Ep 039

Dinner Dates With Your Kids, Winning At Work & Succeeding At Life with the Double Win (Live on Front Row Dads Podcast with Michael Hyatt)


Michael Hyatt

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Inside This Episode

What’s up DBDL Fam! We’ve got an extra special episode lined up for you today.

I was recently asked to guest host on the Front Row Dads podcast. In case you’re unfamiliar, Front Row Dads was started by Jon Vroman – it’s a membership group and podcast created for fathers who want to level up their Dad game and put family first. As Jon describes it, it’s a group for Family Men With Businesses, Not Businessmen With Families. This group has by far had the biggest impact on how I show up for my family – so if anyone’s interested in learning more about that group, definitely go check them out.

Not only did I get to take over the Front Row Dads podcast for an episode, but I got to decide who I was going to interview. I chose someone who I greatly admire when it comes to both business and family – the one and only, Michael Hyatt, who is a NYT bestselling author and the founder of Full Focus.

3 of the biggest insights from Michael Hyatt

  • #1 Why you don’t have to sacrifice family in order to succeed in business – you can have both!  ‘

  • #2 How Michael maps out his schedule, including planning date nights with his 5 daughters.

  • #3 The story of when Michael’s wife told him that despite his incredible success, she felt like a single mom – a moment that completely shifted how he shows up as a husband and father.


  • Family first because what else really matters?
  • When wins feel like failures
  • Having “double wins” in life
  • Marry someone who calls out your BS
  • Best gift for your kids? A healthy marriage
  • The question that could save your marriage
  • Schedule your date nights fellas
  • Living in the moment
  • Raising independent kids







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  • What if we can win at work and succeed in life? What if we see our businesses grow and our careers be really successful but not at the expense of our health and our most important relationships?” – Michael Hyatt

  • If we’re not really intentional in designing our whole lives, not just our careers, that’s a recipe for disaster.” – Michael Hyatt

  • The shortest distance between where I am and where I want to be is the truth. And the truth is usually one of those things that’s difficult to see by ourselves.” – Michael Hyatt

  • The most important gift you can give your kids is a healthy marriage.” – Michael Hyatt

Brad Jonson: Well, this is a first, Michael. Welcome to the Front Row Dad’s podcast hosted by guest host, Brad Jonson, here. And I know you were kind enough, Jon Vroman, who if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “What’s this Brad guy doing on here?” for those of you that normally listen to Front Row Dads, Jon who obviously has inspired me a lot as a dad, as a husband, he’s on vacation, I think, somewhere around the world right now. And he had a really cool idea and he said, “Hey, maybe we could have some of our Front Row Dads members come on and guest host.” And he hit me up and he said, “Who in your network, Brad, could be a good guest to maybe have come on?” And I was like, one guy came to mind, a guy that’s really modeled a lot of what I try to model in my life as a father and as a dad and it’s you, Michael. So, welcome, Michael Hyatt, to the Front Row Dads podcast. Glad to have you here, Michael.

Michael Hyatt: Thanks, Brad. You know, we’ve had so many conversations like this over the years on podcasts but never on somebody else’s podcast. So, this is a first for you and it’s a first for me.

Brad Jonson: Yeah. And I think what’s been kind of cool with the evolution of business and life and my podcast, Do Business Do Life, your version of the Double Win and talking about business and life integration versus balance, there are just so many synergies and it actually feeds right into obviously what this podcast is about. I love how Jon puts it. He says, “We’re family men with businesses, not businessmen with families.” And I think oftentimes as an entrepreneur, you go to build a business so that you can have the freedom to live life on your terms and have the resources to support your family and those you love. And unfortunately, sometimes that can lead to building a little bit of a trap or I’ve heard it, it’s almost like you build your own prison not by intention but just like you look up five or ten years later and like, “Man, things are out of whack here and out of balance.”

One of the things I’ve always appreciated about you, you’ve been really open about the mistakes you’ve made along the way. I’ve learned from some of those because you’ve been vulnerable enough to share those but what I love is the learnings and how you apply frameworks in your life and in your business. Just say like, “I’m not going to do that again.” So, you told me a story that really hit home with me. It was one of the first times we met in a small mastermind group, and it was, I’ll just frame it. I think it was like from a business front, it was one of the highlights of your business, I think, including a really large check. And then there was a quick 180 when you got home. So, do you mind diving into that story? Because I think there’s a really good lesson there.

Michael Hyatt: Yeah. Well, I’m only laughing in retrospect. It was pretty painful at the time. So, in the year 1999, I kind of got the dream job. And for me, it was at least a dream job. I’ve been in the book publishing industry. And so, I was given responsibility for this division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, which was really exciting. It was 1 of 14 book publishing divisions the company held. We were publicly traded. Everything was very visible to the public. And so, I thought, “Great, I’ve got the worst performing division,” which was really hard because I didn’t know that until after I got into the job. And so, the CEO said, “How long is it going to take you to turn this around?” I mean, I just pulled a number out of the air. I had no clue. I’d never done this before. And I said, “I think about three years.” And he said, “You know, that was exactly the number I was thinking.” I said, “Okay, great.”

So, I went back to the team. I kind of painted a vision for what I thought we could do with this division. You know, my vision was that we would become first in the company in terms of revenue growth, profitability, morale, everything we could measure. And so, they got super pumped about it. And they had been discouraged for years knowing that they were dead last in the company. I didn’t know if they knew it. And so, we began to work and we were working like 70 hours a week, nights, weekends, traveling constantly. I was paying zero attention to my health, zero attention, well, maybe 10% attention to my family. It wasn’t good. But the good news was we turned the division around. We went from 14 to number one in terms of revenue growth, in terms of profitability, everything, and we did it in 18 months. And so, I got the biggest bonus check I’d ever received in my history to that point, and it was larger than my annual salary. So, I said, “I cannot wait to get home and share this with Gail,” because I know she’s going to be over the moon with this.

So, go home, bouncing from the garage, and find her in the house. And I say, “You’re never going to believe this.” And I unfurl the check and she looks at it and I can tell she’s not that impressed. And she’s always been my biggest cheerleader and she just wasn’t her exuberant self. And she said, “We need to talk.” And boy, did I feel my heart sink. So, we walked into the den. We sat down and she began to tear up. And she said, “Honey, I appreciate everything you do for this family. I know you work so hard, but honestly, here’s the problem. You’re never at home. And even when you are, you’re not fully present. I don’t know where you are, but your head’s not here.” And she said, “Your five daughters.” Yes, I have five daughters. “Your five daughters need you now more than ever.” And she started to say that. She began to cry a little bit and she said, “I feel like a single mom.” Well, that was not what I was going for. And I felt like I’ve failed. On the one hand, like you said, it was like one of the biggest success days of my career but on the other hand, it was a gut punch. And I felt like that I had failed at probably the most important thing I’ll ever do, being a husband and a dad.

And so, that began a journey. I felt like initially that I was faced with this impossible choice. You know, I was going to either have to throttle back my expectations at work and sort of pump the brakes or I was going to have to do something with my family, basically, try to get Gail to accept that, “Hey, look, I’m really doing this for the family. Can’t you just give me a little space to do this?” And I just felt like neither of those were acceptable. And so, that set me on a quest, Brad, for this third alternative. What if we can win at work and succeed in life? What if we could see our businesses grow and our careers be really successful, but not at the expense of our health or our most important relationships? And so, working with an executive coach through a long process, I was able to find that. And I call that the Double Win where you went into work and succeed in life. And obviously, you slip in and out of that over time but, basically, those things are in relative balance to one another.

Brad Jonson: Such a powerful story. And I know we were talking before. Jon, if you’re listening to this, we might work some B-roll in because we had a little mini podcast before the podcast. But there’s a really cool lesson because I was in a group when you share about a group of 14 or 15 entrepreneurs, and I remember the vulnerability of you sharing that and how I immediately was like, “Man, I like this guy,” because I think a lot of times as entrepreneurs, as leaders, it’s like scary to let your real self out kind of warts and all. And I think there’s a whole another business lesson of like what that does to others when you’re vulnerable, including spouses, including kids, to just like, “You know what? Dad doesn’t have it all figured out.” And I’m imperfect and I’m trying my best and I’m on this journey right along with you but I’m just trying to be a better version of myself tomorrow than I am today. And that was a gift to me that day. I don’t know that I fully express that to you but it just really made me realize it’s okay to not have it all figured out.

And I think one of the things coaching financial advisors over the last decade and a half, it’s this kind of entrepreneurial lie or maybe it’s a man thing of like, “I’ve got to provide for the family, and if I do that, then the rest takes care of itself.” And from my experience, the family just wants your time. Like you said, you’re just never home like we just want you home. That’s what we want. So, what was your journey? I know you got some coaching but were there some other breakthroughs along the way where it was like, “Wow, this was something actually a mindset shift that I actually had wrong that I needed to correct?”

Michael Hyatt: Yeah. Well, I think it’s often framed up as this is a binary decision. It’s the either/or. And the truth is it’s both/and. In fact, our lives are so multifaceted that if we’re not really intentional about designing the whole of our life and not just our careers, that’s a recipe for a disaster. And I think that most people go through life and it’s one of the things I realized is that I had been drifting through life. You know, no real intention, being reactive, sort of responding to other people’s questions and concerns and demands, and what they wanted for me. And I realized that there’s an alternative to drifting, and that’s to design your life. And the problem with drifting and, in fact, another story, this happened to Gail and to me. Gail’s my wife. We’ve now been married for 45 years but back when we had been married for about five years, we went to Hawaii. It was kind of the first big trip we’d ever taken but we were so broke. I mean, we barely had enough money to get there. And we were using all of our airline miles and everything else.

And so, we got there and we didn’t really have much money for entertainment, but we thought the one thing we could do is snorkeling because that’s free. And they gave us lessons in the pool and then we went out onto the reef. That was an amazing experience. We loved it. So, we decided to go to rent some snorkel gear. I mean, it was super cheap. And so, the next morning, like it’s 6:00 in the morning, we went out to the lagoon on Maui beside our hotel, and we said, “Oh my gosh, this is going to be amazing.” There was nobody else out there. And we got into the water and we quickly became sort of focused on and distracted by everything we were seeing under the surface of the water. I mean, beautiful fish, all kinds of floral stuff and plants and just all that stuff. What we didn’t know, though, is that in our focus, in our lack of awareness, situational awareness, we got caught up in a riptide and I would, you know, that would have meant nothing to me at the time because I would have known what to do, even if I’d known I was in a riptide.

But before we knew it, we’d been swept out to sea and we were pretty far out. I don’t know how far it was. It was scary. I finally pulled my head up. Gail pulled her head up. She let out a little scream. I was trying to be cool, calm, and collected. And she said, “What should we do?” And I said, “Man, I don’t know what to do except swim for shore,” which we did. And we swam hard for sure. And so, we finally got there after about 20, 25 minutes of hard swimming. And we didn’t go snorkeling like for another 20 years because it was so traumatic. But I think that’s how most people approach life. Either they’re so focused on the task at hand whether it’s work or some project or something else and before they know it, they’ve been swept to a destination they would not have chosen. That’s the problem with the drift is that you always get swept to a destination you wouldn’t have chosen. You know, it could be a health crisis. It could be a relational crisis.

You know, you think everything’s going great in your career. You wake up and your spouse is asking for a divorce or your kids won’t talk to you or you’re completely estranged from members of your family or you realize that it comes time to retire and you retire you realize, “I don’t have any friends.” And the people that I thought were my friends are people that were at work that never call me anymore. And so, the antidote to that is to design a life with intention. And so, my executive coach, after I had that fateful conversation with Gail then he basically said, “We’re going to put together a life plan,” and that’s what we did. And that’s the first time I began to see that there were these other facets of life and I needed to have a vision for those, just like I had a vision for my career.

Brad Jonson: Yeah. I want to go to a spot here because this was another just aha. And I think when we met, I was, trying to remember, mid-thirties. I had two children. Third one on the way at the time. So, four and five-year-old with my wife Sarah was pregnant. And so, I was in the thick of it. You know, when you’ve got little kids running around and the chaos of that and I know you’ve been there. And another thing that I think is very common, this is Front Row Dads so we’re talking to a lot of dudes out there, is almost these emotions are a weakness sort of. Like, I grew up on, I was a farm boy. I was a football player. So, there are two things that are going to say emotions are bad, rub some dirt on it sort of mentality. That was the world that I grew up in. And I remember you and maybe this was part of this after you and Gail had the conversation in the den. It’d be interesting to see where this kind of fell in your journey. You said somewhere in there, therapy came in, marriage therapy, couples therapy, individual therapy. I’m not sure.

And I almost had this like, “Oh, that’s like a girl thing.” And I know that’s like completely not cool to say but that was the story I was telling myself, right? It was like, “Oh, that’s therapy. That’s for females to sit down and talk about their feelings. Dudes just stuff it up and suck it up and move on.” And I think you had a little bit of resistance early on, and then your therapist shared a comment that has stuck with me. I won’t steal your words but I remember that was almost where this mindset shift happened for me, and it was almost like I realized it’s just a different form of coaching. I think therapy is almost like an aim to rebrand the word because really it’s just coaching in a different aspect to your life. And I’m like, well, I had a football coach. I’ve had business coaches, all of that makes sense. And so, share some of that journey. I don’t know where you want to kick it off and kind of go but that was another gift that you gave me in one of our conversations.

Michael Hyatt: Well, I’ve done therapy numerous times in my life, and certainly not as early as I should have, and perhaps not as often as I could have but it’s been major for me. Also, apparently, I’m a slow learner because this therapy came actually long before like probably 15 years before that conversation with Gail. So, we’d only been married about five years so this was roughly the same time that we went to Hawaii and had that drift experience when we were snorkeling. But I came home and Gail wanted to talk. And she always seemed to want to talk. And my attitude was kind of like you. I mean, like, “Well, get a therapist. I mean I’m trying to work here. I’m trying to get stuff done.” And I had a terrible attitude about it. So, I said, “You need to get a therapist. I think there are some issues you need to resolve. And this is clearly your issue, your problem, not mine.” I mean, the arrogance of it when I tell the story, when I look back on it, it’s just unbelievable. So, she dutifully went to therapy and she went to see Dr. Pennebaker.

And Dr. Pennebaker worked with her for a couple of weeks. And so, she came in and she said, “By the way, Dr. Pennebaker wants you to come to my next therapy session because he wants to talk to you.” Man, I hit the roof, Brad. I was like, “What?” I think, honestly, I secretly suspected that maybe I had a role in this but it seemed like an enormous distraction and an interruption. And after all, I was trying to be productive and nothing sounded more unproductive than sitting in a room talking about my feelings. So, I said, “I’m not going to do that.” And she said, “He says we can’t make progress until you do and so you got to come.” So, I was not happy. I went kicking and screaming. So, I sat down in Dr. Pennebaker’s office, clearly, not a willing participant but just there.

Brad Jonson: I’m sorry to interrupt but there is one funny part of the story. Was it during this exchange you asked Gail to just record the session so you could listen to it on tape or something like that? Was that one of your suggestions?

Michael Hyatt: I can’t remember. I may have.

Brad Jonson: I remember you telling me something like, “Well, I just said, ‘Well, yeah, just record it and I’ll listen to it like on the way to work and I’ll listen on the session.’”

Michael Hyatt: Yeah. That was actually before I went. I said, “Well, why don’t you just record it? I’ll just listen to it and I’ll get whatever I need to get.” Well, anyway, so he says to me, he says, “Well, tell me just a little bit about you.” So, I told him my story and all that. And so, then he sort of recounted some of the sessions that he’d had with Gail. And he said to me, long pause, he looked right at me and he said, “Why do you think you’re so driven?” I felt like he nailed me. And I hadn’t been there but about 10 minutes and I felt like, “Oh my gosh, he could read my mind. He knows exactly what’s going on.” And I started crying right there in the therapy session because I felt like, well, the truth is I grew up with an alcoholic father and in growing up with my dad. And he to know, I don’t know if this will mean anything to the audience, but I’m an Enneagram 3. So, success, achievement, productivity are very important to me.

But there’s a reason why it’s important to me because my dad was basically a drunk when I was in high school and college. And so, I can remember one time as a senior in high school, my friends dropped me and my sister off late one night. It’s probably about 11:00 at night. And we realized very quickly as they dropped us off on the curb, that our dad was on the sidewalk, passed out. And I was mortified. I was so embarrassed. And this story is related to the therapy session. So, Kathy, my sister and I picked my dad up and we brought him into the house and that was not a pleasant experience. I was furious and we laid him on the couch and he promptly passed out again and started snoring. And my sister was so upset she ran to her room crying. And I remember standing in the dark off in a corner, just looking at him with disgust and saying to myself, “I will never be like that. I will do whatever it takes to not be like that.” And that was really the beginning of me becoming an ultra-focused, high-achieving workaholic. Not a healthy thing.

I had something to prove. I was running so hard away from my dad to try to be my own person and to be successful because I didn’t see him as a success that I basically overcorrected and fell off the ditch on the other side. And so, all that came out in that therapy session with Dr. Pennebaker, where I was just telling him about all this experience. It was the first time that I really connected. Now, it obviously didn’t take. I did better for a while, but then I had to do more therapy. And then ultimately that conversation with Gail, I kind of felt like that was many years later, probably 15 years later, and I realized then there’s only so many free passages you get from your spouse before something really breaks down. And I kind of feel like that conversation with Gail in the den, it was her last desperate attempt to say, “Buddy, this needs to be fixed. You need to give attention to this because I’m not sure what’s going to happen if you don’t but it’s not going to be good.”

Brad Jonson: Yeah. Lots of lessons in that story. I remember you shared and I don’t know if this was the same therapy session or not or a different therapist, but something that stuck with me that I’ll never forget. It was one of your therapists said, “It’s the healthy people that come talk to me.” Was that Dr. Pennebaker or was that a different therapist?

Michael Hyatt: That was actually a therapist many years later, and one of my most consistent therapists, Dr. Marshall. And he was fantastic but he said to me right after I started seeing him, I had told him that I had initially been reluctant to go to therapy, and so he was like the second therapist and he said, “Well, in my experience, only the healthy people are brave enough to get therapy. And so, you’re going to be fine because you’re here.” And that just gave me tremendous confidence and reassured me that I was doing the right thing. And I think a lot of guys do struggle with therapy because it’s kind of a tacit, maybe not so tacit admission of weakness. And yet you’re mentioning having these coaches at every area of life. I mean, if you want to improve, get help. Somebody’s figured this out. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times a week I’m on YouTube trying to figure out something that I don’t know how to do it. Maybe something like I’m happy to be in my lake house this coming weekend, and I’m here now.

And so, there’s always projects and I’m not really that handy but I can look it on YouTube and I can figure out almost anything. So, we live in this kind of culture where we were quick to get help for the trivial things but we’re less excited about getting help for the things that really matter. And, Brad, this is like one of the key insights I came to is that the shortest distance between where I am and where I want to be is the truth. And the truth usually is one of those things that it’s difficult for us to see for ourselves. And that’s why a trusted advisor, a business coach, a life coach, or a therapist can help us get to the truth faster than we can get at it on our own. And thus, we see faster progress and we see those areas of our life that we’re trying to address and want to see improvement is going to improve 10X if we get help.

Brad Jonson: Yeah. A therapist is just crowdsourcing wisdom. It’s like, “Okay. I’ve seen this.” It’s so funny because I know you’ve been a business coach for many years. I’ve been a business coach that plays in the financial space for many years. And it’s almost humorous, I mean, from my chair because oftentimes advice for that, “Oh, I got this thing and it’s just overwhelming and I can’t see the end in sight.” It’s super frustrating because you’re in it. It’s the emotions. It’s the chaos. And I’m sitting there and obviously, you’ve got to have a good bedside manner as a coach but I’m like, “Oh.” I think your line is, “Congratulations, you’re normal. Because guess what? Everybody struggles with that and I’ve seen this 50 times before. And the cool thing is there’s a really simple framework that can get you from here to there pretty quickly and faster than you even think possible.” And then all of a sudden, like, “Really?” And it’s like, “Yeah.” And it’s like that’s a therapist. They’ve seen relationship issues. They’ve seen work-life balance issues. They’ve seen it all. And it’s like, “Oh, yeah, let’s start to step into this.”

I mean, personally, for me, left a really successful great career, kind of grew up in finance and coaching, started this new journey of Triad we’re about three years into. And it was about, let me think of the date, November. I think it was only a few months in and I was in beautiful Napa in wine country. My wife Sarah sat me down and said, “We need to talk.” A very similar conversation to what you and Gail had. And you know, it’s funny, like we started coaching. I started coaching with you in 2015 or 2016, so that’s when I first heard that story. So, apparently, I’m a slow learner too. And so, this was 2020-2021 and Sarah is like, “I think we need to talk to somebody.” And it was very much the start of business from scratch. It consumes you. There’s just not enough of you to go around. And I was not showing up as, basically, my family was getting the scraps that were left over at the end of the day and it was not much. And I resisted it even in that moment but then I was like, “No, she’s right. What if she’s right?”

And we’re just over two years into marriage counseling on a weekly basis, one hour, and it’s the best thing we ever did. And I wish we would have done it our first year of marriage instead of our 15th year of marriage. And just the breakthroughs like we just did a therapy session this week. And Megan, our therapist, she’s like, “I wish I could show this video to you guys two years ago.” That was her comment because just all the growth that we’d had because we’d leaned in, we’d communicated, we’d hash through some stuff and obviously gotten stuff a little more balanced, but just like I hope if there’s one listener out there that’s like going through this right now, like just go put it on your calendar and go talk to somebody, whether that’s as a couple, whether that’s as an individual. There’s plenty of help out there if you don’t resist it. And so, thank you because had it not been for that time with you, I probably would have been the guy resisting it and saying, “No, you go get therapy, Sarah. I’m good. This is obviously your issue,” you know?

Michael Hyatt: It’s amazing. Yeah. Well, I would just offer the same encouragement too. Again, therapy can be enormously helpful and you may have to try a couple of therapists until you find one that you really jive with but ask around. More people than you think are getting therapy. And they usually know who the good people are. I’d tell you this, the couples that are growing and staying together, the relationships that the people have with their kids that are healthy and wholesome probably those people would be a good source or probably gotten some help along the way because these things, at least for me, didn’t come natural.

Brad Jonson: Yeah. Well, and back to the subject matter of this podcast, Front Row Dads, so let’s get to parenthood but one of the lessons I’ve learned and I’ve seen this unfortunately play out, I’m about to be 43, so we’re kind of entering that era of, unfortunately, divorce with a lot of couples that we kind of grew up with. And I can think of one example that just breaks my heart. It really does have just, both were incredible parents and every kid sports game, like super engaged, like super positive, just great humans and got divorced. And the lesson I took from that is you can be the best parent ever but if the core relationship at the top, the two parents, the husband wife are not aligned and together and working through their stuff, the divorce still spirals and crackles through all that. And so, it reinforced like you got to start with the marriage, the couple that obviously created the kids, and before you can go to the next level down, which is the children. And do you have any additional thoughts on that just things you’ve seen play out in life?

Michael Hyatt: Yeah. You know, absolutely, Brad. Alignment between spouses is critical. And the most important gift that you can give to your kids is a healthy marriage. The time that you spend with your spouse building that and making them the priority, not the kids. You know, the kids come after that in my list of priorities but Gail is my priority. And that’s a gift to my children. And all of my daughters are grown now. So, I’ve got five daughters. I got three sons-in-law. I’ve got ten grandkids. And all of them live within 30 minutes of me. And my ten grandkids live within 5 minutes of me. And we’ve been very intentional about trying to build a family so that the kids would still want to be around us as we get older. And they’re over constantly. I mentioned that we’re at our lake house for the weekend and this particular weekend we have some friends coming down but typically, it’s all the family every weekend, especially through the summer and the early fall, late spring. We’re packed and we love being together. But again, that has to be intentional.

You know what, I think that it starts when you get on the same page with your spouse. And if that doesn’t happen, there’s really nothing you can do. I don’t think there’s enough that you can do in terms of spending time with your kids to overcome that. Now, if somebody is listening to us and they’ve gone through a divorce and it’s been horrific, I would never beat up somebody in that situation. That can be redeemed. Absolutely can be redeemed. But you have to go through some stuff to redeem it. You know, it takes a lot of work. And I would love to spare people that grief. If you’re on this side and maybe you’re contemplating divorce, I would just really encourage you, instead of coming up with a list of all the reasons you should get divorced, force yourself to write on paper, “Our questions determine our outcomes.” Ask yourself the question, “Why should I continue to fight for my marriage?” And literally I’ve done that before. I’ve got a list of ten go-to reasons of why I will continue to fight for my marriage, why for me divorce is not an option. And I’ve been married for over 45 years. We’ve got a lot invested in this.

But I also see, Brad, you were talking about people at your age going through divorce. I see people my age, which is a good reminder that you’re never too old to do something stupid. So, I still have to give attention to my marriage. I still have to cultivate the relationships of my daughters. It’s not a one-and-done thing.

Brad Jonson: Yeah. I mean, I was a child that went through divorce. My parents got divorced right as I was going into my freshman year of high school and it sucks. I mean, it’s like I would never wish that upon any kid, regardless of what age it happens because there is just this almost like this loss of innocence. It’s like there’s this cocoon of safety that I think a great family creates. And the moment that happens, it’s like you burst the bubble and it’s not coming back. And both of my parents are now happily remarried. But I will just say it still sucks either way when you’re going through it and kind of the story about your dad. Like, in my therapy sessions, we’ve gone through it and like I’ve traced some of my behaviors today back to, yeah, there was probably some of that linked to going through that at an age where you’re very impressionable going into high school.

So, you do some really intentional stuff. One of my favorite sayings, “What gets to the calendar gets done,” and I’m sure you borrowed that from somebody else or made it your own but you have one of the most intentional calendars ever. And I don’t know if I borrowed this from you or I just renamed something you taught me, but it’s almost retrofitting your calendar. I think back to business will like expand and take over any spaces that you allow it to. You do a really cool practice where you put like the big rocks on first and it’s kind of that biblical story of you put the rocks in the pitcher, “Is it full?” “Oh yeah, it’s full.” And then you pour sand in and, “Oh, is it full now?” “Yeah, it’s full.” Oh, he poured the water in. Well, a lot of people do that in reverse with their calendar where it’s like all the business is in there and there’s no room for the big rocks. And you do a really intentional job with sabbaticals, with Gail, with intentional lunch and dinner dates with your daughters, with you just took an amazing trip with one of your grandkiddos to Pebble Beach. So, could you give us kind of a framework you look through for here’s like looking in advance the year and how you retrofit that and put the right stuff on the calendar?

Michael Hyatt: Yeah. Well, that whole big rocks illustration comes from Dr. Stephen Covey, and you might be able to find this on YouTube. Unfortunately, this keeps getting taken down because it’s copyrighted material. But I don’t know why the Covey organization just doesn’t post it somewhere because it’s fabulous but it’s him doing a demonstration. That goes back to the 80s or the 90s. So, it’s really bad video quality and all that, but the illustrations always had stuck with me. So, what I try to do is usually in September, I will begin to plan the next year out. And I do this with my executive assistant, Jim, whom you know, Brad. And so, Jim and I begin to lay out this next year and by putting in the big rocks, what it means is we start with my vacations. So, I’m going to take roughly 150 days off a year and maybe 160. That’s going to count weekends as well but I have to be intentional about that. I typically take a one-month, I call it a sabbatical but whatever you call it, it’s a one-month kind of unplug away from everything kind of experience. And I’ve done that every year since I’ve had my current business. My company is called Full Focus. And so, I started that in 2011, and I’ve done it every year since.

So, I put in those things first. And I make sure that we build the business around my personal life because the business is really important but it’s not as important as my relationship with God, my relationship with my wife, my relationship with my kids. Those things take priority. In addition to that, what are the things that I do is I take one of my daughters out on a date for lunch on a rotating basis. So, it’s one daughter roughly every week. Now, obviously, we have to accommodate everybody’s schedules. So, I don’t lay that out a year in advance, but Jim is usually out a month on that just proactively. If somebody can’t do it, no problem. We’ll go to the next person. We’ll catch up. So, it’s a lot of coordination. But just that time I was saying you still matter to me as a person and I want to just be at those lunches and really be the best listener I could possibly be. Ask a lot of questions, be the safe place for them to land. And the things that they talk to me about are amazing. And we’ve intentionally tried to shift our focus as the kids have grown up and we can come back to this whole thing about parenting, coaching, friendship.

But I just try to be a good friend. I try to respond like I would want a good friend of mine to respond in those times. But the other thing you mentioned and this is really Gail’s brainchild, I’m not sure where she got it from, but the idea is that when the grandkids turn 13, then we take them for a one-week vacation, just the two of us plus them. And they can basically go anywhere they want as long as it’s in the continental U.S. So, every trip has been different. I think we’re now on the sixth kid. And this summer, we went, in fact, I just got back from it last week, but we went to Pebble Beach for a week. This grandson, Jonah, is an aspiring golfer. And so, he thought it would be cool to go to Pebble Beach. Well, I kind of thought it would be cool too because I golf but I’ve never been to Pebble Beach. So, we did it. We took golf lessons out there. We played. We just had an amazing time.

But what was really fun is when we came back, we dropped them off at the house, this was like on Saturday night a week ago, and his mom, my oldest daughter, texted me and said, “I just had the most amazing conversation with Jonah,” because I had told Megan and her husband, Joel, that Jonah was a very adventuresome eater. A lot of kids could get picky at that age, but he was eating all the craziest stuff that you could eat when we were going out. I was really proud of him for doing that. And so, Megan had said to him, she said, “Yeah. Well, Granddaddy said that you were really adventuresome in your eating.” And he said to her, he said, “Well, I was, but that wasn’t really what made it so special.” She said, “I just loved the conversations with Granddaddy and Grandma and me because we just sat in the restaurant after we ate and we just talked and we laughed and we told stories and told jokes. And that was my favorite part of the whole trip,” which is not the thing.

I’ve done enough of these now to know that’s usually the thing but you think it’s, well, it’s where you go or it’s what you do. There’s going to be a lot of activities or whatever. It’s never that. That just is an excuse for having these one-on-one times and these meaningful conversations. And those have been transformative. You know, when my older kids, older grandkids come to the lake, I mean, we have this instant rapport, instant bonding because we took those trips and it made a difference.

Brad Jonson: I mean, just circle back to what Gail told you in the den, “We just want your time.”

Michael Hyatt: That’s it.

Brad Jonson: Right? Now, it’s cool to spend it in cool places, don’t get me wrong. Great restaurants, great golf courses, but you created it. And what my lesson from that is you created an environment for focused attention and just let the time just – Chris Smith, who I know is a mutual friend of ours, one of the phrases that I stole from him, “Act as if you’ve got nowhere to get.” And that’s where some of the best conversations come from, right? You’re just there, you’re present, you’re not distracted. And that’s so cool. I’ve modeled some of that. We kind of have a coming-of-age trip for our kids but I’m going to 100% do that. Hopefully, someday, I’m lucky enough to be a grandparent because who wouldn’t want to keep the fun going? You know, how fun is that?

Michael Hyatt: Well, I think it’s worth saying that I didn’t do that with my girls because I didn’t wake up soon enough. I was still in a workaholic coma. And if I had to go back and do it all over again, I absolutely would do it. The kids, in fact, probably would do it multiple times. You know, the size of your family is relevant because it does translate into cost but I’d probably do like maybe a 10-year-old trip or a 13-year-old trip and probably one when they turn 18, maybe 21. But the more of those that you can get in, the better.

Brad Jonson: Yeah. Well, I know we’ve talked about this on different conversations, and I know actually shout out to Jon. Shout out to both John. So, John Ruhlin was the guy that took me as his guest to the very first ever Front Row Dads retreat in Philly. This had to be 2015 or 2016. That’s where I met Jon Vroman, the host of this podcast. And at that very first one was a guy named Jim Sheils who wrote the book, The Family Board Meeting, which we were just talking about yesterday. I think, actually, by sheer coincidence, I’ve got a copy on my desk. So, there you are if you’re watching on video. This is hands down my most gifted book ever. Super skinny. And basically, we just talked about the extended Family Board Meeting because you did, well, I’ll say you and Gail did one-on-one, right? But the Family Board Meeting, I incorporated that ever since Philadelphia and when I found it, we do it quarterly. I’ve got three kids, four hours of uninterrupted activity of their choice, no technology, and then some sort of reflection afterwards.

And I will tell you, that one-on-one time, specifically for the oldest siblings always kind of run the show. We have a middle child. We have the youngest child. I see specifically with our middle and our youngest, it creates this space they’ve never had before where they get to run the show for a change. And it just gives the space for their personality to come out, their interest to come out. Actually, me going and checking out Pokémon with my middle one and it’s like his interest and exploring those and being curious and it’s just completely changed the deepness of my relationship with each of my kids. So, if you’re out there and if you’ve been listening to this podcast for any time and you’re like, “Oh, I need to do that someday,” no, just put it on the calendar and it’ll never come off because you’ll be addicted. And like full transparency, as a dad, I’m an Enneagram 7 for those that know what that is, I’ve never found a party I don’t like.

And for me, it’s like I get to relive my own childhood, you know? It’s like, “Oh, cool. We’re going to Chuck E. Cheese today. I actually never went there as a kid. Let’s go ahead to Chuck E. Cheese. Let’s go to the sports card shop.” With Nelly, my youngest, she’s got a full-blown agenda where she’s like, “We’re doing breakfast here. We’re doing Target here.” And she’s got like a whole shopping itinerary, right? So, anyway, it’s really magical when you create the space for those one-on-ones.

Michael Hyatt: It really is. And, Brad, let me just say that I think for a lot of guys I know we’re talking mostly to guys, it may be one of those things where you think, “Well, when I get some more time or when I get through this one project or when I get this thing launched, then I’ll start doing this.” No. If you have an assistant, give this as a responsibility to your assistant and just say, “Look, your job is to make sure that I have a date with one of my daughters every week and rotate them.” And this is so interesting because my daughters were initially a little bit resentful that I had delegated this to Jim. And one of them complained to their mother who got back to me. So, they said, “We just would like to get the invitation from Dad.” So, great. I said to Jim, I said, “Just write me the text message and I’ll post it on my account and I’ll send it to the girls.” So, he does all that. And the girls all know now. They’re fine. But he makes sure that I always have gifts and there’s flowers ordered on their birthdays or their anniversaries.

The same thing with Gail. He’ll do the shopping and he’ll come back for Christmas gifts and say, “Look, I found three things. Which of these do you like the best?” So, that stuff that honestly you say, “Well, that’s so impersonal. Why don’t you do it?” Because it wouldn’t get done. It’s that simple. You know, something is better than nothing, and good is better than excellent if you never get to excellent. And so, at least I can be consistent. And it keeps it from just being an intention in my heart and actually makes it a reality. And then I can do what I do best and what really matters to them is that time with them. You know, it’s not all this other stuff but just give somebody the responsibility, your assistant, the responsibility of making sure that that gets scheduled and gets done because you want your intention to become reality. And that’s the best way I found to do it.

Brad Jonson: Yeah. You influenced me a lot in that regard. And what’s funny is like Sarah had some of that early resistance, even having an executive assistant, Brooke, on my team. She’s amazing. My version of Jim. And the bridge that it crossed was it went from intention that did not get followed through on my side to execution that did or reality in your words. That’s actually what my family wants. They want me to show up present and there. And I feel like we’re being transparent on this podcast. I literally one time, this was early in our marriage, had to leave my wife’s birthday party to go buy her a birthday present. That’s like pretty sad because, like, I was just grinding that week and I’m like, “Oh, shoot. Her birthday party is tonight.” And I show up, her family’s there and I’m like, “Hey, yeah, I just had a quick errand to run out.” They all knew exactly what I was doing. They still give me a hard time about it today, but the fact that you’ve now put those big rocks in so you’re proactive and, okay, yep, get a present, be thoughtful about it. That’s the difference. If it’s left to your own devices, you’ll show up and you’ll do the either-or. You’ll fail in either the business side or the life side and it’s just putting those tools and resources in place for my experience.

Michael Hyatt: Yeah. I really let Jim manage my calendar. I tend to be impulsive. And if you ask me, like, if you asked me on this podcast, “Hey, we got this thing and would you come speak for it?” my inclination would be just like, “Yeah, I’ll make that work,” but I have no idea what I’m displacing on my calendar, who I’m going to be giving the short end of the stick to. So, I give it to Jim, and Jim keeps all that in balance. Like, literally, yesterday I got a speaking request that I was super pumped about. And so, I said, “Thank God, I had the presence of mind to say, ‘You know, I’d love to do that, but I can’t do it without checking with Jim. My calendar looks clear but I don’t know what he has going on that he’s still planning.’” So, he got back to me and he said, “No, I don’t recommend you do this because…” and then he gave me all the reasons. I was like, “Guys, I almost totally screwed up in relationship to my family.” And so, Jim gave me that context. And frankly, he has some objectivity and it’s a little more impersonal for him. So, he could just manage to the mission and not be swayed by the person who’s talking to me at that moment. And he’s just harder at it than I am.

Brad Jonson: Yeah. He’s just more of a jerk, that Jim. No, just kidding. I love Jim. He’s like the nicest guy ever. Well, as we get towards our close here, you and I have both been in a, actually, it’s funny. I’m just thinking of the Front Row Dad’s community. Justin Donald is in this group with us. Hal Elrod is in this group with us and their lovely wives but we’re two or three calls into a really cool – I just bring up Family Brand because I know Front Row Dads actually just did a private call or some sort of a call for their community with Chris and Melissa Smith and this was just this week. And I think it’s a great story to kind of close this conversation. So, we’re going through this Family Brand stuff with Chris and Melissa, which is really just applying a lot of what you coach on a business, which is what is your mission as a family? What are kind of those core values? And the last call, we started to get into core values of family. And you shared the story from your childhood that I thought was awesome and how you’re going to make that kind of an intentional core value of what it means to be a Hyatt. Maybe share that story as we kind of wrap here.

Michael Hyatt: Yeah. So, we came up with this value and then I told the story and Chris was basically saying if you can link a story with your core value, which I’ve known and have applied in business, but if you link a story to your core value, it’s going to have way more traction with the kids and it’s going to have way more longevity and it’s just going to mean more. It’s going to be an emotional connection. So, one of the values that we have in our family is stewardship. And the way that we stated is we leave things in better shape than we found them. Well, the reason we came to that commitment and all my family has this. My kids have this. I have this. I learned it from my dad. So, despite the fact that I said my dad was an alcoholic. When I was young, he was amazing. And he’s actually amazing now. He’s almost 90 years old, but he had a rough patch there. But he told me, I borrowed this lawnmower. We didn’t have a lawn mower. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up. And so, I borrowed a lawnmower and my dad said, “When you finish with that, you need to return it in better shape than you found it.”

And so, I kind of was perplexed by what that meant. He said, “You need to fill it up all the way with gas.” I said, “But it was half empty.” He said, “It didn’t matter. You got to fill it up with gas because we leave it in better shape than we found it. You need to get the garden hose with the pressure nozzle and you need to clean off the inside,” this is the bush mower, “the bottom of it. And you need to return this in better shape than you found it.” And he would always say that if I borrowed a car or borrowed anything. And I have really come to believe that in terms of the relationships that we manage, the people that are given to us in our work experience, people that work for us, whatever it is, nothing’s forever but return those people, return those things in better shape than you found it. And that’s really true for our kids as well. Gail and I live in this Victorian home that was built in 1907, and we got it. It was in horrible condition. We spent two years repairing it. We spent way more money than would be justified by whatever we get out of that home if we sold it but we felt like we were given a stewardship.

But eventually, this house will pass from our hands to someone else’s and we want it to pass in better shape than we found it. I think it’s an awesome thing to think about parenting that way because I really think the goal of parenting is de-parenting. You know, how can I grow up these humans that I’ve been entrusted with so that they can function without my constant intervention? Because I don’t want to be a helicopter parent for the rest of my life. I want to be a parent when they’re small. I want to get to the place where I can be a coach and then eventually I just want a friendship. And that’s where I’m at with all my daughters today. They’re five of the best friends that I have, and that’s part of the parenting process. And I consider that a success.

Brad Jonson: And by the way, I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time with one of your daughters, Megan, and I can say how she shows up in life because I know she’s obviously a big part of Full Focus. Her husband, Joel, is a big part of Full Focus. It’s just a testament to how intentional you were. And I love that you’re like, “Hey, we did a lot wrong.” But you tried to learn from it. You tried to course correct and learned a lot from you. So, as we end this conversation, first off, thanks for guesting on here. And, hopefully, this served Jon and the Front Row Dads community. And I just want to say like on that last point on stewardship, I have experienced that person. When we first connected, it was Platform University. I read your book and then went to a live conference and then spent some time with Stu McLaren and Amy Porterfield on that private mastermind. Our mutual friend David DeWolf, that’s where I met him for the first time.

And then there and led the journey of the Inner Circle you did for a few years, and you left me in better shape than you found me. And now it’s really cool, the friendship that’s formed from that and you’ve put a lot into our Triad Partners community. And so, I’ve just seen you exponentially what you poured into me you’re now pouring into our community as well. So, thank you. I’m just here to tell you you’re living it. I know you’ll keep living it.

Michael Hyatt: Thank you, Brad.

Brad Jonson: And so, I appreciate the friendship. I appreciate the mentorship.

Michael Hyatt: Well, I consider you a dear friend, and I appreciate it as much. And I love that we can talk about business, we can talk about parenting, we can talk about marriage because those things are really important to both of us. And I know they’re really important to the people listening to this.

Brad Jonson: Alright, Michael. Well, thanks for your time. And until we get to cross paths in person. It’s overdue, so.

Michael Hyatt: Okay, buddy. Talk to you soon. Bye.

Brad Jonson: Bye.


These conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies, concepts and tools that could be incorporated into the advisory practice, advisors are responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed is in accordance with any and all regulatory and compliance responsibilities and obligations.


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