“How is the most important job the one we have the least information for?” Richard Mulholland on DADicated.com
Richard Mulholland, an amazing entrepreneur, storyteller, insanely creative and of course a very interesting Dad. I love Richard. He is funny, intriguing and smart and his will to self-optimise is astonishing. I truly enjoyed listening to Richard’s perspective on being a dad.
Richard is the founder of presentation powerhouse Missing Link, as well as the co-founder of 21Tanks, HumanWrit.es and The Sales Department. He has written three books; Legacide, Boredom Slayer, and Story Seller. He was voted top 40 under 40, and top 300 South Africans to take to lunch. Mostly though he's a husband, father, son, brother, and uncle. Richard has spoken in over 30 countries on six continents and works with executives and speakers around the world, helping them deliver unforgettable presentations that activate audiences and generate income.
Richard is 45, he is married to Jess and has two children from his first marriage. His son Callum who is 17 and his daughter Bailey who is 12. Second marriage now 8 years.
In the session Richard shares his own journey and how ultimately his divorce helped him to become an involved and passionate dad, how he realised he needs to stop lying to himself and stop prioritising work over family. We discuss his time as a single dad and his family setting after he remarried. We talk about his own dad, the role of step-parents in the parenting eco-system, how we can help fathers owning being a dad and Richard’s life hacks and family systems.
The most powerful takeaways for me as a dad where:
Richard Mulholland (guest):
Philipp Hartmann (host):
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Richard, I'm super stoked to have you on. It took way too long. I think two years, you helped me a great deal in the beginning with getting my mind around however, I wanted to position this thing and I had this idea, but you had formulated it. And, it was very valuable for me. I know you didn't even know me at the time you were so gracious. You were like, yeah, sure, let's meet for lunch. This is this, I know you do this for a living, but of course, I didn't have cash. So it's like, Richard can I buy you some fries and a Coke, which is what I did. And so it was amazing. Thank you for that. I'm super stoked to have you on, I know you have an interesting story as a dad because you said a few sentences about it but never actually talked about it in detail. From a business perspective, of course, I know you from EO and you run this amazing businesses like Missing Link and you do speaking and I enjoy your content. .And so I would like you to maybe give a quick intro on the business side of things, and then we'll dive straight into Richard the dad.
Great. First of all, thanks so much for having me. I mean, as you know, I've been following your journey and it's just so exciting. I think what you're doing is so important. There's so much telling us how to do the things that end up meaning less than a life and not nearly enough content on the thing that probably means the most to us.
And so I just think something like this is so valuable. My name is Richard Mulholland, I own a company called Missing Link that I started when I was 22. I'm 45 now. So more than half my life, I've been an entrepreneur. It's a presentation part. How so our job is to help train and develop, present presenters and speakers to deliver the talk of their life. We want to make sure that when you get onto that stage, you give the best talk you’ve ever done in your life.
Whether it's a marketing pitch or a big event, we're indifferent. We just want to make sure that you activate audiences everywhere. So that's kind of my professional life. As a father. I have two children, a son called Call who's 17 years old, and a daughter called Bailey who will be 13 in October.
I know that you’re an amazing speaker, I know that, and your thinking around presentations is crazy. Okay. Off-topic, but I saw that I saw that presentation of yours on Zoom the other day in terms of how to present it. Now in Corona, in principle, it's to present it at a distance on how you prepare for the presentation where you place the window. Now not having them present all the time, all the time on these codes.
Now, can you see me? Yes, we can see you. That's not necessary.
Do you know what the problem is for most of us? And I guess this is off-topic, but you know, it can't hurt to do a few seconds on this because a lot of us have reached the Okay plateau. So we got to a point where it's good enough and when you get to good enough, you just kind of be like, okay, well, this is, this is good enough.
It's like typing. I'm a passable typist. I'm not a great typist. I've typed every day, but I'm not getting better at it because I've kind of just paused. And I think most people are like that when it comes to presenting. And especially this presentation online is that we're good enough and it works so we can just do it.
And I don't think that should be the case. I think public speaking now, or, you know, you've been given somebody's attention and I think that's always something that you should be trying to do the most with, you know, when somebody pays you with attention, it's the one thing that they can't, you know, it's just, it's such a gift and you should always be trying to level up in that regard.
I know you're getting it every single day, so people can find it on that. Can you share a little bit of us with us? How were you, how was your journey as a dad? I know, like, what did you, what happened? How did it go? How was it for you becoming a dad being a dad? How was your dad? Like what was good? What was bad? What made you happy, made you sad?
Sure. There's so much. , so let's start with my dad for a bit, right? My dad, I mean, like my dad's amazing. He's incredible. He is the patriarch of our family. He's just, he's just held up there by everybody. , he's an amazing storyteller. He's phenomenal. He’s like, even my cousin, who's got a different surname, has Mulholland in their middle name because there's like, this is our family clan.
This is our kind of family line. And, even though she has never been a Mulholland herself, her kids have that Mulholland just because it's almost a tie back to this family structure that my dad created that said, my dad wasn't very present. My dad is an amazing grandfather and my dad became a far better dad the moment he became a granddad, which is quite weird. And it's not to say he wasn't good. Like he was just figuring things out. You know, my dad's dad died when my dad was three and my mom's dad died when was seven. Both of the things that by the way now would have been just, you know, walking in and out of the hospital and you'd be okay.
But, so my dad never had a frame of reference of what this fathering thing was supposed to be. So, you know, he was out there and he was working and he worked on broadcasting. So he traveled a lot. So like, I remember there was a time when my parents separated and they'd separated for like two months just, they had their 51st wedding anniversary this this this week, and they separated for two months, and before I realized because I was so used to, going to bed before my dad got home from work or the pub and leaving in the morning again, for school before, like, you know, I know was just like, I was used to not seeing him around. And, he traveled so much for work that it didn't feel odd-even on a weekend for him to be away because he worked in broadcasting.
That said like a lot of the values I have. I know that they're here from my father. And, some of the things that define me in some ways, it's also from him, even if, you know, he was, he is still a big drinker, enjoys a bevy and it was a good Scotsman and I've not drunk since I was 19 years old. And a part of it is like, and sometimes I look at my dad when he, and I think like, this is the smartest funniest guy I know. And like when he drinks and he gets to a point, then I'd be like, well, he's changed and he's not that anymore for me. And I thought, well, I don't want that to be the case for me. And so there was a big deal for me and, you know, very formative and changing my mindset there. But when I look at the father I want to be, so much of it is if I want to be like my dad like there's so much of who he is as a person that informs and shapes who I am. So there's no, it doesn't even the things where I’m like, Yeah, I would like to do that a bit differently. It's not a judgment in any way. It's just like, Hey, I want to kind of do this my way.
So, I had a father who was amazing, but not as present and wasn't around maybe all the time. And I think I wanted that to be different, but I, like, I messed it up at the beginning completely. You know, my I've, I'm now married to Jasmine, we're coming up to eight years now and, you know, as mentioned, I have a 17-year-old and a 12-year-old, so there was, my, from my first marriage and I completely messed it up.
I completely prioritized work. And I, I like, I think it was very bad in the formative years with my kids specifically, my son, like I thought, like taking him, pushing him around the shopping center in a, in a trolley was going to be fine for him while I was reading a book or I've been doing shopping on the weekend. And the lie that I told myself was that I was working, for them, like I'm going to work, building a business so they can have a better life. And only now, like through kind of therapy. And years later I was able to realize that it was absolutely a lie. , I wasn't doing it for them. I was doing it for me.
They were a convenient excuse and the way I knew that as I realized now, would I have been doing this if they weren't around as well? And of course, the answer was yes. So it wasn't like I was going and working my arse off because I wanted to just be a good father. I was working my arse off because I wanted to be successful in the eyes of the world.
And the fact that that gave me a margin that I could redistribute to my family I realized that I'd prioritize them second. So, I mean, I know we want to unpack that a little bit, but that was my entry point, that was kind of the first moment of realizing you're lying to yourself and you're lying to everybody else.
00:09:26 should realize this is the point where you said, Hey, this is the extra beanie. That's a good frame of reference. If, if they weren't around. Yes, of course. When did you realize this?
There were, there were two times, right? So once my ex called me out on something and it was like, it's like a story I tell quite a lot in talks when I talk about working hard. But, it happened like this, so I don't play golf. I didn't go away on weekends and do all of these things.
I would go to the office and I would work and she would take me, so there was a couple of key moments where I think I started to land for me, but one was a fight that seems quite comical when I tell it now with my ex who I'm still friendly with. But, we were arguing and it was about me working weekends. And I don't play golf and I didn't do all these other things. And she was saying to me, why are you working the whole time? Why are you, you know, why aren't you home with us? And I was like, you know, it's not like I'm out on the weekends.
Like this person, this person is playing golf. I am at work. And she said it doesn't matter. You love your work. And I was like, okay, y'all fair enough. And work for me. The truth is like for many entrepreneurs work is your hobby, right? , like it's, it's pretty much the funniest thing that you do. Like, this is really what works, for the most part, has been for me. It wasn't particularly difficult. It was a lot of fun and it was very rewarding. So it's like a really fun, really fun hobby for me. And, as soon as I accepted that that she was spot on, like, it seemed comical to me at the time that she was. Yep. Fair enough. You're right. I do love my work, but, then, it was when I started to ask, so am I doing it for them? Cause if I was, they don't want more, they don't want more money. They don't want a bigger house. They just want me to be in the house more. And I kind of wasn't willing to do that. And that was partly because you know, my, my ex and I, we went for a walk along the promenade and we decided that we wanted different things and we hugged and split up and we shared a lawyer over one lunch and we sorted everything out.
Like it was very. It's very, very happy to sort out. We both wanted to be with somebody that could make us happier, but, the net was, the best thing for me about this and I don't want to glorify divorce, but all of a sudden something changed because I was getting the children every weekend, Friday through Sunday, and I would fly from Joburg down to Cape Town. We'd moved to Cape Town. I would fly down. I'd pick up the kids and I would have them the whole weekend. I'd drop them off and I would fly back. And all of a sudden for the first time, I became a father. Because up until that point, I'd been a personal assistant to the mom. That's how I felt. I felt like I was told, go and put them in the bath and things would happen.
I'd land on a Thursday evening. I would walk home and you say, thank God, you're here. Go bath the kids. I'll be like, I've been working all week and blah, blah, blah. And we'd be fighting about who bathed the kids. But then when we split up and I had the kids, I realized bathing was like a fun thing.
So something that was going to be enjoyable for me later, I was using as a bargaining chip in a marriage that was going through turmoil. And so the kids doing duty as a dad became like, like something like it was a grudge purchase for me, which, I mean, I feel terrible about now, but it just is what it is.
So all of a sudden these two kids, you know, it's me and the two children against the world, for two and a half, three days a week. And I, at first I would like, phone my sisters and ask them to popover and I’d find everything to do, but then I started stopping, wanting to see anyone because I treasured that time so much. It now was me and the kids against the world. And all of a sudden, like, I, I did feel that now I'm a dad. Now, I'm having nobody tell me what to do. I'm figuring out what to cook. I came up with these dadcipes, chicken strips and noodles were their favorite and made-up recipes. And we cooked together and we did fun things together and it was just me and them.
And yeah, basically it was like chicken strips and two-minute noodles, and like a packet of cheese sauce. They think it's like some gourmet meal, but like its dad, can we have some stri-noodles? You don't want stri-noodles now kids, you know, better. They were fine when you were kids. But yeah, so that was, that was bizarre I think, ah, and again, please understand I'm not glorifying divorce, but it did two things for me. One, it gives you an absence from your children because instead of being a full-time dad, you realize that time with kids doesn't matter as much as intentional time with kids.So that was one big thing.
So all of a sudden, what was great for me was I was going to be around the whole time.
And when I was with the kids, what mattered was, it didn't matter that I was away from the kids for four days a week. It mattered how with them I was there for three days, I was there and I liked it. I didn't want to see people, I didn't want them to intrude on my time with my kids. And eventually, the deal was, if you wanted to see me on the weekend, we had to, you know, be going to Deer Park or doing something kid-friendly because that was my priority.
And the second time was...
well, no, the first time was when we had that argument and then the second time was, yeah, after I'm the captain. Yeah.
And how has, how has that today, have you spoken to them about it? I mean today before Corona, you still traveled a lot. Like, how do you deal with that today?
You do it now more consciously, like to give you a context I've spoken to one father, this comes up a lot. You can work yourself into absence. I spoke to, you know, him, Connor, Neil, and he has, he speaks very highly of you, and he has a picture on his desk of his daughter. And when he needs to travel, he asks her if he can, like, he physically asks her, if it would be okay for her to go on this business trip and only if she says yes, he will do so. That's quite consequent right. How do you do that? Do you speak to the kids now, you know being very aware of the fact that traveling can be very impactful with your dad and with your own story, how do you guys deal with that in the family now?
So I have a massive love for Connor as well. He's amazing. I have spent time with his family and his daughter, both in Ireland and in Spain. I have, I always travel with me. I take with me, photos of my, both my families, obviously my parents and my sisters and my kids too. This goes with me everywhere. When I travel, I don't ask permission and for me, I wouldn't feel that wouldn't necessarily go with my values. I've asked for permission twice.
And I'll explain to you both those times, but, the reason being that if they said, no, I would say, well, I've got to go anyway. Like it's, it's just not feasible for me not to go. If I said, hey, I've got to go away this month to San Diego to do a talk and they said, hh, I don't want you to go there, I'd be like, well, sorry. But I have sat down and said,
you can take them.
I could take them. And in fact, there are times when we look at that now, but, you know, with me traveling when they're at school, that's tricky, it's easier for me to take Jas. In fact, what has happened on numerous occasions, I've sat with them and said, guys, you understand that this isn't my first choice, like traveling and doing these things it's not super glamorous. You know, like last year I was, I was on a speaking tour over my birthday and the first person who said happy birthday to me in person was at 6:00 PM. And I was in a different time zone. And like, I missed my birthday and I hated it. Like I was close to tears then, you know, I’m very driven about my family and I want them around and we have a big ritual around how we all set goals.
We can chat about this later, how we all set goals on our birthdays and things. And, yeah, it just felt completely, that was frustrating, but, this leads to the two times I asked for permission and it ended up being the same, the 11th birthday for both kids. I was, sorry, the 12th birthday of both kids on both their 12th birthday is bizarrely. The one I was in the middle of this, Canadian speaking event well I was speaking at that stage with, Warren in Utah, Warren Rustand who you've had on your show and then the other event I was speaking at was in Guadalajara a few years before that. And so it meant that I was going to miss their birthday.
The one was like one of the first big international events I was ever given. So it was very, very important that I did it. And then the other one was part of a much bigger tour that if I dropped out of that, I would have lost a huge amount. And in both cases, I sat down and I explained to them what it was. And I told them, I said, I'm, really, sorry. I said, if you want me to stay, like I, in this case, I felt strongly then that if they said, you know, stay, then I would have, it was their birthday. And they're both like, no, no, don't be silly.And this is cool. And a both times, Oh, sorry.
The one was, the second one was actually with LinkedIn. , I'm getting this wrong, in Chicago. And in both cases, they sang happy birthday. The entire audience sang happy birthday to my kids, which is cool. And I sent them the video and that was super nice. It ended up being cool. It's quite endearing to an audience guys. This is a really big deal for me before this starts, I'm missing my child's birthday. Would you mind that we all sang happy birthday to my kid, you know?
Yeah, of course. I mean, just that idea. One of these days when I grow up, I want to book you for my dedicated….
So that was, those were the two times so, but we speak about it, but the other thing is, and again, just. This is just a by-product of being divorced. Is that by being divorced, like my daughter, we separated when she was one year old. So, by design, she has no concept. Living in one home with both parents at both times So she's used to seeing, we do one week off, one week on one week off. So the kids go on a Sunday night and they come back on a Sunday night. We have dinner together on Wednesday. So for, for, for my kids, me being
Hold on. I just want to put that into context because I know that, but the audience doesn't, so you are full-on actually a single dad. And we talked about that before and I came back to it, but I just want to draw attention to that point. You are full on a single dad. Were, at the time.
Yes, I was at the time, but now, for example, you know, a couple of years then Jas and I got together, we've been married for a while and I mean, she's just absolutely incredible. So, so we have, but what is quite nice for us is we have a week where, I'm always a parent, but we have a week where parenting is part of our job. And then we have a week. In which being a husband and wife is our core job and that alternates every week.
Can you explain that concept? That's very interesting for everybody I’m sure.
Well, I know that there are couples, couples who are together, who manage the, I've heard of, and Microtrends, the book, they talk about some couples who live in and they have different homes and they do different things with the kids at different times. So like during the week, like last week, we all watched Rush Hour together. The movie with Jackie Chan, that's like an evening, this week, Jas night, shagged on the couch, you know, like there's, there are things you can do when the kids are not with you, that you can't do when the kids are with you. So, what happens is one week we're eating together, all four of us, we're all chatting about things we will be doing. Like maybe more family-oriented things. And then the next week, like last night Jas and I had, I had a bath and went to bed early, like it was so we can, we can behave. So I get to be an unmarried couple in love every second week. And then that fills my tank up and I miss my kids during that period. So then I get to be an engaged father next week.
You've had, you've had on and off the week on week off for how many years?
We’ve had week-on week-off for like three years now. And before that four years when I moved full-time to Cape town. So for 10 years, 11 years, I commuted 10 years. I commuted. No, it must be nine.
Yeah. Well, sorry. No, I commuted longer, but of course, Bailey wasn't, we weren't separated then, so I commuted for 10 years to Joburg, Monday to Thursday, and then Thursday through Sunday night. And I, when we moved down to Cape Town, then we moved full-time, I sold my house in Joburg at that point then I've, we've had a week on week off. And for it, there was a, a year and a bit where my son lived with us 100% full time. So even if I was traveling, he stayed with Jas. There was a little bit of conflict, with him and his stepfather.
Yeah. How was that for him? How was that for him with, with, the new wife, assigned the role of the caretaker? She will never be the mother, I guess, but like, how was that for him? How did he deal with that as a son?
Stepparents have a very interesting domain. You know, like Jas has sometimes said to me, you know, I'll never be their mom. I and I've said to them on the flip side, I'll never be their stepdad because there's a very, there's a beautiful relationship between, when it's done right. And again, my kids, I mean, the line my son said to me the other day, he was fighting with Jas about something. And he said to me, dad, don't get me wrong. I know we won the stepmom lottery. Like I know we've got the best step-mom in the world, but he was frustrated about one thing.
The role of a stepmom is quite beautiful because they get to transition the line between parents and also a friend. So there are certain things that, that, you know, Jas might sit me down and say, listen, you know, the kids told me something or things like this. And I think it's time you knew, that they'll go to her with a lot of confidence so they wouldn't go to myself or my ex, my ex for the first. So she's built that relationship now when Cal was not getting on with Andrea and her husband, for him, staying here with Jas was amazing. He felt like he had a place where he could escape to, this was his home. There was much lower tension. It was, it was great. And one of the things that happened quite early on, and this, this kind of speaks up to the, to my ex and how she was, is that I was traveling and it was my week when we started the week on week off. And I was traveling for four, two and a half weeks. And she said, Oh, if you're traveling do I get the kids then the whole time? And I said, well, no, you know, we built our entire life around, you know, those alternate weeks Jas takes the kids to school. She's making them lunch, she's built a whole life around the structure of that week. And I said like, just because I'm not there, you know, we can't, and, and Andrea was immediately, she didn't even let me finish the sentence. Like, no, that makes total sense. Sorry I didn't think about it that way. So whether I'm there or not, the kids are here because a step-mom is a part of the parenting ecosystem. I wrote an article once on how lucky my kids were. They had this four parent structure and they got, you know, Andrea's ex was, this, a full on cyclist, Ironman, super fit, always out wanting to do stuff on the weekend and I was never going to be that.
So I was never going to go on a 10 K bike ride, with Call, but, you know, he would, and so they got this benefit of different parenting styles and different things and, and so it worked out very well for us.
That is a very beautiful way to look at it. Yeah. And it's, it's true. Of course, it, however, dictated that people, adults behave like adults, like grownups, and not mess up the separation phase. And then they,often it's just flames and burnt soil. So it doesn't help anybody. Tell me about how you get to goal-setting on birthdays,please.
So. A few years ago, it started with me. So I went to the GLA, the year's Global Leadership Academy. And what I did realize after that is I wanted to be more intentional about things.
So one of the things we did is we traveled as a family. We did, for over a year, we did five breakaways, and over those, those family getaways,we created a clan credo, which I'll happily read to you in a second. But one of the things, when I came out there, was being intentional, being aware of each other. So I thought I hate that, like I was getting into my, I was just in my forties and I hate that 41 felt indistinguishable for 40. Like everything was just a blur, no year had a theme or a thing, or what am I trying to achieve? And I thought like we do new year's resolutions and we start them at this kind of mandatory everybody's off 2020, but 2020 is just like a Kevin big year that I exist with them.
But my 45th year on this planet right now, I'm going to, I want it to mean something. So I have certain goals. So what we do on the night of your birthday, we will do something. We might invite family over early, like 4:30 or whatever. And they would come for things like tea and cake and all this kind of stuff. And then come seven o'clock if we can pull it off, sometimes with the kids, we've ended up, maybe we ended up doing this the next day or the night before, come seven o'clock when we kicked the family out. And then whoever's birthday it is, they get to choose what meal they want. So they choose the meal. They want us to sit down, and we prepare everything.
And then as a family, afterward, we sit and we go through their birthday goals. So then, we would go and we'll reflect on the goals the person made the year before on their birthday. And we will go through what they were and how they did. And, you know, did they achieve what they wanted their 12th year to be. And then what we'll do is we'll set a whole bunch of new goals in different categories with friendship, with things you want to learn with hobbies with, you know, what things matter to you, family as well. And so one of my family things is to watch a Ted talk together every month. You know, that's my family's goal.
So then what happens is once we've set that birthday person's goals, it's primarily their day. We reflect on everybody else in the family's birthday goals on how they're doing. So, hey, what did you achieve? What are you working on? What can we help you with? And it's not about like, I know some people think that it's, Oh, it's too hard, too much pressure on children, but I don't think it is. I think like my kids are, my kids have goals that they have,
do they say, I want to do a kickflip or something? Or
is this all like, so Bailey's here, just, was that she wanted to get a gold medal in nationals. So she wanted to get a medal in nationals for gymnastics. So she got to nationals, she made it into nationals. So that was like a half-point. And then she didn't get into the middle of this year. So like she wanted to keep that. So that was just before October. So she's not wanting to keep that this year now nationals has been canceled. So. Okay. I have to carry it over, but that was that, with Call, he wanted to place, top of his class in math and science. So, like, that was one of the things he wanted to do. But then he also, there was a particular move in this one game he does, like a kill ratio to something, whatever it was. I can't remember what it was, but he wanted to achieve a certain score in this game. The game was Destiny at the time. And he wanted to, to, to get a certain rank and a certain thing by the end of the year. And then, I have like, I want to be able to do a hundred double-unders on the jump rope, which, which I've now achieved. I want to build to do 25, but I'm not even close. I'd like to be able to do 25 pull-ups on my birthday but I'm like between 10 and 12 on a good day. So I've got to work harder, but yeah, so, so we try and sit down and the whole thing is I want my kids to go through life intentionally.
Like, I want them to feel like they're working towards something, not just moving forwards, you know, life shouldn't feel like a treadmill. It should feel like something we're working towards. And this isn't true for just children. This is true for adults. So many adults I know are just existing.
They think progress is moving forward, but the progress is always moving towards successes on the important but measured against intent. I give it, you know if I walk down the street now and find a million rand that does not like, Hey, I'm a self-made millionaire. Like that was, there was a happy accident. You know, if I said, Hey, I want to make a million random words in the next two months. Well, then I've got to go out and get that that's intentional. And I think living with intent and having victory conditions and small ones that give you dopamine bursts of winning quite often is, is powerful. The most important thing though is as a parent, I don't get to vote for their goals. I don't get to editorialize them. I don't get to trivialize them.
Yup. Because those goals are serious, you can't achieve, say ranking in that, in that computer game, in a certain bracket, in one day, because you fight against the whole world. Everybody's very good. All these kids are very good at this.
And so do you moderate. So like I said, the goal is kickflip. Okay. You can achieve that in two weeks. What do you think I need for, or do they come up with the goal themselves entirely alone as well as with the timeframe as well as, and that's another question. Do you define activities underpinning that, that goal, because just the intention is not enough? You need an intention and then you need to drive activities against that intention with intent.
I agree with that, I don't think we've formalized it that much. It's literally what are the four big things you'd like to achieve this year and a family hobby sport and my case business and things like this. And we share it. There might be some things where maybe as a family, we slightly we'll discuss things, come on. Like you, you can just do that tomorrow. You know, that's not like there's something you've got to feel like is important. It's got to feel like, yes, this is it. And then also like having a core theme, like what's the theme. Two years ago, I was 20 kilograms heavier. My, my theme was I wanted to be in shape. Like I want to feel healthier. So I had a year and I'm one of a hundred goals that I have, I've got this kind of sheet of a hundred goals, to live a year with month on month health improvements. And so like, I, I tracked every month. Did I improve my health? Did I do this thing? So my kind of victory success criteria at the end of the year was that I was healthier, but that I've intentionally had a month on month improvement. Oh, and by the way, one thing on who wants a similar goal?
Like it got boring for me. So there would be like, I'd be working on my weight for three months and I'd be like, I don't want to focus this much on my weight. This year I want my health to be how many pushups can I do? So I did sets on pushups. And I didn't want to let my weight drop, but I was sick of just being on a diet, so to speak.
So I intentionally made health improvements, not just weight. And I just made sure I was measuring against whatever goal I set for myself.
Do you track your time? I mean, I track my time. Like I track this is tracked as being a Dadicated, being that production in my little app. And I track how much I sleep, I track when I work and what I work on and when I don't work.
And when I waste time on social media, I track that too. Do you your time or do you just like to try and schedule things and try and work against them?
So I time block, which is not the same as time tracking. So my time is tracked, in forwards. So what happens is a lot of my diary is already pre-filled with things that say, work on this, here, do this there.
So I've blocked out sections of my diary to work on it. What I do track is I track, I mean, Obviously, for an audio podcast, this is not handy, but every single day I give myself a new day's resolution. And at the end of the day, if I make that day's resolution, I give myself a little victory emoji. And if I fail, I give myself a little poop emoji.
And what happens at the end of the week, as long as I make a five out of seven days, then my week is a win at the end of the month.
So, for example, I'll give you some examples. So, yesterday it was sub-two K and no CCCC. So, I must eat less than 2000 calories eating, and eating more chocolate, chips, cookies, or, cake. So nothing or cereal, like nothing of the fun c’s that be
is this recurring or you to make it up in the morning,
make it up in the morning. So I'll do whatever, I've got a morning routine. So, today's was Do the to-do. So I'd set out a bunch of a list of stuff that I'd wanted to do and I sat there and I just kind of put off and today's was quite a business. You work, you run. And on Sunday I decided to learn three things about my craft. So, this was much harder than I thought it would be. I set out and I said, I must learn three new things about presentation. I owned a presentation company for 23 years, but I made it and I did a presentation to my staff on Monday morning on it.
So three things about a presentation that I didn't know already. So I thought of doing that. Saturday is no CS. Friday was to finish a module. I was at. Thursday was to send three sales emails to C-suite people. I had to swallow the frog with a hard task I'd put off. Wednesday was sub-2000 calories on the previous Tuesday and Monday, the previous was no chips, chocolate things.
I like that you're not doing a year resolution, you're doing a day, so you can achieve that day. And if you do 1% every day, I guess that's the same. Months over months improvements just in smaller increments overall, it becomes much easier to achieve a bigger goal. Is that your thinking behind it or not really?
So it goes on to the idea that I want a year to be successful. I want it to be meaningful. I want it to feel like, yes, I did something. So again, if I make five out of seven goals, then the week was a win. If I make three out of four weeks, the month is a win.
And if I make 11 out of 12 months, the year is a win. So basically I'm trying to prove that you can, have done it for three years now. I'm trying to prove that new year's resolutions are completely hackable and the reason new year's resolutions don't work, cause we don't allow a margin for failure.
Like we expect of ourselves and in fact, over children, which is a massive flaw, perfection, and everything. Like we've got to bake failure in this part of the algorithm.
Yeah, I do it too, but I do it with presets. So I do the 10, 10, 10, or I try to, and so you can see the monthly achievements, and then I've got something similar to you, five out of seven. I do it five times a week. No alcohol, like one beer, is alcohol so that doesn't count anymore. And then it's like lockdown wasn't so good. But before that was good or it's fine. Like this, this is sitting at like 22. So like on the weekends, I'd have a beer or wine with Vanessa or whatever, you know, you always need to unwind. Sometimes we play backgammon in the evening. Like every third night, we don't have a night shift because the triplets don't sleep yet. And then I have date nights at home, you know? So that's that. I like that, man. I love that.
It's important to allow yourself to win. So we don't like a lot of people, they wait for big things to count as a win. Like it's like they're working towards something too long. Every morning I wake up, I read I'm right now, reading one passage of Eric Kruger's exit on Verba. And then I read one passage of a calendar of wisdom by Tolstoy. Then I do my new day's resolution and then you probably saw it written here as I do my TDB, which is my to-do better list. And it's something that I think I could have done better the day before. So every day I just write one thing, like, what is one thing you could, could've done better yesterday. And then I write that out there. And then I look at, when I look at my, new days resolution, I get to mark it off as a win and, you know, five out of seven days on average, I get to mark it out as a win.
And, even when I lose, it's usually intentional. Like I decide if I have that chocolate now, this is going to be one of my lost days. And then I'm like, yeah. Okay. I don't have it
Yeah, it did screw up my, my weekly goal of five out of seven alcohol. And if so, I don't do it sometimes, but you also have to give yourself slack, you know, it's like, I think I read this in atomic habits and they, Exactly. I mean, I think I read this in Atomic Habits, a very good book. I found it very practical and, I think he says to have three wins, write down three wins at the end of the day. So it's a similar idea, but I think yours is better in terms of that you make the intention.
So you create the intention first and then, so, yeah, proactively, you know, is better than reactively at the end of the day. Oh, what was good today? What I wanted to ask you, your system to be improved, but I mean, we're going a bit off tangent, but to be improved, what I can do to make a better list. Do you, how do you execute on that? So if you find something, what, what I could have done better yesterday or two to be, to be done better. I think he's called it. Let's say, let's say yesterday. I don't know. I flipped at my child. Do you then go and execute on that in a sense that you say, okay, how am I going to rectify that? And that's how I'm going to execute. Or do you just remember it and kind of like, how does the system work for that sense? Or don't you have a system? Do you just want to be intentional around it?
It's definitely happened over time. So it's not a case of, for example, and there have been maybe a few times where maybe it's something I dealt with badly with a staff member. And once I was aware of it, then I'd maybe contacted them the next day. I would have said, listen, I'm sorry about this, and you know I could have handled this better and it's no problem. And why don't we move on, but more what happens is, generally speaking, you write down something enough times as a failure and then your brain starts seeing that behavior as a failure. So one of my favorite stories around the, to do better list was Jas and I had our date night. And we went out to a little Mexican place called Remix and we were sitting there and we started having a completely arbitrary argument, I don't know what it was. We'd ordered some jalapeno poppers and we started having this completely arbitrary argument. The starter has just arrived and we want to go home. So we sat there and we were arguing with each other and then it's all awkward, we'd ordered our main course already, but I was like, I just want to cancel the bill like this, and just go home. So, we get the bill. Yes. So then we sat there very awkwardly looking for each other while we were waiting for the bill. And at this time I sat there and I started writing in my head, my to-do better list for the next day. I was like, ugh. Totally tomorrow, I'm going to be writing. I wish I'd just ended this fight and we’d carried on with our date night and I thought, this is ridiculous. You're rehearsing what you're going to write tomorrow in your to do better list, instead of just acting on it now. And I turned around and I said to her, love, listen, we're not going to resolve this now, it doesn't even seem that important, but I've been looking forward to this date night all week.
Can I ask you a favor that we can, we can fight about this when we get home, but can we just like put this off to the side, carry on with our date night, and then, you know, we'll get to this another time. And she was like, I would love that. She didn't want to fight either obviously.
She’s pretty amazing too. You’re lucky you got out of that one.
Yeah, totally. I mean, I would have been wrong. Like I'm always the wrong one and, and I'm not even joking. I usually am, but, we kind of got out of that and of course, we never ended up arguing about the thing nature was something stupid. But, then, in that case, the awareness, the awareness that I was going to have to chalk up that behavior as a failing the next day made me immediately think, well, you know, I don't want to, I don't want to wait until tomorrow to have to write. This is a failure. I want to rectify it now. And it ended up being a bit of a win.
Yeah, that's powerful. Hey, read your family, you didn't call it family mission or vision, but you said you can read it.
Clan credo. Yeah. So we went away for, let me just try and call it up here. So we went to, where did we go for a few days? It's actually, it's printed out large for my birthday and my wife had it all done. So we've got it on the front door. As you walk in. And it says this. And so we went away and we broke it down into these different sessions and we did all these different exercises with post-its and goals. And it, it matters to me when, and I got my gateway in, and we kind of created this whole thing and then we got down to all these attributes. So we voted on and then the final session, we came up with this, it says, As members of the Mulholland clan, we commit to respect the needs of the whole, but also the individuals in it, our differences are celebrated and our voices are heard.
We seek to understand without judgment and promise to be the champions of each other's dreams, the crazier, the better we'll love unconditionally, play unapologetically, and laugh, unashamedly, and we'll do that together forever. So that's our, that's our credo as a clan. That's like what we decided mattered to us enough.
And, yeah, I think it's important. I think it's important to have something that you've created with your children, that they don't feel like, that they have entered a family that they feel like they have created a family because your kids created the family structure you have, they didn't enter it. It was different before they arrived and it's different because they arrived.
So we shouldn't expect them to fit into our family structure. We should try and create a family structure that exists with everybody in it. And for everybody in it,
That's a good way to put it because they did create it because it didn't exist before they entered before they came, they didn't enter before they came. It didn't exist.
The family structure was different before. Yeah, especially for you.
Well, mine went quickly from, I, I tried to get Satguru on, well, I'm still at, and I spoke to the lady today in Joburg and she couldn't believe it. She was like an Indian. She just burst out laughing and she didn't stop. I mean, these are very beautiful, you know, like a gentle person. And when I told her she was like that, she didn't stop. I'm the cat. You know, it was in thirteen months, five under two years old.
Yeah. All the stuff that happened because of it, like not just the children and that whole experience, which is like my, my best, my favorite, but like all the other stuff, now I get to speak to all these people. I have a different level of engagement with people. I have this new passion. I get to experience stuff with the kids that I would have never experienced, and like, it's, it's so much better. I got it. I'm sure. I don't have much time, like, in a day, I try to like read it. I do the same as you. I, I block it out and like they are, I work in positive blocks in the calendar so that if it's blocked, no one can take it. Even common contacts and the assistant and yeah. So I, I, I block family time, obviously in red, so breakfast or morning time from seven to nine and then lunch, and then evening time from five to seven. That's all family. , but I have less time, but I don't know what I did with the time before, you know, kind of like it's, I think it's so rewarding.
If you embrace it. As I spoke to and many dads as you know, but one of them was a very, very interesting Pierre De Villiers, I don't know if you know him, do you know, Pierre De Villiers, he’s a South African big wave surfer, super on the ground. Yeah. So, he doesn't want to speak on camera. It was like, it was 00:48:00 difficult to get him, get him to speak to me. But like, even though I know him, like from, from here in, in Kommetjie, in Scarborough, but he was like, you know, it was difficult for me. Because he loved his freedom so much. And, but once I realized, like, this is like my new life, it, he embraced the, he, he passed the responsibility. And if you assess, and I understand it now much better, he was like one of the very, very, very first dads I ever spoke with.
In fact, I've never even published it yet. , and he, he said he. Once he embraced that, that responsibility that came, everything became beautiful because suddenly it makes sense. And then that's, that's a new setup and it's also your new life and that's your new like you're adding another role. What you should be careful of is I don't think you should let it consume you and you don't have any other roles left, but there is a new role that you need to also make space for. In your life. Do you know what I'm saying, I’m gibbering? Do you understand what I'm saying?
No, absolutely not. I think it makes perfect sense. So in my list that I've got above here, so I realized as well as I have several, like, jobs. Right. So I'm not just a father. You know, I exist, as a father, I exist as an employer. I enlist as a husband. I exist as a brother. I exist as an uncle. Like we all have multiple roles, we're just adding one onto it. And I think something else that you said there really resonated with me that a lot of us don't think about. You don't, you might become a father the day your child is born, but you don't become a dad then like, there's gotta be, there's gotta be a moment where it clicked for you where you're like, Hey, this is what it is.
And that's why I said for me, it was that realization, Hey, I'm acting like the assistant, I've taken on the role of being the assistant to the mom. That's, that's not going to be enough. And it kind of took me thrust into my own, you know, getting handed these two, these two living things for weekends at a time to realize, Hey, wow, I can do this. And that was the other thing, by the way, I didn't believe in myself. And I want to have a little rant here for a moment. So I can tick this off a little bit as a bit of a rant. But part of the reason that. Fathers are not good at fathers. Don't have the confidence and don't own being a dad is because just like, and I know that we talked about this is maybe going to be an unpopular opinion, but people always talk about equality in the workspace and these microaggressions and things that we do to women and I get it?
And I'm sure it's all very true and absolutely, I don't fully understand it, but I must, it must be true for them. I, I believe it. But everyone tells you when, every time, dad is home with the kids, it becomes a joke between ladies, Oh, you're going to go home. And the house is going to be a mess. Like you're, you're calling me an idiot.
Yeah. So I was speaking at an event, a few years ago and there was a whole number of speakers, men, and women, and they were all getting called up. It was one of these kinds of TED-style events, 15 minutes at a time. And it was always the same the whole day. I noticed it would be, we'd not like to invite, you know, Mike and such and such been an entrepreneur for this many years, runs this many companies, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, has skied solo to the bloody, you know, up the Alps, whatever. Please welcome. Mike and Mike arrive on stage, and then it does the same one for Joe and it's the same. And then it comes to Susan, Susan's been an entrepreneur for this thing, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, such and such mother of three, please welcome. And Susan came up and then I started noticing this pattern. So every time it was a guy who was coming up, it was just the work achievement. And every time it was a woman, they ended on that she was also the parent. Then they called me. I said, hold on a second, guys. I just want to take, I just want to stop this for a second because I would actually like a retake at this. And I'd like you to repeat my entire bio. But this time, I want you to add on father of two because it's still a part of my job.
It's still very much a part of my identity. And at this point I turned around and said, ladies, I understand that we've got a lot of work to do to make sure you're taken seriously and at work. But if you want to be taken seriously at work, you've got to let men know that they're also taken seriously at home. And all women started to applaud.
So, what is the realization for me was this is the part of the reason men hold so strongly to their position at work as breadwinners and we don't want to let go because we're given so little credits at home.
Yeah. I agree with you. And this is something we've discussed, I don't know, two years ago. And it's a big part of my drive. The day we start accepting. Well, let's say, let's say if we perceive that to be dad’s as an actual solution for a successful home. And we've discussed that before, suddenly that creates more gender balance, right? Because there's more optionality for, for women in the house, and at work as well.
RM: We'll Totie right. So the idea of being a stay-at-home mom is still seen as is, okay, thanks.
00:57:29 And we, you know, part of a big part of the strategy that we did was around this. You know, like if we can perceive that as a successful strategy for the home, actually perceive that in society, then creates more gender balance and more equality because there's more optionality for moms as well in the home. There's all of these jokes about how badly we do and mistakes we make. And we're not given credit when we walk onto stages about being fathers, because it's like people think that I don't really do anything that it's only women who do stuff. And it's like a woman running a business and being a mother, it’s seen as an achievement, a guy running a business and being a father isn't.
They do get this because it kind of, um, it puts the job of, of, uh, being a mother down right. It's almost like, Oh, even mothers can work. Because they can also go to work and because that's also a successful strategy
And it's very important for me as a dad. I mean, if my daughter said to me, 00:58:00 You know, dad, I want to get married and you know, I'd like to be a stay-at-home mom. I must be okay with that. But equally, then I must be equally, okay if my son said, you know, I'd like to marry a career-driven woman. Cause I want to stay home with the kids and, and that to be my job, like bizarrely, we think we're not sexist or we don't have these sexist things, but those two, those two ideas, like whole different paces in my brain. And we've got to fix that. I have to let my son know that, you know, it would be okay. You don't, there's no part of your ego, should be tied in that you have to earn more than your wife. Like it's okay. That you may want to be a school teacher. She might want to be a banking executive and know parts of who you are, should be defined by you're the one who makes more money. This is a very, very important conversation we have to have with our children because that's what's changing now. Our generation, you know, a lot of women are having to play catch up and sometimes still earning less for doing the same job, but by their generation, hopefully, that will be, have evolved and changed.
And if, if my son is in constant conflict with his partner because his ego is damaged because he's not earning as much as her that's wrong like we need to let them know that simply we have a division of roles within a family structure and people just have to make sure that they share that out in some degree. And if, if you're not, you know, this, then you could be that. But I don't think we're having that conversation with our sons. I don't think we're, we're letting them know that it's okay to take on those roles. I don't know if you've ever had Craig Rodney on your, on your show?
No. Who is he?
He was the co-founder of a business or in a business called Cerebra and he sold his business. He did really well. They did a great sellout to WPP. He's now a business coach, but he took three years off and he said, no, I just want to be a stay-at-home dad. And, his wife works in the business as well, and she, but she ended up, she ended up staying, working there and, and he ended up saying, I want to stay home and look after the kids.
And I want this bond. I don't feel like why that has to be with mom. So he drove the kids to school every day, but the moment every day they packed their lunches. And this was a highly successful entrepreneur. And that was the journey he wanted. And I mean, if you see his Instagram, you're more like this is a big part of his identity.
And I thought I think that's like, I'm not sure how many people would be brave enough to do that. And I think we're losing out because of it.
I would love to do it, but at the same time, I know that, like the stresses and the pressure, my wife is going through, in her work. And, and I don't like it when people say, Oh, you're not working, you’re at home. It's very much working. Moms are very much working and I have a lot of respect. I'm not sure if I could handle the stress because it's a very different stress. You know, the kids are screaming, they don't listen, they want to do whatever they want to do. But from a conceptual point of view, I would love to do it on that point with equality, like your son's ego, potentially being damaged or could in society's narrative kind of sense, because as his partner earns more, there is a good book on that. And it's called The Boy Crisis by Dr. Warren Farrell. He was also on my podcast and he speaks on that and it's a, it was a 12-year book that he wrote. It took him 12 years and it's, you know, he's including a lot of research. And he doesn't just make stuff up. He says, there's a, you know, there's a research for this and this, and this is the outcome, and this is why this is so, and he makes white house policy on that topic, on boys and boys with absent fathers and on the idea or the, yeah, that's his principle, the fact that boys are disadvantaged in a sense that the feminist movement in the seventies and eighties data, a really good job.
Righ. So Jasmine's mother, my wife's mother. They did a really good job, in preparing today's mums for multi optionality. Right. They can be a mum. They can be a part-time mum. They can be part-time work, full-time work. We just covered it. So that's fine. But for dads, there is not, or men there’s not multi-optionality.
Men traditionally are seen as providers. And that's where this idea of damaged, self-worth identity crisis kind of situation comes from because as a man, often you tie your self worth to your paycheck. And so if you don't have, you know, so you, in the past, that's what he says in the past, you were a provider or protector like a soldier, you know, you got out to war and now you protect your children and your wife and the land and the farm or whatever.
And, you know, as a society, we send off our sons to potentially die for us, which implicitly means that you have to kind of disconnect emotionally. In a sense on the subliminal kind of level, because otherwise, you know, how are you going to, how are you going to be there? So that kind of sets the stage. Like men have all the dangerous jobs working in mines, working on roofs, working with welders, working on, oil rigs, that's still the case.
And so he brings a lot of studies. Like for instance, women will choose more educated men and men who make more money as a partner. More equally than not, why it makes a lot of sense because of the survival of the offspring. Okay. So even if it's not like a deliberate kind of choice, it is very much ingrained in very, in various aspects of our society.
And so that's a good book. And the podcast also quickly talks about that. Sorry, I went off on a total rambler.
No, I'm so glad you did. I'll definitely. I'm going to be not where you were doing it. I was finding the episode for that because that's what I want to listen to. I think that'd be incredible.
Yeah, he's good. He used to be the feminist's super pet because he was doing a white house policy for feminism. And then suddenly he realized like, Hey, you know, wait a minute where's the stuff for our men, where's the stuff, our sons and they totally ditched them. And he told me, I can't remember the number, he says it in the podcast. You said like, Probably, by now it costs me $20 million in speaker fees or something. He was like the highest engaged speaker of the feminist movement at the time. And he was like, I'm not going to do that. You know, they were like, you need to change your findings. You need to change what you're saying because this is potentially not very popular and he di dn't want to do that.
And they stopped booking him and were tired, you know? And he pivoted what, what I want to do, Richard is. What is there that, where I didn't go, that you want to share, is there other stuff that Richard did that has experienced or that's important or that you feel is important that helped you, or that was difficult or that you overcame, or that was beautiful?
That’s valuable for other dads and
moms? I'm not sure if this is valuable, but it's something I think about quite a lot too. Is that like a constant doubt? If I'm doing this, right? Like if I'm making mistakes and what makes it doubly hard is that I'm, I'm two people. I am Call's father and I'm Bailey's father and the operating systems for both of those are very different.
So what works with one doesn't work with the other. And then, so I do the one thing and I think I've got that dialed in. And then I, and I do it the other way. And I think for me, it's this, realizing that you can't, this isn't a job that you can, you know, we spoke earlier about okay. plateau, that you, you get to a point where you're good enough.
I don't think that's okay with us. I think you've got to always assume that you don't, this is like one of these things that, if you're not improving, you're regressing to some degree. And I think this has to become something that you work at. And the reason I know that is because, as I said to my dad in my twenties became amazing. And now, like, I don't think I can conceptually remember my father hugging me my whole youth. Now he'll walk in and leave and he'll hug me two or three times and he'll tell me he loves me. And, you know, and he's like, he's, he's kind of really grown into that. And I think that's gotta be a thing for me, Is that I want to be better at this cause I don't think I'm great. Like I think I have all these nice ideas and it's easy to come on a podcast and talk about things as if you're an expert. But then, you know, on a weekend I sit there and I read my book instead of engaging with kids more. And, and I think it's like, I think, first of all, we will have to cut ourselves a little bit of slack.
Like we've got to, you know, we're hands first and we've still got to live our own lives as well. , but I think we've got to realize that this is something we should be improving and it's gotta become part of your algorithms. It amazes me that I see all of these companies. And this goes back to the birthday goals, you know, EO, the organization we're part of has lots and lots of rules about setting goals for yourself, setting goals for your business setting goals for all of these things, we have, you know, mission statements for companies and we have all of these things, but we have none of that for being parents. Like how is the most important job the one that we have the least information for if you said to me that, you know, I've, I was a., you know, I'm a father to 17-year-olds.
If I was reading as many books on parenting, as I was reading on business or at least one-to-one, that would make sense to me, but, but, but I'm not like the ratio is way off and we're not getting better. That's where I think a show like this is just so valuable and it's, it's maybe bringing this to the foreground that we need to be improving it.
This and, I, so I think there's not a lesson as in so much as a commitment that I'm like, I don't think I'm as good as I could be at this. And, luckily I realized that I've still got time to fix that and I want to be better at this. Like, I want to be a better dad. I know that my kids love me and look up to me and, just, I want to be better at that, I want to be better for them.
That's beautiful. That's perfect. End line. And I think the answer to that is that luckily tomorrow is another day also. So if today wasn't perfect. It can go straight on your: What can I do better as a dad, than yesterday's list? And that can be a separate list too or just a mindset.
And I should do that. I should probably break it down. And even in the end of the week, like have a, at the end of a week, like, what could I have done better as a dad, as a brother, as a, and if you make it that you've got to fill it out, then I realized, you know, I probably only speak to my sisters every two weeks. I should probably do that more and things like this because I think it is important that you don't become a dad and stop becoming a son. Oh, I stopped becoming a brother. I stopped becoming a sister or, you know, like definitely maybe stop becoming a sister. But, I think it's very important that we realize all those roles we have and each one of those comes with its responsibilities.
Yeah. The thing isn't easy, right? Like this whole life thing, it's, it's like pretty tough. We've got to keep figuring it out.
Yeah. But here we are. And, and, and we're going along. Hopefully, and this resonates really with me. I've heard this before in one of your content pieces,moving forward is not the same as moving toward.
And so these conversations had me moving toward because I can, you know, what, I also recalibrate my own, goals and thinking and where what I want to do, obviously with speaking, like, to dads like you, you know, and, and all these stats and on, because the kind of like a reflection and they have such different perspectives.
And I don't have to assess everything they do. And every, every single one of them does, but like, yeah to lend an idea here or to do the opposite of what someone does there, I think that's what it's all about to understand more. And then you do not intentionally decide. Okay. And, and, and act on that's where I want to go.
Right. That's valuable. Cool. Richard
Thanks so much for having me.
It's been a privilege. So much. It was super nice.