The valuable business lesson I taught my 9-year old.

I often talk about work at home. I want my 3 children to learn as much about business and entrepreneurship as possible. In the same way languages are easier to learn when you are younger, good business lessons are easier to learn before you become a cog in a machine. I learned that from reading Rich Dad. Poor Dad. And from becoming a cog in a machine.

The Proposal Parade

My advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, has been writing a lot of proposals lately. You write a proposal when a client or potential client wants to know how you would handle a specific project. The proposal, also called a statement of work (S.O.W.), includes a proposed course of action, timing and budget. It does not include getting down on one knee. #KaepernickCouldDoIt

The Conversation

Earlier this week I was telling my wife about an exciting new proposal that we were working on. My 9-year old son Magnus overheard the conversation. Mostly because I wanted him to overhear the conversation. #sneakydadlessons

When I tucked Magnus into bed that night he asked me, ‘Dad, is someone really going to pay your business Vague Large Sum of Money? I was glad he asked. Because his interest gave me a perfect opportunity to share a lesson…

The Bedtime Story

Me:  Yes Magnus. Someone is really going to pay us Vague Large Sum of Money. But there is more to it that you should understand. Remember when we went to Dallas during spring break last year? And on the last day we went to Dunkin Donuts?

Magnus:  Yes.

Me:  Remember after we ate donuts, Mom dropped me off to have chocolate milk with my friend? Then Mom took you, Ava and Johann to some shops and to that park nearby where you played on that long horned cow statue?

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Magnus ripped his shorts getting off this statue in Dallas, and it was the last time he ever wore them. #hookedemhorns

Magnus: Yes.

Me: Well, after my friend and I caught up on what had happened over the past 13 years since we had last seen each other, he said, ‘I could use your help on some projects I am working on.’

Then he called me after we got home from vacation, and we set up a video conference meeting between our teams. We did 3 small projects together. And they really liked how those projects went. So they asked us to do more work for them. And we did a good job on those project too.

Because we did a good job on all those projects, now they are going to give us Vague Large Sum of Money to do an even larger project.

But, think of that money as a loaf of bread.  They give us the whole loaf. And that is called Revenue.

But then we need to give slices of bread to the workers at The Weaponry who work on the project. And we have to give slices of the bread to the film crew and the photographers and editors who work on the project. And we have to give a slice to other companies, like the airlines and the hotels that we use when we travel to do the work.

After everyone else who works on the project gets their slices of bread, The Weaponry keeps a few slices for itself for helping to organize all of the work that needed to be done.

And those slices of bread that we keep are called profit.

Magnus: How much profit does the business keep?

Me:  We like to aim for 25%. Or 1 out of 4 dollars. So if they gave us $100 our profit would be $25.  (Profit is actually a bit more complicated, and depends on the project. But I was trying to keep things simple.)

Putting Math To Work

Magnus and I then applied the 25% rule to the Vague Large Sum of Money so that Magnus could understand what a project of that size represented after all of the work was done, and all the bills were paid.

The Lesson Learned

After completing Daddy’s Bedtime Business Lesson, I asked, ‘So Magnus, what is the key lesson you learned here?’

And without a moment of hesitation, Magnus replied:

‘Have chocolate milk with your friends.’  -Magnus Albrecht (9 y/o)

Key Takeaway

Have chocolate milk with your friends. Or coffee, or beer or Kool Aid. Spend time with your people. Good things happen when you first develop and maintain good relationships. Even a 9-year old knows that.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.

Are you keeping your priorities straight?

Last night I was supposed to have a nice dinner at a nice restaurant in Minneapolis. I was supposed to stay at a great hotel too. And this morning I was going to have an easy start to the day before we rolled cameras on our video shoot at 10am.

Instead, I woke up in Milwaukee this morning at 4am. I quickly got ready and hurried off to the airport to catch a 6am flight to Minneapolis. But don’t cry for me, Argentina. The truth is I am living the dream. My dream. It’s that dream where you get to enjoy all the most important things in life.

Orchestral Maneuvers

I rearranged my travel plans and took the pre-dawn flight because my daughter Ava and son Johann had a school orchestra concert last night. And in my perfect life, I get to play creative advertising guy, entrepreneur, business traveler, AND, involved father and husband. I get to attend my children’s events in person, instead of seeing them on video, in photographs or while supervised in the prison visiting room. 

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That’s my daughter Ava, to the right of the violin in the middle of the photograph.
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My son Johann is the 3rd from the left.

The Talk

Last week I had a speaking engagement to over 120 marketers, sales people and small business owners. I was the 3rd of the 3 speakers to talk to the group about storytelling. Apparently they were saving the least for last. When my talk was finished it was time for food, beverages and networking. All of which I love.

But as soon as the applause quieted after my talk (which took seconds), I grabbed my work bag and Usain Bolted for the door. There would be no food, no drinks, no meeting of new people. No spoils of public speaking. No attaboys as I hurriedly exited the venue like the Von Trapp Family Singers.

Good Reasons 

Meeting new people is one of my favorite things. But my 9-year old son Magnus was performing in a school choral concert that night, honoring America’s Veterans. He had a speaking part, and I worked with him to prepare for his concert as I prepared for my own presentation. I wasn’t going to miss his concert for all the appetizers in Milwaukee. And Milwaukee knows how to appetizer. #CheesilyTheBest.

So I left the swanky downtown socializing event to race to the folding chairs of the Wilson Elementary school gym, 30 minutes away in Mequon. And I couldn’t have been happier.

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My little guy Magnus is the boy in the back row, in the white shirt, with the long blonde hair.

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My son Magnus is the 3rd from the right. His big line was, ‘N stands for Never Give Up!’

Today

This morning I was up at 4am. I will have a full day of filming on location in Minneapolis. And my plane will land back in Milwaukee tonight at midnight. It will be a long day. But it’s a small price to pay to get to maximize my time at home.

Key Takeaway

For working parents, and especially business owners, it is easy to feel like work is your most important priority. Because keeping the business in business and earning a living is also important to the rest of your family, whether they recognize it or not. But don’t miss your family events if you can possibly help it. Those concert years go by in a blink. The sports years sprint by. And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon say we need to set great examples for our kids too. So get creative. Problem solve. And whenever possible, be there for the things that are meaningful to those who mean the most to you.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.