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What makes successful businessmen successful?

We ask that to a lot of men, and the answers vary. But one thing remains constant. The answer never involves only how much money you make. Although that does factor in to a lot of men’s responses.

And that’s understandable. The American dream has long been about creating a comfortable life through a strong work ethic.

But most businessmen who are successful financially still don’t define themselves as successful businessmen.

Even business legend Steve Jobs infamously talked about how he felt like a failure as he drove his Porsche convertible to work at both Pixar and Apple—all day every day.

Hard work and financial success can create a hard life if you don’t counterbalance it with the things that really make you successful.

Want to know how the men who join The Lions Pride define success?

A successful businessman has financial freedom to spend on the people he loves and time freedom to spend with the people he loves.

How do successful businessmen achieve real success?

So how can you reach for that definition of a successful businessman?

For me, it wasn’t easy.

My love for work at one point overshadowed my love for my family. While in corporate America and building my business, I was working 80 to 100 hours a week.

My hard work earned me financial freedom, but I had completely squandered my time freedom.

And that was even after I named my company after my two kids to remind me that ultimately, my business was supposed to give me time to spend with them. And money…

I constantly fought against my work addiction as I raised my kids so that I could be there for them. I wasn’t perfect by any means and it’s taken me years of hard work to learn to quit work when I should.

To allow myself time freedom when my financial freedom always presses me for more.

I eventually sold my business for eight figures. But something else allowed me to feel more successful than that.

I felt most successful as a businessman when I made time for my children.

Habits for the Win:

Habits make or break you, so make your habits count. In the Huddle, you'll start implementing habits that make your life more successful every month.

Learn more

7 habits to spend more time with your children as a businessman

Let me give you seven positive habits I created in my busy life that made me feel more successful than selling my business. Use these to spend more one-on-one time with your children. Because no matter how successful you are in business, if you screw up at home you won’t feel successful.

1. Daily one-on-one time

You can’t have a memorable adventure with your kids every day. But you can spend time with them most days. Make time for your kids where you drop your agenda and pick up theirs every day. Even if that means you play with dolls for 15 minutes. It might help to even start these mini playdates with the precursor, “I have 10 (or 5 or 20) minutes to spare right now.” And then set a timer on your watch or phone that signals the end of that time.

2. Family dinners

My European wife had traditional family dinners growing up, so my 100-hour weeks shocked her in our early marriage. To the point that she asked me to move out when she was pregnant with our first child. We bandaged that wound with therapy and a rough transition over years, but my children can probably only remember having a father who was home for dinner most nights.

7 Habits of success it took Steve Jobs too long to learn.

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And that’s a powerful memory to create whether you realize it or not. Steve Jobs even came around on this at the end of his life. By the time he died his family gathered around the big kitchen table for dinner every night. No Apple devices in sight. Discussing history, books and life. That’s a gift to your children and yourself.

3. Tuck-in talks

Plan to get your kids in bed a few minutes earlier so you can spend a few minutes talking, reviewing the day and generally opening up. Kids will open up when they can see it opens the door to something they want—namely not going to bed. Even when I was working 80 hours a week or more, I still took charge of bedtime so I could get this connection with my kids, even if it was just to read stories. I don’t think they ever knew that I went back to work after reading to them.

4. Stacking

Your life is busy, so sometimes stacking might be the best way to spend one-on-one time with your kids. For instance, when you run to the bank, snag one of your kids and let them get a sucker from the teller. Volunteering somewhere? If appropriate, take a kid and task them with something age-appropriate.

5. Daddy-kid dates

You don’t always have to do something big for daddy-daughter or father-son dates, but you should be doing them. I personally ran my kids to school, and stacked in breakfast at IHOP as often as possible. My servers came to know that my kids always wanted the clown pancakes. And I have many fond memories of those trips. Make half or more of your dates with children something they pick. Even today, I plan major outings with my adult children. I recently climbed the Grand Teton with my son Mark, for instance.

6. Family nights

This isn’t one-on-one time, but it is your time, freely given. And that’s valuable to your children. With my structured engineer brain, I even set up a family night agenda where I allowed the kids to log complaints with how my wife and I ran the family (and voice compliments.) One of the nights, the kids unanimously stated they no longer wanted to do karate.

7. Learn with them

When my kids told me they wanted to drop out of karate, one of their arguments was, “Why should we have to black belt if you never did?” I thought that was valid, so I decided to take lessons with them instead of against them. I eventually black-belted. Just like I wanted them to do.

Get to work

You’ve read the seven habits, now get to work. And by “get to work,” I mean “get away from work” long enough to develop these in your life. This is how you’ll feel truly successful.

Your best accomplishments should always be at home.

NOTE: This is the latest in our “7 habits” series. Check out other entries in the series here, here and here.

Habits for the Win:

Habits make or break you, so make your habits count. In the Huddle, you'll start implementing habits that make your life more successful every month.

Learn more