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My journey of balancing small business and small kids


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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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Cliff Dives and a Sick Kid – Stressful Relaxtion

This post was started a week ago, so take yourself all the way back to last week (cue flash back harp music now)
At this very moment I am at the height of a personal paradox, a stress filled relaxing vacation. I’m sitting in a cabana chair with an amazing ocean view of the Caribbean, a full glass Johnny Walker Black and Coke light (as it’s called in Mexico), and an amazing wife, yet my mind and heart have been preoccupied with the stress of work and a sick child. Through her company, Thirty-One Gifts, my wife worked her tail off and earned a fabulous trip to the Hard Rock Resort at Riviera Maya. It’s absolutely amazing. All inclusive meaning all the food and beverage you can handle. I have brought some oversized and stretchy clothes for the occasion. For the first time since our honeymoon nine years ago we are taking a trip that doesn’t involve kids, family, real estate coaching or a life coaching conference. This is our chance to spend time together and take a relaxing break from both of our lives as parentpreneurs.
Relaxation and I have an odd relationship. I almost feel like it’s a long distance relationship in which we speak often yet spend little time together. In my world as a parentpreneur the ability to disconnect is one that doesn’t come easily. Amazing wifi and international cell phone service and an amazing resort quickly turns in to a real estate office south of the border. The real estate transactions can be dealt with fairly quickly these days. Over the past few years I have been able to grow a small team of very competent and reliable agents whom I’m blessed to be associated with. A few text and e-mails makes short work (a few hours) of the first few days. What I am really paying for is the true lack of preparation for integrating my team into the work prior to leaving versus just leaving notes. Future trips will include taking enough time to stop and perform a thorough briefing. That stress I can deal with.
The one I’m struggling with as is my wife who earned this amazing trip is what’s going on with our oldest daughter. The day before our scheduled flights she complained of tummy pain in the morning. Back in June she faced a bout of pancreatitis that involved 4 days of hospitalization for fasting. I told her teacher about pancreatitis and asked her to be sure to look out for her. At 9:30 I received a call to go pick her up from the school. We were able to get her into the doctor right away who then ordered a blood test. My wife and I swapped places and she took little Ayla to the phlembots at the local children’s hospital. Fortunately our trooper has become accustomed to the blood draws over the past several months. A blood tests is the only way to rule out or rule in pancreatitis. Early that evening the whole family somehow all converged together at our house. Oakley’s mom, my parents, the kids, and I all were there when Oakley came in to tell us that Ayla’s numbers were up and that she had to go to a specialists in the next few days. One problem, we are leaving for Mexico at 6 am the next day. We discussed the situation with all the family as the girls played. Our initial thought was to stay. We couldn’t possibly leave her there with the possibility of a hospital visit. We ran through a myriad of options and came to the decision that the family will help as planned. If the doctors said she needed to go to the hospital we could get back that night. Ultimately we asked Ayla and she said that we should go. I’m really glad she said yes because I’m not sure how this would have played out had she begged us to stay.
Once in Mexico I worked the first few mornings and we worried between Pina coladas and dodging monsoon style weather. The dark clouds that covered the resort represented the dark cloud of worry that were covering my heart. In addition to my wife dealing with this worry, her father is undergoing spinal surgery this week as well. It’s been a mind filled week.
Then one moment at the dinner hosted for all the 600 plus consultants in attendance changed the clouds of worry into sun rays. I have been reading a prayer book and trying to elevate my prayer life and belief. I read how our prayers effect the world well beyond our individual needs.
At the dinner Scott Monroe, husband of the Thirty-One founder, prayed for the meal. During the prayer he seemed to add one line that was just for us like a word of comfort from the Lord. Paraphrased he said “God let everyone here know that you are taking care of all our family and loved ones back home. Help us trust you in caring for them. Help their minds be at ease.” I’m not sure exactly what he said, but that’s what I heard and I began to cry. I wiped my eyes and had a sense of peace.
Today the rain poured down hard and our worry was still there. Ayla had an appointment with the doctor and my father-n-law had his surgery. I remembered what Scott had said the night before and the clouds began to lift. I prayed and asked God to care for them and we will respond how he needs us to. The clouds at the resorts lifted and we are seeing sunshine for the first time all week. I have struggled with worry most of my life. I learned to not let it consume me like I used to. I believe God is continually working on me.
Originally this post was to start concluding here. The next day after writing this my wife we on our way to a jungle excursion which included jumping off of 20 foot cliffs, zip lines, and swimming in caves. On the way there I saw a message from my mother-n-law that said Ayla was on her way the emergency room at the doctor’s request. I had noticed the message as the bus pulled away from the hotel and we lost internet service. Once we arrived at a true Mayan village I was able to begin texting with my dad. Ayla’s blood work confirmed pancreatitis. The day we left we asked Oakley’s mom to put Ayla on strict low-fat diet which is the only way to combat pancreatic attacks without complete fasting. We prayed as we trekked through the jungle. Ayla was in a waiting room at the ER as we jumped off cliffs. We prayed for safety of us and for her. It was complete chaos in our minds as we enjoyed moments and I ran to check my phone every few minutes. They did more blood work on her and a few hours later we received the news that she was being released and going home. The low fat diet had helped her enzyme levels drop enough for the doctors to feel comfortable with her not having to fast. Our trek from the Mayan village to the bus was one of joy and relief. We had to work to completely trust God and our families to take care of her. We had to work to have fun and not let the worry take away an incredible experience that my wife and I will always remember. Fighting the feelings of guilt because of the fun while our daughter was awaiting another test was tough. Feeling helpless as a parent is indescribable. I really feel God was using this experience to show us we can truly trust him. He showed us that our daughter is a strong person and I hoped it showed her the same.
As I finish the post the sky has a dual personality with rain and sunshine. In spite of the rain God is still there shining down on us. I will remain committed to trusting him. When I let the rain of worry shower down on me as it is sure to do I will hold fast in the truth that rain is momentary and that the God who created the sun will shine always.
The hybrid of parent and small business ownership is truly tested on vacations. Maybe this time I wasn’t be great about disconnecting fully, however I am the type of person who likes to learn and I look forward to my next lesson. Thank you Thirty-One for this trip and thank you to my wife for working so hard to earn it and thank you God for taking care of my little girls.
Cue harp music for the return to tonight. It really was a painfully enjoyable experience. My wife and I had the greatest time on the trip and made some great friends. We both learned to trust God more. I know worry may never leave me, but the level of which I let it steal my joy is going to be a lot less.


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“KNOW THYSELF” – Plato

There is one common element in the journey to grow a strong family and business, it’s you.  That’s right, you are with yourself 24 hours a day.  From the boardroom to the bedroom you are there with you.  The interesting thing is that many people don’t  really know who they truly are. We have all heard the stories of people taking trips and time to go “find themselves.”  If it was only as easy as looking up “ME” on EBAY. I was curious what would turn up. The search resulted in pictures and post cards about Maine. I can tell you I am definitely not there (I don’t do cold well).  On Amazon the results were a bit more interesting. A face aging app, some odd novels, and a book by Ricky Martin titled “ME”.  Not on my short list to read no matter loca my vida gets.

So where does one go to “Know Thyself?” The answer, IN.  That’s right you must venture into the most scary place of all mankind, your inner thoughts. Without going “nuts” on the psychological and self-help ideologies I truly believe there are three areas in which you must know yourself that will feed into your family, business and all spaces in between.

1. You must know what you BELIEVE

Belief systems are the basis of all decisions we make and actions we take.  How we view the world, ourselves, religion, our children, the industry we work in is key to our success in life. The belief that success is possible is the start.  Next week I will go into more detail about how belief systems as a parent and business owner need to line up and work together. When we have contradictory beliefs we create friction in our life.  To “Know Thyself” you must understand what you believe and why.  Where did it come from and why do I really believe this? Challenge yourself and strengthen your beliefs or change them.

2. You must know HOW YOU RELATE TO PEOPLE, your personality and communication styles

Do you know your personality style?  There are bunch of great tests out there. Have you ever taken one?  Everyone in the entire world should take one. I have done several. The coaching company I employee has a very detailed program that my wife and I took together. It truly helped us understand how we operate and communicate. Patience is one of the greatest expressions of love we can show. When you understand how you relate to people and how your loved ones, co-workers relate you can be patient with each other. I recently had DISC profile done and went through a great class to learn how the styles interact. I had one done for my 5 year old as well in order to better understand her (if understanding a 5 year old tween wannabe is possible).  I will get into detail on this in a future posts as well. In the meantime consider that the way you see the world is not the same as the way those around you see it. People don’t even hear words the same. Some people hear tone more than verbage and many people are the opposite. Knowing these differences make the world and it’s people easier to deal with. You can’t change others, however you can change how you relate to them.

3. You must know WHAT YOU WANT!

Having a vision of what you want your life to look like is crucial. You must have a vision for your business and for your family.  It’s not just numerical goals or resolutions. Think about how you want your life to be day to day. The type of people you want in your business. Think about how your kids behave and treat others. We all want well educated kids, but what does that mean. More importantly we want children who have great character and influence. I recently heard Andy Andrews say that we should not focus on having great kids, instead we should focus on raising on kids who become great adults. That is the truth. Greatness is a journey that can only be achieved with vision. If you don’t know where you are driving you’ll find yourself in a place you never wanted to go. One of the best exercises I have ever done is writing a letter to myself from the future. On the top of the page write the date January 8, 2019.  Then tell your current self how your life is in 2019. This is a best case scenario future. It’s your ideal life so dream big. Explain what your day looks like. How does your family begin it’s day. Where are your kids, what are their ages, how do they interact with you and your spouse. How is your relationship with your spouse. What does your company look like?  Do this for all areas of your life. Ask and answer great questions of yourself. Take 15 minutes to just free write. It’s an amazing experience and you’ll find yourself taking a lot more time.

Knowing your vision, your personality, and your beliefs will be the first steps on truly unlocking who you are and aiding your journey as a parentpreneur.

Go forth and learn thyself.

The Expectation Cliff

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The Expectation Cliff

With all the talk of the “Fiscal Cliff” in Washington, we must be aware of the “Expectation Cliff” this Holiday Season.  The number one piece of advice I can give anyone for this time of year to have Peace in your life is to be aware of your expectations of others and yourself. Many of the disappointments you feel in your life come from unrealized and unmet expectations.  Consistently being disappointed can lead to a relationship being destroyed that didn’t have to.  Before your drive your relationships of the cliff you can learn to steer things in the right direction.

This is often the result of expecting something from others that we have never let them know we expect.  The whole men don’t read minds thing is true. It also works the other way either.  Of course women tend to have an idea what men are thinking this time of year, football, food, football, sex, food, food, then nothing, and then more of the same.  Unsaid expectation always lead to unmet expectation.

The more expectations you have of someone the easier it is to be disappointed. This does not mean that we should not have reasonable expectations. What I am referring to is expecting someone to act exactly how you want them to or believe they should. We often want others to act exactly like us. Everyone is unique and they have different beliefs, different experiences, and different thoughts which means they will act and think differently than you.

This holiday season the number one thing you can serve is grace. Have grace with those around you and enjoy their differences. Modify your expectations to be realistic of others. Just because you do something a certain way don’t expect others to do the same. The stories we tell ourselves about unmet expectations are often destructive and in most cases plain wrong.  For example if someone forgets to send you a card it’s probably because they forgot and not that they dislike you.    Adjust the story and how you think about unmet expectation and you  can really transform your day to day living.

This simple way of approaching people can save you a lot of pain and add joy to your life.  It will allow you to experience the moments of the day instead of judging them away.

Til next time It’s A Blessed Life,
Joseph Cortez