Transcript: #46 – The Fallible Man
Fallible:capable of making mistakes or being erroneous.
Brent hosts the Fallible Man Podcast to help men make the most of themselves and own up to their mistakes. With the Fallible man, we discuss why he stays away from allowance but likes bribery; how to make sure you’re making the time for your kids; and most of all, how and why to admit your “fallible” and what that means as a dad.
Will Braunstein, A Dad’s Path:
Hi, and welcome to another episode of A Dad’s Path podcast. I’m Will Braunstein. Today, I’m here with Brent, who’s the host of The Fallible Man podcast. You can find The Fallible Man podcast on Apple, Spotify, wherever you listen. Welcome, Brent.
Brent, Fallible Man: Thank you, Will. I’m excited to be here today, man.
Will: Awesome. We’re excited to have you. First, just The Fallible Man, why do you name your podcasts that? What does that mean? How does it relate to being a dad?
Brent: It was a humility check for myself. I hate pushy people. I hate over-aggressive salesmen. I want to be on the level with other men. I’m not perfect. I’m on my own journey. That’s how the whole thing started for me as I’m on my own personal journey. I don’t want people to think I’m trying to pretend I have all the answers. It’s a growing thing. You’re a father yourself. You understand it’s a growing thing.
I’ve worked with children, my own children, and other people’s children now, going on for 20 some odd years, 30 years. As a Bible school teacher, as a youth minister in lots of roles like that, as a teacher’s assistant, but I’ve always been passionate about working with kids and that translated into my own kids now, who are 7 and 10. I did not want to sound presumptuous because I want to connect with other men.
I want to grow and encourage other men. No one wants to be like, The I Got It Dad podcast, right? I got it figured out, [chuckles] so I went the opposite direction, I went, “You know what? I’m not perfect. I’m working on it.” I want other men to know that, “Hey, we’re working on it, and if you want to work on it, this is a good place for you.”
Will: Oh, I love that. Like you said, it’s normal to look for answers. Like the first time we’re dads is the first time we’re dads, [laughs] so we are going to have a lot of questions. The other aspect is, we’re all looking– There’s going to be some similarities in our questions, but there’s going to be a lot of differences too. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and different living situations, and economic situations, and kids’ situations.
We’re all looking for different questions. I think that’s part of the journey is how do you build yourself, so you can continue because even your own challenges are going to change? When he’s two, had some challenges, like you had challenges dealing with them. Then when they’re 4, or 14, or 10, they change all the time, [laughs] right? Just when you think you’ve mastered it.
Brent: Well, and I have years of experience, like I said, in working with children. I grew up in a preacher’s family. We did a lot of work with a lot of smaller churches, which meant we all worked because there weren’t people to do the work, so I started teaching little kids classes when I was in junior high. I’ve been working with children since I was a child. I thought, “Hey, this dad thing, I got it nailed down.”
Wow, what a stupid presumptuous statement. It just– It changes everything. I know a lot about working with kids. I’ve had the great pleasure of working with a lot of kids. That’s exciting, but the world changes ridiculously when it’s your kids. Some of those presumptions, some of those, “Oh, I’ll never do that. I’ll never be that parent. Oh, what late? Hmm, yes,” humility comes knockin.
Remember when you said you’d never be that guy. Yes. [laughs] So it’s a growing thing. I think it’s one of the great services in life you get to perform becoming a father, but you are always going to work at it.
Will: I think that’s right on. You put that really, really well. I think one thing you’ve posted about is becoming unbreakable, having the strength, the fortitude, and then at the same time, accepting criticism. Those aren’t necessarily opposite sides of a coin, but sometimes they’re difficult to go together.
Brent: Resilience and humility.
Will: I was curious– Sorry, repeat that.
Brent: Sorry, resilience and humility. I didn’t want to interrupt, I apologize, are two sides of the same coin. You have to find your humility to remain resilient. That is really hard to do.
Will: Do you have advice on what’s worked for you personally or what’s worked for other dads in that area?
Brent: Resilience is something that you just have to work. The only way to build more resilience is to continue to grow yourself. As you know, I don’t just do fatherhood stuff on my site as well and on my podcast, but that’s one of the things we talk about in personal growth is just becoming more resilient. One of the most effective ways to do that is to push yourself outside that comfort zone, to push yourself into situations where you’re going to fail.
There’s nothing wrong with failure. Failure’s the greatest teacher ever. You don’t learn anything from winning. You don’t learn anything from being successful. You learn when you make a mistake when you fall short and so to build that resilience– You can start little. Don’t purposely go out and tank really big things, but you got to put yourself in some situations where you’re going to fall a little shy, and it’s not going to rock your world that bad, because those are the ones you can recover from and every time, it’s like muscle memory. Every time you recover from something, you build that resilience and it becomes easier the next time.
Will: I like that. How does that relate to the power of habits, which I know you also talk about a lot?
Brent: I’m a workout guy, I love lifting. I actually truly am one of those meatheads who I love being in the gym. I love lifting heavy things. Habits are muscle memory for the rest of your life. Building habits is how you sustain when you’re not– all these motivational sites are junk. You can take all kinds of external motivation. We’ve all seen the picture of the stupid little kitten hanging from a branch that says, “Hang on,” and that’s all baloney.
Intrinsic motivation is how you survive and things and even that’s hard to come by some days. You have to build habits to keep you moving in the right direction when maybe you’re having a bad day, or maybe when you’re tired, when your kids are driving you nuts and all your time is sapped and all you hear is dad, dad, dad, and you’ve got deadlines at work.
Your wife’s wanting you to take care of some stuff around the house and you’re just ready to pull your hair out.
Habits is what carries you through that, it’s external motivation. It’s not some great motivational speech. It’s those habits you build one piece at a time. Finding Nemo was probably one of the most insightful movies in history, really. Because Dory swimming along saying, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” That’s habit. That’s exactly what that is. I do obstacle course racing and I took a friend of mine years ago on his first obstacle course race. The man was overweight and out of shape, 20-plus years of sitting in a computer desk.
I drove him nuts. We did a 12-mile event up the side of the mountain. It was horrible, it was the hardest course he possibly could have picked actually and he wanted to quit so many times he was breaking down emotionally, mentally, and I drove him nuts, because I bounced around him like an annoying little chiwawa going, “Just keep swimming.” Just staying outside of arms length so he couldn’t punch me because he really wanted to but it’s that next step you got to see. Habits keep you making that next step.
Will: Absolutely. I’d be curious in terms of habits then maybe one that you’ve seen really improve your parenting or one of the dads that you’ve helped. Then the second part is how do you drive habits to your kids if you have an example of what’s something that worked in that world?
Brent: For me, one of the best habits I have developed as a father is time blocking to be a father. We live in a super busy society. That is what being successful or what being good at something that’s code for I’m busy, hustle culture, whatever you want to call it. One of the most important habits I learned from actually another dad that I worked with was time blocking in my week because I work a full-time nine-to-five job, four days a week, 40 hours to sometimes 50 hours in the IT industry.
Then I spent all the rest of my waking hours working on The Fallible Man, so I started as a habit, trying to make time for my kids. Make time to make sure I was spending adequate time with my children, where they felt that I was fully present.
Will: Do you literally schedule that, like you put it on your calendar?
Brent: I started trying to do it as a habit and I found the way to reaffirm that habit to help me stay in the process was literally blocking out on my calendar. I have Wednesday afternoons. I worked my full-time job and I get– I work from 5:00 AM to 3:00 PM. From the time I get off work at 3:00 PM until my children go to bed, there’s nothing else but them. One day a week where I am– I put my phone down. I don’t check emails. I don’t answer calls unless I think it might be an emergency from somebody I recognize the number from, if it’s a number I don’t recognize I’m not answering your call. I’ll call you back. I don’t check emails. I don’t play my social media from those hours, belong to my two daughters. We might, a lot of times we’ll curl up and watch a movie, we break out the popcorn and have a big movie night, or make Sundays.
I’m actually in the process of filling an outdoor above-ground pool that I just bought for him because it’s turning summer here and getting warm and the pool we used to go to, my kids love to swim, is shut down. I finally broke down and bought one of those two put-together outside pools for them to play with in my yard. I’m filling that actually right now.
This coming Wednesday, that might be a pool day where we’re just in the pool playing all afternoon. To my wife’s dismay, I don’t help with cooking. I don’t help with cleaning. I don’t do anything around the house. I don’t fix anything from the time I get off work till I go to bed. That’s theirs. When we set this up, you got onto my calendar. I don’t know if you notice, there’s no available time slots on Wednesdays for me.
I’ve actually turned down interviews multiple times now because they’re like, “Well, we record on Wednesdays.” It’s like, “Sorry, can’t do it. That belongs to them.” First was enforcing that habit, making it a habit to have that dedicated time. Then it was enforcing that habit because I put it hard and fast on my calendar where nothing else can touch that time. Then it was developing the habit of putting down the phone because we’re all glued to our phones.
The world’s going to end if we aren’t touching our cell phones. It’s amazing. Then it was learning to put down the phone. Because I remember watching a movie with my kids, not on a Wednesday, but watching movie with my kids one time and it’s a movie we’ve seen a million times. I’m scrolling through Instagram and I looked over at my daughter. I’m like, “What’s wrong baby?” Because she’s staring at me. She’s like, “We’re watching a movie together, dad.” I was like, “Well, I’m watching the movie.” She’s like, “No, you’re not.”
I said, “Baby, I’ve seen this movie.” She’s like, “You’re not watching the movie,’ and I realized it was like, I said, “Baby, do I need to put my phone down?”
She’s like, “Yes.” I’ve started trying to be very conscientious about that too. Because we’re all busy. That’s just a fact. Anymore our society doesn’t know how to not be busy, but being intentional about that time, that was the next step of that habit was being very intentional with my time and efforts. This is something I’ve recommended to, I think probably every dad I’ve ever worked with.
I’ve had the pleasure on the podcast of interviewing a lot of crazy busy entrepreneurs and business guys and guys who make my calendar look open and all of them, it’s like, “No intentionality in that time is so much more important than the quantity of time even.” If I can dedicate one day a week that they know that’s theirs, that’s unequivocally theirs. Then be very intentional about that time while I’m in it, be present, be focused on them and us being together, that’s so incredibly valuable to them.
That’s one of the big habits I try to encourage with all men is just, maybe you can’t do four hours in an afternoon like I can, but schedule it in. Maybe you do two or three-time blocks, but make it bulletproof, make it theirs.
Will: The second question was about the habits that you want your kids to have and how you drive that to them if you do.
Brent: I’m actually slightly militaristic. My children have a lot of free time, right? They’re very young, but when we get up, we have a sequence, when they get up, they have to make their beds, get dressed, brush their hair and fill up their water bottles for the day. They have water bottles and they’re required to drink one or two, depending on which water bottle they’re using every single day. When we get out of bed, that’s priority number one, those four things.
When it’s bedtime, we stick to the same consistent schedule on bedtime. We’ll sit down, we watch a show together. Every night before they go to bed, we’ll watch a 20-minute sitcom, Last Man Standing or Young Sheldon or something like that.
We’ll watch one show at least sometimes too then it’s teeth, hair, wash the faces. Then we do songs and prayers and then we put them to bed. They also have fallen asleep to the same soundtrack their entire life. [laugh] I’ve now heard the Adele 25 album more times than I can possibly iterate because I have been doing it with my children their entire life. I turn on Adelle 25 in their room every night when they go to bed. They fall asleep to the same soundtrack. People used to tease me. They’re like, “You’re programming your children.” “Yes, I am.” You train a dog, no one thinks anything about it. You train a child through simple repetition, everybody’s like, “Oh, you’re manipulating.” “No, I’m not.”
I’m teaching my kids certain habits that will actually help their life later on. When I’m not with them, if they go to grandma’s or something, everybody in our family who interacts with them in that way has Adelle 25 on their phone. No matter where they are, we can turn on their music and it puts their brain into that rhythm because their brain automatically connects Adelle 25 means it’s time for bed. We literally switch the middle switch to bedtime. Then we have scheduling which is very important for building those habits.
We put it in their schedule, we put it in their repetitive daily accomplishments. Then with other habits, that’s something we try and reinforce just by repetition with them. We don’t have them do it. We do it with them. For a long time, I’ve gotten out of the habit. It’s my fault. I’ve gotten out of the habit. I used to ask them every night before bed three questions. What’s one thing you did today for somebody else? What’s one thing somebody else did for you today? What’s one thing you’re just super grateful for today?
I want them to build the habit of being in a healthy mindset, focused on gratitude, focused on helping others, and appreciating others as they go to sleep. My kids generally don’t have nightmares. They are focused on helping other people. They’re excited about doing things with other people. It’s little things like that, but we go through the steps with them. We make it a family ritual.
Will: Do you do that at bedtime? Is it the whole family who does it or is it just when you’re–
Brent: No, we do it together. My mom actually lives with us, so we all sit down for songs and prayers together. Period. Everything stops for songs and prayers. Each child picks out a song and then we take turns saying the prayer for the night. If one of the girls wants to say a prayer and somebody else did that night, we stop them, we let them pray too. I like to ask them, what did somebody else do for you today? What was something somebody did for you today? What is something that you did for somebody else today? What is one thing that you were just exceedingly grateful for today? Just pick one thing.
Will: That’s awesome.
Brent: This sets them in just this solid mindset as they draw to sleep. They’re not thinking about the show anymore. I don’t always let the easy answers go either. They’re like, “Oh, well, we’re grateful that you bought us a pool.” That would’ve been the answer last night. They were really excited about the above-ground pool because they love to swim. I’m really excited about the price because it was a whole lot cheaper than I expected it to be. I was really excited about that, but that would’ve been the easy out last night.
There are days where I’ll let that go because I can tell they’re already pretty tired or worn out. There are days when they’re a little more amped up, where I will not let that go. I’ll be like, “No, no, no. That’s low hanging, yes, we get it. What about the pool are you grateful for?” I want them to be in this mindset of gratitude because if you can learn to see the world through a lens of gratitude, it alters your perspective on everything else.
Will: I love that. I think that’s right on. I was listening to an interview with an investor, this guy, Keith Rabois, and surprisingly, he brought up the three traits that he wanted for his kids. He said those three traits are work ethic, tenacity, and ambition. I’d be curious. You just brought up gratitude which I think is a very important one. What do you think your three would be?
Brent: Work ethic is just definitely in the top list. I’ve been a trainer my entire life. It’s amazing. I don’t even volunteer for it. It just kind of happens. I’ve worked in a wide array of professions throughout my life. I spent a lot of years in construction besides youth ministry. I worked on a ranch. I worked for a magician once. I’ve done all kinds of jobs.
In my current role, I’ve been the team trainer for years. The one thing I can’t teach somebody is work ethic. That’s something you have to develop over years. I can take anybody with basic computer skills and teach them how to do the job I need them to do in the IT industry right now. As far as my team, it’s a very entry to mid-level IT group. If you have basic computing skills, I can teach you to do the job if you’re ready to show up and learn.
I can’t teach you to show up on time. I can’t teach you to give a crap about doing your job correctly or to value using your time. Work ethic is huge, I think because it’s something that generationally we’ve seen a decline in work ethic has been my experience. I can’t say worldwide that’s just the fact, but my experience has been that generationally we’ve seen a decline in work ethic. More and more people want with their hands out, less and less people ready to push up their sleeves and get to work. Work ethic would definitely be a huge one. I want my children to understand you work hard, you do the work, you put in the reps and you win. That’s just how it works. It really is.
Will: Just to interject real quick on the work ethic, if you’re viewing that from a lens of a dad because I view that from my lens as well I’m happy I have a work ethic. How do I make sure my kids have a good work ethic? You can’t make sure but how do you view that?
Brent: I actually wrestle with that question a lot because I think it’s a very hard thing to teach. Because you don’t want to burn your kids out, right? You don’t want to push your kids to the point where they’re resentful about it, but you also don’t want to hand them everything. Right? I paid for my first car. My parents said and put a bond back for me when I was a baby I had, I think, $2,000 put down, bought my first car. That’s what I did with the money.
I had friends who their parents bought them their cars. My car was my baby because that was my money riding on those wheels. You don’t want to hand them everything. I’m also not a huge proponent of kids having a ton of chores. I try and task my kids with some work, right? With some effort as they get older. My oldest daughter obviously has more responsibilities than my younger daughter, but she makes my coffee. We’re a coffee household, dude. We go through so much coffee it’s unreal.
My daughter makes my coffee. It’s one of the things she does on top of the four things she’s supposed to do when she gets up, she makes my coffee because she knows it makes my life work. Right? Daddy drinks coffee, mommy drinks coffee, it makes our life a little smoother. I try and introduce work ethic by adding some things that help the family. Right? I make it a value add to the family because family is a very big core thing for me. I was raised in a very tight-knit family. My siblings are still some of the closest people in the world to me, I love them more than anything.
I’m the baby, I’m 42 years old. My family is still– my siblings are still something the most important people in my life. It doesn’t matter how far we go, they’re everything. That is something I try and convey with my kids. So to help them learn those work ethics, when I introduce something, is something that contributes to the family because I’m trying to teach them to love family as well.
Taking out the trash. Well, that helps us because daddy is fixing this and I need the trash out to do that. You can help me do that. When I build projects. Yesterday when I was putting the pool together, I had my daughters handing me pieces, right? We’re doing the work to put it together. They want to play with it, they’re doing the work to help me, and it was– my seven-year-old can only do so much. She’s handing me pieces and it takes a little longer than if I had done it all myself. I did most of it, but as they see that they contribute and it rewards them by contributing, it helps reinforce that positive work ethic. I pay my daughters to do book reports, I pay them to learn.
This tends to rile some people but one of the things I do is I pay them to read books and I buy the book. I buy an age-appropriate book, but I buy books on marketing. I buy books on finance and investment. I buy books on business and leadership, language, stuff like that. Things are not going to get taught in a normal school. I pay them to read the book and then they have to do a book report.
I buy the book, they read the book, they have to do a book report on it. Then they get $10 and they don’t have to do it. It’s when they want to do it, they can have up to one a month then I will do up to one month for them, but they have to choose to do it. If they go, “Hey, I want to take a break.” I go, “Okay, that’s fine. When you want money again, let me know.”
They don’t get an allowance, but they’re learning things and they’re getting rewarded for it. I also have stipulations with it, 10% of that $10, a dollar, goes to a donation, their choice. Charity, church, they like to send money to the Irwin Zoo down in Australia because they love the Irwin Zoo they like Crikey! It’s The Irwins on TV, we watch that together as a family. They like to send money their way, they have to donate 10%.
They have to invest our save 3%. I have investment accounts for them and they help me pick stocks and they learn about stocks. They learn about capital gains and they learn about dividends and everything else and help me invest their money, but it teaches them. It rewards them for taking the initiative and doing the work for it rewards them from learning and choosing to learn on their own and then there’s some guidance about what they do with it. It also embeds that pattern of when we get money how do we manage it? How do we handle it?
Will: I like that a lot. I’m going to come back to the books and book reports but first I want to finish.
Brent: Yes, sorry.
Will: No, we’re going great. I like this a lot. We’re going in where the conversation drives us but work ethic.
Brent: Work ethic is huge. Gratitude is definitely at the top of the list. I honestly believe I have never met anybody that gratitude didn’t improve their life. Young or old it doesn’t matter. Gratitude changes the way you look at the world. It changes the way you look at other people, the way you interact with other people. I interviewed an author, Steven Crane, sorry it’s on the bookshelf behind me. Stephen Crane, he wrote a book called I Can Appreciate That. I would recommend it to any of your listeners. It’s an amazing book. I’ve actually bought extra copies of it and given it away on my live stream because I think it’s such a great book.
Will: I Can Appreciate That.
Brent: I Can Appreciate That by Steven Crane. Steven is a copywriter for a living. He’s actually a really good author which makes it nice to read but it’s actually a series of essays because his teenage son challenged him one day. It was like, “Dad you’re such a pessimist. Why do you always see the bad side of everything?” He was like, “I don’t always.” He was like, “Yes you do.” He said that my son called me hard dude. He dedicated a year of his life for the next year. I think it was like 2020 to which made that particularly difficult year to focus on gratitude as the mainstay of life. He has some big losses in that year as well connected not outside of what everybody else had going on but he said it was an incredible year.
It’s a series of essays about lessons he learned that year focusing on appreciating every situation to the fact that he actually lost– He does little league baseball stuff. They lost one of their kids who was terminally ill and it was devastating and seeing something to be grateful for in that was so hard. I found a way because I was already in this practice of it. I was always big into gratitude and I read his book and I talked to him about it.
I was like, “Man maybe I’m not focusing enough on that in my own life. That’s something I need to grow in.” Work ethic, gratitude, and then resilience. We live in a weak society. We really do. I’m sure you’ve seen it on social media if you’re on social media you come across all the nonsense. There’s one that’s a quote says, “Hard times build strong men, strong men build good times, good times build weak men, weak men create hard times.” It’s a cyclical thing.
I honestly think that’s true. We live in a very weak-willed society. Yes, I understand that you can say something to somebody and that can set in their psyche. I had one person say something to me when I was a teenager and it did. It impacted me for years and years and years, but I had a lot of people say something to me when I was that age. It was the right person in the right situation on the right subject at the right time to have that impact. Every other teenager I had all kinds of people say all kinds of nasty things. It didn’t write on me. I don’t care.
You can say what you want about me I don’t care. At 42 I’m even more of that opinion. I don’t care. I’m doing the best I can do and I generally care about helping people. If you don’t like it, you know what? You’re welcome to your opinion. I have no ill feelings and it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t change my life. If you want to spend the energy not liking me that’s your business but we’ve become weak.
We’ve gotten to where someone can save the most flippant thing that doesn’t even have to do with you and we’re like, “I’m offended.” Why? I don’t want my children to grow up like that. I don’t want them to ever feel like that. That gives other people power and along with that resilience, I have to tie in the two. Are you familiar with Jocko Willink? Navy seal’s Jocko’s podcast? He wrote a book called Extreme Ownership that is a phenomenal book. I read it several years ago. I probably read it twice now and that became part of my basis for my outlook on resilience.
Because if I own everything even if it’s my fault or not if I own everything that means I’m still in control which makes me more resilient. Because someone can do something if I take ownership of it and go, “What could I do about that situation? How could have I handled that better?” There’s big possibility that you couldn’t have done anything to change it, but what you can control is that person isn’t in charge of me, that person doesn’t have any aspect on my life, they don’t affect my life. That makes me more resilient because if I go, “I own how I react to that,” that was something my dad pressed on me when I was younger.
My dad told me when I was really young, I had anger issues when I was in junior high. My dad told me, he said, “No one can make you feel any way that you don’t allow them to. You are still in control. No matter what they do, you are in control of how you react to that.” Reading this book years later, just really even cemented that in more. You blow off a lot of things your dad says, I’m sure my children will blow off a lot of things I say, but rereading that years later from someone I infinitely respected was just like, “Wow. My dad used to say this to me all the time.”
“I own how that makes me feel. I own how I let that affect me. That’s all on me.” That builds a type of resilience. That’s why I can’t separate the two really is ownership and resilience. They go hand in hand to me. I want my children to understand that. They have all the power. If one of their friends says something, they can go, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” They don’t have to let it rain on their parade. Those three, I think, would be the big ones.
Will: Those are really great. Work ethic, gratitude, and then like you said, resilience/ownership going together. I like that. I’d love to go back to the book reports you were talking about. You have a 10-year-old and 7-year-old, right?
Brent: I do.
Will: Just to set the ages, what type of books are you getting them, that’s really worked?
Brent: What you can find online that is age appropriate for kids that talk about things they will never be taught in school. The one I launched off with was a book called Money Ninja, which is a kid’s book. It’s written at a kindergarten-age level, it can be found on Amazon, it’s like $10, $12. The author has 30 or 40 books. That’s the Ninja series, but Money Ninja was a real kicker. It’s what I started off with when I decided I wanted do this.
The main reason was it introduced the concept that there was something other to do with money other than spend it. That was something I wanted my children to learn. I was really wasteful. My father was not good with money, his parents were not good with money. It’s a continuation thing. In fact, I was 40 before I realized how bad I was, how little I knew about finances.
I spent all of 2020 while the whole world was in chaos, focusing on educating myself about finances. It’s not like I’m an accountant or anything or super smart, but I grew a lot that year. I went, “Man, if I had known this when I was younger, how much better off would I be now?” Then I started asking questions like, “Why aren’t we teaching these things?” It became something very important to me to share with my children because I thought, “If I can share this with them now, how much better can they live their life?”
If they understand, because these aren’t rocket science things, but if I start to introduce these concepts now, how much ahead am I putting them? I think was Bruce Lee that said, “Don’t give your kids everything you didn’t have, teach your kids everything you didn’t know.” I’ve seen the quote misattributed to probably a dozen different people, but I think it was Bruce Lee who actually said it.
That was the path I chose with these book reports. I started with Money Ninja. It’s a 14-page illustrated book with two lines per page. It’s Money Ninja is talking to his friend, and they go through the process of a lemonade stand and he invests in a lemonade stand and then takes the profits after he pays off the cost of it, then he doesn’t spend it. He goes and he donates some to his friend who is in the hospital, and then he takes and invests some over here. It introduces this concept and that’s where they started with the whole idea of my kids donate 10% of what I pay them for the book report.
They invest 30%. I think the other 10% is set for something. They only keep 50% of it. A, that helps them understand the money’s going to come out of whatever they make. They can’t avoid taxes forever. They can’t remain 7 and 10 forever. They’re both educated enough at this point. They already know taxes suck, aren’t necessarily reasonable, because they have their own little side business. They built a side business out of this, but that’s down the road. It’s amazing how many books it started with something very simple, and then I progressed them through books. I get on Amazon and I research the books and I look at other reviews and I had one that was labeled on Amazon that should be right for my 10-year-old and it was not right for my 10-year-old it was totally wrong. We went through it with her actually my mom actually sat with her my mom lives with us, and read through the book with her and helped her understand that thing instead of giving up on that book, she just helped her understand those ideas as we went through
Will: What was the topic of that book?
Brent: That one had a broader idea of economics, she learned about tariffs and about import export taxes and about all the costs involved with exporting and stuff like that.
Will: Yes. That does– [laughs] it does sound advanced but that’s great if she’s wanting to learn about it. Money makes sense that’s something we’re really not taught a lot about at school and there’s obviously other holes or other areas that I think we could improve on. Do you have another subject area or topic or two that your kids have been interested in?
Brent: Marketing is something I’m trying to push them into. Just because there isn’t a business in the world that having a basic understanding of marketing won’t help you. I want my kids to start thinking with an entrepreneurial mindset. I don’t care if they’re entrepreneurs. I heard the term entrepreneur the other day. I had never heard that before, but the idea of entrepreneurial mindset working for someone else still allows you to excel even inside another company.
I’ve been trying to introduce them to this idea of an entrepreneurial mindset of how can I raise the value of this? How can I grow the value of this? How can I invest in me, then turn around and turn it outside? How can I make a business out of this? How can I– I think marketing is really foundational for that.
It’s one of my weaker points, I don’t understand marketing very well. I now pay a company to market my podcast because I can only do so much, right? You can only excel at so many things. Even as something as simple as doing Facebook ads, if I understood marketing better my Facebook ads would probably have a better return than they do. Marketing, books around leadership. Leadership is something I push on pretty hard with my podcast because there are people who naturally are instinctively better natural leaders, but anybody can learn to lead and I think all of those characteristics are beneficial to have in your life, whether you’re in a leadership position or not.
It’s a growing process. We’ve only been doing this for a couple of years now. It’s a growing process and as they grow in their ability to understand certain concepts, I’ll integrate other subjects in, I’m sure I will drive them to learn another language.
Will: What does a book report look like? Are there rules around that? They have to answer a question or two.
Brent: When my youngest daughter, when we started with her she wasn’t writing yet. She was just starting to write. She did oral book reports. She actually made less during the oral book reports and I explained why she was getting paid less because it was easier and she accepted that. Now she can write, so now she has to do a written book report, but I actually to start with had a– I made a form that I just kept on my Google Drive and I print off copies of, and you know, typical book report.
Title, author, and then what’s the main point? What are three supporting points in that book that drive that main point. What’s your big takeaway from that book? Very simplistic because I started this when I think Abby was seven or eight when we first started this with her.
I tried to adjust it. This last book report she did, she did a book called $100 to a million. It was co-authored by one of the guys on Shark Tank I don’t remember which one, I think it’s Mark Cuban co-authored it. It was $100 to a million. We actually used it for her school. She had to do a book report for school. I didn’t even control that form she had to actually fill it out on this fourth-grade school level of a book report. Not only the things I asked for, publisher, publishing date, a little more than she normally does with me then was like, “Oh, you need a book report? Well, here you’re 80% way through this book, finish the book and you can turn it in for both,” and it will graduate as they get older. Like I said the youngest one is now doing written reports because she can write instead of oral reports, but she can also make more money doing written reports.
Will: No, that’s great. I really like that idea. I might have to try that with my eldest, at least to start.
Brent: It’s amazing you can find so many books that will teach these big concepts at an age level and I mean, you’re going to do it– you’re going to jump through the hoops looking for them, they’re there. Search like young entrepreneurship.
Will: Yes. Okay, maybe I’ll see if I can get some advice from my audience as well and get some more ideas. That’s fantastic. I have one last topic for you. One last question. I know you recently hosted a conference in person in Washington State, where you are, the Phoenix, right? I’m curious of you had a bunch of topics, a bunch of speakers, were there any topics that really stood out more than you expected or resonated to the dads there more than you expected?
Brent: There were some big takeaways. It was described as a trying to drink from the fire hydrant. I brought together actually seven speakers from around the world. Some in person, some virtually, we also streamed the event virtual because obviously, not everybody can come to Washington State, but I have a background. My father was a conference director as well and so I’ve grown up doing this thing. I’ve worked on conferences at varying levels on the board of directors as director in all kinds of facets.
My goal was I brought in seven men with very different takes and perspectives because out of my whole audience, right? My goal is at least one of these guys is going to resonate with everybody there, right? This guy might latch onto this speaker more, this guy might latch onto this one. There was a lot of information. Some of the guys were really surprised. I had Dr. Christian Heim. He’s an award-winning psychiatrist out of Sydney, Australia in remotely that I’ve worked with before.
He did great book on men’s mental health and he was talking about these actual physiological and psychological effects of a positive male influence in a child’s life. Some of the biggest takeaways they were just blown away because there’s actually physiological evidence in the brain of people who have had that positive male influence to how the brain develops. So, we have a lot of amazing guys here, but I live in a very rural community and they were just overwhelmed.
The fact that it actually happens at a physiological effect on the child, whether that influences there or not, it’s not just, “Oh, it really makes a difference.” No, it really makes a difference. There’s a biological component, physiological component. That was very overwhelming for people. I actually sat down with all of my attendees in one big group and asked them, I was like, “Okay, I want you to think of that one person who just incredibly impacted your life. I don’t want them to be related to you. I don’t want you to say your dad, pick that one male role model that truly impacted your life. Tell us a little bit about him and then tell us why? What was that thing that made them jump out.”
Among all these various men who were there, I heard things that just continued like work ethic was huge. Work ethic was a huge for all these attendees like, “Oh man, his work ethic, his work ethic.” So many people that was such a influential thing for those men, for them. Another one I heard was consistency in character. It didn’t matter what situation that person was in. This was this person, period, bad times, good times, ups, downs doesn’t matter. Emotional, angry, they were consistent.
Then one of the big takeaways was the idea of relationship. You can’t really guide somebody. You can’t really influence somebody in a positive direction without being in a relationship with them, which may seem very simple to some people. We do that a lot, especially in a society with influencers, YouTubers, podcasters, right? One of the things I love about the podcasting industry is we have a more intimate relationship with our listeners. They literally have us in their ear, right? We’re in their head. They’re allowing us that access and so it feels a little more conversational. It feels like you’re talking to a friend and I love that, but you have to have that.
Until you build an emotional mental relationship, you can’t have real influence. You can have some external influence. You can kind of, “Ah, this is a good idea,” motivational– but you can’t have influence without a relationship and that really goes home to your children as well. The quality of your relationship with your children will define precisely how much influence your teaching has in their life.
If you’re an absentee father, you’re still teaching your children. That was the other ground-shaking thing for everybody is whether it or not, you are somebody’s role model. You might be a bad role model, but you are still somebody’s role model. You don’t even have a say in it. There is somebody whether it or not watching your every move and they’re watching what you do not what you say. It’s incredibly important. How you live your life tells them everything they need to know.
They’re not going to hear anything you have to say until they see how you live your life, but everybody is a role model for somebody. Then we get into the relational side of it your children are looking at how you act first, how you treat them, how you treat your friends, how you treat your family. How do you treat their mother? All that is incredibly important because if you want them to hear what you’re telling them if you want to have influence with the words and the wisdom you’re trying to share, that relationship has to be number one, it has to be solid. Otherwise, all they’re seeing is I hate the old adage do what I say not what I do, it’s wrong, so wrong.
Will: Just doesn’t work.
Brent: Yes, those were some of the huge takeaways from that event.
Will: Those are great takeaways and I think the one you mentioned the first one about how much dads matter. Not just, “Hey, it’s nice to have a dad around,” but it literally gets your kids healthier and we know that, but it’s good to hear it. Brent, it was good having you. I really appreciated the conversation. We went through a lot of great things. I know my listeners are going to love it. Again, we can find you on The Fallible Man podcast on all the podcasting platforms wherever you listen. Thanks again here, Brent, this was great.
Brent: Thank you, Will.
Will: All right, take care.