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“How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time to Be Great Parents”, With Dr. Ely Weinschneider & Clint Greenleaf

I can start with my belief that I’m not a friend. They have lots of friends, but only two parents. A parent’s job is not to be a buddy to them but to help them become functional members of society. Sometimes that means I’m harder on them than they’d like, but that’s part of my […]

I can start with my belief that I’m not a friend. They have lots of friends, but only two parents. A parent’s job is not to be a buddy to them but to help them become functional members of society. Sometimes that means I’m harder on them than they’d like, but that’s part of my job.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Clint Greenleaf. As the founder and CEO of multiple businesses, Clint has worked in the publishing and content space, the consumer packaged good industry and in financial services. By playing the long game, he has built a career of building businesses. He started, built and sold three companies in three different industries. Clint is the author of three books, a professional speaker and a regular TV guest. His articles have appeared in publications such as American Express OPEN, Inc.com, CNN Money and The Huffington Post. He is actively involved in numerous business organizations in his community and across the world, and he sits on several boards of directors, including DRG, Zilker Media and Keystone Bank in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit www.ClintGreenleaf.com.


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

Iwas an entrepreneurial kid who grew up in a great home in Cleveland, Ohio. My parents were wonderful, and I started multiple businesses with their support as a child and young adult. My dad is a CFA, so finances were often discussed in our home, and I was lucky to be exposed to business on a regular basis.

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

I’m a CPA who started, built and sold three different companies. I’m also currently starting a fourth company, and I am an active investor and board member in others. I spend time teaching children about money and parents about how to teach their children (and I have written two books on the topic).

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

I travel about one week a month, attending conferences and board meetings on a regular basis, as well as operating businesses. While there is no day-to-day norm, I do try to vary my work to stay fresh.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now 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?

Good question. First, let me be clear — my wife is much better than I am — but to answer your question, I guess my ego is big enough that I think my involvement in their lives will help them develop. We’ll have to wait a couple of years before we know if it’s been helpful for them ☺. I’d also say that I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where my parents helped me grow and learn, and I’d like to do the same for my kids. While they’re great kids, I think left to the world without my wife’s and my direction (think phones, tv, friends, etc.), they would grow up differently than they would with our involvement.

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?

I think our values and knowledge might help them as they grow, and our experiences as children might help them as well.

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?

I’m a member of a group (YPO) that helps plan and run family events of substance — from camping or sports events to multi-day events at theme parks — they help make it easy to have quality time moments.

I also take each child on business trips with me so that they can see what I do when I’m on the road. They’ve all seen me speak, attend meetings and experience travel SNAFUs as well — all to see what happens when I travel. They have all appreciated it.

At the same time, I think this is a tough one for me. A lot of the quality moments cannot be planned — they just happen. So, I do think there is a value in putting quantity in as well. You can’t be there if you aren’t there.

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? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.

We have three kids: two girls (12 and 10) and a boy (8). All three play sports, and we make the effort to attend their games and tournaments as often as possible. We also take them to and from practices and talk about the sports with them.

We also try to do family dinners as often as possible — usually two or three nights a week.

I also try to do “dad-only” events, like walking the kids to school and breakfasts on Saturday mornings when I’m in town.

For all these, I do my best to put my phone away and really talk with them about school, friends or whatever is of interest to them.

We spend time practicing finances — whether it’s buying things at brick and mortar stores and making change, to online shopping online and looking for the best deals or playing Monopoly and Cashflow Quadrant. I am passionate about kids learning more about money and want mine to know through experience, not just hearing about it.

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

I can start with my belief that I’m not a friend. They have lots of friends, but only two parents. A parent’s job is not to be a buddy to them but to help them become functional members of society. Sometimes that means I’m harder on them than they’d like, but that’s part of my job.

Whether or not I’ll qualify as a “good parent” is a moving target, and it’s not something I try to measure on a short-term basis. My aim is to be a great dad every day with my goal to be judged when they are young adults. So, if I say no to a sleepover in order to help them get much needed sleep, I’m playing the long game and that is good parenting.

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

We talk a lot about what kind of problems they want to solve… and my son (8) is super excited about desalinization to solve the world’s water crisis. In his mind, it’s as simple as pulling salt out of the water, and once we figure that out on a big scale, we’re going to be able to help a lot of people. It’s not my job to explain the ways it’s too hard to solve, nor that it’s too expensive. I want to help him think big and find the win.

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

For starters, I’m no master. This is a constant struggle and I miss the target every day.

My friend Dan Thurmon wrote a great book called Off Balance On Purpose, and in that, he discusses how it’s nearly impossible to straddle the balance that is often idealized.

I think the way to define it is to make sure that I still provide for my family (and fulfill my desire to succeed in business) and am present for my kids.

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

I assume this is not a good time to plug my book on teaching kids about money 🙂

YPO has been a great resource for me — they focus not just on my business, but on my family and me personally. My peers help me be a better CEO, husband and father, and I’ve found the organization to be incredibly helpful.

As for a specific book or podcast, not sure I have one, but I do like to share things I find interesting with my family — whether it’s news, history or finance.

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

Teddy Roosevelt’s “The Critic” is a big one for me… as is Calvin Coolidge’s on “Persistence.” My parents exposed me to those, and I have tried to do the same for my kids. It’s a long ride, and it’s not about winning today, but it is about winning in the long run.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m a HUGE fan of teaching children about money. The sooner we can teach people to avoid stupid mistakes with money, we can really drive growth in our economy and for all economic classes.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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