Keeping Things Simple Isn’t Always The Case In Business…the bill always comes due

By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional

Our love of technology has given professionals, such as myself, the option of working our own way…what ever that may be. For me, it is from where ever I happen to be, at any hour of the day. There is no need to see clients face to face when we have FaceTime and real time collaboration apps and tools.

Recently I learned a very hard lesson. That no matter how hard you work, nor what you may achieve…the bill always comes due. For the past year I have been working, quite diligently I might add, on building and launching a new brand in a consumer space that I was not an expert in when I began. The Food and Lifestyle space, while I have lived it well, I didn’t understand the inner workings, until now.

While I am extremely good at my job, and have launched and helped build some of Americas biggest brands over the years, I have to ask myself if I can still do it. Everyone says 40 is the new 30 and when I look in the mirror, I forget at times that I am almost 50 years. Like a woman told me yesterday, I wear my age well, but actions still wear a person down.

For the past few months I have literally been working 60-80 hours a week. And it finally caught up with me. I have heard of people being hospitalized for exhaustion and kinda of wondered how it was even possible for a person to get to that point. Now I know. It hits your like a house being dropped on you. I was down for an entire week and couldn’t even eat, let alone work or take care of my family. The bill came due.

As the person that has been preaching balance, I failed to live by my own words. Take time for yourself. Be good to yourself…whatever that means to you. Make sure you are getting rest. The human body cant keep going on 2-3 hours of sleep a day. It will always protect itself by shutting down and going into a hibernation type mode.

Lesson learned, I am back to work and keeping things balanced. Which for me, means shifting set deadlines, asking for help and being proud of the way our brand has evolved. It is not the company I envisioned 10 years ago, but what has emerged is a brand that I honestly, can’t believe I built. Once the revenue streams are in place, our family will be set for a long time to come. It is becoming a true family business and I had nothing to do with it. They asked to be involved. I couldn’t be more proud.

I am working on our companies first real commercial and mapping out the media outlets to place it on. One of the interesting things I have found is my target audience has chosen me. While. I was working towards millennials, it is actually Gen X that has showed initial support. And I’m talking across all platforms. Isn’t it amazing the information you can find with out paying an outside firm? The analytics provided by social media, Google and WordPress are indispensable.

My point with telling you all of this and being so transparent, is that many of you are friends and peers that I would not want to see this happen to. Learn from my mistake. Keep the balance in your life or you will pay the price. For me it was exhaustion but just as easily could have been a major heart attack. I have already had one, when I was 20 and it runs in the family.

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When Should A Family Business Actually Become A Family Affiar

By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional

Every Entrepreneur and business owner reaches a point in their success to where they start hoping that someday the kids will take over the family business. Many heads of household firmly believe that the kids do not really deserve a say in the matter, it is what they expect to happen and because the kids don’t want to disappoint the parent, they simply fall in line.

When we started the Ardynn Media Group a little over a decade ago, the idea of it becoming a family business was not even considered. Once our family unit changed, and we brought kids into the mix, is when I had to start thinking about the balance of my personal and professional lives.

Initially, having the capability to work from home or where ever I needed to was the key to having a balanced lifestyle. But rather quickly, I saw that my being able to stop and spend a half hour here and there with the kids throughout the day wasn’t enough. I needed to expose them to the professional side of my life and get them interested. That is when I came up with the idea of writing my first children’s book, Bruno’s Buzzing Adventure.

With the kids still being young enough, I was able to draw them in with cartoon characters.  To keep them involved with the project, I asked them to help me develop the character type and background scenery for each page. As to the storyline of the project, I asked them to help me tell their friends what it was like to move to a new home and describe their new family unit. It was a tremendous experience as a family and it got me thinking about what it would be like to work with my kids on a daily basis when they got older. Thus the thoughts of having a family business began to take root.

For a few years, I simply looked for ways to have the kids help in one way or another, with what ever project we currently had going on. But about 2 years ago, the kids themselves started encouraging me to move in a completely different direction as to the sphere of work that I did.  At first it was telling, then begging me to write a cookbook so that when they had their own families they would have their favorite recipes on hand to make their kids.

So, last year we started planning on making the transition to strictly publishing and I started laying out a cookbook.  But as projects tend to do, a simple cookbook became so much more and an entirely new brand (Simply Ardynn) was born.  Market and competitor research started to happen, thus empty spaces began to appear in the product and brand lines we scrutinized.   A formal action plan came into being and when the time came for us to explain to the kids that the days ahead were going to change things for our family, it didn’t quite go as planned.  In a good way.  I was terrified that the kids would be upset or become resentful of the company.  They were used to my being able to spend more time with them than their friends had with their parents.

The excitement they had was palpable.  Some of it was the fact that Daddy had been listening to them and the cookbook (Simply Ardynn coming Spring 2019) they asked for was going to be published.  Kids love it when their parents agree with them.  And not only tell them, but show them how good an idea they had was.

Over the next few weeks, the kids did as kids tend to do and ease dropped whenever Danny and I talked about the new brand and the changes in the company.  One by one they approached me and asked if they could help.  Anthony came first and suggested he do a cooking with kids series.  Besides being able to spend time with me, he was honest and said he wanted to be a YouTube star and suggested how it would be a good start.  Love that sone of mine.  He tells it like it is and at 11 years old can manipulate with the best of them.

The girls came to me a while later, together and said they wanted to do something too.  Avril wanted to be on the cooking with kids show and while Onyx didn’t know what she wanted to do, she just wanted to help somehow..  As a father I couldn’t have been happier that my teenage daughter wanted to spend time with me.

So, Danny and I talked at great lengths as to what we should do.  Last month we sat down with the kids and had a family meeting.  We asked each of them if they were still interested in working with us on this new project and if so, exactly how they wanted to help.  We explained how serious a commitment it would be and that they couldn’t just quit in a couple of weeks.  We agreed that if we moved forward with the project as a family that we would decide together what the expectations would be… like how many shows we would tape for the cooking with kids series for example.

As a surprise we told them that like any other partner or employee they would be paid and that the bulk of the money would be set aside in trust accounts for them until they came of age.  None of them expected money from this and were honestly surprised to find out. Each would own 10% of the company when we filed updated paperwork.

That is how our family owned business became a family affair in every sense of the word.  No expectations. No one telling them they had to do this. No inference of disappointment if they didn’t want to help.  It was their idea and like good parents, we asked multiple times over a good 6 month period (let’s face it, kids are notorious for changing their minds about things on a weekly basis).

If you own a family business, we would love to hear about it (via the comment section below) and whether your kids are involved and how.

My All American Kids And The Language Of The LAUGH

By Michael Harris-Arzon, Dadologist

As a professional, Dadologist and all around good guy…… I would say that if I have learned anything over the past decade, it is that the most important lesson a father could ever learn is to simply PAY ATTENTION, at all times ( which is easier than you think) to YOUR KIDS!

This is particularly so for the times you aren’t actually engaging the kids throughout the day. Paying strictly, focused attention will eventually help you develop that eye in the back of your head. Or your kids will think so anyway. It all comes down to the sounds they make. In particular the laugh. While we all like to hear our kids laugh, because let’s face it, it means they are happy and hopefully well adjusted kids. But as you pay attention, you will notice that kids have different laughs and you can tell quite a bit from the differences in those laughs.

I know, you think I must be nuts, there isn’t any hidden meaning behind a kid’s laugh. Do a quick run down in your head of the differing styles of laughter in your household. You will realize that each has its own meaning, that isn’t necessarily universal and pertains to your unique children. Below is a simple list of the laughs my three kids make and what each typically means. By being able to distinguish between them has saved me a lot of trips across the house to see what is going on.

  1. The giggle means they are being sneaky and I had better go see what is up.
  2. The hysterical, nonstop laughter usually means they are watching a movie or TV and all is good.
  3. The high pitched, long laugh means they are jumping on the bed and intervention is needed.
  4. The super loud, almost a scream laugh means they are playing by hand and it’s punishment time around our house.
  5. The normal toned, yet slightly subdued laugh means they are playing a game or something innocent.
  6. The nonstop, begging laugh more often than not means that Other Daddy is playing in tickle mode.
  7. The short, snorting laugh probably means that kids just read something amusing.

Now, I imagine there are a few others I haven’t mentioned, but you get the idea. A laugh an speak volumes when it comes to your kids and their behavior. It may take a few months to figure them all out but once you have……your life becomes a lot easier.