I had the amazing privilege to hear Serial Entrepreneur (Priceline.com, uBid.com, Colorjar), Jeff Hoffman, speak about his life and what he's learned about business over the years. He was speaking to a room of entrepreneurs, and I believe there is also much to be learned about parenting from any successful person.
Jeff told us that one of the best things about making it big is that you then have the opportunity to "redistribute blessings." In 2012, Jeff did a social experiment that he told no one about. He decided for one year, he was going to say yes to anyone who asked him for help. Soon after he received an e-mail from a man in Senegal asking for just that. Jeff went and the experience changed his life. He has just finished that stage of his life 4 years later. As parents, we can pour into our children everyday to redistribute our blessings. As we are blessed we can to share those blessings with our children. It is through gratitude that we discover those blessings.
Jeff told us a wonderful story about being in charge of a five year old for the day (you can hear the story in his Ted Talk). He realized that five year olds have insatiable curiosity. He found it to be annoying at first, but realized his anger came because he couldn't answer her questions. He had to take her to his office to pick something up. As they walked into the lobby, she asked what the two machines on the table were. Jeff didn't know, so he asked the receptionist, who also didn't know. They looked into it further and found out those machines had been there for years, hadn't been used in years and they were leasing them! We become blind to the things we don't question. He suggests businesses have five year old Fridays occasionally and ask the questions that have been putting off. This can easily be done at home too. Why is the toy box overflowing with toys? When was the last time you played with this? Is this something that brings you joy? If not, is it ok to give it to someone that will get joy out of it?
Jeff said that true success is hiring the right people and designing optimal systems so your business eventually runs without you. In parenting, my goal is that someday my children will not need me anymore and that one day far in the future they will take care of me. This means my job is to raise capable human beings who are compassionate. I need to put in the time and energy to co-create the kind of people Jeff would love to mentor. I need to help them become people who understand their strengths, who are innovative and have strong values.
Speaking of values, Jeff talked about having your company values visible to all employees. This is certainly true at home too. In The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families we describe an exercise to create your values together as a family. When we did this exercise, we designed a family crest pictured here. For us the underlying value is love for each other and our other values are authenticity, adventure, abundance, contribution, curiosity, and creativity. Your list may be very different from ours, so here is a great list of values to help get you started.
One of my favorite takeaways from Jeff's presentation was the idea of "info-sponging." Check out The Mentee Podcast with Jeff Hoffman to learn more on this topic. Basically info-sponging is taking a few minutes everyday to learn about something you know nothing about. In business this is how Jeff has been able to start businesses that solve big problems in a brand new way. With priceline.com for example, Jeff learned about perishable goods in the grocery store and how the store priced these goods lower to get rid of them quicker. He also learned that everyday there were 600,000 unsold airline seats. Since he had been studying a broad spectrum of info he could then take what he learned about distressed goods and apply it to all the unsold airline seats. As a homeschool mom who sees the need for this kind of skill, at home this is exactly how we study. I allow my children to follow their broad interests. We approach everything with curiosity and my goal is that my kids will make these types of innovative connections. A book Jeff suggested to help shift our mindset in this area is Think Like a Futurist.
Jeff talked about creating an environment where the most talented people never want to leave. Hire the best people who fit your company culture and then serve them so they don't ever want to leave. Check out this INC.com article about picking up his employees dry-cleaning! My take away from this advice that I could use at home, is to create an environment where your kids feel valued. Our children are people with their own unique strengths and talents. Home should be a place where those gifts are celebrated. It should be a safe sanctuary where our kids can be refilled and feel that they are a valuable member of the household.
Jeff hires people who are better than himself in the areas of need then he serves them and gets out of their way so they can create his vision. This is called empowerment. I like to say I'm the CEO of our household, but instead of being the Chief Executive Officer; I'll now refer to myself at the Chief Empowerment Officer. I will empower my children to do their own laundry and clean up after themselves. I will empower them to pack their own lunches and vacuum the house. I will empower them to take over the activities they are perfectly capable of doing and give them the feeling of contribution. When we empower our kids to take care of themselves they feel more valued, especially when we recognize their efforts. Jeff told us a powerful story about a woman who stayed really late one night to solve a problem for a co-worker. In the morning, Jeff recognized her and gave her a cheap plastic trophy he dubbed "the golden ninja award." It is now a very coveted prize within the company. It's monetary value is small, but the recognition that comes with it is hugely important to the employees. When we recognize the good being done by others (especially our kids) they light up and want to do more.
I'm grateful for Jeff and his insight and generosity. I'm grateful for curiosity and the way it helps me see problems in a new way. I'm grateful for the power to empower my kids to do for themselves. I hope you enjoyed my reframe of Jeff's business lessons to use at home. I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can comment here or join the conversation in our Facebook Community.