Category Archives for Blog

Dadnamics Live! Episode 37 Hulk Hands

Was your childhood dentist Orin Scrivello of the Little Shop of Horrors??? (Check out the “Dentist Song“, it’s hilarious)!!!

Let me assume for a moment that you had a normal dentist, that:

  1. Did not ride to the office with a leather jacket and Elvis snarl on a Harley.
  2. Did not punch the receptionist and rip the heads off dolls in the waiting room.
  3. Did not numb you before prying out teeth or drilling.
  4. Did not squirt the water gun like it was a syringe.
  5. Did not thrive on inflicting pain.
  6. Did not get eaten by a 8-foot tall dagger-tooth Venus Fly Trap!

These are good assumptions. There is another type of dentist that is on the other side of the spectrum. One inflicts extreme fear and the other excites serious fun. How is that even possible? It’s a dentist!

Let me introduce you to our Pediatric Dentist, Dr. Eric McMahon of The Smile Lodge. (And yes, you HAVE to watch this video too… It’s insane and hilarious and… I’m so proud that we go there!)

Okay, other than sharing the extremes in the dental profession, I do have a Dadnamics story. As you may imagine, The Smile Lodge is a perfect atmosphere for “Dadnamics” to happen. And it did.

I’ll tell the story briefly because the video “Hulk Hands” does a better job.

Three of our four were sitting in side-by-side dental chairs, with the youngest awaiting his turn. I just happen to glance behind him and, would you believe it, there were two giant Hulk Hands resting on the back bench. They were just minding their own business, not causing any trouble, begging to be tested.

I gave Exhibit H-H to my 2-year-old and threatened him with a “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” line. He acted first and his arms turned green and bulged with pounds of hulkish muscle. I cowered under the threat, but my efforts to escape were futile. He rocked me with several Hulk Smashes. I begged my 4-year-old to help. But his arms swelled with hulkish energy and he hit me so hard that… (watch the video).

I want to challenge you, Dads! Are you creating a home like the Little Shop of Horrors or The Smile Lodge???

 

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 38 Ice Dance

How Great Connection Leads to Great Conversations With Your Kids

Great connection is the bridge to great conversation. I realize that you are already great parents, desperately wanting to impart the right ingredients into your children. But let’s be honest, it’s not always easy to just bring up difficult conversations.

How can we breach these “talks” in a way that is natural, unplanned, and fun?

Great Connection Leads to Great Conversation

I recently had one of these difficult conversations with my 8-year-old daughter, and it was the result of great connection on her birthday. As I ponder how to communicate this to an audience of fellow Dads (and Moms), admittedly I’m torn. I have an opportunity to share an amazing story which will deeply impact those Dads, but I may violate the trust of my daughter if I share too much. This trust has taken 8 years to build, and it is the reason why I even have a story to write.

The best thing I can do is to share some creative approaches I’ve used over the years and the parts of the story that I know are okay and will add value to you.

Great Connection

Let’s take a quick look at Dadnamics–an approach I’ve used over the years to create fun experiences for my kids that provide incredible connection with them.

Close your eyes. Imagine an expansive jungle filled with wild gorillas, leopards, tarantulas, poisonous snakes, and suffocating tree vines. How would you survive this? Okay, now open your eyes and look ahead of you. Do you see it? It may look like the grocery story, or the post office, or even the hardware store, but really… I mean really, it’s the Amazon Jungle. Prep your kids before you enter this dangerous jungle that there is a mission to accomplish. Paint the picture of what you imagined a minute ago to those angels staring up at you, then GO!

As you traverse the aisles or the mailboxes, complete tasks and don’t be afraid to look silly. You will to most people, but not to your kids. This particular adventure is probably ideal for your 4 to 8-year-olds. That’s okay. You can design experiences for every age group. You just need to infuse creativity, adventure, and silliness. They will love going on errands with Dad or working on a project at home. I know because I have been doing it for years. I just didn’t capture these adventures on video until last year.

Here’s what happens. The great experience leads to great connection. And the great connection leads to great conversation.

Great Conversation

Now, back to my daughter and our experience that led to an incredible conversation. On her 8th birthday, Dadnamics happened on center ice during public skating. We ice danced in front of everyone swirling around us. My princess loved it! There was an assortment of other things that my wife and I did with her that day, but it was one-on-one time with just her.

I tucked her in with my usual “Daddy Loves You Survey”, which goes like this…

“Who loves this girl?” I ask.

“Daddy does,” she replies, squeezing my neck in a hug.

“Do you know WHY I love you?” I whisper into her ear.

“Because I’m your daughter.”

“Will you ever NOT be my daughter?”

“No.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that you will never stop loving me.”

“That’s right honey. No matter what you ever do, right or wrong, I will always love you.”

I prayed over her, tucked her in, and kissed her on the forehead. But suddenly she was sobbing.

“Daddy, I’ve been keeping a secret from you and Mommy!”

Screeeeech!

Skid marks were impressed in my brain due to the massive yanking of the emergency brake!

Internal dialogue… “Okay, Ken. Stay calm. Keep your composure.”

“Umm, honey what do you mean?”

“Daddy, I’m struggling with what I’m looking at.”

Okay, back to the men reading this. We struggle with controlling our eyes, and many are caught in sexual addiction. I was… until I found an accountability partner. How terrifying is it to look past your own purity battle and focus on your child’s? Ouch!

This was the ultimate conversation. Was I ready? I felt secure, knowing that God had shown me victory in this area. But to those that still struggle, keep fighting. You wouldn’t be reading this article if you weren’t trying to win for your family.

I know you want the meat of the conversation that my wife and I had with our daughter, but I really can’t do that and stare into my daughter’s eyes after I hit “send.” So, here’s what I can share. We talked about God’s plan for her and her body and His plan for her brothers and their bodies.

“Our eyes are not meant to see certain things until a certain time. It’s God’s plan and it is wonderful. Do you trust me and Mommy?”

“Yes.”

I smiled. “Okay, you are eight years old now. We will be teaching you a little bit more each year. We will not hold anything back that God wants us to tell you.”

She smiled.

I told her that keeping a secret from us, or unconfessed sin, wasn’t good. She had been holding this in for two months! It was eating at her, and she even struggled with bad dreams. I asked if she wanted me to pray with her to ask forgiveness.

“I feel lighter,” she told us after we prayed.

“That’s right, it’s like you were trying to swim with ankle weights. Now you’re free again, honey”

We kissed her good night, tickled our noses, and closed the door.

Dads, I urge you. If you struggle with this sin yourself, find a man to hold you accountable. It will be your lifeline at times of weakness. Of all the conversations that Dadnamics will help start, this is the BIG ONE that we need to be prepared and have a clear conscience for. If we don’t, our princess or prince will see past it. That happened to me as a boy, and it held me in chains for 20 years.

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 79 Wolf Pack

Watch the video from our family Christmas morning first. It does WAY more than I can put into text…


First, I want to acknowledge the staff at the Great Wolf Lodge in Scotrun, PA and especially the Sales and Catering Coordinator, Corey Muldoon. He treated us first class and made the planning of our family trip to the Great Wolf Lodge simple. Corey went out of his way to find a sales special that would make our trip affordable and he even shipped us our Wolf & Pup Passes, along with selected Lodge swag, in time for Christmas! To top it all off, the guy literally got married during our planning process and checked in before and after his honeymoon. This gift would not be possible without the creativity and support of the Great Wolf Lodge and their great team. I can’t recommend a stay high enough (and that’s only the staff… wait until you see the Lodge and the water park)!

Secondly, I have to say that our plan to make Christmas gifting an event instead of presents was a colossal success. In previous years, we loaded up the tree and the kids opened boxes in a frenzy and then Christmas was over. They would play with most of the junk for two days or two weeks, and then they would be in the corner awaiting the spring consignment sale. Great investment, right? That’s why we tried this experiment. Would the kids MISS the tree full of boxes and the excitement of Christmas morning IF we could give them a ton of memories instead?

Watch the video. In the spirit of “A Christmas Story“, we hid the Red Ryder BB gun… er, I mean, the 5-day Great Wolf vacation behind the tree. After the other gifts were unwrapped and the kids thought Christmas was over, I asked if they got everything they wanted. They were all happy, but sad that it was over. That’s when I sprung the question, “Hey Ralphie, what’s the gift over there behind the desk?” Ugh! I did it again! I mean. “Kids, what’s that Big Box in the Corner?” The excitement filled the room again and so did something else – a Countdown to the Great Wolf Lodge!

Even though the trip hasn’t happened yet, I can already draw a conclusion to our Christmas experiment:

Memories always outlast plastic.

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 64 Groundhog Day + 100

 

On February 2, 1993 Phil Connors (Bill Murray) lived a humdrum existence on Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The next morning Phil Connors awoke to the SAME DAY… still February 2nd. This happened over and over again, changing Phil into a man of extraordinary skill and compassion. Some calculate (the movie doesn’t say) that Phil Connors endured 12,403 Groundhog Days or 33 years and 358 days. It took that long for Phil to change before he experienced February 3rd!

On February 2, 2016, Ken Carfagno and Vincent Pugliese awoke with their Freedom Journals for Day One of the Groundhog Day + 100. Each man had a HUGE dream to NOT live like Phil Connors, rather to ACHIEVE greatness by design through SMART goals.

I can tell you that I was not a lazy man or a procrastinator. I am a former engineer and very organized and detailed. But with thirty things on my plate, I DID NOT have specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound or SMART goals. How could that be? Was I, in a way, acting like Phil Connors?

I set out to change that. I grabbed my favorite pen and scribbled my first 3 SMART goals into John Lee Dumas’s Freedom Journal. It was freeing and something changed in me immediately when ink touched paper. It was magic. I awoke from February 2nd, Groundhog Day, with a new purpose. There was not only a February 3rd, but 99 more fantastic days of achievement. I carried the 100 days to 200 and eventually submitted my story to John Lee Dumas and his Entrepreneur on Fire Podcast.

I was astonished when I was emailed back and invited onto the podcast on December 19th! What an honor to share my Freedom Journal and Groundhog Day + 100 Journey with JLD’s audience of over a million listeners per month. Just say that out loud. Wow! I just wanted to escape Punxsutawney and Groundhog Day.

Two takeaway actions…

  1. The show airs on January 27th, 2017. This is just 6 days away from Groundhog Day! Who will join me in another 100 day journey through SMART goal-setting???
  2. My kids were watching me set and achieve goals in 2016. I have said in a previous post that our kids copy all of what we do wrong and only half of what we do right.

Dads, your kids are watching you too.

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 39 Father Son Podcast

This video is the aftermath of our first father/son podcast. Kenny had to be mostly serious for an entire interview, so this post-interview recording carries more of an “Out-takes” feel. Anyway, the experience was priceless. My son, the business owner… how amazing is that!!!

Here is the link to the FULL PODCAST and blog with host Darren Shearer and the Theology of Business. For convenience, I have copied the text below as well.


I am sitting side-by-side with my son, Kenny as I write this article. He is feverishly banging out the keys of a 1,000 word-blog post titled, “How I Earned My First $100: A Middle Grader’s Business Journal.” Kenny will also be creating cool Lego animations as well to see if more kids grab onto his message. As of now, he’s toying with the idea of calling it Kidnamics. By the way, Kenny is an 11-year-old, 5th-grader.

How can YOU, as a parent, fuel and guide the entrepreneurial spirit in your kids as well, helping them to honor the Lord in their work? Here are five Bible-based entrepreneurship principles you can impart to your children in creative, fun ways.

1: The WHY > The HOW

Habakkuk 2:2 – “Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.’”

Teach your son or daughter that you must have a BIG WHY.

We searched Amazon and Google for ideas. Then, my son wrote down the things that he REALLY wanted. From there, we ran some examples of how many customers it would take to achieve the goal. Kenny then wrote down his goals. His first goal was to make $100 in his own business so he could buy the LEGO® Mindstorms EV3. He just needed $100 to buy it!

2: The Arts of People Skills & Strategic Planning

Luke 14:28  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”

The next step was planning. We created a price structure, promotions, flyers, and business cards. I taught the power of confident speech with a smile, eye contact, and a firm handshake. Kenny and I scoped out the neighborhoods and pinpointed houses that met Kenny’s goals.

The final preparation was role-playing.

3: Define Success

Judges 7:7 – “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.’”

Most believe that getting a NO is failing and getting a YES is succeeding. I taught Kenny that the only way to fail is to quit and that NOs must occur to get to YES.

In 2006, our cleaning business was brand new. I needed YES’s. Over one 30-day span, I visited 300 businesses face-to-face. I heard NO 298 times. One of the YES’s was short-lived, but the other made it all worth it. On one of the last days, I went to 19 offices and heard “No, thank you” every time. I wanted to go home, but knew I had to try #20. I asked God to lead me, and I greeted the receptionist.

That customer has led to over $60,000 in revenue over the past 10 years.

4: Go for It!

James 2:17 – “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Okay, Parents, this is where talk is moved to action.

On Saturday afternoon, January 9th, 2016, we set out to a neighborhood with 25 houses on the list. After two hours, I took Kenny to celebrate for pizza. He had 10 ‘NOT HOMES’, 9 ‘NO’s, 5 ‘MAYBE’s, and 1 weak ‘YES’. We were both tired, but something was amiss with his notes, and we had to go back to check on a few things. Upon our return, one of the big houses where nobody was home now had cars in the garage.

“Kenny, what do you think? One more?”

“I don’t know, Dad. Not really.”

“Come on, let’s do it. One more.”

I had been through this before. I asked God to lead him (Kenny heard me do it, he later said) as he knocked on the door. Fifteen minutes later, Kenny’s first customer drew up a contract for Kenny’s weekly service. Kenny walked out with $6 prepaid for January’s service and a first year’s commitment, which will earn him $130! There it was. The $100 goal was hit with just 1 ‘YES’. The ‘YES’ also built his belief and motivation. Boom, off to the races!

5: Have Fun!

Ecclesiastes 2:24 – “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.”

“Are you having fun with your business?” I asked this a few nights ago as he completed his first invoice and weekly service for customer #1.

“Yes.” Kenny said with a huge grin.

FUN is the secret sauce to the whole thing. Dreams and goals are fuel. They are rewards for work done well. But there is one other element that I champion. It’s called Dadnamics. I infuse creativity, adventure, and silliness into Dad time. In other words, I add fun and excitement to as many things as possible. During the role-playing, I did imitations of “What not to do!” On the way up to each door, we goofed off, kicking each other before jolting to a professional stance at the doorbell. It lightens the mood, shows that business is fun.

Let’s see… video games, TV, playing outside. Can we, as parents, help to put “working on my business” in that category?

Absolutely!

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 36 Entrepreneur Training

“Dad, can I start my own business?!”

Kenny would ask me this several times in 2015. He was 10 and I humored him. “Sure Kenny. Just come up with an idea and then we’ll talk about it.”

That little stinker did it! He came up with an idea to take trash cans down to the curb prior to garbage pick-up and then return them to the house the next day. We live in Upstate New York and there are tons of people who would certainly NOT WANT to deal with trash cans in January with a foot of snow on the ground. This is called opportunity. The cutesie question became a real thing as his 10th year wound down.

Therefore, I decided to start a new program with Kenny called “Entrepreneur Training”. I bought a notebook and titled the front and presented it to him on his 11th birthday. I told him that I would help him start and manage his first real business. He was ecstatic! In fact, lesson one was about opportunity and understanding what a business is.

I would go on to explain. “A business fills a need and therefore a business owner is a servant to the community. If you serve the community with a useful product or service, the community will thank you with cash.” We then moved right into lesson two on his birthday. “You need a target to shoot at. Zig Zigler says it best, ‘If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.’ Kenny, you need goals. Goals are your fuel for action in your business. Big goals will sustain you when you get a lot of NO’s.”

After this initial lesson, I assigned him the tasks of selecting goals, naming his business, and designing marketing materials. He took to the assignment and we were back into his notebook in no time. We reviewed and modified his goals until he was really excited to achieve them. I also helped him finish his marketing material.

In the subsequent lessons, we talked about the “Go for No” philosophy and business planning. He learned that a NO was on the path to YES. He needed to go through the numbers until he got the YES’s he wanted. For the business planning, he decided that he only wanted to work with one disposal service who had a Thursday pick-up. This would give Kenny a Wednesday/ Thursday weekly recurring business. I took him around the local neighborhood on Wednesday night and he wrote down the addresses of the houses with this schedule. There were 26 houses total.

The final lesson before taking real action was to practice. I helped Kenny design a door-to-door script and promotion to share. Then we practiced and practiced until he got it down with confidence. This was the most fun of all. I would goof around and pretend to be the angry customer who didn’t want to be bothered. I was the silly one who spoke like Adam Sandler (I do a decent impression). I gave him easy YES’s, hard YES’s, and all sorts of NO’s. By the end, he was well-rehearsed and ready to go. The video picks up from here. Make sure to check it out.

Entrepreneur Training was not meant to be shared or taught to others. But I was also publishing my debut father/child novel at the time, Arctic Land, and my publisher was highly intrigued by this project. Darren from High Bridge Books also hosts a podcast and he invited both Kenny and I onto his show. It was our first podcast. I’ll be sharing the link and accompanying blog in next week’s episode.

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 74 Family Meeting

Kenny and I went to see “Star Wars: Rogue One” yesterday in 3D. I am constantly amazed with LucasFilm’s ability to tie the plots and characters of the original series to today. Rogue One is an entire movie giving depth, emotion, and connection to a bunch of crusaders who only got one sentence of acknowledgement in Episode IV’s opening crawl.

“During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”

The movie ends with the stolen DEATH STAR plans handed to Princess Leia. It was a brief 5 second scene, but wow! How did they turn back the clock on Carrie Fisher to make her look reasonably close to the 1977 Princess Leia (which was the goal)!? I started telling this to my 12-year-old son as we talked Star Wars for the entire ride home.

Once we arrived, we were saddened with news that the actress we were just admiring moments before had passed away in real life. Carrie Fisher was only 60-years-old. Like millions of Star Wars fans, I went to news sites to find out what happened. Sad. Very sad. I am a child of the 80’s and everyone loved Princess Leia, especially the boys! She will be missed.

I have no personal connection to Carrie Fisher, so my heart goes out to her family and friends who knew her best. However, I am a writer and enjoy telling stories. I will use this sad story of loss as the jump-off point to our family’s story of gain. Thus, I turn inward to the world of Star Wars to share my story.

The Sith use the Rule of Two to grow stronger over time.

Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody power, the other to crave it.―Darth Bane

This is why Darth Vader wanted Luke to join him so bad. Darth would defeat and kill his master, the Emporer, and take Luke as his apprentice making them a father / son Sith superpower. It would have been unstoppable because Luke was the Jedi’s last hope and the Sith would have ruled for a long time. But we all know how that worked out. The Jedi won and restored peace and balance to the galaxy.

In the spirit of the Rule of Two (one dies and another replaces), our family is expecting baby #5. Carrie Fisher is gone, but a new girl is on her way. No, we will not name her Leia. She will get my grandmother’s name of Gabriella. However, I have disguised a clever plot for Princess Leia to return. Look at the last 5 letters of Gabriella and rearrange them.

I – E – L – L – A

L – E – I – A… (and an extra L).

Very interesting. Out of Gabriella, Leia returns to fulfill the Rule of Two!

There is just one small, teeny, tiny flaw in my clever scheme.

Leia and Gabriella are NOT Sith!

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 35 Ka-Boom, Ka-Boom

CREATIVE CONNECTION multiplies productivity and ROI. Our time is precious, valuable, and irredeemable. ROI is easy to quantify with money. If you invest ‘X‘ in and get ‘Y‘ out, that’s ROI. What if the asset is TIME, not money? How do you measure the ‘Y‘? You can’t. There’s no percent increase to calculate. It’s an intangible.

Compare 30 minutes of time with your kids NOW to 30 minutes of creative, silly, and adventurous time. You will feel the difference in your relationship and connection. That’s real ROI!

That’s the whole ball of wax right there. It keeps coming back to ROI in my former engineer’s mind. The next three benefits of creative connection with your kids are examples of this ROI.

CREATIVE CONNECTION opens up doors to great communication. It’s a form of vulnerability with your kids. They see that dad is willing to get uncomfortable to connect. When they engage in the story you create, their defenses drop and conversations emerge (that were hidden behind a protective wall). This ROI was on display for my daughter’s 8th birthday, which was later released as a GUEST POST for Covenant Eyes in March.

CREATIVE CONNECTION creates amazing memories and stories that your kids will never forget. What do you remember from your childhood? Creativity adds laughter and joy to the memory, which are powerful emotions to the human brain and long-term memory! These memories and stories will get passed down to your grandkids. That’s called legacy.

CREATIVE CONNECTION motivates your kids to do stuff that you want them to do, that they don’t. This can be chores or homework, or in this case, EATING THEIR PEAS!!!

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 34 Door Spin

You want a perfect example of why Dadnamics is so stinking effective for kids!?

We planned this elaborate day for our family. It started with a kids’ clown & magic show at the theatre, which was followed by lunch and a 3-hour tour of New York’s Capitol Building in Downtown Albany. If that wasn’t enough to consider this day epic, we visited the Science and History Museum and went to the observation deck at the highest building in the city. We all had a total blast.

Oh, and check this out. It was freezing outside and the entire day was 100% inside. Albany has a huge underground mall, connecting these buildings together. We left our house from the garage, traveled to the underground parking garage of Empire Plaza, and entered the warm interior. The theatre, the tallest building, the museum, the Capitol Building, and even lunch were all accessible through the underground heated mall.

On the way back to the car after we were all tired out from walking and smiling, we passed through a set of revolving doors. We circled once, and then twice. That’s when I got out the phone camera to start recording the spontaneous Dadnamics Adventure known to our family as “Door Spin”. It was short. It was simple. It was dizzy.

But it was also memorable. “So kids, what did you enjoy most about today?” After all the money and time we spent on the day, I can’t even tell you what they said. You guess…

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Dadnamics Live! Episode 32 Superhero Battle

The game of rough and Battle! has always been a Dadnamic thing I play with the boys. The variation for my daughter is Wild Girl! The goal is to act silly, get the energy out (especially in the winter), and use ridiculous WWF style moves to win. These moves are not limited to “The Hurricane”, “The Tornado”, “Steamroller”, and “The Bone Crusher”. Nor are they limited to superpowers like Spiderman’s “Webbing” or Superman’s “Freezing” or the Hulk’s “Hulk Smash”. They are all legal moves in an all-out assault to throw the opponent off the bed.

When we have enough time, a best-of-three is in order to declare the winner. But in shorter time windows, we do a single game winner-takes-all Battle!

I highly, highly recommend Battle! for YOU and YOUR kids, and especially your boys between 2 and 6. They love this game. Plus, it has one of the highest ROI’s on Creative Connection that I’ve experimented with in Dadnamics.

The concept of Return on Investment is tossed all over the entrepreneurial space by guys like Gary Vaynerchuk. He asks, “What is the ROI on social media?” It’s not as clear-cut as investing into a company or mutual fund. They have data and analytics that you can study before you make the investment.  But what about the intangibles? What is the ROI on reading self-improvement books at night? We would all agree that the ROI is very high, but we cannot quantify it.

Now that you’re tracking me, let’s move these questions to your kids. What is the ROI of 1-on-1 creative connection time with your son or daughter? It’s HUGE!!! You can’t possibly quantify it with numbers. But I can tell you this. When you use Dadnamics as an ROI tool for your relationship, you will get huge smiles, hugs, and affection from your little ones.

Beat that in the stock market!

 

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