Joe Sanok — Living on the Road, Opening to Heartbreak and Parenting as a Single Dad

In Episode 49, Brett interviews Joe Sanok, a business consultant and productivity researcher who, until recently, lived full-time in a camper with his wife and children. When he and his wife decided to uncouple, it changed both Joe’s and his children’s lives in a big way. Learn how Joe used his meditation practice and other self-exploration tools to allow his world to unfold beautifully through surrender to reality as it was rather than clinging to what he thought it should be.

Joe’s latest book is "Thursday is the New Friday,” a book about the four-day work week. He’s also the host of the Practice of the Practice podcast.

"As soon as the sun came up at 5:30, I was wide awake. And so to say, I'm awake, what can I do to ground myself to be the dad I want to be? To be the person I want to be? To be the business owner I want to be? My strongest meditation practice started then and it came from a place of need rather than a place of, 'I should be doing this.'" 

What We Discuss in Episode 49:

2:48   The pivotal moment that changed the direction of Joe’s life.

9:40   Finding an internal locus of control and how it allows things to naturally unfold.

12:22   Parenting as a single dad in the midst of a major life transition.

18:46   Teaching nuance, healthy rewards and handling difficult emotions to children.

24:59   Boosting creativity and productivity by adopting a 32 hour-or-less work week.

29:09   Why slowing down is the first step to productivity.

32:06   Showing children how to find their own purpose without pattern matching to their parents.

Follow us on Instagram at @artofaccomplishment to learn more about our guests and share your own experiences.

Transcript

Episode Intro:
As soon as the sun came up at 5:30 or so, I was wide awake. To say I am awake, what can I do to ground myself, to be the dad I want to be, to be the person I want to be, to be the business owner I want to be? My strongest meditation practice started then, and it came from a place of need rather than a place of I should be doing this.
Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.

Brett: All right, everybody. Today I am excited to speak with Joe Sanok. Joe is a business consultant and a productivity researcher. He has written five books on the topic, the most recent being Thursday is the New Friday, which is a book on the four day work week, which is an idea I can definitely get behind. He is also the podcaster behind Practice of the Practice, the podcast. How are you doing today, Joe?

Joe: I am doing great, Brett. How about you?

Brett: I’m doing well. I’m really happy to have you on the show today.

Joe: Yeah, this show is awesome. I can’t wait to be here. I am here, so I can’t wait to talk.

Brett: Tell me and the audience a little bit more about yourself. What did I miss there? I know you have also been living in a camper van with your kids. Tell me something more about Joe Sanok to fill us in here.

Joe: I took a really traditional path in regard to studying psychology and getting master’s degrees in psychology and counseling. I worked in the nonprofit world for a long time, and also just mental health. I had a private practice for a number of years. I was in the work of individual counseling and growing a group practice, which I enjoyed helping angry kids for a long time. I think that really positioned me to know a few different techniques in regard to connection. Teenagers often, rightfully so, have a lot of boundaries and shields up. That’s part of my history.

I went into business and podcasting back in 2012 to just teach therapists how to grow, scale and exit their private practices. I’ve been doing that work for a decade now. I have two awesome daughters that are seven and 10, and they are bold, creative and push back on things. It is a two-sided coin, lots of fun and lots of challenges.

Brett: Beautiful. I want to get right into the meat of it then. Tell me something in your personal journey that shifted the way you relate to either your therapy practice or your growth as a consultant and your growth in business.

Joe: The biggest thing actually is pretty recent. In September of 2020, my family and I went on the road in a camper, 37 foot pull behind camper. I had never pulled a trailer before. I had never even backed up a boat, and so there are very few times in life that you have the opportunity to learn something new that if you do it wrong has the potential to kill people. Christina, who was my wife at the time, it was her big dream, and I was totally down for it. We were on the road for nine months living in national parks all over the nation.

In February of 2021, we began our uncoupling. In the middle of this road trip, she decided she wanted to stay in California and not have the family stay with her. We spent a couple of months sorting through some of that and a lot of uncertainty after 17 years of marriage where it was very confusing. In that, getting her a car and an apartment, not knowing if this was temporary or long term, and then taking two little kids, seven and 10, across the country all alone. I had never backed up a camera without another adult helping. To have these little kids with walkie talkies helping me back up the camera and having them have big questions like why isn’t mom coming home, so then throughout that summer, going through that uncoupling and eventual divorce, and now being an unexpected single dad of two little girls that their mom flies in once a month to hang out with them for a bit.

It is one of those shifts that in so many ways revealed in me my own thoughts, and I mean we can do some of that. In the past, I would have tried to optimize. How can we get marriage therapy? How can we work on us? How can we fix this? To really let that go and to go into my own self development during that time, to let things unfold really became a really helpful thing for me in a ton of different ways.

Brett: Wow, that must have been really challenging to be going through uncoupling with your kids, going straight from being together 24/7, living together on the road, and then having the uncoupling happen in that process. That must have been really hard.

Joe: Especially the two months before I left. It seemed like we were uncoupling, and the girls didn’t know yet. Every morning when the sun hits, we are in a camper together. We are seeing each other every day. As soon as the sun came up at 5:30 or so, I was wide awake. To say I am awake, what can I do to ground myself, to be the dad I want to be, to be the person I want to be, to be the business owner I want to be? My strongest meditation practice started then, and it came from a place of need rather than a place of I should be doing this.

Prior to that, meditation was something that I should probably do that. All the smart people do that. All the successful people do it, but to really have it be a place of need where every morning I was doing Sam Harris’ 20-minute daily meditation. I was reading the book Awareness and then the book the Untethered Soul and to really allow things to unfold naturally. I was studying Taoism a ton during that period of time to allow the world to unfold and to stop clinging what I thought it should look like.

To have daily walks, daily planks, and daily push ups to get that physical and frustration, anger, sadness out, it set up a foundation for this new life that still sustains and has become something that are tools I probably wouldn’t have learned as quickly if it wasn’t such an intense situation.

Brett: You mentioned you had studied psychology and you had been doing therapy. You had this realization that you really had this need for this deeper self-exploration and these tools. What was it about your way of being with yourself prior to having this experience that you now recognize wasn’t serving you?

Joe: I’ve always been what you might call a knowledge broker, someone who craved knowledge and curiosity. I double majored in both psychology and comparative religion in my undergrad. After I graduated, I took a year off to travel and I went to Nepal and Thailand and stayed in monasteries. I went to Haiti and met some voodoo priests. I’ve always been someone that wanted to see how other people view spirituality, philosophy and ways of thinking, but in a lot of ways it was kind of a slow creep to go from your head to your heart and just allow that to unfold.

I think for me I am not sure I did anything wrong prior, but it is more that I had been through really tough things. In 2012, my oldest daughter had open heart surgery and a couple months after I was diagnosed with cancer. 2012 was just a rough year, but it didn’t really crack me open in the same way as having all of this stuff hit the fan. There are things I wouldn’t talk about publicly, but they were just terribly, terribly hard. To have that full on cracking open, I think that was almost what was needed in order for me to go deeper into my psyche and into my own role within that couple for 17 years.

Brett: Tell me. Having had that cracking open, one of the things that other Joe and I often talk about is that heartbreak increases your capacity to love. It allows you to see the world more clearly, beyond your ego, beyond your identification, and it is something we often avoid and in the avoidance of that we end up creating for ourselves. When it comes, if we have processed it fully, we tend to find we are okay as we are and have everything we need.

If that resonates with you, what are a couple of gems you pulled from this heartbreak?

Joe: I think the biggest thing is as Michael Singer talks about that natural unfolding of life. I’ve always been an achiever, someone that goes after big things. Enneagram 3 and all those type inventories point out that I like to get things done, but to understand what it means to find peace in the moment without having achievement be the thing or that external reinforcement be the thing that provides that.

My dad is a school psychologist. In that area of psychology, behavior psychology was a big thing. It was a big step forward for the evolution of parenting. To go from the world where in two generations often hit their kids to I am going to give them a star and give them rewards, that’s a huge step. It also created in me a ton of external reinforcement. The star chart that someone in authority gives me doesn’t always help the individual develop internally to find the internal locus of control.

To be able to get to that point where I am able to say I’ve achieved so much, great, but I also have a life that millions of people would die to have exactly as it is.

Brett: This might be a vulnerable question to answer, and you don’t have to. To what extent did that external star chart get projected into your relationship? How much did it impact it?

Joe: I’ve been aware of that star chart mentality for a long time. I’ve been doing a lot of work even since college in adding to that. I don’t think it is necessarily bad to have that as a starting point. I think too often we just throw out the way we were raised and say it is bad. There is this philosophy of personal development called spiral dynamics. At each phase, you are saying the group behind me is so dumb because they think this way and I am so evolved, but the next step is transcending and including, to take the best of things and include that and to say the other things don’t serve me.

I think within the relationship itself I definitely had an idea that there is a way to do this that people have studied and figured out. The Gottman Institute has been studying marriage for 40 years. They have all of these great research techniques. Why wouldn’t we implement those within a marriage? I probably would say it wasn’t as star chart-y as it was we can optimize this. Probably watering the lawn for two people, and that’s why the grass was green rather than letting things naturally unfold. If I had genuinely stepped back and didn’t overcompensate as much as I did, most likely it would have fallen apart years ago because the natural disconnect probably would have been revealed much earlier. But who knows? We can always replay history in a few different ways, if I had done this or that.

What I am saying is for me personally I won’t want to overcompensate for someone else’s lack of development. I shouldn’t care about their development more than they care about their own development.

Brett: Or try to fix them or think you know better for them on how they should develop and have that energy in the relationship. I am curious how your relationship with your children has changed having undergone this experience and whether it is on the axis of the star chart, optimization or some other major axis of shift that has occurred.

Joe: There have been a lot of positive things that have come out of this. To be the primary parent, in a lot of ways the structure I just have for my own life, to be able to do things I know are good for me and my kids is entirely in my control now. That has really helped our relationship for all of us to say we all value a straightened house. We all feel better mentally. Let’s together keep the house clean, and so we do. It becomes part of our new family culture. We converted one of the rooms in the house into a Zen zone, which my seven-year-old initiated. She said what if we had a room that was just for meditation and calming down when we are upset. They have all of their toys that are more self-development toys or ones that will help them relax if they are frustrated.

We went to Target and got a really soft, comfortable blanket and put things in there. They will see things and say this will be great for the Zen zone. We picked out a carpet they can trace when they are frustrated. I think there is a lot of what we are feeling and what we have control over and what we don’t have control over that has helped us bond together differently. I also think that in parenting so often we see people on Instagram or other social media showing how to be the optimal parent. Give your kids milk. Don’t give your kids milk. Give your kids a high protein diet. Don’t give your kids a high protein diet.

There is this idea that you can always optimize your child. Honestly, at this phase they just need a lot of hugs. They need a lot of down time. They need to have time when we are creative, we dance, we move, and we spend time outside. Those really simple human needs are primary. We are not going to be in a million sports. We are not going to do a bunch of things where we are running around. We are going to have weekends when we play the piano and play outside and invite a couple of people over for a campfire.

It has really paced us out to say my kids’ human needs of connection, of love, of touch, that’s good enough. I can provide that all of the time. I think it has really been a settling for the three of us into it.
Brett: Something interesting is what you optimize for. Optimizing is a skill that can be very useful in life, especially with children but also with business or with clients and in therapy practice. Optimizing for connection seems to get better results every time.

Joe: What does a kid who becomes an adult really need to be a successful adult? Sure, there is a basic level of reading, writing, communicating, and math that all adults need. Most kids need to have at least 8th grade reading and math skills to be an adult, but if I really think about the people I see that are successful, what can they do? They can relate and connect with almost anybody. Making sure that my kids keep up with their homework but if we had an outdoor campfire where we had three different campfires, invited a bunch of people from the school and neighborhood with masks, and there was a person that I am really good friends with that my 10-year-old hadn't met. I introduced her to Jay, and she said hi. She was about to leave, and I said wait a second. Why don’t you ask Jay how his week has been or something about himself? She is getting into that habit of having conversations with people different from herself.

To then see her have this micro conversation, a little bit back and forth, and to get better at that over time, the next weekend she was sitting down with one of my closest friends, Paul, who she knows really well. She just sat down next to him and said hey, Paul, how has your week been. This is a 45-year-old guy that my 10-year-old sat down and is chatting it up with him. To me, discovering what the true things are that I want out of the limited time I get to be a parent for them to have as they go into adulthood.

Brett: Interesting. Something I wanted to go back to you, you mentioned you seven-year-old came up with the idea of having a Zen room, a place they can go to calm down their anger among other things. I am curious how you approach emotions and difficult emotions, such as anger, with your kids. Is it on a spectrum on a star chart of these are the kinds of emotions we are going for? Or is it letting things just develop? How does anger show up in your family? How do you hold it?

Joe: Just yesterday, my 10-year-old had been in quarantine for five days. My seven-year-old and I tested negative. She had had a number of days all alone, but she had all this homework she needed to do. She was more amazing than I expected for such a difficult situation for a 10-year-old, but she hit a breaking point yesterday. She was screaming at me. I am not going to do my homework. I said I am going to step out for a few minutes. I am going to come back in a few minutes and let you cool down. Allowing it to unfold, allowing her to regroup, but I would say centering ourselves is a big conversational piece. Saying what you need right now to regroup or to recalibrate or recenter to get back to your baseline. Really letting them initiate that process.

In that situation, she was very mad. I told her I thought she needed to go outside for a little bit to just get back to baseline. Usually she will listen, and other times like yesterday she was like I am not going to do it. I told her that I knew it was what her body needed. Please do it. At that point, she listened and went outside. She is able to process. She built a snowman or a snowwoman, a very nicely sculpted snowwoman. Then she came back in an hour and a half later and said she was sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I don’t want to do my homework, but I need to.
Being able to then say we are all going to get angry. That’s part of having different opinions. Your opinions that are different from mine are important, but we also need to say hey, I am just here to help you with your homework. Ultimately you need to get your homework done. Was that anger serving you in the way you wanted? Helping her understand the function of her anger and that it is normal, but it is more that we aren’t injuring people through that anger and if we are resolving it in a way that’s healthy.

Brett: What’s a good example of when you have had some unexpected or uncomfortable emotion come up and ways you have owned it and shown that vulnerability and let the wisdom of that emotion come through you in the most productive way?

Joe: I will tell a backstory before I get into the story answering your question. Within the family, I’ve recognized that as a child there were things that were always right or always wrong. There wasn’t much gray area, whereas in adulthood there is a lot of gray area. Things often aren’t just right or just wrong. That’s a philosophy I am trying to teach my kids.

In one area, swearing, I’ve taught them that. I’ve said there are words that society says are bad. I don’t believe they are necessarily bad, but there are situations in which you will get in trouble for saying these words. They know the F word. They know the SH word. They know all these words. We talk about where you would say those words and use it in an appropriate context, and where you might get in trouble, school, around the grandparents, probably around their mom. They understand that. When could you use the F word? I wouldn’t make you get in trouble for that.

We talk about when that is appropriate to express an emotion and that saying that’s sticking stupid has a different feeling than that’s so f-ing stupid. Teaching them that, even as seven- and 10-year-olds, the nuances of that, and so they are responsible for putting their own laundry away. I wash it, dry it and bring it up to their room. They were both being stinkers and wouldn’t do it. I had had a long day. I was sick of it. I was also frustrated. I am an unexpected single dad. There was just a lot that was emotionally piling up for me. They just wouldn’t do it. They were being super defiant around it. I just said put your f-ing laundry away, but I didn’t say f-ing. I said the full word. I am not sure how family friendly you want this show to be. I stormed out and I was so mad.

I went and regrouped, and got back to my baseline. I came back and talked about how I wasn’t happy that I let go of my emotions but also why I felt like the F word may have been somewhat appropriate in that situation. We hashed through it about how there are times when you are just so mad that you can’t find another word than that and that also can injure them emotionally by being scary or feeling unsafe or feeling unloved. I don’t want that for them. I should have stepped out. What should I have done? What could I have done? Having that kind of conversation around that just dropped the F bomb, is that appropriate? When do we do that? When do we adjust? How do you recover? How do you apologize? What can I as a dad learn from that? What can they learn from how stressful it can be if you don’t put your laundry away? What else should I have done during the day to not get to that breaking point over laundry?

Brett: It sounds like a common theme of the way you and your family relate is to be sitting in the question of how we want to be right now. How do we want to be with this emotion? How do we want to be with this situation? Rather than should. I heard you mention just a moment ago, what I should have done, but I still hear that being something you are going back and replaying. Now that I have been through that experience, what is it that I would like to do differently? How is that I would like to relate to this?

I think sitting in that is something really beautiful to be teaching your children, which is not that certain things are good or bad, but that certain things have various consequences. Those consequences are different based on your context. Life is an exploration and experiment where you learn what happens when you are a certain way and deciding which way you want to practice being from a place of discovering what is actually authentic for you.

Joe: I think one mindset I have as a parent is that when they turn 18 or 20 or whenever they decide to leave the house, there is probably going to be only a handful of major lessons they hold with them on a regular basis. What are those handful of lessons I want them to leave with? One, as a woman, is that consent is something that you should expect in regard to relationships with other people. Everything I do is around consent. If I am going to give them a hug, I will ask them if they want a hug. If we are wrestling or tickling, and they say stop, I stop. Making sure that consent is a strong part of their lives to make sure that they have some element of choice. So many kids can’t eat any sugar until they are 18, and then they go crazy.

Your whole life you have been told you can or can’t do these things and haven’t had to make your own decisions around food, how you spend your time, how you spend all sorts of things. I want them to have a lot of choice and have a lot of accountability around that. That’s going to inform things differently. For example, yesterday, while my daughter was in quarantine, a friend dropped something off that would make us feel better while we were feeling down. It was a bag of Cheetos. I gave her a little bowl of Cheetos. I said I have a surprise for you. It was behind my back. I want you to think about what is something you want to do for yourself that’s going to make it feel like you are moving forward in any area, and you can choose to use this thing I am about to give you to reward yourself. Instead of it being me giving her the external reward, it is her saying here is a goal for myself. I am going to achieve it and then I am going to eat these Cheetos she didn’t yet know she was going to get.

I showed her the Cheetos. She said I could watch a video, do an art project about the documentary I watched, and then when I am done with that documentary about otters, I can eat the Cheetos. Great! Do it for yourself. It is for your own sense of self, but you are rewarding yourself with the Cheetos. So being able to have those handful of things that I focus on, but those are things that in my own life even outside of being a parent, I am going to think about that intentionality beyond just being a dad.

Brett: I would love to tie this back into your work as well. You have written five books, and I am curious how your writing and your approach to writing as a practice has shifted through this journey.

Joe: I think that when I used to write, it was more about what the audience wants, what the positioning is that I want to have for myself, whereas Thursday is the New Friday has definitely been about the macro societal shift. Do I believe that the way we are living with a 40-hour work week plus is good for society? Realizing as I dove into the history around the 40-hour work week and actually how recent it actually is and how the studies are showing that it really isn’t needed to have a full 40 work week. Most of what we can do in building creativity and productivity can be done in a 32 or fewer hour work week.

That process for me first was just gathering as much data as possible. A lot of coaches are self-proclaimed experts, and they will just write their opinions or a few cases. To me, I wanted the actual evidence that shows this, the historical evidence and the stories behind. Finding those stories, case studies, businesses, even just interesting stories about how the seven-day week was totally made up by the Babylonians 3,000 years ago because they could only see seven major planets. We just as easily could have had a thousand-day week if they had had better telescopes. The Romans had 10-day weeks. The Egyptians had eight-day weeks. This thing we think is really normal, the seven-day week, is completely made up. Discovering those cool things and saying where that would fit in the book. Then, whiteboarding out each chapter and saying what the main points are, and then killing it as much as I could every Thursday when I was writing.
Brett: All of that is really fascinating, and I am also curious how your approach to your internal locus of control, your internal reward system has moved through this process. Did you write books with a similar approach prior to this decoupling experience?

Joe: I finished the book before we hit the road. It was due by October 1st. I finished it on September 1st. I wanted to not have that hanging over my head and just be able to focus on the media side of things when we were on the road. I just knew the focus would be much different when I was in a camper, and things could go awry much easier, whether it is water systems, septic systems or who knows. There were so many things that went wrong in addition to the uncoupling.

I would say that my process in writing the book is that I was learning neuroscience around how to be more productive that I applied immediately to be more productive in writing about how to be more productive. It was very meta. The University of Illinois had this amazing research study that looked at vigilance decrement. Vigilance, how well you pay attention to something, and decrement meaning it goes down over time, so tasks that are somewhat boring get more boring over time. You make more errors, and you aren’t as productive.

They found even just a one-minute micro break every 20 minutes completely eliminates vigilance decrement. Even just saying I am going to set a timer for 20 minutes, and even if I am in the middle of a sentence, I am going to get up and do a plank, walk downstairs, or get a glass of carrot juice, whatever it is I need to do to feel that my body to feel like it is going to be productive. It can’t be looking at a screen. It can’t be continuing to work. Using the neuroscience around sleep, how we structure our days, about how we do sprints, looking at my own sprint type, all of those things, I was writing about it in the book but then directly applying it as I was writing the book.

Brett: Behind all this productivity, I am curious what the deeper motivation is for you to be productive. A lot of people will find themselves in a loop of being productive for its own sake, for churning out more work product. I am curious for you what the deeper want and deeper need are that you are fulfilling in this productivity that you practice.

Joe: To me, productivity is the end of the cycle. We have to start with slowing down first to allow our brains to rest, to allow those good ideas to come out, and then to spend our best time on the best movements forward instead of just across the board. When I enter into productivity, every minute I spend working is a minute I could be doing a hobby, I could be cleaning the house, or I could be putting my kids’ laundry away if I didn’t make them put it away. I could be doing something different that is good for my family, my friends or my relationships.

If I go into my work saying I can’t dink around and be unproductive because it is stealing from my family, it is stealing from my friendships, it is stealing from my exercise or my body, that’s a different posture than being productive for its own sake. Then it becomes if I am going to work, it needs to be the best use of my time in regard to my business. I can’t just waste time to waste time.

There are times I choose to intentionally slow down and I choose to intentionally allow my brain to free associate so that those good ideas can come to the surface. We know from the neuroscience when we are stressed out and maxed out, that’s not when we have good ideas. It is when we are taking a shower, going for a walk, on a long drive without music on. Just allowing those intentional times to slow down and have those hard and soft boundaries, that allows me when I am going to work to have the most productive days possible.

Brett: It sounds like what you are saying there, recognizing everything you are doing in your productive space is in some sense stealing from some other area of your life. Another way to say what you are saying there is that it is a choice. You are optimizing for a different thing, and if you optimize for productivity, you might forget to optimize for connection with your children. You might not optimize for connection to the source of inspiration of what it is that you are being productive around.

Joe: Absolutely, because I think it goes back to those core teachings of who I am in the world, who I want to be, how I am intentional with my family, my friends, my hobbies, my health, all of those domain areas Joe often talks about. If we aren’t intentional in those areas, then the work we do is what you were talking about, productivity for productivity’s sake.

Brett: My final question for this episode, how do you teach your kids or how do you model for your kids how you approach your purpose in such a way that will help them find their own purpose from their internal locus of control without pattern matching too much what daddy does?

Joe: We did a podcast together while we were on the road called Leave to Find, which now has a bit of an ironic title to it. The Leave to Find podcast, for us to do what's interesting to us, so I reiterate that I get to do work that I absolutely love doing and that helps a lot of people. Do I want my kids to be podcasters? Sure, if they want to. I could care less how they choose to make money as long as they choose to contribute to society, do it in a way that they can eventually sustain themselves and it doesn’t hurt other people. For me, it is less important to say here is how you have to do it but let me give you opportunities to explore.

For example, my seven-year-old, when we were at the Fort Collins Children’s Museum, they have this whole amazing section that’s a hands-on DJ scratching, mixing section where kids can do this two turntables and microphone type stuff. From that, she said I want to be a DJ. My backyard neighbor does that. He is amazing at it. He has a new sequencer he just got. Giving her the opportunity to just explore and play. To me, at this age, let’s explore and play.

My ten-year-old, a couple years ago, wanted to do a lemonade stand. I said let’s talk about this. There are really two types of lemonade. You are going to have the powered mix, which is really easy. You will probably be able to charge 25 cents or so for that. There is hand squeezed lemonade which you could probably sell for two dollars each. Here is what that would encompass, making simple syrup, maybe having it be fancier with basil leaves or frozen strawberries. Which do you want to do? We brainstormed. She said she wanted to do the hand squeezed one. We said if you just set up outside, do you think many people are going to come by? No. Where might be a better traffic area? Our friends Paul and Diane have a house that’s right on a main area. Most lemonade stands, you don’t realize there is one until you drive up on it. What if we had signs before it? There was a marathon that was going to be going on. What if you did it on marathon morning? What else do people drink in the morning? Coffee.

We brainstormed all of these things that she is helping lead and come up with the solutions for and that I am helping to support. She ended up making $90 dollars an hour. She killed it. These people were giving her tips. I can’t believe there is basil and frozen strawberries. They were taking pictures of it. She was selling coffee for $2 dollars and lemonade for $2 dollars and just absolutely killed it. She actually hired one of the neighbor boys who was older than her to help because it was so busy. I said she needed to pay Finley a good wage, at least $10 dollars an hour. After she paid me back, after she paid this kid and paid her sister, she still made $90 bucks an hour.

To me, giving those kinds of opportunities and thoughtful discussion. She didn’t want to do it the next two years. Then she said I think I want to do the lemonade stand again. I told her she needed to call Paul and Diane to get it on tehri calendar to rent out their front yard or have them donate that space for you to use it. She is going through the process of just learning how you think like an entrepreneur without it being something I force on her.

Brett: Fascinating. One thing to poke a little bit that I have noticed is that a lot of what you were describing there, she had the idea and it seemed like you came to her with a bunch of suggestions as well. I am curious when she went to do the lemonade stand the second time, how much was she coming up with I remember we did this that time, this the other time and extrapolating from that, I could also experiment in this way. To what extent was that coming up for her internally? To what extent were you going straight to suggestion mode?

Joe: I would see it more as opportunities. If she decided she wanted to do a powered lemonade stand and sit all day in front of our yard and make $2 dollars, that’s fine. I could care less. She will learn from that experience just as much, but I think most kids at her age don’t even know the options. They don’t know how lemonade is made. They don’t know what simple syrup is. They don’t know people like frozen strawberries and basil in their lemonade. They have never made a cup of coffee. Just being able to say here are opportunities, we can do this. It’s going to be more work. What questions do you have about it? How much does a pound of coffee cost? It will cost you $12 dollars, or we have a friend Jen who works at a coffee shop. Maybe she would donate it. You could call Jen and ask her if she would donate that. Higher Grounds Coffee donated like three pounds of coffee to her.

First round kids just don’t know, so saying here are a bunch of options, what sounds good to you? When we got home, they said they didn’t want to keep doing the podcast. Now they do. How do we make it different from just being on the road? Because we are not on the road anymore so now we are making a list of people they think are interesting that they want to interview, their grandparents, a friend Marty who is a DJ. Let’s have these interesting people we just interview. Letting them take the lead second round and third round while still supporting them and giving them ideas.
Brett: One of the things I really like about what you were just saying is there is this impartiality to the outcome. You are not concerned with how successful the lemonade stand is for your daughter and that it makes a bunch of money. You are excited it worked out, and that wasn’t what you were aiming for. What you seem to be aiming for is being in connection with your daughter, your daughter being in connection with what she is doing and providing as much guidance without becoming overbearing as possible so that she is able to optimize her learning and optimize her enjoyment. I think that’s a really great way to parent.

Joe: I think so many people have their egos wrapped up in their kid. My kid got into this college, or my kid got to the state finals. Of course, you want to be proud of your kid, but if your own ego and sense of self worth is coming through your child’s volleyball game in 5th grade, you probably need to do some internal work.

Brett: Indeed. Thank you so much for joining us, Joe. I really, really loved this conversation. I am excited to check out your book, too. It seems interesting.

Joe: Thank you so much for having me on the show. This has been awesome.

Thanks for listening to the Art of Accomplishment. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe and rate us on your podcast app. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions or comments. You can reach out to us, join our newsletter or check out our courses at artofaccomplishment.com.
References

Joe Sanok, Thursday is the New Friday & other books: https://joesanok.com/
The Gottman Institute: https://www.gottman.com/marriage-minute/

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