Life reboot with Aaron McHugh of Work, Life, Play [Podcast]

aaron-mchugh-2centdad

Aaron McHugh and his family

Aaron runs a blog/podcast called Work Life Play, having spent a career in sales and marketing he talks about his 22 years of marriage and the keys to success.

On a recent business trip to Spain he spent time with the family of a co-worker and got a fresh dose of perspective on how he was living his life. Having spent a season “living on fumes” he returned from the trip and immediately began a life reboot. He shares the story of this and his philosophy on life and weaving work together with life and play to create a life that is intentional.

A very transparent conversation from a guy that has gone through the trenches and seen many life changes. Aaron shares honest feedback and insights that come from first hand experience and have shaped his life, great insight of those of us earlier on in the journey.

Oh and Aaron just wrote a book, check it out here

Aaron’s Last Word of advice

The point is to be with your children, everything else is not even on the list.

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Teaching Software Development and High Expectations – Jeff Casimir [Podcast]

jeff-casimir-2centdad

Jeff Casimir had aspirations of getting a Computer Science degree and working for a few years and retiring by 30 (based on sound logic in the height of the dot com boom). His world got changed quite a bit after going through school and being pulled toward Teach For America. He has since followed a career in teaching, currently runs Turing School of Software in Denver Colorado. He has little patience for lazy students and that is an attitude he also has with his children.

We talk about tech culture, government and raising children in a way that gives them perspective to the struggles of others. Jeff has some strong opinions on things particularly when it comes to parenting, his energy and passion are contagious.

Notable Links

How Jeff Brings Home the Bacon

 

Jeff’s Last Words of advice

Chill out! Kids are tougher and smarter than we give them credit for, sometimes we need them to need us more than they actually do. Just pay attention and chill out.

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Full Time RV Family That Ditched Suburbia – Michael Boyink [Podcast]

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Michael found himself being laid off in the wake of 9/11 and started his own business and started to homeschool his children. He then began to realize that his house was the biggest thing that was holding his family back. That was when they bought an RV and went for a 1 year trip that turned into a 5 year journey (so far…)

He shares a unique look into what it is like to be part of the community of families living full time on the road from an RV. His desire is to build communities of families that are purposely living life based on their values and not living according to “formulas”. The philosophy that has driven his path has been intentionality in what he does with his family and not being envious of the path not taken.

Some Notable Things

  • Mike’s Tribe of unique families https://ditchingsuburbia.com/
  • Workbench moment – Live intentionally to avoid just ending up somewhere you don’t want to be

Home Mike brings home the bacon

Mike’s Last Word of advice

Question the life “formulas”. Ask yourself, does the life you are building really align with what you want to do or are you just following the normal prescribed path?

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Teaching Curiosity & Lifetime Learning – Allan Branch [Podcast]

Allan_Branch_Family

Kicking off the first episode of the podcast I talk with my friend Allan Branch about his experiences raising his two children while running a software company in Florida.

We cover topics of homeschooling, not keeping up with the Joneses, and his desires to travel the world on a boat with his family while teaching his kids how to be curious. Allan has a unique perspective on how curiosity is the key to education and lifetime learning. He weaves that into everything that he does with his children. He has an 8 year old and a 6 year old.

Some notable mentions in the show

How Allan brings home the bacon

Allan’s last word of advice

Be prepared for the reality that children will send you to the highest of highs and the lowest of low places

 

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5 Tips on Parenting from Dan Martell

dan martell

Recently Dan Martell recorded a video on this advice for parenting. Surprisingly for a guy that has done so much in the business world the advice was very down to earth and it was encouraging to hear his commitment to his family. I’d love to have him on the podcast in the future to dive a little more in detail on these but here are the points he made in the video.

  1. Boundaries – Have sacred days or hours of a day that are dedicated to family or children. Structure is key to having an impact! Work with your spouse to establish healthy boundaries to be on the same page of expectations so you can be present.
  2. Be Present – The phone needs to be put down, both in the car and when you’re with your kids. “Ground Time”: being 100% present with your kids. No excuses.
  3. Two Roles – Similar to building companies recognize their are roles in the family. He explains the “CEO of Family Inc” and the “CEO of Relationship Inc”. The former naturally thinks about the family’s well being and doing things for the family. The latter making sure that the relationship between spouses is good, because your children want nothing more than their parents to be united and in healthy relationship. He mentioned the concept coming from the book Mating in Captivity.
  4. Block Time – To get things done you got to block it out in the calendar. This intentionality with projects or things you want to do with your family is critical to achieving what you set out to do. We are way too distracted and spend time focusing on crap that does not matter. Get your day back by blocking out the time.
  5. Don’t Sacrifice you family for your business! – Are you “doing it for your family”? The disruption of not spending time with your family has a cascade affect that pours over into your business. Don’t reject your family for the sake of the business but also recognize that they are extremely interrelated.

Some great food for thought. Here is the link to the original video.

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Is Discontent Always Negative?

wine-dinnerI listened to a podcast recently about a guy that completely rebooted his life after he experienced an evening in Madrid, Spain. This guy had dinner amongst friends in the Spanish tradition, one that starts dinner after 9pm and includes lots of wine-fueled socializing and lingering while multiple meal courses are consumed. Far away from the typical microwave food consumption that is the norm in American culture. This stark contrast of experiences was enough to cause the author to reconsider many things about his life and pursuits. This connection and enjoyment of life struck a chord in him that caused him to realize that his life had been following someone else’s path and a reboot was desperately required. I could not hep but be changed as I listened to this sheer openness of the author as he told the story of reconciling his life in the aftermath of a reboot. I thirsted for some of this in my own life. My thirst motivated by a discontent that lingers unresolved in me, coming and going bringing with it waves of anxiety. This discontent is not unique to me, it is a deep social and cultural phenomenon that is not easily dealt with. Why? What is it that is so appealing about that story? His reckless abandon to run away from the things that were causing him to run ragged? Is it the Spanish culture of connection that is so apparently lacking in ours? Whatever it was, I was left discontented, thirsting for connection, and not sure how to reconcile.

Why is discontent always negative? Can it be used as a force for good? The problem with discontent is that it is fueled by finding all the negative aspects of your current reality. On top of that, it is also predicated on painting a rosy picture of the situation you are desiring. Both behaviors are extremely detrimental.

One piece of advice that I love is

“you are who you surround yourself with”

or put another way

“you are the sum of the 5 people that you spend the most time with”

Surround yourself with positive people and you will start to become more positive, negative people will bring you down, and so on…

What about successful people sowing discontent in your own life? I spend a great deal of time consuming content about business and marketing, following entrepreneurs and thought leaders. These are part of my 5 close people. They rub off on me in many apparently good ways and motivate me to strive for doing more with my life. However they also sow a seed of discontent. They broadcast their current situation and often gloss over the hard work it took to get there and the hard work it takes to maintain that success. I just see the rosy picture that I want to see even if they do talk about the hard work. I romanticize their situation and use it to highlight all the apparent negatives of my own. I could argue that the same was the case for the podcast I was listening to about the reboot that the author was going through. The difference was twofold.

One was that he highlighted his search for his “why”. Discontent can be a source for good if the “why” is clear. The motivation to change your situation is not inherently bad. Much like that Spanish experience highlighted the life that the author wanted, it also clarified his “why”. I would speculate that his current life pace started with the desire to accomplish things to provide a good life for his family. He was motivated by good intentions. It was not until he got a dose of reality that he saw his “why” was being compromised. He was sacrificing his life for a future pay off of some kind. This refocus on the “why” is so utterly critical. Something we should all be asking ourselves regularly.

Secondly he was transparent in sharing his journey. He did not paint a rosy picture of rebooting his life and suddenly everything was great and discontent was gone. He spoke of the struggle and the unknown that came with the drastic change. It was by no means a magic bullet but it was a means to an end and this time the end was right for him and his family. This transparency is so extremely appealing when we see it because it is so counter to our social and cultural norms. Everyone (myself included) wants to present our best face to the world. The irony is, we would all have a better face to show if we were a little more transparent with each other.

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Make the Time – You Can’t Afford Not To

time

A friend of mine wrote a post about how successful people make the time. It is genius mostly because it labels it correctly as a SKILL. So often we get trapped into a cycle of thinking that having time is only something other people have or only a matter of consequence. Or worse yet, its something that will happen in the future.

These are all wrong. People that want to get stuff done make the time, and yes it comes at a price.

They still have the same 24 hours in the day like you and they often have a lot of the same responsibilities. However I can safely assume that they all have something else in common; they are way behind on many other things. Things like the latest Netflix show, political debates, time with friends, and getting 8 hours of sleep.

They made the choice. They made the choice when it was hard. They made it when they felt like they were already stretched.
What choice are you making?

Favorite line from the original post

We follow these successful people on Twitter, read their blogs, buy their ebooks, listen to their talks at industry events. We put them on a high pedestal. We tell ourselves they’ve risen to this place of excellence due to many factors which we unfortunately do not have.

Original post by Allan Branch
http://lesseverything.com/blog/archives/2012/08/19/people-that-can-find-the-time/

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Impulse Actions and Rocket Launches

rocket-launchReason can be a good thing, and I have written about the value of going with your gut. That being said, I have found that too often I get in a rut of staying inside the “norms” of life and not doing little things to expand my kids experiences. It is far too easy to say “no” and keep on saying “no” or “that’s too dangerous”.

Sometimes you need to give into the urge of trying things that just look fun! I gave into that such urge when at the store recently. We walked by the toy isle and my 4 year old son spotted a model rocket and asked if we could build one like that (“please please please”). Maybe it was my obsession with Elon Musk (and teaching my kids about his ventures) or maybe it was just pure curiosity and wonder that got my son going, either way I gave in. I shocked both kids when I gave a loud “sure why not!”.

For the next few days all my son could talk about was wanting to build the rocket. I began to explain to him the process and (as much as I could) the way rockets work and how it was going to go waaaay up high. He got more and more excited. His anticipation of the launch was only stifled by his sheer unknown of what it was actually going to be like, he had never seen a model rocket launch or even a YouTube video of one. So I tried to explain the idea of rockets and that some that go into space, working in some Elon Musk factoids of course, and he just got more excited.

A clear day came and as soon as I got home from work we built the rocket quickly to launch it that evening. Little did I realize that there was glue drying that needed to be accounted for (quick substitute in of super glue and problem solved). We rapidly finished the rocket and headed out for wherever looked open enough for such a launch (I had little idea what to expect really). We arrived at a small soccer field near the zoo and setup the launch. It went great and zoomed up in the sky with a loud zip, the kids were speechless as then watched the smoke trail get longer and longer. All grinning from ear to ear, they were amazed at what they saw.

We found the rocket after a brief search down a few side streets (problems of urban rocket launches I guess) and the kids talked about it for a while then back to their normal playing. I thought to myself, what a great use of $20.

The rocket launch was not anything life changing or anything that they will remember as adults, but I was struck by  how the whole things transpired. How a snap decision to do something out of the ordinary and a small price to pay for something that gave my kids an experience that they quite easily could never have gotten. Maybe this will ignite some passion for rocket science and they will remember this day as adults as a life changing moment…but probably not. Thats not the point. The point is that they got the chance for that to be the case. They got the experience that expanded their knowledge and gave them a chance to see something unique. I want to try and do that more. Micro decisions that go outside the norm that both educate and expand my children’s view of the world.

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Your Kids Become Little Versions of You

One of the things that you realize quickly as a parent (or maybe you don’t) is that like it or not your kids have a high probability of becoming mini versions of you. I know that it is by no means an absolute and personality differences play a HUGE role, but overall they become you. They take in the good and the bad. They model what they see and how they are treated its pure nature.

I read an article recently about how freaking awesome French parents are (sigh…). As I read the article it became clear that the main point of take-away from this article was not that the French were special but that the parents respected their kids and treated them like adults. Such an important fact that so many parents (including myself) forget often. First off, kids are not adults and they do need boundaries. That said, there are many practical ways in which this plays out day to day. A good place to start for me is always the things that my kids do that cause me heartburn…

Kids grabbing toys right from their siblings hands and causing a colossal meltdown? Next time you go to intervene in an argument like this what is the first thing you do? Likely you snatch that toy from whoever has it while you bring about justice. Boom, behavior reinforced. Often you will find yourself doing the snatch-from-the-hand in other areas as well. Why? Well its just easier. On top of that it exerts your authority as well as ensure some warped justice by ensuring no one has the object before a decision is made. The hard way is rationally trying to sort it out before resorting to the sometimes needed action of swift justice. Sometimes toddlers are just irrational and cannot be dealt with rationally, however more often than not the knee-jerk reaction only reinforces a bad behavior.

Another huge one is yelling. This one is a bit more obvious but oh so easy to justify. Its an arms race when it comes to yelling, the more one side odes it the more the other has to “one up” them. You end up trying to yell over each other whenever there is even a hint of argument. Yelling is easy. It is much harder to calm yourself and explain what the issue is and then deal with it as needed.

I have found that one of the most challenging aspects of being a parent is that it shows you who you really are and how you handle things. It is exactly the reason why I think that being a parent is good for society as a whole, it creates selfless people. However like most lessons, you get out what you put in, taking the easy road is not nearly as affective.

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How to get the absolute BEST deal on flowers

flowers

The other day I was heading home from work when I get a call from my wife…

“Can you please pick some eggs and ___ and ___ and ___on your way home”

I had just had a pretty packed day so my mind was still racing on making sure I had gotten everything done that I needed to get done for the day. I was quick to shoot back my reply before she hung up…

“Totally don’t mind, but you gotta text those to me because my mind is fried”

So I pull into the store feeling a bit like a zombie going through the motions as I grab my items and as I am standing by the checkout I see flowers for sale. Gut reaction…

“I have not gotten her [my wife] flowers in a while”

Grab flowers…

Then think to myself… “are these really worth the money?”

Too late, I have arrived at the checkout and can’t put them back. As I hand them to the cashier she replies

“What did ya do?”

Not gonna lie I was a little offended, why do I need to be in the dog house to have to buy my wife flowers?

“Nothing..I just wanted to be proactive I guess”

Followed by her response of “awwwe” [oozing with resentment]

I walked out feeling confident in my purchase but realized that I went with my gut, which most times leads to positive results when the intentions are genuine. Also that I just got the best deal on flowers ever!

In the past when I have waited to get flowers they are worth only pennies on the dollar due to the fact that they come on the heals of some major screw up on my part. The are received in a tone of “thanks but you ain’t off the hook yet”, and rightfully so in most cases.

Instead I had beat the system and was proactive, putting a huge smile on my wife’s face, all for $4.99! Little things add up. Most times you are either moving closer to your spouse or further from your spouse.

 

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