Throw Family Time Management Out the Window

Take a walk through the self-help section of your local bookstore (if anyone still does that) or do a quick search on Amazon Books and you’ll find a ton of stuff on personal time management. You’ll see titles like “15 secrets to successful time management”, “Getting Sh*t Done”, and “7 Habits of Highly Effective Hipsters”. Ok, maybe I’ve made up some of those titles; but you get the idea.

I’ve also come across the concept of “energy management” as supposed to “time management” which argues that it is not so much about how you allocate your time but it’s really more focused on the quality of how you spend your time with others and yourself.

Fascinating ideas! But how does all this apply to Family Time Management.

Recently many families have found themselves with some new incredible challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

Mom and Dad are working from Home. Kids are navigating through confusing in-home school lessons. Your dog now wants you to walk him/her every hour because why not.

Or maybe you’re searching for a new job and can’t really focus on anything else right now. Maybe your teenagers are depressed because after working so hard for 12 years of their life they may not even get to walk on their graduation day (assuming we still need to continue the isolation guidelines).

This pandemic has flipped everything upside down for many people and the demands are starting to pile up for families all over the world. Don’t despair. Things will get better.

What we all need right now is not effective family time management. What we should be focusing on instead is Family Prioritization.

According to Dictionary.com, a pandemic disease is an epidemic that has spread over a large area, that is, it’s “prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world.” The “whole world”. Ok, that’s enough commentary from Captain Obvious.

The reason why I’m overemphasizing this point is, so you realize that we’re all in the same boat. Millions of families all over the world are going through this. Some are coping better than others but the overall sentiment is the same.

I saw a meme this week that even challenges the notion that “we’re all in the same boat.” The meme said:

We’re not all on the same boat. We’re in the same sea together. Some are in luxury yachts. Some are in smaller boats. While others are floating on life jackets fighting for their lives.

Internet meme

That meme hit me hard and got me thinking about what everyone’s priorities should be right now, and that should be on taking care of each other, our communities, our families.

So, if your kid doesn’t understand the worksheets that you received via e-mail from his or her teacher, screw it! Tell your child not to worry about it. Cancel that conference call from work that makes absolutely no sense right now and go play a board game with the kids. Build a Fort. Go for a walk with the family.

Put your kid inside a cardboard box and push him or her around the house like it is a race car. (Thank you TodaysParent.com for this – and other creative ideas)

Focus your energy on your family during these challenging times and even after we come out of this situation. Learn from this.

Because I’ve always said Family ALWAYS comes first. Especially now.

Image credit: ©GettyImages/LightFieldStudios

The “New” Normal

Oh, how quickly our world has changed!

We (in the U.S.) started hearing about the coronavirus outbreak in China sometime in late December. Then the number of cases started escalating in January very quickly. Very quickly!

Fast forward two months later and many families who were getting ready for spring break are now instead facing a new reality.

We are now living in a world were the most common phases we’re hearing are: “Social Distance”, “Shelter-in-Place”, “Flatten the curve”, and the “New Normal”.

As of the publication of this post (Sunday March 29th, 2020) there is still no clear indication on when our lives will get back to normal. There is so much uncertainty and after nearly two-weeks of isolation many of us are starting to question what the short-term future would even look like.

We are truly living in an unprecedented time. Many questions are yet to be answered and many people are wondering what all this will eventually mean for our livelihoods.

In a previous post I wrote about leading in tough times. These are tough times all right! But this is also a great time to demonstrate our resiliency. It’s a time to bond together as families, as communities, and as a society. These are no doubt trying times, but these are also the times when we start seeing all the good the human spirit has to offer.

I saw this week how quickly my local community came together to help those in need. People were offering to do grocery runs for neighbors who were not able to go on their own. I saw people taking time out of their work-from-home day to read stories online to their kid’s classmates via video conferencing. I saw fellow gym members getting together for a workout session online (Zoom to the rescue once again). I saw local restaurants donate food to the many selfless first responders and healthcare workers who are giving so much of themselves during this crisis. I saw people praying from their cars around a hospital building. I saw pastors preaching from empty churches but reaching more people than they ever have before. I saw Jimmy Fallon and the Roots do a great rendition of “Stuck in the Middle with You” from their homes. (video below if you haven’t seen it yet). I saw all of these beautiful acts of kindness, hope, and joy without stepping out of my own home.

Social distance and isolation do not mean we aren’t together.

My point is that we will all get through this and we will do it with an upbeat spirit and with a big heart for helping those in need. We are all creative, persistent, and tough!

I do want to ask you all for a big favor while you’re here. Go through your phone contacts and see who you haven’t contacted in a while. Give them a call. Not all of us are able to cope with isolation as easily others can. Some people need to hear from you.

I’d like to also share these 6 Daily Quarantine Questions that you should be asking yourself every day until you feel you’ve reached your new normal. Or you can just make this part of our daily habit. Here they are:

  1. What am I Grateful for today?
  2. Whom am I Checking In on or Connecting with today?
  3. What expectations of “normal” am I Letting Go Of today?
  4. How am I Getting Outside Today?
  5. How am I Moving my Body today?
  6. What Beauty am I either creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?

I don’t know who to attribute these questions to (if you do, please let me know in the comments so I can give the proper credit) but they are all fantastic questions to ask yourself every day while we continue going through this pandemic.

On a final note, if you are a person of faith like I am, here’s another reminder that we are built to handle this. The Word of God reminds us that:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Phillipians 4:13 NKJV

In the meanwhile, I’m happy to be stuck in the middle of this “New Normal” with all of you.

Leadership Needs to Be Redefined

Much has been written about Leadership in general but my goal here is to start re-writing what Leadership should really mean.

Since the early 1900’s scholars became intrigued by the concept of leadership and how leaders are made.

I’ve always been intrigued about leadership myself and understanding why some people are more natural leaders than others. In fact, I was so interested in learning more about the subject that I decided to pursue a masters degree in organizational leadership.

In a way I’m glad that I decided to pursue this degree from a small Christian university because I learned concepts of leadership from a biblical perspective that I probably won’t have learned at a more traditional university.

If I can sum up my two years of studies in this program I would do it with five simple bullets:

  • Leadership is never about you. It’s about the people you serve.
  • Always beware of the dark shadows of leadership. Always choose to lead from the bright side. (No, this is isn’t a Star Wars analogy)
  • To innovate sometimes you gotta break the rules.
  • You first need to become a great leader at home and in your communities before you can successfully lead larger groups. You also need to learn how to lead yourself!
  • The greatest leader that ever lived was Jesus Christ. Study him and you’ll know everything you’ll ever need to know about leadership.

There was a lot more I learned about leadership outside of the classroom of course during my 20+ years of experience in the workforce but we’ll save those insights for some future posts.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Leadership is “the action of leading a group of people or an organization” or “the state or position of being a leader.

I dare to say that leadership is the quality in the human spirit that puts others above self for the greater good of all.

How would you redefine leadership?

Leading in Tough Times

I once read a phrase that said: “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

I love that phrase for so many reasons. But I love it even more now as we seem to be in the beginning phases of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. That phrase gives us hope.

Leaders are defined in many ways. When I was studying for my Masters in Organizational Leadership I learned that leadership can be based on the “leader” itself, it can be based on the “follower”, or in many situations leadership is defined by “the situation.”

Some people are placed in positions of leadership but they are not truly leaders. Others become accidental leaders because the people around him or her are depending on them to lead them. In some rare occasions leaders also arise from the current situation at hand.

Case in point, Lieutenant General Russel L. Honore, became the face of hope and order amidst the chaos that residents of Louisiana went through during the disaster of hurricane Katrina back in 2005. Honore became a household name overnight after he landed in New Orleans and immediately took charge of the situation.

He wasn’t chosen by his followers to lead, and he certainly didn’t ask to lead in that situation. As every honorable leader of the U.S. armed forces would have done, he was ready to lead under any situation.

Where is our General Honore of 2020? We’re waiting for you to show up.

Innovate or Be Left Behind

We live in unprecedented times. Not only is technology advancing faster than we ever imagined but the rules of this game we call life are changing as well.

Well, maybe to some people this “Life” business isn’t a game – but just like in any game – you should always know the rules you’re playing by, that’s if you’d like to win of course.

To innovate means to develop a new product, a new method, a new idea, etc. But to be innovative is to do all of that better than anyone ever has before.

With the internet age we saw many innovations come to life. Then came mobile phones and high-speed internet and new industries were born along with some giant industry leaders.

Think the usual suspects. Uber, Netflix, AirBnB, Facebook. You get the idea.

But do you think these companies would always remain as the “innovators”? No Sirie!

Companies must constantly re-invent themselves and continue innovating if they want to remain relevant. Or else they’ll be left behind.

Can any one say Blockbusters?? We all now what happened to them.

What other examples can you provide of companies that died , or are dying, because they fell behind on the game of innovation? (should have learned the rules!)

Family is Always Everything!

You’ve probably heard before many people say that “Family is Everything.”

Well… to me, Family is ALWAYS Everything!

We’re born into this world and immediately loved and accepted by family members. Our parents mean everything to us. They not only created us but they help mold us and shape us into the amazing people that we are. We in inherit a lot of our beliefs and values from them.

I can tell you from the perspective of a 48 year old man that as we get older we learn to appreciate and love our families even more. Why? Because after decades of many blood, sweats, and tears, family is the one thing that always remains constant.

Girlfriends, boyfriends, jobs, and co-workers may come and go but you’ll always have one mother, one father, and if you’re lucky like me, you also have one or more siblings.

When you have kids everything changes. First-time parents often realize what a life-changing experience it is to be responsible for a little creature that would one day grow up to be so many things, and that would bring so many great memories.

When I was younger I used to placed too much focus on career and business. But now I wish I would have done more with my children when they were younger. Don’t get me wrong. I was always there for them. But I could have bolded the word always a bit more.

If you’re an entrepreneur, a business person, or someone that’s just getting started as a young adult, keep in mind that family should always be considered when facing most of life’s biggest decisions. Why? Because they will always be there for you.

My Entrepreneurial Journey

I wasn’t sure whether to call it my “Journey” or my “Roller-coaster” but since all roller-coasters end at some point let’s go ahead and call it a journey.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, is attributed with saying that an “entrepreneur is someone that jumps of a cliff and builds an airplane on the way down.”

Wow! Can you imagine how scary that would be if it were really the case?

Well… I’ve been there (three times) and it does feel pretty scary. I’d have to jump of a real cliff someday to tell you if it’s really possible to build something that can fly at all while you’re on the way down – but for now let’s stick with this metaphor.

I said three times because I’ve had three failed businesses in the past. Pardoned me, I’ve had three very expensive and emotionally-draining business educations. That sounds better.

I will elaborate on each past failed-business experience on future posts because there really are some really good nuggets of information there that could potentially save some younger entrepreneurs from committing the same errors I’ve made.

My first business, PcNetworkTech.com, was born as a result of me getting laid off back in 2002 (right after the events of 9/11 lead us into recession).

Starting PcNetworkTech.com was like jumping of a small cliff and eventually landing on some trees with some very minor injuries to my body. I din’t quite get to build the plane on the way down, but I did manage to “glide” for a while (4 1/2 years to be exact) until it was time to get grounded.

In 2011 I left an incredibly successful corporate job of five years to start another business, WebForce1, which was a Microsoft Partner firm that focused on helping small businesses move to the cloud. That business lasted close to two years and somehow I manage to again “glide” into safety. I actually glided into another plane (another Microsoft Partner firm that needed my skills) and provided some safety as I was still learning to build a plane.

Then in 2016 the entrepreneurial bug bit me again. This time I started a company called PingMomo, which was developing a mobile app and service to help working parents find safe and reliable transportation for their children when they were stuck in situations where they couldn’t do it themselves. Although the app was never fully built (another plane that didn’t get built) I have to say this was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had as an entrepreneur. I’ve never been more grateful about a failure as I was with PingMomo. Why is that you say?

Well… You’ll need to come back to my blog soon to learn why. 😉

FamTech – The Connected Family

Technology should help advance mankind but we’ve all seen how mobile technology and high-speed wireless internet have practically converted us all into walking zombies constantly glued to our screens.

FamTech is a concept I’ve seen a few industry leaders use to describe technological innovations that help us become a better connected family via technology. Crazy concept, I know!

On a previous post where I gave you a short synapses of my entrepreneurial journey I mentioned a start-up I launched in 2016 called PingMomo. (see video below)

PingMomo was my attempt at entering the FamTech space by building an application and service that could help solve a huge problem that over 80 million parents face in the U.S. everyday. That problem is figuring out who’s going to pickup the kids from school or soccer practice while they’re still stuck at work or traffic.

PingMomo never had a successful launch but the good news is that there are other similar companies (with similar concepts) that have made it their mission to tackle and resolve this universal problem once and for all.

What are some other “FamTech” style companies you can think of? What benefits have they brought to your family? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

What is “Design Thinking”?

Design Thinking is a relatively new and radical concept to thinking differently about the way we design products and services.

The term “Design Thinking” is said to have originated at a well-established global design company called IDEO and it has a become a cornerstone for many design agencies around the world.

According to IDEO, “Design thinking has a human-centered core. It encourages organizations to focus on the people they’re creating for, which leads to better products, services, and internal processes.”

In other words, Design Thinking is all about putting the user (the consumer) in the center of the process. Many times innovation is not just about the technology itself but it also has a lot to do with improving an existing process or creating a better experience for the user. That’s where Design Thinking comes in.

I have a previously worked at an agency that took this concept very seriously. Some of the best websites, intranets, or web apps, that I’ve seen designed were born from a “Design-Thinking” approach which included designers and developers alike.

To innovate, teams don’t just need to build better things, but they also must think better about how they build such things (or services for that matter).

I’ll be posting more frequently on this blog on this topic. So be sure to come back.

 

 

What they don’t teach you about Entrepreneurship

Google the word “Entrepreneurship” and you’ll get lost in the plethora of feel-good advice on why starting your own business is the best thing you could do for yourself.

Very few people write about the truths and realities of being an entrepreneur. I intend to write all the good, the bad, and the ugly truth of entrepreneurship here.

Entrepreneurship is not something you do or something yo learn how to do. Entrepreneurship is the journey of becoming something you didn’t think you had in you to become. It’s becoming a different stronger better person and maturing in ways you didn’t think was possible.

Many so called “entrepreneurs” start businesses every day for all the wrong reasons. Some do it because they dream of riches or stardom. Others do it because they think is cool. But a very select few do it for the right reasons. To solve a pressing problem in the world has that no one has had to courage to tackle yet.

If you haven’ seen it yet, I highly recommend you watch the YouTube video by Simon Sinek. This is probably one of most watched TEDx talks of all time. Simon explains that great leaders that inspire action do so because they know they’re “Why”.

Knowing your why isn’t something you’ll learn in business school. It is something that comes from within. I strongly believe that no one should start a business or any venture until he or she is absolutely clear on “why” they’re doing it.

When you know your “why” everything else becomes easier to figure out.

Watch the video below and let me know what you think in the comments.