“Dad, how much do our bills cost?”
My jaw dropped. Did my 9-year-old son, Ronan, really just ask me about our bills?
He’s never showed interest in the family finances before. But, we’d also never had an experience like this before.
We were flying home from a father-son retreat in Florida. It was at this retreat where Ronan had been introduced to family finance.
I shouldn’t have been so shocked. I think he never asked because I’d never really opened the door to the discussion.
After our chat I sat quietly for a while and thought about how this retreat (called the Board Meetings Retreat) run by world-class entrepreneurs Jim Sheils and Brian Scrone, had changed us so much, both as individuals and in our relationship due to the concepts discussed.
I studied the Board Meetings “6 Pillars of Experiential Education” approach.
Everything we did in the retreat had a purpose: to focus on one of 6 key areas of experiential, entrepreneurial style education.
I had inklings in the past, but now I knew. There is a method to entrepreneur style parenting, and it’s summed up in these six secrets [which Jim and Brian call the 6 Pillars].
Secret #1: Quality Connection
Do you have a strong connection to your kids? When everything else fails, it will be your relationship with them that counts. They will only come to you for advice and support if the connection is strong. What I realized at Board Meetings is that lecturing them every day and [especially something us Dads seem to do] keeping an emotional distance isn’t a recipe for connection.
Jim and Brian are ocean-loving surf guys so we spent time in the surf every day, but it’s not about the surf.
Every single person there, parent or child, decompressed after time in the surf. People throw the term “decompression” around, but what is it really? It’s a feeling of openness that comes after putting aside all of life’s worries and concerns. Kids are great at it. Us adults, not so much.
World-class entrepreneur parents create quality connection through fun activities that promote decompression. Then, they have the bigger conversations. Have you ever noticed that all of the business deals at a conference happen at the lunch or dinner table? Because two people sitting together decompress and develop trust and openness. That’s when magic happens. World-class entrepreneur parents use this same principle with their kids.
Secret #2: Financial Intelligence
The standard belief of work and wealth goes like this: work hard and you’ll be rewarded. But, working hard at the wrong things doesn’t lead to wealth.
Jim and Brian introduced us to the concepts of financial intelligence. Even the youngest kid there, Ronan, learned the basics of financial intelligence through a fun board game called “Cash Flow For Kids”. The game teaches about monthly expenses, passive income, liabilities, and assets.
The next day the group talked about family responsibilities, including family finance. Ronan’s question on the plane ride home came out of the combination of those two lessons.
Entrepreneurial parenting means teaching kids financial intelligence. This secret can change the course of your kid’s entire life.
Secret #3: Confidence Mindset
At the retreat the kids were given free reign to share their own unique interests and dreams in a nonjudgmental and safe environment. Their unique dreams were lauded and supported.
Did you have that opportunity as a kid? The old narrative was to become as ‘normal’ as possible rather than cultivate what was different in us. Knowing our weirdness and cultivating it breeds self-love and ultimately confidence.
Entrepreneurial parenting means fostering a true confidence mindset based on calm, accepting self-love.
Secret #4: Entrepreneurial Vision
On the last day of the retreat Jim took the kids to their own room and led them through an envisioning activity. Using Walt Disney’s “Dream Room” concept they were instructed not to think about practicalities. They simply imagined what they wanted their life to look like in 20 years.
Their presentations afterwards brought tears to the eyes of many an adult. Their dreams expressed purity, hope, and love. Most [if not all] of the kids placed strong emphasis on family in their dream. They each talked about wanting to work in a business or career they loved. They showed what true values look like and that business and work can be integrally connected to love and joy.
None of the kids envisioned working at a job they hated.
Entrepreneurial parents teach their kids that the life of their dreams is possible and that by taking small steps every day they will get to their dreams.
Secret #5: Conscious Contribution
We all have a deep need to contribute to the world we live in. Studies show that most people plan on getting around to it some day, but world-class entrepreneurs seem to teach their kids to give back, right now.
At our retreat we met a powerful woman named Erika Bogan. She was paralyzed from the waist down in a domestic violence incident at the age of 21. Two words best explain Erika: forgiveness and overcoming. She brought the room to tears when she explained how she has forgiven the man who put her in her wheelchair. And she inspired all of us to believe in ourselves when she explained how she doesn’t let her disability slow her down. As she said several times during the retreat, “I can do everything you can, expect walk.” This leaves a pretty wide range of things that she’s able to do… including surf and swim in the ocean.
Each of the kids were sat slack jawed and silent listening to Erika’s story. When we got home Ronan spent and entire afternoon recounting everything he knew about Erika to his mom and sister. He got emotional and told us that learning from Erika was the best part of the retreat.
Not surfing, not playing with the other cool kids from around North America, not even fishing which Ronan loves. One woman’s remarkable tale of overcoming inspired him the most.
So, what did Erika teach us? Able-bodied people sometimes take for granted the freedoms we have. She’s connected to a non-profit organization that helps disabled people get into the water and go surfing. It’s called ‘service surfing’ and the retreat attendees loved the experience.
Service surfing uses an entire group of able-bodied people standing on both sides of the surfboard to ensure the disabled surfer safely rides the waves. As much fun as the service surfers had catching waves, I think the volunteers were even more stoked. Giving is better than receiving
I learned that entrepreneurial parents teach their kids about the benefits of conscious contribution to both giver an receiver.
Secret #6: Energetic Health
Entrepreneurs have the freedom to plan our days around more exercise and movement. We get to choose not to be exposed to the low energy, bad fluorescent lighting, non-nutritious food, and immobile lifestyle that often prevails in corporate life.
The retreat focused us on energetic health. Every day included surfing and other activities.
Many successful entrepreneurs treat their health like a business, setting aside time for it every day. They do this because they know that their personal performance is related to energetic health [and because it just feels good].
I learned that entrepreneur parents teach their kids the value of energetic health and its relationship to overall wealth.
Did it Stick?
The true measure of any kind of education is whether or not the message sticks.
After chatting about the family finances for 30 minutes, Ronan excitedly told me about his plan to start an egg-selling business. He spent the next two hours writing up a business plan and drawing a sketch of the coop he will build.
I’d say it stuck. And we’ll definitely be back.
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