Can you share with us a bit about your background that brought you to become who you are today?
I was born and raised in Orange County, CA. When I was 18, I moved to San Diego to attend SDSU and pursue a career in the restaurant industry. It was always my dream to own and operate restaurants and hotels. I quickly realized that I also had a strong passion for marketing and wanted to find a way to marry the two. I’ve spent my entire career marketing restaurant and hospitality concepts from single location “mom and pop” operations to international corporations.
What the most significant thing you've learned since you founded your first digital marketing agency?
One thing I didn't realize before owning my own business was that being an "owner" of an agency (or any other service-based business for that matter) does not mean that you don't have any bosses. I quickly learned that I had several bosses and people that I need to report to. Those being my clients. As an owner you are affording way more freedom, but at the end of the day, you still need to perform and deliver on what you promised or your clients will fire you.
What advice do you have for someone interested in starting their own business?
You have a lifestyle, parenting and travel-themed blog Raising the Free with your wife, Angeliquea. What do you hope readers get out of the blog and what do you hope your children will learn as you document your life as a family?
I hope with Raising The Free is to inspire new parents to take a deeper dive into what it means to be a parent and raise children. We think the most powerful impact we can have on the world is through the way we raise a child. One of the biggest ideas we promote is to connect with your children. It’s truly not about the quantity of hours we spend with them but the quality. In a world full of distractions, its so tempting to give our children a portion of our attention. Taking just 10 minutes a day to stop everything you’re doing and truly connect with your child is the single greatest thing we can do for them. This year we’re working on expanding our resources and information available via our website which will include a Podcast and weekly blog posts.
How did you make the decision to raise your children in a media-free environment & what do you hope for them to take away from the experience?
Oh man where do I begin….
Today’s children are being exposed to an unprecedented amount of Media. Direct human connection is being replaced with an iPad/iPhone/TV. Basic eye contact is becoming a thing of the past.
Research shows that people who don't watch TV are happier and healthier, have better self-esteem, and are less fearful. Females who don't watch TV have a healthier body image. All this is even more true for kids, because TV has a bigger impact on them. Not surprisingly, families who watch less TV are closer, and kids who see less TV become sexually active at a later age.
Most concerning, repeated screen use can change the way the brain develops. For instance, cartoons, with their quick cuts, have been shown to reduce the attention spans and other executive functions of preschoolers. TV also changes our body chemistry, at least temporarily, and for some people that can be addictive. Kids have lots of developmental tasks, from playing with other kids to building block towers, and TV can keep kids from those tasks. I don't think any parent would disagree that children under the age of eight should not be watching any violent TV. There is substantial research confirming that the more commercial TV children watch, the more likely they are to exhibit aggression with other children.
We also believe that media plays a major role in blocking connections amongst family members. Media creates distraction and unhealthy multi-tasking. How often as a parent have you seen yourself reply to your son or daughter without even looking up from your phone? Have you ever wondered how that makes them feel or what impact that has on them? No imagine if both of you are using devices. How many less direct and intentional conversations and interactions will you have over their first 5 years of life? First 18 years of life? There is no doubt that choosing a media-free lifestyle creates more work for the parent (at least initially) but the benefits far outweigh the challenges.Children are healthier – They are physically active, indulge in more sports and outdoor activities. And in general, are definitely not victims of childhood obesity and other health disorders – which is a common phenomenon in the homes of those children who watch excessive TV.
Deeper family bonds – No media means more conversations, interactions, games, wrestling, laughing, and CONNECTING together. If you interview parents with grown-up kids, the #1 regret you will hear is that they wish they would have worked less and spent more meaningful time with their children. Living a media-free lifestyle allows you to be more present and savor those moments.
You and your wife sold all your material possessions to travel the world with your children. What did you learn from that experience?
The biggest lesson we learned is that when it comes down to it, people all over the world are pretty much the same and we all want the same things. We’re all striving for a connection and meaning in this world.
So we learned that what matters is your heart. Loving each other, loving your brothers and sisters, your friends, and your community… it has massive benefits. Feeling CONNECTION. Connection to each other and connection to the earth should be our primary purpose and goal in life. We’re still learning as we go but we can confidently say that we know the best things in life are connected to love and that there is something magical that happens when everything you do, when your core being is based on love.
How has your experience as an entrepreneur, digital marketing leader and in working with technology informed your views as a parent?
I think a lot about this and I recognize the irony in it. I have technology to thank for providing me with the resources to research and become the type of parent I want to be. But I also have technology to blame for a lot of the issues we see in today’s society. I also make a living off of social media and digital marketing which is something I’m currently restricting my children from being exposed to. At the end of the day, technology and social media are amazing but dangerous tools. They have the power to do so much good, but like anything good, if not controlled and respected, they can be very dangerous.