Jon Vroman On What It Means To Be A Family Man First
When I started a family, I made a very intentional decision that I wasn’t going to trade time for money. I knew I wanted to show up at every game, recital, and important activity for my daughter, so I decided I was going to build a life that would give me and my family lifestyle freedom — and that’s exactly what I did!
But, just because I created that freedom, it didn’t mean that I was automatically an amazing husband and father.
In fact, as someone who’s always been a high achieving, hard working, competitive natured person, working on my business oftentimes felt more natural than working on my family.
As entrepreneurs and investors, we’re so used to planning, setting, and achieving big goals for our businesses. We track progress, hit targets, hold meetings, and more…
But why aren’t we taught to put that same level of energy into planning for our families — and shouldn’t that be a top priority?
With Father’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to talk more about the importance of relationships, family, and showing up for the people who matter the most. Afterall, what’s the point of creating freedom if you have nobody to spend that freedom with?
There’s no one more suited for this special episode than my longtime friend, Jon Vroman. Jon is a husband, father and the Founder of Front Row Dads — a brotherhood created for “family men with businesses, not businessmen with families.”
Jon originally started this group, not because he felt like he was crushing it as a Dad and a husband, but because he felt like he was getting crushed — and this group of likeminded men, rooted in trust and transparency, became the answer.
In today’s conversation, Jon and I talk about the revelation he had in his thirties that helped him realign his priorities and truly put family first. You’ll learn all about the powerful work Front Row Dads is doing, and how to build a business around your life–not a life that revolves around your business.
So, If you align with the idea of being a family man with a business, and not a businessman with a family, you definitely won’t want to miss this episode!
Key Takeaways with Jon Vroman
- How being surrounded by people who wanted to better themselves in his early 20s helped Jon become a better person himself after years of struggle.
- The power of being open, vulnerable, and willing to admit when we’ve failed.
- Why everyone’s greatest regret is the time they didn’t spend with the people they cared about most–and how Jon’s work now gives him the freedom to work on his terms.
- What Jon is doing to create a powerful screen-free summer full of mentorship and unique experiences for his kids.
- The simple business principle Jon is now using to great effect at home with his family.
Clip From the Jon Vroman Interview
Jon Vroman Tweetable“Good dads take care of their kids, but amazing dads take care of all kids or any kid.” - @JonVroman Click To Tweet
- Front Row Dads
- Front Row Dads Podcast
- Front Row Dads Brotherhood (members group)
- Front Row Dads Online Summit
- Front Row Dads on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
- Front Row Foundation
- The Front Row Factor by Jon Vroman
- Carefree Timelessness by Matthew Kelly
- Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
- The Family Board Meeting by Jim Sheils
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Read the Full Transcript with Cal Callahan
Justin Donald: Jon, I am so excited to spend some time with you here today. This has been a long time coming. We’ve been talking about having you on the show, and I think it’s just perfect that we could have you for our Father’s Day weekend episode, because who better than you to represent what is most important in both of our lives and really, from the standpoint of being a family man first and businessman second. So, thanks so much for being here. And there are just tons of things we can unpack today, but so glad to have you here, buddy.
Jon Vroman: Dude, my face is already hurting from the smiling we did prior to hitting the record.
Justin Donald: Yeah. We actually probably should have recorded what was earlier, but maybe not, I don’t know.
Jon Vroman: It’s always a good sign, man, when my face starts to cramp. There are a few people who that happens around and you’re one of them for sure.
Justin Donald: Well, thank you. I feel very similarly about you and how much we laugh and the fun that we have, the fun our families have together, the fun you and I have together just one on one. And it’s been cool to see our friendship grow over the last 20 years. It’s been over 20 years that we have known each other. And the cool part to me is that we started out as single guys. I mean, we hung out when we were dating people, we hung out when we had breakups. And then, it was cool seeing you and your wife Tatyana start dating, and you got a chance to see Jennifer and I start dating. And then our families become friends and our kids become friends. It’s just incredible.
Jon Vroman: And then we move to the same city. That really sealed the deal, man.
Justin Donald: That did. And that took some plotting. Tatyana and I were definitely behind the scenes plotting on that. So, we can definitely thank her big time.
Jon Vroman: You know, when you think about the history, I think it’s one of the most beautiful things about deep friendships is being able to look back and see somebody’s journey and have that front-row seat to their life, but one of my favorite pictures when it ever pops up in the memories is that one when you were in Philly, it was one of Tatyana and I’s first dates, and we all went to a concert together. And we have this great picture that was really representative of who we were at that time.
Justin Donald: It definitely is.
Jon Vroman: Definitely fun to look back and see the progress.
Justin Donald: For sure. Yeah, that was great. We had so much fun. It was so fun seeing you at the beginning stages and even hearing your insight like, hey, I think this could be the one. I know it’s really early and maybe I’m crazy, but this girl lights me up the way no one else has. So, it was cool getting a front-row seat, pun intended for that cool, amazing relationship and what turned into an amazing marriage.
Jon Vroman: Thank you.
Justin Donald: So, tell us about you, Jon. Give us a little backstory. I know that the people watching and listening would love to learn more about you. I mean, I know you at an intimate level and I want to get some of those stories here today, but at the same time, you’ve done great for so many people. You have served the world in a way that resonates with me and with many in our community because you’re service-focused, you are human life-focused, and you just want to give people the best experience they can during their time here on this earth.
Jon Vroman: Yeah, well, I mean, I think the big pieces of the puzzle that might be interesting for folks is that I grew up in a military family, so I moved around a lot. I think that moving to different areas actually was not only difficult, of course, for the obvious reasons, but it really helped me to learn how to make friends, how to adapt, how to be flexible, which has served me my entire life. And that’s a big part of my childhood. I went through a period of, I went from a straight-A student in 10th grade to almost failing every class in 11th grade. And there was a lot of pain associated with my earlier years as well, just feeling like I didn’t know how to fit in. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what my gifts were in the world. I lacked a lot of confidence and a lot of belief in myself.
I then found Cutco, which is where we built our friendship. And that environment was so healthy for me because it really exposed me to the world of personal growth. I mean, hanging out with a bunch of people in their 20s who are focused on reading books and bettering themselves. And that environment saved me for lack of making it sound too dramatic. I mean, I don’t know where the road would have led me had I not been a part of that family, which really is so many of my greatest friends even to this day, are from that world.
And then, when I was 30, I stepped away from that corporate role and I had moved into wanting to pursue speaking and coaching and writing, running the Front Row Foundation, which is very similar to Make-a-Wish, which you and I have, along with our friends, contributed to and built over the years, both with time, energy, effort, insights, finances. I’m so happy of the 15 years of work that we’ve done in the charitable space that led to a book called The Front Row Factor, which was everything you could learn about living life from people fighting for it.
And then, with that Front Row theme kind of running through my life, I had achieved some level of success as a speaker and as a coach and as a writer, but I realized that I was a businessman who happened to have a family, not a family man who happened to have a business. And my calendars were not lining up with my priorities. My son was 6. I was always one more busy season to make it through, always one more like, oh, now that I make $20,000 a speech, how could I say no? And it just was so enticing and felt like that was how I needed to serve the family, but realized that I was never going to get back that time.
And that’s when I started Front Row Dads to surround myself with people that were doing what I wanted to do, that I wanted to have conversations around, putting family first. And that was five years ago. And here we are.
Justin Donald: Now, I am the hugest fan of Front Row Dads, as you know. My goal is to always be your biggest spokesperson, but before we do…
Jon Vroman: And you are, by the way, you definitely like, dude, yeah. So, thank you.
Justin Donald: My pleasure. It’s the thing that I believe in at the deepest level, and I’m excited to talk about that here today. Before we get to it, though, you are so humble that you have failed to share with everyone how great of a speaker you are. And by the way, I’ve seen you speak many times. I think you’re one of the best speakers I know, but you would be doing us a disservice if you didn’t let us know the accolades and awards that you got for being best speaker of the year. So, share some of that, please.
Jon Vroman: Well, let me first start with the failures. The failure was that I left this corporate job and I wanted to do speaking and I spent money and I went into debt basically trying to become a speaker. And I really want to honor the path. If anybody’s going down that road of trying to get into that space, that can be very difficult. And it was difficult. There was a lot of learning to be done, but it did work eventually. Like after about a year and a half or two years, I won a College Speaker of the Year award that really set my career off. And then I made a couple hundred grand and it was like, oh, now we’re off to the races.
And then I won that word again. And I’ve stayed. I worked in the college market to begin and then eventually kind of transitioned to the corporate market, but it was a passion, I loved it. And I think the reason I loved it when I look back now is I remember being at a Tony Robbins event and having Tony speak in a way that just moved me like I entered that room, one version of Jon Vroman and left another. And that change stuck with me.
There were things, decisions that were made during presentations that shifted my life, because when somebody really works at communicating a message, when they work out moving you at a core level, they do master that craft, just like anything, just like anybody who chooses to be a world-class investor or a world-class anything, they work at it. And there’s a lot of nuances. Well, I just wanted to make other people feel the way I felt when great people took the stage, and I could name a hundred other people who’ve taken the stage and moved my heart. And then that got me to move my legs, so.
Justin Donald: Well, I think that your story there is incredible. You went into massive debt, you were able to get out of that debt, which is just fantastic. And here’s the thing that I probably admire most, is that as your trajectory was going up, your stock was at the highest level because you were College Speaker of the Year, I think, back-to-back years. And like everyone wanted you, you had endless opportunities. You could have scaled your speaking. In fact, I just spoke with someone right before our episode here today that is making between $1 and $2 million a year just by speaking.
And so, we know the direction that that could have gone. And I just think it’s the coolest thing and just admire the fact that you could step away from the best income you’ve ever had, the only income that you’ve known in that space to just say, “Hey, it’s taken me away from my family too much. Therefore, I’m done.” And you went cold turkey and you built a business that made no money at the beginning and didn’t make much money for a long time because you had conviction that this is where you wanted to be. These were the men you wanted to surround yourself with, that this is who you wanted to become. I mean, I love how you share that you started this because you wanted to become better in this space, a better husband, a better father, just better on the family front. And I just think that that is incredible.
Jon Vroman: I’m never going to write the book on a smooth transition from one business. Nobody’s ever sought my counsel for that, but I think it’s the way I had to do it. When I look at it, I get people who build better parachutes and maybe build better bridges between one business and the next, but the way that I work, I think I need to do it that way.
Justin Donald: Yeah. You’re so authentic that the moment you feel out of alignment, you’re like, hey, it doesn’t matter how much money I’m making or that my family needs this to survive. Like, this is not serving me. I can still provide for my family. I will figure it out, but I can no longer be here. And you’re great at just making that decision, pulling the ripcord and going to use your parachute example.
Jon Vroman: Yeah. And luckily, it has worked out in the Front Row Dads business right now. And really, thanks to you and I couldn’t wait to get to this part in our conversation, and I knew we would land here, but what’s so cool about Front Row Dads versus anything I’ve ever built in my life, and I’ve said this to Tatyana on the plane ride back from our trip recently. I just looked and I went, “We are in the greatest season right now.” Like, I get seasons and I feel very lucky. I mean, I’ve definitely worked. I’ve put in a lot of work, but I also feel very fortunate. I think that a lot of things have lined up beyond my control that have allowed me to be in this beautiful season of life right now. I think it would be ignorant of me to not notice those things that are beyond my control.
But, boy, it’s like I was two weeks in Mexico, didn’t do any work, nothing. The business was growing. We had new members. We had our best online summit to date. The scores, the ratings, the feedback were just off the charts. And I said to Tatyana and went, “I can’t believe this life that we’ve built.” And then, when I traced that back to why is that? It’s like really great mentors like you in my life who bring this conversation up. Like, what does it mean to build a lifestyle in your world? Our mutual friend and bandmate in Front Row Dads, Tim Nikolayev, talked to me about, hey, here’s how to build a business around your life and watching Hal do it with his world right now. And that this idea of really being a family man with a business is not my thing. That’s our thing.
And because of the conversation, because of the dialog, because of the repetitive dialog, like it’s finally happening for the first time in my life, it’s finally happening the way that I’ve dreamt it to be. There’d always been little winds along the way, but at 45 years old with an 11-year-old and a six-year-old, I’m looking at my world and I’m just smiling, saying, dude, this has been years in the making, and a lot of mistakes along the way.
Justin Donald: And that’s the beautiful thing about life as an entrepreneur is, you could have messed things up however many times early on, but when you finally get it right, it can solve a lot of those mistakes. And it’s just exciting for me as your friend seeing this, but also as a fellow bandmate. And by the way, when we talk about our band, there are four dads that are in our sphere that meet once a month and there’s accountability and there’s catching up. And to me, it’s like one of the highlights of the month and just the consistency that we get. I mean, we sit down for two and a half hours straight once a month, and we talk about the highs, the lows. How can we improve? Can I have accountability? Hey, I did this and it worked really well. Hey, I had this epic blunder. Don’t do this. Or I could use your support. I mean, it’s just amazing.
And then, being a member of the TRIBE, I clear my schedule for this. This has been to me, one of the most important things in my life, that almost everything else takes a back seat to these events, to these retreats. Just I love pouring into people and I love being poured into by people. And I love that it’s people that have the same value system as me where they really, truly are aspiring and proactively putting family first before everything and anything else.
Jon Vroman: Alright. Now, look, I know this is supposed to be an interview for me, but I got to say this because I would not normally hijack somebody’s show like this when they’re interviewing me, but hold on. Dude, I just need your audience to know something about you behind the scenes, alright. So, I’ve been impressed by lots of things that you’ve done over the years. It’s impressive, the network that you’ve built. It’s impressive that your book became a Wall Street Journal bestseller, but all those things are almost not shocking to me because it’s like you’re a competitor, you’re smart like they’re almost to be expected, right? Like just the way you play volleyball, dude, you show up all the time, ready to go. And your list of accomplishments is impressive, dude, what you accomplished in Cutco and then how you built this. I mean, it’s great, but do you know where I’ve been most impressed, and this is what I want your audience to know.
When we showed up to our band meeting, so this once a month meeting. When you shared with us that in the course of the week where you got back from this retreat, so you have a death in the family, you have another family member who has a stroke, you have a wife who has gone to the aid of family, you have a daughter who you’re homeschooling, and you have a– that was your back that was giving you real problems, but one of the things that I’ve noticed is that you handled all of that and you still showed up for Savannah. You showed up, you were supportive of your wife.
And so, what I’m getting at is that I’ve seen this multiple times where you’re like even through your book launch, even through all this stuff you shared with us that you still held your family time. And if you needed to get something done, you were figuring out other ways to do it. You hired an EA, you were waking up earlier, you were finding ways to get it done, but you weren’t sacrificing that family time. And dude, you’ve impressed me for years, but this last year, you’ve really, really impressed me with how you juggle so many things. In fact, sometimes I even think to myself, I’m really close with Justin and I still don’t know how he does it. Like, I’m intimately involved in his schedule, his life, but sometimes I shrug my shoulders like I don’t know, I don’t know. It’s impressive, dude.
Justin Donald: Well, thank you for the kind words. And I feel very lucky and privileged to have the community, the support system that I have, the people that I can pour into, but when stuff kind of comes up that they pour into me. And so, I just feel blessed. I feel like when there is a storm, I just have learned that I can weather it. I feel like there’s a season for everything. And even in tough seasons, there are silver linings and there are ways that you can still show up for people and their outlooks that you can have. I firmly believe in just having a positive outlook and finding the good in whatever the lessons are, I don’t even want to call it bad stuff. I mean, they’re just lessons that we get to learn from. And so, I feel like, in some regards, my mentality, the way I think about things is a little different and it allows me to navigate through tough seasons, tough situations, maybe a little bit easier than if I had a different outlook.
Jon Vroman: Dude, you know what’s interesting is I can even see how it would appear to be like a facade, like it would just be this act that you’ve been putting on for years and years and years, but the harder I dig and the more that I know you, your core, I just really believe that’s who you are. Like at your core, you’re genuinely that way because, dude, I don’t think anybody could hide it for that long at every– like it’s really impressive, but that’s been so positive for me, too, because I’ve seen you handle so much and do it with such grace as you know I’ve been working on emotional mastery, like not losing my cool.
I do not claim the same badge of just keeping my cool. It’s actually something that’s really been a weakness of mine. I’ve lost it many times and been very disappointed in myself as a dad in a lot of ways, but, boy, when you see somebody give you an example, and it’s interesting, remember at the retreat when John Cain was like, I pulled my son Johnny in the basement and here’s what I said. Dude, it’s like somebody else giving you the language. It’s given me the language of when I pull Tiger aside now, it’s like I find myself channeling John Cain or channeling Justin Donald when I’m doing things because you see it and you can model that. And you’ve claimed that you’re like, I may not be the world’s most original creator, but, boy, I can see somebody, I can see a pattern of success. And I know how to replicate that in my own way. And I think that’s what I’m doing from you.
Justin Donald: Well, I appreciate that. And I mean, I’ve learned so much from you as well. And one of the things that I love about you is how just genuine and open and vulnerable you are. I mean, you are so quick to be able to admit where you messed up. And I think that that allows other people to kind of lower their walls and be at a place where they can be totally honest, totally present. So, I just learn a lot through the way that you show up and the way that you facilitate. And I think you mentioned something earlier that I want to touch on, and that was about prioritizing family first.
And I just had a realization years ago, that there’s nothing more important, like in your deathbed, what are the things that you’re going to think about? It’s probably not that you wish you made more money because you’re dying, you don’t need more money. It’s probably not that you wish that you worked more or built a bigger business. It’s probably not like I wish I got more stuff for a bigger house or I lived in this zip code of this town or that I had a vacation home. From what I have heard, it’s that I value and wish that I had more time with these people. I wish I wouldn’t have said this. I wish I could have fixed this. I wish I would have spent time with those that I loved the most, even more.
And so, I’ve had a few situations that have really hit me, really resonated. And it’s like, why am I spending all this time? And it’s really easy. Sometimes, it’s hard-charging guys, and by the way, hard-charging women, too, are going to be able to relate to this, but I think guys, even more so, and that it’s easier to default into work because it’s what we know, it’s what we’re good at. We can show up and we can have success. There’s probably some ego wrapped into that. There’s some significance, most certainly, where you just know you can get an outcome and you’re well equipped, but it’s not as easy to default to family. Maybe the thing you don’t know as well, how well you spend quality time or that you choose that over business.
So, for me, I just wanted to get boundaries in place that basically could be my rules, that I wasn’t going to move past that. Like, I could be really flexible and hard working during my day, but there’s such limited time. I mean, think about how many weekends we have with our kids before they’re out of the house and how many vacations we get, and how many dinners. And so, if your kids are in school, you’re already at a point where they’re gone eight hours a day. Even if they’re homeschooled, they’re probably occupied in a way where you’re not interacting and involved in a full-time capacity. And my wife and I try and kind of split it where I’m one-third, she’s two-thirds for this season of homeschooling that we’re doing, but even there, I feel like I don’t have enough time, I don’t get enough time. So, if I let my work bleed into that family time, I just feel like I’d be losing so many opportunities in such relationships. And so, I just decided a long time ago, stuff falls through the cracks. It’s going to be work that falls through the cracks. It’s going to be other stuff. It’s just not going to be family. I’m just not willing to let those relationships suffer.
And by the way, you’re TRIBE of men are so great for that because they support that lifestyle. They support those mantras and those boundaries. And you come around other men that are doing it just like that and you’ll find people are doing it better. And it’s like, ooh, I’m not doing that. Or ooh, I have my phone on me too often and I know my daughter sees me, I’ve got to leave it in my office. There’s just so much that you learn. Every time we do a retreat, I walk away and I say, “Wow, I have so many nuggets that I took away from this that are going to help me be a better family man.”
Jon Vroman: I used to think of lifestyle, whenever I hear you talk about Lifestyle Investor, it’s easy obviously, because the word investor is there. And it is a concept rooted in having the finances to be able to do the things you want to do to buy back your time, as you’ve often talked about. And now, what I see is I see you take that brand of lifestyle investing and realizing that it’s really a much broader spectrum of what it even means to be an investor. And how there’s investing in the finances, but there are all the investments we make in our family and our children and our wives and in our relationships. I wish we could put a number to it, but you have a number of what you’ve achieved financially. That’s really impressive.
But what I’ve also seen and I’m equally as impressed by is your investment into your relationships, like you actually might be, I don’t know what you’re better at, building relationships or building financial wealth because, dude, it’s like how you are able to connect with people so quickly and go deep fast and develop your relationships, and not just with your peers, but with Savannah, too. Like when you talk about where you’re most proud, one of the things that was so fun for me this last year was you talking about how Savannah for a while be like, maybe Mom’s the favorite. And then, when you started to see some winds on your side of, like, dad being called upon, that was like where you really lit up. And if people could see you now, if they’re watching this on YouTube, that’s where your smile really, really takes a lot of light in that space. So, it’s good to see investing from a lot of angles, and then it’s not just financially, although that’s a big piece of it, because even like our road trip that we’re doing, the summer is made possible because of our financial situation, and the business that we built.
Justin Donald: Yeah, and I love that you open this up because you’re investing, whether you realize it or not. You’re investing money, you’re investing time, you’re investing energy, you’re investing in some way, shape, or form. You may be doing it on autopilot. And I recommend, and when I say, you, I mean, whoever is listening, watching, but you can get even more out of your investment or return on investment by being intentional about where you’re spending your time, where you’re placing your resources, your capital. And so, I love that you bring that up because this episode and really, The Lifestyle Investor in general, I don’t want it just to be about investing in terms of the financial aspect. I feel like I have areas where I can help people. And I know that I can bring guests that are fantastic at this, but that’s just one component of it.
The lifestyle is more important. That’s why I say Lifestyle Investor, not investor’s lifestyle. I want people to build the lifestyle that’s ideal for them. And I think that our brands line up very well. When I think about lifestyle, I think about Front Row Dads. And I feel like that is the lifestyle I want. And you’re living it wonderfully. I mean, what’s so fun is seeing you in this season where you’re traveling more than you have and for a more extended time than ever before. You’ve got a business that’s booming. Financially, I know that you’re in a really exciting place, and you recently bought a home, which is cool.
And for those of you that don’t know, Austin is just the craziest hobby market. I mean, from the day that Jon signed on the dotted line of owning this home, even though he hasn’t moved back into it, he’s doing a lease back. This home is appreciated hundreds of thousands of dollars. I mean, it’s just incredible. The market, the home, the location, and your home is killer. I just can’t wait to do fun events and have just fun family parties. And it’s the perfect hanging and hosting type of place, but now, you have this super cool season because you can’t move in yet. So, you just got back from Mexico, a couple of weeks there, and you’re about to embark on a three-month journey. I’m so excited. So, share some of this, because this is lifestyle at its finest, and you’re doing it with your family.
Jon Vroman: Yeah. And the thrill. Dude, we got a trailer. We’re going to pull it behind the van. This is very low key. This is not a rockstar tour, but a one-million-dollar 45-foot pusher-type situation. This is a 17-foot trailer with a bed for my wife and I, and bunk beds for the kids, and a little toilet, little shower, little kitchen. This is a small investment, relatively speaking. This thing was like 18 grand, and, dude, we were going to buy a Thule thing. By the way, shout-out to David and Tracy Osborne who bought us a Thule rack for the top of the van which is cool. So, we put all our gear in and we just hit the road.
And the mission is to go create adventures every day. And we’re keeping the mission really simple. There is no schedule that we’re going to follow. My only goal is to not lose my cool. That’s my only goal. I’ll have lots of little subgoals underneath of that, but the big one is to not lose my cool. And I’m using this as an opportunity to show my kids how to interpret failure, how to deal with adversity. I’m putting myself directly in the line of fire knowing that things are going to go wrong, knowing this is going to be hard on me, and hard on them, with close proximity and without a lot of our amenities and things like that. Like, I want to rough it a little bit because I think that a lot of my life’s goals were about getting to a level where I could do things that were exciting, that would cost money. It was like, hey, how can we afford that private school or how can we afford to go on this trip? And now, it’s like, well, how can we show them how to remove a lot of stuff and to live very simply, like we’re doing. You want to hear the crazy? You probably know this, I probably told you this, but this is, like for many, this will sound nuts. We’re doing no screens.
Justin Donald: That’s the word crazy, so I’m in.
Jon Vroman: No screens all summer. We’re doing a screen-free summer. So, there’s no iPads, there’s no phones, there’s no cartoons, there’s no video games. There’s none of that. This is a screen-free summer. Now, I will say that I don’t like to ever say never. So, if we go to a friend’s house and they’re watching a movie and the kids watch it, I’m not going to put my foot down in somebody else’s house. Or if we’re looking at a map on the screen, of course, those are like some exceptions to the rule or doing homework in a park that we’re going to go see or something like that, a state park, but the kids are not going to have video games or movies and things like that. We’re going to get, we’re going to plug into the family at a very deep level.
And one of the things it’s going to be, I could talk, by the way, for two hours just about this summer and all of the things I want to do and how I envision it and at the same time, loosely holding these visions because knowing that a lot’s going to change, but like, here’s one that we got from the dads’ retreat. Alright, so for anybody out there listening who has kids, this will particularly apply to you, but I want you to listen also if you don’t have kids to this concept because you could probably apply this in other areas of your life. Here’s the idea. Tiger is turning 12 this summer, and the goal is to create 12 mentors that I introduced to him over the course of the year. That would be like a rite of passage idea. And that my dad is going to be the first one that will happen right around Tiger’s 12th birthday, and he’s going to spend time with my dad. And then, I’ve talked to my dad about this already, and my dad’s going to write him a letter. And I think what I’ll do is I’ll have the people who spend a day with him write the letter later. And at the end of his 12th year, so on his 13th birthday, I’ll then present him with a book of letters from everybody that he met over the course of the year.
So, 12 mentors for his 12th year, but, dude, I got to tell you, man, that a lot of these things are coming because of– they’re coming up these ideas because of the community, because we’re taking time out to connect as men and have these conversations like that’s, by the way, that idea comes from Ned Schaut and also Chris Hogan in lunch with those two guys talking about rite of passage. And that was an epic conversation that is now going to likely change my son’s life forever. Like, what’s the value of that one meal? I mean, that doesn’t happen without that time.
And what I also have faith in is that when we talk about just carving out time and then having faith, like I’m loosely holding on to what the summer could be, because I know that just by being with my family, I know that if I sit in that space where I’m asking deep questions and I’m listening carefully and I’m ready for whatever adventure comes up and that the whole goal is to just do life together, that the work I’ve been doing on myself for the last 25 years is going to help me in those moments, like I’ve been preparing for this summer for 25 years, making mistakes, learning, reading, conversing with people. And this is the time, man, this is the time to go have these adventures. So, I can’t wait. And yeah, it’s going to be exciting.
Justin Donald: That is so cool. I’m thrilled for you. I can’t wait to hear about it. Obviously, in something like this, anyone that has done super-extended time with family, just knows that there are ups and downs. We already know that, but the overall big picture of it is just epic. And Matthew Kelly talks about something in one of his books called Carefree Timelessness. And that has just really stuck with me over the years. And it’s just this idea of just having, like, an untimed plan, just time where you can do whatever and connect and hang out and be present, be in the moment. There are no demands. You’re not checking your phone. I love this lack of screen time. We’re already big proponents of that in general. We do very, very few screens at all. And we’ll do our movie night once a week generally. Sometimes we don’t get it inside the week, but generally, it’s once a week, but that’s it. I mean, we don’t really do a lot of screens and I love that. The fun can be found in nature and being outside.
And one of the things that I have also loved seeing is this whole shift that my daughters had and I’ve seen this in other kids to where they go from, like, oh, I’m bored to, like, figuring out how to have fun and how to do things and how to explore. And they become more resourceful in that, where they don’t rely on a screen to stop the boredom. They’re able to be resourceful and creative, and that relieves the boredom. And they learn to get into this place where they are not bored, they’re curious and they’re adventurous. And I just love that. I think that’s going to do wonders. And for anyone listening that is asking the question because it’s tough to shift away from screens once you start them, it’s so worth it and it’s so wonderful. And there are so many dividends to it.
Jon Vroman: Yeah, I mean, look, being a parent is scary if you haven’t practiced it. So, if you’ve taken the role that you’re like the provider of the family and you make money and that maybe your partner is the caretaker of the kids, then if you have no experience, if you’re not plugged in, if you’re not in the game, then it’s going to feel really disastrous. You’re not going to know what questions to ask at dinner. I mean, sometimes kids are brutal. Like, you ask a question and they don’t answer and you’re like, this isn’t working. I don’t know how to do this. I’m going to go back to work.
But like most things I could do, if you’ve never invested in mobile home parks, if you’ve never bought the rights to music, if you’ve never participated in big deals if they have it, if somebody is brand new to your Mastermind, your programs, like these are things that you’re going to have to plug in and just learn. You’re going to have to be uncomfortable for a while. And I think that with my kids is the same thing, like it took me two weeks in Mexico, took me like five days to get out of work, like I was waking up. My brain’s like, I got to solve that problem at work. I got to do this thing.
And then, eventually, at the end of the two weeks, I was totally out of work. And then I got back home and it was like, alright, back home, time to get to work. And Tatyana goes, you’re having a hard time going back to work out. I was like, yeah, I’ve got all this ocean. My six-year-old is like, you want to play Army Man. And I’m like, yes, I don’t want to go back to work, because I had exercised that muscle, I had gained momentum. And that just like your investments, like gaining momentum where your money’s making you more money, and you’re like, oh, this is what it’s about when you press for a while, when you invest for a while, when you learn for a while, when you stick after it.
Kids are the same thing. All of a sudden, you’re like, oh, I know what they need now, I know how to talk to them, I know how to discipline them, I know how to be a dad. And it’s like, you know, whether or not you’re being a great dad or mom, you know it. You totally know it. Now, you’re going to have those moments even when you think you’re killing it. You have moments where you fail, you’re going to slip, going to fall on your face. It happened on the trip. I yelled at my kids and I posted about it. I was like, so I went to bed tonight feeling like a bad dad because I just lost my cool. But, boy, dude, I’m going to go full circle here, go back to Tatyana. I remember learning that when it comes to marrying somebody, like how do you know that she’s the right person or he’s the right person? It’s like when you don’t have to ask.
And it’s like speaking. I’m going to connect a lot of dots here. I remember speaking, when you get off stage, like, how do you know if you gave a great speech, you won’t have to ask, was it a great speech? Because people are going to be tripping over themselves to get to you, to be like, that changed my life. Like you’re going to know that you hit it out of the park. And the same with your kids, and if you’re not feeling that, invest more in your family, invest more time, invest more energy, invest more and be willing to fail fast, and that you can pivot and grow, and then get to the end your life and be a true lifestyle investor.
Justin Donald: I love it, man. You really have just built this incredible life and you’re doing it. You’re living this lifestyle. You’re getting out of work mode. You’re totally relaxing. In fact, what you said reminded me of a TED talk, I think it’s called Say Yes!
Jon Vroman: The Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And that had such a huge impact on me because I remember watching that and I remember being like, well, it’s the work that I can’t say yes to. And that’s just an epic blunder for me as a dad where, like, is work really more important than spending a little bit of time in a season where my daughter actually is asking me to do that?
Jon Vroman: Which always happens.
Justin Donald: Right. So, I mean, that was a big eye-opener. And so, I just started being like, yeah, come on. And so, I remember for a while, this whole, like, having your home office and recording and the kids, can you keep it quiet out there? And now, I just am like, you know what? I just gotta let it roll. I mean, we’ll just see what happens. And if Savannah jumps in here and wants to hang out, I’m just going to hang out, if she comes in on calls all the time. And you know what? Like, I just think that’s a better space to be. I feel better about it, I feel better about her learning and being curious, and that this isn’t off-limits, that it’s on-limits and I want her to learn how to be an entrepreneur and how to learn how to communicate. And I want her to know that she’s number one, and if she needs something, that I’ll be able to help her out. And so, I just think I went about it the wrong way at the beginning where I was protecting my time or my business or my office. And it just wasn’t the right move. And I didn’t feel good about it either.
Jon Vroman: Yeah, it makes me question, could I do a podcast with Tiger? Tiger time. And we just released this show where he and I talk about what’s working or what’s not working in our relationship as a father and a son. It’s really interesting.
Justin Donald: You should totally do that. I think that would be amazing. And by the way, even if you do it for no one other than yourself…
Jon Vroman: Exactly.
Justin Donald: I think that’s unreal, but I know people would get value from it. I’ve actually…
Jon Vroman: On that note, by the way, we did that this past year, that was like a win. I recently wrote out, like all the wins for the last 12 months. And one of them was having Tiger interview grandma and grandpa. And then grandma and grandpa interviewed Tiger. And we recorded those. And I’m like, that’s going to be cool to look back on.
Justin Donald: That’s really neat. I love that. I think that’s cool. I think there’s so much that you can do with the gifts that you’ve been blessed with and just your platform that you have, but to think about what serves your family best, I think that that’s so cool. And you had made a comment at this last retreat about what you noticed about what you have done in the past as you made your business to be in a way where it was in conflict with your marriage, right? So, Tatyana would see Front Row Dads as the enemy because it was taking your time, but then you figured out how to bridge that gap and how to allow Front Row Dads to give you the time for more connection, more family, more travel, more everything. And so, it’s neat to see that, but I wonder how many people watching and listening to you probably unconsciously, but maybe it’s consciously are doing something that is in direct conflict with the thing that you could be or should be doing or maybe want to do or that your spouse wants you to do or your kids want you to do and how can you shift that to be the catalyst to be able to do those things even better.
Jon Vroman: I want to give everybody an idea that they could take away today and implement. And it’s probably been one of my best ideas personally this last year. And I know other people have adopted it and used it. And here’s what it is. It’s actually learning to take our best investments and work and then bring them home. And a lot of our best investments in our life that lead to financial success, I think, in many cases, are about finding strengths and moving towards those, whether it’s like the strength in a market or strength in a person. It’s like where’s the genius zone? Where’s the 80/20 principle apply? Where’s the little hinge that swings a big door? Yada, yada, yada, but it’s like focusing on the strength and amplifying that.
Well, we do that in business so well. People are always learning how to do that. And they’re loving on business associates. They’re calling on John Ruhlin to buy a mug for somebody and give an epic gift, but yet, with our families, and here’s one of the big lessons I learned, was that Tatiana came to me and she’s like, yeah, you got this Front Row tattoo on your arm, you got this charity, you’ve raised millions of dollars, you’ve helped all these people. And she goes, sometimes I feel like you’re more of a moment maker for other people than you are for your own family. I’m like, she’s right. If you were to stack up all the time I’ve spent planning somebody else’s Front Row experience versus her birthday or our trip or whatever, like, it’s out of whack. I’m out trying to be famous in the world and I should be trying to be famous at home.
And that was one of the big disconnects. So, here’s what I did. I started printing pictures every week, every month of my kids and of my wife, and I would write a personal note on the back and I would call out a strength. So, like, I’d take a picture of my kids playing together and I’d read notes to Tiger, like, you’re such a great big brother. It’s great to see you leading Ocean. And Ocean would be in his first jujitsu class. And I’m like, you’re so brave. It’s great to see you try new things. And I would hand them these pictures every week, every month, just throughout the year as I would capture these photographs.
And I was doing this kind of stuff at work, sending thank you notes to people. Hey, great job. Thanks for leading the team this week, yet, I’m not doing this at home. I’m not writing my wife any notes, I’m not writing my kids any notes. So, there are so many things that your audience, who I know are hard-charging, high-performing people who want to create a life for themselves. And they’re working hard to build that capital in many different ways. I feel like my mission is to first talk about it with our group, try it myself, and then share what’s working and what’s not with people. And this is one that’s working. And I got a whole long list of things that aren’t working for me, too, that I’m looking for answers for, but this one is working, man. And it’s just principles that work in business that need to work at home.
Justin Donald: I think that’s incredible. And yeah, it’s taking the thing that works so well in business. And it’s like, why am I not doing it at home? I mean, I should totally be doing this. In fact, I should be doing this at home, even at the expense of not doing it at work.
Jon Vroman: That’s right.
Justin Donald: And so, I love that. And by the way, I’m proof that you do a great job of this because I have been over several times…
Jon Vroman: That’s right. You got a picture.
Justin Donald: And I got a picture with a note written on it that I’ve saved in my little– I got this cool little chest that I put meaningful cards and written words in any time someone kind of shows up in a way and really moves me with their words, I save every last bit of it. So, I’ve got that picture.
Jon Vroman: You’re playing piano with Tiger, right? Wasn’t that the one that you were playing piano with Tiger? And I have one also of you reading to the kids on the couch. I have a picture of you reading to the kids.
Justin Donald: Yeah.
Jon Vroman: Yeah, very cool.
Justin Donald: And to me, like family extends beyond your immediate family. So, you’ve got your immediate family and they come first, but we should also help support our friends, our closest friends’ family as well, because we’re going to offer something that is going to be received differently. So, I could say the same message as you’re saying, to Tiger, to Ocean, and they might receive it differently or just in a season, it might resonate. And you’re like, I said the same thing, but they heard it from a different voice. And I see it with my daughter, where you’ll get down on her eye level and you’ll talk to her and you’ll say things that I’ve said. And she’ll be like, yeah, John told me this. And I want to be like, I’ve told you this a million times, but the reality is it’s the right timing from someone else and it just is significant.
And so, I think there is a power in helping to build other people’s families and pour in and give feedback and really share highlights and what you appreciate about them, especially when they’re not your kids. And so, I love just thinking about building a community where you have a lot of intentional parents parenting each other’s kids. That to me is the game-changer.
Jon Vroman: Yeah, I know it’s been said in different ways, but it’s like, yeah, like good dads take care of their kids, but amazing dads take care of all kids or any kid.
Justin Donald: That’s good. And something else that really has stood out to me, and I shared this again at the last dads’ retreat and I learned this from Jim Sheils who wrote The Family Board Meeting, which is a fantastic little book. And it’s that you’re homeschooling, whether you realize it or not. And that is so powerful. And that got me to really shift and think, I need to pay attention to how I’m showing up because I’m being observed whether I recognize it or not. I’m teaching whether I realize it or not. So, am I intentional with the message that I want to communicate? Are my actions directly sharing and showing what it is that I believe and what it is that I want to teach because they’re going to pay attention to what they see much more than what they hear?
And often, if you’re in contrast in those, that’s even worse because then you’re hypocritical, which we’re all going to be at some point in time. So, you got to let yourself off the hook, but as best you can be in alignment, I think there’s just power in that.
Jon Vroman: Yeah. So true.
Justin Donald: Man, you have created such a cool community that I have been able to learn a ton in, and I get to show up better for my family because I know you, I’m around you, I’m around your family, and I’m around the men that you have assembled who are just so proactive about wanting to put family first. So, thank you for that and for all that you do. I think it’s incredible. Where can our listeners and those watching find out more about you and find out more about Front Row Dads?
Jon Vroman: Well, they should start by listening to your interview on the Front Row Dads podcast. Now, if you like to listen to things, then we’ve got some great conversations there about marriage and parenting and things relating to life at home. So, it’s good to take the lifestyle that you’ve created and go learn how to connect with your wife and kids and serve in that way because I do believe that if you really want to change the world, you gotta start at home. So, please, please check that out.
And then, if somebody wants to learn more about the Front Row Dads Brotherhood, they crave the community, like this is all about relationships, resources, and results. That’s what the community is built on. And these are learners, people who execute, and people who believe in team, and everything’s at FrontRowDads.com. So, just go there, and then if you need something, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and somebody from our team will help you out, but those are the places I would go.
Justin Donald: I love it. Any last thoughts that you want to share before we wrap things up here today?
Jon Vroman: No, I mean, at the risk of over– people have a lot of love for Jon and Justin, right? it’s like, dude, there is a lot of love, there’s a lot of respect, there’s a lot of appreciation, especially for you, man, that my only final words are for people listening is that if you just found this podcast, you’ve found a really authentic host, a guy who’s really walking the talk. And if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while and you’re a long-time friend, then just stay the course, stay on the journey because I have a feeling this is just going to keep getting more and more exciting, and we’re going to keep learning and growing together.
And I feel like this is– somebody called me recently and they were about to introduce somebody. So, they knew you, but they knew I knew you better. And they’re like, come on, man, is Justin the real deal? They tell me, like for real behind the scenes. And I’m like, dude, he is the real deal. Through and through, this guy’s got high integrity. He walks the talk, he does what he says he’s going to do. Like, I cannot give a higher endorsement of a human being than I can to Justin and what he’s up to. And the results speak for themselves. Like, just look at his life, just talk to his wife, talk to his daughter. Like you want to know Justin’s impact, talk to Savannah. She’s amazing. You want to see a wife who’s being loved and taken care of, like meet Jennifer. These are the things that Justin’s investing in. And you want to know how Justin shows up for his friends, like talk to his friends.
But when you look around and you poke around, man, it’s a really wonderful world that you’ve built. And my invite to people is, just enjoy the journey with Justin and share the message, because this is an important one, building a lifestyle rooted in authentic values. I’m in, I’m in 100%, I’m in for life. So, thanks for having me, man. This has been great.
Justin Donald: Thank you so much for the kind words and for friendship and for just the impact that you’ve had over the years. I’m so thrilled about this episode and people getting a chance to hear and learn more about you and for people to be able to find and invest in friends where they can grow a friendship and a relationship the way that you and I have. I feel so blessed for that and being part of your life. And I appreciate your time. This has been such a fun show. And I just knew it would. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while.
And I just want to share with all of our listeners and those watching, I just encourage you to take some form of action today, take a step towards financial freedom, take a step towards a life by design and the life that you want, a life on your terms, not someone else’s, not a life on default, not a life on autopilot, but a life that you’re inspired and uplifted to lead and be part of. So, thank you. And we’ll catch you next week.
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