If you want to see a family that is also going after their dreams follow Brent or his wife, Katie on Instagram. I used to think Drew was a visionary... These people have 3 small businesses that they run together. It is fun running into them and seeing them around Cincinnati. When you talk to other entrepreneurs it comes with such a comfort because you realize you aren't alone and you remember why it is you are hustling. I can easily say their dream is so unique and has changed their personal life more than anyone we have interviewed.
PARATIVE: What's your dream?
BK: My dream has evolved a lot over the last five years. Originally, my dream was to launch my own business, have a glamorous startup, and make a lot of money. Then, I had kids and everything changed. Now, my career goal is to have a flexible work-life where I can spend more time with my wife and three kids. I'd happily trade any amount of glamour, success, or money for more time with my family. Which gets me to my current dream - to lead an "integrated family." By that, I mean, that our family, our businesses, our passions, our education, our desires, and our mission in life would all be tangled together and overlap as much as possible. For instance, when I go to meetings I want to bring my kids along to give them experience, when we volunteer we want to do it with the whole family, we want to endeavor to learn new things at the same time, we want to have hobbies that bring us closer. I'd like to run multiple family businesses, have hands on teaching for my kids, work alongside my wife, have the flexibility to travel together, and do big stuff that really matters as a family.
PARATIVE: So cool, the concept that the businesses you have aren't the destination, they are a tool for your goal of dreaming to do with your family. What action steps have you taken to make this happen recently?
BK: In order to pursue our dream, we had to change the way we were living. That meant selling our large, dream home to downsize to a little fixer upper. We also sold one of our cars, and we are now a one car family. Basically, we had to change our spending habits to cut back on unnecessary things. Describing our action steps to "live the dream" sounds a little un-American and backwards, but once we experience the fruit of integrating our family into everything we do, we didn't want to go back, and we were willing to make any sacrifice necessary.
PARATIVE: Love the idea of the integrated family! Can you give us a deeper look into what this looks like or what it means in your everyday life?
BK: Yeah, so I think the picture of the American family that I see portrayed through TV and other entertainment in culture is a father who spends most of the week at work, plays golf on Saturday, watches football on Sunday, and squeezes family time in between his work and social commitments. My desire is to include my family in work, in hobbies, and in social commitments. For instance, I recently met someone who was thinking about quitting his job and launching a startup, and he wanted to take me out for lunch to learn from my experience. Since I work from home, I get to eat lunch with my wife and kids everyday, so instead of leaving my family, I invited my new friend and his family over for dinner at our house instead. It was a great way to create relationships and share my experience while teaching my kids more about business, hospitality, and meeting new people.
PARATIVE: Are there any rhythms in your week that your kids get really excited about?
BK: The area of our family that has been the most fruitful lately is our family Bible study. I have a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 1 month old, and every Tuesday night we all (except the 1 month old) sing worship songs on YouTube, read a few verses from the Bible, and pray through a list of prayer requests. Obviously the attention span of a 4 year old and a 2 year old are quite short, but they love our family Bible study nights and enjoy getting treats for answering questions correctly from our Bible reading. Family Bible study nights are one of the ways we integrate family and faith.
PARATIVE: That is awesome! The treats sound exciting to a 28 year old, too. What has been a hurdle in integrating your family in things?
BK: The biggest challenge of family integration is always starting. Whenever my wife and I get an idea to do something like launch a family business, homeschool, or create a new family holiday celebration, we always think that it would be too hard/ awkward/ inconvenient/ exhausting/ whatever, to start with young kids. But, we've learned that the earlier you start something the better, and the easier it is to make a habit. I think having kids 4 and younger is the sweet spot for just "trying" stuff because your kids won't remember your failures, and they won't remember a time when you didn't do weird stuff together.
PARATIVE: What does your dream look like in 5/10 years?
BK: I don't expect that our life will always be the "down-sized-home, one-car-family, cut-every-coupon, save-every-penny" lifestyle that we are living now. In 5 to 10 years, I think my dream will look a little different. From a business standpoint, my wife and I currently own three small businesses, we are working on real estate investments, and we have written a book that we are self-publishing. We have many "sticks in the fire" to see what is going to create the biggest flame. Our current business ventures range from breaking even to moderate success which affords us the opportunity to have the integrated family and pay our bills. In 5-10 years, I expect that we will become a little more singularly focused, working on that one or two things that are the most successful. However, from a family standpoint, I don't think my dream will look that different. Sure, my kids will be older, we will be a little wiser, and we will all be getting more sleep at night (God-willing!), but I think we will be still be the same fun-loving, God-fearing, hard-working, adventure-seeking, goofy family pursuing a life of togetherness at all cost.
PARATIVE: What advice would you give someone who is tempted to detox themselves from the "American Lifestyle"; big house, cars, big spending, etc...
BK: First of all, I think the lifestyle that our family lives is NOT for everyone, and it is a specific "calling" for our family. However, with that said, I have spoken with several business people who were the corporate-ladder-climbing-type, and I ask them if they would ever consider trading it all in and do things different to spend more time with family. I've found that almost unanimously, the answer is "I think about it ALL the time!" When the corporate-ladder-climbing-type asks me if I ever want to go back to my corporate job, my answer is "never." I would make any sacrifice to have an integrated family lifestyle.
With that being said, the advice that I would give to someone who is looking to buck the system and do something different is think about it, pray about it, and really consider it. You probably DON'T want to quit your job tomorrow, but DO know that there is other options. The biggest obstacle will be getting over the idea of not doing what is normal. There is a lot of work that is involved with creating your own source of income and integrating family and business, but the hardest part for most people is just getting comfortable with doing something that most people think is crazy. Who cares what other people think, right? You only get one life, so follow your own adventure, not someone else's. Once you start, you'll find out it's incredibly freeing and easier than you ever imagined.
THERE YOU HAVE IT, EVERYONE. WHAT A COOL, FAMILY WHO IS DREAMING TO DO... WE LOVE IT!