[Transcript] – How To Become A Strong Family, Turning Hard Hikes Into Teachable Moments, Raising Confident And Resilient Children & More With Joe And Mell Hashey

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/strongfamily-podcast/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:01:36] Who is Joe Hashey?

[00:04:44] Joe's walk from the airport to the retreat

[00:11:02] What does Joe listen to when walking?

[00:15:53] Exposing kids to learning charisma and negotiation

[00:21:53] Physical activity in Joe and Mell's lives

[00:33:46] The rite of passage

[00:40:52] Joe and Mell's family core values

[00:48:45] The importance of structured family meetings

[00:55:09] The things Joe and Mell haven't implemented yet

[01:06:24] End of Podcast

[01:06:46] Legal Disclaimer

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Joe:  Today, young men don't know when they become a man because it's just you kind of go through school or man, when you graduate high school, is at college, there's no rite of passage and then people are confused on their role in society. And, we kind of took all that and said, “Hey, we want our kids to at least know who they are and the contributions that they can have to their own personal lives.” And so, we created a rite of passage.

The one that I did with my older two boys, and this was a hard one we did, we climbed up Pikes Peak. The roundtrip, it's like a 26-mile hike from where we start and it's quite the climb. And, at the top, I give them the option of, “Hey, do you want to take this cog railway down or do you want this envelope, this gift from your mother and I, and then we're going to have to hike down?” And, they both quickly, “Just give me the envelope.” I mean, this is a long hike, they're a little tired. And, in the envelope was a gift for them. What we gave them was a watch. It's a Garmin outdoor watch like I have. And, it was to signify, I wrote a letter on it, that now you are more in charge. You're at the age where you're more in charge of your day. You have to decide what habits you need to do, what habits serve you. You have to show up on time to things. We brought it all together like, “Hey, you can do these hard things, you just did this hike.”

Ben:  Fitness, nutrition, biohacking, longevity, life optimization, spirituality and a whole lot more. Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Life show. Are you ready to hack your life? Let's do this.

Hey, so I got this book, “The Strong Family Guidebook.” I'm going to hold it up here for the video. You can find the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/StrongFamily. I know the author of this book. I know him quite well actually because he works with Ben Greenfield Life. And, his name is Joe Hashey. Now, most of my interactions with Joe up until several months ago had taken place virtually, online. And then, we had our Ben Greenfield Life team retreat up by Seattle Washington and I had a chance to hang out with Joe and realize that he's just as much of a real deal when it comes to an amazing physical specimen, family man, an inspirational leader as I had the impression of him being virtually. And so, just a few months after a retreat, Joe released a book called “The Strong Family Guidebook.”

And, I'll let Joe tell you a little bit more about his history and how he came to write this book, but he's actually been working in the physical culture, in the leadership sector for a while. he has a master's of education from Colgate University where he played football. He went on to become an award-winning High School social studies teacher and a local youth coach. He's coached sports. He's done a lot of personal training. And, at the last minute, we decided that it would be pretty cool to have Joe's co-author of this book, Mell, Joe's partner in crime, Joe's wife, Mell Hashey to join in as well.

Now, I do have to tell you all that before I open things up to Joe and Mell that one of the things that impressed me most about Joe and probably the memory of him that is most burnt into my brain is the fact that we had that team retreat that I mentioned over near Seattle, Washington. And, I suppose it was probably 60 or 70 miles or more from the airport. And, Joe walked with all of his luggage and also no food just eating berries by the roadside along the way to the team retreat which may sound crazy. But, what's even crazier is, I think, Joe actually has a habit of this whole airport rucking thing. You kind of make me feel like a weakling, Joe, walking on my treadmill while I'm recording a podcast. But, first of all, Joe and Mell, welcome to the show. And, Joe, of course, I'm going to want to hear more about this airport rucking, but first, welcome to the show.

Joe:  Ben, honor to be here. So excited to have this conversation with you. Thank you so much for having us.

Mell:  Yeah. Truly, Ben. Thank you so much.

Ben:  Yeah, absolutely. It's an honor. I'm so stoked to dive into this stuff regarding the family just because as you guys know, education and parenting and a fit family, a strong family mentally physically, and spiritually, those are all topics near and dear to my heart.

But, Joe, dude, tell me about this airport rucking because we all showed up at the team retreat and you bounced out all smiley-faced and I think still shot in your walking shoes. And, you'd walk from the airport and I don't think this is the first time you've done something like that, yeah?

Joe:  No, it's a habit I picked up about five years ago. It started when I got an opportunity to speak at a national trainers' conference in Nashville. And, I've always been a little bit hesitant, I'm always a late adopter to technology. And, I was kind of new to the smartphone. I don't know if I should use an Uber. I'm like, “You know what, I'm just going to go early.” Life is so busy and hectic and I'm going to use this opportunity. It's only six miles to create a little separation from my busy life running fitness studios at that time. I believe I was still also teaching high school. We had a young family and just spend these six hours thinking about what I want to do, what do I want to accomplish at this conference and just walk it out. And, it happened to be like one day in Nashville where it's snows. And, I'm rolling luggage through the snow for 6 miles and I was like, “I got to be smarter about this.” And then, I did it in Newark, which was a terrible airport to walk out of Orlando. It was my most wet airport. Everything in Orlando is damp. My favorite one, San Diego Airport, very walkable. I get to walk through the city, get to check everything out, get to create some separation between my hectic life and what I need to accomplish on the trip.

And then, of course, the Ben Greenfield Life Retreat was my furthest one. It was my first airport ultra where it was about 70 miles going through Seattle. And, I knew I was going to be walking by gas stations and stuff, so I had to put some thought into it. I didn't bring any food. I had one bottle of water. I knew I could stop along the way, but it happened to be berry season and your boys were up there enjoying some blackberries. The whole way for 70 miles were just blackberries. I thought, this is going to do something weird to my body, but I'm going to eat blackberries the whole way. Got some water at the gas station and walked out the retreat and got to think about the people at BGL who have impacted me and what I want to accomplish in the conversations I want to have. And, it was a great exercise.

Ben:  Mell, did you ever get concerned about your husband just rolling into a random city and grabbing his luggage, and walking miles and miles to his lodging?

Mell:  Well, I think I have to make a caveat about his luggage because basically I help him pack and he packs it all into one small orange hiking backpack. So, the night before all this happens, we're just shoving as much as we can into his backpack. So, I'm like, “Are you sure you don't need more T-shirts? Are you sure you don't need more sacks?” He's like, “Nope, I'll just hand wash them in the sink or whatever.”

Joe:  Gone are the days of the rolling suitcase. That was no fun.

Ben:  The sink washing is a great hack. And, not only is that forced minimalism, of course, needing to walk with your luggage from the airport, but I've done the same thing especially when I travel internationally. I hate it when my bags get lost and it seems inevitable these days that something will get lost or delayed or you want to skip a flight or a flight gets canceled and you got to be nimble and get on a different flight. Well, any time that you've got luggage checked, it turns into a much more difficult scenario logistically to do that. So, I'm a fan of one bag. I have this big expandable–I think it's actually called the bucket bag from Amazon that fits as much as possible. And then, if I need an extra like a hard shell expandable luggage, I carry that behind me. And so, I totally get this idea of living out of your luggage. But, you're right, a big part of that comes down to becoming very adept at doing your laundry in the sink or the shower or the bathtub. And, I even wrap mine in a towel after I take a shower with it and jump up and down with it on the bathroom floor to dry it off while it's was wrapped in a towel.

Mell:  It helps too that Joe basically wears T-shirts and shorts all the time. I could go through five outfit changes in a day and he's just T-shirt shorts and then optional sweatshirt. So, it doesn't take much. But, you asked if I worry about him, I think after about 10 years of him going and doing crazy challenges, after maybe the first two years I stopped worrying. At this point, I assume he will be fine and that he will figure it out because he is fit and skilled and I just don't have to worry about him.

I remember one particular time he was hiking and he had a GPS thing on him and then I kept checking during the night because he was hiking for 24 hours straight through the mountains in, I don't even know, New Hampshire?

Joe:  No, the Adirondack. This is kind of a funny story, a good fitness story. I was training people at that time where there's a business owner that I had a one-on-one client, he's like, “Oh, you just lift weights, you can't hike like I can hike.” I was like, “I'll go hike with you.” We got into this little joking around. And, I was like, “We'll go climb the highest mountain right now in the Adirondack.” So, we got in his car the next day and we drove straight to the Adirondacks and went on this big hike. And then, him and I got a competition, of course, of who can do all the 46 big peaks in the Adirondacks. And, he had one left that he was going to go up to the night before and do and I had four left. So, I didn't tell him but I went up two days before and tried to get all four in to be standing at the last one just to bust his chops. And, I had a GPS tracker because it's my first time. It was a 46-mile hike and I had to get all these mountains in. And, the tracker, I didn't know how to use it. I should have trained up on it, but I turned it off and Mell started panicking. No cell service, but it worked out. And so, going to that extreme, all these other ones seem more mild in comparison.

Ben:  Yeah, it's a good point too, by the way, about the wearing the T-shirt and shorts because I've got this habit of wearing white T-shirts and TJ Maxx, Ross Dress for Less, Walmart, you name it. You can drop into just about any city and get a three-pack of white T-shirts for about 12 to 15 bucks. And so, often, I'll under-pack and if I run out, do the white T-shirts. You can find them anywhere.

Joe:  That's a great tip.

Ben:  Sorry, Mell. What were you saying?

Mell:  No, I was just going to say that that one night that he was stuck, I kept looking at my phone and it kept saying he was on a swamp. I'm like, “Why are you in a swamp for four hours?” So, it just turns out he was obviously completely fine and he's never given me a reason to really worry.

Ben:  What do you listen to? You said you think, but I mean for 70 miles you got to listen to something or is it literally just staring off into space.

Joe:  So, usually, it's something related to the event that I'm going to. So, for BGLs, I was relistening to some EOS, some Patrick Lencioni books, some “Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” just getting a lot of different perspectives in there and some clarity. So, I do like to listen to some podcast, this podcast I listen to and a few others depending on the mood. Very rarely music though. It's almost always just nothing or trying to do some professional development.

Ben:  You just named off actually a pretty good list of titles. You said EOS. That's Gino Wickman's Entrepreneurial Operating System, which is what we kind of built Kion off of, the supplements company, but then BGL kind of adopted that same system. And, that's fantastic for anybody who wants to look into that one. What were the other ones that you mentioned, Joe?

Joe:  Yeah, along with the Wickman's other ones, the “Traction” and “Rocket Fuel” are all kind of the EOS world. And then, any Patrick Lencioni book on business I love because they're written as a fable so it's an easy listen. It's a business story and then he teaches it to you at the end like “The Five Dysfunctions of the Team.” He has one on business silos with different departments. I think he has “Death by Meeting” too and how to run an effective meeting. They're all just cool stories and how to do these things.

Ben:  Why do you like the book, “Five Dysfunctions of a Team?”

Joe:  Because I want to avoid the five dysfunctions of a team. And man, it's a powerful book. A lot of the people I've got to train as a personal trainer and I'm sure you've experience the same, Ben, you get some business professionals in there that function at a very high level. And, I would listen to them and I started with a basic book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” And, I believe in that book or in [00:12:49] _____ book, it says you should take out successful people to dinner. Buy them all the courses and just listen to them talk. And so, I started doing that with my training clients and they would give me these tips on these books. And, that's how I got into the Patrick Lencioni books. And, if they're doing at these high levels with hundreds and hundreds of employees, could I use that in my own life, in my own family, in my own culture? And, those were all excellent.

I remember the first book was handed to me by a business owner named Kevin called “The Go-Giver,” which is another excellent fable book, very short like a three-hour listen, four-hour listen on Audible. But, just on serving others first and then it'll come back to you even more so. But, help as many people as you can get what they want then you'll have everything you want in life. And, that was a very influential book on me on my life.

Ben:  Yeah, very similar to the philosophy described in Keith Ferrazzi's “Never Eat Alone.” And, that's funny that you bring up Dale Carnegie's book because I forget the conversation I heard. It was on a podcast. I know it was on a podcast. And, there were a couple of people talking about how it's not really present in the core curriculum of many youth the concept of making friends of social etiquette of small talk. And, I've recently been tuning into a YouTube channel because I met the guy that runs it at an event that I was at. It was called Charisma on Command. These short little five to 10-minute videos about how to make small talk and how to make people laugh and how to fill in the gaps and conversation. 

And so, when I heard these folks talking on this podcast about the fact that we don't actually have a formal method of teaching our children as they grow up about how to navigate socially. And so, this was a couple weeks ago. And, every month, I bring my sons through a new book. We actually tend to average about two a month. We just finished a great book by the author of “Psychology of Money,” Morgan Housel who wrote a new book about lessons we can learned from history and kind of questioning a lot of things in our lives. It's called “Same As Ever.” It's excellent. But, the one that we started literally today as we kick off the next title is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. So, I was literally just listening to that book this morning in the gym. And, the reason for that is because I actually think it's a really good idea to teach your kids how to make friends, how to navigate socially, how to have charisma. And, it's very similar to the master class that I recently brought them to. And, I'd be curious if either of you have checked this guy out. I was on an airplane. I sometimes feel a little bit unproductive if I'm watching a long movie on an airplane. So, sometimes we'll tune into the documentaries or the cooking videos or the slightly more educational and less mind-numbing forms of entertainment on an airplane if I have a screen. And, I came across this master class called “The Art of Negotiation” by Chris Voss and wound up–

Joe:  I watched the same one on a flight. I think it's the BGL retreat.

Ben:  Yeah, I came back and took my sons for the master class. It was excellent, but I actually think that kids don't get enough exposure to learning charisma and negotiation and some of the finer elements of rhetoric as it comes to in-person communication. Do you guys emphasize much of that with your family?

Joe:  Absolutely. I just did a poor job of it there by talking over you about the master class. I guess, we're more intentional about it because we realize when we do things like that, yes, we give them each a role at our dinner table to help give some of the communication. We noticed that our oldest son struggled with a little bit. So, we had to create some games and activities to fill in the gaps. We do a popsicle stick game. I don't think it's in the book where it's you pick out someone's name and a topic and then you have to have eye contact and have a conversation about that topic for 60 seconds. It doesn't sound like a lot, but when it's a 5-year-old to a 13-year-old like our five-year-old's great at it, he loves it. But, it teaches them how to ask questions, how to listen to the person repeat back what they said before you speak, and add in something new. And so, we practice it in kind of a gamified way at the dinner table.

Ben:  Yeah, that's fantastic. There's a game called Rhetoric that's kind of similar. It's topics that are assigned to a certain person at the table and then they've got a timer. And typically, the assignment includes giving a talk as a pros/cons or a top 10 list or some type of way that you categorize the topic that you've been given to give an impromptu talk on. And then, recently, gosh, I'm getting blank on the name of the game, you guys would love this one though. We go to Barnes & Noble about once a month and buy a new game. It's the best 25 bucks you're ever going to spend on good clean fund for the family that lasts for hours or at least way longer than take them to the movie theater. And, it's a game where there's a topic on a card and you're either defending or opposing that topic like, I don't know, wearing shoes in the house or wide Brim hats versus regular hats or whatever, and then two people go head-to-head debating. They each have one minute to present their case, and then there's a pause and they have 30 seconds to present their counterargument. And then, the other people at the table vote on who they thought gave the best argument and then you rotate around. I'm get a blank on the name of the game but it's absolutely fantastic.

So, do you guys do a lot of dinner games as a part your evening routine?

Mell:  We do. I mean, first of all, we make sure that we sit down together for dinner as often as possible. Even if it's a crazy sports season and we only find 10 minutes to kind of reconnect in the evening, we make sure that we always reconnect at the dinner table around some kind of quick meal. And, it's not necessarily always a game. We love the games, sometimes something will just automatically come up organically from school or from something that happened during the day. But, if not, we do have a really special thing that we do that goes along with one of our values of gratitude. 

So, our youngest son who's only 5, we want to make sure that he feels like he's part of the team like he can contribute. So, his task is to go around the table and pick who gets to share what they're thankful for from that day. So, it's kind of a version of a game and he's taken it to the next level because for the oldest or third or actually now 14-year-old, he chases him around the house. And, when he tags him, it's the oldest turn to share. Or, when it's Joe's turn, he goes and punches him in the arm as hard as he can.

Ben:  Of course.

Mell:  So, it's a way for him to contribute and communicate and be a part of something. And then, he loves it. He feels this is his task. He cannot wait to do it at dinnertime every night. So, we find a way to make sure everyone can contribute, everyone participates. I mean, everyone has to share. Now, everybody has to share twice. That's been his latest thing where everyone's going to go twice and we get to share some gratitude from the day. So, we're sharing our values and also learning that communication skill.

Ben:  Yeah, I love that. I have a lot of other questions from the book, but I'm curious, have you been implementing a lot of these family meetings and routines and the core values that we hopefully get a chance to delve into from the beginning? Is this something that the two of you grew up with and implement with your family or is this all been new or evolved as you progressed as a family?

Joe:  It's been a big evolution for us. It's not something we grew up with. And, the revelation was I was kind of a workaholic, I was teaching high school economics in U.S. Well, I was running training sessions from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. teaching high school from 7:30 until 2:50, and then training sessions from 3:00 until 7:00, and then I would work out. And so, this is when we were married and I just was like, “Alright, I'm just going to drive as hard as I can.” And, we realized like I'm spending so much time on this other organization, this business, that is important but not as important as my family. We need to take the best practices that a lot of people put into major organizations and apply them to our family, whether it's business, whether it's sports teams, whether it's the music world. Everything is well organized. 

But, for some reason, our families are just kind of like, “Let's just let it happen and hope it works out well.” And so, we wanted to put a ton of intention. And, this big transformation was maybe five or six years ago. We started implementing these steps along the way. We even joke about it with kids that our oldest one didn't get all the steps of the path and he's our helper now, but the 5-year-old has and he's on fire. He gets up. He does his morning exercise. He runs up, does his chores. He's had the whole path for his whole life and there is a noticeable difference even in our own household.

Ben:  Yeah. And, that older one will be bitter when he winds up in prison than his younger brother.

Joe:  Exactly. Now, we have an excuse.

Ben:  Yeah, it'll just prove your model.

So, when it comes to “The Strong Family Guidebook,” a lot of elements in here go beyond just fitness and physicality. But Joe, specifically for you, it's my understanding that you weren't always kind of a super fit physically active guy. Is that the case?

Joe:  You are correct. I always played sports and was athletic, but I did not enjoy the exercise portion of it. It was always a punishment like, “Hey, you show up late to practice, you have to exercise extra.” And fortunately, during college football, my sophomore year became injured. I had four knee surgeries. They said, “Hey, you can't play any sports anymore.” I got up to over 300 pounds.

Ben:  Well, you should mention, by the way, over 300 pounds is a lot but you're also pretty tall.

Joe:  Yeah, I'm 6'4 so people are like, “Oh, you carry it well.” I'm like, “You're being kind.” I'm just like, “You're just kind because I got heavy.” But also, during that time when I was playing college football, my dad was very unhealthy. He was in his early 50s. He was close to 350 pounds, pack a day smoker, two liters of Pepsi. So, I'm crippled from knee surgeries, over 300 pounds, and he ends up passing away. He had congestive heart failure. He had a lot of issues. Just after I graduated from my undergrad before my master's program, he passed away in his early 50s from a lot of preventable health issues. And, it was a big eye-opening experience for us. And, I remember standing in my basement thinking like my knees are shot supposedly and a lot of it was because I didn't train well, didn't train intelligently. I just went out and played sports hard but never took care of myself. And, I wanted people on the other side, families to have longer and healthier lives together because I wasn't able to experience that with my father.

And so, we built a little gym and I started driving around the country into every gym that would open their doors. And, I would train with them from the university levels. We were out to Rockers, West Point, to private gyms. We're out squatting at Westside with Louie multiple times, out to lead FTS. I just want to learn as much as possible from all these gyms to take the best aspects and put them into my routine. Got down to 235, started training a ton more, started training hundreds of other people. And, it became a big, big part of our family and big part of our culture.

Ben:  Wait, what happened with the knees? I mean, if you're walking 70 miles, you must have done some kind of repair.

Joe:  Just started exercising better.

Ben:  Really?

Joe:  Stop being such a baby about it. A couple of them were scopes which aren't as big of a deal and a couple were lateral releases. But, I did start thinking a lot differently. I started doing a lot more sled work and I started doing more control eccentric. And, I started to do all those things that we know now are pretty good for most knee cases depending on the injury. And, things came around and I just didn't let that limitation between my ears slow me down. And so, we've done 100-mile races now and climbed a lot of mountains since I wasn't supposed to be able to play sports anymore.

Ben:  It gives a lot of people hope. Were you doing sled work before Ben Patrick, the Knees-Over-Toes Guy made it popular?

Joe:  I was, but I did buy his backwards treadmill.

Ben:  Wait, he has a backwards treadmill?

Joe:  Yeah. I was going to be on it during this podcast.

Ben:  I had to check this thing out.

Joe:  I just got it in December. It was the early release model. Don't check the office budget because that's what I put my office budget towards, BGL. I have a backwards treadmill that I get to stand on during meetings, which is super helpful.

Ben:  Yeah. Well, by the way, I should mention that Caleb, the president of Ben Greenfield Life was over at my house yesterday. He was checking out my soft surface treadmill and it's nice. But, some of these manual treadmills or office treadmills, they are pretty spendy. I think we looked up the price thing later on and you pay a little bit for it but in my opinion, being able to take 10,000 15,000 steps a day while you're working during the day is well worth it.

Joe:  Yeah. It's huge. It's a great piece of equipment. We also trained a ton of athletes who were coming in with low physical preparedness and the sleds are great ways to get them into it. We used to make the old sleds out of tires where we just get a tire and put an eyebolt through it and put weights on it. They drag it around the driveway and then we upgraded to the fancy tank sleds. Now, they have the magnetic resistance, but sleds have been huge for us for over a decade.

Ben:  Yeah. And then, the loaded eccentrics, I think you said.

Joe:  Yes. Yeah, I started doing a lot more like just bending, like single leg pistols to a box, just really controlling all the way down making all the muscles around my knee stabilize around my ankles to help out the knee fire the glutes with a lot of hip circle stuff. It really helped out. Just get the range of motion. But, I wasn't loading up the bottom or exploding or putting a ton of weight on it, and helped come back in a major way.

Ben:  Yeah. I mean, game-changer for me even since interviewing Ben is probably the knees-over-toes lunges the loaded long lunges. Those have just been absolutely remarkable for making my knees stronger and keeping me from getting surgery.

Mell, have you been into fitness for as long as Joe has or did Joe get you into it?

Mell:  Definitely not for as long as Joe has. I did not. I mean I grew up healthy, but we were not a working out family. My family, they didn't really suggest that we do sports at all. So, I think I ran track just because I wanted to do something even though I really do not like running. But, I have to say I really do give Joe credit. I started working out a bit more in college. We were dating and he would give me some workouts to go to the gym at the college and do.

Ben:  You have to be very careful how you position those giving your girlfriend workouts.

Mell:  That's true. I think I asked for them, Ben. I don't think he suggested them. And then, over time, I mean, of course, opening our gym, I'm now 17 or 15, whatever it was years ago, certainly was a huge gift for me as well. It's been a gift for even people in our family who attend the gym. And, it's hard to not work out when you live with a trainer. So, I'm grateful every day that I can just go to the basement with Joe. We work out in the morning. It's kind of our time to hang out and decompress. And, I really owe it to him that I am physically fit.

Ben:   How do you incorporate fitness with your children without making them feel like it's being forced upon them or they're just doing it because part of their parents' identity is fitness and physical culture?

Joe:  It's funny you mentioned Ben Patrick. Our youngest loves those lunges. And, what the kids really love is that they are so much more mobile than I am or even Mell's. They love to be better at things in the gym. And so, we'll do those lunges and they're just like, “No problem. Look at this. They're like Gumby in there.” And, I'm like a board. So, we do things that elevate them. We also do things that relate to things they want to accomplish. So, our middle child loves soccer. So, we'll do some interval jogging. We have a Woodway treadmill downstairs. So, we'll do some interval stuff with him. We do a lot of hiking because we relate it to the sport that'll affect him. 

And also, we do minimum effective dose probably below minimum effective dose. It's minimum effective dose to build the habit of morning exercise. It is not minimum effective dose exercise. It's not quite enough, but we have our kids get up, they do five minutes of exercise every day. They love it because it's separation between them waking up and them coming upstairs and them starting their morning contribution to the family and getting ready for school. And so, five minutes of exercise doesn't make a world of physical difference but it makes a world of difference in their habits. So, they've done it as part of the routine for over two years. And, even our youngest last week said, “Why don't I have my name on the board and why don't I have my morning exercises?” For him, it's five push-ups, five squats and then he hangs from the bar and does what he calls cannonballs where he brings his knees up and down five times. And, that's it for his morning exercise, but he's doing something in building habits, which is the gift that we want to give them. I don't need them to be tremendous athletes. I don't need to chase them around, train them like a lot of the college athletes. I just want them to live with a habit of exercise. So, that's where we start.

Ben:  The name on the board is an interesting idea, but go ahead. I want to hear a little bit more about the board. What were you going to say?

Mell:  Okay. I was just going to add that when they are home from school like we're on winter break now or on the weekends, we try to do a family workout. So, when weather permitting, we'll go to a local park and do some track running or I'll be Henry's soccer goalie for a while. But also, Joe will pull out all the fun workouts when we're doing the family workout. So, I'll do box jumps with the boys, and then I'll be ridiculously sore the next day because I'm not used to doing those kind of athletic movements, but we just keep it fun. And, even if sometimes they might groan that we're inviting them into the gym to do a workout, by the time we're done like everyone had a blast. So, we try to just focus on gratitude.

Ben:  Yeah. When River and Terran were young, I really got into the habits of a friend of mine Darryl Edwards who is kind of a proponent of primal play. I used to go over to London. I do these giant park workouts with Darryl where we never step into a gym. We were jumping and hanging from Basketball rims and doing bear crawls and sprints and getting kicked out of playground equipment and the like. And, for the first several years of River and Terran's life, that's all we did was fitness walks and fitness adventures where they'd be on mom's and mine backs, or we'd be hauling rocks or balancing on logs or going to a park, and jumping over fences, and bobbing and weaving, and throwing, and retrieving and just engaging in all manner of primal play. 

Now, it's evolved to the point where I write out every Sunday night the workouts that River and Terran are going to do. And then, sometimes we aren't in the gym together but we know everybody else at the dinner table that night is going to talk about how their workout went and what they accomplished. And so, it's kind of accountability even though we aren't actually doing it together much of the time but always Sunday night I'm writing out what we're going to do and then everybody knows, okay, Monday, dad, River and Terran doing this, and Tuesday this, Wednesday this. And so, that's kind of in addition to this group that they're a part of called Apogee, which is a group of young men who challenge each other. And so, they typically have two to three additional kind of workout, push-up, pull-up, burpee, body weights type of challenges that they're doing throughout the week. So, it's kind of evolved from play to formal fitness.

We don't really have a board. What's the board that you guys have?

Joe:  We write them up old school whiteboard style and they check off what they do for each day of the week to hold them accountable because being accountable is another one of our family core values. And so, that's prescribed and kind of come full circle back to your communication and how we teach it. We try to make it as self-driven as possible. 

So, each Sunday night, kind of like you're writing down your workouts. We ask the kids, “What do you want your commitment to be this week?” And, we found a weak commitment is excellent for them. It's not like I have to do this every day, I have to do this run streak every day for a year or anything like that. So, Henry might say, “Hey, I'm getting ready for soccer, so I'm going to jog to the mailbox.” We live on a side of a mountain mailbox half mile away, so I'm going to jog to the mailbox box every day, seven days. He shares at dinner, “Hey, I did my commitment. I did my commitment.” He came up with it. He does it by himself. And, I'll guide him a little bit on what it should be. Logan was getting ready for his football season and he need this more general physical preparedness. We live by a trailhead and so for every day he would go up and down the mountain seven days a week, up and down, one mile each way. And, that was his commitment. Or, it could be 50 pull-ups because Henry wanted to do a thousand pull-ups, no 1,011 pull-ups on his 11th birthday. And so, his commit was always some sort of pull-ups. Until we got to his 11th birthday, so I was like, “Hey, I'm going to do 25 every day this week or I'm going to do 10 quick ones or whatever it is.” So, they get to have some direction in the exercise. And, that really helps with them sticking to it.

Ben:  Yeah, that's incredible. You're raising the bar with the push-ups by the 11th birthday. That's impressive.

You've noted, for example, in our Ben Greenfield Life Slack channel, the adventure section of that, you've posted often giant mountains that you've climbed with your family and different fitness challenges that you've done, but a few times, the topic of rite of passage has come up. That's certainly something that I've talked about and valued in our own lives and discussed on the podcast. But, what are the rites of passages look like for you guys with your children?

Joe:  It's a great question. We chatted about a little bit at the retreat because I was picking your brain on it because we did three major ones this past summer. There's a good book. I called “Raising a Modern Day Knight,” which brings up kind of the history of rites of passage and a little bit more of the biblical traditions of it. And, they brought up the issue of today, young men don't know when they become a man because it's just you kind of go through school or man, when you graduate high school, is at college, there's no rite of passage and then people are confused on their role in society. We kind of took all that and said, “Hey, we want our kids to at least know who they are and the contributions that they can have to their own personal lives.” And so, we created to rite of passage.

The one that I did with my older two boys, and this was a hard one we did, we climbed up Pikes Peak. The roundtrip, it's a 26-mile hike from where we start and it's quite the climb. And, at the top, I give him the option of, “Hey, do you want to take this cog railway down or do you want this envelope, this gift from your mother and I, and then we're going to have to hike down?” And, they both quickly, “Just give me the envelope.” I mean, this is a long hike. They're a little tired. And, in the envelope was a gift for them. What we gave them was a watch. It's a Garmin outdoor watch like I have. And, it was to signify, and I wrote a letter on it, that now you are more in charge. You're at the age where you're more in charge of your day. You have to decide what habits you need to do, what habits serve you. You have to show up on time to things. And, we brought it all together like, “Hey, you can do these hard things. You just did this hike. You can control your own life. You now have this watch as a symbol of it.” And then, we hiked down and we talked about it a lot and extremely memorable day. However, it's a challenge because like you, I have two sons that are around the same age, I know yours are twins.

So, the next day, they didn't want to do it together, they had to be their own separate trip. The next day I had to go again. I took the next son. I got home at 10:00 p.m. Woke up 4:00 a.m. the next day and we're back up with the next child, same option, same opportunity. And then, our 5-year-old felt left out, but they're not ready for that. He wasn't ready for that rite of passage. You just don't give it to him just because they want it, they have to be ready cognitively to be able to control some things in their life. So, you don't want to set them up for failure. So, he did the Manitou Incline. I know you've done. It's one of the steepest maintained hiking trails.

Ben:  Oh, yeah, a never-ending flight of stairs. Yeah.

Joe:  Exactly. So, he went and did it the next day. And, what the older boys decided is that they would gift him their Fitbit because now they had new watches and they like in a little activity tracker. So, Everett knows that he's in charge of his activity during the day to stay up and be active. And so, the other two gifted that to him in a little car. And, one other part, I actually got this from Joe at BGL, that we had to signify a little bit like, “Hey, when you grow up, play is going to be important part of your life. You should be playful. You should always enjoy games. You have to start giving up some of your childhood so you can embrace this next part of your life.” And so, the children had a little toy that they gave away to someone at the top of the mountain. It was like a little Pokémon card or something like that to signify them being willing to take the next step in their life because we had a lot of challenges. I mean, I don't want knocking we get adult guys who are showing off their doll collection as it expands. I think there's a term for it called “kidults” now.

Ben:  Boys who shave.

Joe:  Yeah. So, it's a big juggling act. That one's a little trickier to navigate because I do want them to enjoy playing, enjoy fun, and embrace all those things. But, it's also time to step up a little bit. You're at the age where you need to start doing these things in your life because soon you'll be independent, and we want you to be successful in your own right.

Mell:  Joe and I wanted to somehow make sure that they never forgot about this. Because sometimes, you go through an experience that's very life-changing and like this rite of passage was. They were so excited. It was a bonding time with dad. It was something that proved to them that they could do hard things. And, whenever you drive around here where we live, you see Pikes Peak. So, they can always look at Pikes Peak and remember, “I hiked that.” But also, after some time goes by, you often forget the impact of that experience. So, for Christmas, we had decided we would surprise them with a canvas collage. They each individually have one and I created that on some website where I just took pictures that Joe had posted. And, I created a collage for each of them to commemorate that experience. So, we hung it up by their bed. So, when they go to bed at night or wake up in the morning, they can be almost primed to remember that they had that experience because it's easy to kind of let those things just gloss over after a while. So, that was really exciting watching them open that. We put the date on it and we don't want them to ever forget. This has to be a crystallized experience into their being.

Ben:  Yeah, it's very seldom that you see rites of passage occur traditionally without a ceremonial aspect, meaning a recognition at the end. Because otherwise, it's just doing something hard and potentially within a week having another hard thing on the schedule without any real recognition of what that previous activity meant or signified or changed in one's life. My sons have had their rites of passage facilitated by Twin Eagles Wilderness School in Sandpoint with Tim Corcoran who's been on the podcast before. And, there is always after the time in the wilderness or after the challenge or it might be after a hunt or whatever that there is a ceremony, a fire, a feast, a speech, a coming-of-age party, a different set of responsibilities or chores or obligations in the household that take the young man or young woman one step closer to being recognized as a full-fledged adult and contributory member of the community. I think that some people leave the ceremony out of things though. It sounds like you guys have done a good job incorporating some type of recognition that that's the next step into the next phase of their life, right?

Joe:  Yeah, it's a great point. We're big into omnipresence in our house. We're not into too much fancy decoration, but little nudges to constantly remind them of who we are, what we stand for. Those pictures are up at the wall so they'll see them each day. They have watches on their wrist each day. They see the mountain every time we drive around town. So, yeah, trying to keep it top of mind. It's not really the challenges but what they were able to accomplish. And, the old saying “What's memorable is portable,” we want them to remember it so they can carry it with them.

Ben:  You brought up something pretty important a little while ago, Joe. You talked about how a lot of businesses will brand themselves or run themselves in a certain way and yet families can sometimes seem like an afterthought or at least a little less systematized and organized than a business might be. We worked with the Legado Family Foundation to develop a family branding document, a family constitution with our rituals or routines, our tradition, our logo, our crest, et cetera, very similar to the type of branding document that you might see for a business. 

For you, guys, when it comes to branding your family as a business, I know having read your book that one big part of that is recognition of the family's core values. I'd actually love to hear how you guys went about deciding what your family's core values were going to be and your best advice to other families who might want to start down that road.

Joe:  Yeah, I would love to talk about the core values that was our pillar of the strong family path. And, what I would see in business is some would have great core values and live by them and some would just have them on the wall. And, we wanted to make sure that we actually had core values that we would live by.

The other kind of tough truth is that your kids are going to establish values whether you help teach them or not. They're going to get them from teachers, coaches, friends, family members, television, Internet. Some will be good. Some will be bad. They need you to create kind of a filter of some of this stuff's good. This kind of lukewarm life isn't for you, you need to establish core values. Not just good values but great values and the things you really stand for instead of just being this kind of margarine of a good life. Let's actually put some thought into this. And so, we used an activity. I learned it from EOS facilitation. It was actually called kill, keep or combine.

So, Mell and I separately just brainstormed, did a brain dump on everything we thought was a value of us. We had this big list. And then, we got together and we would go through the list one at a time, back and forth, and we either kill it, cross it off, keep it as in, this is probably really important, or combine it. Now, she puts down thankfulness, I put down gratitude. Let's just choose a word and combine it because otherwise, it's going to be overwhelming. And, what I said earlier, what's memorable is portable. You got to get down to five or six at the most. Otherwise, they'll never remember them.

Ben:  Yeah.

Joe:  And so, we went through the process. We got it down and then we just practice it between ourselves for about a month, like tested it in the real world. Is this how we actually make decisions? Are these the things we actually believe in and will stand for and not just kind of want? But, are these are the things that we'll make critical decisions on? And, after we establish that, then we present it to the kids. And, every week at our family meeting, the kids give an example of how they embodied one of the core values during the week so it becomes more ingrained in their lives.

Mell:  And, it really shapes our family's identity. We use the language that Joe mentioned a couple of them. Gratitude is a big one for us. Accountability is a big one for us. And, as we go through our life, we use that language with our kids. So, if a problem arises between the kids, we use words like, “Who's accountable here? I want to hear what happened.” And, we want to make sure that we're always connecting things happening in our life to our core values continuously. And, it almost becomes habit after a while. 

And, you asked about advice for families. I mean, committing to this process it does sound like it would take some time, but it's changed everything for us. This is truly the foundation for the rest of the strong family path. If you don't have your values set up, it's very difficult to do the other steps really completely. And, we have ours typed up, they're right next to the kitchen table. They're always there. At this point, we've been doing this for five years now with them so they have them all memorized by now. But, it was really repetition. We always try to just gently nudge our kids in a certain direction and we always just bring up those different topics, the different values. We talk about them at our family meeting. And, it just becomes part of our family's language.

Joe:  We had a crystallizing moment with our older son who said I like this kid at school. This was after a couple years of doing the family values. And, he said, “Why?” And, he said, “Well, he has similar values, this one, this one and that one.” It's like, wow, they actually internalized it and they're picking their friend groups based on the values that they hold in our family holds. And, that was a big moment for us.

Ben:  Yeah, it kind of gives you a lazy out as a parent as well because sometimes one of my sons will be mopey and I'll be like, “Hey, we are content no matter our circumstances. We can choose to be happy.” If one of my sons looks at me and they're like, “Well, why?” I'll just say, “Well, because we're Greenfields. It's on the wall over there. It's a Greenfield family value. It's because we're Greenfields, that's why.”

Joe:  Yeah, that's a good way. We use that kind of language all the time, “Hey, we're just accountable. It's not easy but it's worth it. We all agreed on it so we're going to stick to it.”

Mell:  Right. And, oftentimes I think with parenting, you don't see the results of your labor right away. The kids aren't going to come to you every night and say “Thank you for being a great mom or thank you for doing this.” You don't see that with parenting. You look for those crystallizing moments like Joe mentioned where we saw our oldest using the values or the other day the boys actually put together some time and clean the gym for Joe. And, that's just them trying to contribute. We're big fans of contributing to the family. We don't like to use words like chores, we like to say contribution because everyone in the family we have to all work together to run this highly functioning organization of family. 

So, sometimes we have to wait for those little moments where the kid will do something that you know you've been pressing for and pushing for. And, we can't force it, we have to just live every day intentionally and they will grab onto it. Even the earlier example, Everett didn't have a morning workout set up just because he would sleep in a little longer and he was only 4 or 5 years old. But, suddenly last week, he finally spoke up, “I want mine. I want my morning workout.” So, that was his way of telling us that he wants to be a piece of that and he saw it because of the role modeling from his older brothers.

Ben:  Yeah, that's so interesting that you bring up the idea of defining chores as contributions. My wife and I have a weekly marriage meeting. It's broken into four sections. It's gratitude. You start off by praising your partner. It's honestly kind of hard sometimes. You feel like you're blowing smoke and it might seem inauthentic but you do it. You always start off the meeting with that and then we move on to contribution. Which elements of our household duties do we recognize that we might need help in? What do we need to know about from our partner that's not being done that needs to be done that week, et cetera? And then, it moves on to challenges and blockers. And, that could be personal, it could be spiritual, it could be emotional, it could be, “I don't feel like I'm getting enough intimate one-on-one time to converse about life with you,” or “I'm really sick of you drinking more than half the coffee every morning. Please stop doing that.” 

And then, it's finally the calendar, and the last one in addition to gratitude and contribution and challenges is the calendar where we're talking about things that are coming up over the next weeks or months that we want to make sure we're prepared for. Whether it's a trip that I'm taking that she's going to need help with the goats and chickens and the boys and the household with while I'm gone to some type of a rite of passage for our sons that they're preparing for, and are we doing what we need to do to prepare them for that. And so, that weekly marriage meeting I think is pretty clutch. And again, it's very similar to the same type of attitude you'd have when running a business. You'd likely have meetings, huddles, et cetera, to keep everyone on the same page.

But, Joe or Mell, I forget which one of you it was a few minutes ago, you mentioned the family meeting. What do you guys do with your family meeting?

Joe:  Yeah, we do it actually during a dinner because we want to make sure it's practical, so we're not going to schedule this thing that won't ever happen. We usually do a Saturday or Sunday during dinner. And, we start with gratitude. It's kind of the positive focus that you talked about when you have a meeting with Jessa. So, how did you embody one of the family core values? Or, sometimes we'll switch up the question, how did somebody else embody one of the core values at the table? So, they have to give a compliment to someone else. At the beginning when they were younger, we would do Pictionary style. They would draw a picture of what they did like them with little stick figure on top of a mountain. “Oh, that's ‘Be Adventure.' That's one of our family core values.” So, we'd play with it a little bit when they were younger. And now, we pretty much just talk it out.

And so, we go through that, then we do discussion topics. Just like you're mentioning you do with Jessa, we want to include the kids with it because we don't want the kids first highly functioning organization that they're part of be like a workplace. It should be our household is a high-functioning organization. They take those skills and they can apply it to their college life or if they if they go or not to college or they play sports or they do whatever. You want them part of an organization and give them a seat at the table essentially and physically a seat at the table during our dinner conversations. So, we hit our headlines. One might bring up, “Hey, we're on break right now, you give us three 15-minute tech times. Can we have a fourth because we're not in school? We'll use this one for education.” And, they kind of plead their case like you were talking about earlier on what they would want. Hear them out, make a decision. We go with it for a week. Everyone's got to commit. Here's what we're going to do for a week. We can always revisit it next week. It's not a forever thing which really helps get some perspective. And so, we have those discussion topics, then we do something called tough truths. Anything that needs to be said and they're free to give us some. I caught one from my son Henry. He's like, “Dad, I have noticed you used your phone at the dinner table.”

Ben:  Busted.

Joe:  And, I have to role model not being–well, I'm at work and this person's messaging me. I don't get defensive say, “You're right, I shouldn't have done that,” because I don't want to teach them to make excuses. “You got me.” Like you said, “Busted.” And then, I would have to intentionally leave it over and he'd report back how I did each week because he was right and I was doing something that we agreed not to do. And so, we have to take that tough truth. And, everyone's kind of learning how to take it. He got braces and he started mummering a lot, looking down, stammering and not say, “Hey, Henry, this is a tough truth. I know you got braces. I know things are a little bit painful in your mouth, but you're not being able to present your best self when you go out and speak and no one can hear you. So, it's something that I want to make you aware of.” And, we have those conversations. And then, we do a compliment, give compliment to everyone at the table. We give a firm handshake, two pats on the shoulder and Mell sneaks in hugs and the meeting's over.

Mell:  But, I want to add one important thing. One of the things the kids love about this is that they are part of the problem-solving. So, this is not a top-down mom and dad are sitting, you down at a meeting. Something is wrong and we're going to tell you what to do. This is a matter of it's an every week occurrence so they know they can bring things to the table. And also, when there is an issue to resolve, we might define what success looks like. We might say, “Okay, we want you to be reading 15 minutes a day. How are you going to accomplish that?” And then, they will come up with solutions of, “Oh, well, I can do it before school or I can do it right before bed.” We always point to them for solutions. I mean, kids are really creative and they will have buy-in to want to do it more often if they are part of the solution. So, I think that's why they mostly like it because it's not us telling them what to do necessarily, they are part of this organization, they contribute, they're learning how to problem solve, they're learning how to resolve conflicts, look us in the eye. All those communication skills happen at the table. And, who doesn't want to be a part of something like that? You don't want to just sit there and be told what to do. You want to be a piece of the puzzle.

Ben:  Yeah, I think that some parents will assume that many conversations like those you're describing will organically occur. But, just the weekly marriage meeting, you have to carve out time and structure it because otherwise, it might happen. Some of those conversations are tough topics but in many cases, it just doesn't or it's not taken as seriously because it's in passing or it's more casual.

One thing I like about the book is you actually have all this structure in the book. In case people aren't taking copious notes, family value embodiment is one, then discussion topics, then tough truths, then weekly commitments, then give compliments and then ending gesture. And, it's so cool because it's not that difficult to take a template like this and guilt-free, it's not like you're plagiarizing the hashes, implement it with your family. 

However, I think Joe and Mell, many people might be listening, I don't know maybe they got a 13, a 15, a 17-year-old or something like that, that this is all good and well but it's too late. I've got FOMO. I didn't do this with my family. This is great. You guys are going to grow up and you're going to have, I don't know, the next Elon Musk meets Mark Zuckerberg. Little world-changing entrepreneur. But, what about me? Is it too late? What do you tell families who might read the book or hear this and maybe it's pretty late and they haven't implemented some of this stuff?

Joe:  The best thing they can do is to bring the older child along with them and get them on their side of the table. That's the analogy used in a lot of business books. You're not sitting across the table trying to get the child to do something different saying, “Hey, I want to solve this for the family, can you help create this with me? I'm thinking about this, what do you think?” The story I'm telling myself is that I'm a little bit late, do you think this could still impact your life? And, you have those conversations get them on essentially your team, and then implement it. 

Our older one was older, he had not been part of it as long as the younger one but we used the same verbiage with him that, okay, we can make something special. We view the strong family path as part of our legacy that our kids can then implement with their family. So, even if they're 16, 17, 18, maybe they have a family of their own, they can contribute to this and then create their own core values as a family. They don't have to follow ours, but the system is still the same. You need these things and you need to have these conversations. You're just not having emotional reactions all the time, there's a structured time to have the outlet and all these pieces that they can put together and getting them on the team to help you along the path.

Ben:  What kind of stuff have you guys not done that you want to do? Because I know, at least Joe, I don't know if you're the same way, Mell, but Joe, I know you're constantly learning, reading, listening during those long airport rucks and the like. I'm just curious in terms of when you guys discover something about building a strong family or a strong marriage or anything else related to the topic of this book, are there things you haven't yet implemented that you want to start or good ideas that you're thinking about experimenting with or at least throwing at the wall to see if they stick?

Joe:  Yeah, we're always experimenting on–the kids will throw us a lot of curve balls. They're not throwing straight fastballs. You go in, they have a social question that you had never thought of before. And fortunately, Mell, she has a background in psychology and social work so she's able to navigate some of those things that come up. But, a piece of it that we didn't really chat on and is we're always working on the relationships in the household that, what does it look like to have the appropriate amount of structured father-son time, mom-son time, brother time? What is the formula? Does it change during times of life? I'm sure it does. The younger one needs his older brothers right now. He loves playing with them. But, he also needs some mom time where we do some things together. So, go on a walk and bike ride with me. So, it's trying to find the right combo at the right time to build the relationships in the household. I think there's a lot of things that are flexible, even the rites of passage whether you do them at 14 or 15 or 16. It really depends on the maturity of the child. There's a lot of things that can change, but the relationships if they're solid and you spend time invested in making the relationships good, anything else you can apply and work through together.

Mell:  And, just because we wrote this book and just because we've been implementing these things for a couple years does not mean that we have it all figured out. Like Joe mentioned, as the kids are growing up, we have a 5, 11, and 14-year-old. They're entering new phases of life. And, as we do that, like Joe mentioned, having a focus on those different relationships, I might notice, “Hey, the 11-year-old is seemingly struggling right now, maybe something's going on with school. We might need to give him a little extra support. He might need some one-on-one time.” So, it looks different for what he might need than what the 5-year-old might need. And, I think we, as parents, have to ever evolve with the kid with what their needs are. We now have teenagers. That's not something that I'm super comfortable with and now I'm going to have to be relying more on Joe. They need their father more because we have three sons.

So, I think a lot of that has to do with Joe and I staying on having really good communication. And, I love the way you structure your meeting with your wife. I think I actually would like to implement something like that. Now, I'm inspired by hearing that.

Joe:  I've been taking some notes from Ben.

Ben:  I've been taking notes too.

Mell:  I love how you go through those books with your kids and finding the time to be able to do that. I think we need to start looking into that this year. Because we do have the kids read and we are having one of the kids read “Shoe Dog” right now. They have a young readers edition, but I'd like to be more intentional with educating them with books that might not be read at school. So, I think that's another piece but it's almost as the days go on, I'm always looking for where we can improve. We don't just have this plateau of where we're at, we're just doing everything right. We're always looking for where we can improve. And, a lot of times, those things come from something the kid might mention.

One of the aspects of the path we didn't touch on yet is the evening debrief, which is basically when the 5-year-old I put him to bed separately and then I go and hang out with the other two. And, I noticed over time that this is the time when they feel most comfortable. They took their shower, they're all cozied up, they're watching a TV show or whatever, and this is when the difficult topics from the day come up. It's something that happened during recess or at lunchtime at school or some kid said something to them that bothered them. Those things don't often come up during the day or at the dinner table. They wait till that last minute of the day. This is from my therapy background. Whenever the client, at 45 minutes into the session right when they're about to leave is when they bring up the really juicy topic that you wish they had brought up like an hour earlier.

So, that's how I treat the end of the day. I want to carve out that time for the kids in case they need me. So, I always sit down with them, we listen to this little video about the daily Bible verse. We say a little prayer. And then, oftentimes through that conversation, some kind of topic will come up that they need support on. So, oftentimes that's where we find, “Okay, Joe, we have to deal with this now or this came up or they need more support in this area.” And, that 30 minutes of the end of the day, I wouldn't trade it for the world because that's really when I get to know where my kids are at emotionally, spiritually. And, that's really powerful.

Ben:  Yeah. And, you brought up something important earlier going through books that they might not be learning in school or getting exposed to in school. I think it was Seth Godin who I first heard describe the job of the parent as just beginning when it comes to education when your child walks in the door from school. That's when you begin the process of educating them on the so-called real world. And obviously, that's dependent on the quality and the style of the school that they're attending. But, this began actually when my sons were going to private school for a very short period time they went to private school and I wanted them to be able to read some of the fantastic literature that I was reading but that they weren't getting exposed to at school. And, it's very simple, it's not time-consuming. Since you said you might want to do it, I'll fill you in real quickly here.

We do one chapter a day, and then we all meet for dinner at 7:00 p.m., and everybody at dinner brings up one thing that they learned from the chapter that day and we talk about it while we're all tooling around the kitchen taking carrots out of the air fryer or mom's pouring a glass of wine or dad's doing a couple of dishes. And so, we're kind of doing the kitchen stuff we'd normally be doing anyways. But, during those 10 minutes or so, we discuss the chapter for the day. 

And, I should note too and this is probably the last thing I wanted to mention, again, related perhaps to guilt or FOMO or something like that, I don't know about you guys, but we're not perfect. We'll have company two nights in a row and we won't cover a book chapter for three days and then we'll get to Tuesday and I'll say, “Well, geez, what chapter were we even in? I don't even remember.” And, we got to scramble get on the same page or I disappear for three weeks on travel and I come back and my wife and I haven't had a marriage meeting in three weeks and the first one seems really awkward and there's a laundry list of stuff that we got to tackle. And, we have a little fight about a couple of things that we got to work it out and make amends and move on, but it's still messy, right? I think a lot of people here me talk or you guys talk and think, “Oh, it must be perfect,” but it's messy for you guys too, right?

Joe:  100%. We'll miss the family meeting on the weekend because of sports games or whatever. We adopted along the way. Like our dinner time, when we grew up it was 6:00 p.m. dinner time, now it's, “Hey, we're going to eat somewhere between 3:00 and 7:00.” Everyone can actually sit down because sometimes the kids have after-school activities, sometimes it's not till 4:00 p.m. We'll have dinner at 3:30 because that's important to us to get that in. However, it is not perfect. There are a couple things along the way that helps us which we try to keep a low heart rate about mistakes. We use that phrase like, “Hey, the person with a low heart rate usually wins the conversation if they're in a negotiation.” It might have actually been from the master class or something else where I picked up that phrase. And, we used it too like, “Hey, we made some mistakes, let's hold the standard, let's keep a low heart rate, and let's just fix it going forward.” And so, we're always hitting the Reset button, but it is important to not let things fester. 

And, if they feel they're festering. “Okay, we missed something in here either relationship's off, we missed a couple family meetings, let's just get back to it” because it is important for them to learn that skill of recalibration because with our health and fitness we're not always on track. Resolution season when we're doing this, it's a big recalibration season for a lot of people. Got to do the same things with our family. It's not perfect by any means. We're always learning. And, I think when we do learn, it's good impact on the kids because we're willing to be humbled by the things that we are picking up along the way because our education certainly did not end with a diploma.

Mell:  Definitely not. And, the kids helps keep us accountable too, so they're oftentimes the ones that will say, “Oh, this has been the same weekly commitment we've had for three weeks. I guess we haven't done a meeting in a little bit.” And then, we have that moment of guilt that we feel bad about it, but then I'm grateful that they're keeping us accountable because we're not perfect. But, I have to say part of the reason we created this strong family structure is because oftentimes structure is what helps us. We can kind of go back and say, “Okay, which of these things were we doing really well?” Let's start there and let's get that on the same page again. And then, we can move on to the next thing. So, I think it's easy to just get flustered and overwhelmed and just say “Forget it,” but if you can just choose one thing that you were doing well, get that back on track. I mean, it's a constant struggle. I mean, we love having this structure in place. We love having our core values that keeps us grounded, but sometimes we do have to have that reality check of like we need to kind of get back to it.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Well, I guess the top tip I learned from this entire podcast is keep a little candy bowl of beta-blocker prescription meds on the kitchen counter because if everyone's heart rate is low, it's going to [01:04:56] _____.

Joe:  Really chilled out.

Ben:  Chilled out. So, BenGreenfieldLife.com/StrongFamily is where I'm going to link to this brand-new guidebook from Mell and Joe, their Strong Family podcast, their website and plenty of other resources for other podcasts I mentioned and other things we talked about. And, you can also leave your comments, your questions, your feedback over there for any of us. I love to read those. I love to hear what you guys think. So, go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/StrongFamily for all of that.

In the meantime, Joe and Mell, thank you so much. It's an inspirational way to start the new year at least at the time this podcast recording is taking place with all sorts of fresh new ideas for building a strong family. So, thank you.

Joe:  Love the conversation, Ben. I got a little notebook page full too, things we can implement.

Ben:  Awesome.

Mell:  Thanks, Ben.

Ben:  Alright, you guys, I'll talk to you later.

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Ever found yourself pondering the decisions you'd navigate if life orchestrated an unexpected turn and reshaped your family's journey?

My guests today, Joe and Mell Hashey, had their lives turned upside down in 2020, forcing them to bid farewell to their cherished “dream home” and embark on a 2,000-mile journey to an unfamiliar town, where they knew no one. This transformative experience became the catalyst for the creation of Strong Family Co. — a versatile framework any family can adopt to establish values and cultivate stress-free family leadership. 

Joe Hashey earned his Master of Education from Colgate University, where he played football for a few years before four knee surgeries. He went on to become an award-winning high school social studies teacher for eight years and a local youth coach. Mell Hashey is a former social worker turned stay-at-home mom of three.

In college, Joe's father passed away due to preventable health issues. Fueled by a passion for promoting health and wellness, Joe launched a local personal training company dedicated to helping busy adults live longer and healthier lives. He has been a prominent leader in his community for 15 years and was honored as the Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Person of the Year in 2018.

Realizing he was dedicating more time to his business than to his family, Joe swiftly rebalanced. Now, as a business consultant for companies coast to coast, he applies those lessons to guide the most important organization in his life: his family.

Together, the Hasheys penned, Strong Family Guidebook: Your Guide to Raising Confident, Independent, and Resilient Children, a practical guide full of the wisdom that transformed their family into a resilient unit. Joe and Mell emphasize the irreplaceable role parents play in their children's lives, reminding you that amidst career and financial pursuits, parenthood is earned through daily commitment. From organizing family meetings to instilling lasting principles in your children, The Strong Family Guidebook offers an operating system for your family's unique values and dynamics, fostering a resilient family, where individual strengths contribute to the collective magic that binds you together.

During this discussion, you'll discover:  

-Who is Joe Hashey?…05:21

-Why did Joe walk from the airport to the Ben Greenfield Life retreat?08:30

  • A habit he picked up 5 years ago
  • Had to speak at a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) conference in Nashville
    • He decided to walk from the airport to clear his thoughts
  • Seattle is a 70-mile walk from the airport
    • Had a bottle of water and ate berries along the way
  • Packed all his stuff into one backpack
    • Wearing mostly T-shirts and shorts
  • Bucket bags
  • Mell worries about Joe’s crazy challenges
  • Uses a GPS tracker
  • Story about hiking in the Adirondacks

-What does Joe listen to when walking?…14:47

-How do you expose kids to learning charisma and negotiation?…19:18

  • Joe noticed his oldest son was struggling
  • Created a game to fill in the gaps
    • Teaching kids how to ask questions
    • How to listen to the other person
    • Repeat back what they said before they speak and add something new
  • Rhetoric game
  • Ben buys a game once a month
  • Joe and Mell try to be together to reconnect at the dinner table
    • They talk or play games
    • A game of sharing gratitude
    • Includes their 5-year-old son
  • How Joe and Mell started implementing family routines
  • It's been a big evolution, not something they grew up with
  • Joe was a workaholic
    • Realized he wasn’t spending enough time with his family

-How do Joe and Mell incorporate physical activity into their lives?… 25:36

-How do you create a rite of passage for your kids?…40:29

-What are the Hashey family's core values?…49:03

  • Wanted core values that they would live by
  • Strong Family Co
  • Kids are going to establish values, whether you help teach them or not
  • Doing an activity called “Kill, Keep, or Combine”
  • Testing their values in the real world
  • Gratitude and accountability are big words in their lives
  • Gratitude as part of daily life
  • Being content whatever the circumstances
  • They have their core values placed next to the kitchen table
    • Children have memorized them
  • Kids looking for friends with similar family values
  • Defining chores as contributions to the family

-What is the importance of structured family meetings?…55:19

  • Ben’s weekly marriage meetings with his wife
  • The Strong Family Guidebook
  • Joe and Mell have family meetings during Saturday or Sunday dinner
    • Start with gratitude, then go on with discussion topics — family value embodiment
    • Giving kids a seat at the table
    • Tough truths — a chance for everyone to say whatever they want
    • Weekly commitments
    • Complimenting everyone for their contributions
    • Ending meetings with handshakes and hugs
    • Kids love to be a part of the problem-solving; pointing to the kids for the solutions
  • Carving up time and structure
  • What to do when it’s too late?
    • Bring the older child to sit on your side of the table

-What are the things Joe and Mell haven’t implemented yet?…1:03:20

  • Always experimenting — kids always throw you curve balls
  • Looking to enhance family relationships
  • Kids entering new phases in their lives
    • Parents need to evolve with their kids
  • Watching out for kids struggling
  • Shoe Dog: Young Readers Edition by Phil Knight
  • Always seeking to improve
  • Evening debrief with the older kids
  • Mell carving the end of the day for powerful open talks
  • Educating kids about the “real” world
  • Seth Godin
  • Ben’s reading routine with his kids
    • Discussing a chapter for the day
  • The importance of getting back on track — a constant struggle
    • Structure is often what helps you, keeps you grounded

-And much more…

Upcoming Events:

  • Brain Rejuvenation Retreat: February 15–16, 2024

Join me from February 15th to the 16th at the Brain Rejuvenation Retreat, where world-leading peptide expert Regan Archibald and I will merge our knowledge in longevity, peptides, and fitness. This unique collaboration aims to offer you a transformative health experience, propelling you forward on your path to optimal health and vitality. Discover more about the Brain Rejuvenation Retreat and how these insights can shape your journey to complete well-being here.

  • Unlock Longevity: February 24, 2024

Meet me in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, February 24, 2024, for the Unlock Longevity event where I'll be presenting on “The 5 Elements in Your Environment That Will Make or Break Your Health.” Check out more by going to bengreenfieldlife.com/unlock-longevity (use code Greenfield10 for $10 off your ticket).

Resources from this episode:

– Joe and Mell Hashey:

– Podcasts And Articles:

– Books:

– Other Resources:

Episode Sponsors:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Joe Hashey, Mell Hashey, or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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