Great Stuff on FamilyFirst.net

I recently came across a site that has some great stuff for all you family first entrepreneurs out there. FamilyFirst.net is a parent site that offers access to three great sites for parents; AllProDad.com, imom.com, and MyFamilyMinute.com. All three sites offer tips and inspiration for parents through videos, blogs, and podcasts.

I have spent quite a bit of time on AllProDads.com and I love what they are doing. All Pro Dads works with many NFL coaches and players to offer events and support information for fathers. In fact, recently retired Indianapolis Colts head coach, Tony Dungy, has started blogging for All Pro Dads. Mr. Dungy was a great coach, but more importantly, he is a great man. I wrote a blog on him a while back. You can read it here.

Though All Pro Dads has a sports theme, there is much more to it than sports. Dungy, and site owner, Mark Merrill talk about many different aspects of parenting, faith and family encouragement. I would highly encourage you all to check it out.

Here is an example of what you can expect from Merrill’s blog on All Pro Dads and The Family Minute. I chose this short blog post because I felt like I was reading one of my own posts. We share a passion for our children and when it comes to spending time with them, our views are one in the same. 

 

Not Quality Time… Try Quantity Time.

April 8th, 2009

People always say “time is money.”  I say “time is love.”  As today’s Play of the Day noted, it’s spending one-on-one time with our children, not money, that demonstrates love.  Spend more time with them.

We want to believe the myth that all we need is quality time with our kids.  But, our kids need quantity time.  Have you ever heard your child say to you, “Mom, Dad, we have played way too much.  Why don’t you go back to work and get some things done.”  Of course not.  They want quantity time.

Now, I want you to remember that your time with your child does not have to be some big, planned, vacation, lengthy event or activity.  Just grab what I call, “small pockets of time” with your child.

It helps me to have all of my kids sports and school activities on my calendar, even if I can’t make all of them, so that I can make sure to work as much of it into my day as possible.  Right after a business lunch, I dropped by my daughter, Megan’s, school pep rally to watch for just 20 minutes before returning to the office…just a small pocket of time to connect with my daughter.

And, every month, on each of my kids birthday dates, I take them somewhere they want to go. For example, Emily’s birthday is March 10.  So on the 10th of each month, it’s her turn.  It may be something as simple as going bike riding or getting hot chocolate before school.

Be there and be connected in those small pockets of time.

Mark

Passion

My friend C.C. Chapman did a show recently on his Managing The Gray podcast called “Passion is Contagious.” He talked about how passion sells a product so much better than any print advertisement ever could. I couldn't agree any more.

Family First Entrepreneurism is my passion. I talk about it in ONO, but I just can’t express my true passion for the topic in written word. With the recent release of the book, I have had the opportunity to do quite a few interviews for different radio shows and podcasts. These interviews have given me the opportunity to do what I do best, speak. My true passion comes out when I talk.

Like C.C talks about in the podcast, I can almost always sense my passion for Family First Entrepreneurism spreading to my interviewers. In fact, once that topic get brought up in the interview, we hardly ever move on to something different. Many ideas or products are hard to get excited about, Family First Entrepreneurism is not. Everyone wants more time to spend with their family, and becoming a family first entrepreneur gives people the permission to do so.

Though the idea is easy to get excited about, I need passionate people helping me to spread the word. I have created a place for people to come together to talk about and share all things “Family First.” Check out FamilyFirstEntrepreneur.com and join us. This is a community site that is open for all people to share stories, pictures, videos, money saving tips, and anything else you think is relevant. I truly believe that the idea of Family First Entrepreneurism can change how people look at their work/life balance and I need help from people like you to contagiously spread this passion.

Hold Your Mom’s Hand

Recently, I did something that I had not done since I was a child; I held my mom’s hand. My mom and I were walking in a public setting when she reached over, grabbed, and held my hand. I was shocked at how uncomfortable I was by the situation. I continued to hold on until she let go, out of respect, but as I sit here recalling the situation and contemplating the idiosyncrasies, I realize that this subject is blog post worthy.

The first thing I thought of when recalling the situation with my mom, was how much I love to hold my own son’s hand. I often cringe when I think that there will be a day when he won’t want to hold my hand anymore. I will miss it. I love crossing streets or parking lots with him because he will grab my hand out of habit. I just love the feel of his little hand in mine. It is a very special thing for me. I hold his hand and snuggle with him every chance I get.

I’m willing to bet that my mom misses holding my hand in the same way. Not only am I glad I held on to her grasp, despite the weird and unexplainable discomfort, but I will be looking for the right opportunity to reach out and hold her hand in the future. I'm sure it will be a moment she will cherish and look forward to happening again.

My mom and I have our “history,” as we all do with our moms, but this is a small way to extend myself, beyond my comfort zone, and show her that I love her in a impactful way. Doing this also represents a time in our relationship where, because of my age in the hand holding years, things were more pure without all the baggage of life that gets stacked on.

This is a gift that I vow to give to my mom again. She will only be around for so long and I want our relationship to be as strong as possible. Holding her hand is a simple, yet intimate opportunity to give back in a way that will mean something really special to her. I would want my son to do it for me someday, why not expect that of myself.

 Hold your mom’s hand, or your dad’s for that matter—see what emotions show up. I would love to hear from you.

Starting Over—as an Entrepreneur

On my blog and in ONO, I constantly talk about the benefits and freedoms that entrepreneurism has to offer. A couple weeks ago, I posted an article that had statistics showing the rise in entrepreneurial activity due to the struggling economy. Many people who have never ventured into the entrepreneurial world are taking that step out of necessity. People are doing whatever it takes to get by, and many of them, unexpectedly, are finding new and exciting business opportunities.

Here are some excerpts from another article that I came across on WSJ.com that gives some first hand stories of those who have had the financial rug pulled out from under them, only to find success and opportunity by pursuing their passions. 

 

Starting Over—as an Entrepreneur

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

By KELLY K. SPORS and RAYMUND FLANDEZ

 

A FORCED BELSSING

Aynsley Deluce didn’t want to leave her job as director of insight and strategy for a Toronto ad agency. But in November, the firm announced restructuring plans—and axed her position.

 A layoff motivated Aynsley Deluce to pursue the parking-spot Web site she’d been kicking around for years.

“In a way, it was a forced blessing,” says the 32-year-old Ms. Deluce. “That’s because they forced me into doing something I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I didn’t have the nerve.”

For about six years, she had been kicking around an idea with her now-husband: a Web site that tracked parking spots for rent in urban areas. They got the idea while chatting about parking gripes over dinner one night with friends, and the next morning went online and secured the domain name, Parkingspots.com.

But then they sat on the idea until last year. Ms. Deluce’s husband, Matthew Ball, plunged into the work full time, but Ms. Deluce procrastinated about making the same commitment; instead she spent evenings and weekends on public-relations and marketing initiatives.

“It’s a scary jump to take the risk to leave a full-time job,” Ms. Deluce says.

Then came the layoff, which forced her to focus on the nascent business. And she found that it had a steep learning curve.

Ms. Deluce and Mr. Ball didn’t have any knowledge about the parking business, so she has joined forums and associations, meeting everyone she can. Financing has also been tough. The couple approached banks and other traditional sources but found few willing to lend—and those that would insisted on tough terms. So, the two have relied on friends and family, as well as government grants.

Another problem was more personal: finding enough self-discipline. “There’s no one telling you what to do anymore,” Ms. Deluce says. “There’s no one telling you to get out of bed at a good hour.…You’ve got to spend your heart and soul into it. You’re now your own boss.”

Revenue from the site hasn’t met Ms. Deluce’s early expectations. But she now thinks that those hopes were unrealistic, and the site has shown strong growth in other ways, expanding its network to 30 cities.

“In retrospect, 13 months in, I’d say that I’m really proud of how far we’ve come and that we are exactly where I’d want to be,” she says.

Ms. Deluce adds that she has no intention of giving up entrepreneurship. “I’m not going back to being a full-time employee,” she says. “I’m working full time now, for me. It may sound selfish, but I’d rather do something for me and build my company than helping someone else build theirs.” 

 

A HOBBY PAYS OFF

Jessi Walter realized she was good enough at her hobby of working with kids to make it into a business

Jessi Walter was a Wall Street wunderkind. At 21, with a degree in economics from Harvard, she was hired by Bear Stearns Cos., and eventually rose to the position of vice president in credit strategy.

But the J.P. Morgan merger last summer ended her career. “They just didn’t need me,” says Ms. Walter, now 27 years old.

So, she took a couple of months to “make sense of the whole situation,” and realized that she could turn one of her hobbies—cooking with her boyfriend’s nieces, and arranging birthday parties for them—into a business. In September, she used her savings to launch Cupcake Kids LLC, which teaches kids to cook and bake, everything from pizza and lasagna to pastries and cakes.

So far, the business has been busy and profitable; Ms. Walter has even hired a dozen teachers part time to help her. For the most part, she has relied on word of mouth for her marketing. Ms. Walter also got a boost recently when her business was featured in New York magazine’s “Best of New York” list.

Ms. Walter says she wouldn’t have considered going out on her own if it hadn’t been for the layoff. It was “forced decision making,” she says.

And it hasn’t always been the smoothest transition for her to make. “When you work for a big company, you do your job,” Ms. Walter says. “When you’re an entrepreneur, you have to do everything,” from writing the business plan to taking out the trash. “There’s not enough hours of the day” to do the work.

But “I’m 100% enjoying what I’m doing now,” Ms. Walter explains. “I love developing a business, and I’m really passionate and fulfilled by what I’m doing. I’d never like to say never to options in life, but for now, going back to Wall Street is not something that I’m considering.”

  

OUT OF THE BLUE

Tarah Cranford (top) turned a sideline—photography—into a full-time job when she was laid off.

Tarah Cranford, of San Francisco, knew her ad-agency job wasn’t safe. Clients weren’t renewing their contracts, no new business was coming in, and her workload as a public-relations officer was light. Plus, she was low on the totem pole, since she’d only been there for a year.

When the ax finally fell in mid-December, Ms. Cranford regretted not starting her job search earlier. Days turned into weeks as she tried to get an interview.

And then an unexpected opportunity fell into her lap. She got a bunch of inquiries about a sideline she dabbled in occasionally: photography.

“When I got laid off, I didn’t really expect to start my photography business full time,” says the 28-year-old Ms. Cranford, who studied photography at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. But when she got the inquiries, “a light went off when this happened. This was it. This was what I’m going to do. Ever since then, I’ve been working nonstop.”

Her first step was to revamp a Web site she had set up, TarahPhotography.com, to make it more professional. She also had to make some big adjustments to her own style.

For one thing, she learned to stop being passive with clients. At first, when people asked about a job, she would say, “Just let me know when you’d like to do this.” But they often wouldn’t call back. Now she says, “When do you want to do this? How about Sunday?”

Ms. Cranford also had to get used to the lack of structure or accountability that came along with striking out on her own.

“If I want, I can roll out of bed and work in my PJs till noon, but I think it’s important to create a schedule that keeps you on target,” she says. “Otherwise, you’ll waste an entire day running errands, or working in front of your computer till evening with rollers in your hair.”

Then there’s marketing. Ms. Cranford had to build a reputation in an area with tons of photographers. So, she hired a specialist to help her make her Web site more appealing to search engines. She says the move doubled her Web traffic to more than 3,000 unique visitors monthly.

Although Ms. Cranford is turning a tiny profit, she says she’s always worried about the future. “Are the calls going to keep coming in, or is this it?” she asks. “It’s kind of unnerving to not know.”

  

--Ms. Spors, a staff reporter of The Wall Street Journal in Minneapolis, can be reached at kelly.spors@wsj.com. Mr. Flandez, a Journal staff reporter in New York, can be reached at raymund.flandez@wsj.com.

The Price of Children

I received this email this morning and I felt compelled to share it with you. I thought this was a fun and interesting way to look at parenting and the "price" of having children. Take a second and read it. I hope it will make your day like it did mine.

The Price of Children

We have repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost of raising a child, but this is the first time I have seen the rewards listed this way. It's nice.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140.00 for a middle income family. Talk about price shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition. But $160,140.00 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:

  • $8,896.66 a year,
  • $741..38 a month,
  • $171.08 a week.
  • A mere $24.24 a day!
  • Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is; don't have children if you want to be 'rich.'   Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for your $160,140.00?

  • Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
  • Glimpses of God every day.
  • Giggles under the covers every night.
  • More love than your heart can hold.
  • Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
  • Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
  • A hand to hold usually covered with jelly or chocolate.
  • A partner for blowing bubbles and flying kites..
  • Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140.00, you never have to grow up. You get to:

  • finger-paint,
  • carve pumpkins,
  • play hide-and-seek,
  • catch lightning bugs,
  • never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:

  • keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
  • watch Saturday morning cartoons,
  • go to Disney movies, and
  • wish on stars.

You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.

For a mere $24.24 a day, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:

  • retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,
  • taking the training wheels off a bike,
  • removing a splinter,
  • filling a wading pool,
  • coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and
  • coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat in history to witness the:

  • First step,
  • First word,
  • First bra,
  • First date,
  • First time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match. In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits - so one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price !!!

Love & enjoy your children, grandchildren, & great-grandchildren!!!
It's the best investment you'll ever make !!!