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I just made a bold statement with this episode’s title. I know this.
Your parents absolutely can instill valuable principles and insights that can contribute to your success. I 100% believe this and I certainly have my parents to thank for many things that have contributed to my success (thanks Mom and Dad!).
However, the purpose of this episode is to make you aware of inherent biases and conflicts of interest that are present. Whether you have supportive parents of not, it’s important to understand how these emotions affect the advice a parent can give.
Objectively, parents want the best for their kids. They certainly don’t wish for them to be in danger or harm’s way. The last thing they want is for you to be hurt because they care about you. From a young age, we’re told to stay out of the street and not to talk to strangers. These are all for very good reason.
However, success requires risk. It also requires failure. Repeated failure. Therefore, it’s against the emotional nature of a parent to wish for you to be in risky situations or to encourage that you fail.
If your parents encouraged failure, you should thank them! It’s very rare.
Whether your parents were supportive or not, it’s important to be aware of emotional biases and conflicts of interest that are present. It’s not just the case with parents but also with things like the traditional education system. You have to remember that the traditional education system exists not to make you successful, but to protect its own infrastructure.
We talk about a lot of deep things in this episode: why we’re predisposed to avoid the very risk and failure that enables success, the different between assets and liabilities (and how only wealthy people truly understand the difference), why you might not be able to assess your own risk objectively, and my future vision for seanwes given all of this.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Success is realizing your full potential.
- Inherently, parents want to protect their kids and keep them safe.
- Risk is subjective to your situation.
- The traditional education system is not motivated to turn you into a standout success.
- Risk and failure are required to be successful.
- The more liabilities you have, the more clouded your judgement is and the less objectively you’re able to assess your risk.
- Acquire assets, not liabilities, and grow to where those assets can serve you.
- Anybody else’s version of happiness, fulfillment, or success for you is going to be less than what you could experience for yourself.
- Your job is not to make sure your parents are happy for you—that’s a decision they have to make for themselves.
- Focusing inward on values and principals is the best thing you can do for your own children.
- 01:30 Sean: If you’ve started listening to this episode, given the topic “Why Your Parents Probably Can’t Teach You to be Successful,” I want to applaud you for having an open mind. I shared the title of the show in the chat beforehand, and it got some discussion going. This is a hot topic. I want to tell people, first, what this is not about. Let’s dissect this title here. I want to draw your attention to the word “probably.” It means “highly likely,” that there’s a high probability of something. It doesn’t mean an impossibility that an alternative can happen. It is quite possible that your parents can or have been able to teach you to be successful. That is a possibility.
- 02:38 In this show, I don’t want to undermine anything your parents have taught you. I have wonderful parents. My parents also listen to this podcast, so they’re probably freaking out when they see this title. I’m not worried, because I know they’re not going to call me up and say, “Sean, what do you mean with this title?” They’re going to hear me out. I have a reputation, and people should know that I have their best interests in mind. I have the best intentions with this show. The point of this show is not to undermine anything your parents have taught you or helped you with.
This show is to make you aware of some inherent biases, conflicts of interest, and emotions that get tied up in the direction your parents encourage you to go.
- 03:28 I think this is valuable for anyone to be aware of. I consider myself very fortunate. I have wonderful parents who have taught me great things, and they have absolutely contributed to my success. There are also things they haven’t been able to teach me, and that’s okay. Your parents can’t teach you everything. I wanted to get that out of the way. The point here isn’t to say that your parents can’t help you—of course they can, and many of them have. I think that’s awesome. Before people get too upset at the title, if you see this title and think, “Sean, that’s not true. My parents have helped me be successful,” I want you to pause and realize how incredible that is, how awesome of a situation you’re in, and how much of a blessing you have to have such wonderful parents.
- 04:18 If you can, call your parents up and say thank you. Say, “I was listening to this podcast by some crazy guy saying my parents couldn’t help me be successful, but you did. Thank you for that.” Hopefully we’ve cleared the air here. Again, my goal with this episode is to make you aware of inherent biases and conflicts of interest.
What’s Required for Success
- 04:50 In order to talk about what’s required for success, we need to talk about what success is. We’re going to have to define success, which is a hard thing, but we’re going to do it so people are on the same page. If you are in a 9 to 5 job and you live paycheck to paycheck and you’re super happy, I’m not saying you have to change anything. If you’ve found happiness and you are fulfilled in your life, I believe that is a version of success. I’m not here to say that you need to change your definition of success. I want you to know where I’m coming from.
When I say success, I mean that success is realizing your full potential.
- 05:34 Ben: Certainly, there are micro-versions of success, when you’re talking in terms of specific goals, but that’s a good general definition. Success looks like being fulfilled, and that can’t be reflected in your bank account, the number of material possessions you have, or the number of relationships you have. It’s something you experience internally, that fulfillment and general satisfaction with your life.
- 06:11 Sean: What’s required for success, with success being realizing your full potential? I think you can accomplish more. I think you have it in you to do great things. I think people have potential for greatness, and a lot of us don’t realize that because of what’s required for success, which is risk, failure, and repeated failure. There’s no phenomenally successful person who got it all right the first time. They failed over and over and over. For them to be a standout success, they had to take a risk. If they followed the beaten path, they would end up like everyone else, the status quo, not realizing that full potential.
Parents Don’t Want You to be Risky
- 07:11 Inherently, what’s required for success is risk and also failure. This is where I want to bring in the biases. Parents typically don’t want you to be risky. In the beginning, they say, “Don’t run in the street. Hold my hand. Don’t talk to strangers,” because there are risks. Those are valid concerns, real risks. You could get hit by a car or abducted. There are reasons why we teach kids these things.
Inherently, parents want to protect their kids and keep them safe.
- 07:50 The reason I have this word “probably” in the title is because of these inclinations, that parents want you to be safe and they don’t want you to be risky, yet risk and failure are required to be successful. If your parents have encouraged you to take calculated risks and put you in positions to where you can fail repeatedly, over and over, you should recognize that as a very good thing.
- 08:33 Ben: It’s a strange world we live in now. Where danger and risk used to be simple, now it’s quite complex. There are varying levels. Each person’s individual experience defines for them what is risky and what is safe. For some people, having a full time job, where they get a paycheck from somebody else, feels like a risk to them vs. going out and doing something on their own. Some people think that going out and doing something on your own is really risky. It differs so much from person to person, because there’s so much added complexity to what is risky or dangerous.
- 09:18 The confusion that comes into play is that it’s imbedded in us as parents to protect our children from danger, but we’ve so associated danger with risk, and there are so many layers on top of what actually is dangerous. We want our children to survive. That’s just in our nature. As a parent, maybe you’re really looking very purposefully at whether something is really a danger or whether it’s a personal experience, but that’s not the default for most parents. The default is, “If I consider it dangerous, I’m going to protect my child from it.” It goes beyond bias to this very personal thing, your parents’ definition of what is risky and what isn’t.
- 10:30 Sean: Their definition of risk is going to be based on their previous experiences. What might have worked for them, what was less risky for them, could potentially be riskier for you now. They might not take into consideration the context of the landscape and how it’s changed. A common example is that a lot of parents will encourage their kids to go to college and get a degree, because that really was the safe route. You were guaranteed a job if you went to college and you got a degree a few decades ago.
- 11:08 It’s a different situation now. That’s one example. It’s not to say that, if you go to college, you’re not going to be successful, or that if you don’t, you will be successful. It’s not that simple. This is just to illustrate that certain things were a certain way for our parents, and if they’re not taking into consideration what has changed since they were in a similar situation, then the advice they give about mitigating risk could be outdated.
The World Has Changed
- 11:43 Ben: Think about how much changes in the span of five or ten years. Add a couple of decades on top of that, and it really is a completely different environment today than when our parents were our age, making the same decisions we’re faced with today. Again, most parents, by default, don’t take that into consideration. They’re thinking about their own experiences. That’s not a bad thing. Things change a lot quicker nowadays than they used to. It used to be that that advice was relatively sound because things didn’t really change.
- 12:30 Sean: Christine, in the chat, says, “My mom said, ‘Do something academic, not art,’ so I chose archeology. Whoops.” That’s pretty common. You wouldn’t want to encourage your kid to be an artist or a musician—you would say, “Be a doctor or a lawyer, because that’s where you’ll make money.” That was the thinking. Even in the 90s, we didn’t have this distribution power. There was no YouTube, no social media. Things are different. You can create things, and you don’t have to be signed by a record label. It’s a different world now. There’s so much more opportunity. It’s not as simple as, “You can’t be successful as an artist.”
- 13:21 Ben: I had parents who were very encouraging of my pursuing music, and they understood that I wouldn’t necessarily make as much money doing that. It was always considered a side thing that I would do, that I would have my regular job that would pay my bills and music would be a side thing that I do. That absolutely made sense from their past experience. My dad went through several jobs, and he pursued artistic things when he was younger. Because of the way things were at the time, he wasn’t able to experience the kind of success he wanted to see. It ended up being a really frustrating and difficult situation for him. Of course he would encourage me not to go through that same experience.
- 14:20 Sean: Who would wish the ills of their situation on their kids? We all want our kids’ lives to be better than our own. My parents were very supportive of me. I didn’t actually go to a college, but I was doing this remote credit earning thing towards a degree. I was 20 credits in, but my mom was encouraging me to do this. That came from a very genuine place. She wanted me to be successful, educated, and to do well in the world. That is a path that has been proven to work out, so she encouraged this. I totally understand that. When I got 20 hours of college credit into this degree, I realized that, on the side, I have a couple businesses that are successful right now.
- 15:21 In an industry where education equals experience, if I ever wanted a job somewhere, telling them that I have a computer science degree vs. saying the same number of years experience in the field will give me a foot in the door either way. I also realized that I wasn’t interested in working for other people. I’d had a few jobs in high school working for other people and it was fine, but at this point, I had my own businesses. It didn’t make sense to continue pursuing the college degree, so I stopped. I grew the businesses, and I haven’t looked back ever since.
Being pushed to get a degree, go to college, and study, is coming from a genuine place, but we have to evaluate what the real situation is in front of us.
- 16:15 Does it make sense to keep going in this direction when you have this other opportunity? Does it makes sense to say, “You can’t be an artist,” or, “You can’t be a musician,” when you’re getting 5,000 views on every piano piece you upload? That’s real potential. It’s a different landscape.
- 16:40 Ben: Because of their lack of context and experience, some of the markers of success for the thing that you’re doing are hidden from your parents. They can’t see it for what it is. They don’t have any way to process 5,000 views on YouTube. They don’t have a way to process 1,000 likes on Facebook. They don’t understand what those things mean the same way you do, necessarily.
- 17:12 Sean: My parents were always supportive. I said, “I want to start a computer repair business,” so they said, “We’ll help you hand out flyers.” Maybe they didn’t understand the kinds of metrics Ben is talking about, but they were still supportive. That’s where I’m very fortunate. Not everyone has this. Even still, it wasn’t real to everyone else, including my parents, including my wife, until three to five years into business, I have this $100,000 course launch in three days.
- 17:47 That’s where people suddenly thought, “Ohh…” It wasn’t as if I just did it in three days—I had been working toward it, building the foundation and the infrastructure leading up to this culmination. That was finally the tip of the iceberg that everyone saw, and once they could see it, it became real for them. A lot of us are in this place where we know, we have this intuition, and we’re seeing the signs and markers that are hidden, but everyone else can’t yet. Everyone else is encouraging the path of the status quo, and that can be frustrating.
- 18:56 I want to talk about the things that are potentially holding you back. Your parents are probably not able to teach you to be successful. If your parens aren’t holding you back, if they are teaching you to be successful, that’s awesome. I’m not here to undo any of that. That is awesome. Go call your parents up and thank them. I want to make you aware of the conflicts of interest that are present in the world and the things that are working against you. You need to be aware of these either way.
The traditional education system is not motivated to turn you into a standout success.
- 19:57 It’s geared toward forming you into a cog that fits into an existing machine, with no respect to the fact that the machine is changing. The machine no longer needs these cogs anymore. They can find them elsewhere. Or, the machine is no longer analog. It’s digital. They don’t care—college, the traditional education system, is here to protect itself. It has it’s own infrastructure and systems in mind. It is here to protect itself.
- 20:23 Ben: Say you’re a person who says, “That wasn’t my experience with college. My professors were really forward thinking.” Even a college that really wants to be progressive and keep up with things, because of the size of the institution, all the moving parts, and all of the meetings that have to happen in order to make things move forward, it can only ever be a few steps behind what’s at the forefront at best. I know this from my own experience, and this was years ago. Colleges do have a lot of resources, but it takes time to get all of those new things in place. It’s difficult—it’s like a big ship with a small rudder. That ship has to move slowly to change course. The faster information accelerates, the further behind these antiquated systems and organizations are—because of their bureaucracy and process, traditional education institutions can’t be as nimble.
- 21:40 Sean: Meanwhile, the speed of change in the information, digital, online, and internet world is accelerating, and they can’t keep up. By the time something even gets introduced by curriculum, goes through the approval processes, and people begin teaching it, it’s outdated. That’s why I see education going more online or ad hoc, more pick-and-choose the things you want to learn and tailor your education.
- 22:19 In simple form, most people see risk this way—the more you risk, the more you stand to gain or lose. This is where most people stop, but really, there’s another aspect to risk. Risk is subjective to your situation. It’s not objective. The potential to lose $50,000 seems like a huge risk to some people, but to other people, it doesn’t. To someone with $100 million, that’s half a percent. They wouldn’t even notice that it’s gone. People with $100 million make decisions all the time where they don’t think anything of $50,000, because they’re playing with bigger numbers here.
- 23:22 For the person who has a $50,000 a year salary, if they were to lose that, that seems like a really big risk to them. In a lot of cases, the person with that $50,000 annual salary sees that salary as the baseline. 0 risk. There are a couple of problems with that. There is inherent risk with having a job, a salary, and a paycheck, that they’re not really acknowledging, but also, because risk is subjective, what is the risk of quitting your job and trying to make ends meet? Maybe you’re running your own business, maybe you’re doing freelance, whatever.
- 24:07 The risk is that instead of $50,000, you might scrounge together and make $40,000 a year. You might make $30,000 or $20,000, all the way down to $0. The more you risk the more you stand to gain or lose, and they’re looking at the downsides. The downsides of this risk are $50,000.
- 24:40 Ben: In their mind, the potential upside is, “Maybe I’ll get a job that pays me $5,000 a year more. Maybe, if I’m really lucky and I play my connections the right way, I can get a job that pays me $10,000 a year more, $60,000 a year.”
- 25:07 Sean: The situation is really that there’s a potential upside that is unlimited. It’s infinite. The potential downside is a $50,000 loss, but the potential upside is making all of the other money in the world. This is not how people think, and reason is because they’re essentially in a kind of scarcity.
Assets vs. Liabilities
- 25:36 It comes down to assets and liabilities. A lot of people feel paralyzed, because they don’t understand the difference between assets and liabilities. They think liabilities are assets, but assets are things that you own outright. Not everything you own is an asset, but in order for something to be an asset, you have to own it. For example, a lot of people confuse going into debt for something and having an obligation of payments towards ownership with ownership right now. Unless you’ve bought a home in cash, making payments on that home doesn’t give you an asset. You don’t have an asset right now; you have a liability.
- 26:31 Ben: If it’s something that depreciates in value, is it still an asset?
- 26:37 Sean: Assets can depreciate in value.
The more liabilities you have, the more clouded your judgement is and the less objectively you’re able to assess your risk.
- 26:55 If you have no liabilities, you are more able to objectively assess your current risk situation. For the person who has $50,000 in salary a year, and based on this salary, they say, “How many liabilities can I acquire and make payments on? I’ve got this many thousand a month, so I’m going to acquire liabilities up to my monthly paycheck.” They get stuck in this situation where their paycheck is directly tied to these liabilities and they’re obligated to make these payments, so they don’t have the freedom to step back and assess their risks objectively.
- 28:06 They think about all of the things they can’t pay on an ongoing basis. They have these liabilities. The goal, if you have liabilities, is to get rid of the liabilities and acquire assets. If you’re younger and you have no liabilities, the goal is to only acquire assets, not liabilities, and grow to where those assets can serve you and you can build off of them and create your own platform. Everything changes once you reach that point. You no longer think, “I need insurance, because what if I get hit by a car?” If you’re building up your own assets, you don’t need to worry about getting insurance.
- 29:02 You can just pay for something if it happens, instead of paying out of the fear that something might happen. It gives you this freedom. If you can get that freedom, that freedom becomes an asset for you. Having freedom gives you clarity to see the risk in your situation objectively to where you’re no longer stuck in the limited thinking of, “If I risk quitting my job, I lose $50,000.” It’s not about what you lose—it’s about what you don’t gain.
- 29:37 Ben: Aaron just linked to Rich Dad Poor Dad, which talks a lot about that same thing, assets vs. liabilities.
- 29:45 Sean: I have that on my list now. They were talking about it in the chat. Believe it or not, I have not read that book. I’ve heard very good things about it.
- 29:52 Ben: I wouldn’t have believed that, hearing what you just said about liabilities and assets, but that’s because the only exposure I’ve had to that idea, other than conversations Sean and I have had, has been this book. The book talks about how this guy had his real dad and this other person who was a father figure. His real dad taught him some things about how to conduct business and that kind of thing, and this other father figure, his “rich dad,” was a business owner, and taught him a very different approach to thinking about and managing money. Robert Kiyosaki, the author, was very honoring of his biological father, but he also talks about the reality that we’re talking about right now, that his father grew up in a time when certain things were true and he continued operating based on those things. Those are things he taught his children.
- 31:16 When the environment had completely changed and new opportunities were available, because of his biological father’s past experiences, he could not recognize that. This other father figure did see that and was operating by those rules. When I read that book, I had never had those conversations, and I wonder how many people are hearing this or have read a book like that and thought, “I never heard anything like that from my parents.” That’s not to say that your parents don’t know anything. You’re going to be exposed to things where you think, “I don’t remember having those conversations,” and it’s good to note when that happens and think, “How does this advice differ from what I received growing up? How does it speak to my circumstances as I see them?” Look at it objectively.
The goal of this episode is to highlight the conflicts of interest that are present in the world that you need to be aware of.
- 32:49 Sean: With your parents, they care about you and want the best for you. They want you to be safe. They don’t want you to be in danger or in risk of something going bad.
- 33:04 Ben: I wonder if because this other father figure wasn’t a biological father, he didn’t have any skin in the game, he didn’t feel that, “I have to protect this person.” Instead, “I can just teach them what I know.”
- 33:25 Sean: He could afford to be more objective. That’s something to be aware of. That emotion can be a conflict of interest. Your parents may not be giving advice or steering you in an objective manner, irrespective of their desire for you to be safe and to avoid risk. It’s the same with the traditional education system. The traditional education system wants to protect itself. It’s not about making you super successful or helping you enjoy a fulfilled life. It’s about protecting their infrastructure. It’s the same with things like car payments and house payments and credit cards. The people who are trying to get you to sign up for these things and make these payments don’t have your best interest in mind.
Insurance Companies Protect Themselves
- 34:26 They want to protect their own infrastructure. We’ve got people in the chat saying, “I don’t agree with the no insurance thing.” I don’t care if you agree. Here’s the deal. Insurance is fear-based. Let’s say you pay $100 a month, that’s $1,200 a year. If you need a bandaid and it costs $2 at a hospital, the insurance covered that $2 bandaid, and you just gave them $1,198 for nothing. These insurance companies hire mathematicians to make sure they don’t pay out more than 2% to 4% of their profits. They’re a business. They aren’t there unless they can take more of your money than they pay out. It’s fear based.
- 35:24 You’re thinking, “What if I get hit by a car? What if it’s $10,000? What if I get cancer? What if it’s $100,000 or $300,000? I can’t pay that. I can’t afford to lose my $50,000 annual salary because of these liabilities.” It’s a limited, scarcity-based thinking. If you really want to be in a good situation, the best way is to be wealthy enough so you can pay if things happen. You don’t have all these obligations, these liabilities, these payments. If something goes wrong, yeah, it sucks to pay $30,000 for a broken rib, but you can do that, because you’ve built up your own infrastructure. You’re not paying into these other companies and organizations who’s best interest is keeping their own infrastructure.
- 36:20 Ben: In some cases, insurance is mandatory by law. Don’t do anything illegal.
- 36:31 Sean: I didn’t have insurance before, and because of Obamacare, it first cost you 1% of your income. Then it cost you 2% of your income. I might as well pay for insurance, because at some point, it just becomes a numbers game. It’s true that there are obligations.
- 36:54 Ben: Between the time when you don’t have that kind of cash and when you are able to build that kind of wealth, is it smart to mitigate the risk of catastrophic events by having some form of insurance leading up to the point where you’re financially capable of covering those things?
- 37:20 Sean: I would say, “Obviously,” but nothing I’m saying is obvious or how I’m operating is obvious. I’m talking in ideals right now. I’m not saying that everyone should stop getting insurance or that you should stop making your car payments. Being idealistic, I’m trying to explain the realm of possibilities when you think differently. If all of this sounds absurd, it’s probably because you have so many liabilities that you can’t assess your risk objectively.
Overly Protective Parents
- 38:11 Ben: I want to talk to the people on the side of the spectrum who’s parents are very protective. There could be several layers on that, too. Not only are the parents protective, but they’re doing so out of the interest of their child. It’s not just that this was their experience, but now it’s become a value. It’s something that’s so deep and ingrained that to go against that is a slight to them because it’s putting you in danger. I get angry with my children when they hit each other. “You hit your brother and caused physical harm to him,” and I feel angry because we shouldn’t harm each other.
- 39:01 My boys will get angry and upset sometimes and they’ll hit themselves on the head. Not often, but it’s their way of expressing their feelings. There’s something primal inside of me that says, “No, don’t hurt yourself! I can’t stand it when you hurt yourself.” Sometimes, there’s the same feeling going on for parents—”If you don’t follow this path that, through my experience, has led me to some form of success, I feel like you’re intentionally harming yourself in spite of me.” Some of our listeners have parents who are like that.
- 39:48 On the milder side, some of our listeners really want to protect the relationship they have with their parents, and they want to honor the advice their parents are giving them. They want to please them. You can come up with a vile example of a parent who’s so self-centered that they don’t care about their children.
Every parent wants their children to be fulfilled and happy, to have that overarching definition of success.
- 40:30 There are two parts to this. You can honor their advice by listening to them, because there is wisdom to be gleaned from past experience. It’s not the way they went about it, but the why behind it. It’s not the method, but the principal behind that method.
- 40:50 Sean: We can learn a lot from history, regardless of whether we had the same tools or infrastructure back then. Look for the “why” behind things, and we can learn a lot.
- 41:03 Ben: You’re missing out if you’re not exposing yourself to your parents’ experience and allowing them to impart those things to you. There’s a reason that it’s something we’re compelled to do as parents. It’s inherent, something we do naturally, because there’s real benefit there. You also honor your parents by taking that and any other advice or teaching and running it through the filter of, “What are my goals? What is my definition of being fulfilled and happy?” Take what you’ve learned and go after your version of that. Nobody else can define that for you. Ultimately, your parents don’t want their version of happiness for you, but your own definition of that.
Anybody else’s version of happiness, fulfillment, or success for you is going to be less than what you could experience for yourself.
- 42:16 Sean: I had a hater situation the other week that we didn’t talk about other than internally. Ben encouraged me by saying, “They don’t hate you, they hate an idea of you.” Disassociating that helped me a little bit. If they really knew my intentions and my desire to help people, I don’t think they would hate that. It reminded me of this because your parents want what’s best for you. They want you to be happy and live a fulfilled life. They’re prescribing something that they think will get you there. Initially, if you’re resisting that, they may take it personally and be slightly offended. If you end up living a fulfilled life through a different path, I can’t imagine that they would be disappointed. You realized their deepest desire for you, it was just in a way that was other than what they expected.
- 43:23 Ben: If you are experiencing parents who believe so strongly in their path that, no matter what you tell them to their face about being happy and fulfilled with your own path, they can’t believe it because their own experience is so deeply ingrained, that can be really frustrating. I hope the feeling you feel, greater than your frustration, is pity. It’s sad to not allow yourself to be open to the happiness and success of others by their own definition, because you don’t get to share in that experience with them.
Who is Your Life For?
- 44:20 Sean: This comes back to that theme that you are the only person who lives 100% of your life (Related: e68 You Have One Life—Set Bigger Goals). Even with your spouse, there are things you do together, but it’s very likely that at least one of you has a job. You probably don’t work together, and even if you do work together, you have different jobs. You’re not actually spending quality time together. Even with the person closest to you in your life, the actual time you spend together that’s meaningful time could maybe be 50%, 60%, or 70% in some crazy situations. That’s only from the point when you’re married, if you’re married until death, and you spend most of your time together. That’s the person who’s the very closest to you.
- 45:29 I doubt it’s even 50% of your life—certainly not waking. Maybe you hang out on a weekly basis with your best friends or at each other’s apartment all the time, which is awesome if you do, because most people lose touch with their friends and don’t hang out. How many of you meet with your friends once a week? Even if you do, it’s barely a few percent. Maybe 1% of your life you share with your friends. Your parents you probably see on holidays. Maybe you live in the same city and you see them once a week, but again, we’re talking about maybe a half a percent of your time is spent with these people. You are the only person who lives 100% of your life. You have to remember that, and you have to disassociate their desire for you to follow a path from where they actually want you to be, which, ideally, is living a fulfilled life, doing what you love to do.
- 46:28 That’s what most parents want for their kids. They want what’s best for them, and they may think that’s prescribing a path. Really, deeper down, they want something more for you. They want you to be fulfilled. If you can disassociate those things and say, “I am my own person. I live 100% of my life. I understand what they want for me, but I also understand what’s ahead of me and the decisions I have to make,” eventually, if you find that through your own path, they’re still going to be happy for you. They’re not going to be disappointed.
Your job is not to make sure your parents are happy for you—that’s a decision they have to make for themselves.
- 47:13 Ben: You don’t owe your parents anything. That was a big one for me, thinking about how these are the people who raised me. I know how much, now, goes into taking care of children, the amount of time and sweat. My kids aren’t going to owe me anything. I can’t look at their lives 20 years from now and say, “I put all this work into you, and you didn’t end up where I wanted you to end up.”
- 47:55 Sean: It’s more of a pay it forward thing. It’s less about your kids being indebted to you and more about you wanting them to go on and multiply that forward.
- 48:07 Ben: There’s legacy, but I also believe that I’m reaping the benefits right now of the investment I’m making. Anything beyond that is icing on top of an already delicious cake. I’m paying for these 18 years, or however long, and that’s my return. The legacy beyond that is really just on top of what I’m already getting. That’s how I like to think about it, so I’m not in danger of saying, “I put all of this work into you. I expect you to do something with that.” No. Your life is yours. You don’t owe your life to anybody, unless you actually owe them money. I did—I graduated from high school and owed my parents money, and that was not a fun time. Beyond that, I don’t owe it to them to have a successful career. I don’t even owe it to them to be happy. I owe it to myself, because those are things I want for myself.
- 49:25 Sean: There are a lot of layers to this episode. There’s making your own path, defining success for yourself, pursuing it how you see fit, and your relationship with your parents. Also, for those who are listening who are parents or aspire to be parents, they’re wondering, “How can I instill this kind of mindset into my kids?” Or, maybe, “How can I prevent them from feeling hindered by my desires for them?” Don’t be so focused on prescribing the direction or saying, “This is how you need to do things, what you need to do, or the path you need to take.” Focus more inward on instilling values. That’s something I noticed in the chat when we first brought up this topic. People who had the knee jerk reaction to the title said, “No, I carry so much from what my parents instilled in me. I have these values and principals.”
- 50:45 I saw this common theme. The people who were saying, “My parents did a lot for me,” were also saying, “Maybe I don’t agree with everything or the way they do things, but they gave me these values and principals.” If you want anything to stand the test of time, focus on those things. What do we stand for? What will stand the test of time? Instill those in your kids. Say, “Hey, you don’t have to live an unfulfilled life because of all these obligations the world will try and tell you that you owe them or someone. You deserve to live a fulfilled life. That may not look like what I have in mind for you.” Tell them, “You deserve to be happy in your work. It’s not wrong to enjoy what you do. A job doesn’t have to be something you hate so you can go home and enjoy yourself on the weekends.”
Focus inward on values and principals— it’s the best thing you can do for your own children.
- 51:54 Ben: One of the ways you can do that is to talk about those values directly. Another way is to tell stories about your successes and your failures. If you’re on the child side of the equation listening to this, ask for stories. Ask them to tell you about the time they had a business idea and it didn’t work out. Ask them to tell you that story. There could be some potential healing in the telling of that story for your parent. It could be a really positive thing. As a parent, tell the stories of what happened. A lot of what we learn as values comes from how we internalize the lessons we get from those stories. That can be a really powerful tool.
- 52:55 It might be embarrassing, too, and that’s okay. One of the most valuable gifts we can give to our children is the honest account of what happened and why we made certain decisions. Ultimately, that teaches them that we’re humans and we make mistakes, but that’s okay. It doesn’t affect our relationships with each other. The freedom in that is what allows you to overcome those mistakes and to feel more comfortable with taking risks because of the connection you have in those relationships.
The Future of seanwes
- 53:48 Sean: seanwes is an entrepreneurial learning community. We want to help you forge your own path, do your own thing, and find success in that. We want to provide educational material that helps get you there, as well as this hub, which is a Community of people who have a like mind who can grow with you and help you grow. That’s our big focus. I haven’t read Rich Dad Poor Dad, but from what I’ve heard, I want the company to be like the “rich dad” advisor for you. We’re not emotionally tied up in your situation, so I’ll tell you to go fail. I’ll tell you to start this thing, figure out that it’s not what you want to do, and not have it work out because it’s not what you want to do, so you’ll pivot to the next thing.
- 54:45 It’s going to springboard you to the next thing as you take what you’ve learned from it. I don’t mind giving you that advice. You know I don’t mind giving you the harsh advice here, because I’m not emotionally tied up in your situation, and I understand that success inherently implies risk. It implies failure and repeated failure, so that’s what I’m going to prescribe here. I don’t have that conflict of interest. I also don’t have the conflict of interest that the traditional education system has, which is not really wanting you to be successful but being more interested in keeping my business going.
- 55:23 Basically, we are distancing ourselves from those conflicts of interest in the hopes of helping you be successful. Right now, in 2015, you may associate seanwes with me, Sean McCabe, as a person. It did start as one person, but my vision for the brand is greater than that. With Disney, you don’t think of the person Walt anymore. You think of what they’re about and the stories they tell. They say, “We make money so we can make great movies.” It wasn’t just, “We’re in business to make money.” All of the great businesses are in business because of a greater purpose. Profitability plays into being able to continue doing what they’re doing, but it’s not the end goal.
- 56:19 That’s what we’re about here. Yes, it started out as me, but I want it to be bigger than me. seanwes doesn’t equal myself, but it’s a platform for education for entrepreneurs. It’s a community for that, an entrepreneurial learning community. Slowly and gradually, I’m wanting to bring on people and give them the resources and infrastructure to be able to teach what they know from a standpoint of values. That’s the critical part for me. It’s not just, “This is what you could do, what could get you the results you want,” but, “Can we do this and stay strong with our values?” Maybe you agree with some of our values and maybe you don’t. The hope is that this value first approach is inspiring to people. Even if they have a different value, they can substitute their own value and still operate from that position to say, “Do I want to do this if it doesn’t align with my values?” That’s the big picture goal here.
Eventually, I want seanwes to be a platform of education from people who start from a standpoint of values.
Thank Your Parents
- 57:45 If your parents have instilled values in you and you have these lasting principals from what they’ve shared, I know I certainly have—I would not be the person I am today or have the success I have today if it weren’t for my parents—just thank them. If you have the privilege of being able to call up your parents and thank them, thank them in between the holidays. Don’t wait until you go up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whatever holidays you go visit your family on. Call them up and say thank you, because you have a very special, rare thing.
- 58:26 Ben: I had a stepdad who I feel like I can only use bad words to describe. I don’t hate him or anything, but he was a really hard man, really strict. There was almost no relationship there, but he worked us really hard. I learned from that that now, when I’m in situations that are uncomfortable, I can handle discomfort. That’s a super valuable lesson. Don’t fabricate something, but if you need to mine out some gold you got out of your experience with a parental figure, that’s worth calling them up and expressing gratitude. It’s amazing what that gratitude does for you. It’s great for them, but it’s so good for you, too.
- 59:36 Sean: Mom and Dad, if you made it this far into the podcast, thank you.