Archive for 2014

T is for Time for Your Talent

One of my favorite books on the subject of talent is by Geoffrey Colvin. He says with regards to observing the pattern of super-talented people:

“The work is so great that it seems no one can sustain it for very long.

A finding that is remarkably consistent across disciplines is that four or five hours a day seems to be the upper limit of deliberate practice,

and this is frequently accomplished in sessions lasting no more than an hour to ninety minutes.”

(The quote comes from “Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else” “(p. 71) in the US. Kindle Edition)

Parents: are you allowing your son to spend enough time with his talent? have you structured your daughter’s time so that she has ample, luxurious time to be emotionally engaged with the talent work she is doing?

One extreme is being able to find only enough time per week for a miserly one to two hours of talent development. The other extreme  is spending more than four hours every day in deliberate practice, to the point of spinning wheels through mental exhaustion. Very few fall into the latter category. Most fall into the first mistake because they are simply spending more time going to soccer practice or youth group events than actually working on improving their talent.

Finding time every day for your child to deliberately practice on some aspect of his long term talent can be a difficult task in itself. One way to lessen the time burden is to turn your school time into time that supports your student’s growth in his talent. Have you looked at how you can turn his English composition and writing time into an opportunity to write about an aspect of his talent? For some students this could represent several hours of writing time every week devoted to writing about his talent. Have you looked at her science curriculum and found a way to focus on a particular aspect of science that is more closely related to her talent? If your child has a drawing interest as part of her talent, perhaps a course on the science of light, instead of more biology, would help her understand her talent a deeper level. All of that school time has the potential to be time that can be turned into time being spent to push your student forward in his or her talent.

The alternative of being creative with how you use your child’s school materials is for your son or daughter to be forced to find left-over time slots at the end of very busy days. If such is the case, that means more often than not, that your student is not really making any significant progress in his growth. He won’t be able to achieve lift-off into his world of talent by the time he is eighteen years old and he will fall back down among the hurried and harried young adults looking for a calling in life. I urge you to make a mind-map of all the educational and extra-curricular activities in your young person’s life and brainstorm ideas on how you can make them serve your child’s talent potential.

How to Use Instagram for Talent Development

Are you still using your cellphone like a bat-phone? No idea how the features on it can start making a great impact on your student’s talent? Enter Instagram.

Instagram is perfect for the son or daughter who has a talent that has a photogenic or interesting visual appeal. Instagram is a great way to connect with other talented individuals in the same field of talent.

And all you need to use Instagram is a smart-phone.

With an Android or iPhone you just download the Instagram app like you would any other application. The application is designed to use your phone’s built-in camera. Before you can use it, you create your Instagram account by creating a profile with your real name and add an easy to remember stage name to help people identify you. For example, my 15 year old’s stage name is “BladesofBelaq” and under that name, you will see his real name displayed as “Caleb Harris.”

(Fun fact: Belaq is his name spelled backward and with the letter “c” replaced by the letter “q”. Blades is included in his Instagram name because his talent focus is around the making of knives and blades.)

You can see what my son’s Instagram profile looks from any computer by clicking on this link:

Once your account is created, you are ready to use your cell phone camera to take pictures of what you are doing or seeing. Leave the pictures just as plain as you took them or enhance them with some quick photo filters. When you like what you see, you simply tap on the phone screen and up they go over the Internet onto Instagram’s big computers. This uploading to Instagram makes it possible for anyone in the world with another Instagram account to see your pictures.

If others want to see your pictures on Instagram, they can do it in the following ways.

The first way others can find your pictures is because the Instagram users already know you from reputation. You may have been specifically recommended by other Instagram users or someone may have seen your name recommended in a blog. In such as a case, these users will go straight to Instagram and search for you by your stage name (i.e. BladesofBelaq) or your real name (Caleb Harris). Then they will click the “follow” button that’s available under your name.

By clicking the “follow” button, this tells Instagram to automatically download your photos to your follower’s cell phone for viewing. Don’t worry. Your photos don’t pop onto their cell phone screen willy-nilly. All the pictures coming down are limited in size no matter how big and detailed the original photos were when they were taken. Instagram automatically reduces the pictures to a small footprint on your cell phone screen. This size limitation makes it easy to scroll through hundreds of photos at a time without causing your cell phone to lag. It is a very breezy experience completely different to the one when you try to open picture attachments in emails.

The second way people find your pictures is because the users are searching Instagram for any pictures containing a keyword. At this point others would not be specifically looking for you. The keyword search is one of the things that makes Instagram such a different tool than Facebook.

A keyword is a word in the caption of the picture to which the the photo-taker appends the sign #.  One would do this in the hopes that others would be able to come across that picture if they were to use that word in a search. So for example, someone who is coin collector may want to see all the pictures on Instagram containing the hashtag word “#silvereagle” (do not use spaces). This search will display a set of pictures of American coins known as Silver Eagles. If you had labeled your picture with the hashtag #silvereagle then that particular picture of yours will show up in a large set of pictures from all sorts of Instagram users who also used the hashtag #silvereagle. If viewers see a couple of the pictures they like and those pictures happen to be yours, they might then at that point go to your account and decide to click the “follow” button. Going forward they will automatically see all your photos without having to search for #silvereagle. 

If people want to let you know they appreciated your photo, they simple click the “Like” button and you will see a counter go up as the number of enthusiastic views goes up. This gives you feedback as to which ones impacted your viewers without having to leave complicated messages. In that way the like is used similarly to Facebook. They can also leave a short text comment under the caption of your picture to which you can have short back-and-forth comments with your viewers. But the primary focus of Instagram is to gather around pictures that portray a common interest. There are no re-posts of news articles or re-posts of 3rd party memes. This is why the Instagram experience is so clutter-free.

Parable of the Talents

The parable of the talents, as depicted in a 1...

The parable of the talents, as depicted in a 1712 woodcut. The lazy servant searches for his buried talent because he was too worried that it would be too risky to try and multiply it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christ’s Parable of the Talents

Matthew Chapter 25:


14. “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.
15. “To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.
16. “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.
17. “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.
18. “But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19. “Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

20. “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, `Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’
21. “His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
22. “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, `Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’
23. “His master said to him, `Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

24. “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, `Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.
25. `And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’

26. “But his master answered and said to him, `You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.
27. `Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
28. `Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’

29. “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.


(Translation version: New American Standard Bible)

Audio Books for Ages 5 to 8

Here are some audio books I recommend for the listening pleasure of children ages five to eight years old. It’s a great way to relax your children after a busy day’s work and they will soak in the sounds and rhythm of the English language. Bonus: you can feel virtuous enjoying some quiet catch up time with your spouse while your children are in their room mesmerized by the the classic storytelling.

This list of audiobooks would also be non-irritating for parents to listen to while on a long car ride with young children. In fact they would be more than tolerable:  it represents about 45 hours of delicious voice acting. If you consider that children will love to listen to them at least three times over, that’s about 135 hours of listening time!


A Bear Called Paddington” by Michael Bond

(over 2.5 hours long)


More About Paddington” by Michael Bond

(over 2.5 hours long)


Thumbelina and Other Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

(over 2.5 hours long)


Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales” by Beatrix Potter

(almost 6 hours long)


Wind in the Willows” read by Jim Weiss

(over 6.5 hours long)


Andrew Lang Fairy Books (Blue, etc) by Andrew Lang

(over 14 hours long)


Winnie the Pooh (dramatized) by A.A. Milne

(2 hours long)


The Golden Key by George MacDonald:

(1 hour long)


The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald:

(almost 6 hours long)


Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel

(1.5 hours long)


What Does a Standardized Test Measure?

There is no standardized test to guide you if your child is on the path to contributing something unique to the world. Instead, on the 10,000 hour talent journey, your child is on the path to creating something new, with a new direction of excellence or new combination of skills.

Re-evaluate what you are doing if you are using a standard battery of tests and exams to guide the focus of your child’s work. There is is a possibility that your child is sinking his time and hard effort into already very well served areas of life. Those tests and exams rose up in the context of making it easy to move lots of people down a path of identical expertise as efficiently as possible. Many times, the level of testing for a skill or knowledge base is increased far beyond what is necessary in order to perform the tasks they will be called on to do in their work life. This is to help the narrow the number of people needed because there are so many in that field already. Ponder this for a while.

However if you are focused on creating talent in your child’s life, then what you are trying to do with your son or daughter is different. By definition, unusual talent will not easily fit the existing standard measurement tools in school. Yet most of the time as parents we are trying to make our children fit into a standard mold so that it easily be reward by high grades in a standardized test. That standardized test is a mold designed to produce a specific well-established skill set and a well established performance level. It is not designed to create the new shape of service for the needs of the world. No one is  holding their breath as to whether or not one more person is professionally shaped by it.

What tests would one have used for example to measure the progress of a Julia Child or that of the creator, Scott Adams, of the Dilbert cartoon? If those two people had used standardized tests so as to guide them down a well established path, we probably would not have had the result of both those people’s unique and outstanding contributions to the world. Julia Child might have then become an A+ sous-chef by continuing on with formal training in France and the creator of Dilbert might have made a living designing art covers had he gone to graphic arts school – but we would have missed the talents for which they have become known.

To be clear: tests aren’t bad things in themselves and in fact are quite useful in being able to measure those skills that are held in common and are abundantly needed and provided. Some of those tests your talented child can use to help guide him on short treks through his journey, but he and you should not over-estimate their usefulness. I’m glad my plumber has followed a typical apprenticeship and testing path for his profession as I am expecting him to fix problems in my house that are within the realm of normal. But that is not what talent is about.

The pursuit of standardized tests can be disastrous for real a long-term talent strategy if it is not kept under control. In moderation standardized tests can be used as mini-goals to acquire certain skill packages. The trick is to not confuse them as the definitive signposts to lead your child toward his own amazing talent. Constantly trying to please future standardized tests can draw parents into producing look-alike children that can’t be differentiated from other children in the community. If your children are particularly studious then they wind up doing the common knowledge things very well. This is better than your child doing the average thing poorly, but a far cry from being able break new ground in a particular field of talent.

For example, your child chasing established standard tests could lead him to become so good at music that he is able to perfectly imitate Mozart and the Beatles on demand…but he still can’t bring anything of new and real value to the world. Everyone in the end would still rather just buy the Mozart CD than to listen to his interpretation of those composers. It would have been better for him to be less perfect on those technical skills (and give up on those corresponding exams that prove that technical competency) and spent more time being hyper creative in applying music to a new context.

On a quick recent drive through San Francisco, I saw so many young look-alike art students on the sidewalk taking a smoking break outside of an apparently big art school. They might has well have put a big neon sign in front of that school saying “losers, come this way if you have no idea what to do with your life”. I can only imagine they are being taught to learn to paint like Van Gogh (cool, but already been done) or learn how to carve sacrilegious cuss words into trendy stone benches (not at all cool – has that trend died out yet?!). And then they will end up working for those who are setting the yet-to-be new standards, while they remain obscure artists. What if instead your child could always be ahead of the trend? And maybe find a way at the same time to contribute something to the world that others of great added value and for which they will be financially rewarded?

Signs for Recognizing Good People

A word of encouragement for those of us parents trying to look for signs on how to recognize good people and whose advice you should listen to. These signs don’t need to be revealed in prayer or through fasting. They are good outward signs and sanctioned by God as how to recognize good people. They also reassure us that these outward signs are in fact worth working hard for. Good people need to hear this encouragement so they don’t let decision making in their personal lives be handed over to people with wild lives. Hang in there, Christian friends!

With regards to signs for finding the right kind of people to lead in the church, and by implication character traits by which we can recognize good people we can trust, this is what the Bible says below. This passage of holy scripture is found in the book of 1 Timothy Chapter 3:
“An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
3. not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.
4. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity
5. (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),
6. and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.
7. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
8. Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain,
9. but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
10. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.
11. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.
12. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.
13. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
14. I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long;
15. but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God…”

What is Your Family Identity?

Can your family’s unique set of strengths and quirky interests help your son or daughter’s long term talent? Yes.

Your family’s identity is one of the most overlooked assets for building talent in a child (tip: your family’s identity is what you think others would probably describe your family as). But if you understand how to use your family’s identity, you can use it as emotional jet-fuel. The younger the child, the more leverage you will get out of using your family’s identity to blast your child out of being in a state of being average. Harnessing academic goals and using personal interests are also part of the 10ktoTalent method, but it is the family’s identity that gives you the most emotional leverage in your child’s early years of talent.

Here’s a simple example of how you would enlist your family’s identity to push your child’s talent forward:

Imagine that your daughter has a serious core writing skill she is developing as part of her long-term talent. She takes her craft seriously. She is able to write with poise and conviction. Imagine also that your family’s identity is found in providing hospitality. Your family unit is known for being that hospitable family at church to whom everyone turns to whenever there is person or event that needs to be honored in an appropriate way. Your family knows how to get people together and you take great joy as a family unit in helping others to honor those important occasions in life.

Those two apparent disconnected pursuits could stay disconnected. And that’s how most people would see the situation. Most would look at the fact that your daughter is growing up in a hospitable family as completely the same as her growing up in a musical family…in other words your family’s identity is irrelevant.  At best, it is meant for your daughter to tolerate or pass by your family’s identity as the proverbial ship in a dark night, while trying to find time for herself to carve her own way. At worst, it can erupt into serious family conflict, resolved by either the daughter or the family having to give up their focus in order to sacrifice for the other.

This the better way: you MAKE those two worlds of writing and hospitality connect. This requires some imagination, but not anything outside of a little effort. There are usually several ways that you could come up with to connect two worlds. One way would be to enlist your daughter’s writing skill to enhance your family’s already great strength in the area of hospitality. A writer needs something to write about and needs to write for someone. A young person especially needs quick feedback as to whether what she is doing is appreciated, or if it’s completely a talk to her bedroom wall. This immediate outlet for her writing is what you provide for her through your family identity. In practical terms, this would translate into such things as having her compose short biographical sketches of the people or events being honored for that occasion and in following up after with congratulatory and thank-you notes and summaries of the event for the rest of the people who could not be there. This range of events to be written for, and for which she would almost have free reign within the safety of her family’s sphere of influence, would be amazing. Typical events would be: birthday celebrations, retirement events, wedding showers, baby showers, memorial services, post-ordination receptions, visiting missionaries, receptions for guest speakers, etc. She can easily gauge the feedback she got from exercising her skill. All of this engagement through the use of her writing skills to provide value to others is guaranteed to emotionally super-charge her to want to take her writing skill to the next level.

Notice in the above example at how critical the use of her family’s identity and strength would be at a young age. If she were thirteen and wanted to do such things on her own, most likely she would be blocked (and correctly so) as being too young and inexperienced. Most likely she would not even have the vision or the social savvy to initiate on her own to such a service level to other people. But because it is her parents’ strength and joy to do hospitality, they can easily clear that way for her and protect her from any social danger. Eventually, yes, that daughter, without her parents’ involvement, might find a way on her own to get that involved, but that is not likely to be possible until she as at least sixteen or seventeen. The difference between her parents connecting her talent with her family, and her parents being disconnected from her talent growth is the difference of three years. It is probably even more than that as the developed skills compound in usefulness.

What is your family identity?

Self-Assess Using Dreyfus Model to Measure Progress


English: So called "New Matura" from...

There is no standardized test for your child’s unique talent. That’s because there are not thousands of people like him doing what he is doing. That is a good thing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is your child’s level of talent at this point-in-time? Is he making great strides, but the unique talent doesn’t have a standardized test path against which you can measure progress?

One helpful way your child can self-assess and intuitively understand his overall progress is to measure against the Dreyfus Model of Learning. The six grades of a person’s increasing performance level are labeled as:

  1. Novice (I need to be told when and how on even the very basic steps)
  2. Advanced Beginner (I can do basic steps of a task, but need help troubleshooting)
  3. Competent (I can do most troubleshooting on my own)
  4. Proficient (I’m able to re-arrange task performance routines to achieve goals)
  5. Expert (I’m helping others by being a primary source of knowledge and work intuitively)
  6. Master (I’m breaking new ground in my field of interest and others tell me I appear magical in my level of performance)

By the time you can answer “yes” to evaluating yourself as an expert, then you are probably already performing at a world class level and have accumulated those 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. You start the path as a “Novice” and the best time to start as a novice is as a very young person, not as a soon-to-graduate into adulthood person. When that young, your child is still content to learn with very controlled facts and not under pressure to provide for himself or worry about his future.

(post updated from June 2012)

Knowledge Explosion Means New Unique Talents to Be Created

Stars, and the glow over the Halemaumau crater...

How many clusters of knowledge are there? Where there is knowledge, there can be talent. Stars and volcano on Big Island, Hawaii (Photo credit: LoveBigIsland)

Is it possible for your son and daughter to find a unique and highly valuable way to contribute to the world around them through a talent without having to go to a prestigious school or be born with an abnormally high IQ? Yes, I believe so.

Human knowledge is gaining momentum in depth and scope all across the world and you don’t need formal research to be personally aware of HOW MUCH MORE information there is now available at your fingertips from just the time of your childhood to now. This is a contributing factor as to why it becomes increasingly advantageous for your child to forge his own unique, custom talent growth path. There is so much to be done with knowledge discovered, but not yet applied.

Steer your child away from over-crowded traditional educational paths and download instead the guide “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent” to find your child’s own uniqueness. When you get to the part in the workshop about fusing your opportunities together into a talent opportunity, email me so I can help walk you through that amazing part.

(post updated from June 2013)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Exercise Talent as a Service to Others

This short compilation of aerial videos was taken by my 16 year old son who is on a journey to apply his skills so that can bring value to other people. This latest updated compilation is to show what he can do for businesses that need a view from above of their properties and commercial activities.

In one of those excerpts in the compilation, you can see the first free one that he did for a local engineering firm. Through a fortuitous meeting at lunch in our local pizzeria, a man connected to a big local earth moving project was intrigued by the possibilities of affordable aerial videography. After showing his drone to the man and what it could do, the rest of the engineering team was enthusiastic about letting him fly over so they could have a dramatic capture of the hard work they were doing. My teenage son’s cheerful and diligent turnaround in the following days with behind-the-scene editing and then providing them with links and video copies was what opened the doors for being approached by another engineering team. That team wanted him to document their project in another city – but this time for pay. I’m happy to report that the filming project has now come and gone and was a great success! Another big one is now lined up based on that last success. And on and on, this 10,000 hour talent journey will keep progressing.

What application does this have for your own son or daughter’s situation? Simply that in order to really grow your child’s talent in such a way that it brings value to other people, it is necessary for your son or daughter to gradually and systematically find ways to showcase and deliver to others with some aspect of value. This value for others means that it is not just the product itself that is important, such as the final video in this example, but also that it is served in the location, manner, and timing that is important to those who will benefit from the talent. As a parent, I take this service part of the talent so seriously, that I will halt my son’s normal school work schedule in favor of him being able to quickly agree to an onsite filming schedule that is convenient to the customer. I make the school schedule bend and flex in favor of my son’s talent development. I will make his normal math or English curriculum schoolwork step aside and allow my son to make it up later in the evening or on another day.

No matter where your child is with regards to his long-term talent development, there is most likely some aspect of it that he can use today to bring value to others besides himself. If he gets your creative parental support to find a way to do it at a young age, he will have a huge advantage of not having to wait till he is in his last year of high-school to find that creative application on his own.

Make your child’s education be the slave to your child, not the master. Make it stand up and sit down on your demand. You and your child are the masters.

My Wife and I Talking About our Lifestyle


My wife and I were interviewed by Ryan and Stephanie Langford from

These are the points we talk about:

  • Why starting small can be wise
  • How we decided it was time to become full-time entrepreneurs rather than continue in the corporate world
  • How to help your kids find their passion and develop a marketable skill early on
  • How to find learning opportunities that will develop and challenge you as a business owner
  • Why your own story may be one of the things that helps you most with effective marketing
  • Why professional development matters and we should always keep learning
  • How training kids early in responsibilities and independence allows them the freedom they need to make their homeschooling & entrepreneurial family lifestyle work (and with 8 kids, we should know!)

If you are interested in eventually changing your family life so that you are more of an entrepreneurial focused family, I recommend you sign up for the Langford’s podcast to hear how others are doing it.

Without Actually Causing Himself Harm

safe for next level

How do you know when your son or daughter is ready to step up to the next level of responsibility?

How do you know when it is socially or physically safe enough?

What can you do as a parent to get them to the next level of independence?

The answer to those questions is to decide as parents that you will look for opportunities to put them in situations that are just ***slightly*** beyond the current comfort level for both the parents and the young person.  The goal is not to put them in situations in order for them to “sink or swim”, but rather  to put them in situations where if it does not go as well as it could, the outcome will only be mildly embarrassing or mildly painful in the flesh. After the situation is over, you can assess the outcome as a parent. You either confirm, that yes, your young person is entirely ready to handle those situations on their own OR you can be grateful that you now know the specific areas in which he needs more instruction or guidance from you. In the latter case, you give him that targeted input so that he can improve himself.

For example: you suspect, but you are not 100% sure, that your son might be ready to handle working on a small project where he has been invited to help out with other very talented and focused men. You would ideally want him to be able to do this, but you are also not sure he can handle navigating the tricky water of a such a social gathering. You don’t want him to provoke some of the rougher adult characters by having your son call them out on their rough language, like he would normally be entitled to with a sibling at home. You also don’t want him to be so over-awed by the demanding and exacting orders of the other professionals to that he wilts under pressure. In that situation, do you let or not let  your young man go?

It depends. Say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on the following:

YES: You let him go if you sense that should he accidentally provoke or wilt, the consequences would only go so far as a mild verbal chiding in response to his perceived cheekiness rather than a beer bottle to the head or only so far as having a bruised and blue thigh rather than a severed hand from the use of the power tools. If he only gets slightly hurt, then it is worth it. Next time he will know to be more careful.

NO: However, you should not let him go to a significantly more social or dangerous environment if he might accidentally trigger a fist fight or lose a limb due to his lack of experience. Scale him back down to something safer and let him prove himself first at that level before going to the next.

You can use that same approach when introducing your young person to social media. Start letting him interact with a small and safe circle of friends or acquaintances. Let your son or daughter interact in that zone of safety for a while. If your offspring does not get barked down by older relatives for having over-stepped his bounds and if he doesn’t rile the female acquaintances by insensitive teenage comments, then he is ready to handle a wider social circle. On the other hand, if he manages to make Suzie cry or triggers an upset phone call by an uncle, then you can have a private talk with him about how to better handle the interaction the next time around and/or make amends. Suzie and Uncle Phil will have brushed off the incident by the next day and your son will have learned a valuable lesson. It was worth the risk and now your son is operating at the next level.

In all of this decision making, your goal is not to try and fail him, but rather it is to stretch him and encourage him to go just a little further than he did before.  If there is a little mishap, you are there to help him interpret how he can do it better next time. In this way you are like a coach who wants his athlete to push himself to the next level, without actually causing himself harm.


Burning to Be Able to Say “Plumber”

beginning not end

The question is: “What does your child want to be when he grows up?”

You are burning to be able to say the words “plumber” or “math teacher” or “nurse” because that is something that is easy to describe and you don’t have to explain it to your adult peers. Do you remember when your own parents chided you about not worrying so much about your peers thought? Well, that same principle applies at this stage in life. You must resist the temptation to have your son’s future boxed in terms of today’s fleeting job descriptions.

Here is why you do not want to be able to easily describe your son’s future end-destination: if you are able to fully understand and describe now how that talent will be used a decade out from today, then it means that the specific field of talent will often be over-crowded by the time your child reaches adulthood. Sure, he might make a living based on that job description, but it will probably not change his life in a meaningful way.

Does that mean you should not use not a popular skill with which to start your child’s 10,000 hour talent journey? No, you are not forbidden to do so. You can in fact use a popular or common skill to get started. As long you understand that it is the beginning point from which to embark on a long journey of 10,000 hours. You can expect that the original skill will change so much during that long time that it will have only a small connection to its beginning. During that journey, your young person, with your guidance, will uncover and develop a combination of other skills to add to his mix, until little by little
 he is able to deliver massive recognizable value to others.

Maybe the popular guitar, for example, gets him excited enough to be able to ride a wave of enthusiasm where he can please his teenage friends at their birthday parties. The guitar gives him the tool for making friends and teaches him to be comfortable with larger gatherings. The guitar playing is a well recognized traditional skill that everyone understands, but that is not likely to be his end destination, at least not if you understand the 10ktoTalent method. Most parents confuse a current skill focus as the final destination and will usually panic or accept it as fate that their son is destined to be a guitar player. In their mind “fate” has destined their son to strictly pursue a musical path. They believe that if he deviates from that “calling” then it means he will not be able to be live an emotionally contented life. They also imply that he is meant to struggle financially in that “calling” since there are already so many good guitar players in every town in America. They already know that however good he technically is at guitar playing, it will add little to the already fantastic repertoire available. What most parents don’t realize is that although his guitar playing is not fate, it can still have a role by being used as pathway to new opportunities. The savvy parent recognizes the guitar playing as simply the beginning of a 10,000 hour adventure.

To continue the example: The guitar playing could then get him motivated enough to start tackling the digital recording and editing of his songs to share with others via YouTube or maybe it gets him wanting to project himself in a more poised way in front of small groups. He could start learning how to use an audio editing tool or he could join the local toastmaster’s group for young people. The guitar playing may still play a role in either of those two choices or it may have already completely fulfilled its role and will never be seen again. Either way, on this journey he learns to embrace the fact that there is always a juncture every few hundred hours, at which point he can go to the left or to the right. But in whichever direction he does go, whether down the digital recording road or whether down the road of public speaking skills, he is ALWAYS building on the talent he has already acquired and moving closer to finding more and more relevance to the needs of the marketplace.

So stand up straight and look forward to the years ahead. There is an excellent adventure afoot!

Do You Have a Dryer that Can Build Talent?

When you are encouraging your son or daughter to build an amazing talent, do you have the desire to do what it takes for them to be able to reach that level of engagement? One of the keys to building talent is to understand that in order to get very good, you must break it down into the individual skills and work on each of those separately.

Here’s a short video example of how parents of a professional hockey player had created room for their son at a young age to focus on one aspect of his hockey…by allowing him to beat up an old dryer, hour after hour, day after day, with a hockey puck. They did not have to commute far and it did not involve disrupting their normal family life, but they did make room for talent development a priority. Do you have an equivalent of that dryer in your family life that would allow your young person to focus that intensely on a sub-skill? If so, I would love to hear your story as to how you cleverly made room for that in your child.

Update on My 16 Year Old Son’s Talent Journey

Watch my son’s latest video produced to bring specific value through the use of his aerial videography talent. Also, below is an update on my oldest son’s 10,000 hour journey to amazing talent:

This past week, my son Jonathan Jr. was able to take his talent development into a slightly new direction. This is consistent with our family strategy of remaining flexible to opportunities while building on the skills already acquired. This talent journey started a few years ago when our son was enlisted to help us in our family business by taking product photos for our website. He also interested himself in some of the business mechanics of the home business. We encouraged it wherever he was capable of contributing or understanding.

From simple photo taking projects, he grew into learning how to do small videos of my wife doing her product explanations and editing them for brevity. This again was part of a strategy of understanding that our own family environment had advantages he could learn to use for his own benefit. Keep in mind that my son’s original personal interests only played one part in this successful talent building strategy. The other parts are found in the family’s environment and are identified and released by his parents.

The next phase of his talent discovery and development process came when he met a family friend of mine who let him fly his new quadcopter drone with a small camera mounted under its belly. That’s when he realized that he could marry his burgeoning videography with the new affordable flying drones. The feedback he was getting was that there was room for him to bring value to a market that was not yet crowded. When he compared that opportunity to that of becoming a wedding photographer (a typical destination for those with digital cameras and aspirations of going professional), he realized that the wedding market was already very well served. There were would be little room for him in that venue long-term and he would have to beg and scrape for a living. But with the appearance of drones, he realized that this was an opportunity that he should not pass up. It was the classic case of “luck” coming to those who are prepared.

As he started approaching real estate agents to do some basic aerial shots of houses they had for sell or rent, he realized that he enjoyed to talking to grown adult men in the context of business. This in turn caused me to suggest he tap into the expertise of another family friend who was quite the successful salesperson in the insurance industry. That he did. With a few hours of advice and consulting (such as “don’t charge by the hour, but by the project”), Jonathan picked up some better techniques for pitching his service to interested parties. Soon he was engaged in weekly paying “gigs” that involved filming not only housing property, but also undeveloped commercial property. Each time he finished his project and handed off the finished video to the customer, he would also add it to his website. This built up his website as a living portfolio of his work. That public documentation in turn opened up more deals for him. From real estate aerial filming, it now seems to be jumping into some new opportunities involving documenting engineering projects from the air. This, at least, so far seems to leading him into a possible niche. We don’t know for sure, but opportunities and the dollar value that his customers are willing to pay him will be signposts to which way he should grow his talent.

What did we do right and should you do? As his parents, we did not panic ourselves into forcing a career name onto a growing and emerging talent. This allowed us to actively encourage him to pursue opportunities that we previously had never heard about. Because of this parental flexibility, our son is able to explore a growing field involving the application of new technology. And yet, I still don’t think that my son is yet ready to define himself with a career name, because his opportunities are still growing. For now, I’m okay if he says “aerial videographer”, but I doubt that is his end destination. This should be the same with your young person: have a focus, but expect that this focus is simply a building block to hoist him up to get to new and more exciting opportunities, as of yet unknown.

What are some of the discussions I’m having with him now? We have recently been talking about how he probably needs to get himself declared into a C-corporation, so he can position himself with tax advantages and flexibility in future partnering deals. He’s not making enough money yet that it matters, but we want to position him in the best spot possible for future growth. I picked up the phone and talked to an entrepreneur friend who is recommending we look at incorporating in the state of Wyoming because (among other reasons) it is only $50 filing per year vs. the $800 filing fee per year in California. Maybe Wyoming incorporation is an affordable option for him.

We are also talking about how much pleasure and success he is getting at pitching his service to others. This means he might want to think about how he can concentrate on getting new business. To do so he would have to job out the editing of the raw footage he is now doing by himself through the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription service.  This in turn would mean he would have to start documenting the “recipe” he would want a contractor to follow so that it meets his customers’ needs. These are all conversations now, but our conversations will often lead to meaningful action in the months to come. I take all these conversations as serious, or more seriously, than his ability to memorize the history dates of a Western Civilization course. (By the way, we love and highly recommend the Western Civilization course by Tom Woods of the We know that no one will hire Jonathan to give his opinions on history any time soon, but we are fairly certain that he will be amply rewarded as a young man if he delivers faithfully on his service to others through his talent.

Would you like to read the guide on how to create opportunities like that for your own student? Check out my e-course “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.”


Activities Out of Your Comfort Zone

Today, I read this devastating insight made by another man inside a closed discussion forum that I belong to.

This is what he basically said:

“because many mothers control the homeschool content, even in the latter years of the boys under their roof, they tend to choose activities that train their sons to become good household managers, involving lots of nurturing and lots of household chores. The moms see it as their goal to finally train up a young man to be the kind of household helpers that they wish their husbands were. Those moms seem to not at all be worried and oblivious to the fact that their sons are not being groomed to actually lead and provide financially for a family”

Do no let gender confusion creep into your decision making process for your son. Yes, it is nice that he is making his bed, but is that going to be an appropriate substitute for his future wife when he doesn’t have the unmitigated drive to get on the phone and sell his services for cash? The age of twelve is a good age to start getting him on the path to putting himself out there to get outside jobs done. Those jobs might be brain-based jobs and not necessarily manual labor jobs. Start in small ways and build up. Get your husband involved for brainstorming real young man activities so that you can groom him to be able to look other adult men in the eyes. Those activities will be out of your comfort zone. That is good. Your son is not growing up to be a mother.

Guarantee Your Son’s Motivation

How would you like to guarantee your son’ motivation to learn by using your family’s strengths? Yes, you can do that.

I do not want you to hope your son develops real motivation. I want you to guarantee it.

First, you need to figure out what your family’s strength is. What is your family’s identity and your family’s drive? If you don’t know what I mean, think of what others would probably describe your family as being in this world and think of how others would describe what your family is best known for. That is your family strength. You might have that ONE THING that sets you apart or it might be several things merging together. It might be beautifully simple or it might be beautifully complex. Either way, you can harness your family’s energy to give your son that lift to the next level.

No two families will have quite the same identity, so you must engage your mind around understanding what it is that makes your family stand-out. Are you that family that lives and eats in the mechanical world on weekends and in the evenings, fixing cars and sharing tailgate food with other families at car rallies? Or are you that family that swims in the world of hospitality for your church and in having visiting guests from foreign countries share your daily meals? Those are both identities and strengths that can be harnessed to boost your son’s motivation to work and learn hard.

By the way, that kind of motivation fire will not be found in the back of your son’s textbook or in the eyes of his super-smart tutor. But it can be found within your family, if you know how to identify that energy and then know how to harness it to your son’s benefit. To be clear: your family’s current identity is not your son’s future identity – but, and this is an amazing insight, it is your family’s current energy flowing out of that identity that can be used to super-charge your son’s own motivation to excel.

I can tell you how to do it through my coaching e-course “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.”  Don’t hope for motivation – guarantee it.

How to Handle Social Media

Moms driving into a large city is the same kind of danger and opportunity that faces young people when they bring themselves into the wide world of social media.

Mothers can drive themselves into the city to go meet up with friends at restaurants, shop for bargains for the family, and take their children to activities without being mugged, run-over, or assaulted. How is that possible? That is because they are going into the city with a purpose, meeting up with safe friends, and avoiding unsavory dangerous parts of town. Rarely does a mother feel the temptation to get out and go for a walk in a gang-infested part of a town and try to strike up a conversation with someone who has underwear hanging out over their pants. (if you are a mother and you do you feel that temptation, chances are you are not reading this blog anyway).

It is the same with young people on social media. If they engage in communities on the Internet around a particular purpose, there is little danger. The more they engage with the right people and communities early on, with some helpful pointers from parents on how to avoid the danger spots of the Internet, the more they will instinctively recognize good, healthy, and productive environments. They will correctly “socialize” themselves into the right environment. This is the same kind of guidance as you give when you are teaching them to drive on their own.

This is how you should approach the Internet when giving guidance to young people. Older teenagers need to start shopping, taking care of errands, and communicating with people in their talent world on the Internet, just as they would in real life. Just as in real life, you can set Internet curfews, off limits parts of the Internet world, and give instructions about not having certain friends not being allowed to just hang out with you. If you start the guidance when they are still young, they will be ready to handle the Internet all on their own when they are eighteen.

Gradually, Not Immediately

Building talent in children requires a belief in the parents that it is the sweat, and the focus, and the attention to the skills involved in a talent that will gradually, not immediately, ignite the fire within each person.

Imagine if you approached teaching the skill of reading or the ability to do math in the same manner as the typical person manages the talent discovery process in their young student. “Here son, here’s a college textbook on calculus. Browse through it over the weekend. If it clicks with you and you can solve a few of the problems on your own, then it’s a good sign that we have found your true talent. We can sign you up for the introductory algebra class at that point. If not, that’s okay; we can skip algebra and not waste any more time on math. We’ll keep looking for a talent for you.”

If talent discovery is managed in that same manner, then the child is doomed from the outset at having no real talent in their life, just hobbies that look like talent. And if you ask your child to wander from extra-curricular activity to extra-curricular activity in the hopes of finding their calling in life, then they will be body-snatched into long-term worthless group sports that will do nothing to change their lives.

Instead, become engaged as a parent in the talent discovery process. Find first one thing, then find several things that can be weaved together from their already rich environment into something unique for their future. A personal interest is just one thing and not enough to build a meaningful talent. They need several things and they need your broad vision to put those several things together. They absolutely cannot see all their options at their own young age of twelve, but you can. They need your experienced imagination and they need your boundary setting authority to say ‘yes’ to real opportunities and to say ‘no’ to irrelevant activities.


What Started Me on Talent for My Children

This is what I noticed in the lives of many young people post high-school that first got me launched into organizing our homeschool for maximum talent productivity in each of our children:

  • ill-equipped to take on the marketplace
  • career frustration
  • years of delayed marriage
  • the joy of working snuffed out

But do not worry: you can reverse engineer those problems back to a solution. You do not have to be a deer in the headlight paralyzed for the lack of a plan. And the answer is creating a custom talent that starts in the very early teens. Are you doing that now for your son or daughter?

If the above list of frustrations is not what you have experienced in your own young adult life, then you do not need my help. You are probably going to give the right guidance to your own children. However, if you experienced those problems or you or your spouse are still experiencing those career problems, then please STOP your children going down the same educational path you took for career fulfillment.

If you are following the crowds, then there is high likelihood that you are inadvertently regressing your son or daughter through your curriculum to a composite average of academic skills. If your child is already 18, then yes, there is probably nothing you can do now for him except to beg him to not have as short of a vision and planning mentality as you have had in your youth.

If your young student is still in his or her early teens, then it is not too late. I will help you. I will help you to mine out the gold that is in your unique environment and family situation. That gold can be hammered into a long-term mind-boggling talent.

Read the rest of the article I wrote on this subject for Amy Roberts on her site at