Andy and Emily share practical ways to set our kids up for success in school and life by developing a growth mindset.
- “I want to instill that in my kids to kind of keep this curiosity to always be learning. There is no end. There is no being an expert. There’s no ‘Oh, I already figured it all out so I can’t learn anymore.’” – Andy Storch
- “There are certain things that we may never achieve, we may not be the best in the world, but we could always get better. We can always improve.” – Andy Storch
- “The big difference is with a fixed mindset, we believe we’re either good at something or we’re not. If we fail at something, then that probably means we’re not very good at it and we should probably move on and try something else. Versus with a growth mindset, we can always try anything. We can always get better at anything; we can always practice and improve.” – Andy Storch
- “Honor the effort, not the labels of ‘you’re smart’, because that can have some really unintended consequences.” – Emily Melious
- “When you have big goals and you have a family, then I think you need to be a lot more careful with how and where you’re spending your time and be honest about how and where you’re spending your time.” – Andy Storch
- “We’re all gonna make mistakes and fail as parents. Nobody knows what the heck they’re doing, but we just keep learning and growing just like our kids, right. And we’ll get better.” – Andy Storch
- 1:40 – Bringing business and personal development lessons to kids
- 5:25 – Always be learning
- 17:03 – Developing kindness and compassion
- 19:47 – Advice for new parents
[00:00:00] Mothers of Misfits: Welcome to the Mothers of Misfits podcast. Join me for conversations about how to advocate for our kids in a one size fits all world. Be sure to subscribe, so you never miss an episode
[00:00:17] Emily Melious: Welcome back everybody, so excited to have you here for another episode of the Mothers of Misfits podcast, we’re joined by Andy Storch today. He’s a husband and father who’s on a mission to get the absolute most out of life and inspire others to do the same. He’s an author, speaker consultant, coach and connector, as well as the host of two podcasts. And I have no idea how you fit that all in a day, Andy, you should share with us that too. But I highly recommend his book Own your Career, Own your Life. Andy. Thanks so much for coming on.
[00:00:51] Andy Storch: Well, thanks so much for having me. I am, I’m honored and excited and especially honored because the show is called Mothers of Misfit. And I am not a mother full disclosure,
[00:01:00]Emily Melious: We’ll let the dads in to, you’re allowed in, it’s for all parents. Well, this is fun because you and I actually spend a lot of our time talking to professionals and helping them get the most out of their career and life. But we’re talking about our kids, of course. And I know you and I share the value and see the importance of, setting our kids up for success in life as early on as possible. And a lot of those lessons that I think some people sadly, or maybe even many people don’t learn until later in life or until they’re into their careers. You and I really feel like these are things that they should learn in grade school, even. So I want to talk about how you, bring those business and personal development lessons to your kids.
[00:01:48] Andy Storch: Yeah. Happy to, thank you so much. I appreciate it. This is, this is a topic that I am incredibly passionate about and interested in, and yet, you’re right. I don’t get to talk to a lot of people, a lot about it as much because I’m mostly talking to professionals about their careers. I’m working with companies, big companies on talent development. I run leadership development programs, helping executives become better leaders, things like that. And there are a lot of skills that translate directly to parenting. That said, you know, I got really into personal development back in 2016. And the group that, where I really grew the most was I joined a group for dads run by a guy named Larry Hagner, who has a huge podcast called The Dad Edge, which is the dads podcast.
[00:02:26] And he runs a big membership community. And I was a member of that for a few years, made so many great friends and bonded over, you know, the different ways we can be better husbands and fathers and things like that. So I’ve learned a lot over the years and I do really look for ways to translate a lot of the lessons into parenting and bring that to my kids while also trying not to force things upon them. So I, you know, a few things that are really important to me that I try to, you know, I guess more or less push on my kids without forcing, right, and then my wife has aligned with me on as well, I would say number one is having a growth mindset in which comes from the book Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck.
[00:03:05] Which was a big game changer for me in business and life and parenting. And we can go deeper on to, you know, what that means versus having a fixed mindset and you know, influencing them to think more about learning and growth and improvement than getting an A, or doing the best or being the best, or, you know, something like that. Being successful. So that’s a really big one for me. And it’s hard to, as a parent because you want them to be the best and do the best, et cetera. But really I place a bigger importance on learning and growth. And so I talk with them a lot about that. Curiosity and learning is another big one.
[00:03:38] It’s how I’m wired, and my wife, the same way. Like I need to be learning all the time. And I discovered when I got into personal development in 2016, that something had been missing in my life. And it was the fact that I wasn’t spending enough time learning on a regular basis. I wasn’t growing enough. And so when I got really into personal development, personal growth, and started reading more, listening to more podcasts, investing in online courses and communities and masterminds and coaches and things like that, then I started to become a lot more fulfilled. So I want to instill that in my kids to, to kind of keep this curiosity to always be learning.
[00:04:09]There is no end. There is no being an expert. There’s no. Oh, I already figured it all out. So I can’t learn anymore. If I hear either a member say like, oh, I already know this, or I’ve got this figured out. I will be quick to correct them. They’re like, no, you can always learn more like. You’re not, you are a pretty good swimmer, but we can take, keep taking classes and become a better swimmer. Right. You’re pretty good at reading, but we can always get better at reading. I can get better at reading and swimming, right. And I’m 41 years old. And I know I can write and I can get better at anything that I do. And so those are the two biggest things.
[00:04:39] And then the other one that I’m trying to instill on a regular basis, I would say is, more connected to love, gratitude, kindness, just being kind and generous with everyone we come in contact with, being inclusive, you know, having that kind of, that mindset that everybody is equal and we treat everybody fair and with kindness and with love and that it, we will come into some challenges, but we can overcome any of them when we have great people around us and we treat people well, they’ll treat us well as well again. So those are probably the three biggest things I’m trying to instill in my kids on a regular basis. I won’t say they’re always embracing them, but that’s the regular challenge and the things that are important to me.
[00:05:19] Emily Melious: So you just said a bunch of awesome stuff in there. I wanna, I want to break those down a bit more, and first let’s start with that concept of always learning and always being curious. How do you, in practical terms inspire your kids to do that? Because I talk all the time about, you know, you can’t force another person to be motivated. You can create conditions or an environment that would foster motivation, but you really can’t make somebody else be motivated to do something. And I’m thinking about my own kids and they’ve come home from a long day of school and,
[00:05:59] Andy Storch: Yeah.
[00:05:59] Emily Melious: the last thing they might want to do is read a book or learn some more. And how do you really create those conditions for your kids to have that curious mind all the time?
[00:06:12] Andy Storch: Yeah, I think for any and all of these things, it starts with the language that we use. So we have to get our, ourselves in this mindset of, we can always be learning, we can always be growing, being curious, because kids watch what we do and they listen to what we say in sort of like day to day, more than just like what we tell them to do, right. If you tell them one thing, you say, like, you need to be learning all the time, but I’m just, you know, mindlessly watching Netflix with all my free time. Like that sends a strong signal that what I say is really not that important, right. So they see me meditating every day. They see me reading books, both my wife and I reading books regularly and looking for opportunities to learn.
[00:06:51] They hear the language that I use, which is that I’m always looking for opportunities to learn. We can always learn, we can get better at things. And then, this is kind of a funny one, but you know, they do love to watch YouTube and play games on their iPads. Both my kids have iPads thanks to their grandmother. And so we kind of push them more towards learning games and learning videos. It’s not always the case, right. But, like starting with that, and my kids are pretty young. They’re seven and five. So like, I know it would be harder to like, if you were making this transformation, transition with teenagers that like, you’ve let them do whatever.
[00:07:25] And now all of a sudden, you know, everything has to be about learning, but, you know, showing them that there’s, they’re learning games that are fun. And those are most of the games that we let them play. And, to the point that like my daughter’s addicted to this like word search game, she wants to play all the time, right. And I almost act sometimes like, oh, you can’t do too much of that. And I’m like, oh, that’s pretty cool, you’re playing, like, you’re learning new words all the time, which is cool. They play these math games on their iPads. And like, those are the games that they’re exposed to. And then they do watch some mindless stuff on YouTube.
[00:07:56] It’s not like it’s all learning all the time. But I’ll say, Hey, you’ve had enough of this. Like, if you want to keep watching TV or YouTube, it’s gotta be, you gotta be learning about something, right. It could be the solar system or math or brain games or whatever it may be. And so they’ll take advantage of that so that they can still have their screen time, right. And still be able to watch some stuff. So I think that’s part of it. But a lot of it is the language, it’s the culture, right. That you create in your household. So like, we have a culture of learning and I will, like I said earlier, correct them and say things like, hey, we can always learn more.
[00:08:27] Like, if I catch you saying, oh, you already know how to swim really well. You don’t need to take any more classes. Like that’s not true. Right. Because you can definitely get better. Unless you’re in the Olympics, you can get better at swimming. Right. We also talk about practice a lot. So when I hear them say like, oh, someone, so-and-so is better than me at X or you’re better than me. I talk a lot about practice and experience versus intelligence or capability, right? So, if I, if someone is, oh, so-and-so’s better at playing that game. Or they’re better at drawing or they’re better at swimming, I always go back to it’s probably because they practiced a lot more than you. And so how do we get better?
[00:09:04] We practice, right? So I talk about the word practice a lot, but if you want to get better at something, you’ve got to put in the time to it. Now, you and I are both adults. We know that there are innate capabilities we have. There’s some things that, I guess to go back to the swimming example, right. I could probably go to my gym, my Y and swim every day for hours a day, and I’m not ever going to be in the Olympics, right. Because I’m just, you know, maybe I don’t have the capability. I’m also starting from 41, right. It’s probably too late, right. And where I could, I could probably hire a singing coach and practice and get better at singing and I would get a lot better, but I would probably never be like a pop star.
[00:09:42] Right. I would never be like a famous musician. That’s okay, there are certain things that we may never achieve, we may not be the best in the world, but we could always get better. We can always improve. And that’s what I want to make sure that I instill that like with practice and experience, we can always get better.
[00:09:55] Emily Melious: And that goes back to the growth mindset concept. And I know one of the pillars of growth mindset is to tack on the word yet. So if we say, or our kids say, well, I’m not good at that yet. I don’t know how to solve that math problem yet. And that little word can make a big difference. The other thing that you did there in equating it to a difference in practice rather than an ability, is creating an expectation that they can improve. And that it’s not just a matter of, well, I was born that way or I wasn’t born that way.
[00:10:37] Or the default is I’m a good swimmer or I’m not a good swimmer because that’s very anti-growth mindset. Those are just a label. You are, you are not versus you can get better with practice or you can, become a better swimmer, a better mathematician, whatever it is. And it’s something you can effect. It’s something that you can improve and have control over versus something that’s just determined for you from the outset.
[00:11:08] Andy Storch: Yeah, absolutely. I’m a big fan of the growth mindset and what you’re talking about, the opposite, of course, that the fixed mindset, if you haven’t read the book Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck, highly recommend it, I have a whole chapter dedicated to it in my book about mindset. We think it’s so important for operating in life, running a business, your career, and especially parenting. But like you said, the big difference is with a fixed mindset we believe we’re either good at something or we’re not. If we fail at something, then that probably means we’re not very good at it. And we should probably move on and try something else. And if, you know, someone says that we’re smart then we are, if they don’t, then we’re not.
[00:11:41]Versus with a growth mindset, we can always try anything. We can always get better at anything we can always practice and improve. And to take that a step further, you know, one of my mantras as an entrepreneur is that there is no such thing as failure, with a growth mindset there’s no such thing as failure. There’s only learning and growth, right? And so that means we can always learn and improve. And one of the hard transitions to make as a parent, if you really want to influence your kids to grow up with a growth mindset, and I had to make this shift, and I first heard about it on that dad podcast I mentioned, many years ago from a guy named Larry Yacht, who is a retired Marine officer who has become a good friend.
[00:12:20] And he said that, you know, in order to instill this growth mindset, we need to be willing to praise effort over results. And that’s a real hard one, right. But when your kid is playing in that sporting event or studying for a test or whatever it is instead of like, oh, you got an A, great job, you know, if they get the A on the test saying, great, I’m so proud of you got an A, or they hit a home run or they scored a touchdown or whatever, I’m so proud of you. It’s praising the, I saw how much effort you put into that, and I don’t care what the result is, whether you got ABC, I’m really proud that you put so much effort into that. You tried. And so I’m always doing that with my kids.
[00:12:57] When I see them working hard to do something, no matter what the result is, I’m so proud that you kept trying and you kept, you know, you fell down and you kept trying to get better. And you were trying to ride your bike or you were trying to swim, or you’re trying to you know learn this thing and that you kept practicing and you kept trying. That’s what I’m really proud of. And so like when they’re done with a game or something, and my kids don’t play a lot of sports, but I might ask them, the questions I ask are more towards did you try really hard? And did you have fun? And I think that’s going to lead to more happiness and fulfillment later on.
[00:13:26] Emily Melious: I’m so glad you brought up praising the effort instead of the result, because what happens in our brains is there’s a three-part process to go from sitting on the couch, resting to getting a productive result. And these are almost entirely subconscious. Most of us aren’t aware it’s even happening. What we see oftentimes is when there’s a breakdown, then we know something’s wrong. But even then not everyone is aware of where the breakdown is happening, but the very first thing that has to happen for an individual of any age, our kids or adults alike to take purposeful action, we have to be motivated.
[00:14:06] We have to be engaged. We have to care. We have to go all in. And when we do that, then we put forth effort and we engage our innate problem solving instincts that looks different for each of us, but we engage that instinctual problem-solving nature in all of us. And then the third part of the process is to apply our skills or our experience, our training. And when all three parts work together, again, we get to that end result. And when our kids put forth that high level of effort, that shows they’re engaged, they’re motivated, that they’re flexing their problem-solving muscles.
[00:14:50] And it might be that, that last piece, maybe there was a little bit of a gap in skills. Maybe there was a little bit of gap in understanding, but that’s the easiest part to solve for. But seeing our kids show up, go all in, practice, doing what comes most naturally for them is what’s so important for them to feel confident in and feel like they’re capable of tackling whatever comes their way. The other thing on that topic that really hit home for me was the danger in telling your kids they’re smart.
[00:15:24]Which really can lead to imposter syndrome because if they believe they’re smart and it’s not a matter of working for it or not working for it, and when it happens, cause it’s not if, when they take that test that they don’t do so well on or that paper that they didn’t get a good grade on, suddenly they question was I always lied to, am I really smart? What’s my identity. Who am I? Yeah. And that’s a really scary, dangerous place to get to. So honor the effort, not the labels of you are smart because that can have some really unintended consequences.
[00:16:05] Andy Storch: Yeah. I try to avoid ever using that, you know, and I know my kids, my kids are both pretty advanced and I know they hear it probably from other people, even their teachers. And so we try to avoid ever saying like, oh, you’re smart or saying that any other kids are smart or not smart. It’s more about the effort they put in the practice. It’s, really hard, right? There’s like societal norms around that. So you’re like really pushing against it. It’s almost like the same thing with like, I have a daughter and I will struggle to almost never tell her that she’s pretty, right. I want to focus more on other things that she can do things about.
[00:16:38] Right. Like, I am so impressed with how hard you worked. You’re very adventurous. You’re very curious. I try to focus on those things and every now and then something might, that might slip out, right. But you don’t want to spend too much time praising things that the kids can’t do anything about, right. It’s great that you’re so tall or you’re so pretty or whatever, right. It’s more about like, what are the things they can work to improve? Cause we want to encourage that effort and practice. And so yeah, we’re very aligned on that.
[00:17:03]Emily Melious: Let’s talk about that third piece, which was kindness, compassion, if I heard correctly. How do you in practical terms develop that in your kids?
[00:17:14] Andy Storch: Hmm. That’s well, that’s another one that again, I think kids are going to watch what you do versus, more than what you say, right? So I try to model that in the world. My wife and I are both very, I like to think we’re very kind to people we’re always looking for ways to help people. And everybody does that in different ways, you know, whether you’re actively volunteering or giving back to your community, or you’re just very kind to friends or you just say hello to people, wherever you go. We try to do a lot of those things and model that kind of behavior and that we’re always being kind to others and with each other, to each other as well.
[00:17:44]You know, that idea that love is very important and connection with other people. And I talk about the importance of building relationships and, you know, talking to people and having conversations. And I also talk about the importance of gratitude. Now that doesn’t always stick. My kids are pretty young. My daughter especially has been resistant to that when I asked her like, hey, let’s write down some things that you’re grateful for today. But I have a gratitude practice that has helped me get through many things. And so I will talk about that you know, we’re out in the world. I’m so grateful for this day in our family and what we have, and just kind of slowly instill that this is something to, you know, to pay attention to.
[00:18:19] This is something that’s important to us, and you know, again, the kids are young, might be a little resistant to some of that stuff right now, but I’m having faith that if we talk about it enough without like forcing it on them, pushing it on them, that’s going to be instilled in them. And that’s something they’ll remember or look back to. But I think it’s really about again, modeling and language, right? I mean, you’re someone I know Emily, who is, I mean, we’ve talked a few times that you’re very kind and generous and giving person who is always trying to help other people around them. That’s why you started this podcast, right.
[00:18:49] And so you model that for your kids. And again, we can do that in different ways. But if you’re someone that you were saying that’s important, but then you get in arguments with people, you’re talking badly about others, right? Like, oh our neighbor’s such a jerky, blah, blah, blah. Like, no, you can’t do that because they are going to see that’s how we operate in the world that like we criticize or complain about other people. So I’m very much against complaining, having a victim mindset, criticizing others. I try to avoid all of those things.
[00:19:18] I don’t want them to see me do those things. I’m also big on personal responsibility as well, which is one that I, I have a hard time with, with the kids right now with my daughter, especially, but you know, not blaming others when you make mistakes. So I will always take personal responsibility. My wife does the same in front of my kids as well. Like if I make a mistake, admit I made a mistake or I don’t know what I’m doing, or I’m learning this right along with you. And you know, learn that it’s okay. As long as we’re learning and trying to get better, that’s all, that’s all that matters.
[00:19:47] Emily Melious: I’d love to hear from you, what do you most often hear people say, gosh, I wish I knew that when I was just starting out.
[00:19:55] Andy Storch: Yeah, it’s an interesting question. But the by the way, the most, I came up with my book six months ago, the most common feedback I’ve heard from people who’ve read my book is I wish I had this when I was younger. And my response is, yeah, I do too. That’s why I wrote the book. I wish I had that as well. What I think is the most common is people realizing that they have more control over their life and their career than they think, and more control over their own happiness and fulfillment than they think. Right. And that’s something that we kind of potentially instill in our kids because in the society we live in, so many people let others dictate their happiness, right?
[00:20:35] Like, well, let’s what others think about me is going to dictate whether I’m happy or sad or, you know, if I don’t like my job, I’m not, I’m unhappy. My boss is a jerk or my friends are not kind to me. I’ve having trouble in my family and really like, kind of, or when I get that promotion or hit that goal, then I’ll be happy, when we can actually choose to be happy now. Now everybody’s in different situations, right. But we can also teach our kids to like, be, to be grateful for what we have now to enjoy the journey, to realize that we’re all different, we’re all doing different things.
[00:21:10] And to choose that happiness and kindness and love and not rely on other people for that. The other big one, I’d say the big revelation for me and that I think for other people as well, is that you get to choose how you spend your time and you get to choose. If you are, you know, doing productive things that help you maybe achieve your goals versus things that are not very productive. There’s a lot of people kind of drifting through society, through life doing what their parents tell them to do or what society, they think society thinks we need to do. And this might include smoking, drinking, watching a lot of sports, watching a lot of TV, you know, nothing inherently wrong with some of these things, but they can really take over your life and become serious time-wasters.
[00:21:53] And when you have big goals and you have a family, then I think you need to be a lot more careful with how and where you’re spending your time and be honest about how and where you’re spending your time and that, Hey, family is important to me. So, I’m going to spend time with my family, right? Or I’m trying to achieve these goals. I’m going to spend time working on these goals. But when I was in my twenties, I spent a lot of time watching sports and, again, nothing wrong with it, but looking back, like what a waste of time it was, and it didn’t really get me anywhere.
[00:22:22] And so now that I’m older and I’m running a business and a brand, and I have a family, I’m not really spending much time doing that because I’d rather spend my time with my family or working on my business or, you know, trying to move things forward trying to achieve my goals and make an impact in the world. Help other people, things that I find are a lot more fulfilling. Because I think all fulfillment comes from contribution and growth, so, finding ways to grow or contribute. And I want to show my kids that that’s how I, how we choose to operate. And hopefully they are inspired to live their life the same way.
[00:22:56]Emily Melious: I remember my parents would tell me things like, well, if you don’t find that job opportunity that you’re looking for, well go create the opportunity. It was always there’s no excuse. Just go create the thing that you can’t find or go create the opportunity that you don’t see available. It was always like, there’s always another option. There’s always another door. You just have to be the one to create it or open it for yourself. There was never a “I can’t” and that was such a powerful way to think. And so I never really grew up seeing obstacles or I guess they were just, they weren’t, they weren’t total dealbreakers, it was just, okay. I just got to figure out how to navigate around this one.
[00:23:37] Andy Storch: Totally. Yeah, that is awesome. I mean, to really show them that like anything is possible and if you try hard enough and it doesn’t work out, then you know, maybe you try something else. And if the opportunity isn’t there, maybe you go make it, right. Something else too, that I think is really important in parenting, and that’s letting your kids make mistakes and fail and learn from those, letting them fall down. And that’s one of the hardest things to do as a parent. It goes back to the growth mindset. I want them to be willing to ask for help as well.
[00:24:05] I think one of my biggest struggles do a lot of my life, I think my, my mom did a great job of teaching me to be independent, I think. Almost to the point that like, I was afraid to ask anybody for help for many years. And so I want them to be open and willing to ask other people for help. I think that’s so, so important. It’s a big part of my success is being able to get help from others, but also want them to be able to look, you know, pick themselves up and not because I’m not always going to be there.
[00:24:30] Right. We’re not always going to be right there to pick them up or save them or stop them from running into the swing or whatever. And I’m still letting them fall and make mistakes. It’s hard, but I think it, it prepares them for encountering challenges later in life.
[00:24:46]Emily Melious: Well, Andy, this has been such an awesome conversation, lots of practical stuff that we can implement right away. And also good things for us as parents to do on a daily basis. So thanks so much for coming on and sharing your story and giving us some great advice today, Andy.
[00:25:00] Andy Storch: Well, thank you, Emily, for having me. I really appreciate it. These are topics, like I said, I really care about, I hope somebody takes a nugget, you know, try something. We’re all gonna make mistakes and fail as parents. Nobody knows what the heck they’re doing, but we just keep learning and growing just like our kids, right. And we’ll get better.
[00:25:16] Emily Melious: Exactly.
[00:25:17] Mothers of Misfits: Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Mothers of Misfits podcast. Make sure to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. We also invite you to visit us at MothersOfMisfits.com