Another appointment

So I am beginning to think it is a cold.  I went to the gym but just walked for 30 minutes on the treadmill preventing annoying everyone coughing up my chest congestion.

Again my morning was flooded with emails for last minute questions/orders.  It’s just that time of year where I need to almost be attached to my computer to solve issues as they come in.

We had a follow up doctor’s appointment to go over the results of the 1st trimester screening, but because our screening was rescheduled later the results were not available for our appointment.  The appointment was pretty low key.  The doctor did a quick ultrasound to check the heart beat, asked how Jessica was doing and sent us on our way.

On the way to and from the appointment I listened to a new Tim Ferriss podcast where he interviewed athletic trainer Ryan Flaherty.  What a sharp guy.  Only 34 years old and made me feel like I was a slug.  He was a top trainer in getting athletes to get faster.  He was totally deep into the science of exercise science which made him a top trainer.  But listening to him, I kind of wished I had explored more career options in high school because I thought I’d enjoy beings a physical therapist.   I know it’s never too late to do something, but I just think if back then I had explored it, I probably would have proceed down that path.  Oh well, one missed opportunity for now to open another one down the road.

I hope that’s not a nose!

Yesterday we had the rescheduled appointment for the first trimester screening.  It’s always exciting to see how the baby has changed week after week.  This was the first time the ultrasound showed some prominent features.  You can now clearly see the outline of the head, the neck and a torso.  The ultrasound tech was also able to show us a foot and a hand.  She told us this will be the last time you will be able to see the entire baby in one shot.  It’s so amazing at how fast they grow and change.  At the end of the scan, she printed us a new picture.  The picture has a highlight on the front of the face that looks like a very large nose.  We started to joke about how it already has my nose. Let’s just say I don’t have a small nose.

Although we don’t know the results of the test, the nuchal translucency measured 1.4mm in thickness which according to my Google search is well within the normal range.  Jessica then had to get a blood draw as a second portion of the test.

Since it was lunch time Jessica and I took the time to sit down for lunch together.  We both got the soup.  She had a tuna wrap and me a salad.  It’s always enjoyable to break up the day spending time with the wife 🙂

Everybody’s Fine

Sometimes the universe just gives us some signals.

After getting home from the gym, I headed to my basement lair to start editing some of the photos I took of Jessica’s cousin earlier in the week.  After spending a couple hours on one of the edits, I came up for air and found Jessica chilling in the sun porch with the dogs on her lap.  I turn on the TV and a movie is starting.  The opening credits tell me is called Everybody’s Fine.  I see Robert De Niro in the beginning sequences so I start watching; mainly because I was trying to figure out if I saw it before.  Once it starts rolling I was hooked.

The whole premise of the movie is that De Niro, a newly widowed husband asked his four grown children, living all across the United States, to come visit him for a family dinner.  All four of them blow him off so he plans to surprise them all at their homes.  All his children achieved great levels of success in their professions and when he surprises them, they are too busy to spend time with him pushing him off onto the next sibling.  The secondary reason for them brushing him aside is one of his children has a drug problem and was arrested in Mexico.  Long story short, the son arrested in Mexico dies of a drug overdose.  De Niro, a blue collar laborer who made the PVC coating for high power transmission wires, always pushed his children hard to be successful.  And although they all achieve success in their own fields, they also had “secret problems” that they kept from their father.  The son who died of the drug overdose was the one who was pushed the hardest by his father.  The movie lets you assume that the pushing of De Niro on his son is what lead to his drug addiction and ultimate death.

The thing about the movie that got be so wrapped up, was the fact that it was basically a movie about my thoughts and blog posts of recent.  It summed up the Semler terminal days and the thoughts about what my job as parent will be.  Here was a guy looking for some meager time with his kids but they were all too busy for him.  The disappointment he showed was heartbreaking.  What if that were his or their last day on earth?  Would they have act differently?  Are we aware of the people we may push away in our everyday life to live a certain way or to achieve things that may not ultimately matter?

From a parenting perspective, you can sympathize with De Niro for wanted to push his children to be highly successful and their best selves, but he did it at a cost of their happiness.  Yes I think we need to continually push and motivate our children to be the best they can be, but we need to do it from their perspective.  We need to find what is it they enjoy, what they are gifted at, and what motivates them to push them.  And to push them to the point they are comfortable, or maybe a slightly higher level, but never to the extreme.  Motivating them doesn’t need to be a constant, consistent input either.  Let them spread their wings.  Find out where their internal motivations lie and push from their.  They may enjoy something so much, their own drive pushes them to higher levels of success and they will only require random check ins from you.  And if they get to a point of laziness, you can push or motivate to spark a renewed interest, but if they reached a point of laziness it may be time to help guide them to another area of interest.  Every person is different and every child is different.  I guess that parenting.  You can’t practice it.  You roll with the punches and you continually evaluate.  Of course you’ll make mistakes but if you stay aware you can correct and move forward.

Parenting seems stressful already, but I’m ready for the challenge.  I’m going to parent the shit out of my kid 🙂

Education of the Future

On the treadmill yesterday, I was watching a #AskGaryVee Show on YouTube.  Gary was interview Adam Braun, the found of MissionU.  MissionU is a startup company that created a college alternative.  The basic overview is that students attend a 1 year job training program free of charge.  They then promise to pay back 15% of their salary for three years when they make over $50k a year. Currently MissionU has 25 students, out of 3,000 applicants, focusing on data analysis.  MissionU has partnered with many high powered silicon valley companies that use data analysts regularly to mine the data they collect.  Although no student is guaranteed a job upon completion the strong relationship between MissionU and silicon valley students can almost assume placement.

I had thought about this previously.  The college of tomorrow will not be the college of the past.  I personally lived through this transition in higher education.  My parents went to college because a college degree in the 70’s and 80’s pretty much guaranteed you an upper middle class or higher life.  Parents of this generation thought nothing of letting their kids take on loans to pay for school because it would pay off in spades later in life.  Come the end of the first decade of the millennium there were tons of college graduated holding nothing but a loan repayment form.  The economy crashed in 2007-2008 and college graduates were scrambling for job.  I graduated 2008 with an MBA and had to take a retail job paying $12.50 an hour.

With the cost of higher education increasing rapidly, mainly through college campus competing on amenities rather than education, I question how I can afford a $250K education for my first child, never mind if we have a second!  But as I watch what’s going on in the environment we are seeing a shift.  A shift to job training rather than a fully rounded liberal arts education.  Let’s give student the skill they need to be successful and fill job vacancies expected.  Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe and the guys from This Old House, have a campaign running currently to get high school students interested in the trades (plumbing, electrical, construction, HVAC, etc.)  They are expecting a huge shortage of tradespeople in the next 10 years or so as the babyboomers retire.  Parents have pushed their kids to college so much, there has been a largest feeder program to get people trained for the trades.  In the past, the trade jobs were seen as dirty handed, grunt work.  Today as technology is changing everything as HVAC systems act more like mainframe computers and electrician are designing solar system to power the house.  The knowledge required to be a tradesman is much greater than ever before.  Learning a trade will have many transferable skills into electronics and computers if the student takes the initiative to learn.

I know I may be rambling here, but my point is higher education is changing.  College doesn’t have to be for everyone.  With the amount of information available online (Harvard has free full course lectures available online for the world to view) having the information is not what will predict success in the future.  Everyone has access to the same facts, figures, and formulas.  The key will be on what a person does with the information in a new and creative way that will determine their aptitude.

So back to parenting.  What does this mean for me and my thoughts of my soon to come child.  My goal as a parent has to be to help them find what they enjoy to do.  Expose them to everything I possibly can.  Pay attention to what their natural aptitude is towards each subject. Once we have come to an interest, together we can explore the options available.  If they don’t go to college that is fine.  If they want to start a business, be an artist, musician, or a scholar, it does not matter.  They have to be happy and enjoy what they do.  If they enjoy it they will practice it, perfect the craft.  That focus and drive to be the best is what will ultimately determine their success.

Addendum:

That being said, yes I will still save for their education.  I will more aggressively save for retirement as education can be financed, retirement can not.  I may have post in the future on this topic but for now this is where I will leave it.

“First” Dr. Appointment

Yesterday was our first real doctor appointment with the doctor Jessica chose to be her OB.  Even though it seems as if we have spent plenty of time in doctor’s office already it was actually our first time seeing our doctor since Jessica found out she was pregnant.  It was a very low key appointment, which I did not mind after the roller coaster of the first few appointments. We discussed the first trimester genetic screening and we handed a folder of information basically a short version of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  We scheduled the 1st trimester screening and were out of there.

One of the items in the folder discussed cryo-freezing stem cells from the umbilical cord/placenta.  I am very intrigued by this concept.  I don’t claim to be very scientific, or read regularly on the subject, but from what I understand it is a very promising field medically.  Taking these cell and having them frozen for future use for our child may be the first and greatest investment we can make on their behalf.  I can only imagine the power of stem cells in 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years.  They may have the power to cure every disease or illness suffered by an individual.

I will be doing some real research into the topic and the cost to determine if it’s the right thing to do. My gut says it is.  There is a one time chance to get these cells.  So we have 7 months to get this decision right.  The pressure of parenting have already begun.

(Side note: Jessica informed her last aunt who was ill over Easter about the pregnancy so now the whole family is officially in on the secret)

Incentives

While cruising through Facebook world yesterday I came across an Easter meme.  The meme read, “My kids can pick up 3,000 eggs in a yard the size of football field in 5 minutes, but it takes them 3 months to pick up 5 toys from their small bedroom.”  I know this is meant to be tongue-in-cheek humor, but there is also truth to it. When I first read this I was like DUH!! There is a huge incentive for running around finding eggs; more eggs equal more candy!  What is the incentive for picking up the 5 toys? Not hearing your parents nag anymore.

Whether your a manager, leader of an organization, or a parent you must not underestimate the power of incentives.  In a previous life when I worked in a multinational corporation full of bureaucracy, I once had a regional manager argue with me over giving employees incentives for comply with a behavior that would result in great productivity.  Her view was they get a paycheck and that should be incentive enough.  Although I somewhat agree with her, the employee who comes to work and gives it 110% when they know they can give 75% and get the same pay is very rare.  Also, not everyone is motivated solely on the money they can earn.  Studies have shown that recognition and awards can go further in motivating a person than money alone. Unfortunately, she outranked me and my ideas were not tested (another reason why I didn’t thrive in a corporate environment).

Thinking about being a parent, I need to pay attention to how I use incentives to reward positive behaviors.  Jessica would hate me saying this, but its almost like training the dogs.  Yelling no at a dog will take years for them to learn, but start throwing high value treats at them and they’ll learn in seconds.  They key here is high value treats.

High value is in the eye of the receiver.  If you want your incentive to have the largest impact, find out what the recipient values.  Just because I spent $30/lbs on dried kobe beef to train my dogs and they hate them, there is no value, but maybe small pieces carrots are the greatest treat.

Additionally, varying the incentives is equally important.  If you are rewarding effort in school for your child one time the incentive is ice cream, maybe the next is a movie.  The varying of incentives keeps the specialty of the treat.

I know it seems pretty obvious, but we as humans are much better at punishing bad behavior than rewarding good behavior so it does take some thought into putting together a plan.  Happy rewarding!