan, maybe sharing a meal and at the end having some time to talk. And what happens when you’ve taken four hours to do this without a phone one-on-one, you’ve created something called decompression where you’ve actually started to decompress. They’ve started to lower their guard. Because most of us entrepreneurs are like this whether we realize it or not, we are. Both of our guards have been lowered and by having this fun together, it decompresses us, it opens up the lines of communication. And the focused reflection just starts by saying, what did you enjoy about today and why. And it might last for three minutes the first time you do it but that simple question has opened up so many doors for parents to talk about subjects are like, “I can’t believe my teen talked to me. I can’t believe my young child had the awareness to bring this up.” It’s just so important.
So, that is the absolute glue, using experiential e