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146

146 FS Balancing Work and Family


The panel talks about balancing work life with family life.

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REUVEN: Thanks for listening to the R-rated edition of Freelancers show.

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CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 146 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Eric Davis.

ERIC: Hello.

CHUCK: Curtis McHale.

CURTIS: Hello.

CHUCK: Reuven Lerner.

REUVEN: Hey everyone.

CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv and this week we’re going to be talking about balancing family commitments, family responsibilities, things like that. To start off, I know that in the chat Reuven mentioned that he had some family stuff go on. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

REUVEN: Yeah, sure. So I have three kids, and my middle daughter just turned 12 and Jewish girl’s twelfth typically have Bar Mitzvah. So we had that and that meant that for a month, literally a month, maybe a little more than a month we had between two and eight people stay at our house every day. There were people coming from abroad, it was very nice and everything and it was nice to see people but it meant entertaining them, it meant being with them and it meant that my work, which I often do from home, was punctuated by lots of other people in the house, either making noise or needing me or driving people or so on and so forth or just spending time with family.

So, on the one hand it was great seeing everyone. On the other hand, I feel like over last month my work suffered massively. When I go out of the house to client’s offices then I was pretty productive and maybe when everyone went to sleep then, I could be somewhat productive. But I was just emotionally and physically tired because we had all these people around. It was throwing all of us off balance and we were shuffling children to different rooms to make room for everyone.

CURTIS: I know. When my father and mother-in-law came out for my first daughter’s first birthday, my father-in-law who just [inaudible 02:51] busy, he was supposed to be watching the baby for half an hour while grandma and my wife went out. He probably came in in that half an hour five times, until I turned around and looked at him and said, “Rob, I don’t care, just leave.” He said “You don’t care about your baby?” “No, I don’t actually care about my baby – you cannot come in five times in 30 minutes. I need to work.” and that was the only way I could get him to stop coming in. Now I have an office so he can’t come in, he doesn’t even know where it is but he’s possibly the worst about that currently. Because he needs to be busy too, he needs to talk to people, he always says – we’d be sitting, eating at night and he’s like “What are we going to do?” “We’re eating. What do you think?” but he’s possibly the worst.

It took my wife a while too. When she was first off with our first daughter – it was probably the third or fourth day when she came into my office again for the fifth or sixth time in an hour and I just handed her 20 dollars, “I don’t care where you go, here’s 20 bucks, go to a coffee shop, get out of here. I need to actually work so I can take time off when the baby comes.” [Crosstalk 03:46]

REUVEN: Do you need time to ramp up? Like if someone interrupts me – I’m very nice and everything, I try to be nice about it; I probably need to be stronger willed about it like Curtis. But then it easily takes me another five, 10-15 minutes to get back into what I was doing.

CURTIS: Yup, absolutely [Crosstalk 04:04]

REUVEN: Which is typically just in time for the next interruption.

CHUCK: I mean that’s the thing right? I’m not very good at switching gears and switching back. I mean if I’m really in the zone then I can come in and I can – “I’m in the zone, come back later.” You know, blow it off, which offends my wife a little bit. Otherwise, it’s like, “Well, never mind. I’m not in the zone anymore; I’m not in a highly productive state anymore so let’s just take advantage of the interruption.”

But yeah, as far as the family interruptions thing, it’s hard sometimes because my wife she’s pretty good most of the time. But sometimes she needs my help with this or that or she doesn’t really think about the fact that I’m trying to get work done. So I get enough interruptions to where I can’t get everything done unless I work late and that’s frustrating as well. And so it ebbs and flows depending on how many interruptions I get, as to how well I do it saying no or telling people to go away. Is there a good rule of thumb that you guys follow for this, “This is work time so don’t bother me” or is there more or less to it than that?

ERIC: I used to do a stop light thing. So green means come in, do whatever. Yellow means come in if it’s important, but I’d rather not be bothered. Red means if you come in, I’m going to get really mad and you’re going to probably slow me down by about an hour. I did that for – I actually did that when I was working as an employee.  All the developers had some kind of card system they could have on our cubicle or on our desks so people would know, “Oh, don’t bug Eric right now he is really busy” or “He’s under a deadline. If you’re going to talk to him he’s going to get really mad and it’s going to be your fault.”

That worked for a little while. I even made a little electronics thing with LEDs for my wife, but I guess past several years she has been working outside of the house so she’s been – so she has an office, she goes to our daughter, goes to daycare. So it’s just me and my dog and I don’t really have that kind of interruptions. The main interruptions that I’ll get are phone calls or text messages and those are a lot easier to ignore.

CURTIS: Yeah, with my wife I’d say if the door was fully latched, do not come in. If the door is cracked then if you need to come in and get something, that’s fine. In our room—my office was our bedroom for the whole time I was home because we have a small house, so I had to at least make it accessible sometimes.

I think the biggest thing that I had issue outside of when my father-in-law comes was going to get more coffee. Having a 20 minute hug, bump, high five thing just to—five minutes on the way in and then five minutes on the way back and three minutes to peel the kid off your leg as you’re trying to get back to work. It probably cost me an hour a day or so.

REUVEN: But I think a lot of the fault here is mine because I’ve – my family knows that there are times when I just need to work I’ll tell them. I’ll say “Look, don’t interrupt me. I need to get this done.” But the other times when it’s much more I guess Eric’s yellow light situation right, where I think – “Well, if it’s important” and then what is important is of course a very subjective thing. So I think I probably need to be stricter about it. To some degree though I avoid the problem, to some degree – I’m out of the house about three or four days a week. And when I’m not out of the house, Tuesday I’m working, and when the kids are in school, my wife is often away working, and then I work after everyone goes to sleep. So that’s, to some degree, my cowardly solution to the problem. That doesn’t solve the problem of people coming in when I’m working.

CURTIS: I just tell – I just straight up tell people, “I’m working, go away.” I know for one summer my wife would work three mornings a week and we would have a daycare. A local girl came by and I was upstairs and she just played with them. She came up a few times and eventually I just told her, “Listen, if no one’s dying, I don’t need to know about it. I will come down at lunch to help with lunch and that’s it. If no one is dying it doesn’t matter.” And that established the parameters enough for her.

REUVEN: So when we were just married and I was up in the office working away and my wife knew I was working on something, I didn’t want her to interrupt me. All of a sudden I hear from downstairs, “Reuven!” I’m like “Oh my God, what do you want now?” “Well our microwave was actually on fire” [Chuckles], so I told her “Okay, this actually an okay thing to interrupt me for.”

CURTIS: I remember actually with our second daughter, my youngest or my oldest comes up the stairs and says, “Daddy, you need to come help mommy.” And you can hear her, “Leave daddy alone, leave daddy alone.” And I find her and she’s like laying on the ground she’s about to pass out like seven and a half months pregnant and I look at her and say, “This is a time you need to get in touch with me.” [Chuckles] and she’s trying to stop, you didn’t need to just ignore her which was good in that case. But it can be tough to say no.

I think the toughest thing I found that even with really good headphones is hearing the kids being bad, because they’re kids right? And my wife, some days, just don’t deal with it well. Listening to it all day over the headphones and coming down, and feeling like I just listened to this all day and having to deal with it. But I had to listen to it the whole time anyway so I’m tired out from it too. Having an office away from home now makes it significantly better because I come back, and even if the kids were bad all day then I didn’t have to hear it. So I just, now I just have a reasonably quiet office for most – for the whole time. I can come home and jump right back in to that and be of assistance without feeling tired like I dealt with it all day.

REUVEN: I mean in some ways its worse – I know exactly what you are talking about, if the kids are misbehaving or just loud in general, then I hear my wife dealing with it and I’m like, “Okay, if I don’t get involved then they’re just going to keep being loud, if I do get involved then I’m fighting with everyone.” So it’s basically this no–win situation.

CURTIS: I think something I always remember is that my job, right now, is to earn money for the family so that we can continue to live in a house and not have to move into a fridge box. My wife’s job is to stay at home and be with the kids, right? And that is the most important thing that I can do is continue to earn money, so we don’t have to live in fridge boxes.

CHUCK: Yeah. I think my issues basically boil down to – if the kids intrude I just send them back out, “Give me a hug, okay, get out.” When my wife intrudes especially for different things, I think that’s the thing where I really do need to communicate better is “We are this close to fridge box status and so I’ve got to work” or “we need to bring in this much so that we can bring home this much, so we can pay all the bills”. We know where we’re at as far as we’ve got everything paid for, we’ve got everything paid for through next month or however we’re measuring things. Okay, so we’re putting money in an emergency fund or paying off debt, but we’re making enough to achieve what we’re aiming for, then the rest of it can boil down to whatever. But a lot of times I get stressed because I haven’t communicated that well.  Yeah, I think that’s what I really need to do in a lot of these cases so that she can then say yes or no to the things that are going to make a difference for her.

REUVEN: Right, I think a lot of these things, as usual, is communication right? Where — when I have huge deadlines or things are late or the confluence of the two which is of course the best, then I try to tell my family, “Look, I know I’m going to be grouchy, I know I’m going to be difficult, but I need to get certain things done pver the next day or two. So please, please, please don’t interrupt me.” And that’s generally effective, I found.

ERIC: Yeah. It goes both ways too like my wife, a couple of months ago she was studying for a huge certification test that’s one of the three main ones for her career path. When she did it last for a different level, it was 40 hours a week of studying on top of her full time job. What we ended up doing is she would get home from work, I would cook dinner, I had dinner and then she would help me get our daughter ready for bed. Then when my daughter would go down, you got an hour before they actually go to sleep and before they’re done — with minor demands. During that time, my wife would go and study at night. And I would basically manage everything with my daughter and unless there was something significant that I had to basically call for back-up. That meant even like if like we were reading a story and my daughter did something cute and I would take a picture of it, I would wait until a couple of hours later when my wife was done studying to show her the picture because I don’t want to interrupt her or throw her off her game.

At the beginning there was a couple of times I would go down there and talk to her downstairs but you could tell that I just basically blew 30 minutes of her studying away because I interrupted her and she lost her train of thought. So it works both ways. It works whenever there’s any kind of focused attention that someone needs on something. I had this happen clients too like maybe I’m working for one client then they’ll want something but it’s going to take so much of my time to help the second client so I just put them on the back burner until I can get to them.

REUVEN: Right. And I think the point of when our spouses – I mean, our kids and our wives – need to work, hopefully we’re going to offer them the same courtesy, the same understanding as they offer us. My wife’s a curator and she’s got a big exhibit opening in about a month and she has told me – as if I needed reminding – the next month is going to be totally nuts for her. So I’ve tried to step up and do more things and arrange my time more appropriately.

CHUCK: Yeah I think for my case, I mean my wife doesn’t work. There are some things she’s involved in with the school. So she can — I can also communicate well with her about the things that she needs to be at or do, and that way I can make sure that I am available when she needs me to be. Then barring any emergency then it’s a non–issue for the other stuff because it’s okay. “I’m not going to bother him because I know it’s going to mess things up.”

CURTIS: I find the biggest issue in reverse for me is convincing my wife to go out. I’m like, “Go, I know you need to do this, go.” And ten minutes later she’s still there. I’m like, “What are you doing? Why are you still here? And why are you still talking to the kids about this? Go.” And it’s by no means, to her, thinking that I can’t handle it because when she was working full time for a year after our first daughter was one, I was the main caregiver. I picked up the kids from school or from daycare; I made the dinners; I did everything and she got home just in time for bedtime and I was home all Saturday with her – solo as well, because my wife worked Saturdays. But just getting her to take a break, whereas I feel fine taking a break as my own personal care.

CHUCK: Yeah, there are definitely some inconveniences that I’ve experienced, inconveniencing my wife I guess, because I need a break or I need to get out; I need a change of scenery, so I will head over to the café or this or that and then it’s inconvenient.

One of the other ones that is also inconvenient is when somebody takes advantage of my wife being a responsible person. So for example, we carpool to the kids’ school. They go to a charter school here so there’s no bus. So we have to drive them to school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. And the issue there is that the person she carpools with flakes out on her at least once a week in picking up the kids in the afternoon. If it were in the morning I help her get the kids ready and get them out the door. So if that was the problem I could either drive them but in the afternoon, its right in the middle of my day and it really messes things up when she’s like, “I’ve got to go pick up the kids.” For example—Tuesdays are the worst because I record this show, Ruby Rogues and JavaScript Jabber all on the same day and so when she gets the call, she has to take off basically in the middle of JavaScript Jabber. And she can’t take all the kids with her.  The three year old, he’s pretty self–sufficient, but there have been a few times where she’s been babysitting. She babysits another little boy that’s about two and his mom showed up to pick him up and I haven’t heard her knock on the door because I’m recording a podcast.

And so I keep telling my wife to find somebody new and she feels bad because this is a neighbor that doesn’t know very many people. So I just – I don’t know what the answer is. I encourage her to find somebody new but she just – I don’t think she’s going to partner with this person next year. Anyway, she feels some obligation to actually be there for this neighbor and so it’s been hard that way. You can push to some degree, but you can’t really – I can’t make her not carpool with this person. So in that case, it’s not my wife having the problem, it’s somebody else having the problem or being irresponsible that’s affecting my day. And I’m not quite sure how to solve that other than just wait this out. When she starts talking about whom to carpool with next year, I’ll put my foot down and say, “No, you cannot carpool with that person.” At least not without having a big fight.

CURTIS: I know what I’d do. I’d tell her the value that we lose. I’m losing this many hours, that’s how much we could pay for taxis every day. That’d be better – that would be a better use of our money than me losing the time.

REUVEN: So my two daughters, my girls are in seventh and ninth grade now so they in a school where they take a minibus there so that’s not an issue, but my son goes to a local school. It’s not walking distance really so he takes the municipal public bus. And he’s okay with this, he’s not thrilled with it but he’s used to it by now, so that’s what we do. But that’s for coming to school, for coming back he basically could take the bus in theory but there are so many kids, such a crush of kids that’s just nearly impossible to get on. So we’ve decided now to carpool with another family that lives right across the street from us but we hired a woman to drive our two sons home.

Basically, it was exactly a sort of calculation. We are now working hard enough and earning enough that we can pay for someone to do this. It’s worth it for us financially and we had to do that calculation but it was what it is. It means my wife can stay at her job say, two hours longer each day and I’m a little freer in terms of where I am. So these things definitely can happen and it takes some creativity and some thinking.

ERIC: Yeah, that’s the exact reason why we do daycare. If we didn’t do daycare, either my wife would have to stay home so she wouldn’t have a job or she’d go to her job and I’d watch our daughter for the day and then I would work at night. But we worked it out – that wouldn’t work and based on our incomes. It was significantly better just to put our daughter in daycare, then when our daughter came home then its family time, 100% family time. I don’t work at night, my wife doesn’t do stuff at night unless its emergency type stuff. That balance worked good for us financially and also as a family unit.

And that’s kind of the same thing, if you lose 2-3 hours out of your day because you have to drive someone or do that sort of thing or do errands and it’s cheaper to hire someone to do it for you and there’s no actual downside to it, then that’s probably the best business decision to make.

CHUCK: Yeah, it’s really interesting actually that you bring that up because when I was a kid, my parents actually did that. They hired one of the neighbors to get the family vehicle and my brother and sister – two of my brothers and sister who were going to private school. Yeah, he’d drive up, pick them up, and drive them back. He was sixteen so he had a driver’s license so he’d just go do it.

ERIC: I think its Perry Marshall, he’s a marketer, he talks about something where there’s $1/hour work, 5$/hour work, $50/hour work, $100/hour work, and then $1000/hour work. You know the idea is your day is built up of these different hours, different rates. If you’re doing there just filing, that’s $5/hour work, you should hire someone to do it for you so you can take that time and do a $100/hour work.

Well in your case Chuck, I mean you know recording your podcast is probably a $100/hour or maybe even a $1000/hour work. So it doesn’t make sense for you to stop your podcast to pick up your kids when you can hire someone. Even if you pay them 50 bucks a trip, that’s still probably a net benefit to you and your business in the long term. The main idea is you hire people to do the lower dollar an hour work to free up your time and free up your day to do the more valuable work.

CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. And this definitely something I’m willing to do. You have to have somebody else to tell you that sometimes but, yeah.

REUVEN: One of the other things, and my wife was definitely not expecting this when we got married but, the fact that I do consulting means that we have a family business. So everything the business does impacts on her and us and the way things work and the budget’s affected as well. I mean, the fact that my wife now works for the business – she does her own consulting. She’s a curator but we do it with the umbrella of our business. But it means that everyone in our family knows what the business is, how are we doing, new clients and old clients and everything. So some of our – not that we’re so good at it but family budgeting depends on the small part of how is the business doing.

CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense.

REUVEN:  So that’s what those decisions basically become, not just business decisions but family business decisions as it were.

CHUCK: Well, you and your wife both bring in money through freelancing essentially. I’m curious how do I, in my position, how do I communicate with my wife about what’s going on in my business? Because for the most part, I don’t think she really worries about it or cares any more than just, “Are we okay financially or not?”

REUVEN: So, my wife gives me lots of good advice and I often [Chuckles] –. I should say when I ignore it, it turns out that she was usually – not always but usually right. In particular she’s very good in figuring out people. So when I come back and I tell her about a client like, “Well this new client — new potential client sounds great but, there’s this thing,” and she says, “Uh-oh that thing sounds really bad.” Sure enough months later if things don’t go well, she’s pointing to the thing that was the problem.

But in general, I’ll ask her advice on a lot of stuff. Now with my whole transition away from the training company I worked with to training on my own. She’s been very supportive and very helpful. I’ve been running by all the strategies I’ve been using to do the breaking away, in terms of employees, in terms of clients. She also – I remember when I brought in a really big great client at some point and I said “Wow this is going to last awfully a long time,” and she said, “Nothing lasts forever. It will end, and it might end poorly,” and “that’s just the nature of these things.” And that advice stuck with me for a long, long time because it’s just so true.

ERIC: I think for you Chuck, what might be important is letting her know – maybe each week – let her know you have certain existing commitments that are unbreakable. If it’s just you allocating a block of time for work, you could shift that around if you had to. But especially if you’re bringing in other people like client meeting or podcast group, if you break that you’re actually letting down multiple people, it’s the cascading effect of damage. I think letting her know that would be a good first step of actually drawing her into the business.

I mean there’s always a problem I can just – it’s like that case when the carpool person flakes out and so she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. But I think either she, your wife, needs to figure out a solution to that whether it’s she goes to get the kids or leaves that’s carpool person, finds a new one or does something else. Give her the power and let her know that falling back on you at these certain times is basically not an option. You’ll do it in an emergency but it basically – here’s the damages, here’s the effects – you got to reschedule, you might lose a client, you may lose some revenue, that sort of thing.  But let her have the ability to find a solution and let her see the effects of not finding a solution.

CURTIS: And I know that Dave Ramsey – because I know you read that, I’ve read that Chuck. He would say that your spouse should have access to all the business accounts that, when you do like a monthly business budget and a recap of the month financially, she should see it. And she should know about it, knowing that there’s only one month left. Say, “Okay, we really need to leave daddy alone because we would like to eat a month after that.”

CHUCK:  Right, yeah.

ERIC: I agree, for a larger picture, that’s a good thing.

CHUCK: Yeah, the thing is, I think she just expects me to tell her, “Hey, we only have two months of rent left.”

CURTIS: So dude, call a meeting. Call a meeting every month and say, “This is the meeting, this is where we are, these are the client on tamp this is what the financial outlook looks like,” right?

CHUCK: Yeah, I like it. I should do that.

CURTIS: I know every month when we do our personal budget, I give my wife a recap of the accounts and she can actually see when she logs in the bank and she sees all the business accounts. At the same time I just basically give her a recap of the clients so she can tell and she can log into our spreadsheet, so she could see how much is saved for taxes and how much is just savings. The only thing she doesn’t know all the time is the future clients coming up because she’s not on my email day to day right?

CHUCK: Right.

REUVEN: Also, I don’t think my wife has a sort of week to week or month to month understanding of what sorts of clients I’ve got, and what is going up or going down. I mean I try to give her that forecast. I think having a meeting is not a bad idea, just talking about finances in general – home finances and business finances and understand where things are and where we’re improving and where we could do better. Given that her advice is often very good, I guess it’s foolish not to have those meeting on a regular basis to take advantage of the advice. At the end of the day she’s impacted as much as me by these decisions.

ERIC: There’s a TedTalk – I’ll try to find it for the show notes but it talked about having – it took Agile or Scrummer on one of the software develop methodologies and use that for family. So there’ll be a weekly scrum meeting where they’d figure out what’s going on, what’s happening in this area or that area, what went well last week, what  needs to improve. The speaker said that actually it’s pretty nice to get – it puts a lot of structure around something that’s usually unstructured. Once they got in to it, it seemed like everyone was happy was all functional with it.

CURTIS: We actually end our day around the dinner time with an after action review for everybody – what went good in your day, what didn’t go good in your day, how was your day overall, how are you going to make that bad thing go better next time. Everyone, like the four-year old does that.  We laugh as we ask the baby because she can’t talk, then we ask my wife, and then my four-year old like to ask me those questions.

REUVEN: Did you have a whiteboard at your dinner table?

CURTIS: No, we don’t have a whiteboard at the dinner table. Why?

REUVEN: It all just sounds very formal that’s all [chuckles].

CURTIS: Ah, it is. But she, like my four year old, if we go to bed and we forgot, she’d be like, “Daddy, you didn’t ask me how my day went and what went bad.”

I think it’s pretty interesting because it’s just, “I fought with my friend today.” “Well, why did you fight with your friend?” and she tells you, “Okay, how do you think you can make it better next time?” “Maybe, I can do this, or I should play with a different friend, because with this one I always have arguments because we want to do different things.” And it’s just interesting event to watch her learn about it.

CHUCK: Yeah, that’s really interesting. And I don’t want it to come across like my wife doesn’t want to be involved or anything. It’s just for the most part, it’s not something that we really communicate about. So it’s, “Okay how do we get started with this?” and how far do I bring her in?” A lot of this really makes sense and just adding some structure around that, be it a regular meeting or some of the other things that some of you guys suggested are really positive, in the way that you think about the things that we deal with day to day; and just communicating where the boundaries are and what the impacts are.

REUVEN: Right, I mean at the same time the communication – I find the last few months can be a little much. So we took on a bunch of debt, so I can finish the PhD over the last two years. I think it’s really worthwhile but I think I’ve been a little heavy handed in saying, “Oh no, I can’t do XYZ because we’re trying to pay off the debt. We really have to pay off these debts.” And my 12 year old just at some point started crying, and she was like, “Look, we have all these debt, what are we going to do? And I have my Bar Mitzvah and you’re paying money for that.” And I needed to assure her even last night that we were going to pay a bunch of it. I said, “Hey look, we’re doing okay, the business is doing okay. We’re able to do this. It’s going to take some time. Hopefully, within the next year we can pay it all off.” But I think by stressing that so much and by bringing the business side of things into the family discussions, it was counter-productive, in fact. By the way my daughter had said she will never do a PhD [chuckling].

CURTIS: Smart, smart girl.

REUVEN: Indeed, indeed [chuckles].

ERIC: So she’s, how old? And she weighed the pros and cons and you didn’t?

REUVEN: Well, [chuckles] she’s 12, but my wife has made it clear to my girls who are 12 and 14 that really they should try to get their PhDs before they’re 25 or 26 because once you get married and have kids it’s really messy and hard to do. No pressure, right? [Chuckling] So my 14 year old gave us this awestruck face of, “You’ve got to be kidding me that you’re really talking about this with me?” And my 12 year old says – explicitly she will use these words, “You have traumatized me; I will never do a PhD.”

CHUCK: Does your wife have a PhD as well?

REUVEN: No, but she started one and then stopped it when our first child was born.

CHUCK: Oh, okay.

REUVEN: She’s talking about – thinking about going back and doing it, but she’s got enough on her plate right now. I don’t think it’s happening just yet.

ERIC: I think a lot of it comes down to like communicating and being open to a lot of stuff. I think whether it’s your wife, your husband, your significant other, your client, family members – if you’re not communicating with them about what your needs, what expectations they should set, in a way they’re open and able to make whatever thoughts about your schedule, about your work they want. If you don’t tell them that you’re busy and that you have to keep working, it’s not — it’s their fault but it’s not really.

You can’t blame them too much if they come in and interrupt you. If you didn’t tell them and make it clear like, “I’m busy I have to do this work for a client, I have a deadline and this is what’s paying the bills this month.” If you do tell them that and then they keep interrupting you, then you can have another discussion but it’s not in a bad way. But they’re ignorant of what your problems, what your needs are and you can’t blame them for that.

REUVEN: Right. Eric and Curtis you were asking in the chat when should we start teaching about money. And I swore that I was going to teach my kids to be good about money from a very young age because my parents were bad at it, and I’m sort of bad at it. And I figured I’ve got to break this, and I need to be better at it and if I teach my kids then maybe we can all be good at it together. And so far, I must admit that I’ve been bad at teaching them and I feel really bad about that actually.

CURTIS: I probably made you feel better or worse when I said – yeah, my three year old had three chores because you do not get allowance. When she asks for money I always ask her, “How do people get money?” and she says, “They work for money, daddy.” [Chuckles] So I do the basics – because you didn’t see all, hear all or see the chat we had in Skype is that – so my three year old does three chores for money on the weekends. If she doesn’t do the chores then she actually pays us from her money because the chore has to get done on the weekend. And then during the week there are other chores she has to do that is just part of being a family. And when she was – now that she’s four, she has four chores and we just let her spend it however she wants really on whatever.

A while ago said she wanted to save for an iPad, and we said well a 400 dollar iPad for a four year old at four dollars a week is like way too long. So we told her, “If you save a hundred dollars,” because that’s a lot of money for a four year old, “then we’ll pay for the rest. We’ll get you an iPad.” She is at 60 dollars now so she is doing very good and she keeps that iPad jar tight.

But she spent all of her money. She was 80 cents short on the toy she wanted. Actually, the toy was too expensive, so she chose something else last week and she was 80 cents short which we covered the 80 cents. It’s about saving and seeing how the money works, where she emptied her other piggy bank, where she’s putting part of her money – her chore money – and bought this super cool toy. It’s even all princess-y but I thought it was pretty fun too.

ERIC: Curtis wants one [Chuckles].

CURTIS: Well, I don’t know about that, but cool princess roller castle is on for I think it’s $50 – I  think it was 15 something rather and she had $16 so we paid 80 cents for it.

CHUCK: Yeah, we all know Curtis is dying to get the singing Frozen doll, right?

CURTIS: Meh, I don’t know. She doesn’t sing it that much.

REUVEN: It’s an interesting thing that you say your daughter do chores for money because it needs to get done. I never got an allowance growing up and my wife didn’t either. And so while I talk to my kids a lot about how you should get skills that will earn you money and you can make a lot doing certain things – not that it’s the only driving factor in what you choose as a career but that is a factor. But I don’t think we have ever really seriously talked in any way about getting money for doing chores around the house because mostly those have to get done. That’s the approach we’ve taken.

CURTIS: Uh hmm, [crosstalk 31:49] they can’t work right? I mean when she is 13 or 14, they are just chores around the house and you go get a job if you need money right? That is it. And when she is six we’ll start talking about six around there. Depends on how much she’s into it but she’ll – we’ll start talking about, you save some of your money, you spend some of your money, save some of your money, and you give some of your money away – you give it to charitable cause. But at four we just let her do with what she wants with it really.

Which is more often counted. “Can we count all my money again today?” [Chuckles] And she’s like, “Look, I’ve got 32 moneys.” And it’s 32 random pennies and Mexican pesos and stuff, and she’s like, “That’s more than this jar right?” with the paper and then because it stacks higher. And I’m like “Sure.” [Chuckles] “Sure why not. If you like that because it’s prettier then I’m going to keep my pretty money.” Okay.

REUVEN: When my 14 year old started doing babysitting – she did a bit last year, less so this year because she’s got a ton of school work – but I mean she was super excited like, “Wow people are entrusting me to be with their kids and do things and you know and I’m getting money for this.” You know she was really blown away by that.

CHUCK: Alright. Well, do we have anything else we want to talk about on this or should we get to picks? [Chuckles].  Alright, Reuven do you want to start us with the picks?

REUVEN: Sure. So I got two self–promoting picks and one non-one. So I’ll do the non–self–promoting one first. So Chuck, this is a promoting thing for you actually. I started listening to recently to Entreprogrammers Podcast, and it’s fun and interesting and particularly the one that I listened to – I listened to the one today about debt, and I thought it was a very interesting discussion about how people handle it and what they going to do to get rid of it and how many friends people have who have it. So I was enjoying quite a bit.

CHUCK: I think it was interesting how you said that how many people or friends who have it, like it’s a disease or something [chuckles].

REUVEN: [Chuckles] No, it was just sort of funny in the podcast, everyone was like, “Well I also have a friend who has some debt issues.”

CHUCK: Oh yes.

REUVEN: [Chuckles] But that was, it was – look it’s always nice to know you’re not the only one struggling with these issues. It’s nice to know that people you like and respect – I mean maybe this is unfair – but like and respect are also have these issues and having to deal with them.  So no, I thought it was good and some of the strategies were actually very nice to hear as well.

Anyways, the other two picks are two sites that I set up recently One is called a Daily Tech Video. So, it’s a simple WordPress site but every day, at midnight, Israel time – because that’s how the world revolves right? There’s a new conference video and this is for people like me who like watching conference videos but don’t really have a lot of time to watch them. So I figured every day you could see one, hopefully, one interesting one as well. This is the dailytechvideo.com.

And I also – this is a much, much smaller audience at least from our listeners. I just started something that’s called “Mandarin Weekly” for people like me who are learning Chinese and are somewhat obsessed by it. And this is along the lines of what Peter Cooper has been doing with his new letters for programming languages except this is for human language. We’ll see exactly where it goes, but so far I’ve had fun assembling lots of links and setting it up. That’s at mandarinweekly.com. Anyway those are my picks for this week.

CHUCK: Very nice. Curtis what are your picks?

CURTIS:  I got three. One is 50 books to read from Freelance Lit, 50 business books that you should read. I put them all in the list; let’s see if I can read them all by this year, which I probably can – it shouldn’t be much of an issue. I got two for travel. For travel, battery power’s often an issue for your phones and stuff and I have a Mophie Power Station Pro which is the rugged drop it in water one that power charges my iPhone five times. And the other crucial piece is a Belkin Power Surge Protector which has two USB ports, a spinning plug so you can plug it in wherever, and three outlets. So I have been to places where there’s all the outlets are jammed up and I look at the person next to me and I’m like, “I’ve got two USB ports and two plugs, I need one plug will you let me plug this in?” and they let me choose. “Sure, just plug that one in.”

I have been at coffee shops and offered it to other people because there are no plugs and they’re like, “I don’t even know where to plug in now” and, “Hey I got this. I’ll pull it out of my bag and plug it in for you.”

REUVEN: That is a fantastic way to be the most popular person in the airport [chuckles].

CURTIS: Oh yeah totally, I’ve had people – like I’m using it and one person is using it and they’re like, “Can I get on the USB there too?” “Sure go for it”. Like I don’t need it, I just plugged everything in my computer, we’re good.

REUVEN: [Chuckles] that’s great.

CHUCK: Well, they’ve got the three-plug and the six-plug which is also nice.

CURTIS: The six-plug is like a huge wall plug in unit, so is the one-plug. The three-plug is by far the most portable, and I’ve had mine for years. Actually, the plug protector that makes sure the end doesn’t get bent pops up and sticks on the base so that on a standard wall plug you can plug it in and the base is actually touching the wall as well, so you’re not flexing on this big plug. So it’s a pretty slick little thing.

CHUCK: Very cool, I actually have a power strip that has I think four outlets and three USB plugs on it, which is not as compact as this but it’s nice to have and I carry it around in my computer bag. Eric what are your picks?

ERIC: Alright so I got a blog post by Seth Godin. It’s “Where to Start”. It’s a nice really short one especially if you’re getting a resistance of starting something whether if it’s all in your head or making up some things of why you can’t start. It’s a nice one to help your motivation levels.

And then the second one is a book I’ve read about a month ago. It’s called, “Getting Results the Agile Way, a personal result system for work in life”.  The author basically took Agile as it’s found and software development and spun it around and did some stuff to make it a getting–things–done methodology.

It’s really interesting because it’s a different perspective on things. It’s very complementary to GTD. I’m actually going through and using this for 2015 to do my goals and what I’m doing in every month, what I’m doing in every week along with some other things. It’s a nice book especially if you don’t – either you’re looking for something new for your own personal productivity or if you have had a hard time getting on to any of them and you want to try something. It’s nice because you can take different parts of this one. You don’t have to actually take the whole thing at once, spend two hundred dollars at a stationary store to get all the gear you need; you can just start with what you have and add to it as you go, so that’s it.

CHUCK: Very cool. I’ve got a couple of picks. The first one is Slack, it’s a web — well it’s a web application that’s a chat room. Basically the thing I like about it over things like Skype or IRC is that Skype chat logs really just stick around on your computer until you clear them.  And IRC – you can set up your IRC server to log it but why bother going to all the trouble set it up if you can use something like slack? And you can put bots in there and stuff like that. In fact there’s a bot in there by default that does certain things for you and so it’s a pretty handy system, I really like it and I’ve been using it with my latest client. Anyway so I’m really digging that. Then I’ve been using Kanban Flow to manage the project and I’m super digging that as well. So I’m going to pick that as well.

And finally we’ve had John Sonmez on this show before. We also had him on Ruby Rogues a couple of weeks ago talking about marketing yourself as a software developer and he put together a blogging course – an email blogging course. And so I’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well. It’s a – I’ve registered for and it is really good. So yeah, I’ll find the link and I’ll make sure that it gets into the show notes. And those are my picks.

CURTIS: I got one caveat for Slack for those who are going to get into it with clients – be very careful about what you use the built in gift search tool for because, oh my goodness, occasionally you get things in there that’s are totally random and entirely inappropriate. So it’s one thing to do it with fellow friends, and one thing to do with clients.

REUVEN: Wait, wait—what do you mean like searching through your history, your chat history?

CURTIS: No, you type /gify and whatever you want and then it goes out and does a web search and returns with a random gif off the first page [chuckles] [crosstalk 39:47]. So I think I typed “dirt” one time and it came back and it looked pornographic but it was really some guy folding his belly button in a weird way. But the first look I was like, “Ugh, oh my goodness,” and then it was a belly button. Once you’ve seen the belly button it wasn’t as terrible, but still.

REUVEN: A dirty picture as it were.

CURTIS: My friend did one too and it was like this oiled up Italian man with muscles and, we believe, a thong, but it was really hard to tell [chuckles].

CHUCK: Very cool. Well I don’t think – I don’t have anything else, no announcements. So we’ll wrap up the show we’ll catch you all next week.

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