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Learning to Dad with Tyler Ross 010 - Charles Robinson


Speaker 2: Hello and welcome [00:00:30] to learning to dad or Tyler Ross. I'm here today with Charles Robinson, Charles. Thanks a lot for being here. I've known Charles for a long time. How long have you been?

Speaker 3: Uh, well, I, well, you were, you were a kid when I first met you, so it's been, uh, it's been,

Speaker 2: Yeah, so, uh, Charles is somebody that we're not particularly close, but I always enjoy seeing you and talking to you. I have a lot of respect for your opinion and, and, uh, the honesty with which you, you voice your opinion, [00:01:00] regardless of the, I don't want to say opinion of others, but like you voice and with respect. And I always appreciate it. So I'm really excited to have this conversation. And just to start, I'll ask you kind of, what's the current state of your life? Like, what do you do? What are you doing? Where are you doing it and who are you doing it with? And, you know, your, your kids

Speaker 3: Mostly, first of all, thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. It's an honor for me, really, I spend [00:01:30] most of my time here working or taking care of my wife as you know, my wife has Parkinson's and, um, so that's, uh, we have a caregiver now who helps out part-time. So that takes some of the stress off of me. And, uh, you know, I have two businesses to run. I run the agency that the state farm agency here in town, and I also have a real estate company that I do rental properties and, um, my business partner lives in Hawaii now. So I have been the managing partner since 2005. [00:02:00] And, uh, hopefully we're going to sell out here pretty soon, but, and I like to try and at least get a few rounds of golf in a month. I didn't play as much last year as I, as I normally would, but hopefully I'm going to get back to it. I also, now I serve on three boards, I'm on the board at the chamber of commerce here in Warrington habitat for humanity, which I really, really, I really enjoy that. Uh, it's a great organization and I'm also on the board at, at Fauquier Springs now. So [00:02:30] I keep

Speaker 2: Pretty busy. Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like three boards gracious. Um, so tell me about your kids and what they're doing and where they are now.

Speaker 3: So I've got five girls. The oldest one is going to be 43 in June. She is a, uh, actually three of them work in law enforcement, Cassandra who's. My oldest is a, uh, as a paralegal for the Harris county, Texas prosecutor's office, the number two is Rita. She lives down in Richmond. She is, she just actually [00:03:00] got a big honor. She works for bank of America as a, uh, as a senior branch manager. And, um, she was the number one branch manager. Her branch was the number one branch in the country last year. So, uh, yeah, so she's, uh, she's, uh, I tried to get her into the insurance business, but she loves banking and she's clearly very good at it. So, and then there is a Shantay Shantay lives in South Dakota of all places. Um, I actually got to visit with her when I went to Sturgis last year and got to visit with her and her husband and then my [00:03:30] granddaughter up there, our where's the other one, April, April works here in town. She works for the Commonwealth attorney's office. She's a paralegal for the Commonwealth attorney's office here in Warrington. And then my youngest daughter, Adrian lives is a, uh, she's an investigator for child protective services down in DeKalb county, Georgia. So, and, um, so they've, you know, they've all, they've all done pretty well for themselves. They all have good jobs and, um, nice careers. Thankfully, none of them ever gotten any serious trouble [00:04:00] the years.

Speaker 2: So, so how spread out are they like top to bottom age wise?

Speaker 3: Uh, the oldest one is almost 43 and the youngest one is 36 now.

Speaker 2: So one time, did you have five girls living in your house all at one time?

Speaker 3: I did. And the house was 1200 square feet with one bathroom. No kidding. Yeah. It was not

Speaker 2: Fun. Where, where was that? And Dale

Speaker 3: City. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Gosh. So let's, [00:04:30] uh, let's start with a little bit of history now that we've kind of where we are now and go back to the beginning. Like, where were you living when you met

Speaker 3: Your wife? My current wife is actually my second wife. My two oldest girls at three oldest girls are from my first marriage, but I was a systems engineer for the army Corps of engineers. And it's a great job. I got to travel all over the world and part of my job was to travel from place to place, do system installs. And then I would hang out [00:05:00] for however many weeks it took to do the training. And so Catherine, my wife, she was one of my students in South Carolina. Yeah.

Speaker 2: And then you all had your first, you got married and had your first kid, or had your first kid and got married or

Speaker 3: We don't. We actually, we, I have kids and she has one and so still we have ours, so we don't have any together, but we have hers and mine and we are ours. So

Speaker 2: Tell me, um, kind of where you were in your professional life when you had your first,

Speaker 3: [00:05:30] Oh God, I was in the army. I was making $288 a month in 1975. Cassandra was born 1975. So after she was born, I worked two jobs. I worked during the day for the military and at night I humped furniture for Levitz furniture out in El Paso, Texas.

Speaker 2: And getting that second job was a product of having a child and more responsibilities.

Speaker 3: Well, it was, yeah, it was, it was, we like, you know, we'd like to be able to do things [00:06:00] and obviously $288 a month before taxes was not a ton of money. Yeah. And so we want it to live outside the base and in order to do that, I needed to, I needed, I needed to work more. So, you know, you, you know, I learned from my dad, you do what you need to do to make sure your family is taken care of. So,

Speaker 2: Yeah. So tell me, I mean, now you're, you're on boards, you were on two companies, real estate company insurance. So that's a long [00:06:30] professional path. Can you tell me a little bit about their trajectory of that path, uh, you know, from army and what were you doing to kind of get from there to where you sit now? So

Speaker 3: I worked, stayed in the army for seven years. I was only supposed to be in for three years because I actually joined the army so I could get the GI bill go to college. And I, I screwed around for the first three years. Didn't have my stuff together and I decided I would reenlist [00:07:00] and stay four more years. By the time I left the army, I was, uh, I was divorced. We had three kids and I moved out to Arizona to go to college, got a job working for the army Corps of engineers as a actually I started out working as a data entry operator making about $6,000 a year and six months later, I got, uh, I interviewed for a position as a warehouse supervisor. My was a logistician in the army. So that was a natural fit, got promoted. And, um, [00:07:30] I studied, I'd done a lot of work with computers before I joined the army.

Speaker 3: I went to ECP. I learned how to write code and things like that. So the guys who came out, they came out to install our computer systems at my work site. Our system was already installed. I'd done it myself and we'd actually started training people. Uh, so I got a call one day from a guy who I'd never met before here in Virginia of all places down at Fort Lee, asking if, um, if I'd be interested in working for the Corps of engineers as a, [00:08:00] um, as a systems engineer and, uh, said, sure. So they, they, in 1983, I moved from Arizona to Virginia. And you know, I, I worked at Fort Lee for about three years. I moved to Northern Virginia in 1986. And, um, I was the, I went from being a systems engineer to interesting story. My, my bosses boss walked into my office one day and said, you know, you were a logistician in the army, weren't you?

Speaker 3: And I said, yes, sir. I was. [00:08:30] And he said, well, we've got quite a mess in our log operations. And I'd like to see if you'd like to go over and, um, and fix it. And so I said, well, I said, you know, I'm a GS 13 systems engineer. I have no responsibility for anybody, but me, how many people are in that division? Oh, just 805. Whoa. So I said, well, I'm not sure I'd be willing to do that for [inaudible] pay. And he said, well, how about I make you a GS 14? And I said, can [00:09:00] you do that? You want the job? And I said, sure. And so I got a non-competitive promotion, uh, to one of the, one of the best jobs I've ever had. And I did that for oh three and a half years. And my state farm agent came to my house one night to do life insurance for my wife and I, and he, this was a guy who'd been a state farm agent for 37 years.

Speaker 3: I think it was. And at that time you had to have a sponsor to be a state farm agent. He'd never sponsored anybody. [00:09:30] And he decided he wanted to sponsor me. And I initially I took, I did all the interviews and everything and decided, eh, you know, I've got this really cushy government job. I'm pretty high up. I was actually the highest ranking minority in the army Corps of engineers when I quit. Wow. And, uh, so I stayed for another year and the government sent me on a, on a, on a top secret mission down to Honduras. And my wife didn't know where I was for almost a month and a half, really. And [00:10:00] so when I came back, I decided that I was going to leave the government and go to work for state farm. So I called the, the manager who had interviewed me, my test results were all still good.

Speaker 3: And he said, well, you can start in September. And that was in January or February. And so I started to work at walking the streets and getting names so that I could start an agency. I started with zero accounts, just walking the street and knocking on doors, the only downside to, [00:10:30] to leaving a job like that was that I had to start over. So our, our household income went from about $95,000 a year down to, I think my wife was making 40,000 at the time. So she took care of everything for three years. And over those first five years, you know, I woke up one day and the kids were graduating. My oldest kids were graduating high school and just blink of an eye. Yeah. And I, and I missed the entire experience to be honest. I mean, I, it was, it was one of the things that I tell people is [00:11:00] that, you know, career is great and, you know, the kids will, the kids and the grandkids are, are all better for it.

Speaker 3: You know, my oldest daughter always says I still owe her because we had nothing when she was, when she was a kid, when she was growing up and her, her younger sisters got the benefit of all the time that I didn't spend with her, they wound up getting the, the, the nice rewards when it came time to get cars, we graduated from high school and things like that. So, but, [00:11:30] you know, I don't know that that changed any of it. It was, uh, it's worked out, it's worked out really well. And it's probably the best thing I ever did for my, not just for myself, but for my entire family.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And then making that jump to state farm that period of time. Uh, did you have to really scale back in terms of how much time you got to spend with your family and, you know, expenses in a dramatic way?

Speaker 3: Oh yeah. We, we, um, we, [00:12:00] I worked an average of about 18, 19 hours a day. Um, I can remember times when I would leave home at six in the morning, it'd be one o'clock the next morning when I got home, you know, I I'd drive, we lived in Woodbridge or in lake Ridge and I would drive from my office was in Lorton. And I would leave for an appointment in Chesapeake or Hampton or Newport news, and wouldn't finish my appointment until 10 or 11 o'clock. And then I have to drive home and be at the office [00:12:30] the next morning at seven o'clock, eight o'clock. So yeah, we scaled back a lot. I would, I would not, I had a really good manager. He would come by every other day and he would take me to lunch. I always made sure that whatever I got for lunch, I got something that was a large enough portion, so that I'd have leftovers because I always felt like if I went home and, and had dinner, that I was taking food away from my kids, because we had, we literally, I mean, we, we, we cut [00:13:00] back.

Speaker 3: We had no debt, which was, which was good, but we had a $1,500 a month mortgage and my wife was paying the mortgage. And like I said, we, we went from, we, uh, we paid off all of our debt when I quit the government, but it didn't take very long. I think I had $36,000 in savings to start the business. And about 10 months I was broke.

Speaker 2: So could you speak a little bit too to that for the benefit of any parent who might be thinking like, I got this cushy [00:13:30] job, but I really want to pursue this other thing either because it's my, my passion, or it's got a higher ceiling. Like, what was it in you that allowed you to take that risk, uh, in terms of preparation or like what was on the other side of that risk to stop that, that cush job to, you know, go to zero in income when you,

Speaker 3: Well, I, you know, I, I looked at what I thought the end result would be, would be number one, I'd be my own boss. I wouldn't, you know, I've, I've never really liked being, [00:14:00] uh, being, having somebody tell me what to do. So being my own boss is just a natural fit for me. But on the other side, it was, it was also, you know, I was, I had a big responsibility. I had a huge job. I had a, you know, a budget of over $35 million. I had 800 employees. I was making $55,000 a year. You know, this, that the, the insurance business, once you build it, if you're any good at it, it's the gift [00:14:30] that keeps on giving. So, and then I guess the other thing is, you know, my wife says, if there's a, you know, if you, if, if there's a tree and it's got a bunch of limbs on it, and th and the average diameter of the limb is say, maybe, you know, five feet or 10 feet in diameter.

Speaker 3: And then there's one, that's a foot and a half. The one that's a foot and a half is the one I want to crawl out on. Um, I just, I have always, you know, I ride a motorcycle. I always have [00:15:00] been drawn to doing things that other people thought were not doable. And when I quit, when I, when I left my government job, I had two friends, actually one was my boss and another friend that had known for a number of years. We're the only two people who said to me, you're the kind of person you can do. Anything you want. Once you make up your mind that you want to do it. Yeah. Everyone else that I worked with, everyone else that I knew, thought that I had absolutely [00:15:30] lost my mind, but I, I had something that a lot of people maybe don't have, or, or because when I came to the insurance business, one of the things that I saw was a lot of divorce.

Speaker 3: I saw a lot of people who had, who had gone into the agency business. It was a really tough job back then. And so people were getting divorced in droves. I had a really strong wife who was dedicated to the process and who, when I felt like [00:16:00] I wanted to quit, sit me down and say, you know, you're, you're in this, you, you, you don't get to go back. So you need to find a way to push forward. So what can we do? You know, and I didn't get a lot of grief about not being at home all the time that the family took the time that they could get on that I could give them. And, uh, so that was, you know, that's the most important thing I think, because you have to have, uh, if, especially if you're married and you're in a situation like that, where you, where you have kids, [00:16:30] it's a big sacrifice to, to not see your kids for sometimes, you know, when I got home, they were sleeping. When I left in the morning, they were sleeping. So, uh, and I worked every weekend for three years. I didn't take a Saturday or a Sunday off. So, but again, you know, it was, it was, it was well worth it.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Yeah. Well, um, that reminds me of something I read in one of your blog posts about something your dad said to me, not to me, I'm sorry. It said to you about you can't just work hard. [00:17:00] You got to work harder than everybody else. Could you elaborate on that a little bit and how that impacted your, you know, maybe business trajectory from, you know, taking that risk on yourself?

Speaker 3: Yeah. Well, my dad was a hard sport in person I've ever known in my life. He was a construction worker. He never owned his own house. He never owned a new car. He would come home. The reason I wanted to go to college so badly is because I told you about my friend Bobby McKenzie, that I ran track with. And [00:17:30] Bobby's dad was a business guy. He wore a, he wore a nice crisp white shirt to work every day. And, you know, he came home and he was still nice creased impressed. And my dad would come home covered in concrete most days. And, and he would be just dog tired. And I decided early on that I wanted to, to go to work in an office and, or have a job where I didn't have to go out and do backbreaking labor. And you know what, we, we [00:18:00] had no money.

Speaker 3: We were poor, but I always had a good work ethic. I mean, I started, I was looking at my social security log the other day, because I'm going to take my social security later this year. But I was looking at my social security log. And the first time that I registered on social security was in 1967 when I was only born in 1953. So that's pretty early on to, you know, to start to start working. And, um, I just think that it's, you know, I like to work. I, I, I I've [00:18:30] always liked what I did. I don't think I've ever had a job that I hated. And, uh, and you know, we were always taught that once you commit to something, then you do it a hundred percent. You give a hundred percent to everything you do and you don't slack up until the job's done.

Speaker 3: So I think that, you know, I went to, when I was going to college, after I left the army, I worked full time. During the day I went to school full-time at night, I went to school three hours a night, four nights a week. And when everybody else [00:19:00] was out partying, I was at home doing homework. Uh, the discipline that I learned in the army really helped a lot because I, I, you know, I could, um, I was only making my first job out of the army. I was making $3 an hour. Um, my rent was $212 a month. So, yeah. And when you had kids that you had to take care of too, it was, I don't, it wasn't, I didn't even see it as a tough life though. It was, you know, it was just kind of, this is what you do until you can do better. [00:19:30] So,

Speaker 2: So based on the way you described all your girls, do you feel like that they, they found things that they enjoy doing? They all work hard, they've all been successful in their own. Right. Do you think, like that was, uh, as a result of your example, what do you think drove them drives them?

Speaker 3: I think them, yeah. I think part of it is, yeah. I mean, I think they all learned to work. They didn't go to work, you know, real early in life, but they were taught to take [00:20:00] things serious. You know, if you're gonna do something, do it right. Don't have to do it. And, you know, I think that they all learn that lesson and that they stick with, you know, they have, uh, they stick with things they don't quit, which is for me as a, as a dad, that's probably one of the most important things. You know, how successful you become in life is there's a direct correlation between [00:20:30] hard work and discipline. You know, you can be, you can be the smartest person on the planet, but if you don't have discipline any success you have will be short-lived. I don't know anybody who has been successful in the longterm who did not have discipline. So, and that's one of the things I think that all of the girls have a strong sense of discipline and an ability to stick to what they start. So with

Speaker 2: You're admittingly, [00:21:00] you know, working constantly, and your role as a dad at that time, as they were growing up was really to be supportive and to, and to provide, uh, with them all providing on their own. Now, like, how do you define your role as a father and like how it's evolved since then,

Speaker 3: You know, for better or for worse. I just give advice now, you know, they, they still call if they have, you know, if they have questions about things, if they run into trouble with things [00:21:30] and that's, you know, they don't always do what I think they should do. But the fact is I appreciate the fact that they, you know, I tell people sometimes that I'm very, very fortunate because in a lot of ways, while I was building the business and stuff like that, I was a terrible dad. As in by today's standards. I was probably, I was probably a pretty terrible dad because a lot of times I just wasn't there. You know, um, Catherine was there, [00:22:00] she was doing, she was doing the heavy lifting when it came to the kids. So I have five daughters who love me to death and who, who understand why I wasn't there and who understand now what the benefits of my not being there were for them when it came time to go to college and to get married and, and things like that.

Speaker 3: And we do, uh, now we do, I have a conference call [00:22:30] set up called zoom where once or twice a month, we, we do a family conference call where, oh, yeah, it's, it's a blast. It's absolutely a blast. You know, the grandkids come in, my wife sits in sometimes and we, and we, you know, we started out this thing. They, they let you do it for zoom, lets you have a 45 minute window for free. So we started out using the free service and we kept going over. So we would go over to 45 [00:23:00] minutes and, but somebody else could call it and they could, you could start the conference over again. And so we kept doing that. And finally I said, you know, it's $15 a month. Why don't I just pay the $15 a month? Because we, sometimes we in the summer, you know, we'll have a zoom conference with people going in and out.

Speaker 3: We'll have a zoom conference that might last two and a half hours. And, and it's just, it's a ton of fun. A couple of them travel with me when I go to conferences and things, they just come. And my oldest [00:23:30] daughter went to new Orleans with me was the first one, probably seven years ago now. And um, I remember she and I were sitting, we, they have assigned seating. So she and I were got to our table first and we were sitting there and we were just having a chat and you know, having a drink and these two women who, who know my wife were at a table, a couple tables away and they just kept staring. And I told my daughter, I said, they think you're my girlfriend. So, so [00:24:00] finally, so finally I got up and I took my daughter over it. I introduced it to these ladies and they go, oh yeah, she does. She looks like, you thought that wasn't what you were thinking a few minutes ago. So now they, um, especially my oldest and my youngest, they love to travel with me and go places. And uh, we went to Los Angeles two years ago. They they've gone to Miami with me, you know? So it's, it's fun to have adult kids and who [00:24:30] not only respect you, but like to be around you. Yeah. It's,

Speaker 2: It seems like a real mark of success for parenting is if your adult kids enjoy you and your company, they don't resent you.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And, and they, and now they're at the point where I don't have to pay for everything works out perfectly. So

Speaker 2: Do you feel like there was a period of time where, where you were working so much caused them to resent you or cause stress with, as a dad daughter relationship?

Speaker 3: I think [00:25:00] for some of them for a couple. Yeah. I mean, my, my daughter that's down in, in, in Richmond, I think that, that she had some issues for a few years, but you know, you know, the great thing about, about my kids is that they're easy to talk to and to explain things to. And so when she moved out here from Texas, gosh, it must've been 15 years ago. Now. She moved out here from Texas. She had two boys, she was divorced and she was working for $8 an hour in a call center and [00:25:30] she needed a car so that she could get back and forth to work and to the doctor and places like that. So I went and picked her up and I brought her up here and I took her out and I bought her a car. I paid cash for it.

Speaker 3: It was only, it was only, I want to say $8,000. And she was surprised that I could just write a check for $8,000. And I said, you know, we need to talk about that because I know you've had some problems with me not being around when you were growing up and stuff like that. And I said, but part of the reason that I can [00:26:00] afford to do this is because of that. And we had a few conversations about it and, and, and you know, she got, she got over it and she, I think she probably understands it better now because she had to go through something similar. She had to do it out of necessity because, you know, she, when she got her big award last week, um, I called her, I said, it's a pretty long way from $8 an hour in a call center to the number one banker at, [00:26:30] at, at the, you know, one of the largest banks in the country, isn't it. And she goes, yeah, but it wasn't always easy. And I said, I know, I know. I completely understand. So, so yeah, but it worked out.

Speaker 2: Yeah, sure. Sounds like it. Um, and you feel like, I know my sister is back in town and I know growing up that I got the benefit of spending more time with my dad because we shared sports and he coached some teams and, you know, we just had that relationship.

Speaker 3: And I think now he feels [00:27:00] like with her back and she's pregnant and like, he's, I think he feels like he's making up time now, even though she's 30, she's she? 33. Now, do you feel like you're making up time that you might've lost? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. It's, it's, you know, it's one of the reasons I love it when I go, like, there's a, there's a one big conference that I go to every year. And as soon as I get, as soon as I sign up, I send them the link so that they can sign up as guest. Um, they don't go to any of the meetings or anything, but there are a couple of, there's [00:27:30] a couple of big parties and they love going to the parties. It now, when I go, the other agents expect that my daughters are going to be there.

Speaker 3: So, and it's, it's, you know, it's fun for me because I just get to hang out with them in a different environment. You know, it's not like we're not at the, you know, not at the house. We, we on occasion, we'll have a big one. My oldest turned 40. We had a big birthday party. Everybody came and, and the other thing is they get along really well, which [00:28:00] is I'm really, a lot of times you see, you know, the kids don't get along, especially when it, when girls don't get along. And so one of the rules we always had is you can be mad at your sister, but you can't be mad at her for life. You know, you, you, you need to get over it. And if there's a problem and you need to, you need to talk to her, don't tell me, you know, talk to her and you guys need to, to get it worked out. And they've been really, really good about that sort of thing as well. So

Speaker 2: [00:28:30] Communication talking so important, anybody who might be overworking now, I know the context of your life is different than anybody else's. But in the event that you saw somebody who was putting in those 18 hour days, maybe not even out of necessity, but their work. And is there anything that you would tell to them that you might not know? So something you might tell your younger self.

Speaker 3: Yeah. You know, you, the one thing you learn is that once time is gone, you don't get it back. [00:29:00] And you know, like I said, I'm very fortunate. My kids have allowed me to, to make all of that up. A lot of people don't, I, I can't tell you how many times I've seen folks who went through a similar circumstance who don't get to make that up, who don't get to go back and, and have that time, or be able to explain to their kids, you know, this is what, this is, what was going on. This is what happened. You know, I have a nephew who has, who has $3. And he, [00:29:30] when he, when he got divorced, several years ago, he wound up his child support was $500 a month. And so we were having a discussion about the child support one day. And I said, you know, I pay child support for over 20 years and half the time the kids were living with me, but I still paid my child support.

Speaker 3: When my first wife left the country with my oldest three, girls was gone for two and a half years. And I didn't have a clue where they were. I still saved the money, the child support money. I still put in the bank when they came back. [00:30:00] When I, when I found out that they were back and in Oklahoma, I went to the bank and took a check to the division of child support enforcement in Fairfax. They had no idea what to do with it because they'd never had anybody who did that. And the reason I did that is because the money didn't belong to me. I had a responsibility to take care of my kids. And so, even though they were gone, I knew that one day they would be back and I owed [00:30:30] them that money. So, and so what I tried to explain to my nephew is, you know, you're not supporting their mother.

Speaker 3: If you think that $500 is enough money to support three kids, you should know better because you, you know, when you were together, the two of you were working and you were barely making it. And you were certainly making more than $500 a month. So, you know, the time you lose with your kids, you don't get back. And I come. And so [00:31:00] what I would say to people is, you know, do the best you can to at least do the minimum. And, and, and, and if nothing else take the time to try and explain to your, your kids, you know, dad can't be here. Dad, can't beat at soccer game. You know, my was, I was a high school. All-American in track. I was in, in 1969. I was in who's who in high school track and field. My dad never saw me run once, not one time, but I understood [00:31:30] because my dad was, he was working.

Speaker 3: He was out making a living. My mom didn't work. She took in laundry and stuff like that. But, but basically my mom didn't work. My dad was the only breadwinner. And he had to go to work every day, unlike today, where, you know, we have, I have a young, these young ladies who work for me, they have kids. Sometimes I let them out early so that they can go to ball games and do things like that. It's a different world. Now you definitely, if you can't make it, then you need to be able to [00:32:00] explain to the kids why you can't make it. And you don't want to. The other thing is you don't want to hover over them either, you know?

Speaker 2: Yeah. It goes back to communication again. And that open line and trust. I know we talked before we turned the mic on about you're having a stepdaughter and that you don't accept that as necessarily a phrase, but by definition, I want to ask you, because I think the way you described it to me was, was wonderful. Anyone who's thinking about getting into a relationship with someone who has a child, how do you approach that relationship?

Speaker 3: [00:32:30] Oh, so when you, you know, if you can't, I've seen situations where a guy will get involved with a woman who has a child already or vice versa. And they don't really either, they don't like kids or it's, you know, that's your kid. Well, you're, you're heading for problems when you do that. My, my, my daughter came to live with me. We got married when she was seven years old. She's been my daughter the entire time. [00:33:00] I've never referred to her as my stepdaughter. I never would because she's, and she's always been taught. And my daughters, her, her other four sisters have always been taught. This is your sister. You treat her like you do your other sisters. There's no difference. You're all, you're all my daughters. You're all the same. And I just think that that's so, so important to making, especially when kids are younger, it, [00:33:30] it helps them to fit in.

Speaker 3: Yeah. It helps them to, I think it helps them mentally to grow better, to be closer to, to not just to their, to their dads, but to both their parents. Because to me, the term stepchild implies that you're an outsider as it were. So I was adopted. Yeah. Okay. I was never, I didn't know. I was adopted until I was 12 years old and it wasn't because, you know, I had to ask my parents [00:34:00] about it. I guess one of my, one of my cousins heard some of the adults talking about it at some point and she said something to me. And so I asked my mom about it. That's the only way I ever found out bit. But I was always my mother's oldest son. I wasn't her oldest adopted son or anything like that. And, and I think that that, that helped me to, to, to grow up because I always felt wanted, I always felt part of the family when my mom [00:34:30] brought, took me in, she was my babysitter.

Speaker 3: My, my, my birth parents left me with her so that they could go out one Friday or Saturday night. And he never came back. That's it. They just never came back. So she kept me. Wow. Yeah. So she just kept me and she raised me as her son and that's, you know, and I, I just, it's probably, it's the best thing that ever happened to me in my life. It, by, by, by a wide margin, [00:35:00] nothing else even comes close. And so I learned something from the way that my mom treated me when it came to to my kids is, you know, you, they, they, kids just want to be accepted and they want to be loved and know that somebody cares about them. And so that's, you know, that's just how I, how I look at it. And

Speaker 2: So do you, gosh, just thinking about your being adopted and finding out at 12 years old, [00:35:30] how did your mom relay that information to you like to somebody who is going to have to have that conversation with their child who doesn't yet know that they're adopted? Like, do you remember how that conversation was? And like, as a 12 year old, how you received it,

Speaker 3: She basically just sat me down and she explained to me what I just explained to you, that, you know, that they had left me off with her and that nobody ever came back and that she did not want [00:36:00] to put me into, into foster care. I want to say my mom was 23 years old at the time she had no kids. Wow. So, and she just explained it, you know, it was you. I only had two choices. I could, I could, you know, take you to, I guess, back then they called it. The welfare department could take you to the welfare department and turn you over to those folks. And they would put you in a home or I could just keep you and raise you. So I decided I'd keep you in ratio. And that's, you know, [00:36:30] pretty much what she, um, what she did. And we, as far as I can remember, we never had another conversation about it. I was just her. I was just her son. What's ironic is that these days, I wouldn't, I don't know if you could even do that these days, I guess in the 1950s, you know, if you could get ahold of a birth certificate, then you could just do whatever

Speaker 2: That's wild. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. The proof is in the [00:37:00] pudding. I see. But I could see the fragility of a 12 year old feeling misled to some extent and feel like, did you feel lied to at all?

Speaker 3: No, I did.

Speaker 2: She had treated you no differently. Loved you. Right.

Speaker 3: Didn't matter by then, I had, I had two brothers and two sisters didn't know the difference. Honestly, just never knew that. Never knew the difference. If it, if it had never come [00:37:30] up at all, I would, I would, I would never have known. I mean, it was just, that was, it was that it was that kind of a situation where nobody had, I had no, I had no idea. And in all honesty, I never gave it a second thought, Tyler. Yeah. I just never gave it a second. Thought

Speaker 2: It speaks volumes about the love with which you were raised in just volumes. Talk to me about being a grandparent,

Speaker 3: [00:38:00] A lot more fun than the other parent. Yeah. A lot more fun than being a parent. I, I, we have, um, 13 of them now. No kidding. Yeah. When you have five girls, you have lots of grandkids, but the oldest one is 24. And I think Lily's four, the youngest one is four. So, and I, you know, it's fun because they get you, you see them, you get to see them grow up. And, um, [00:38:30] I have a grandson who just turned 21 last week. So he owes me a beer. Um, and it's, it's fun to have them around, you know, when they were small, it wasn't fun having a lot of them around at one time, but it's a lot of fun to have them around and they come and when we have big family things at the house and stuff like that, it's so, so much fun to just see them get, you know, how they get along with one another.

Speaker 3: And, um, for, I've got a, I've got an eight [00:39:00] year old granddaughter in Georgia and a six or six year old in South Dakota. And when the two of them get together, they're inseparable. They're just in separate. They do every, they do everything together. And, uh, they, you know, they don't get to the ones around here. The ones in Richmond April's kids are here. So they get to see each other a little bit more often, but we try at least every other year to get everybody to come home. [00:39:30] Yeah. Last year we had everybody come home for my wife's birthday. And so it's, uh, it's always nice. We, we, you know, the house that we live in is way too big for just the two of us, but we keep it because when everybody comes home, then there's enough room for everybody.

Speaker 2: So the Christmas house, the Thanksgiving,

Speaker 3: The Thanksgiving house. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2: Oh, that's perfect. So I'm to jump into kind of some lightning round bonus questions. I love these. [00:40:00] If you were to describe a father as a super dad, what three characteristics would that super dad have?

Speaker 3: Ah, let's see patients, the ability to provide and probably more patients that says that this may be a girl thing.

Speaker 2: Oh, that's great. So actually, let me, let me go back a little bit. Do you [00:40:30] see, um, how the context being different has changed the role of a dad generally over the last 50 years?

Speaker 3: Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, I was different than my dad in that, you know, despite when my, when my oldest kids were growing up, I was working all the time when my youngest two were coming along, I had a little bit more time to business was, was built a little more. So I could, I had a little bit more time. And now I look and I see, [00:41:00] you know, I, you know, I have neighbors who have kids who they're able to make it to the kids' games and things like that. And I think that's, I think that's a good thing. I think it'd be, can be too much of a good thing. I don't think you want to be at every one of the kids' games. I don't think that you, you know, I think there are people who think that they have to be there at every game. I don't think that's necessary. I think you need, let them, let them have some freedom. So

Speaker 2: I need, I need your, your input on this because my, my, uh, my [00:41:30] perspective is different than yours. Mine is. I don't care if my kids want me at the game. I want to go, cause I want to be there. Like, I don't give a what they think, but they don't want me, they don't want me in the crowd. I'll find, I'll just press my face against the window in the door. I don't care. So they, maybe I'm helicoptering. I'm a little bit, but

Speaker 3: Well, you know, you can never, I don't, to me, you can't spend, especially if you have the time to spend, you can't spend too [00:42:00] much time with your kids. Yeah. But by the same token, you know, and, and the other thing is, it depends on the kid too. Sometimes, you know, if, if you don't want the kid to think, you know, that you don't want to be there once they get used to you being there, then you've gotta be there. So it just depends on the, it depends on the parent. And some people are, some people are just way, way, way too overbearing. Like I never wanted to like coach kids or anything like that because [00:42:30] I just not fun for me. And probably wouldn't have been fun for my kids.

Speaker 2: No relationship

Speaker 3: There. So, but yeah, let them go and, you know, periodically let them go to a game and do, of course, you know, what'll happen is, you know, they'll always want to know if you're, you know, Frank Strano. Uh, yeah.

Speaker 2: Okay. So not

Speaker 3: Personally, but yeah. So Frank and Frank and I are good friends and I've known Frankie since he was, I don't know, probably seven or eight years old. And [00:43:00] he's a great kid. And Frank, when he, when he was, when he was working, when he was in corporate America, he missed a lot of stuff. And so when he got out of corporate America, he, he actually, he started to go to all the Frankie's games. And in fact, I used to go when they, when I would go to the basketball games and stuff with him, and I think Frankie got such a great charge out of that. Now you doubt you take set that like the basketball and the basketball and the soccer [00:43:30] and stuff like that. I think he really enjoyed that. I think when he was playing golf, it made him nervous. Yeah. I think it made him nervous when his dad

Speaker 2: Was there playing. Yeah.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So, because Frankie was a great golfer, I assume he still is probably, but he was a really, really good golfer. I just never saw him play that. Great. When his dad was fair and he's not the only one

Speaker 2: I get that. Totally. Totally. All right. What are some things that are on your not to do list as a dad?

Speaker 3: I [00:44:00] don't, I, I don't interfere in their personal relationships. I don't ever, when they, you know, when, no matter how tempted I would be to, to comment on the boyfriends and things like that, I stayed away from it because it just seemed like once you do that, then it's like, well, I'm going to keep him around just to be annoying. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And that worked out okay. That worked out. Okay. So [00:44:30] that's a tactic you advise?

Speaker 3: I, yeah, I would just not, I would just not comment on, you know, on the, on the boyfriends and things. They just, um, unless you, unless you just want the guy to stay around, then you might just, if you say you hate him, he's gotta be around for a while. So, and that's yeah. I think those are two really, really good rules. I mean, I've had great. My mother-in-law's is one of my, one of my favorite people on earth and we've been married for 33 years. My mother-in-law has never, [00:45:00] no matter what happened with anything, she has never interfered. That's a very good lesson for every parent to learn is mind your business, no matter what you might think, mind your business.

Speaker 2: And then listening to a guy lately, he talks about teenagers and how they suddenly realize you're human and you don't know anything. Not that they know anything, but as soon as they acknowledge you don't know anything, they treat you that way. So they said, just imagine if your baby was born and looked [00:45:30] at you and said, what the hell do you know? They wait until they're 13 or 14. So what kind of father would you like to be remembered? As

Speaker 3: I think if you, if, if I, if I were to ask my kids, they would, they would probably say I was the kind of dad that they could always talk to. And I think that's probably one of the most important things you can have. [00:46:00] I try and talk to my kids at least once a week, every one of them, you know, sometimes I have to text them because they to answer. But, but like this past weekend I was on Friday. I was, I had to drive down to the Northern neck. I called one on the way down. I called one on the way back, just so that, and we just talk, you know, but I think that if your, if your children can say that, you know, my dad [00:46:30] was easy to talk to. I think that's really important.

Speaker 2: I'd be very happy if my kids said that about me, what is something I believe as a father, we're all, even as a human, we always have to learn and always have to change. How do you think you can continue to improve as a father?

Speaker 3: You know, I, I don't know. I just, you know, I'd have a basic philosophy that says I get up every day and I do the very best I can at everything that I do. And, [00:47:00] you know, I tried, I tried desperately, no matter what, to, not to be judgemental when it comes to my kids or what they might do and that sort of thing, or to their husbands, you know? So I think if I can stay on that path, then, then I'm okay. You know, I'm, I'm pretty well. Okay. Where I'm at.

Speaker 2: Yeah. It's consistency stay in the course. So what do you think is [00:47:30] the role of a father? Well,

Speaker 3: Number one, you have to be a provider. You have to a provider and a protector of your that's, your primary responsibility. The kids don't ask to be in the world. And so whether you're living in the house with your children, or you're not, you still need to make a commitment to provide for them. And you need to make a commitment to protect them. And you have to be willing [00:48:00] to teach them, you know, you have to be willing to, you know, it's, nobody gets everything right. All the time. And, and you know, all of us got, you know, some of the things that I've, that I've, I look back on that I've done. You think that was the dumbest thing you probably could have done, but you want to make sure that you teach, that you teach your kids so that, you know, I always tell folks, even when I did the wrong thing, I know that my parents taught me the right thing to do.

Speaker 3: [00:48:30] And I think that every one of my kids would say, no matter what they do, they were taught the right thing. Now that doesn't mean they'll always do the right thing, but I, I, you know, I consider myself an honest person. I don't go to church, but I believe in God. And so I, and, and I'm very, you know, I'm very honest and open about that. It's, it's just, it's just who I am. It's how I live. And so I try and do the same thing with my kids. Just be [00:49:00] honest and open and continue to teach them. What

Speaker 2: Gift would you give another dad, if you could a thing, a characteristic that you could give every dad on the planet, what gift would you have? Every father have? Wow.

Speaker 3: Love

Speaker 2: Capacity to give, receive. Okay.

Speaker 3: They've received love, you know, not to for, for everybody, but especially when it [00:49:30] comes to your kids. The, I think that kids who are loved you have a better chance of your children turning out to be special people. If they grow up being loved, because I've seen what happens to kids who grow up, not being loved.

Speaker 2: What's the greatest hope you have for your children.

Speaker 3: I tell them to just live, get up every day [00:50:00] and live and do, do what you want. My, my, I think everybody should do this, but I I've seen the kind of misery that people have when they, when they are boxed in. And when they don't, you know, I have so many friends now who are, who are sick and shut in and who can't go out and do the things that they were always going to save [00:50:30] and do. And so I, I tell my children just live and get up every day and live. If there's something you want to do, you know, I see people who say, well, you know, excuse me, it's dangerous riding that motorcycle. I know, but I'm going to live.

Speaker 2: Who's your favorite TV dad. Okay.

Speaker 3: Wow. I don't watch too much TV. I don't even know anybody. Who's I don't know any TV dads.

Speaker 2: How about character, [00:51:00] character, dad, book, movie television,

Speaker 3: Both movie television. So you ever see the notebook?

Speaker 2: I have not seen it. No.

Speaker 3: That the James Garner character in the notebook, you know, he was, he was, he was a dad. You didn't see him do a ton of parenting, but I, I love that character because of what he had to sacrifice for his wife. [00:51:30] And there was this, there's a scene in the movie where all of the kids are visiting, visiting their mother. And she goes in and out of kind of knowing who they are and not okay. And he has to explain to them why he is staying in that nursing home with her versus, you know, going on with his life. And to me, that takes a special kind of person. And if, if [00:52:00] you know, I would want my kids to see, to understand. And I, I think they're beginning to, but I think I would want my kids to understand, you know, that their mom is not going to get better and I made a promise to her. And so you have to be able to explain to your kids sometimes that, you know, promises a promise. You don't get to, you don't get to move on just because you don't like the circumstances. You have to stick around [00:52:30] and keep your word. So, yeah.

Speaker 2: Devotion is a word that I'm learning about now, the, this is, this is a question I like to ask when I had my kids, it opened me to like unlocked an emotional part of me that I had never been privy to. Like, I didn't realize how much I could love something or someone do you think your children can love you back as much as you love them? Yeah,

Speaker 3: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I, I, yeah. It's, it's, you know, it's [00:53:00] w it's, it's hard cause you think about, you know, I have long-term care insurance so that if something happens to me, like my wife, wasn't able to get it because she's had lupus since she was like 15 years old. So, but I have long-term care insurance. And I tell my kids, listen, something happens today. State farm is going to take care of me for the rest of my life. I have a policy that will pay for a hundred years if it needs to. And so, and well, they're like, [00:53:30] well, and so I say to them, don't give up your life because I know, I know that I know at least a couple of them would, would give up their life to come in and try and take care of dad. And so I tell them, I've got this insurance. You don't need to do that. Now. I promise you, there's at least three of them. You know, they're, if, if it comes to that, they're gonna stop doing what they're doing and they're gonna come and take care of dad. [00:54:00] You can't. And, and, and I know from firsthand that you can't do that unless you really, really, really love somebody. Yeah. Because it'll drive you crazy. So,

Speaker 2: All right. Uh, if you're going to write a book about your professional and parenting life, what would be the name of some of the chapters

Speaker 3: First? I'd start with things. My dad taught me. Yeah. I like that. Yeah. And then teach them to drive. [00:54:30] I would have, you know, I'd probably want to put in something about relationships, the capacity to, to, to, to, to not just open up to other people, but the capacity to love other people. And I think the one thing I've always tried to teach my girls is, you know, know your value, love yourself, you know, [00:55:00] have respect for yourself because if you don't, nobody else will, you can't expect other people to respect you if you don't respect yourself. And so I spend a lot of time on that sort of thing and yeah, I don't know. I'd have to really think about that. That's something I'd. Yeah. That's something that I should probably think about that.

Speaker 2: All right. This, this is one of my favorite questions that I've borrowed from a guy named Tim Ferris, who has a podcast that he calls it. His billboard question. [00:55:30] If you had a billboard say on 95 and every dad on the planet was driving up and down 95, and you could give them a piece of advice or a message that would fit on that billboard that they could read it. When they drove by at 90 miles an hour, what would you put on that? Billboard

Speaker 3: Love them today because tomorrow's not promised.

Speaker 2: And this is my last question for you in the event that this recording lasts forever and generations and generations, your kids, kids, [00:56:00] your 13 grandkids have 47 great grandkids. What's a message that you would like to span the generations.

Speaker 3: I think what we talked about earlier, that if you, you spend as much time with your kids, all of your family, generally, but especially with your kids, as you can, especially when they're younger, because you don't get those years back and you don't want to, [00:56:30] to do like me and wake up one day. And you know, you've got a daughter who was in the fifth grade or the third grade when you started your business and you wake up one day and she's graduating high school and heading off to college and you don't, and you've missed the whole thing. You just completely missed the whole, the whole experience all those years, because you don't, as much as those kids love me, I can't get those years back. That's time that those are experiences and [00:57:00] time that they're gone. And the one regret as a dad is that I miss those years. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Well, I appreciate your time so much. I've learned a ton from talking with you. It's very apparent that you've been of service your entire life to not just your family, but your friends too. And I admire that a lot. Thank you very much for being open and honest. And I only asked you like six [00:57:30] of the questions we might have to do around two hours, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Thank you. And I saw you tear up a couple of times. I don't know if you saw me tear up a couple of times, but what a great time.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much. I, you know, hopefully somebody in your audience will get something out of it. If you know, it's always, if one person gets something, then it's, it's worth the time. So I appreciate it. And I thank you again. I, um, I, I, again, I'm deeply honored that you would, that you would [00:58:00] come by and, and spend time talking to me. Awesome.


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