Archive for September 2014

When the Best is the Worst


There are times when you should avoid the best-of-the-best available to your homeschooled child. That’s because if you go for the best-of-the best course on a particular subject matter, you risk getting swallowed into a time sink that will pull your young person away from time available for talent growth.

Let me explain this in more detail. I’m not speaking of the efficiency and clarity aspect of a short course, but about the great depth of accurate and detailed information that the best courses will typically offer.

This is what happens: You get yourself engrossed in a curriculum catalog with a “new and improved” grammar course that now comes with video support, private tutoring, and an online adaptive testing tool.  Instead of ten to 20 hours of grammar study, you can now get 100 hours of grammar support for an even lesser price than when your firstborn child had to go through filling up the “grammar buckets” of knowledge. Should you or shouldn’t you sign up your son for that course, you ask yourself? Well, sign-up of course, you say. (I have been guilty of that same mistake myself in the past!) Because you have no way to determine what will matter most for your son’s future, your default strategy is try and cover all the knowledge bases possible with the best of everything in every category. So you choose that course because you know you can fill up a pretty tall “bucket” of real grammar knowledge. Have you noticed here how it is the curriculum that is driving you rather than your goals driving the curriculum to make it fit your purposes?

Being the dutiful son that you have raised him to be, he then gets sucked into a time vortex of of becoming really, really good at something that will have close to zero relevance to his future. Worse, he might even get “socialized” into believing that a grammar focus is the answer to his future plans when he is getting such good testing feedback, when in fact his real long-talent lies elsewhere. From a talent perspective, you are making him give up 100 hours of talent time. If you repeat this same behavior, for example, with signing him up for one of the best music teachers in your area to fulfill your “fine arts bucket”, your son will be practicing his instrument for several hours a week with great concentration. If you do that, simply because the best musical teacher is available to you, then you will have taken time away from his talent growth. In that music example, you also risk socializing him with musicians when in fact he really should be bonding and making friends with the group of people more connected to his talent.

In both the examples, going for the best in both the grammar and music would make sense IF in fact they were helping some aspect of your child’s long term talent to move forward. Intending to becoming a professional author? Intending to becoming a professional musician? Okay, then yes, take the best of the grammar courses and the best of the musical mentorship. Otherwise the best-of-the-best can be dangerous distractions by stealing your young person’s mind and emotions away from building a real long term talent. Every once in a while, yes, go for the best in an in-depth course available simply for the enjoyment, with no plans on ever using it again. But don’t abuse that consumption – drink with moderation. Do it, understanding that it is not there to be productive for your child’s future.

So what is the better strategy? The better strategy is to recognize that certain courses do little to push your son or daughter’s talent forward, beyond acquiring certain minimum thresholds of knowledge. Study only chapters 2, 3, 8, and 12 of that best course…and then stop. Determine what those thresholds are as related to his or her talent, and then only acquire knowledge up to that point. Let any further granular knowledge be left to what he picks up in the course of normal human interaction. Determine how much formal grammar is necessary and let the rest be acquired naturally as he writes to communicate in his field of talent. Peers, Google searches, (and maybe a wife with an English degree!) will give him naturally the rest of what HE needs for success in his field. Don’t major in the minors. Hold your focus.


What the Angels Eat

dad watermelon


Ever wonder what I look like when you decide to give me a call for coaching you through the talent discovery process? Well, here I am. The beard may or may not stay, depending on how I feel about it in the fall. However let me explain the watermelon prop…

When we moved back to California (about a decade ago now), my wife and I were so excited to be back where there was so much produce and fruit in season. One of the first things we did was to find Al, a local produce guy, who grows exotic and not-so-exotic greens and delivers them to your door on a weekly basis. We could not find enough delicacies like his in the local supermarkets so we signed up, pronto!

Come rain or shine, this guy shows up every week! As a side-benefit, our relationship with Al grew into a friendship where we enjoy his weekly drop-offs as an excuse to talk about latest obsession with this or that new mobile device, how to cook the latest vegetable in season, which local winery is closing or changing, and some occasional philosophizing about children and life. This week was no exception. But this time he also brought me one of his few watermelons, because the watermelon crop was very small due to nights under 100 degrees Fahrenheit this year. So here I am in this pic getting to take possession one of his very few melons as a reward for being one of the original customers…or as I like to think, one of the “preferred” customers  Of course, I had to joke about treating and holding this big fruit like one of my babies. That’s when he took a snap-shot of me. (Thanks, Al! If you are reading this post…do know that we have enjoyed your friendship over the years and we keep looking forward to your bounty.)

So that is me. And when I answer that phone I am not going to have any problem understanding your homeschooling situation. I love to roll my sleeves up and help you uncover something unique about your family’s environment that is going to translate into talent for your son or daughter. I get even more excited about talent in children than about Al’s watermelon, so you know these will be good sessions.

Create the Young Entrepreneur Mindset

sharp entrepreneur

Afraid that the clock is ticking too fast and that your soon-to-graduate high-schooler might have to retrace a similar path to yours in his young adulthood? You know, those early years of being the kind of person who had to wait for an employer to tell you where and how to work and at what time to wake up?

Do you instead want to find a way to start encouraging the behavior and mindset of a young entrepreneur inside your teenager’s mind?

Enter Ryan Finlay of . He has a program for teaching young wannabe entrepreneurs on how to make money buying and selling appliances on CraigsList. Those principles can apply to selling other types of items your son or daughter has a special interest in. To boot, there are no age or employment restrictions just because he is a minor! That’s because your child would NOT be working as an employee for someone else, but for himself when he is buying and selling on CraigsList.

Ryan had a special on his that ended on Wednesday September 3rd. Subscribe to his newsletter so you don’t miss out on opportunities like this.

His blog post said:

“…It only takes selling a few machines per week to make $800-$1000 extra per month. Average profit is $100-$140 for basic washers and dryers. To do this, a person would need to pick up a washer/dryer set once per week. Then in their spare time, test, repair and post the machines back up for sale. Deliveries can be scheduled when convenient, or all they can be done on the weekend. The broken machines are hauled back, repaired and then resold, which makes for a very efficient use of time.

There are many readers that buy and sell bicycles part time. They pick up bikes that need a little work for a good price. Bring them back to their apartment or home and fix them up, test them and then post them back up at market rate. Profit for each bike can range from $50 to several hundred dollars…Why you should focus on one type of item…”

How Publishing a NON-FICTION Book Gets Done by Tom Woods

Sneak peek by “celebrity” Tom Woods on how publishing a NON-FICTION book gets done today. Economics and political analysis and teaching is part of that person’s talent and he has something to write about that others want to read. If you have a young person that hopes to one day write about his talent for book publishing, in order to support himself financially, listen to this very clear podcast.

Tom Woods reveals that the numbers are NEVER in the millions of copies, even when you make it to the best seller’s list. Set your money expectations accordingly. He explains the role of books opening doors for you in your overall strategy of providing your talent value to the world. It is part of a broad approach to your talent market, not a single strategy for supporting yourself (he even talks about a blog as part of his strategy!) He has had eleven books published so far. He knows what he is talking about as a successful author.

He covers these topics in this episode: 

How do I submit a manuscript to a big publisher?

Do I need an agent?
How do I find one?
What are the benefits of traditional publishing?
What are the benefits of self-publishing?
How much does an author earn from the sale of a book?
How many books do nonfiction authors typically sell?
What’s the indispensable ingredient for getting media exposure for my book?