"The entrepreneurial lie is when we put our family on a sacrificial altar for now, so that we can just blow out our business and they’ll understand. Someday they’ll understand. The problem is someday never comes and they don’t understand."
When world-class organizations like Harvard University, YPO, EO, and others want to help their people succeed at home, they call Jim Sheils. As the founder of 18 Summers, Jim is on a mission to deepen relationships for entrepreneur families. And his book, The Family Board Meeting, has been a game-changer for me and my family.
Jim and his wife have been referred to as “Crazy Glue for families.” His work helps parents connect with their children in fun and experiential ways, revolutionizes life as a family, and helps entrepreneurs balance success at work and at home.
Jim’s views on education are also very much in alignment with my own, and he’s working to change our education system to better prepare children for the more practical affairs of life – and you’ll soon know why his book was recommended to me over and over again.
- The “big lie” of entrepreneurship and why family – not amassing wealth – comes first for both me and Jim.
- Why finding personal and professional freedom and connection was the most significant goal Jim achieved – and the powerful rhythms he put into his life to achieve it.
- Jim’s vision for himself as a 119-year-old – and why he thinks it’s now possible to have a happy, fulfilling life at that age.
- What you can expect to learn in both the original and updated editions of The Family Board Meeting – and the simple rhythms that keep you grounded, consistent, connected, and successful.
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Hal: Goal achievers, welcome to another episode of the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. I’m going to tell you that when world-class organizations like Harvard University, YPO, EO, and others want to help their people succeed at home, they call the man that we are about to talk to. And Jim Sheils is on a clear mission in this lifetime, deepen relationships and improve education for entrepreneur families. And Jim’s popular book has been a game changer for me and my family. I discovered it a few years ago and we started implementing it. The book is called The Family Board Meeting and the strategy that goes along with it has helped families and parents worldwide connect with their children in fun and experiential ways. And by creating the education matrix, Jim is also helping change our education system and better prepare our children for the more practical affairs of life. And you may have heard me talk in the past that my children go to Acton Academy which is a very unique school and when I saw Jim speak quite a few years ago at the Front Row Dad’s Retreat and he introduces this education matrix so I was like, “Oh, you pretty much invented Acton Academy like you’re very much in alignment,” and I pulled him aside afterwards and we chatted about education for quite a while.
He’s often referred to, actually, he and his wife, Jamie, are both often referred to as crazy glue for families and they’re on a mission to revolutionize family life and they want to help you enjoy your family more than the average parent balancing success at work with success at home. After all, as Jim reminds us, you only have 18 summers to make memories with your children, not that much when you think about it. So, my mission in life or I should say my highest priority is my family and my kids and so I’m excited for this conversation with Jim today because I’ve heard him speak. We had a one-on-one conversation before. He is very heart-centered, very brilliant, and very purpose-driven.
Hal: Jim, welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast.
Jim: Thanks, Hal. It’s good to be back in conversation with you.
Hal: Yeah, brother. You too, man. So, let’s just start. In fact, you and I were talking the other day about the fact that we’d be talking today and you had said a few things and I went, “Jim, I think you just like revolutionized the way I’m going to approach my podcast from now on.” All right.
Jim: I get like one good idea a month too so you just took…
Hal: I nailed it. I stole the advice, dude. So, I just realized the big picture theme of this show it’s helping people achieve their goals and so sometimes I do solo episodes. More often than not, I usually interview somebody and what I kind of realize is that the theme of any interview that I have is just what’s been your most significant goal in your life that you’ve achieved and how did you achieve it? That’s the basis I feel like of any conversation that I have. So, you’re the first person that I think I’m asking that question in that way too and it’s really two questions in one, but what’s been the most significant goal in your life, Jim, that you achieved and how did you achieve it?
Jim: Yeah. When you ask me that last week, I’ll tell you I hadn’t been in deep thought for a while and I’ve always tried to narrow things down to like one or two words because there are so many good words out there but you got to go to the few great and what I came to, Hal, really pondering on this was what I wanted from a personal and professional level and I always try to keep that yin and yang balance of the two is I wanted freedom and connection and the thing that I’m sure we’ll talk about today is how did I achieve that, obviously, through entrepreneurship but also through setting some powerful rhythms in my life. Well, one of them being the Miracle Morning quite honestly.
Hal: Of course. I’m just kidding. Keep going.
Jim: Of course, I had the community to shout out to but it’s absolutely true to jumpstart the day but what I found is I wanted freedom and connection in both my personal and professional life. And by setting certain powerful rhythms into my life, that’s when it allowed me to achieve it.
Hal: Got it. Freedom and connection. So, when you say freedom and connection, let’s take those one at a time. How do you define freedom?
Jim: Yeah. Freedom to create my own schedule. If I wanted to go to the gym at 10:00 in the morning or 7:00 in the morning or 3:00 in the afternoon, I can do that. If I want to move a few things around and go surfing with my son, I can do that. If I want to go onto a big family vacation for a long trip, no one can tell me you have to put in for the time. I wanted the freedom professionally to be able to do that and to work in, I know I’ve heard you and I talk about this before, in my own jeans. The things I was good at, I didn’t want to be imprisoned into doing something I hated and something I frankly wasn’t very good at. So, that’s kind of freedom on the personal and business side. I wanted to have the freedom to choose when to spend time with my loved ones and to do the things that created resource where I could do that and that’s why entrepreneurship really called to me because there was no ceiling.
Hal: Yeah. Beautiful. You and I are 100% aligned on or kind of our definition of freedom and what was it being arguably one of the most important things in our lives. So, how about connection?
Jim: For me, connection was and, Hal, we’ve got some deep talks and what you’ve gone through is significant and I always applaud you for your positive attitude and your perseverance and your success getting through illness and overcoming it but I have not gone through anything like you but when I donated a kidney to my father seven years ago, it really became a thing and I think I shared this with you. I don’t want to live on the surface. I don’t care what the rest of the world was doing. I know that mortality is real so I want to make the most of the time I got. I’m hoping I’m here until I’m 119. That’s my goal but every day counts. Every summer counts. That’s why we named our company 18 Summers because that simple math equation from a mentor of mine said, “Look, the time is limited. The stats are there. My kids are growing and what do you know, they’re still your kids once they grow up but it’s going to be different. The time is going to be different. Eat it up now.” So, I wanted to live life below the surface. When I have a conversation with you on the side of the room, I don’t want to know what the weather is like in Austin. I want to know how your kids are like acting. What was it like going through this? What has been your biggest struggle going from sales to this and that?
I don’t want to live on the surface so with my family, with my friends, with myself. I want to self-reflect. I wanted to learn meditation. I wanted to learn to surf, things that really called to me, that’s what I figure is connection, not only for myself but the people closest to me. And you hear about these, I think it was Benjamin Franklin talked about people that go through life as ghosts from the age of 25 to 75. I didn’t want to be a ghost. So, connection for me is kind of a passion for living, going places where I want to go that inspire me, hanging out with people that do the same thing, and that gives me that sense of connection where I can look at my wife, I can look at my sons, I can look at my daughter, I can look at my close friends and I can say, “I love you. You know I do and I got your back,” and vice versa. That’s what connection means to me.
Hal: Beautiful. Beautiful, man. So, you mentioned you want to live to be 119. I’m curious why 119.
Jim: It’s kind of a cool number. We pick out a number and I have Irish relatives that have lived forever like over 100 and I thought, wow, with everything that’s happening nowadays and taking good care of nutrition, it just seemed like a good number where I get to meet a number of my grandkids and great grandkids and I give quite a bit to myself, society, and the people around me and 119 years would do me justice. So, it’s just something that I said, I’m a huge fan, Hal, of Jack Lalanne. He’s kind of a forgotten guy.
Hal: Yeah. No, I don’t forget, yeah.
Jim: But he had the book, Living Forever Young (Live Young Forever). I don’t even know if it’s out anymore but I’m telling you, Hal. I read this book and there was a picture of him in there at the age of I think it was 80 or 85 completely changed the dynamic of aging and being broken down by the age of 50 or 60 like people talk about and it sticks with me. So, I just said, “Okay, look out further and give yourself something to really shoot for.” If I only make it to 112 ½, well, I’m okay with that.
Hal: It could be alright. Now, it’s funny, I was watching Tom Segura stand up comedian on Netflix the other day. I was watching his special, Mostly Stories. I think it’s his older special which I highly recommend if you’re a fan of stand up comedy in the form of offensive like I love stand up and I’m not easily offended. If you’re easily offended, do not take the recommendation but it was just funny. He goes, “Everybody wants to live to be 100,” and he goes, “Have you seen 80?” He goes, I forgot he gave an example of somebody, “So and so is 80. Man, he’s not thriving. He’s not energized at 80,” but yeah Jack Lalanne like you said, game changer when it comes to your picture of what it’s like to be in your 80s or beyond.
Jim: Yeah. I think it’s changing. I’ve met plenty of guys. I’m a surfer. I’ve met plenty of guys that are surfing in their 80s and it’s not like they’re suffering. I mean, they’re living and it’s not like they catch one wave, they fall down, and people have to help them out of the water. I mean there are things happening. We’re in a very exciting time now with people that are way smarter than me figuring out supplemental use, different exercise, things that can help us live. I don’t want to exist to 119. I want to live until 119. Big difference.
Hal: Sure. Yeah. In my affirmations, I picked 100. Maybe you just brought an extra 19 years to my life, another great gift, Jim. Thank you.
Jim: Well, I don’t want you to go that early, Hal.
Hal: That’s right. When I had my cancer diagnosis, my affirmations where I affirmed that I would live to be 100 and I have like a #2080. That’s the year that I would actually turn 101. That was like my – I couldn’t talk my wife into getting #2080 tattooed onto her arms or somewhere in her body. She’s not up for it but I’m still thinking about it but, yeah, you just raised it. So, you know what, talk about because I was introduced to your work, it was from people recommending this book, The Family Board Meeting, that you wrote over and over and over again and I know that became an Amazon bestseller. I think it was 2015 so it’s a few years later and I know you’ve launched a completely updated edition which I was involved in. So, tell us about the updated Family Board Meeting and what’s the new – for those that don’t even know what the book’s about, what’s the original about and what’s the new content that readers can expect?
Jim: Absolutely. So, first of all, it has a great foreword because you wrote it and literally my wife and I read it and we shed tears because it was so beautiful the way that you opened up and, Hal, again when we’re going back to connection, when I’m 119 hopefully someday and on my way out, it’s not going to be the real estate deals that I did that I remember or this or that but you saying, “You know Jim, I was sick and your simple little rhythm helped keep me in a good mind space and love space with my kids.” That’s what this is about and I never expected, Hal, for us to be on Miracle Morning Podcast seven, eight years ago but this was a simple little rhythm that I put into life with my sons and when I started to tell the results I got very shyly because I didn’t really want to share this, people said, “You need to share this more, you need to share this more,” and my friend, Dan Sullivan, strategic coach and more said, “If you don’t put this in a book, I’m going to kill you.” So, that’s where it came about.
And what I found is we all want to keep our priorities and again, going back to Miracle Morning, how do you keep priority in your life when you start the day off right with the Miracle Morning? But what about relationships? And what I found is if you’ll put a few simple rhythms in your life like this Family Board Meeting strategy, it deepens the connection, it keeps you grounded, it keeps you more consistent which can be hard for a lot of us who are super busy running here and there. We don’t want that feeling of guilt or depression like if we’re not spending enough time with our family or we feel like we’re on the surface. So, the Family Board Meeting is a very simple rhythm that I’ve been practicing for about eight years with my sons and now my younger daughter, and I know you’ve been doing it for a few years as well and that’s how we got introduced.
Hal: Sure. I want to circle back because I realized that I had asked you something, we had touched on it, and then I just skipped into I wanted to ask about the book but you just touched on this concept of rhythms again and you mentioned that your most significant goal in life you wanted freedom, you wanted connection. Now, with both of those at a high-level, the other question was how did you accomplish that? So, you said you accomplished it by putting these rhythms in place. So, if you talk more about, define what is a rhythm and what are the rhythms that you have in your life not just for the family but for your business, for your income, for your success, health, these rhythms that allow you to keep it consistently kind of thriving life if you will?
Jim: Yes. Good question and we’ll get back to the Family Board Meeting and how that worked with families. Very simple to understand and implement and everyone by the end of this call will know how. But for rhythms, Hal, I was told probably about 10, 12 years ago by another mentor of mine. I’m a big believer in mentors. He said, “Jim, rhythmize your life around your biggest priorities.” So, I did that in both my personal and professional life and what I found is just like you talking to that, sometimes you don’t feel like getting up early, sometimes you don’t feel like going through all of the motions of your morning miracle but you’re going to feel better once you do and it’s going to keep you grounded and secure and moving forward. That’s what rhythms have done for me. So, for example, after we finish this call, I have a standing call once a week in person with my CFO and my real estate investment company. What I found going through different mentoring groups and different mastermind groups was most people, entrepreneurs especially, don’t look at the numbers. They want to kind of skirt over it and talk about big things. What I learned years ago and I kind of had to especially 10 years ago going through 2008 is you got to look at the numbers. You got to understand the numbers. You don’t have to do the accounting or the bookkeeping necessarily but you have to look at them, you have to work with them, and just like you can’t go to the gym once a month, you got to have a schedule to keep these things up.
So, for years now every Wednesday 3:00, me and my CFO who handles all my accounting and stuff for my real estate investment company, we sit down and go through the numbers. Here’s where we’re at, here’s what we plan, here’s when we go to the next thing. That’s one of the most powerful things that I could do. And then making it down another, I have a real estate investment company. That’s what I did full-time for 19 years. I still have it but I’m parlaying my money into now this mission to help deepen family life. And what I would have is a simple rhythm and goal that every day for an hour I’d look for deals. That was it. Daily, look for deals, look for deals, look for deals, because that was one of the most important things. I had backers, I had crews to fix them. I had management to do it. I was the deal guy. I was good at un-turning the rocks and I knew that to keep our volume, to hit our goals, to keep that consistent thing, again, we did simple little houses, Hal, but the clock would hit Monday morning and I would say, “By Friday, I’m going to have two new deals that fit our parameters,” and how I would do it is one hour a day, look for a deal, look for a deal, look for a deal.
And that was it. So, you have to like especially when you’re building a business, there are certain things like you’re going to like to do. I like looking for the deals. So, I made that a priority and I knew that got the highest results. Now, I don’t necessarily like looking at the numbers. I mean sometimes with P&L.
Hal: I can’t stand it. I was just thinking about it today.
Jim: Right? I hate it, Hal. It’s not my favorite but it’s like, okay, I’m going to take my vitamins. Those are like your financial vitamins. If you will keep a rhythmic thing with a bookkeeper and accountant and I can’t tell you how many and I’m sure a lot of people out there would raise their hand especially real estate investors. I know you and I have a lot of mutual real estate investor friends, usually successful now, when they first started in the first few years, they weren’t looking at their numbers at all and it was a cluster to fix it. I was one of them and it’s a terrible feeling not knowing where your books are, not having your taxes done and I just swore I’d never be there again but I found with again setting that rhythm and staying with it every week, two hours, going through the numbers, it keeps you grounded. It keeps you moving forward. It keeps you looking at bigger opportunities and what I found is when you’re starting a business there’s going to be things that really gets results, some you’re going to enjoy doing, some you’re not. And you can delegate some but some you got to stay involved with and what I encourage is set certain rhythms and stay with them.
Another rhythm of mine is every quarter, Hal, I’m in some sort of mastermind group where I’m meeting with people that I think are good solid people that are going to challenge me personally and professionally, every quarter. Boom. Boom. Boom. And you don’t have to have too many of these professional rhythms but you have to have a few like I know you went through probably the best sales training in the country as far as I’m concerned with the people I met at Cutco and you have to keep certain rhythms that a follow-up that you had to do to hit the numbers that you want if you wanted to be the best. And what I found is so many people especially entrepreneurs were more fire red if you know Kolbe, they’re more quick start. They’re like, “Let me just run this way, run that way, run this way, run that way.” I found I have to work less hard if I stick to my rhythms and I get better results.
Hal: Yeah. And the thing is, the things that you hate doing like looking at the numbers or anything in life personally like I used to hate running, what I realized is that the more you do it, the less you dislike it and to the point where you get acclimated to it. Like, I didn’t like running and I started running I’m like, “Oh, this is terrible,” and then all of a sudden, my body is getting acclimated and my mind is getting acclimated and after a few weeks, I’m like actually finding the joy in running. The same thing is true for your numbers. Once you get used to it, it’s no longer something you dread because it’s just something you do and whether or not it becomes your favorite thing and something you love, it definitely the hate of it, the detest, it being something that you resist with every fiber of your being I feel like that just diminishes and you’re able to do it whether it’s working out or even eating right.
I remember I was 21 I think and I had become vegan and a buddy of mine was visiting my apartment and I was pouring a bowl of cereal or I don’t know what it was but I just remember I had like almond milk or I think that was soy milk back then before they knew about soy and it was actually soy milk. That was the first like alternative to dairy milk and I poured the soy milk and he goes, “Man, is it really worth it?” And I said, “What do you mean?” And he’s like, “You got to drink that soy milk. I don’t even know how it tastes like that soy milk.” I said, “I’ve been drinking this for about six months.” I said, “Do you think I even think twice when I pour a bowl of cereal now? Do you think I go, ‘Oh, gosh?’ No.” I go, “It’s a rhythm. It’s now become a rhythm.” So, I love what you’re talking about there. And for you listening, if you’re listening to this, what are the rhythms in your life that you know you should or could or let’s say should be doing? What are the rhythms when it comes to relationship?
A rhythm, Jim, I’m going to speak on this for just a minute here but my wife and I just recently set up a rhythm that I’ve known we should be doing, I’ve heard that we should do it, I’ve heard it’s great and it’s so funny. We hear this stuff and until you do it and it was simply weekly date night. My wife and I would go on a date whenever we find time and it probably averaged maybe once a month and maybe some months we didn’t even get to a date and then just a few months ago we committed to a weekly date night every Thursday and it’s been amazing like the amount of just connection that we have and just the opportunity to just connect and get away from the kids and have some space and have some alone time and have some great conversation and be romantic and drink a little alcohol, just it’s been amazing that rhythm. So again, if you’re listening, what are the rhythms in your personal life, your relationships, your health, your spirituality, your business? What are the rhythms, the ongoing consistent activities that you do daily or weekly that will make significant improvements in your world?
And, Jim, you mentioned like Cutco. For me, it was 20 calls a day, five days a week. I hated making phone calls. Nobody liked it so I committed to do it but what happened is it became a part of me. I didn’t even think about it after I was doing that consistently for a few weeks and then months and then I became one of the top reps not because I was the best salesperson in the world. I just made my 20 phone calls no matter what. And making those rhythms non-negotiable so I love that. So, in the Family Board Meeting book, you mentioned what you called the big lie of entrepreneurship. What is that and how does it harm families?
Jim: Yeah. The big lie of entrepreneurship kind of goes back to freedom where a lot of people read similar genres of what I read and I’m sure you read when we first got into this and there was this entrepreneurship creates this freedom of choice. You can choose your schedule. You can choose when you want to hang out with your family. You can choose how much money you make. And what that freedom can kind of be taken away because the entrepreneurial lie that I talk about in the Family Board Meeting is, look, we are going to put our family on a sacrificial altar for now so that we can just blow out our business and they’ll understand. Someday they’ll understand. The problem is, Hal, I’ve been doing this now for five, six years very intimately with a lot of great entrepreneur families out there. Someday never comes and they don’t understand. We’re at a different developmental age at our age now than our kids are at going from 3 to 18 and that’s the great entrepreneurial lie that someday we’ll make it up to them, someday they’ll understand, and that lost time of connection cannot be given back.
So, that’s the lie that I wanted to see so many people do it and say, “I’m doing it for my family. I’m doing it for my family,” but there comes a fine line I know we talk about that, Hal, at different dads groups we’ve been in where we cannot be willing with the limited time we have to put our family on the altar constantly in the name of business, not if that’s going to be a priority, not if you choose them as your deepest core value, the health of yourself and your closest loved ones. You cannot do it and the good news is you can draw that line in the sand and say, “Nope. I’m not going to do it,” and I think once you get that clarity, your mind starts to think differently and say, “Okay. Since I’m not willing to put them on the altar but I still have that entrepreneurial drive, how can I have both ways?” At least that’s what happened for me.
If I was willing to keep giving up my family time, giving up my family time, and doing it in their honor because we’ll be able to take a trip in 10 months but I’m not going to be around, first of all, I’ll feel way worse about myself but secondly, it’s going to cause a disconnect but what I found is if I’m like, “No, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to sacrifice them,” I started to think differently, “How can I tackle this big project I have in front of me a little differently?” Because I’m not going to sacrifice now. I’m not going to be a completely missing parent for six months, eight months and then come back and say, “Okay. The project went great.” There has to be a cleaner balance.
Hal: Yeah. And pre-cancer, I was living that lie in the biggest way and the thing is it’s a lie that we tell ourselves. It’s not like we’re lying to our family where like intentionally we were going, “Yeah. You guys, we’re doing it for you,” and then behind the scenes, they’re like, “Yeah. Right. I’m not doing it for them.” To me, it’s this lie that we are living and we’re lying to ourselves. We’re not aware of it. For me, I thought I was doing it all for them and whatever badge of entrepreneurial honor that you used, I hustle, I grind, I see these terms and I guess maybe when I was single that the terms were relative but now I’m like, “Dude, it’s got to be family first,” and I realized Jon Vroman was the one I think that said it to me that he realized his parents were not nice parents but his kids were not going to remember how many mortgage payments he made. They weren’t going to remember how many – that was not what life and neither was he at the end of his life, neither was he, and yet that’s what we’re like we’re spending our time to accumulate money, wealth, either whether it’s to pay the bills or if the bills are already paid. It’s like we’re that A-type. We’re trying to get further and further ahead or pad our emergency fund or whatever it is. And I like what you said that it doesn’t have to be an either/or. It’s getting creative, how do I do both?
Jim: Yeah. And we have to go through these things to get clarity. I’m sure you’ve seen Miracle Morning is an incredible brand that’s helped millions of people now but I interviewed both your little ones who I’ve met before if I said, “Rank first and second, the Miracle Morning or dad, Hal?” I mean, you are a far first and you’re like, “Compared to dad, if I have a choice one or the other,” like they want you and that should be so refreshing. That was refreshing for me, Hal. I might not die with the biggest business but, man, I’m going to be connected to my kids and that gives me some sort of encouragement, some sort of inspiration, and the good news is where people are listening like, man, this is pretty heavy. This is where rhythms come in and you already hit on it and how these simple rhythms that just keep the beat and keep you having that space like you talk about, you put a few into place. I’m not talking you need to put these 27 rhythms into action. I mean we can go over two and literally you hit the nail on the head. If I had to break it down and you said, “Jim, best two rhythms for your personal life with your family,” by far, date night with a question. After I have my accounting meeting every Wednesday night 5:00 to 8:00, me and Jamie go on a date and we call it date night with a question. What we decided to do, Hal, was I want to make sure again how’s the weather, how are the kids today? I mean those are important things but we try to find one really deep powerful question that we both need to answer on date night. So, we call it date night with a question. That holds us in and again, most of my advice comes from mentors before me but my one mentor said, “Jim, if you don’t have time to keep dating your wife, you don’t have time to stay married,” and it was like ouch, punch to the gut. So, that one strategy has been our most powerful and then for me and my kids, without a doubt, they would probably say the same, my family board meeting strategy that we’ve been practicing for years absolutely solidifies our relationship.
Hal: Got you. So, the date night with a question, give me an example of a powerful question, a recent question that you and your wife answered or just one of your favorites?
Jim: Yeah. So, name a time that I really disappointed you and what I could’ve done differently? And that’s a tough one to listen to. You got to go into this with your dukes down or name a time that I really showed up for you, specific time I really showed up for you and why it felt like I was 100% there for you? So, that’s one. And another one that we just did last week, it was the week before, was what were your highlights of the trip? We try to do a big 18 Summers adventure. Every summer we did a five-week road trip up to Nova Scotia and we just debriefed our favorite moments of the trip. So, it could be heavy in that. I would try to make sure that it’s a conversational one because to say, what is your favorite color? I think there was that money pike, what is your favorite color? It’s not going to get you anywhere but those are just a few examples and there’s plenty of ones you can pull offline of like deep questions to ask your spouse but just start with one and if you do that, think about that and you’ve now gone at the end of the year. You asked each other 52 powerful questions that you now know the answers to.
Hal: Beautiful and then Family Board Meetings which can you give the quick kind of structured, the overview of what that is?
Jim: Yes. So, what I do is my kids are by far my most important investors and clients. I’m an entrepreneur. I think like one. I put them ahead above all. So, just like most successful businesses you heard about most big businesses have a quarterly board meeting and the purpose of it was an important meeting that will reunite the team and look ahead to the next 90 days. I do that with my kids, Hal, so every 90 days I have what I call a board meeting or an important meeting with my kids and there’s always three guiding principles. It’s got to be at least a minimum of four hours which I talked about in the book because that creates decompression which is super important for open lines of communication and real connection but there are only three guiding principles to my board meeting strategy.
Every 90 days we get together for at least four hours and then it means one-on-one without electronics and a fun activity of their choice with focused reflection. And those three together which I go into the book are so important. I think it was Vroman who said, “Man, that’s the peanut butter and jelly. When you put all three of them together it just sets the stage for connection, it sets the stage for memories,” and it is absolutely the pillars in my relationship. Now, do I spend time with my kids in between? Of course, but I can tell you that naturally on a daily basis the time is more in-depth because of these board meetings and I don’t know if you want me to share the story about my son that inspired this but that was the uncomfortable family event that I had to go through to share this, see the results and now…
Hal: Yeah. Please do. Please share this.
Jim: Well, my wife and I met eight years ago. I think it was nine years ago now, fell in love instantly. She was running a Waldorf school so again going back to education, it was peas and carrots right away. When I met her, Hal, I got the chance to win her heart and the heart of two beautiful little boys who were seven and five. My wife was married young to a high school boyfriend, terrible situation. I respect her more than anyone in this world, stood up for herself, got out of it, got full custody of her sons, and we met a few years later. And the boys and I hit it off famously, right away, Hal, and I think you actually met them once or twice now. But they had trust issues and for good reason and it was especially hard on my oldest son, Alden. And when I came to his life at the age of seven, he was a terrible student, close to failing. He had been put on a spectrum at school for autism and he suffered every night from something called night terrors and, Hal, if you don’t know what those are, people out there listening, you’re lucky if you don’t know what those…
Hal: I’m familiar but not personally but, yeah, I’ve heard.
Jim: They’re awful, Hal. They’re awful. Now, I have been confused, I’ve been accused of being a naïve optimist on certain things and I was already doing work with families just on the side as almost like a fun uncle but I knew the situation could change and I knew trust and connection were at the root of it and what I started to do was do these board meetings with my sons and within one year of starting these board meetings, these arithmetic every 90 days, let them choose the day, open up lines of communication, turn your phone off, be one-on-one with no distractions, the breakthroughs we had, Hal, and my wife and I can pinpoint what happened when we reflected back, within one year, Hal, my son went from failing and I’ve since adopted both the boys they asked me to adopt them years ago. My son went from failing to being awarded the most improved student in the third grade. He got his little award. He was beaming. They retracted the diagnosis of autism which is very rare and I knew it wasn’t autism. It was stress-related that could be overcome and probably for me, Hal, the most rewarding thing for me and my wife is the night terrors within one year were completely gone. And I would’ve given, Hal, my entire real estate portfolio for those results.
Hal: Yeah. That’s incredible.
Jim: I didn’t have to. So, this simple and once I started to share the story and more people started to practice this simple little rhythm, I’ve gotten letters and I’ve gotten phone calls and I’ve gotten gifts of just saying, “You cannot believe what my son opened up to me about on our board meeting today. You can’t believe how this helped me while I was sick, while we were going through this divorce.” It’s a simple rhythm that can be understood and continued to be practiced and it gets better and better. I can’t wait. I have a fishing one with Alden this Friday on the afternoon we’re going out fishing. That’s his choice. Hal, you wouldn’t even recognize him. He’s big, tall, strong, I mean the old Alden of eight years ago is a completely different person and I just believe that’s the power of love and connection when we can build trust and we spend focused time and I want to add to people out there because people might be thinking, I got those results without therapy and without medication and both of those things can come in handy at certain times but that’s not what was needed for me and my son to connect and for him to overcome.
Hal: Wow. Beautiful. I’ll now tell you, Jim, the Family Board Meeting that the strategy what it did for me as well is just opened me up to the importance of turning out the electronics one-on-one time and so I do these, I don’t call them family board meetings but it’s like, like for example, tonight David Osborn, mutual friend of ours, he and I are doing a – we’re doing our first ever Double Daddy-Daughter Date.
Jim: I love it.
Hal: Yeah. And honestly, the first time we talked about it we’re talking about family board meetings, I’m like, “Dude, we should do like a variation where we do like a double daddy-daughter date,” and we have both the girls because our daughters are like best friends and but, yeah, so literally, the Family Board Meeting it spawns and sparks I think all these other ideas of ways to connect on how do you create daily rhythms like every day I play with my son for at least 30 minutes in the morning when he wakes up. We did it this morning. We played trick shot ping pong which is this game we invented where we hit the ping pong paddle. We try to bounce it off the walls and give it to land back on the table and stuff. Anyway, but yeah that was all inspired by Family Board Meetings. So, you’re a great man. You’re a great leader and a great teacher. Jim, what’s the best way for people to continue learning from you? Whether it’s your books, your email list, what’s the best way for them to keep learning from you?
Jim: Yeah. I mean obviously, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of The Family Board Meeting. A lot of my entrepreneur friends love it because it’s simple and short.
Hal: It’s short. It’s super short.
Jim: Super short, easy ready, but it’s got a lot of the questions that might be coming up in your head that are easy to understand and apply, “What did you do? How did you overcome this? We’ve got a distant teen.” It’s all in there, give it a read. If you want to learn more about what we do, some speeches that I do, and I’ve been lucky be on stage with Hal on that, just go to 18Summers.com. You can learn more about myself and my wife and what we’re doing to help entrepreneur families.
Hal: That’s the number 18, right, 1-8 Summers?
Jim: Yeah. 18Summers.com and just always remember that if people said what’s your one parting thing saying, “Man, I never forgot it. Do the math. Every moment counts.” We love summer so I always say you got 18 summers so I’m counting them down and it really causes a positive urgency to take hold of that time with your family.
Hal: Beautiful, Jim. Well, thank you for the impact you’ve had in my family and I can’t thank you enough for that.
Jim: You’re welcome and have a great time with David tonight. I’m psyched to hear you guys are doing that.
Hal: Absolutely. And, goal achievers, so again, I come back and I ask what are the rhythms in each area of your life and/or your business that you need to start implementing, the daily, the weekly activities even the monthly or quarterly activities? And I invite you to choose one and implement it in the next 24 hours. Choose one. Is it start an exercise? Is it giving up drinking something? Is it a rhythm that you’re in that’s not a good rhythm that you need to get rid of? But what are the rhythms that they’ll make an impact for you, for your family personally, professionally, and every other way? So, love you, goal achievers. Thanks for tuning in and I will talk to you all next week.
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