Fatherpreneur.com

My journey of balancing small business and small kids


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Does my 5 year old have racial bias already?

This morning my five year old helped me take out the trash. She was dancing around in the drive as I cleaned out evidence of my many fast food lunches crushed into the corner of the passenger seat of my car.  I’m a Realtor so I eat a lot of lunches in my car.

We started making our way to place trash bin at the curb when she noticed about thirty birds eating birdseed that our neighbors had tossed in their driveway.

She looks at me and tells me that it looks like a birdie restaurant.  That it did with thirty doves quickly picking up seed and eating as fast as they could, much they way I must have looked creating my pile of fast food bags.

“Look daddy there is a one black bird, he must be the waiter.”

The waiter, the waiter! Why would she think the black one is the waiter? Does she think that since he’s black he must be the servant? We haven’t broached the topic of slavery from a historical perspective. We’ve taught that all men are equal and all birds too.  Where is she getting this from? Why would she think this?  We probably go out of our way to treat other races better than we treat ourselves. Does that make me a racists against my race and hers?  Heck she’s bi-racial so by offending ourselves I’m offending two races.

For a girl who has only known an African American President and knows that daddy’s favorite golfer among all the white guys is an African American, how the heck is she seeing racial bias.

All of these questions flooded my mind in a split second like a MSNBC reporter at a Trump rally.  I pictured myself running for city council in a few years having to answer questions about how my little girl obtained racial bias and not having any answer other than “I don’t freaking know!!!!”

So I asked, “sweetie, why is the black bird the waiter.”  She looked at me with innocent eyes and said “Because he’s wearing a black uniform like waiters do.”

Phew! She’s not racist just observant (not that we eat at many restaurants with waiters in tuxes, Chili’s waiters have been known to wear black).

I know that racial bias will creep its ugly head into my child’s world through TV, the internet, music, class mates and yes through her parents.  It’s nearly impossible to avoid. The problem as I look at it is not that its there but how we handle it. I honestly believe we have become  conditioned to see differences over the last many years in a way that I didn’t feel growing up.  I’m thirty-seven and think about race more now than at any point of my life. I had African American, Hispanic, Anglo and Asian American friends growing up. To me they were just friends and race was just a thing.  Sure I’ve felt odd being the only Hispanic at times when I’m certain places but  when I stopped thinking about it all was good. I have always just considered myself an American who’s family came from Spain and Mexico a long time ago.  My race is just part of my history. I’m not disowning it, I just don’t let if define me. I like the cultural elements of my heritage, especially the food.  I just believe my character is what should define me. That’s my choice and others have the right to think different.

We are all different and that’s a beautiful thing, yet we are all humans and love flows from and to us the same. Cultural differences make the world an amazingly awesome place. It would be boring if we all act the same way. If the whole world was like Texas it would be boring, well run but boring. We need Californian’s, New Yorkers, Europeans and everyone else.

The difference we as parents can  have is to make sure our children understand that we are all the same  in that we are all unique and we all need love.  We need to discuss these issues with our kids because if they don’t learn from us they will from someone else.  First to discuss the world from this standpoint we must really take a look at how we see others and the world. Our beliefs pass on to them.  Both hatred and love are taught. We can change the entire world in one generation if we all just really grow up and think like an innocent five year old who just observes the word through fun eyes.

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Seventh Anniversary of Dadhood

Seven years ago today I became “DAD” better known today as “Daddy, daddy, daddy”.  The very word strikes fear in the strongest of fatherless men world wide, yet I claim it proudly. I am dad hear me …. frankly sometimes its hard to hear myself because I’m the father of two little girls.

Seven short and at the same time long years ago at 2:56 pm my Ayla was born.  I honestly can’t remember what it felt like to not be a dad. There is a piece of my brain and all of my heart that has been captured by my littles.  I was always afraid that becoming a father would cause the identity of Joseph Cortez to be lost. In reality it was not until I became a dad that my full identity was fully revealed.

I’m not saying that I was incomplete prior to fatherhood just that who I am increased. It’s like God expanded my capacity to understand Him in a new way.  The same can be said of when I married my amazing wife.  There are certain things that only parents can ever understand and that can only be revealed through marriage.

I now look at the world through a lens I didn’t know existed prior to that magical day. Each and every day on this journey I discover new things about the world and myself. I find new weaknesses and once hidden strengths.  My outlook and approach to the social constructs under which the world operates have undergone a transformation in some respects and been reaffirmed in others.  I comprehend love to a level I never could have reached with out the precious gift that is fatherhood.

The main lesson I have learned over the past seven years is that no matter how well read I am, how many sides of every social and political issue I research,  how much advice I garner, I am incapable of being a great father without the grace and strength of God.  On my own I would give in to the temptation of taking the easy way out of difficult situations,  of discipline and guarding their hearts.  I so try to guard their hearts not to shield them from the world but to teach them to be rooted in the strength of conviction of knowing Gods love as best I can through the completely fallible vessel I am. 

The complexity of being a dad in a world focused on Bruce Jenners issues while a Christian holocaust occurs in the Middle East and goes untold is a daunting task.  Parenting in a world where we can’t figure out who should use what bathroom anymore and what was once right is now wrong is becoming increasingly difficult as being self guided instead of God guided is the new normal.  I shall keep my head laser focused on their hearts and do my best to grow as a father and understand I can only control my part. I must trust that my daughters will become who they are supposed to become.  So today I celebrate my daddy hood anniversary with great joy with, great concern for , and most importantly great love for my daughters.


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Reflecting on a stressful 2014 or was it?

Over the past few weeks I have begun to feel a stress unlike any I have during my journey as a parentpreneur.  The end of year approaching should be a time of excitement and joy. The anticipation of time off around the corner should light up my smile like the lights on our Christmas tree, yet I have found myself buried under the stress of work and worry. The end of the year for many entrepreneurs has us looking at the finances, goals, and in my case projects wrapping up. Projects don’t always coincide with the year end, but in my case I have two that have been inching a long for the better part of seven months coming to a close. Finishing is not my strong suit, I’m a starter by nature which may explain why I go so long between posts.

This year has been interesting fun and stressful year. We had a lot going on, in fact it’s probably been to much. Buried under my own self talk and stress I was glad to have a great call with my coach who reminded me of how good the year has been. I beat last year’s income (not necessarily profit), opened a real estate franchise office and quadrupled our agent count albeit from two to eight,  I think on some level that may be the hardest jump. The momentum should help us grow quicker next year. We also will finish our strongest year building homes.  The conversation with my coach was a good one because it helped pull me out of the muck of the day to day. When I get lost in the stress of all that has to get done with work and then helping manage a household, raise two kids and support my wife in her growing business it all seems to much. I think about shutting it down some days and just going back to a job where the weekends are really free. I have come close on a few occasion especially with the late night client calls and text ,the weekends full of questions and working with someone for months only to have them use some one else with out a second thought. When I’m caught in the stress I only see the bad, I don’t see the wonderful clients, the great conversations, the fun weekends, the hundreds of people we help employee through building. The stress causes me to lose sight of the dream that drives me, the desire to build a business that helps fellow real estate agents change their careers and lives.

It’s nice to have someone remind me of what we have accomplished instead of what feels sometimes like a series of short comings. Maybe it’s the nature of an entrepreneurs to strive to the next level all the while forgetting the level you’re on is last year’s next level. Andy Andrews says that those who can get through the fog of life seasons will be the one’s to see the reward on the other side. Well, I have turned my fog lights on and I’m going to power through.

This year end take time to review what you have accomplished. Maybe your income went up or down, think about what caused these results. What struggles did you have to deal with that you overcame? Sometimes familial changes or stress can cause your business to slip. I had a daughter in the hospital twice this year causing a new source worry and anxiety. Thankfully all is well, but I can tell you my results during that time were less than stellar financially. However I managed to push thru and I was there for my family when they needed me and that’s more important than a few extra sales.

Before you plan 2015 take a few minutes to review 2014. You may find that you accomplished more than you know and overcame some obstacles that taught you great lessons. The pain and stress are hard at the moment, but the lessons learned can be invaluable if utilized. It’s in the pain that we grow and its on reflection you get the knowledge of such growth.  The wisdom gained in a stressful year will only help to handle the next year better and so on. What once was stressful when faced again is less stressful.

Ask yourself the following questions?

1. What three situations did I overcome that helped me grow? What did I learn about myself in these situations?

2. In 2014 what worked well in my business and family and how can I make it better in 2015?

3. What are three areas I can improve that would make my work and family life better? Are there simple things I can implement like getting a maid for home and new technology for the office? What are some longer term strategies I need to get started on now to have ready for 2016?

This reflection is key to setting goals for 2015. Apply these thoughts to every area of your life.  You may find that 2014 was not as stressful as it seemed in the moment or that it may have been a year of great growth.  The story of your 2014 is yours to tell and yours to assign meaning to. That’s the beauty of life. When I look back on 2014 it was much better than I thought and I’m encouraged how it’s going to help me have a great 2015.
Have a great end to 2014 and get rested for a huge 2015.


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Father of the Brides and they are 6 and 4.

When I was in college I had a feeling that I was going to have daughters. I didn’t think about it much until I saw the movie “Father of the Bride.” I have always been a big Steve Martin and Martin short fan. Put them together in a movie and I’m going to watch even with a title like “Father of the Bride.” I knew I was in for trouble when I got misty eyed the first time I watched it. Thankfully I was solo at the time. I’ve held that secret for fifteen years. Anyone that knows me well knows that my thoughts are generally future based. I can envision my life many years in future. Being single and not in a serious relationship at that time I often wondered what it would be like to be married and have kids. I may have been one of the only guys I knew back then who really wanted to get married. I’m thankful I had enough sense and patience to wait for the right girl and not go down the wrong path just to fulfill a desire on my own instead of letting God’s plan work itself out. It’s amazing to see how he was working in my life even when I wasn’t following him.

Fast forward fifteen years to a Saturday afternoon. I’m thirty-five, happily married and father to two beautiful little girls, six and four. My oldest is at the age of wanting to watch movies with actual people in them and not just Disney Princesses. My wife and I are very conscious of what they watch and don’t let them watch to much TV that’s outside of their age range and if it is it’s usually something we have previewed. It’s impossible for them to unsee or unhear something.

My daughters have been fascinated with our wedding album so I knew they would have an interest in the wedding portion of the of Father of the Bride. From the beginning scene where George Banks (Steve Martin’s character) is speaking of his daughter my eyes began to water. I knew enough to stay in the kitchen working on dishes so they wouldn’t see me crying every 10 minutes. Okay it wasn’t that bad but close. The scene that kills me is when he is thinking about his daughter growing up through the years. The movie shows his daughter as a baby, then around 4, 8, teenager and then to the present time in the film. My future oriented brain ran me through the same sequence with my daughters. It is so true that sometimes your brain doesn’t know the difference between thought and reality. I could see myself walking them down the aisle and feeling the emotions of them growing up and leaving the nest. I teared up like a leaky faucet. I wasn’t sure if it was the thought of them leaving or the pain of how much a flipping wedding is going to costs.
I made the through the movie and took a big breath ready for a shot of testosterone from some sports watching. No such luck because part two came on right afterwards. In the second one George Banks’ daughter and wife both get pregnant. It’s hilarious and my girls enjoyed it more than the first. As the movie neared the end I was on the couch cuddled up with both girls watching as George Banks held his grandson and daughter. I held mine tight remembering when each was born and thinking about the day when I will become a grandpa.

I’m so glad there is not it a part three. I found the Spartan race on TV and watched amazing athletes at work. After an emotional morning with the movies and doing several loads of dishes and laundry while my wife was out I needed so man time. That being said man time was hard to do even with the Spartan race on as my girls pranced around the house singing.

I believe the college version of me who first saw the movie thinking about being a dad would be pleased with the wonderful family I have. I really look forward to seeing my daughters get married and I will be pleased to walk them down the aisle. I pray for their future spouse and ask God to bless them the way he blessed me. I also ask him to give the girls patience to wait for the right guy and not rush marriage. I think one of the greatest causes of divorce is people getting married to people they really shouldn’t marry and don’t know it because they rush.

I look forward to being Father of the Bride some day just glad I have a long time to wait and be the main man in their lives (I’m also thankful I have some time to save up for the weddings).


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Mom’s Gone Now What? Running Solo for A Week Part one

When my wife asked me if she could go to a conference for her company I said sure.  I go to two or three trainings a year and spend thousands of dollars a year on events to further my personal and professional education.  I love events where I can get surrounded by colleagues and superstars in my business.  My natural response was “yes”, because I want my wife to have the same opportunity I get.  What I didn’t fully realize at the time was that her being gone for 6 days meant I had to fly solo with two precious little girls during the summer in the midst of the busiest season of my work world with over a dozen real estate deals going and four construction projects on the ground.  I pulled up my daddy boots and put on my house husband apron and went to work. I am thankful that my parents were able to watch the girls during the days while I worked.  Without that I’m not sure I would have made it.

I’m fully capable of handling dinner and bedtime solo  and hanging with the girls for a night, as a HOTONE (Husband of Thirty-One) that’s no big deal. If you didn’t know my wife is a rockstar Thirty-One Gifts consultant. She really is amazing in her business, meaning I get to practice nighttime with the girls several times a month while she is hosting parties. Comes with the territory and I’m glad to do it. Supporting your spouse is key and should work both ways.   Doing nighttime and daytime for six days in a row was definitely a first.  Who knew kids ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus a snack and another snack and another snack. These kids eat like teenage boys. I was never told that growing girls eat like crazy as well.  Oh yeah did I mention that my six year old had just come out of the hospital for pancreatitus and was on a low fat diet. No easy out with McD’s and pizza every night. I actually had to come up with real meals and made a lot of salads. Thank God they ate them.  During lunch I crammed as much fattening food as I could find to ease the pain and fill my fat food cravings. 

We got so busy before my wife left that neither of us remembered to go grocery shopping.  Taking two little girls to the local grocery store at 5:30 pm in the middle of the week is like running into a hurricane. Don’t people shop on weekends? What was supposed to be a quick trip turned into an hour of “Daddy can I have this, daddy can I have that ….., daddy why are you buying so much wine?”  My kids are great when we go to a store about not crying over toys and other items. When it comes to telling them no about food it’s like I punched them in the gut and ran over their non-existent puppy. I was looking around to make sure no one called the police telling them I was depriving my girls of sweet tarts.  I could hear the sirens in my head and the “doink doink” sound from Law and Order.  Best thing to do is race to the check out and head home with boxes of non mom approved cereals (insert villianist laugh, hehehehe)

I did my best to keep up with dishes (paper plates), laundry (wear the same clothes for 6 day kids), and house work.  I did nothing but work, be dad, and house work. By ten o’clock each night I curled up in a little ball in my bed with a sippy cup of wine and watched Big Bang Theory reruns counting the days till my wife came home. 

Over all I really handled it well.  I actually managed to get a bunch of work done with the kids which I will detail in my next post. Nothing like showing your most expensive property of the year with the little ones in tow. 

The day before my wife came home the girls and I put it into high gear to have the house as clean as possible. The goal, let mom come home to a house with no dishes, laundry to be done and no toys in the living room.  I accomplished this with Disney Princess and Tinkerbell movie marathons and lollipops. 

I have the utmost respect for single parents everywhere.  If you’re a single parent and running a business you have the absolute toughest job in the world.  As a dad I’m equipped to handle a lot of things, spiders, bills, changing light bulbs, checking for the boogie monster and scaring off boys. However I’m not equipped for a week of dressing, feeding, and attempting to do the hair of  little girls. I tried and had some epic hair fails, so much so that my oldest just looked at me and said, “Lita (grandma) will do it when you drop us off.”

Amidst of all the chores and girly things I had some of the best quality time I could ever imagine with my kids. We danced and played games, watched movies and stayed up late a few times because it takes me forever to get through their nighttime routine while taking calls, sending out contracts and doing dishes.  I also developed an amazing appreciation for my wife.  The one thing I made sure of was to do my absolute best not to complain to my wife about the extra stress.

I wanted her to enjoy her time and get the most out her trip. Making your spouse feel guilty over work trips is not going to help your marriage at all. I must say my wife has been really good about this over the years. I never felt more guilt than my self imposed guilt. After a few trips I gave myself permission to enjoy my time and really focus on my trips. The great thing is once a year we now take a trip together to attend a personal growth event.

I made it through the 6 days unscathed and the kids had a good time, but we were all super excited to see mom.


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Unclear Path

fog photo

My family and I were driving back from San Antonio to Corpus Christi this past weekend.  About half way through our two hour drive a light fog started to appear. Although an interstate highway the journey between the two cities is one of wide open spaces, occasional gas stations and sprouting oil rigs (which are more prevalent than ever).  Throw in 9 pm and the light fog was enough to raise concerns.  The fog going from a mile of visibility to hundreds of yards and then the concern meter rose quite a bit.

I knew two things, I must stay focused on the road in front of me and that the road I was on will get me to where I want to go.

Sometimes things in life will be unclear. You’ll have circumstances that don’t make sense. Your future will be clouded and uncertain.  It’s in these times that you must remain focused on the task at hand.  Focus on the steps you can take in this moment. Focus on what you can do today. If what you are working on is pointing towards your life’s vision and dreams a temporary fog can be overcome.  The thing about fog is that it’s temporary. When the air temperature rises the suspended water molecules that create the fog disappear like the XFL.

When life is foggy turn up the heat and focus on what you can do.  I began to focus on the line markers on the road to keep me going straight. I also looked for cars in front. Seeing tailights ahead gave me comfort that someone had just gone through what I am about to.  That’s a big key towards your dreams. Find the people who are and have driven the road to the success you are looking for. In our new business I am turning to other franchisees who have built strong businesses.

There are times on the drive where I would wind up passing the taillights I was following because they were driving to slow. My speed picked up with my comfort level.  I would find myself driving in the midst of the dense fog with no sight of anyone else around.   These moments were more fearful and stressful. I just stayed focused on the road ahead and remembering that soon I would be home. Those who can deal with uncertainty and persevere will taste success.

There came a moment when we came up to the Nueces river which is a marker that we had made it to Corpus Christi.  The great thing is as soon as we hit the river the fog lifted and it was crystal clear on the way home.   When you get close to your vision and dreams life will be come clearer because obstacles will seem as though they disappear due to laser focus.

During the last twenty miles of the drive home I become completely aware of how great clear skies are. I also became aware of all the distraction of billboards and other lights.  When I was driving in the fog I was focused and aware of the road. If you can take the focus and awareness of your path through the fog and keep it when clear skies are there you will hit your dreams. The distraction can keep you from achieving and reaching your dreams. Stay focused.

When life becomes unclear embrace it as an opportunity to learn how to focus and become fully aware of the path you need to take. These times are when the hard work is done and the payoff becomes closer.

The next time you hit a foggy patch in your career, relationships, finances etc. write down a plan to serve as your road and then read your life’s mission and vision statements. Those who focus through the fog are the ones who reach their dreams.

Focus on!!


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My 5 year old daughter said the “F” word

When you become a parent you know there are going to be milestone moments. The first word, first step, the first “I love you daddy,” the moments that melt your heart. You quickly become aware there are going to be the others, you know the one’s that you’ll laugh about later, just not in the moment because instead of your heart melting it’s exploding with anger, embarrassment, or fear.

I came home from a day of making changes in our office to unveil the new franchise we purchased for our real estate business. I was in a good mood and began playing with Joss, my three year old daughter. As I’m rolling around on the floor with little Joss my five year old daughter, Ayla, walked up to me. She then looked down at me and with a giant smile says “s#@t!” I hopped up with the skill of a retired ninja and looked for my wife. “Oak did she say what I think she just said.”

I was in the moment and thinking to myself don’t over react she doesn’t know what she said. Then my wife informed me that they had a long discussion earlier that afternoon about that very word because she had showed my wife her new found vocabulary.

I looked back at my daughter and didn’t see my sweet little girl anymore. I swear she was standing there with a high ball full of whiskey puffing a cigar doing her best Ron White tater salad face.

I may have gotten a little upset with her. I was more upset that she had disobeyed her mom and said it again.  I came out with the “that’s such an ugly word to come out of such a pretty face. That’s a word they can’t even say on TV.”  I tried to keep my voice down, but I’m dad, raising my voice at all is probably scary to them. I’m working on that one.  My wife and I shot disappointing looks her way and she ran to her room to cry in her embarrassment.

I asked my wife about the previous incident. She explained a kid at school had said it. We happen to know the boys mom. The big question was do we make the call.  My thinking was yes, call and let me listen. I was hoping that on the other end would be a repeat of the beating Schwartz received in a Christmas Story. I even contemplated looking for a bar of soap for my little “Ralphie.” My wife did speak with the boy’s mother the next day in person.

I calmed down and went and spoke to my little sailor.  I apologized for raising my voice and held her for a bit. I asked her where she heard the word. She explained that the boy had asked the teacher in front of the whole class if they could say it at school.  I told her that word is not one that smart people use and that it’s meant to shock people. There is really no good explanation other than don’t say it.

You may be asking “where is the ‘F’ word”?  The next night I was tucking Ayla into bed and she proceeded to tell me, “daddy I can’t get that word out of my head.”  Yet, another teachable moment for the Fatherpreneur.  “Sweetie, the good thing is that God has given us the ability to change our thoughts.  Try to think of something fun that makes you happy.”

“Okay daddy, I will think of the ‘F’ word,” she said in an innocent voice.  Holy “S” word ran through my head. “Who has this kid been hanging out with.”  I told myself to remain calm. “Ayla, what is the ‘F’ word?”

I turned my head not wanting to see her speak the word. “Family! I am going to think about you, mommy, and Joss.”

My heart began to beat again and I gave her a giant hug.  I left her room to look for a high ball full of scotch.

When raising a family and a business you are going to encounter moments that are less than fun.  You’ll have moments that shock you and test your patience.  It’s important to always learn from these moments. Each one that happens will make the next one easier to handle.  Calm, cool, collected is gained through trial by five year old.  Each day they grow, I grow.

My heart and my head are not always on the same page when it comes to moments like these.  Maybe there are times when they both need to take a backseat to my funny bone. The reality is that we all will have these moments to laugh at later.  To make them easier maybe we should laugh a little sooner and ease the pain of the moment. These are the moments that make life fun. Go hug your “F” word.