Archives For parenting

Downsizing Christmas

Eric Baumann  —  December 20, 2011 — 16 Comments

One of the holiday traditions that my boys look forward to is the Toys-R-Us catalog that comes in the mail or newspaper. This is the opportunity that they have to dream big and circle all the things they want for Christmas. They go crazy as they search for the coolest toys and make their picks for Santa. I have to admit that I think I have just as much fun surfing through the pages as they do trying to find a gift that would benefit “the whole family”…or that I could play with too.

This year though, we put a twist on it. This year, we decided that we were going to downsize our gift giving…well actually our receiving. We explained that each member of the family was only going to get three gifts when they woke up for Christmas morning. We want our focus on Christmas not to be about all the toys we can rack up, but rather about three important things that should make Christmas special.

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Brand Loyalty

Eric Baumann  —  December 16, 2011 — 4 Comments

When I hear the names of certain brands there are always vivid images, emotions and stereo-types that flood my mind. Some of them negative and some positive. Why is that? What is it that makes us loyal to a brand, and what makes us throw a brand name aside to save money on a “generic brand”…which ironically is actually a brand in and of itself?

One of my “hobbies” is marketing, advertising and teaching people and churches about how to protect their personal brand. Yes, I said personal brand…because whether you want to admit it or not…all of us have a brand. When people hear your name or see your church/ministry, there are certain emotions, images and stereo-types that come to mind when they think about you and what you represent.

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tebow_believesWhat is it about belief that makes it so powerful? Last night, I watched Tim Tebow as he rallied his team to yet another come-from-behind, overtime victory and thought to myself…WOW…this guy just makes you believe. There is something about him, especially in the fourth quarter or last drive of the game, that just seems to instill belief in those that watch him and those that play alongside him. It’s almost magical.

There are some people, whose very presence, just makes you believe. Imagine if your belief in something was so strong, that you could instill hope and faith in the hearts of those around you. I’m sure you know of a few people like that, but why can’t it be you?

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I believe leadership is influence and here’s a twist – time is influence. Time spent is money in the bank. As a parent, I am learning this lesson with my kids. The longer you are with someone, the more impact you have in shaping who they are…especially if you start when they are young.

Now, the type of impact you have will vary based on your on-going interactions with that individual and the motives you have for creating influence in their lives. It can breed loyalty, followers, fans or even disciples. The outcome is based on strategy. So what can we learn from Jersey Shore (MTV) and Mickey Mouse (Disney)? They have a strategy for impacting those around them…and knowing that time is influence…they are more successful at getting the outcomes they desire if they begin influencing those individuals when they are young.

So who is “they”?¬†What are “their” motives? How can we learn from “them”?…

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The holidays are a perfect time to begin new traditions. It gives us parents the opportunity to be a little more intentional with our kids with the extra time we get to spend with them. Whether you have vacation time that needs to be taken, or your kids are on…what do they call it now…Winter Break [if you’re wondering whatever happened to Christmas Break, that’s a topic for another time]. This time of year brings with it extra hours that can be capitalized on to strengthen relationships if we choose to be wise in how we spend it. If we choose to just slow down and stop trying to catch the next best thing [or uh gingerbread man…I had to tie in the title somehow].

Three years ago I started a tradition that with my oldest son. Every Christmas we buy one of those Gingerbread House Kits from the store, and we try our best to make the coolest and slickest house on the market. We lay out all the candy, trying hard not to eat it so there is some left for house, and we piece together the walls and roof with icing that makes it all stick. It is one of the highlights of the year…for both of us.

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Okay, I admit it. I have been watching TLC. Sometimes late at night, when I am writing for this blog, I have been watching the new reality show Extreme Couponing. Now being a stay at home dad, I have been trying to find ways to save money and be a good steward of what God has blessed my family with, and one idea that has popped into my mind is…COUPONS. I just hope my “man-friends” don’t start making fun of me.

I haven’t gone crazy and started dumpster diving for left over newspapers, as I have seen some do, but I have taken the first step and started to actually buy the local newspaper. This practice goes beyond all my reasoning because I know I can find any news I need for free online or on some blog…BUT I have to say it has been kinda fun looking through the pages, searching for those money-saving cut-outs. The only questions I have is…NOW WHAT?

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They say that everyone loves hearing the sound of their own name. In fact, if you take any type of training on sales or read any books on how to influence others, experts will usually suggest to you to try to use the customers name as much as possible. BUT, as a parent, the one thing I love to hear more than the sound of my own name is when my kids call me “Da-Da”. I have three boys and I can remember exactly when each of them said those words for the first time…and being competitive in nature, I am pleased to announce that each one of them said my preferred name, “Da-Da”, before they learned how to say, “Ma-ma” or anything else. And…since I have all boys, their 2nd word was…of course…”ball”…sorry honey.

Rather than bore you with details of my kids’ phonetic journey, let me get to the point. A couple of days ago, my 7 month old…and last kid my wife and I will bring into this world…said “Da-Da” for the first time. After bragging about this on Twitter, I realized something sobering. This was the last time I would hear those words for the first time.

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As a huge OSU fan, I rejoiced yesterday as the news was “made official” that Urban Meyer was hired as the next head football coach for the Buckeyes. As a former high school football coach, I know the importance of having a man at the helm that can motivate and inspire young men to greatness…and as a current stay at home dad, I learned a valuable life lesson from Coach Urban Meyer’s press interviews and chats yesterday in regards to his new commitments to both OSU and his family. If you are listening closely, and brush aside the football noise, and hear what this “refreshed” dad and coach is saying…there is great wisdom for any parent on what to say “yes” and “no” to in this life.

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One of the best things I can do for myself, my family and those I influence is to “Just Say No!” I know, I know…it sounds cliche…BUT when it comes to prioritizing your life and maximizing on the time and influence you have with others around you…learning to say, “No,” is crucial.

Some may argue that following this advice seems negative. It’s actually a matter of perspective. Every time you say “No” to something, you are in reality saying “Yes” to something else. Think about it…if I say “No” to a guy’s night out, I am saying “Yes” to dinner with my family. If I look at my son and say, “No” almost every time he asks me to buy him a candy bar or video game when we are at the store…I am saying “Yes” to investing that money in something he actually needs. When we say “No” to that temptation that stares us down daily or weekly, we are saying “Yes” to building character, discipline and integrity in our lives. In a world that is constantly screaming at us to say “Yes” to doing this or consuming that…I say no…and I am trying to teach my sons to do the same…BUT…they know it’s okay to say “Yes” as long as doing so is saying “No” to the right stuff. Are you confused yet?

 

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One of the keys to clock management in any game, is the proper use of time-outs. They can be used to stop the clock in the final seconds to set-up a winning score, or to just pause for a moment to talk to a player or team about the next play or series. Sometimes you’ll see a coach or fan go crazy because a player wastes a time-out. Time-outs are valuable, and you only get so many in the game.

I’ve learned this to be true in being a dad, and trying to “manage the clock” in the game of life with my boys. I find at times, I need to just call a time-out and spend some one-on-one time with one of my kids. I need to just stop whatever I’m doing and just listen to whatever it is they want to talk about. Now sometimes I need to call a time-out because one of them just dropped kick the other…BUT that’s a story for another time.

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