How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents: “Success literally comes from yourself” with Lori Taylor and Chaya Weiner

Success literally comes from yourself. There’s no definition of success better than what you decide, because it’s all up to you, you get to decide what that looks like for you. If we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others’ definitions of success, we’re never going to be satisfied. You must decide for yourself what it looks […]

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Success literally comes from yourself. There’s no definition of success better than what you decide, because it’s all up to you, you get to decide what that looks like for you. If we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others’ definitions of success, we’re never going to be satisfied. You must decide for yourself what it looks like because you’re unique. For me, success comes from satisfaction, and that comes from having a vision and achieving it. That means creating a life where I live out my principles as best I can each day. One where I’m connecting to people, my words and actions are loving, and I’m taking responsibility for my own successes and breakdowns.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Lori Taylor, Founder of TruDog and Co-CEO of Better Choice Company.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

My childhood story is really interesting. I was given up for adoption at 3 weeks old. I was told my parents were in love with each other but couldn’t get married and take care of me. So, they gave me up, so someone else could. I was raised in a small town of Joplin, Missouri. My dad was a teacher and my parents had a biological son who was six years older than me. My mom got leukemia when I was 15 and she passed away when I was 19. She was actually going to get scholarship paperwork for me to renew my scholarship at college and she rushed out of the house in a snowstorm and slipped on ice broke her back. At the time, she already had leukemia and so that fall really set her back. On top of that, she got shingles. She passed away probably six months after that. I felt a lot of guilt about that, which caused a lot of pain. A few years later, I found my birth family and my biological dad. Interesting enough, my pledge mom from college was from the same small town as my birth father, and I ended up finding him through her. That was 25 years ago and my half sister and I are best friends now. My brother and my kids are very close and it’s a happy ending.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

I went to University of Missouri — Columbia and got my degree and then went on to a professional sales and marketing career for 18 years. I made my first seven figures by the time I was 25. I was very successful and helped raise over four billion dollars for Disabled American Veterans. I then started my own agency. I was married for thirteen years and then got divorced. While in the middle of starting my own agency, I found out I was pregnant with twins at the age of 38 and got re-married. That’s when my dog, Truman passed away, which was the catalyst for starting TruDog for me.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

My schedule is all over the place because I travel so much. I have a very fluid flexible schedule. I have five kids — Brooks is 22 and just graduated from Vanderbilt, Logan’s turning 20 in September and she is building a career for herself in show jumping. Alex is my stepson, he’s a junior in high school. Lastly, I have twins who are going into fifth grade next year. I have to be really fluid with what I want to accomplish each day and most importantly what I do is I think about the mood I want to create that day, emotionally. It’s focused more on my ways of being rather than my to-do list. I leave my mornings open for creativity. I ride my horses every day when I’m home. I probably travel two or three times a week. I’m on the phone a lot. I have a lot of meetings, but I try to keep everything fluid so I’m not holding onto how I think things should be, and not allowing things to unfold. I believe in quantum physics and that we’re also creating our realities in this world. It’ll be funny because I’ll be over booked and then quantum physics kicks in and then someone will call me, and they’ll want to move the meeting and it all works out perfectly. I try to meditate in the morning when I wake up for 20 minutes and then exercise. Exercising has to be fun for me, so I walk with a friend, or do the jiggle machine, or try something new a lot of days.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

For me, sitting down with your children, especially when they’re small sets the foundation for them. I think as a woman who works, every time I do something with my kids it is very on purposeful and specific and I think it can be very detrimental if you don’t carve out time for your kids. I pay close attention to the messages I give my kids. I try to make sure not to convey to them that a meeting is more important to me or that I don’t have time to just be with them. It’s important for kids to be involved in their own care and learn to be independent, but it needs to be balanced. Otherwise, you end up with kids who are super self-reliant and they up being lone wolves and don’t know how to work as part of team and they struggle with self-worth or narcissism because they don’t believe they can be supported by another human being. It can create a martyr complex where kids are constantly sacrificing themselves as well to find self-worth. I think it’s super important to carve out that special time with your kids to talk about what’s working and what’s not working, what’s in the gap. We talk at dinner, and I ask them to tell me something they failed at, really focusing on them and raising them. I call it raising eagles, not raising chickens. You want to raise your kids to be independent but balanced enough to work with others in a healthy way.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

Letting your kids know that they have a say in their life and that their voice matters in the family that it’s not just your way or the highway is important. Teaching your children to play team can only happen if you spend time with them and show up for them. Kids don’t really listen to what you SAY, they emulate what you do and who you are. For me, spending time with them is communicating with them and admitting when you’re having a bad day while still letting them know they are important to you. I acknowledge my breakdowns and explain to them that I could have used my words better. By spending time with your kids, you create the space in which they learn how to connect with you. Here’s the thing you only have them for 18 years and when they leave home how you treated them as a child is somewhat how they treat you when you when they become adults.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

With my children, we each have a special thing we enjoy doing together. It can be hard with twins, so I’ll take one twin and Steve takes the other, so they have their own unique time. With the twins, we make extra effort to try to make them feel special. Logan and I ride horses together. Brooks and I love to watch Game of Thrones and just talk. I let them decide what they want to do for a given time period. Like I’ll say, “If you could do anything for the next twenty minutes, what would you do?” and we’ll do what they choose. It’s usually the simplest thing in the world that they want to do like go out and ride a bike. I make sure every day that I find time for them and what I do is I don’t make a big deal out of it. It doesn’t need to be a four-hour excursion or an elaborately planned task every day. They just want fifteen minutes of undivided attention, really, where you can laugh and love on each other. I try to build memories and positive emotions during our time together. I always look them in the eye when I speak to them. I make sure that we’re working really hard on eye contact. When my kids get upset, we use the same approach. We raise our arms and we breathe together. We have a ritual at night. I think routines are good for kids. It’s about just connecting with them and carving out that time, no matter how little, to make it work.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

1. Turn your phone off. Let your kids know that there’s a time in your day where you’re not on your phone. I don’t care if it’s 6:00 to 6:30. I don’t care what it is. That’s most important.

2. I think one of the best things you do is have that one meal as a family every day. Do one consistent meal so they know we’re all going to be together at the table.

3. Create reading time. My kids love to read and learn so family reading time is always something they want to do together. We can pile into mom’s bed and read and then talk about what they’re reading if they want.

4. My kids love family meetings. They get to be heard like an adult. We use a talking stick and they feel their thoughts and feeling are equal with everyone elses. No matter how busy the week gets, we always make time for family meetings so we can say, here’s what’s working, here’s what’s not working, here’s what’s in the gap. I think that’s everything.

5. Getting outside more with the kids. They ride their bikes, I walk and we’re together. We’re outside, enjoying nature. We meditate together, even if it’s just five or ten minutes with some music and the kids think it’s is cool. They love the new meditation apps because they’re into technology and games. I think it’s important to involve your kids in things that are important to you. That’s how we create more space in our family. It’s just by living life together instead of compartmentalizing everything and stressing over if we’re filling all the buckets enough.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

I don’t think there’s such thing as a good parent. I don’t live my life in terms of good vs. bad. I think things are what they are, and I think we work so hard to be good parents that we often miss the big picture. Trying to constantly hit some mark that society sets for us is exhausting, and it often means we end up forgetting to just be. We don’t have time or energy to just be ourselves and being ourselves is what makes us special and unique. It’s easy to drown out the magic in our lives through chasing some imaginary goal that’s never attainable. So for me, I would say a good parent is one who considers the child to be the teacher, more than the parent is the teacher. Children are sweet and innocent. Can you imagine if instead of trying to teach children how to be like us we learned how to be more like them, more childlike, more curious, more grateful, more connected, more present, more energetic for life with a zest and excitement? What if we became a student of life like our kids? That would change everything. Then, every day wouldn’t be just more work to do, it would be an adventure. This is a new way to live. A good parent is able to create space and hold space for their children to grow and learn and adventure in a safe way. Being a good parent means realizing children are not your property. They’re not even the reflection of you. My job is to help them interpret themselves, not teach them to be who I want them to be, or who I wanted to be. Good parents are stewards who create space and ferociously protect their child’s voice. To help them connect to their own spirit and vision and explore themselves. Good parents should teach kids that they’re responsible for their own lives, that they’re powerful and creative and not a victim to their circumstances- to show them that anything is possible.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

There’s only one way that you can show your children to dream big and that’s for you to show them how to dream big. My daughter believes she can go to the Olympics because I believed I could start a dog food company from nothing. She saw me try and try and succeed. My son believes that you can create anything you want to because he watched me launch my marketing agency out of nothing and watched it come alive. They watch me dream big, show up, and stay positive and now they’re doing the same. You must be the example. They aren’t going to pay attention to what you say, they’ve going to follow in your footsteps and do what you do. If you want your kids to dream big, you’ve got to put yourself on the line, walk the talk, and go for your own big dreams.

One year, when Brooks and Logan were in elementary school, we went on vacation. It wasn’t what we planned, but we ended up at an arcade. My kids both wanted these giant stuffed balls from the crane game. We spent so much money, but those cranes are set up, so you DON’T get the big prizes. We went back to the hotel and they were bummed. Later that night, I noticed both of them had gone on the computer and made vision boards for their vacation… and those stuffed balls were on each kids’ board. We went back the next day to try again. And my son Brooks got his ball on the first try. The entire arcade went nuts. No one has ever gotten one from that machine before and it was a HUGE deal. Everyone came over to watch Logan try for hers after that. And she failed. I was dying inside wanting her to win so badly. And against all odds, that little seven-year-old girl got her very own ball, just like her brother. It was the most amazing thing to watch. They dreamed big, they trusted the process, and they cashed out big that day.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Success literally comes from yourself. There’s no definition of success better than what you decide, because it’s all up to you, you get to decide what that looks like for you. If we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others’ definitions of success, we’re never going to be satisfied. You must decide for yourself what it looks like because you’re unique. For me, success comes from satisfaction, and that comes from having a vision and achieving it. That means creating a life where I live out my principles as best I can each day. One where I’m connecting to people, my words and actions are loving, and I’m taking responsibility for my own successes and breakdowns.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

One of my favorite books is The Little Soul and the Sun by Neil Donald Walsch. It’s a wonderful parable that teaches kids about unity and love and I just cherish it. I also love the Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. I’m a big believer in communicating to others through their own unique love languages. It’s important to always be developing your communication skills because that’s such an important part of parenting. Lewis Howes School of Greatness podcast is another I’d recommend. It’s packed full of nuggets of positivity and wisdom parents can put to use.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have two. The first is, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is everything.” This quote speaks deeply to me about the importance of desire and vision and how that plays out in what we’re creating every day. The second is, “If you can’t break the record, make the winner break the record.” I’d rather push myself to expand beyond what I ever thought possible by competing against others who are out of my league than to stay in the small pond and dominate with mediocre results. I always show up and give my best.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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