How much time do we have left? In this episode, we break down the second half of our lives by looking at how many of our favorite experiences we have left. How many more times will we watch a Super Bowl? How many more fantasy football seasons? How many more times will Ian eat pizza at Lombardi’s in NYC? Frank and Ian use this exercise to dissect how they are spending their time more deliberately.
In this episode:
- Why people tend to overestimate how much time they have left
- How life milestones act as “awakenings”
- How we form our images, both personally and professionally
- How to be deliberate about where you spend your time (and who you spend it with)
- What moments will we remember in forty years and why not make more of those?
- How to prioritize your life for balance
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
Do You Experience Life With A Sense Of Urgency?
Is that a Let Me Speak to A Manager hat? When were you planning to show me that?
That’s right, you son of a bitch. I got swag and you don’t.
How do I get merch? Have you changed our website? Is there a link for merch now?
We got a bright future.
I know there are only seventeen people reading this, but go to our website and get yourself the trucker hat that Frank is wearing. It is absolutely glorious. It’s so good. I’m so excited that we have merch. You don’t have an official business until you have merch. You don’t need revenue. You don’t need sales. That stuff is overblown. You need merch. Without merch, you don’t have a real business.You don’t have as much time left as you would like to think. Make the most of it. Click To Tweet
For those of you that are following the Yoni Katz podcast, they made £775 at their carwash. I completely and totally believe they had such success for two reasons. Number one, they read our blog, clearly and number two, they had merch that said, “We accept tips,” with their adorable faces in the middle of the t-shirt.
By far, that was the best gem that either of us gave Yoni, him going out and making those t-shirts. They had a sweatshirt with pictures of their cute little faces that said, “We accept tips.” Did you say they got over £100 in tips? Not including grandma and grandpa paying for their supplies, which was clutch. That was a profitable little week they had.
The margin of that business is strong.
We are having a deep existential conversation, which is abnormal for Frank and I to have anything deep or substantial in our conversations.
Lunch is typically substantial.
The food is usually more substantial than the actual conversation.
Before we started, we were both finishing lunch.
We were both eating. We will probably be eating again as soon as we finish this. We are talking about how much do we have left of everything. The basis of this conversation is a now rather famous blog post on Tim Urban’s blog. This post blew him up and made him big. Frank, maybe talk a little bit about who gave you this and how you came across it.
One of our loyal followers, Mr. Nickel, forwarded this to me. The name of the blog is Wait But Why and the article itself is called The Tail End. It could be 100 things but he’s talking about the tail end of life in this instance. This is a little over six years old at this point. This thing’s gone viral. I had never seen it, and then I talked to Ian and it’s like, “That thing’s gone viral. Everybody’s got it.” It’s an interesting article. We’ll talk about a couple of things. Instead of saying, “I have so many years left or days left or things like that,” he’s like, “How many more times am I going to eat tacos? How many more dumplings am I going to eat my life?”
I enjoyed the article for many reasons, but he goes right into dumplings. He describes it as he still has about a fuck ton left to eat, which is incredible. Not only is it dumplings, which speaks to me. In addition to that, his unit of measure is a unit of measure that I like. Those two reasons alone are some of the reasons but it’s neat because he starts to talk about how much time you have left with your parents, your granddad, or your favorite sports team. It’s a fascinating read. It makes you realize quickly that we don’t have as much time left as we would like or think.
We’ve talked about this in a previous episode. Frank’s nickname on his high school football team was The Italian Dumpling and he’s proud of that. That’s what got him reading this blog post in the first place and I can understand why he would have an affinity based on a nickname like that.
The other reason I thought this was fascinating, too, is Nickel texts to me and I went to read it. He goes, “It’s a three-minute read.” It took me six minutes, so I was like, “He reads a lot faster than I do.” I hope I have enough life to catch up.
It’s like him telling you running ten miles would be a certain time. It always takes you twice as long to do that, too. He seems to do things faster than the average human.
There’s another story about this, too, that’s interesting. Besides having an incredible merch, there’s not a lot of time left so I had to prioritize it. I’m on the precipice of kid number two. I was having a conversation when I was in Scottsdale with my mastermind group. There’s a guy in the group who’s two years younger than me, but his wife is older than me. She’s 49 and he wants a baby badly. She’s got kids from a previous marriage. They’ve been trying and it hasn’t worked. One of the things I told them is, “I will guarantee you that you haven’t thought about how long your kids will be with your wife before she was to die if she has kids at nearly 50. They’re going to be in their late 30s or early 40s if she makes it to 90.”
He’s like, “No, I hadn’t even thought about that.” I was like, “Of course not. Nobody thinks about these kinds of things until you have kids.” Your perspective drastically changes around these things when you have children. I didn’t get older. Clearly, I was a day older the night between having no kids and a kid, but I felt like I was in a different generation. It immediately ages you and puts you in a different place when you got a life that you’re responsible for when you have kids.
You’ve got another story that Nickel likes to tell about marbles.
It’s interesting. There’s another article I’m going to pull it up and I’m going to read some of this because it’s fascinating. This story is called A Thousand Marbles. I’m going to work my way through it relatively fast. The guy says, “You see, I sat down one day did a little arithmetic. The average person lives to about 75.” Depending on which story you listen to, 90 or 75. “I know some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live to about 75.” This guy then took and multiply and came up with how many Saturdays he had left in his life.
He decided that because of his current age, he was 55 years old, he had about 1,000 Saturdays left. This guy loved this Saturdays. He had a woodshed in the back. He would wake up early, get a cup of coffee, and go to his woodshed and sit back there. It’s his favorite place. What he decided to do is he ran out and bought 1,000 marbles. He went to six different toy stores and bought all these marbles and he filled up all these jars. Every Saturday, he took a marble out and threw it away. He said the sensation was that he felt like he was watching time diminish with each marble he took out.
He started to focus as he pulled the marble out on the things that were important. He said he thought about what was the most important and things that were less important. He says, “As you’re taking a marble out throwing it away, there’s nothing more tangible than realizing that you’re just pushing time aside and you’re letting it go.” If you google A Thousand Marbles, you’ll find this. The way that the story goes is he gets through his 1,000 marbles and he’s not dead. He realizes that every day pass that day and every Saturday pass that day is a complete gift.
He wants to make a prayer because he’s gotten to that point. This is an interview. He wraps up the interview and when the interview is over, he says, “I’m going to take my wife for breakfast and go about my day.” It’s one of those things that Nickel uses when he’s had to give sermons at his church and things along those lines. It’s a cool story that makes you realize that time is fleeting. I mentioned this to him before. I have three places I do all my work. I work in my office at home. I have a conference room and an office at the office. I have an hourglass in all those locations. It’s one of those things that I realized. We’re just sand through an hourglass. We don’t have a lot of time in our life. You have to have some measure of that and remind yourself not to take for granted the gift that we have, that is life.
The marble story that I heard growing up was if you take a jar and you put a marble in it every time you have sex with your girlfriend, then you get married. If you take a marble out every time you have sex with your wife, who was your girlfriend, you will never deplete the jar no matter how lucky you are married. When you said you’re about to tell the marble story, I was like, “I know that one,” but you have a totally different one that’s sweeter about old men and woodworking. They tell different stories in Florida than they do in Detroit, apparently.
In general, Frank, humans tend to overestimate how much time we have left. That’s fair. You get into a daily grind, a daily rhythm, and you always assume a period in your life that’s going well is going to just keep going well and it’s always going to be there. It’s a big-time fallacy. Frank and I have bench-pressed a lot in our life and done a lot of deadlifts, so we’ll probably live to 90 because those high school workouts are important for longevity. We’ve done some military press, for sure. Maybe some standing curls with dumbbells.
We’ve done our best to offset these incredible workouts with Ben’s Chili Bowl and large pizzas. We wash it all down with red wine.
Four-minute breaks in between every set to make sure you catch your breath while you’re reading your phone. Our workouts are intense.
Washing it down with good red wine is going to ensure longevity. We have a lot of great research on the French.
We’re clearly living to 90. That’s about 45 years or less left for the two of us. If you start adding up some based on this kind of logic, that’s 45 Super Bowls. I love the Super Bowl. It’s a fun day. I like to gamble. I bet on about 100 prop bets during it. I like it when I’m involved in a party. I like it when I’m watching it with my kids. There’s only 45 Christmas left and 45 Easters left. I only have 45 birthdays left. We were talking about our fantasy football league and how much we love it. It’s like, “How long are we going to keep doing those little trips with Paxson and Nilo with our stupid Little League? Maybe 20? Maybe 30? How many of those do we have left?”
When you think of it that way, do you appreciate them more? We might have ten presidential cycles left to go through and pay attention and watch, which might be a blessing as annoying as they’ve been. How many times have we been to Vegas? How many more Vegas trips are we going to go on? I’ve been there 25 to 30 times. I don’t have 25 to 30 trips left to Vegas. I don’t know that I get as into how many tacos am I going to eat the rest of my life? Because that’s a lot of tacos. I don’t feel like I’m depleting those fast enough to care. When you take some of the bigger things here, it certainly makes you stop and think, “I should probably appreciate that a bit more.”When you have an opportunity for something epic, you can't just expect it to happen again. Try your best not to miss it. Click To Tweet
For those of you that know us or for those of you that have been following this podcast for a while, Ian’s an in-the-moment guy. I’ve learned a lot from him about living in the moment and enjoying the moment. I’m probably more reflective of the two of us. The underlying theme of this episode for me is that balance between knowing that you do in fact have only a certain amount of time left and relishing in it but also enjoying that moment.
I can tell a story from back in college. Nickel was my college roommate. Every day, we saw each other multiple times a day for 2.5 years. It dawned on us at some point like, “This is going to end.” We’re sitting on our uncomfortable ass couches and we had this picture of this bear. It was a polar bear and it was laying on its stomach. It was awesome. We got it because it was what I look like with air conditioning on after a workout. We’re underneath that having this conversation.
That was the whole point. We’re going to have to relish this because, at some point, we’re going to be grown up. We’re going to live in different cities probably. We’re going to have families. We’re going to have businesses and careers. We’re not going to be able to hang out. We’re going to have to talk 3 or 4 times a year in person if we’re lucky. We’ve done a great job of staying in touch, but we’re not roommates anymore, so you don’t have that same thing. You got to understand when you got something great and take advantage of it and then not lose sight of it going forward.
You and I are an exception to the rule. You’re certainly an exception to my rule. Most people’s best friends stay their best friends throughout life. The reason is it’s hard to replicate the amount of hours you spend with someone before you have responsibilities, wife, kids, or jobs. People that you were friends with in high school and grade school. My best friend when I was nine years old is Mike Cullen. He’s an awesome guy. I was best friends with this guy for 5 or 6 years. When I say best friends, I mean he was like a brother.
He had his own set of toiletries in my house and his own clothes. My mom washed his clothes. We were close. He would spend the night for weeks at a time and he was half a mile away. I had a pool and he’d stay. I go over to his house and we’d play hockey. I’d stay at his house for 4 or 5 days. I don’t talk to him a lot anymore. We didn’t go to the same college after high school. We dropped off talking. When you do reach out to them, there are not many people I know that I’ve met in the last fifteen years or so that I’ve spent nearly as much time or know as well as someone that I knew so well 30 years ago.
It’s the same with your friends in high school and your friends in college. You get that twelve hours a day, 300 days a year spending time with someone. Take friends I meet now. Other parents of kids that I coach or that I work with are probably the people I spend the most time with now that are new friends. You can’t even get close to the amount of hours. You can’t touch the amount of hours. Let’s say, with a good friend of mine here that our kids play the same sport.
At the most, I’ll see him an hour or two a day at practice and you’re both busy and focused on the kids. We’ll have some beers here and there with your neighbors, but you’re not touching the amount of time you had with your parents, brothers, sisters, and best friends when you’re younger. That’s why a lot of those relationships last forever because you’re deeper with those people than you are with anyone you meet later in life.
The volume of time, you can’t replicate it. When you’re a kid, you have more of it because you have less other responsibilities. It’s funny, you and I know each other incredibly well. I know Nilo and you know Nickel. I’ve never heard of Mike Cullen and you’ve never heard of my buddy, who is my best friend up until middle school. We all have those. If you’re lucky, you get to pick up where you left off with those people.
The thing I was starting to think about, Ian, while you said that is there’s a debate. My wife does not want our sons to play football. I struggle with that because my best relationships all came from football. There are other sports that can replace it. It’s hard for me as a father of boys to think about not having my boys play the sport that introduced me to the friends and it gave me the time. With Nickel, specifically, he and I used to throw sideline passes together and while we were doing that, we were talking and becoming great friends.
Of the adult friends that I have from high school, I still have 10 or 15 of them that I talked to regularly that all came from that. It’s because there’s this crucible where you’re doing things together and you’re spending time together. The football is important, but the relationship, the time, and having something in a common goal and common enemy bonds you together with other people. It’s hard to replicate that. Ian and I met through a company. You rarely meet people later in life where you get these great relationships. It’s harder. If you’re lucky post-college, you might meet 3 to 5 good friends because there’s not enough time to meet more.
As Max gets older, Ellie is going to come to the realization that Cava men were built and designed to move other huge human beings around. She’ll understand that this is his calling. She’ll get it.
I’m an incredible salesman. It’s going to bear out if I’m any good or not.
My advice to you is don’t bother arguing for the next several years. Once he gets to a certain age, he’s going to do whatever the hell he wants and she’s going to lose, so it’s not worth arguing. Don’t put him in tackle football when he’s 6 or 7. IJ has not touched tackle football. He’s going to start at 10 or 11. Once they get to a certain age, mom and dad don’t have any influence on that stuff.
The important thing is in tackle football or not, I want him around kids where he has an opportunity to meet other kids and has those relationships because those relationships have meant so much to me.
Sports are huge. You keep those friendships. You remember those teams your whole life. You remember the leadership lessons and all that. Those big milestones, graduating college, graduating high school, getting married, and having kids, some of those big milestones stop things that you think would never end. You’ve gone to the same party every year. I don’t know what it is that I quit going to New Year’s Eve parties, but at some point, it just happened. I certainly wasn’t thinking of my last one, “This is the last one.” It was the last one. It’s probably what I had kids when it happened. When you’re at that party, you’re not thinking, “This is it. The last hurrah.” You’re having a rip-roaring time and that’s it. It doesn’t happen again. That’s usually the way it works.
I can’t even think about being up at midnight. For what?
In my twenties, I used to do epic boy’s trips all the time. In 2004, I planned this thing. I convinced everyone we were going to go to Germany. We were going to do Oktoberfest. I figured out where we’re going to stay. I got us the hotels. I worked with everyone on the dates and the times. I got invited to a Redskins game by one of the owners of the Redskins for the second NVR interview. It wasn’t like I could say, “That doesn’t work for me.” It was a specific weekend and I was close to uprooting my entire life leaving Chicago. I was in the middle of all of it.
I ultimately had to bag out of that Oktoberfest trip that I planned that all the boys were going on and we’re excited about, and who did go on the trip without me. At the time, I can remember thinking, “I’ll get you guys on the next trip.” I even said, “The next one will be just as epic.” They went and had an amazing time. There was never another Oktoberfest trip. There was never another Europe trip. I got to DC. I got busy. Some of the other boys started getting married. The boy’s trips went the way of the dinosaurs slowly after. That just happens. When you have an opportunity for something epic, you can’t think to yourself that’ll come back.
Life is you don’t get to say yes. It’s hard to say yes to all those things. If you always say yes to things, you’re usually not consequent and it doesn’t usually age well. What I’ve always used as my life lesson is I try not to miss the epic moments. I try and be present for the epic moments. Here is a fail. In 2009, Ian calls me up. He’s like, “My buddy is making wine now. He’s from Chicago. The new president just got elected from Chicago.” I didn’t go to the inauguration ball.
We had tickets to Obama’s inauguration ball and my buddy was supplying the champagne from his company for the inaugural toast by Michelle Obama.
I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this. I didn’t have a tux back then, so I bought a tux. The damn thing sat in the closet. I didn’t go. Ultimately, not long thereafter, I quit that job.
What did you miss it for though? I remember this conversation.
We had a corporate audit.
You got a meeting in Reston. You had to be in our corporate headquarters that Monday or Tuesday.
It was the next day and I was like, “I can’t do it. I got a lot of pressure.” I didn’t do it and I missed what would have been an epic party. On the other side of that, a few years earlier, the Washington Nationals were having their first-ever game. I was broke and I didn’t have any money. You had to get tickets back then. Someone will call you and say, “I got tickets.” Someone called me up because I got tickets for the first-ever Washington Nationals game. I had a recruiting dinner that night, so we are going to recruit new people to come work for the company.
Nobody audited those things, so I was like, “Screw it.” I called another kid up and I’m like, “I have to bail on this. I had something come up. Can you run this recruiting dinner for me?” He’s like, “Sure.” He’s a great kid. The recruiting dinner went off without a hitch. Nobody knew a thing. I ended up going to the game with Lee. We’re standing right behind home plate and I said, “Lee, do you want to stand up for the first pitch?” He goes, “Nah. I’m not going to stand up. I’m going to sit down.” I’m like, “You should stand. It’s the first pitch.” He’s like, “Nope, I’m sitting.”
The next day in the Washington Post and this was back when we still used to get newspapers, fifteen people called me and they’re like, “You’re on the front page of the sports section of the Washington Post.” I’m like, “What do you mean?” They’re like, “Were you behind the home plate?” I’m like, “Yeah.” They’re like, “You’re standing up behind home plate and you can see the pitch.” If you go and google the first pitch, I’m standing there. My buddy, Lee, who didn’t stand up, you barely see his head because he didn’t stand up.
That’s life. You miss things from time to time like the inauguration ball, but you have to say, “I got to pick and choose my spots.” Overall, I’m happy with the amount of stuff I’ve physically gotten to go to. I always stop and say, “This is something cool and critical. It’s a flashbulb thing. I don’t want to miss it and I don’t want to have regret around it.” That’s why with good conscience, I can say, “I missed the 2009 inauguration but I got a good buddy. I work here.”
If you have good friends, they’ll remind you on a regular basis how good the party was that you missed. They’ll make sure to make the regrets thing and feel hard about how good that inauguration ball was.
The immature ones will tell you how many beers you missed and will maybe show you pictures of themselves doing splits on the dance floor.
Their arm around Obama smiling and drinking champagne.
The other side of it is to rub it in a little bit. “You missed this last one. I’m not going to let you miss the next one.”
Part of that is don’t miss the next one. Part of that good-natured ribbing is, “I want you to know that this was good. When we get another opportunity, suck it up.” A lot of times with those kinds of things, the things that I’ve missed that I’ve regretted is almost always you’re tired at work. You’re thinking about getting up in the morning the next day and you’ve got a lot of things to do. You got to understand when you get those opportunities to do something fun or you get invited to something you’re not normally invited to.
I used to get invited to charity stuff all the time at NVR and most of the time, it was annoying. One of them was I got a chance to see Lou Holtz speak and I got a chance to sit at a charity dinner. It means I get to sit for two hours with people I work with that I don’t feel like being around and talking about stuff I don’t feel like talking about. It all led up to getting to see Lou Holtz for one hour and I was ten feet from him. I remember, at the time, I was so close to bagging out of it. I don’t remember what was going on. I was busy.
Maybe I’d be up in Maryland the next day in some stupid meeting that’s the same as a million other stupid meetings I’ve been to. I remember his whole speech and I remember how close I came to getting out of it because of all the other stuff around it. I’m glad I went to it. This always comes back to Bezos’ Regret Minimization. Am I going to regret this? Is this one thing that is a once in a lifetime? Should I suck it up and just be at this? Because this is some history for me.
That’s the coolest thing about life. The goal of this podcast is to talk about, don’t be so wrapped up in business and goals that you miss other incredible moments in life. One of my favorite memories in my entire life was giving a toast at my sister’s wedding. I joked about it because usually, the older brother of the bride doesn’t give a toast at a wedding, but my sister got married on a Thursday, which also isn’t normal. Everybody was bitching about it because it’s a freaking Thursday. It’s going to kill your week they get to a wedding.
Everybody’s there and they’re bitching about it, so I made a joke. I was like, “It’s a little-known rule that on a wedding that happens on a Thursday, the oldest brother of the bride has to make a toast, so here it is. In case anybody was unaware, it’s Thursday.” It got a bunch of laughs, but the coolest thing for me was I was close enough to my sister, where I was given an opportunity to make a cool toast. What was in the toast doesn’t matter for this context. The cool thing that I talk about is there are flashbulb moments that you have in your life.
Up until that point, I’m guessing I will be replaced in the flashbulb moments. My sister is married with kids and she’s got her own stuff, but at those moments, I was a part of it or I wouldn’t have been asked to participate. That was cool because up to that moment, I was important enough to be a part of it. The reason I was important to be a part of it is I did not let the fact that I was fourteen years older than her getting away with us having an incredible friendship. The fact that I moved out of the house when she was four, I didn’t let that get in the way of the fact that she was still my sister and I was incredibly close with her.
When she had spring break, I flew her up to spend time with me while she was in middle and high school because it was my sister and I wanted to see her. She was thirteen and I’m in my late twenties. I got a job and I got all kinds of other stuff, but I prioritized it. Because I made those priorities, I had a great relationship and I had a great role in that event. Those are the little things that you’ll look at when you have kids, cousins, nephews, or family. You’re not going to be a preeminent person in those people’s lives unless you slow down and you become a preeminent person in their lives.
You’ve never been one for tradition anyway. Most people don’t throw their own 40th birthday party, invite everyone, and then give a boozy 1.5-hour speech about themselves. You’re wanting to create new traditions yourself. You’re the only person I know that’s ever done something like that. You, giving a speech at your sister’s wedding is not shocking or whatsoever to me.
There’s a video. Ian was flicked off for a prolonged period of time.
When your buddy gets drunk in his 40th, the smart thing to do is go over to him and say, “You got to go give a speech. Everyone’s waiting for it. Everyone wants to hear you talk.” Let’s move on to the next part of our agenda.
Before kids, I always had this preconceived notion in business and I don’t know if it’s because I started with such a big company. The junior people should be in the office later than the senior people. You shouldn’t leave until the boss leaves.
You want to beat him there in the morning.
Your car’s there in the morning. It’s like the Costanza episode where his car is in the lot the whole weekend and everyone thinks he’s working hard because he’s beating the boss to the office and they’re later than the last guy. I had that Costanza feeling always of, “I should be outworking the people that are above me because I want to show them that I deserve it and I’m there.” Before kids, I would have never considered leaving the office before 6:30 to 7:00. I was always in the office super late. Everyone knew that.
You then have kids and for me, it happened almost immediately where I took a week off, hang back with Jenny, then that became a few extra days and everything went fine. Everything didn’t seem as important after that. I got comfortable. For me, this is important that I had a boss who coached his boys in baseball. When my son was a baby, his kids were in their teens. On a regular basis, he would leave at 3:00 because he had to get all the way back up past the Beltway. I would learn later that you don’t get baseball field times when you want them. Sometimes, you get a field at 4:00 or 4:30.
He would leave and he wasn’t apologetic. He wasn’t like, “I’m sorry.” He’d be like, “I’m coaching. We got a game of 6:00 up north of Baltimore so I’m out of 3:00.” That always stuck with me as a leadership lesson. This is a guy that I ultimately didn’t get along within a lot of other ways. It was modeling exactly how you should model. It’s one thing to tell your team you should have balance. It’s another thing to be brave enough to say, “I’m going to coach my kids this year and that means I’m going to leave three days a week at 3:00. I’m going to get in early and you can get me after, but from 3:00 to 6:00, don’t bug me.” It gave me a lot of confidence seeing him do that. Six years later, when I started coaching t-ball that I did it myself.Don't be so wrapped up in business and goals that you miss out on the other incredible moments in life. Click To Tweet
It’s important nowadays. Most of the meetings that I host nowadays are on Zoom and traditional working hours are not what they used to be. We have technology at home. In the old days, you have to go back to the office and do things. We can do that stuff wherever we go as long as there’s a Wi-Fi connection or a Zoom connection. There is that ability now because of technology. As a manager, I’m aware of that with my people. Constantly, I want to make sure that if there’s something important to them, I want to be able to give them the ability to do those things.
By and large, the majority of people who work for me work incredibly hard and they’re adults that can handle it. I’ll tell a story because this is relevant. We had a snowstorm in Richmond, which we get 1 or 2 a year. In a normal winter, you might get a ton of accumulation. It was a Friday and it was 2:30 or 3:00. I was well finished with my day but I wasn’t completely finished. I remember thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t blow this off.” For me, I would have blown it off. I would have kept working. I missed 100 snowstorms in my life where everyone goes to bars and gets drunk and I just worked all day.
In this instance, I said, “I’m going to go up and see my brother-in-law and his two kids.” They got a four-wheeler and they got all kinds of stuff. Max, my son, was excited as hell. We went up and we did it and we had a blast. It’s snowing. He’s in the backseat. He’s got a huge cheesy grin and a photo that we have. It’s awesome. Being the dipshit that I am, I’ve got my son and I do three loops around this turnaround. I go off to the side in a non-paved section. I’m not great on a four-wheeler to start with. My son’s two and he can’t hold onto himself.
I can’t completely turn the four-wheeler and I end up getting stuck. I get stuck on the shoulder, 200 or 300 yards away from Chad, my brother-in-law, his kids, and all the kids were out with. I’m trying to move the thing. If I didn’t have my son, I could have easily turned because it does have power steering but it needed the might of two arms pushing it. I didn’t have that because I had my son in one arm and I was just pushing it with this and I get stuck. I’m trying to rev the thing and my son starts screaming and crying and this whole thing. He is melting down.
I’m like, “Fuck.” I don’t know what to do, and then I finally said, “Screw it. I got my cell phone on.” I called Chad and I said, “Can you help me get this thing out of the mud?” I get stuck in the mud with my son and he’s crying. It turns out, I almost checked email and continued to work over being a part of the first permanent memory my son ever had. For eight weeks, the first thing he said to me when I woke him up in the morning and get him out of his crib, “Dada stuck in the mud.” He would recount the whole story.
Max has told me multiple times. He was talking about it.
It’s incredible. Is it the best story ever? No. Did I want to get stuck in the mud? No. It’s that stuff of, if you’re not present, there’s no way you know that an incredible memory is going to happen. We got pictures of us. He’s laughing afterward and everything turned out fine, but I almost missed it for work. Instead, I did enough and I came back and did the work later. I got to participate in something awesome that turned out to be a funny memory that I would have missed had I not said, “I can blow off work for two hours.”
As you’re talking, to me, so much in business is not memorable because there are many hours we spend. There are flashbulb moments in business that you and I remember. That’s what this podcast is. It’s us remembering certain things and getting jarred loose. In general, you remember vacations a lot more. As you’re talking, one thing I’m thinking about is I try to be deliberate in the vacations I take that they’re not always to the same place that they’re not something that would gel in with another one. Even though I said I’ve been to Vegas a lot of times, I wouldn’t even call those vacations.
With my family, I like to go places that are unique and different, where we see different things and it’s easy for me, my wife, and my kids to remember it a certain way. We’ve been to Fort Lauderdale many times, but all the Fort Lauderdale trips just blend together. Jenny likes going to the same places a lot but I don’t for that reason because to me, I’m not going to remember this trip. It’s going to be one more trip when I was in Fort Lauderdale eating at the same places and sitting on the same beach. I like to see new things when I go places. You’re stuck in the mud story. The lesson for me that comes out of it is to try to make every vacation as unique as humanly possible or you won’t remember it as well.
It’s fine little hacks that mean something to you. This is nothing we’ve talked about, but it popped in my head and I’ll talk about it. I run a business. We have a relatively large business. If I was to take my credit card points and I always put it through a cashback program, I probably get $10,000 to $15,000 annually in cashback rewards. I’ve talked to my brother about this and he’s a penny-pincher. He’s like, “I would get the cashback,” and I don’t. I have an American Express card. I like the American Express card. What I like about it is I accrue points. I use those points for things that I like.
I’ve flown first class with my wife to Africa. I’ve booked week-long vacations at places that I would never want to spend that much money for a place because of it. For me, if I was getting $800 back a month, if you add that up, that’s great. It adds up to something. I would rather have it in something that is tangible, tradable and memorable. It’s one of those things where it’s like a forced savings plan for fun and we use it that way. It’s like, “I got an X number of points now. If you want to look at going to do something cool for four days, we don’t have to pay a penny. It comes out of that account.” It forces you into having cool memories.
I can’t think of a fun, unique vacation that I’ve been on that I regretted to spend no matter how much the spend was. Jenny and I went to Asia for two weeks when we were dead broke and I’m so glad we did it. We went to Bali and we went to Hong Kong. We tried to do it on the biggest budget that we could. I went to London when I had no money. I went to multiple different places in Mexico. Jenny and I went on trips when we were just married. When I didn’t have the money and even I had to put it on credit cards and pay it later, I’ve never regretted a fun trip that was interesting and novel. To me, from a return on investment of how to spend my money, I’ve always got huge bangs out of trips like that.
Trips can be pains in the ass. You need to go to your boss and say, “I need extended periods of time.” What I have always felt when I came back from a trip is I always felt invigorated by the trip. I felt like I was a better worker. I felt like I was smarter. As an employer, when I see someone who wants to do a several-week trip to Europe or Asia, I support it. It’s like, “Let’s figure out how to make sure that does happen for you.” If you’re ever at a crossroads of, “I want to do this trip, but I shouldn’t or I can’t,” unless it’s completely and totally something that will cause detriment, figure out how to do it.
Ways that we did it in my life where I couldn’t afford things but it manifested is I had friends who were like, “You should come on this trip. If you figure it out, I’ll give you some airline miles.” I would stay at friends‘ and parents of friends’ houses on trips I couldn’t afford because they were a bus ride or a train ride from a cool city. Those are incredible trips. The other thing is like, “I need a week or ten days there.” I’ve flown to Europe for 4 and 5 days. I’ve flown out to England for three. You can also squeeze an absolute metric ton of crap into a four-day weekend. Squeeze it in. That’s the coolest thing. How do you force time away in memories?
A common bond that my father and I have had always has been Detroit sports and the Tiger is probably being the first love for me and for him. Tigers won the championship when I was eight years old in 1984. If you think about it, that’s 8, 9, 10 years old. That’s probably peak time where you love baseball. Every little boy owns baseball cards and plays Little League. You weren’t a big baseball player but you played Little League. I’ll guarantee you, you played Little League.
Reality hasn’t set in yet. You haven’t gotten in the middle of high school where reality set in that it’s going to end. Everybody gets to play at that age.
Every little American boy plays baseball growing up and you all have a local team. To have a team that won a championship when you’re just coming into that love was big. They’ve always been big with me and my dad. He worked in a steel mill and didn’t have a lot of money. He didn’t get a lot of time off, but I remember we drove down to spring training. It was three days of driving in his Cadillac. It was awful and hot. We couldn’t afford plane tickets, but he took me to spring training. We went down there for a week and we saw 3 or 4 games.
We got lots of autographs and did some amusement parks. I know, at the time, it was stressful for him to pull that off. To get the time off first and to pay for it. We were on a shoestring budget the whole way. We’re staying in motels and everything. It was not an easy trip for him to pull off. When you talk about like first memories, I was in fifth grade and I remember everything about that trip and how proud I was to be with my dad to be going on a trip just the two of us. It’s not a family trip. My sister’s not here. It’s a baseball trip. It was a big deal to me.
In 2006, the Tigers made it to the World Series. I bought two tickets as soon as it happened for me and the old man. I took him to the World Series game in 2006. We saw Tigers win. It was an amazing October night. Seven years later, they’re back in 2013. Now, it’s not as novel. I’ve already been there with my dad. It was already creeping in a little like, “We just did the World Series.” The Tigers were loaded with The Cy Young winners everywhere. It was a good team. I remember thinking, “They might get back next year.” The reason I started thinking that, Frank, is this is right around the time where we were on our third president in three years.
This one was a real ballbuster. He was coming in and was questioning everything. I was stressed out at work in 2013. We had all these audits. There’s a bunch of bullshit going on. This time, I had to blow off a meeting in corporate to do it. I had to tell him, “This is why I’m missing this meeting. I was expected to be there. I was expected to talk about something. I have to be in Detroit. I’m going.” I remember, it was hard for me to make that decision. Looking back on it, it’s absolutely asinine that I’m even saying this because it turned out to be one of my favorite weekends in a long time. I went and I talked to my boss and he was like, “That’s cool.”
I remember I was expecting him to be a total jerk, but he was like, “That’s cool you’re taking your dad to that game.” I almost didn’t do it because I didn’t want to have that conversation. He had more respect for me after that I said, “I’m blowing off this meeting and I’m going to go take my old man to a Tigers game to see a World Series game.” He had more respect for me that I came and told him that after that fact. I look back on it and I’m so grateful I did it. The Tigers haven’t been back since and I’ll probably never go to another World Series game with my dad. That’s the facts.
I can say something then belabor it. You and I have talked about this. Sports is important to both of us. This was 2004. My granddad died in 2017. He’s in his early 70’s, but he was in ill health and he’d been in ill health for years. People will ask me, “How did your granddad live so long?” I said, “Modern medicine, my grandmother, and his addiction to gambling. Those are the three things that kept the guy alive.” The fourth thing was the Red Sox. He used to love to sit in his recliner chair and watch the Red Sox. One year for Christmas, I said, “I’m buying him tickets to the Red Sox.”
Everyone’s like, “He won’t go. You can’t do it.” I said, “Fine. I’m going to figure it out.” I remember I gave him the tickets and he blew it off and didn’t say anything about it. Christmas is in December and the Red Sox don’t start playing until April. I called him up in April and I’m like, “Gramps, I’m buying two tickets for the first game of the season. It so happened that it was A-Rod’s first game on the Yankees at Fenway.” I was like, “We’re going.” He’s hemming and hawing, and I go, “I got a car. I got a parking spot that’s close to the stadium. I got us the closest thing they have an old stadium to accessible seats.”
“If you’re uncomfortable, we’ll stop. We’ll move slow,” or whatever. I’m like, “We are getting our asses to that stadium. We are going to sit down and watch some of that game. We’re going to eat a hotdog, and then we’re going to go back to the car.” He lived for about fourteen more years. Every time I saw him, he’s talking about that game. Everybody in my family told me it was impossible to do. It was difficult and we had to be careful because of him and his health. It’s one of those things that I cherish as a memory because I have it and I did it. I didn’t listen to everybody else’s crap. We did it and it was awesome.
You have to recognize something special and understand that it’s more important than work. Bob Seger did what was supposed to be his last tour. For anyone reading from Michigan, Bob Seger is life when you’re growing up in the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s. He is the guy in Michigan by far. People might think of Eminem and Kid Rock. When you’re growing up, Bob Seger is the guy. My sister loves him. My mom loves him. I remember I was busy at work, which is the theme, both of us were always busy at work. MBR is a big company, a big corporation. My sister was like, “He’s coming through Michigan. He’s playing at Auburn Hills. It might be his last time in Michigan.” I remember being like, “I don’t know if I have time to go back and do this.”
Long story short, I bought tickets. I took my sister one night. Neil came. A few of my buddies from Chicago came in. We went and saw Seger. It was rowdy. It was fun. We stayed at the MGM in Detroit. The next night, I went and saw him again but this time with my mom. My mom and I went. I was dragging that day. We were rowdy. Me and mom we’re having so much fun. I remember thinking most that night like, “I’m never going to see Bob Seger with my mom again. We grew up listening to this in her car all the time. This was the right move. Good decision, Ian.” I have no idea what was going on at work and nor would it matter. Some stupid mortgage bullcrap, that’s all I know. It doesn’t matter that would go on without me. I remember those concerts like they were yesterday. I remember the whole song set from those concerts.
For anybody in life, music is important. It creates memories. For me, there’s a formula. When you see something that’s either rare or that won’t happen again that you think would be something that either connects with you or someone in your life, you have to figure out how do you connect the dots. Like you with Seger, I went to the University of Florida and Tom Petty was huge there. He was from Gainesville and he moved to LA. He became huge in LA. His record label was Gone Gator. He was the guy.
When I didn’t have a lot of money, I used to always tell people, “If I overpay for something, I would buy it from a scalper and I pay through the nose. I got a guy and he hooked me up. I got it for a great price.” I would completely lie. Nicole and I went to a show and saw Petty third row in 2006. It happened that Petty was doing a run at the Beacon Theatre. I read about or saw it somewhere. I called Jeff and he’s like, “We’re going.” I’m like, “Yeah.”
We went to the Beacon. He played one of my favorite, Deep Cuts. You wouldn’t know unless it was there. We saw him. It was incredible. Jeff and I had a whole day in New York together to shoot the breeze. Petty died 24 months later. I don’t know where. I’m never going to see him again. That’s the thing, you got to pick this stuff. If you’re working, why? If you have some ability to afford fun things, you got to. You got to create those memories because they will not be created for you. You’re never going to regret creating them.
Frank, I hope that this pandemic has changed a lot of managers permanently. More managers are thinking, “Some things aren’t as important as they should be.” There’s been enough blend of personal and work because of what we were forced into. There’s a whole new cadre of managers that want people to get experiences, recognize the shortness of life, recognize that things like that don’t come too often. To me, as a manager, it’s selfish to let people take those opportunities. The reason it’s selfish is that you do it because that engenders loyalty. You let people go have their Seger moment, their World Series moment, their personal moment. You let them coach teams. They’ll stay with you if you give them that opportunity and they’ll work even harder. They’ll do more for you when you do that.
To me, it’s not about telling people, “Balance matters. Put your family first.” As a manager, you have to do it. You have to be vocal about, “This is what I’m going to do. I won’t be here Thursday and Friday. I’m going to a tournament. My daughter’s got a cheerleader tournament and I’m going to be there.” When you do those things, it opens the door much more than telling people that they can take work off and do those things. You don’t want to be gone all the time. You have to show some work ethic. They have to know you’re willing to grind. When you’re willing to put that first, it tells everyone else it’s safe for you to put your personal life first from time to time.
It’s funny because, during the pandemic, I chose not to take a paycheck. I didn’t take a paycheck for seven months. At the end of the year, it turned around. We could afford it so I took a paycheck. I ended up taking off some time last summer. I took off more time again in January. I have a pregnant wife. My family is expanding. It’s funny because everyone in the business was like, “You need to take some time.” People were rallying to make sure that I didn’t get calls. It’s like, “Frank needs to go away.” One of our senior employees took a week off. We all got our heads together. We’re like, “No one’s calling him. We’re not calling him. I’m not calling him. You’re not calling him.” It becomes cultural. It’s like, “We can handle this for you because you need to have some time with your family.”
As a human, you put in the work but then you take time and you enjoy some of those things that you deserve and you share it. You help protect it for others. People that you manage, you make sure you go out of your way so they can carve time out in their lives. Are you going to lose some work? Sure. What are you going to gain? Longevity, performance, all these other things that people will then do to do an even better job because they know you care about them. In addition to that, most people don’t think this way.
If you do think and protect your employees and make sure that they’re having good relationships with their kids and their spouses and you do little things to show them that you care, it goes such a long way. It becomes systemic. I do something for someone that works for me, they see it’s allowable. Someone who works for them, they do the same thing, they extend the same courtesy. It becomes cultural. That’s how you build the team. That’s how you get people who have meaningful relationships at work because we all take care of the human side of the other person.
Some of the takeaways is be deliberate about how you spend your time and who you spend it with. Stop every once in a while and think, “Who have I been spending my time with the past month, two months, three months, a year? Are those the people I want to spend my time with?” When I look back and 50 years, am I going to say, “That was the crew that I should have spent time with.” I’ll look at 2020 for me. A good friend of mine was transitioning from one job to the next. His contract went all the way through the end of the year. He was getting a paycheck. He was looking for what his next one was going to be. It was a big life transition.
Our kids play baseball together. Our baseball season got canceled. We started showing up at our field at 11:00 every day. I’d be like, “I know you’re not working. You know me, my hours are what they are. Do you want to meet at 11:00?” We went out and we played for two hours, Nate and IJ play baseball. At 1:00, it’s over. We’re all sweaty. I’d say, “Tomorrow at 11:00?” He’s like, “Yeah. I don’t have anything going on.” Frank, that went on for three months. It’s our summer of fun. We did it every day. We didn’t have to talk about it. We knew this is special. Our kids only had an hour of virtual a day. Schools didn’t know what to do. We weren’t pulling kids out of school.You have to recognize when something is special and understand that it's more important than work. Click To Tweet
When you say identify something special when you have an opportunity, to me, that was special. I’m never going to get an opportunity again where I could play baseball for two hours during the school year for three months with my son. I’m going to do it every day. I found time to work before and after it. We both took advantage of that special moment to be around our kids and have fun. We’re going to be talking about that in twenty years, “Do you remember how fun that summer of 2020 was?” “It was great.”
As crappy as the pandemic was, if you’re conscious during it and if it didn’t negatively impact you and it didn’t hurt your business or things like that, there were phases of it for me. You got to the fun part faster. I went through a lot of pain. I went through, like, “I’m going to go out of business. I got to fire a bunch of staff. The market is closing.” I went through a bunch of pain and that took about 90 to 120 days. The pandemic lasted a year. About 120 days in, I was like, “Unless I get sick, we’re going to make it. The business is going to make it. I’m going to live.” I’ve put in this ridiculous amount of time. I’ve missed a bunch of stuff. Now I got to start emerging from this. That chapter needs to end. It’s time to move forward.
The sacrifice that I made during that stretch of time needs to be rewarded with other things. What I traded it for is, since the pandemic, I’ve gotten my son up and tucked him in every day. That’s my time. I don’t miss it. I put in the extra time. We got through it. I can’t play baseball with him yet, he’s not big enough. I started to pick and choose little things where we have our time together. To me, that was a trade-off I was unwilling to make anymore.
There’s a survival side and you got to make sure that works. You got to pick stuff, like, “I need to create these memories.” You did it, Ian. You created the memory. For me, I did other stuff. I sit with my son and read books. We do different stuff. Every day, we do it and we do it together. It’s not missed because that becomes a routine. In 2021, that’s the stuff I’m going to remember, my son coming into my office with no pants on, us sitting down and reading books, or us going to the playground where no other kids were there. Those are the fun things that create incredible memories or days ago, going and get stuck in the mud.
Be deliberate. Work the phone. I’m going to get off this call and I’m going to call my parents, for sure, when we get off this show. When you’re around people, the beauty of the blog post is the limited nature of how many days you have left for certain people or days you have left to do things. It’s less than you think when you look at it graphically and visually. When you’re around them, don’t be on your phone. Focus on being around people when you’re with them, when you’re around them.
One of my biggest takeaways from that blog post is the time you have left with your parents, the time you have left before your kids go off on their own and don’t give a damn about hanging around you, the time you have left with your friends. This is a big reason why Frank and I do this show. It forces us to hang out every week and we realize it’s valuable time because both of us have kids, wives, businesses, other things that we’re doing that aren’t interrelated. This is one of our few things we have where it forces us to have some cool time hanging out. To wrap this up, it’s worth memorializing it because we’re recording this. What’s happening, Frank?
My wife is getting induced. I’m having a second kid.
You’re having a baby. You and I are on a phone, clowning around, and doing a podcast. You’re having a baby. It’s worth saying, what are all the things going through that brain of yours?
Talking about wanting to be present. My wife is emotional because the last time, it just happened and it was there. This time, it’s been harder. We’re in advanced age for a kid. What Ian talked about being present, I’m checking everything off the box. I got up this morning. I was at the gym at 6:30. I was in the field working this morning. I went to the office. It’s about 3:00, we’re knocking this out. When I go there, I want to put my cell phone in a bag and not touch it. I want to be there and be present with my wife.
That was the one thing she said to me, she’s like, “I need you to be present.” I’m like, “I’m going to go and record with Ian. We’re going to get this off the list. That way I don’t have to do anything which is to be there.” Sometimes you don’t have the ability to plan ahead and you got to realize, “I got to push this stuff away.” Sometimes you can say, “I can push hard so I can get in there and I can enjoy it.” That’s it. There are going to be two births in my life. That’s it with kids. We’re done after this. You only get two of them. I remember the first one. I want to be present with the second one.
The last story I’m going to tell is this one. After my son was born, bath time was a big deal. I was a worker. I’d get up and go to work. I wouldn’t see him a lot during the day. Having a small child at bath time, it’s when things are starting to melt down. That was my time with him when he was firstborn. I remember during that stretch time, I was worried about something at work. I’m not going to talk about what it was that I was worried about. I know who it was, what I was worried about, all of it, but it’s not as relevant. I want to leave the person out of this. I was at bath time every night with my son for months 1 through 4. I was worried about this work issue and this person while I was in the tub with my son, on top of the tub while I was giving him a bath.
I learned an incredible lesson. If I’m in bath time and I’m thinking about you or something you’re doing at work or some segment of business, it needs to go away. That was my lesson. If I can’t be present at this moment, I need to eliminate that thing that’s allowing me not to be present or causing me not to be present. That’s what I did. Growing up and having kids changes your perspective. I’m no longer willing to allow things to penetrate here and I’m going to stop that. That’s what I did. We’re getting all this stuff done. I am ready to get in there and do whatever my wife needs me to do. She needs me to be present and supportive.
I love that you said to be present. I remember every minute of the two days my kids are born. You’re no longer a rookie. You’ve been through it once. When my son was born, it’s an amazing moment. We take some pictures. I’m there for Jenny. Jenny falls asleep. The baby gets wheeled away. The nurses start doing what they’re doing. Jenny’s tired. We get back to her room and Jenny zones out and starts sleeping.
I’m wide awake. I’m still wired. Jenny’s asleep. I’m by myself in the room and I check emails. In that email is the nastiest email from some comptroller, some finance guy in our company, shredding one of my managers and ceasing me. It was some audit issues or something. The dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life was checking emails that night. It was a habit. I was bored. I didn’t have anything else to look at.
We’re all accustomed to scrolling and looking. It might even have been a Blackberry. I was looking at my emails. I don’t even have much to look at. It put me in a crappy mood for the next few hours to the point where I couldn’t get to sleep. I was irritated. I was more irritated with myself for checking emails. Looking back, years later, I could care less about anything that was in that email. It’s stupid. It wasn’t a major issue. It wasn’t life-changing. It put a sour note on a beautiful day for me and taught me a good lesson about when and when not to look at your phone at certain moments. I love your whole thought of put that phone in a bag. Nothing is happening that you need to look at your phone for. It’s you, Ellie, and the baby. Put that phone away. You don’t need that. Your dad didn’t need one when you were being born. You certainly don’t need one. Life will go on with whatever’s happening on that phone.
I want to wrap by saying this. Everything on this podcast is things that we’ve learned, our experiences, and our interpretation of it. It’s not preaching. This is something you must do at every given moment in your life. You must analyze where you’re at, what you’re doing, what’s the best use. Sometimes you get it right. Sometimes you get it wrong. I do know from prior training that tomorrow is a flashbulb moment in my life. Jerry Seinfeld says it this way, “When two people go into a room and three come out, you know a major thing happened.” A major thing is going to happen in my life. I have learned enough to realize that I must be there. I’m robbing the people that are important to me, who are in the room and myself of that opportunity and that’s not something I’m willing to do.
I appreciate that you squeezed in one more episode. I can’t wait to get pictures of your baby. It’s pretty cool that we were able to record you and your merch on the day before the birthday of your second child. It’s pretty awesome. That merch, you son of a bitch, you better send me one of those hats because that’s pretty. I know you bought two. You didn’t buy one you selfish SOB. I know one is coming. You didn’t get me some merch? You’re the worst co-host.
This moment was special until Frank proved how selfish he was by getting himself merch and none for me.
Ian, you son of a bitch.