March 30, 2023
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/jon-missy-butcher-parenting-podcast/
[00:01:03] Podcast Sponsors
[00:07:16] Guests Introduction
[00:10:24] Jon and Missy Butcher and their kids
[00:20:01] Important Philosophical Premises
[00:21:50] What elements are particularly unique in your parenting approach?
[00:25:27] If you're traveling a lot, how do they develop roots and a sense of home?
[00:28:59] Podcast Sponsors
[00:32:31] Thoughts on university education
[00:39:09] Your proudest moment as parents
[00:48:54] How to find time for yourself and 1-on1 time with your children?
[00:55:58] Rite of Passage
[01:00:31] Do you have any non-negotiable rules?
[01:04:23] Message on a billboard to other parents
[01:06:29] Closing the Podcast
[01:07:36] End of Podcast
Ben: My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.
Jon: At the end of the day, the most important thing to us is that our kids are happy and fulfilled. That's what matters to us. We don't care what the conduit is to get there. It is a matter of fact one of our most important parenting strategies is we provide our children with shelter and food on their plate into their adulthood. We don't want them to have to worry about putting a roof over their head and putting food on their plate. That's an easy thing to do. We provide that, and then here's the deal, go out there and find out what you were put on this Earth for. Figure out how you're going to create a path to happiness, balance, success, and fulfillment.
Ben: Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.
I don't think it's any secret that I am and have been for quite some time a fan of this anti-aging strategy of using NAD to protect the cells and to enhance the health of the mitochondria. There was a form of NAD that was mentioned when I interviewed Tony Robbins called NAD3. We talked about it. I was intrigued about it. I didn't know anybody was actually making it, but that along with two other ingredients. One called spermidine and one called resveratrol also came up in that interview and are also kind of like the darlings of the anti-aging industry right now: Spermidine, resveratrol, and NAD. Well, what we talked about in that podcast was how there's this very unique new form of NAD called NAD3. It's a licensed NAD ingredient, huge amount of bioavailability. And, when combined with spermidine and resveratrol, this is like an unrivaled formula for anybody who wants to enhance aging using NAD and using a very unique bioabsorbable form of it.
So, this company called BioStack Labs formulated this stuff. It's called NAD Regen. It's not NAD, it's NAD3. So, NAD Regen is actually the only formula in the world to use NAD3, which is a licensed ingredient with human trials behind it but they've combined that with a special form of spermidine along with resveratrol and niacinamide. So, all these ingredients put together are freaking food for the mitochondria and act as very unique, very effective cellular protectants to enhance anti-aging and longevity. It's a pretty unrivaled formula, very unique blend. So again, it's NAD3 but then it's also got spermidine, resveratrol, and niacinamide in it.
And, they're cutting us all a deal. Basically, two bottles of this stuff costs about $134. And, what happens is if you order, they're going to give you another free bottle so that extra free bottles were $67. Pretty good deal. You go to BioStackLabs.com/Ben. BioStackLabs.com/Ben. I do about five days on, two days off, any week where I might happen to get some kind of NAD patch or NAD IV. I don't take extra NAD, but man for an oral formula, this one's pretty unrivaled in the industry. Brand new. You can get your hands on now. So, BioStackLabs.com/Ben.
Alright, let's talk ketosis. When your body churns out ketones, it is a state of metabolic efficiency, mental clarity, improved athletic performance, better metabolic health. The reason for that is that ketones are 28% more efficient at generating energy than sugar alone. That means you can do more with less. And, ketones are usually made when your body's push to the limits, when it's deprived of carbs, when it's fasted, when it's had a whole, whole bunch of fat, coconut oil, and butter, and all the things. But, you can also, using the magic of science, shift yourself very rapidly into a state of ketosis that you'd normally have to fast for days to get into by supplementing with liquid ketones.
You can usually drink ketones to do this. And, there's one form of ketone brain fuel called Ketone-IQ, fittingly enough, and it is literally, quite literally brain fuel. None of the insulin spikes, or caffeine jitters, or mid-afternoon energy crashes you get from most energy drinks. You just fuel with Ketone-IQ, one serving of this stuff, and it shifts you into the state of ketosis that you want. Again, without being fasted or restricting carbohydrates. So, it's almost like you'd have your cake and eat it too. Or, if you're already into ketosis and you want to put the icing on the cake and get even deeper into ketosis, this stuff works fantastically for that too.
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A lot of people ask me what CBD I use. There's a billion different CBDs out there. It's kind of like keto things, CBD things. Those are probably two on the top of my head that are the most saturated words used in the industry, and they're a dime a dozen. I go after what I consider to be the purest, best, most powerful, most well-acting, full-spectrum CBD that exists. The guy who makes this stuff has been on my podcast three times for good reason, Adam Wenguer makes this Element Health CBD.
So, Element Health CBD, I take one dropper full. Occasionally, if I'm on a plane, I just got totally knocked myself out. I'll go as high as three dropper fulls. Their Maximum Strength 60 mL bottle has a whopping 4,800 milligrams of full spectrum CBD. It's insanely powerful stuff. Honestly, it just works. It doesn't get you high like THC does, but this CBD is the most relaxing. I mean, you can, as Adam and I discussed in the podcast with him, just use a few drops as a pretty potent nootropic and it kind of stabilize it if you've had a pick me up like an energy drink. But, oh my gosh, a few dropper fulls of this stuff, even for someone who's pretty sensitive, even just one. I do that with the Kion Sleep and a little bit of melatonin and that's my sleep stack. It works amazingly. It's kind of like I've cracked the code on sleep with that stack and that CBD is definitely a part of it. There's so many benefits of CBD for anxiety, for stress, even as Adam talks about, for fertility, for inflammation, for pain from old injuries.
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Well, I'm very, very pleased because the episode that you're about to hear is part of the Boundless Parenting series in which I'm interviewing a host of amazing parents who have produced absolutely amazing children and who have often very unique or outside the box parenting approaches and an emphasis on family and legacy that I think you'll benefit tremendously from. Whether you have children or you want to have children or you have children in your life or you know someone with children who might benefit from this interview, I think it's going to be really, really insightful for you.
My guests today are Jon and Missy Butcher. And, I've known Jon and Missy for several years. My wife and I spent a lot of time with them when we were actually in, of all places, Estonia in Tallinn, Estonia, where we went through one of the most transformational life reinvention and life purposes processes, if that's a word, that we've ever embarked on. It was called “Lifebook.” And, “Lifebook” was designed by Jon and Missy. It's basically a book that weaves together all of your values and your characteristics that you hold dear and your purpose statement and your dreams and your goals and your vision. And, they help you create this fantastic book. It's a vision board on steroids.
And so, my wife and I joined Jon and Missy and got to know them through that process. I've gotten to know them over the years and they're just very, very special people. Jon was once dubbed by Chicago magazine as the guy with the most perfect life. He's a serial entrepreneur. He's the creator of “Lifebook.” You might be familiar with the Precious Moments figurines and art. And, Jon is the mastermind behind those. And, his wife, Missy, and he have not only created this extraordinary system that helps thousands of people to transform their lives from ordinary to living masterpieces, but they're also into a lot of concepts that you and I hold dear; anti-aging and experiencing long-lasting love and redefining education and building an ideal living environment and, of course, parenting.
And so, today, we're of course here to talk about parenting. I have created a host of questions that every parent featured within my book has the option to pick and choose an answer. And, Jon and Missy were kind enough to go through and choose the questions that I proposed to them. And, they honed it down to a few questions that I think you're really going to benefit from. So, this is going to be like Q&A episode. And, I won't reveal where Jon and Missy are right now. They live in a very special place. You guys allowed to say where you live or is that a total secret?
Jon: We'll talk about the island chain but not the specific island.
Ben: They live in Hawaii. And so, they're also in a very beautiful locale in Hawaii. And so, I think we should just jump right in, Jon and Missy, what do you think?
Jon: Yeah. Absolutely, Ben. Thanks for that lovely introduction, man–
Missy: Thanks for that. Totally.
Ben: Yeah, I miss you guys. It's been a couple years since we've had a chance to connect. But, we'll make it happen. I might have a hunting trip with my sons at some point this year down to the islands and maybe I'll try to connect with you.
The first thing, of course, is proving the fact that you've actually figured out how to make children, how to make little human beings. And so, I'm going to assume that you guys have children. I know that you have children, but what I'd like you to do is describe to me your family like how many kids you have and how old they are, and what they're up to. This is you're bragging moment for your kids and why you're proud of them.
Jon: Okay, you want me to go, sweetie?
Missy: Yeah, go ahead.
Jon: Okay. So, we have four kids, Ben. Jess and her husband Pat are our oldest. And, how old are they, baby? 34, 36-ish.
Missy: 35 and 38, I think, they are now.
Jon: Yeah. And, they have two kids.
Missy: Jesse is our daughter and, yeah, Pat's our son-in-law.
Jon: So, we have two grandkids with them.
Missy: And then, our son is Jordan–
Jon: And, Jordan and Ashley have two kids. Jordan's 30-ish. I don't know how old are they.
Missy: Maybe I should be doing this, seriously.
Ben: See, this is insightful though because I've always wondered, well, how long does a parent actually remember how old their children are? And, maybe it's kind of many older individuals, they seem to forget how old they themselves are. It sounds to me maybe your very first piece of advice for parents is you eventually forget how old your kids are.
Jon: Yeah, just deal with it.
Missy: Yeah, totally. Once you get over 50, you just can't remember. So, we got Jesse, she's in her mid-30s. Jordan is in his early 30s. Then we have Jade, she's 21 and Justin is 17. And, our two oldest kids are both married and they each have two kids. We have four kids and four grandkids.
Jon: Yeah. So, let me tell you what's special about these kids and what we're really proud of each one of them for. Jess and Pat, our oldest, literally Ben have put together the most amazing homeschool curriculum that just the way they run their house and the way that they educate their kids, they took what we did with them and took it to the next level. Our proudest area for Jess and Pat is parenting, literally. They were some of the best parents that we can ever imagine. So, glowing, glowing pride.
Missy: Yeah, they're actually in the process of doing just straight-up homesteading. And, to me, you can't get more of a down-to-earth education for your kids than that. So, we're super, super proud of them.
Ben: Oh, my gosh. Yeah. I mean, animal husbandry and the whole hygiene hypothesis and being in nature. Common thread I'm actually finding as I'm working on this book is so many parents emphasize nature immersion for their children. Of course, there are other factors like consequential-based discipline and. And typically, there's a lot of animals and some element of homesteading or even home-schooling.
Now, you did mention before we move on to your other kids that Jess and Pat, you said something they designed the most fantastic homeschool curriculum. Do you mean that they've actually designed a curriculum that other parents can use or is this their own in-house curriculum?
Missy: It's uniquely built for both of their kids. You know what I mean? So–
Jon: Yeah. So, they've designed a very customized program for their kids, but sometimes when you crack the code in your own situation, you have something valuable to share with others. So, that's kind of what they're thinking through right now. And Ben, that's a big decision. I mean, I remember when Missy and I had to really, really analyze whether or not we wanted to bring Lifebook out to the world, we had this system that we've created for ourselves that we've worked with for 10 years that we've never shown anybody that led us to the extraordinary life that we had. And, that's wonderful when you create something like that works really, really well for yourself. When you decide to share it, your life is going to change. That's a big decision. And so, they are right now sort of trying to make that decision, whether they just continue to use this incredible system to benefit themselves and their family or whether they want to open it up to the rest of the world. And, I think they'll make that decision probably before the end of the year.
Ben: That's an important observation because we unschool in our house and the curriculum is very much based on the child's passions and interests and desires, thus raising the conundrum that if you share it with the rest of the world, other children may not share the same passions and interests and desires of your own children. But, the model that we have of having certain blocks that are designed for certain aspects of finances or rhetoric or logic or core curricula that I think every young human being would benefit from, and then filling in all the gaps with the things that they're passionate about. We have an online executive assistant who helps to send the schedule back and forth and then a local person helps to drive and implement and do record keeping. And, I've thought about putting it out as an actual curriculum, but really it's a little bit loosey-goosey, probably more unschooling than homeschooling. But, you know what, if Jess and Pat ever do something like that, let me and let my audience know because I'm sure that some people be interested to get an insider sneak peek at what they do.
So, tell me about the others in addition to Jess and Pat.
Jon: Jordan. Jordan is in his early 30s. One of the things that we're most proud of with Jordan, Jordan is an entrepreneur. All of our kids are entrepreneurs. And, Jordan had two failed careers early on when he was 19 is he made a couple records. And, they're really good records. They were sort of conceptual rap and very good records, but he didn't have any financial success with them. The success was that he finished those projects and they were each year-long projects and that's a big accomplishment on its own. But, that didn't really go anywhere for him financially.
So, what he did when he was in his early 20s is he moved to California and he tried to get in front of the green rush, the marijuana growing industry out there. He was trying to be a grower. Well, he missed that boat by about three or four years. By the time he got out there, it was basically a commodity. And, the bigger companies had moved in and it was difficult for individual growers. So, that didn't work out great for him either.
But, what Jordan did at that point he had two failed careers, one in audio and one in the green area with marijuana cultivation. And so, what he did is he combined both of those skill sets and he created a company called GrowCast, which has become the world's number one marijuana-growing podcast with a huge membership. And so, he took two failed careers and combined them into a super successful career that really encompasses his passion. So, we're super, super proud of Jordan for that.
Ben: Wow. Wow, amazing.
Okay. So, you've got Jess and Pat. You've got Jordan who's doing multimedia podcasting, combining that with an emerging market like cannabis. And then, one more.
Missy: Two more.
Jon: Two more.
Ben: Oh, two more. I'm losing track.
Jon: So, we have two sets, the older set and the younger set. They're separated by 10 years. And so, Jade is our 21-year-old and Jade is an artist. She's a painter which she's a third-generation painter. My dad's the artist behind the Precious Moments Collection. My dad taught me how to paint and I taught Jade how to paint. And, that's going to be her career. So, she's been a very dedicated painter. She's obviously just starting out. But, man, I mean, she's in the right channel for sure.
And then, Justin, our youngest, 17, his artform that he's discovered is cooking. And, over the last couple of years, he's made himself a master chef. He's really mastered a few areas of cooking. All of our kids are artists. I mean, we're a family of artists. And so, I think that he'll probably end up going into music and a few other art forms. But, right now, he's really latched onto cooking as his artistic expression.
Missy: He cooks for us every day, every night, and it's ridiculous.
Jon: We have a built-in chef.
Missy: I'm so grateful.
Ben: I know. It's amazing. Our own sons, mom just started, when they were three years old, joining her, cooking from scratch. Now, they bake, they cook, they do fancy risottos and Christmas shrimp. And, they've got a cooking podcast. And, you're right, it's nice because you can just kind of sit back with your feet up and have a 5-star meal served you in the comfort of your own home.
Jon: You got it.
Ben: And, they'll make a couple of ladies happy someday, I think. So, once again, to summarize, Jess and Pat are the oldest and they're just fantastic parents, homeschooling, doing a fantastic curriculum. You've got Jordan who we just talked about, doing the cooking. And then, your daughter, who's the artist, her name again?
Jon: And, Justin does the cooking. Justin's the youngest. He does the cooking.
Ben: That's right. Jordan does the cast.
Jon: Jordan is the podcaster.
Ben: Okay, okay, got it, got it.
Jon: But, you know, Ben, at the end of the day, the most important thing to us is that our kids are happy and fulfilled. That's what matters to us. We don't care what the conduit is to get there. As a matter of fact, one of our most important parenting strategies is we provide our children with shelter and food on their plate into their adulthood. We don't want them to have to worry about putting a roof over their head and putting food on their plate. That's an easy thing to do. We provide that, and then here's the deal. Go out there and find out what you were put on this earth for. Figure out how you're going to create a path to happiness, balance, success, and fulfillment. You don't have to think about the basic survival necessities. That's one of our big parenting strategies.
Ben: Playing devil's advocate. If you're not having to worry about Maslow's hierarchy, it's freeing up creative power and skills to be able to be more impactful with one's purpose. There are other folks that have interviewed, for example, Rich Christiansen, who does a lot of family legacy planting, who has this philosophy that there's a certain agent which you don't pay for any of the child's needs. You don't pay for their education. You teach them how to, he says, kill their parents and cut the umbilical cord and go off and be independent on their own. It sounds to me like you have a little bit of a different philosophy.
Jon: Yeah. Well, here's one of the important philosophical premises that we should share at the outset. The most important thing that we've learned from our Lifebook work over the last 30 years is there is no one right strategy for everybody in any area of life, period. You're going to have to figure out what works for you in every important area of your life. There just isn't. And, that's one of the things that separate us from most people in the personal development industry is that we absolutely know that our way is not the right way for everybody. We've decided–
Missy: But, it's the right way for our family.
Missy: You know what I mean? Yeah.
Jon: And so, we've decided that taking care of those survival strategies allow our children to focus on the reason that they're here, full expression of themselves, without having to worry about survival. Why the hell should they have to worry about survival in the 21st century, the most abundant time in human history and the most abundant place in human history? I want to let you know as far as becoming independent from parents, we started working on that when they were 3. Independence is our number one value when it comes to parenting.
Missy: One of them.
Jon: So, that's not something that we take lightly.
Missy: And, to balance it, it's not like our kids are totally entitled. That's the beautiful thing about this. I mean, we've taught them good values from day one, but by the time–we kind of came up with this about four or five years ago. And, our two oldest kids were already grown and they're already doing their thing. But, it's like, “Look, guys, you really can develop yourself.” Because the bottom line has been all of us are artists and creatives and entrepreneurs and we're from a different mold. We're not going to fit into any kind of cookie-cutter situation. And so, for us, they're not going to lose the values of hard work, integrity, and self-esteem because we teach those in other ways.
Ben: Next question leading off from details about who your children are and what they do is, what were any elements that really stand out to you that you would consider to be particularly unique in your parenting approach?
Jon: Everything about our parenting approach was unique. Literally everything. We looked around at how our culture was. We looked around at how people parented. We looked around at the culture around us, and we realized people aren't happy. This is not successful. Whatever they're doing is not leading them to where we want to end up. So, we developed what we call a respectful disregard for how anyone else chooses to live any aspect of their lives. And, we're going to reinvent every single aspect. We followed our own drummer. And, a couple of the most important educational strategies that we had. Well, first is Lifebook, the Lifebook methodology. The 12 categories of life that we examine deeply in Lifebook to us are the areas of life that one needs to master in order to create an extraordinary life that works at a high level and very important area.
So, those were the areas that we wanted to focus on our kids. And, school only teaches one or two of those. Nobody learns how to have a great love relationship. Very few people learn the real fundamentals of health and fitness as you know. No one talks about their emotional life or their character. These subjects just aren't addressed in the course of a normal American education.
Missy: Or, wealth creation. I mean, that's a crazy thing–
Jon: Yeah, wealth creation is another used in career, right?
Jon: So, the Lifebook categories, we've always focused on the Lifebook categories with our kids from an educational standpoint. But, the biggest thing that we did that separated us from most parents that we know when it comes to education is that we traveled the world with our kids. That was our strategy.
From the time they were 4 and 8, I'm sorry, probably 3 and 7, we've been to 50 countries with our kids and we've lived in 12 different countries with them. And, the reason that they're not entitled is because they've spent six months in Indonesia and they went to a bamboo school in the middle of the rainforest and they lived in Myanmar for over a month, and they lived in Nicaragua, and they lived in South Africa, and they lived in Cairo. And so, they understand what they have and why they have it, and they understand that the rest of the world is not America. And so, that took care of that entitlement piece for all of our kids.
Missy: Plus, we communicate with them at a high level. We've always done that when they were little because kids, they know what's up, Ben. I mean, kids are coming through. I don't have to tell you this. You got two amazing bright shining stars. They're coming through more and more evolved and they know what is up. And here, we have been trying in the past hundred years, these beautiful new souls come through and we say, “Oh here, let's pick you in this old system that no longer serves humanity and that will crush all of your creativity and your inspiration and become everyone else.” So, that was what we were like this isn't working. And, like you, we unschool them at first and say, “Guys, none of that stuff matters. Let's go be citizens of the world and see what is out there.”
So, it's more of a philosophical thing for us, Ben. It's like school is there to serve. It's just there to serve us and to help us become better. Learning should be absolutely the most enjoyable thing you do. And, we were seeing it, our kids were like, “This sucks, school sucks.” And, we didn't want them to be–
Jon: We agree. Let's do something else.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Missy: We agree. Exactly.
Ben: I may even continue to play devil's advocate on a few of these questions. And, here's what I'm wondering. Did you ever think about the idea that if your children were traveling a lot, they might not have the ability to form roots at home, like deep friendships at home versus shallow kind of flash-in-the-pan acquaintances or that they might get so nomadic that they didn't really have the idea of a home as a castle, a place to come back to, so to speak?
Jon: Have you been in our home? It's quite a castle. But anyway–
Ben: I've been in your home, but I know some of the listeners may not have been, so.
Missy: Well, in any case, it's a great question. And, the bottom line is we would travel for about four to five months out of the year.
Jon: It would be four or five or six months every year. We would take them out of public school and go somewhere in the world to live. And then, we put them back for the last couple of months. And, they had incredible friendships that they still have to this day. They had amazing friends at home, but they also made friends in every other country.
Missy: We bring one of their friends. They got older. We'd bring a friend for a month or so and then flying back. So, we're very conscious of that, Ben, and that's a big thing with homeschoolers. It's like, you're going to home school. What about social? That's a big question we always did at Lifebook. And, there's a lot of ways to do that. And, one of the ways that Jon might do it is that our friends that have kids, our kid's ages are friends, like the Gentempos, Pat and Laurie Gentempo. You know those?
Missy: Those dudes, their two kids are exactly our two youngest kids' ages and they're best friends. They've known each other since day one and they travel together–
Jon: We've traveled together all over the world.
Missy: They're just awesome. So, there's ways around that, but it is a concern. It is a definite concern.
Ben: Yeah. And, during this time that your children were coming out of school and going off and traveling, was this a public school, a private school? How exactly did you structure that being able to pull them out of school?
Jon: It was mostly public school. And, this is one of the things that, in the parenting category of Lifebook, we discussed because so many parents said to us, “How did you pull your kids out of school for three, four, months a year? Our school won't even allow us to pull our kids out for two weeks to take a family vacation.” And, we're looking at them dumbfounded saying, “Did you just say that your school wouldn't allow you to do what you wanted to do with your own kid? I wouldn't even understand the words you're using right now. What the hell are you saying to us?” It's like, “When did we give our kids over to the government, so they were the government's responsibility.” Missy waltzed into the principal's office, and she said, “Here's what we're going to do.” Go ahead, babe.
Missy: Yeah, I would say this. Because it's basically like this, Ben. I went in and I met with the principal every time. Really, the first learning curve was the first year. This is when Jade, I don't know, Jade was in first or second grade. Justin wasn't even full yet. And, I said, “Here's what we're going to do, guys.” And, I got them rallied around Jade. I was like, “This is how we live and we travel every winter and we like to take the curriculum with you so that Jade, she continues her education.” And, they were like, “This is very peculiar and this is very unusual.” But, they hung with me and they planned. I even did Skype calls and stuff like that. I just went in and said, “Guys, this is what we were going to do, so let's do it together.” And, they were so helpful. It was really unbelievable.
Now, there were a couple other schools like when we got to middle school, that's a whole different thing because they want to put you on the system track of college. And so, basically, that's when it all broke down. We're like, “Okay, we're no longer schooling.” So basically, it was just for grade school.
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I am coming to London, June 16th through the 18th and I'm going to be a part of the Health Optimisation Summit over there. And, if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Calendar, you can check out that event. Fantastic. Kind of like biohacking meets wellness meets massive health technology expo. But, while I'm there, I'm going to be in London with my whole family and we're actually going to head to Italy afterwards and cycle through Italy. But, I decided to put on a very special private, intimate VIP event with me while I am in London. It's at this crazy place called HUM2N, HUM2N, like human except of the 2.
So, HUM2N Labs, they are a creme de la creme biohacking facility. I mean, the best hyperbaric chambers, amazing selection of IVs, super nutrient cocktails, cryotherapy, red light therapy. We're basically going to party and biohack and do a Q&A with me and the fine proprietor of that facility, Dr. E, who's a wealth of knowledge in and of himself at that event. It's Monday, June 19th, so it's going to be private networking, live Q&A, great food, great cocktail/mocktails, experiential biohacks, a variety of healthy gourmet foods is just going to be really amazing. You're going to get a swag bag too. Your swag bag includes super nutrient IV, cryotherapy, red light therapy, and hyperbaric oxygen. That's worth 750 pounds alone. Then you got the H2MN supplements. They're going to give you their brain sharpener and their super blend protein. You get a travel voucher to take you to and from the event, meaning using a company called [00:32:00] _____. They will bring you to and from the event if you have trouble finding it or don't want to drive.
So, there's a lot more that go into those swag bag too. But, right now, I have to tell you, this thing is going to fill up fast. It's in London, June 19th, and you get there by going to BenGreenfieldLife.com/HUM2NLondon. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/HUM2NLondon. And, that will allow you to claim your spot at this fantastic event. So, BenGreenfieldLife.com/HUM2NLondon.
Do you feel that college is only appropriate in certain scenarios? What's your take on the university education?
Jon: Again, there is no one right strategy for everybody. College is incredibly important if you're going to be a lawyer or if you're going to be a doctor or in professions that you absolutely must go to college for a long period of time in order to get into. But, we're a family of artists. And, if there's anything that will screw up an art career, it's frigging formal education. It's not for us and we've all realized that.
And so, basically, when the kids were in grade school and Missy was working with the schools to get done what we wanted, the intention was we're going to go in there and tell them how it's going to go. We're not going to go in there and ask permission for what we want to do with our kids and that energy. And, it wasn't we're being assholes, Missy always went in there and just very calmly said, “This is what we're going to do this year. We're going to live in Nicaragua. We're going to live for X amount of months and then we'll be back. So, how do you suggest we handle, should we do Skype calls? If we're in the Western Hemisphere, we have the possibility to have our kids join the class through Skype. But, if we're in Europe or if we're in Asia or if we're in Africa, we're going to have to figure out something different.” And, it was different every year. Some years we took tutors with us. And so, it's different every year.
But, by the time they got to junior high and it was now, like Missy said, the college track, that's when we said, “Okay, this just no longer works for us.” We're going to yank the whole thing and we're not doing formal school anymore with our kids. And, that's what we just started living life with our children.
Ben: That actually is impressive and also promising that that worked out for even a public school type of environment. I think many parents might assume that they have no say and no choice in the matter. But, it sounds to me because you guys do have very outside-the-box, defy-the-status-quo type of approach that you were willing to go and just talk, just open up the conversation. I think a lot of parents might have a fear or anxiety or even just a block to doing that or think that they have to be in some fancy pants expensive private school in order to make those kind of adjustments. But, that's actually quite promising that you guys are able to pull that off just by open transparent communication with the school itself.
Jon: Before you can get to that communication, you've got to realize yourself, it's a fundamental premise. You are the one in charge of your children, not the government, not the teachers. It doesn't matter what rules they put around it. They don't get to put rules around how your children are raised. And, that was simply our premise. We didn't have to shout it, didn't have to get emotional about it, or put it on the table and make a big deal out of it, it's just going in there with the confidence that this is who we are, this is how we're going to run our house, you guys have your system, so let's sit down together and talk about how we can put something together that works for all of us. But, the process was never that we're going to follow your instructions and your directions. We're in control of our children, you're not, and we're going to figure out what the right system is for all of us.
Missy: Yeah, that's right. And, I'll say this. When I did go in and talk, it was like the teachers were like, “Oh, my gosh, this is an amazing opportunity for your kids.” A couple of little resentful didn't like it. We're like, “No, it has to be,” you know? But mostly, the people that we worked with were like, “Oh, my gosh, this is magnificent.” And, they made exceptions and the kids would come back and share their–they make a report of wherever we went, a PowerPoint, and they would share with the class. And, a lot of times they were just really awesome. I love what you just said, Ben. It's like just really have the courage to do what you really believe.
Ben: Yeah, I love it. And, one thing that I tell my children because they're also very artistic, they both paint, they cook, they record and sing music. And, that's really what their passion is in life right now and they're also very interested in a liberal arts education. And, I think that besides the exceptions of an astronaut or a physician or an engineer or some other vocation that requires in many cases some type of formal education, piece of paper that displays that rocket ship you're building is something you actually know how to work on. The idea of a liberal arts education and a classical or classically rooted immersion and things like rhetoric, logic, writing, and skills that could serve you no matter what career you go into would be, in my opinion, one exception that I would make to the university type of model that I'm largely disillusioned with.
But, I tell my sons, “Look, if you want to get a well-rounded liberal arts education, it's probably going to serve you in your art career later on in life anyways.” And so, they're interested in that. and, I'm not too worried about that, but you're right the idea of simply don't go into college to drink beer–
Jon: Ben, let me just add my incredible support.
Ben: It's not that great.
Jon: Yeah, I want to add my incredible support for what you just said, a classical education; learning human history, learning the laws of logic, learning critical thinking. These are things that used to be taught in universities that really aren't anymore and many of them. That form of education is absolutely indispensable. You're 100% right. It doesn't matter what career you go into. That's a foundation that's going to serve you for life. We taught a lot of that on our own.
We'll talk a little bit more about what it was like to educate our kids all around the world, what kind of things did they learn because they fell behind in learning some of the traditional stuff that is completely, in my opinion, meaningless to creating a great life. But, they can tell you the symbols of upper and lower Egypt because we lived there. They know currency, exchange. They know how to handle themselves at night markets. They know how to handle themselves through customs. I mean, they learned things that kids don't learn.
Missy: They learned religions and cultures and they met people from all over the world and–
Jon: Cooking, art, history.
Missy: Their little house in St. Charles, Illinois outside of Chicago is not the world. That's actually one page of a book called “The World.”
Ben: You said normal kids, but maybe we don't want normal kids. Little bit weird. Keep your kids a little bit weird.
You did mention that the Lifebook process was a core part of your children's education. I love that of woven purpose and gratefulness and character development and many of the skills that I learned from my Lifebook process with you in our own son's education. And so, for those of you who want a deeper dive into the Lifebook process, go listen to the previous podcast that I did with the Butchers. You can find at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/TheButchers where I'll have shownotes for everything you're listening to right now. So, it's B-U-T-C-H-E-R-S. Go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/TheButchers and I'll put all of the shownotes in there for you.
So, the next question I have for you is in terms of your proudest moment as a parent, if one thing leaps out to one of you or both of you as one of your prouder parenting moments, what would you name? What comes to mind?
Jon: There's a lot of them, but one stands out because it was so pivotal. This changed our lives completely. When Jade, our third, who was 21 now, when she was in second grade, she was in a private school for gifted children, which my sister actually started. The teacher called us in for a parent-teacher conference, Missy and me, because Jade was having trouble. And, we learned in that conference that Jade was behind on everything. She was making all of her letters backwards. She was behind on reading, she was behind on writing, she was behind on math. And, her second-grade teacher had students from her class tutoring her in the corner of the class while everybody else was learning, which is devastating from a self-esteem perspective.
Jon: Before the end of that parent-teacher conference where I let Missy handle the whole thing so that I didn't get arrested for homicide. Before the end of that parent-teacher conference, I had made the decision in my mind, and I imagine that Missy probably had too, whereas this is it, we're out of here.
Missy: Screw that, we're out of here.
Jon: What we found out was that Jade was dyslexic. Pretty severely dyslexic. I'm mildly dyslexic. My dad is probably more severely dyslexic. It's hereditary and–
Ben: My wife also, by the way, she's an amazing artist, amazing artist. It's funny, so are you. And dyslexic.
Missy: We usually are.
Jon: One or two sentences on dyslexia. It's a learning difference. It's always associated with an above-average IQ, always within an IQ above 100. So, these aren't stupid people, but they learn different. When it happens, it's first, second, third grade. My dad failed third grade. I almost failed 2nd grade. That's when it comes up and it manifests itself and you can't read, write, or do math like the other kids and teachers who can't diagnose it properly always think you're either lazy or stupid. That's what they think and that's what this teacher thought.
Missy: Because the kid doesn't fit into the cookie cutter one way of teaching.
Jon: So, here's what happened. This is what happened to change our life. The first thing is Missy dove into understanding what this condition was. She studied for a year, and she understood everything there was to learn about dyslexia at that time. And, we sat jade down and we said, “Sweetie, here's the deal. Your brain works different. I've got the same thing. Your grandpa has the same thing. A lot of artists has the same thing.” Richard Branson, he's horrendously dyslexic. The guy can barely put together six words, but he's a freaking genius. And, what we said is, “This is a challenge for you right now. It's a drawback for you right now. It makes it more difficult for you to do what other kids can do easily, but it also gives you superpowers. And, that's what we need to lean into is your superpowers.”
Because Ben, what happens with dyslexia is while all the other kids are reading and they're getting all their information from the words on the page, a dyslexic can't do that. So, what they do is they overcompensate. They're looking at the teacher space, they're looking at the kid's space. They're looking for any cues that they can get. They're basically learning in 3D trying to figure it out, and they eventually do figure it out, but their coping skills that they've had to develop along the way to figure it out give them superpowers. And, that's mostly in the realm of art and intuition.
So, what we did was the following. We said, A, we've got to figure out a way to repair Jade's self-esteem. And B, we're done with school, we're out of it. So, we made plans that year. That was the first year we took our kids on a big trip. We took them to Southeast Asia for six months. We were in Laos. We were in Cambodia, the temples of Angkor. We got on the Mekong River on a long tail boat and we sailed into the jungle together. We lived in Thailand. We lived in Indonesia. We took our kids to Southeast Asia and we just had the most amazing year ever.
But, the other thing that we did that year, which was huge is Jade's a painter and she was a painter then. She was doing amazing. At 7 years old, she was doing beautiful abstract paintings that I kind of showed her the technique to do. And, what I said to her, “Sweetie, if you want to work hard for two summers and do a great collection of work, I'll talk to some” because I'm in the arts, obviously, contemporary art pretty deeply, “I'll talk to some of the gallery owners I know, and I'll get you a solo show where you can show your work in downtown Chicago.” She agreed to do that at 8 years old had a solo show at the Peter Miller Gallery, a major world-class gallery in downtown Chicago. The opening night was packed. The entire show sold out in 45 minutes and that fixed her. That fixed that problem. And then, we took off and we traveled the world and never looked back.
Missy: Yeah. And, that's so beautifully said, Jon. And, I'll add this. What we did after that, Ben, when we took that six-month trip is learning about dyslexia, I got turned on by just the whole like we're going to educate our kids ourselves. And, I began learning how our kids learn by observing them in 3D. You know what I mean? Because they all learn, all of our kids learn in immersion, basically. The immersion process is the best for our kids. So, we really learned how they learned and then–
Ben: Do you mean when you say immersive process like experiential-based education versus curriculum–
Jon: 3D learning.
Missy: Yes. Experiencing, yeah.
Ben: Amazing. The thing that comes to mind for this is my own son, River, and also Terran, although I haven't yet done this with him because I'm taking this one son at a time has spent hours and hours designing a mural on his bedroom wall. And, I've helped him to produce that entire mural, 96 different pieces of art as an NFT, digital NFT on which people can bid. And, as a utility that's associated with that, folks can get access to a private online art creation class with River. But, you could see the light bulb moment occur for him as a kid who you might just think was painting with markers on his wall was something that a lot of children might even get in trouble for.
All of a sudden, when he saw that people were bidding on his NFT and owning his NFT, not only does eyes light up, but he went to work twice as hard on even more mural creation because he was liberated from the idea that it was weird to create this art. He came to recognition with the fact that he was actually doing people a service that people actually wanted and they liked. He saw the business utility. And, I think that's important is that you not only observe your children's passions and interests and help to fuel those, but you also help them to introduce those to the world so they can see how that process of loving other people, which is a core human desire is something that they can do with their skill set as weird or funky as that skill set might sometimes seem.
Jon: When you have that approach and when you're able to help them develop the skills and talents and passions that they really want to focus on. And then, once they can grip on that in their own lives, then they can start to share it and those ripples go out. And, when you're able to help them monetize their craft in a way such that this happened with Jordan, it's just getting ready to happen with Justin, in a way such that, Ben, they go to sleep at night and they wake up in the morning and they see how much money was deposited into their bank account the night before when they were asleep. That's when they get addicted to it. That's when they say, “Oh, this is pretty freaking cool, and I'm going to go all in with this.” And so, I agree with you 100% that that connection to the rest of the world is the final thing that you need to put in place in order for them to just soar.
Ben: Yeah. And, I think that's important for people to note that despite you caring for your children's base needs, their basic survival needs, they're still motivated by the financial impact of what they're creating as well which shows that even if your parents are–I was the same way. I had a core drive even though some of my needs were taken care of by my parents to still benefit financially from the work that I did. And so, I think some parents are afraid their kids are going to turn into lazy good for nothings who are spending their time playing video games.
Jon: Let me just qualify really quickly because I think this is important because this will alleviate that concern. I want to qualify really quickly what we mean by giving our kids alter in food. We're building a sustainable farm here on a remote pacific island. And, farming is fun and it's incredibly fulfilling, but it's also hard work. The deal that we've made with our kids is that we've built two beautiful little bamboo houses here on the ocean. They've always got a roof over their head and they've always got food on their plates as long as they're here working in the farm. If that is fulfilling to them, if that's what they want to do, great.
But, that will alleviate the scarcity mentality that so many of us have and allow them to really explore their passions and their talents and their loves where they don't have to be compromised by trying to monetize unless they're really willing and able and unless that's really the right strategy for them. And again, this is not a suggestion for everybody because there's no suggestion that works for everybody. We learned this from Deepak Chopra. That was the first person that I ever heard. His and Gautama. He basically said, “You will never have to worry about a roof over your head. You'll never have to worry about food on your plate. Now, go out there and figure out why you were put on this planet.” Right?
Jon: It's good stuff, man.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. I love it. I love it.
Okay. So, here we go. Next question for you. You have multiple children. I think this is another thing that a lot of parents struggle with. How do you find time or how did you create a scenario in which you were able to–there's going to be multi-part question, so that's okay. I know you guys can roll with this. A, half time for yourself, your own self-care, your own career, your other interests and B have one-on-one time with your children if you did carve out dedicated present one-on-one time.
Jon: We were very good at that. I must admit we had a pretty good system for that. So, how we find time for ourselves, Missy and I as you know would never even consider compromising our love relationship. Missy and I always stopped work at 5:00, always. And, Ben, you know how busy we are and how many companies we have. But, that was a non-negotiable. We stopped work at 5:00 and we took our ring walk around our garden and then it was family time from that point forward. We had a family dinner every night. A lot of parents don't do that anymore. And, to protect our love relationship, Missy and I always had an overnight date away from the kids at least once a week no matter where in the world we were. We figured it out. Overnight date means you leave the kids and go to a hotel. In our case, we had penthouses in the city that were specifically designed for this purpose. But, if we're living in Myanmar, we figure out how childcare, we go to a nice hotel down the street or whatever, and we have our adult sexy grown-up time. We've done that every week for the last 30 years. It doesn't matter where in the world we are. That's something we've never compromised.
And then, as far as one-on-one time with the kids, I think our best strategy was once a week, I'd have a daddy-daughter date with Jade and Missy would have a mommy-son date with Justin or we'd switch it. And, we really kept that going for a lot of years and it was wonderful. They loved it, we loved it, it was great.
Missy: Now, we take trips with them like I'll do a solo trip with Jade or I'll just go with Jade and Jesse, my girls. Jon takes our kids on a 16-year-old trip every year wherever they want to go in the world.
Jon: When they turn 16, we let them choose whatever country in the world they want to go to. And, I take I take them on a trip. Jesse chose the Philippines.
Ben: Each of your children when they're 16 they get to choose one area of the world that they get to go to and you take them there.
Ben: Amazing. Just you and one of those children?
Jon: That's right. And, we went deep. We went to the Ifugao province and we went places that you couldn't get to without flying in a little puddle jumper plane and then driving hours in a four-wheeler jeep and then getting out and hiking for hours. And, we were in some amazing places. Jordan picked Bangkok, which was pretty fun. And, Jade picked Seoul, Korea, and Amsterdam. Justin got knocked out. His 16-year-old trip got screwed up by COVID. So, I still owe him. He's 17. I still owe him his trip, and that's probably going to be coming up as soon as the world comes back to their senses.
Ben: How about yourselves? Did you run into any struggles with carving out time for yourself versus your children? I know some parents would just set the alarm and get up super early for their workouts. Some would include their children in their workouts. Others would simply have their dedicated time in the morning that they perhaps a little selfishly protected for a good reason, for self-care. How did you guys go about doing things?
Missy: You know Ben, we did all those things you said, get up early. I would say our biggest strategy there is we would trade. Jon would take the kids so I could go take a bath and just chill out. And, I always protected Jon because he works at home, so I would always make sure the kids weren't bothering him while he was working. So, we took turns. And also, another thing that we do is we would also take turns with our friends, their kids. Our kid's friend's parents would take everybody for the weekend and then we would take everybody for the weekend. And, in fact, we still do that. We kind of do a village, I don't know, raising your kids, because our youngest, 17, he'll come here. He's got two or three, four friends that'll come here for two or three weeks. And, Jon and I will take them through a Molokai man camp and we'll do a bunch of fun stuff. And then, they'll all go to Pat and Lauri's house for two weeks and they'll do something there. And then, we've got–
Jon: We have a little community where we can trade these kids like, “We're done with a teenager for three weeks. Who wants to take them?”
Missy: “You guys got to take them for a while.”
The bottom line is the more creative you can be, the better it is. Just get creative and be with your kids and working out with your kids. Take them grocery shopping. Do the things that you do all day long with your kids if you can. If you're stay-at-home mom, that's easy. So, yeah, creativity is pretty.
Ben: Yeah. The way I structured it was early on, I would just get up early and get it done, comma, always have the jogging stroller, the bike trailer, taking the kids to the gym with me, and put them in the kid care at the YMCA, like we joined a gym intention with really good children's care. And then, as they got older, I simply started because every Sunday night I write out my workouts and typically I'll workout almost every day of the week. But, at least two or three of those workouts, I'll write them out. So, there are multi-person group workout conducive to include children. And so, I've wound up for the past several years as my boys of age just basically taking them out with me. And yeah, I'll admit it's a little annoying. You don't get your me time and listen to that audiobook you want to listen to, you're coaching them on form, blah, blah, blah. But ultimately, it really seems to work out well to do it that way. And, I think a few parents have even expressed a little bit of regret over not carving out that time for self-care. So, I think it is important. You got to put on your own oxygen mask and be able to prepare and provide and also be able to play with your grandkids when you're older, assuming you take care of your body–
Jon: Let me throw in a quick workout strategy that's really in that, Ben. I worked out with my kids like Justin and I went through about a three-year period when he was, I would say, 11 through about 13 where we would sword fight with hard foam swords, the Nerf Swords.
Ben: Oh, yeah.
Ben: My brothers and I used to do that.
Jon: Yeah. So, we put on the armor, we get our shields, we go out there in the driveway and it would be a serious workout for me. We figured out a way to use our kids for weight lifting and we didn't do it every day, but that was a nice little piece of variety when it came to work out. A lot of fun.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. Those type of rough-and-tumble roughhousing games are really great too.
Ben: I printed out a whole poster of rough and tumble games like 20 different games and we have that printed on our living room wall. When there's downtime, I can grab the kids and say, “Hey, you guys want to do the arm tug of war, the leg wrestling?” or any other games on there.
Jon: Oh, dude, send me that.
Jon: I need to see that.
Ben: Yeah. Now, it's hanging out in my gym, but I'll take a photo of it and send it over to you. Maybe I'll put it in the shownotes as well. But, it's just a print–
Jon: Yeah. The problem is right now my 17-year-old can probably kick my ass.
Ben: Yeah, Yeah. Proceed with caution if you got older children, you don't want to break your neck.
Now, how many of your children have actually grown up and moved out of the house?
Missy: All of them.
Jon: Well, Jade is sort of in between right now.
Jon: Well, yeah, Justin was on his own at 15. I was on my own at 15. We moved from the Midwest to Hawaii and he sort of stayed back with his friends for a while and went back and forth. Jade's got an apartment in Chicago, so she sort of goes back and forth. Our kids are super independent. Independence was our number one parenting strategy. We realized early on that our job as parents was to get our children up and running, functional and autonomous, as quickly as we could. That's the job of a parent to make sure that your kids are functional in your absence. That's your number one job. And, we took it seriously and we started training that stuff from day one, 3 years old. So, our kids are extremely independent. They know how to travel on their own. They know how to live life because that's the school that they went to.
Jon: They went to the school of the world, they learned how to live life. So, they're all very independent, but our home is the home base and we love that.
Ben: Did any of the children have an actual rite of passage or anything like that to foster independence?
Jon: One did. And, it's the one that needed it. Justin went through a Vision Quest and Missy and I went with it.
Do you know Shaman Manex Ibar? Do you know Manex?
Ben: I had a dinner with Shaman when I visited you in Chicago, so yes.
Missy: Oh, yeah, I remember that.
Jon: Oh, fantastic. So, Manex is a shaman in the South of France. He runs these wonderful Vision Quest in the Pyrenees. So, when Justin was 14, matter of fact, it was the year that we were with you in Estonia, Ben.
Jon: Right from that trip, we went to Spain, in France, and we did a Vision Quest with Manex. It was a couple days of instruction and then it was four days by ourselves in the mountains. We were about 2 miles separated from each other all by ourselves, no food for four days, all alone in the wilderness. It was a transformational experience. One of the things that happened with Justin that made the experience extra intense is the morning that we were getting ready to go up into the mountains, I tried to get him out of bed and he was late. And, I said, “Justin, you got to get your shit together, you got to pack everything, let's go.”
And so, we took off, we went into the mountains, we put Missy in her spot. We could continue to hike a couple hours. So, we got to Justin's spot. And Ben, when we got to Justin's spot, we realized that he didn't bring the outer cover for his tent. He had no protection from the elements. He has [00:58:31] _____ didn't have his outer cover and there was a storm.
Missy: Yeah. Lesson number one right at the beginning.
Jon: I couldn't help him. So, it was like, Justin, I gave him a hug, I said, “Good luck, son. This is going to be the first lesson.” And then, I went to my spot and set me up. And, that night, the storm rolled and it stayed for two days and it was freezing and it was thunder and lightning and it was a torrential downpour. And, he was out there at 14 years old in the forest in the elements getting hammered weeping, but he did not–he could have packed up and walked two and a half hours back to Missy but he didn't do that. He hung in there and that was one hell of a transformational experience for all of us, not just him, for all of us.
Missy: Oh, my gosh. Yeah, all the wow.
Ben: Wow, wow. Amazing. So, yeah, those intentional rites of passage, I think, are important. But, of course, we should name that it's so important up till that point, you had fostered independence, you don't just rip a kid out of a non-independent type of scenario and throw them into a rite of passage. There's a lot of training that goes. I mean, my own sons–
Jon: Ben, did you do rite of passages with your children?
Ben: Yes, they've been through rite of passage into adolescence which they trained for six years for with Wilderness Survival classes to get to that point where they could do their vision quest solo in the wilderness. They'll do another when they're 15 and that'll be a little bit more intensive, it'll be a longer period of time out with a wool blanket and a knife, and a backpack in the woods of North Idaho. But yeah, absolutely, for them to dissolve their ego and face their fears and face their shadow self. They did it with another person who's featured in this book, Tim Corcoran, from Twin Eagles Wilderness school. But yeah, there's a great deal of training leading up to that point. So, don't just take your children if you're listening in, kick them out the door with a bow and arrow.
Missy: That's the point.
Ben: So, you have been able to really maintain and grow the relationship with your children who have moved out of the house then?
Missy: Oh, yeah.
Jon: Oh, yes. It's a joy–
Missy: It just gets better and better. Yeah.
Jon: We've enjoyed that phase so much, Ben.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
There's this idea of consequential-based parenting, letting your children just know what the consequences are of any decision they might make in life than having them deal with the consequences. And, that seems to be a common theme amongst many parents who I interview yet some still do seem to have certain non-negotiable rules such as we don't lie ever. That's a big no-no or others will go all the way down to the nitty-gritties of enforced screen time. Did you have any non-negotiables in your own house?
Jon: I don't know that I would go so far as to say non-negotiables, but we had three values that were–
Missy: Very simple. Our parenting values and our whole situation is very, very simple.
Jon: Yeah. So, the three values of our home which are carved in stone literally in Japanese characters on the 9-ton stone that sits in front of our entry gates. So, these values are written in stone. So, you might say they're pretty intense. And, the three values are, the Japanese characters are, the first one is freedom, the second one is self-responsibility, and the third one is love but it's a particular form of love, the Japanese translation could as easily be mutual respect.
And, what those three values, how those three values play out are, kids, your life is yours, you own it. We do not own you. Our job is to do as good as we can getting you the tools that you need to run a functional life. You are your own person. You have the freedom to operate in any way you choose. That's number one. But, number two, you will take responsibility for the choices and actions you take and you make. You will not assign blame to others for the mistakes that you make. You have the freedom to operate in the way you want, but you are responsible for the choices you make. And thirdly, you will treat the people around you with love and respect always.
Those were the three rules of our home that were written in stone. And, I'll tell you what, having values like that are crystal clear to everybody alleviates a lot. It simplifies everything because here's one way that that played out. When our kids break the rules, for instance, when Jesse was 16 or so, she snuck into our wine cellar and she got a big expensive bottle of wine. She had a romantic dinner with her boyfriend that night and she drank the wine, and we woke up the next morning to a note saying, “Mom and dad, I went to the wine cellar and got wine. I had a wonderful night with Steve. I know that was wrong and I'm willing to accept the consequences.” Our kids never got upset with us for punishing them. They always knew. I made this choice, now I've got to sit in the consequences of my actions. Those three values served us so well I can't tell you.
Missy: To us, they're the basis of everything else. It's like everything comes from that.
Missy: Because if you have personal freedom, well, what does that mean? You better freaking take command of yourself. So, that's the ultimate responsibility. And, love is love. I mean, love is the basis, it's the thing that animates us all, so.
Ben: Yeah. And, I think it's important here to note that you wrote them down and you wrote them down in a very reverent and sacred and ceremonial manner engraving them in Japanese on a stone. I, of course, hold the Ten Commandments, I hold quite dear: do not lie, do not steal, don't murder, and yet we don't just talk about them, they're actually engraved in stone in my children's bedrooms that they see those and then they can use those as rules for life to live by. And, the same thing for our family mission statement. It's printed on the wall of our living room, our family crest. It's like a $20,000 piece of art that hangs above our fireplace but it really impresses a child versus you just saying we don't lie versus that being an actual structure–
Jon: They know you're serious, man.
Ben: Yeah, it holds a sacred space in the home.
Well, speaking of engraving something on something, I would also like to ask you a final fun question. If you could have a message on a billboard to any parent out there and were going to be a billboard fittable message, what would either one of you or both of you want to put on such a billboard?
Jon: Well, just so you know, we don't really do that. And, I'm going to answer the question, but again, the most important thing that we've learned in our 30-year personal development journey is there is no one right strategy for everyone in any area of life. So, we're very careful with our billboards. The things that we have implemented in our lives work for us. We're happy to share them and if they work for you, great. If they don't, throw them out and find your own path. That's what we all need to do. We all need to assemble our own series of strategies in the most important areas of life that work for us. And, that path is going to look different than anybody else's. So, we never put our stuff on other people as universal truth. So, that's the qualification before I share this.
Here's what I think Missy and I have identified as literally the most important parenting strategy. It's the example that you set. It's the way you live your life. It's the way you talk on a normal basis. It's the way you behave on a normal day-to-day basis. It's the way you treat each other. It's the way you treat your children. It's the way you come into small issues and big issues. You can sit down and lay down the rules for them all day long. You can talk to them all day long about how they should behave. But, what it comes down to is to your children, you are their world. You are their example. It does not matter what you say, it matters what you do. So, the most important thing when it comes to parenting is to be the best person you can be to have the best relationship you can have as a mom and dad, and to set a shiny example for what living like a successful human being on this earth looks like. Bar none, no close second to that parenting strategy.
Missy: Amen, amen, baby. Amen.
Ben: I think probably my favorite part of this interview even though I loved all of it was your three, what you might call non-negotiables, but at least these three things that you've engraved: Freedom, self-responsibility, and love with the idea of love being that mutual respect. And, there's so many other golden nuggets here that I really hope parents will pay attention to and take away from this interview. And again, I'll put all the shownotes along with the previous interview that I did with the Butchers about Lifebook if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/TheButchers, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/The-B-U-T-C-H-E-R-S. And, Jon Missy, I just want to thank you for giving your time, for being so devoted to your children, for having such a passion for parenting, and being so brave and courageous in the way that you've gone about creating a very unique scenario for your children. And, I think it's going to pay dividends for you when it comes to the legacy that you create.
Jon: Thank you so much, Ben.
Missy: Thank you, Ben.
Ben: Alright. Well, cool guys. I appreciate you and I love you and I'll keep in touch between now and our Molokai trip.
Jon: Alright, brother. Take care.
Missy: Sounds good. Lots of love to you guys.
Ben: Okay, bye.
More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be, and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.
I first discovered Jon and Missy Butcher when my wife and I went through one of the most transformational life re-invention and life purpose processes we have ever embarked upon…
It was called Lifebook and was designed by Jon and Missy.
Later, Jon himself joined me for the podcast episode “Lifebook: The Most Transformative Process I’ve Ever Discovered For Crystal-Clear Clarity, Purpose & Direction In Life.” I now think of my Lifebook as me, in a book (you can actually read my entire Lifebook here).
In other words, if I were to, God forbid, get hit by a bus tomorrow, someone would be able to hand my children my Lifebook and say, “Here. Here is your Dad, in a book. This is everything he stands for, believes in, and values, and everything he would have wanted to teach you about life” (you can actually read my entire Lifebook here)…
My Lifebook now holds a precious place on the mantle above the fireplace in our home and has even been integrated into our family trust. As you can imagine, I'm very proud of and excited about this discovery, and so I interviewed Jon, a man who Chicago Magazine once dubbed as “the guy with the most perfect life”.
Along with his wonderful wife Missy, Jon is a serial entrepreneur and the creator of Lifebook, an extraordinary system that has helped thousands transform their lives from ordinary to living masterpieces. Jon and Missy have learned how to defy aging, experience long-lasting love, redefine education, and build the perfect living environment (trust me, I've been to their home and it is a complete dream house). Drawing from deeply personal experiences, Jon and Missy, along with their partner, Joe Polish, also founded the Artists For Addicts project. Its mission is to change the global conversation surrounding addiction from one of judgment to one of compassion.
Today, Jon is back, but he's back to talk parenting – along with his wife Missy – and if you have children in your life, know someone with children, or plan to have children, this walkthrough of Jon and Missy's radical parenting process is a can't-miss. That's why I also featured Jon and Missy in my new, just-released book Boundless Parenting, in which you can learn more about the Butchers' parenting along with many other highly impactful parents.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Jon and Missy Butcher and their kids…07:17
- Boundless Parenting by Ben Greenfield
- Ben and Jessa spent a lot of time with Jon and Missy in Tallinn, Estonia for the Lifebook experience
- Jon and Missy answering questions on parenting
- 4 kids, 4 grandkids
- Jess and Pat
- Proud of their parenting and homeschooling
- Designed very customized curriculums for their kids
- Took what Jon and Missy did and brought it to the next level
- Customized program for their kids
- A lot of the parents in the Boundless Parenting book emphasize nature immersion
- Animal husbandry
- Hygiene hypothesis
- Jordan and Ashley
- An entrepreneur
- 2 failed careers – rap music and marijuana grower
- He combined them into one super successful career
- Dedicated artist, painter, 3rd generation painter
- Jon's dad taught him how to paint, Jon taught Jade
- Precious Moments Collection
- Cooking, mastered a few areas of cooking
- Ben's kids' GoGreenfields
- At the end of the day, the most important thing is that kids are happy
- There is no one right strategy for everybody in any area of life
- Hard work and independence
- Podcast with Rich Christiansen:
-The unique elements of Jon and Missy's parenting approach?…21:50
- Everything about their parenting approach was unique
- Developed respectful disregard for how others live
- The Lifebook methodology
- The 12 categories of life examined deeply
- School only teaches one or two
- Traveled the world with kids
- Lived in 12 countries
- Kids understand what they have
- Learning must be enjoyable
- School sucks
-How kids can develop roots and a sense of home if they're traveling a lot…25:22
- Traveled for 4-5 months, the rest of the year at school
- Made friends at home and in every other country
- Pulling kids out of school for months
- Meeting the principal and explaining their lifestyle
- Primary school was helpful
- Secondary school was a problem
- Stopped schooling
- Kids are best friends with Patrick and Laurie Gentempo's children
- Podcast with Patrick and Laurie Gentempo:
-Jon and Missy's thoughts on university education…32:32
- College is important for certain professions like law and medicine
- Not useful for artists
- We are the ones in charge of our children, not the government, not the teachers
- By junior high did not do formal school
- Have the courage to do what you want and believe
- Classical education is not taught anymore in universities
- The Lifebook process in the previous podcast with the Butchers:
-Jon and Missy's proudest moment as parents…39:09
- There are a lot of them, but one is pivotal
- Jade was having trouble in 2nd grade
- Was behind in everything
- Found out that Jade is severely dyslexic
- Dyslexics usually overcompensate; intelligent people that learn differently
- Dyslexia is a learning difference
- Missy studied the condition for a year
- Took kids out of school and went on a 6-month trip to SE Asia
- Organized Jade’s art exhibition in Chicago
- Kids must develop their skills and passions
- River's Bubbles NFT
- Connection to the world is the last step
- Building a sustainable farm
- Kids should not worry about a roof over their heads and food on their plate
- Shouldn’t compromise their passions because of money
-How the Butchers find time for themselves and 1-on-1 time with their kids…48:54
- Always stopped work at 5 and start family time
- Family night
- Overnight date once a week
- Never compromised it
- 1-on-1 time with kids
- At 16, solo trips of their choice with a kid
- Jordan picked Bangkok
- Jade picked Seoul and Amsterdam
- Justin still has to take a trip
- Struggles with making time for yourself
- Getting up early
- One takes care of kids, the other takes time for themselves
- Friends taking kids for the weekend or longer
- Get creative and do all things with your kids
- Ben’s strategy
- Self-care is important
- Working out with kids
- Independence is the number 1 job of a parent
- Kids should be functional and autonomous in the parent’s absence
- Rite of passage – just Justin
- Vision quest with Manex Ibar when he was 14
- Went into the mountains for 4 days with no food
- Ben’s sons had a rite of passage at Tim Corcoran's Twin Eagles Wilderness School
- Podcast on vision quests with Tim Corcoran:
- Podcast with Tim Corcoran and Jeannine Tidwell:
-Whether Jon and Missy have any non-negotiable rules…1:00:17
- No non-negotiable rules, but certain values
- 3 values carved in stone
- Freedom – freedom to operate in any way you choose; your life is yours, own it
- Self-responsibility – take responsibility for the choices you make
- Love or mutual respect – treat the people around you with love and respect, always
- Clear rules simplify everything
-What would be the Butchers' message on a billboard to other parents?…1:04:28
- There is no right strategy for everyone
- “We never put our stuff on other people as universal truth”
- Everyone needs to find what works for them
- It's the example that you set, the way you live your life, the way you talk and behave on a normal day, it's the way you treat your children
- To your children, you are their world, you are their example
- It does not matter what you say, it matters what you do
- “The most important thing when it comes to parenting is to be the best person you can be, to have the best relationship you can have as a mom and dad, and to set a shining example for what living as a successful human being on this earth looks like.”
- Health Optimisation Summit: June 17th – 18th, 2023
Join me at The Health Optimisation Summit in London! This is your chance to be part of a community of 2,500 like-minded people and learn from world-leading health speakers. You'll be able to fast-track your health journey, discover cutting-edge secrets and hacks, explore the latest tech and gadgets, and find the cleanest and healthiest supplements and nutrient-dense foods. Don't miss out on this incredible experience! Learn more here.
- Hum2n Event: June 19th, 2023
Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to learn from the best in the field and take your biohacking journey to the next level. You’ll get the chance to be involved with a private network of biohackers, a live discussion with myself and Dr. E, a live Q&A, an experiential biohacking experience, tasty food, and a chance to win some mind-blowing prizes! Learn more here.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar!
Resources from this episode:
– Jon and Missy Butcher:
- Lifebook: The Most Transformative Process I’ve Ever Discovered For Crystal-Clear Clarity, Purpose & Direction In Life.
- Precious Moments Collection
- How To Build Your Legacy, Bond Your Family With Traditions, Rituals & Routines, Rites Of Passage & Much More With Rich Christiansen of Legado Family Founder.
- The Wake-Up Lounge, Italian Dinner Feasts, Travel As Education, “FU” University & Other Massively Important Parenting Principles With Patrick and Laurie Gentempo (Boundless Parenting Book Series).
- How To Go On A Vision Quest & Embark Upon A Rite Of Passage.
- Educating The Next Generation With Ceremonies, Rites Of Passage, Nature Immersion, Wilderness Survival & More With Tim Corcoran & Jeannine Tidwell.
– Other Resources:
- Boundless Parenting by Ben Greenfield
- Bubbles NFT
- Twin Eagles Wilderness School
- Manex Ibar
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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Jon, Missy, or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!