Jem is an expert is in leadership, executive and personal coaching, developing and delivering transformational programs for leaders and teams, eDISC Behavioural Profiling, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
He is a father of two boys aged 11 (Jedi) and 9 (Noah).
Jem organise and runs Leadership programs to the Himalayas and other exotic locations. We will talk more about this as we go.
ADAM: Hello! Hello! Hello! Dads of the world! Great to have you with me for another episode of the number one dad podcast on the internet. Adam Baldock here with another inspiring dad, Jem Switajewski. Jem is an expert in leadership, executive and personal coaching, developing and delivering transformational programs for leaders and teams. eDisc Behavioural Profiling and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. He is a father of two boys, one age 11, Jedi and one age 9, Noah. Jem organises and runs leadership programs to the Himalayas and other exotic locations and I look forward of talking further about that as we work through.
Welcome to the show, Jem.
JEM: Thanks very much, Adam.
ADAM: Good to have you! Just doing some good reading about you and I love the Leaders In Life website. It’s a very nice looking website.
JEM: Yeah, thank you. I can thank my graphic design team for that. That’s not mine anyway. But yeah, it looks nice.
ADAM: Fantastic. So let’s get stuck into it. Tell us. Give us some insight and to you and the family.
JEM: Well, as I talk to you now I’m sitting here staring out the window of my study den and looking onto the bush and I cannot see any other houses which I love. We love the space. We love being out of the city. We love to surf. So Aireys Inlet does us really nicely down at the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. About us, well, yeah. Look, I started this business a couple of years ago after being in senior leadership in a corporate world and then, you know, had a real burning desire to get out there in a space of people development basically. And yeah, that’s what I do. My wife works as well. She is a yoga teacher and a dance movement therapist and works in the Lorne Community Hospital as well and the kids go to school here in the Aireys Inlet up at the primary school and that’s it, yeah.
ADAM: So tell me a bit more about what are the type of roles that you had before you decided to branch out and go into entrepreneur world?
JEM: Well, I’ve been around. I’m getting older. I’ve done so many different things.
ADAM: You don’t look like on the video here, Jem.
JEM: Yeah. We’ll talk about the secrets to youthful appearance later on I guess.
JEM: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of different things most recently before starting my own business. I was with Flight Centre for eight years.
JEM: And various different roles there ending up in leadership. But prior to that, singer, songwriter, actor, fire dancer, motorcycle crew, English teacher in several countries, barefoot backpacker, dreadlock, yeah, just kind of cruising the world, doing lots of different things to be honest.
ADAM: Brilliant. Right. I love it. I mean, you put a lot on your CV. You may have write a novel for that.
JEM: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah.
ADAM: The book is going to be coming, doesn’t it?
JEM: Yeah. I reckon there will be a book. You’re not the first person to ask. There’ll be a book someday. I’m sure someone will get a chuckle out of it. But let’s put it this way, if at the end of my days were to come, I would feel very satisfied with what I can manage to pack into my 44 years that’s for sure.
ADAM: Fantastic. So let’s move it into what type of father you are.
ADAM: Tell us about that. What type of father do you believe you are?
JEM: What sort of a father do I believe I am? I constantly improving one which is important and, you know, as any parents know, there’s no guidebook, there’s no rulebook that says I do this and I do this. We all just figure it out to the best of our ability and look, I chose to believe that anybody in any situation is thinking, acting behaving to the best of their ability with the resources available to them at that time. So, you know, we’re doing the best we can. I think also definitely becoming a parent as other parents know, you start to have a hell of a lot more compassion and appreciation for your own parents and think, “Wow, you guys were just – you got the young kids not really knowing what you’re doing either. So there’s that that comes into it. But what sort of a father am I? Look, I’m really engaged with kids. I spent a lot of time hanging out with them. We’re mates, you know, and we surf a lot, we kick the footie a lot, we play board games a lot and also I work and I go off to work and I’m overseas a few times a year as well and I semi-disappear to go an hunt and gather. But I get that and I know what I’m doing because the communication is always been pretty good. The last two years have been awesome. Prior to that I was working in a senior leadership position and I was working my backside off work in a lot of hours and then I was at home. I was realising that I was also – my head was always kind of with multimillion dollars problems and, you know, hundreds of staff and I was never really fully present, and my wife was pointing that to me and I had to accept that that’s where I’d got to hence the big change and I just thought there’s got to be another way where I can provide and, you know, keep the work off our heads and feed the kids and everything and also have more time with my family so that’s what I’m doing.
ADAM: Mate, I love it and that’s part of the reason I am doing what I’m doing and so, yeah, to try and try and move into that more balanced load. I can probably relate to the million dollar problems that you have when you’re running businesses etc which is what I’ve been dealing with the last four years. So I take my hat off to you. Well done.
JEM: Yeah. And you know, interesting with the parenting thing too and this comes up a fair bit in what I teach and what I’m coaching. You know, I use to lose my temper a lot more than what I do now which still wasn’t a lot but it was, you know, I don’t know if there’s a normal amount that parents know that kids really know how to push our buttons off to 24/7, you know, and then I shifted some of my own beliefs around what my core values were and what my expectations were and I’m not going to go through into much detail because I’ll talk too long about it, but in a nutshell if you shift your expectations on the way you want your children to behave, and if you take it back more onto yourself and just ease up a little bit on, you know, respect for example. When you’re asking your kids to do something and they don’t do it straightaway, I used to make that mean that they were disrespect me and so then I’d get angry and I’d be shouting at them to get in a car and put their footie boots on to their to footie, but I’ve just shifted that now. I don’t make it mean that they’re disrespecting me. I just make it mean that they’re 11 and 9 years old and they’re often in their own little world and rather than, you know, feeling disrespected and therefore getting angry, I just walk over to them and gently keep talking to them to get them in the car. So it still takes to the same amount of time to get them in the car with their footie boots but there’s just no anger anymore and our relationship are really blossoming because of that.
ADAM: Lovely, mate. And I’m actually going to keep going on this little thing that we got down here before we continue on because it’s an area that I am really struggling with myself at the moment and I sit here as the leader of Fired Up Dads and probably it won’t go always a perfect day but I can tell you I ain’t far from it and I too have a lot of those little issues when the kids won’t do a lot. But the one thing I’m noticing with my five-year-old boy, Oscar is some very, very large anger issues in a correct drop of the hat and he maintains that anger for a long period of time. And as a father of two boys that are slightly older than that, is that something you found with the five-year-old? Was that a normal thing?
JEM: Yeah. One of my boys – one of my boys. Definitely one of them not but one of them we thought exactly the same thing around at the age of 5, 6, 7, we thought, “Wow, this kid has got a lot of anger and he’s getting really, really angry at the drop of the hat.” And even to the point where, you know, he used to ask me ‘cause I know what I do and I coach people and he would ask me, “Dad, I need you to coach me. I’m getting angry too much.” And you know, we sat down. We just talk through it and talk about it and help him identify when he could feel it coming on before it was too late when he’d lost it he used to call it, “I’ve lost it.” But he just grew through it and, yeah, he still gets fired up but he’s not angry kid. He’s 9 now and he takes his determination out on the footie field or in the surf or whatever. But, yeah, I think what possibly a five-year-old would just grow through it.
ADAM: Great to hear. Great to hear. And so I’m interested there. He was nine-year-old, yeah, so that’s just sick and born?
JEM: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah.
ADAM: Okay. ‘Cause a lot of things I am reading about his anger is just seem to relate to second or third siblings and potentially have a jealousy element because they lose all the attention and things because the other sibling is involved. So, yeah, it’s quite an interesting sort of concept.
JEM: Yeah, and maybe also some frustration when they’re smaller and developmentally they’re hanging out with their sibling and their sibling is 2, 3, 4 years more advanced with their motor skills and with their language skills and with the basics. So, you know, for the younger ones who have to express themselves it must be frustrating only because they’re a little bit behind, you know, developmentally and, yeah, that’s definitely turned around now. My younger one is so determined to be competitive with his older brother than he actually, you know, he’s actually more adept physically in sport and he’s almost as up there with the older boy in terms of his maths and language and schoolwork as well, just because he’s been so determined to factor that with his older I guess.
ADAM: Brilliant. Unfortunately, Oscar has got two sisters to deal with. So, and the girls usually a heat of the voice at the best of times anyway. So he’s a got a big challenge to go, yeah.
JEM: He’s be alright. He’s be alright.
ADAM: Yeah. Yeah, indeed. Brilliant. And certainly was a good little tangent there and I’m sure that dads of the world enjoyed that but let’s keep it going into the rest of our discussions. So tell me the story, Jem, of your biggest struggle as a dad and what have you really wrestled with in fatherhood so far?
JEM: Yeah, my biggest struggle as a dad? Well, initially the struggle was, you know, this nature provide which I’ve always loved by the way because, you know, getting out there and earning money while my wife was bearing children and then raising children and her choice was to stay at home and do that because she wanting to be fully present as a full time mum which was her choice. But actually getting out there and earning the money and keeping the roof over our heads made me feel like I had a purpose. It was, you know, dads understand when the babies are born and you feel a bit like a third world going all, you know, I can’t actually became – you’re the one has to get up every few hours and be really hands on. So what is my role other than, you know, supporting you and loving you and helping out where I can, but really to feel that to get out there and earn the money and come home and provide the shelter is a really basic need that made me feel good. Then that got to a point where, you know, your lifestyle increases and you build a house and you have this and you have that. We get caught up in the material way a little bit in terms of, you know, what we want and your earning capacity improves as you get promoted and whatnot, and before you know it you’re working 16-hour days, five to six days a week and maybe you’re away overseas a fair bit and you know, you’re providing really well but you’re not present and as the kids get older, I’d race home and manage to kind of wash them around in the bath a little bit, put their pyjamas and put them into bed but that was it. And my biggest struggle back then was how do I get this time that I really want with my kids to see growing up and still provide and I’m feeling it right now. So that one is not currently so much of an issue, although having said that as a sole trader, entrepreneur, you know, the pressures are always there to earn money. So that was the struggle, and then I guess more on the emotional level. It was really the thing I have touched on before as well as, you know, I’ve always kind of identified myself as quite a calm, you know, feathers staying unruffled kind of guy but the kids definitely tested that and my feathers were getting ruffled big time, you know, and it was frustrating over little things. Like if you want your kid to eat and if the kids are not eating and it’s almost like this primal thing inside you because you want your kid to be fed but they’re sitting there, refusing to eat and, you know, things like that used to really, I used to get pissed off to be honest. And I’m figuring out wiser around that now. So I’m figuring out wise to remain a lot calmer with my kids. I still have to be stern. I still have to punish. I still have to set boundaries and all that kind of thing but just learning ways to remove that kind of almost uncontrollable anger and emotion and frustration when they do not do what you want them to do.
ADAM: Yeah. I’m sure there’s a lot of dads out there that can relate to that, me being one us, and great story. I mean, I love what you had to say there particularly the parental instinct around the eating, that’s the other issue I got with Oscar at the moment is we sat there for an hour and a half last and while I was working through his dinner. Just in shocking state of affairs.
JEM: Well, it’s hard, and then mealtimes for other people become stress, you know, it’s not healthy to eat food when you’re stress and emotional and, you know, there’s been times when my wife just picks up her plate and leaves the room. She says I can’t eat in here and she’ll just walk out and go and eat somewhere else and leave me with the kids. But we go through that as well. That’s changing. Our older one, he’s only 11 and he eats like an 18-year-old. He eats more food than me.
JEM: And the younger one is slowly coming around and plus, you know, I think the changes have not, I believe anyway, the changes that need to happen for a more harmonious parent-child relationship is not the child. It doesn’t need to make the changes. I mean, they will or they weren’t, that’s just their evolution. But you’ve got to take the responsibility on to yourself to make changes within yourself, you know? And I mentioned before about not getting angry at the kids when I ask them to do things. That shift started about a year ago in my head. Just the only changes I’ve made were inside my own head around my core values and my expectations around those core values and, you know, getting rid of a lot of those. And then the interesting thing is that now, the changes have happen in the kids but I didn’t even ask them to change. I didn’t go to them saying, “You guys need to change.” I like the change inside myself and now, more often than not, I’ll say, “Hi boys! Time to get your footie boots. We’re going at the footie.” And they’ll go, “Yeah, sure, dad.” And they jump off the couch and they do it. To the point where my wife even said to me during the day, “Why the hell did they do what you asks straightaway? Why is it always still a fight with me?” And I’ll try to explain to her the shifts that I have made inside my own head but when you change your own internal representation of the world around you, the world around you appears to change as well.
ADAM: Brilliant. So do you think there was – you changed the modelling that you were doing through your kids that made that change?
ADAM: Do you think you were extern because you’d make thing change to your mindset. Where you physically different as well?
JEM: Yeah. Look, I mean, that would’ve been a side thing, a side result going on. Yeah, it’s totally been physically different. So I’m modelling parenting to them that’s a lot calmer than it was before. Still with some strength and some sternness around it but just without the anger. But I think really, I think the change is, and I find this fascinating, this is something around human psychology in the way we perceive the world that I find it really fascinating was that I’ll change my own personal rules that I had around me getting respected and of course respect is a core value. And I had rules that, you know, like for example kids must do what I ask within three times, otherwise, they’re disrespecting me was a rule. And I just thought within that rule, I’ll let that go. So my only rule is around respect. Now, I only got two rules for me to feel that I am getting my core value of respect in my life met and that is respect myself and pay respect where I think is due to other people. Respect nature, respect people, respect others and pay respect to myself. I don’t have any rules around anyone else’s behaviour now to determine whether I feel respected or not. So my kids can do whatever they want. I just don’t make that mean that they’re disrespecting me anymore. So the anger is gone. I’m not angry at them ‘cause they’re not disrespecting me. They’re just being kids and they’re often in La La Land or wherever they are in their kid world. So rather than yelling at them and wanting them to come and respect me and getting to adult life and come in to my world, I want to sit down on the floor with them and we’re playing Lego or doing whatever they’re doing, get down into their world and say, “Hey guys, we have a game of footie to go to” and then they kind of get and we could go. So it’s more – I think when we make changes inside our own perception of the world, what we’ve project out changes and then what we perceived back changes as well.
ADAM: Brilliant, mate. And this is the sort of stuff I loved as well. So I could sit here and talk to you forever about this.
ADAM: But we weren’t. But, you know, maybe you and I can grab a coffee at some stage and go a bit deeper. Little deep though.
JEM: Absolutely. Absolutely.
ADAM: It’d be great. But we’ll keep moving. And we’re on a good thing here because we are taking about struggles and so forth. Share with us the story of your toughest day and moment so far, and you’ve got, you had 11 years of stuff to draw on here. So I’ve usually find the dads that have the older kids and like yourself, have some really good anecdotes. So tell us.
JEM: Toughest dad moment actually was when our first born was still in utera, so technically a dad, because we had a babs inside my wife’s belly but at 22 weeks, we found out that our unborn child had a tetralogy of fallot. It’s a heart condition with four heart deformities. And the doctors – there was a period there for three or four days while we were waiting for the result from an amniocentesis as to whether were actually going to cape with the idea, and so this was at 22 weeks and that was one of the most painful pieces of news we’ve ever been to live it and we were absolutely distraught especially for three or four days until we’ve found out that we were still going to go through the term of the pregnancy and have the kid. The doctors said, it should be fine. He’s going to need heart surgery but it should be okay as long as he’s not prem. Nine weeks prem. He was 1500 grams.
JEM: And when he was born it was everything. The complete opposite of the birth plan we had. You know, we wanted to be in the birthing centre and it was going to be midwives and we all had, you know, we had this beautiful birthing plan as you do and all of that went straight out the window. It was nine weeks prem. There was 12 or 13 specialists in the room. He was straight onto life support, straight down into the special care nursery and on machines to keep them him alive and he was tiny. He was 1500 grams. You know, he’s three pounds and I know there’s lots of other parents that have been through a lot more trying stuff because we’ve met them in the hospitals. We spent a fair bit of time in hospitals within and then when he was 10 months old, he had his open heart surgery. Handing him over – handing over this, you know, seemingly healthy little 10-month-old for them to, you know, cut him open down the chest and do six hours of corrective surgery on his heart was probably the challenging, the most challenging moment as a parent.
ADAM: Wow, what a story to tell and I can imagine that would be one of the toughest moments ‘cause I have minor things happen to my kids or I see other fathers struggling in other areas because their sons or daughters have been hurt and it cuts me just to see it’s happening to other dads let alone being the dad that is experiencing that. So thanks for being so thanks for being so candid on that story ‘cause albeit it was. And I’m assuming that everything is fine now. He’s doing well?
JEM: He’s doing well, right. He’s got a big scar at his middle chest to prove that it wasn’t all the nightmare but he’s fine. He runs around but they told him he wouldn’t do, you know, any kind of endurance sport. He runs to the school and cross-country once year and he plays footie for the local footie team and he’ll surf for hours. So, yeah, he’s fine.
ADAM: Fantastic. And he doesn’t have to face any more surgery in the future or anything like that?
JEM: We think not. The oldest living recipient of the surgery that he had as a kid would probably be only in their 20s now. So they don’t know the long term effects of it but he keeps going for his check-ups but the check-ups are becoming less and less regular and he’s an old hand at having an ECG or, you know, ultrasound and all the bits and bobs down on his chest. He’s pretty okay with that.
JEM: But we’re thinking that its – no, I don’t reckon that he’d have any more surgery.
ADAM: Brilliant. Brilliant. What a great outcome but a very trying time for you and thanks again for telling such as hard story.
ADAM: So let’s change the discussion a little bit and let’s move on to your lovely wife now. It’s sounds like she’s very well-matched to you, being a yoga and a bit thin. So tell us how you meet her and how do you balance your relationship now that you have children, what’s the key to balancing a good relationship?
JEM: We met when I’d been at NIDA which is the acting school in Sydney and this is a long time ago. This was in 94’ and I’ve got kicked out of NIDA, went back down to Melbourne to keep acting and my wife had come through the Victorian College of the Arts as a contemporary dancer and we met in – we both were performing in the same dance pace essentially and that’s where we met and we were friends first for about five years. We were really good mates and it was platonic and we’ve formed a really solid friendship first which, you know, with the benefit of hindsight looking back now, I’m really, really grateful because it’s the friendship that really is the thing that needs to endure, the tests and the trials and tribulations of parenting. So then and I’ve been away travelling and whatnot and I came back and she came back to Melbourne at the same time and we’re both single and become in love. So then we kept travelling together ‘cause I wasn’t done, so we got married and took off travelling around the world for a couple more years and then it was time we both wanted to be parents, and so in our early 30s’, we came back to Australia and got pregnant with Jedi and then two years later with Noah. And that kind of led through to, you know, how do we juggle the parenting thing. I mean, I said to my wife whatever you want, if you want to work and a mother and swapping chair right from the start, I’m happy for that or if you want to stay home and a full time mother, I’m happy for that too and she said that she wanted to be a full time mum. So for the first eight or nine years, we did that, and then just in the last couple of years and especially now the kids are getting older and they’re at school and whatnot, just in the last few years, my wife been able to get out there and start creating her dream again, you know, setting up her business in contrast movement and teaching yoga and she also works a couple of days a week down at Lorne Hospital doing planned activities, core [unclear 24:24] for the old people down there which she loves. So the juggle is really – we do a lot of tag training to be honest. We do a lot of – she’ll come in the door and we high five and then out the door. We make sure that we get family time where we can but to be honest, the relationship is really evolving more into a working partnership and we’re best mates. When we do have a time together, we talk a lot. We communicate a lot about a lot of stuff, the good, the bad and the ugly. But we’re very aware that the relationship is really founded on a friendship first, you know? ‘Cause, I don’t know, parents get this, you know? There’s not as much time for romance and there’s only so many period nappies that you wipe and stuff and all of the kind of the silver lining of this, you know, lustful relationship when you’ve fallen in love with someone and it’s all romantic and about the two of you and all of that, and it becomes very, you know, perfunctory in the relationship ‘cause you’ve just got to get stuff done. And so by embracing that and saying, “Well, look, this is what it is and that’s okay and let’s just do it to the best of our ability, I think has been helping us.”
ADAM: Brilliant. Friendship first, communication second, I love it.
ADAM: And I’m sure there’s a lot of dads out there that feel the way and I think you articulated it so perfectly there on the fact that, you know, you’re into your relationship that’s all go until you have children and then you’ve got those separate parallel tasks that have all got to be done. The romance goes out the door and a lot of dads at the time start to question the relationship I think and it becomes a real struggle and, you know, I think you articulated perfectly the expectations that dads need to have and that, you know, and a lot of the other dads I have spoken to have also thought about how as the kids get older, you start to get some of that time back with the wife and you start to be able to rebuild that relationship and move it into the next phase of life itself.
JEM: Yeah, absolutely and I think embrace the evolution of it and if you try to hold on to what it was and lamenting the fact that it’s not what it was then I don’t know, you’ll likely going to be miserable because it’s not what it was anymore, it’s what it is now and it’s what it’s becoming and I think we really need to embrace the change.
ADAM: Yeah. And that’s not unlikely entrepreneurial journey. It’s enjoying the journey, not the destination and that leads us nicely into the next question which is still in the balancing theme, but it’s now on your career. So I’m interested to hear a bit more about Leaders in Life and how you actually came about coming up with the concept but getting into this space. So take us through that.
JEM: I guess the start of that journey was 18 years ago and I was at the time, you know, just travelling around the world on my own very happily, a barefoot backpacker, I would love to call it which I pretty much was. There was big chunk at time where I didn’t wear shoes. Anyway, I found myself up in this village in the mountains on a tip from another traveller and it’s quite remote this little village. You wouldn’t kind cross it unless you made your way to find it and I end up living with a family up there for six months, this is 18 years ago and developed a deep connection, kind of like a brotherhood connection with their son and said to him like I’ve got this feeling, I want to bring people here. It’s just such as special part of the world and it’s a really healing place and the mountains are just so amazing and it’s just, I don’t know, there’s something about it. I’ve got this feeling to bring people here. And my brother over Pathu [sp?] is a staunch conservationist and he’s a tracking guide as well and he said, “Well, that’s great. So bring them over and then we’ll take and trekking and while we’re trekking, we’ll pick rubbish in the mountains.” And that was the basic idea a long, long time ago and then I kind of car parked that idea and, you know, go on with life, family, kids, work, all the rest of it. Then jumped forward to leaving a Flight Centre a couple of years ago and started my own coaching business, and the reason I started the coaching business was that the part of my leadership roles that I really enjoyed was the one to one coaching and sitting with someone and coaching them to become a better versions of themselves and the ones I’m doing training. So I love standing up in front of a room and facilitating and teaching, you know, running a training. They are the two bits I loved. So then I thought, well, if I love that let’s go and do that. I started my coaching studies and training and started business pretty much straightaway, and yeah, one day I was standing at the back of a room as volunteer for a facilitator, a mentor of mine and I was actually filming her as she was speaking and I had literally had one of my most penny drop moments, one of those light bulb moments. And all of the information for this idea downloaded really like with two minutes. I remember thinking, “Oh my god, this is one of those light bulb moments.” And all the information came into my head all at once including the name Leaders in Life, the top program which is still the top program which is, this one is the Himalayan Mountains, we get over there. We get leaders remote. We get them up into the stunning mountains. We get them away from their communication devices so that there’s no calls for a period of time. We pick up rubbish. We do good work with a locals, you know, it was all these ideas coming at once. And after that two minute download, I walked away from that day and said to myself I could do this. I just have to do it and it scared the hell out of me and that was the sign that I had to do it. I went home to my wife I said I’m going to run a leadership development programs in the Himalayan Mountains and she looked me and said, “Oh, well, you aren’t going to do this, aren’t?” And I was like, “Yep, I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it.” So within 11 months, I went from concept to having my first group of clients over there which was in October last year and then I’ve just gone back again in May with a second group of client and I’ve got the third group going in October this year. Still with places available on the trip as well.
ADAM: Brilliant. And I think the other day when we talked, we talked that you had another program happening as well for females?
JEM: Yeah. So in September, from the 11th to the 19th of September, we’re running a Women in Leadership Retreat style version of the program and that came about a female client of mine said, “Jem, look, I’ve been hearing amazing stories about this program that you’re running in and it’s life-defying and everything. I would really love that experience but I don’t want to go trekking 4,500 metres and camp in the snow. It’s just not my cup of tea.” And I said, well, it’s not for everybody. It is pretty extreme. And she said, “You wouldn’t do like a five-star villa yoga, massage version of this program in Bali by any chance, would you?” And I said, I don’t know. “Do you reckon you can get some women to come along?” “And she, “Yeah, absolutely.” So I said, “Okay.” And I designed a program. My wife is a yoga teacher. So the idea is that she teaches the yoga in the morning and then I run the program during the day and then the clients get a massage and some pampering but also some time to contemplate and sit and retreat, take a breath and to have some great conversations around what it is for these women to be Women in Leadership roles are women in business and how that plays out for them. So yeah, that’s the program. It’s a five-day and it’s completely opposite to the Himalayas in terms of the fact that it’s five-star and pampered but at the same time it’s also very much the same because it’s remote, 20 kms outside of Ubud, surrounded by jungle, lots of nature, a nature therapy and space away from your normal paradigm which is also an important part of the program is to get away from your day to day, so that you’re actually are opened up to new concept, new ideas and new ways of looking at things.
ADAM: Mate, I love it. That’s fantastic. Now, I’m particularly interested here in your wife’s involvement. It sounds like with the Bali experience you wife is going as well?
JEM: Yeah, that was the plan. The original plan was that we fly with the kids and then my wife will teach yoga in the morning and I’d have the kids and then I’d run my course, the leadership course that I’ve designed during the day and she’d have the kids, and then after a five-day program, head off and go surfing for a couple of weeks. And then commitments for her have come up in Australia in regards to her business and the work that she is doing and she had to make a call on that. So she’s made the call and it wasn’t easy for her. She’ll like, “No, I’m coming to this program in Bali.” But she’s made the call. But it’s fine. Actually, it’s worked out fine because my mother-in-law, my wife’s mum has been teaching yoga for 40 years. She is an amazing yoga teacher and she knows the kids really well so I’m just going to replace my wife with my mother-in-law.
JEM: They’re not quite the same but still it’s a very good second option.
ADAM: Indeed. Indeed. Yeah. I was particularly interested in that point ‘cause I was listening to a podcast for an interview with a guy called Nick Pavlidis the other day who was a corporate lawyer. He skipped into a room with the partners to have a discussion about becoming a partner and during that discussion he had a light bulb moment that he realised that he needed to get away from this and he now moves in a similar space to yourself and me.
JEM: Right. Yah.
ADAM: But he also had his light bulb moment when he went to a coaching retreat similar to that and he noticed that the husband and wife were running the coaching program together and he realised that the reason that program was so successful and the reason he came away from that program was that it was not or the success of the program and the guy who was running it was not, despite his, it was because of his wife and the relationship that they had built in delivering everything together and the beliefs they had together. So, yeah, I just had to grab on that moment that you were talking about there to take that further, but hopefully that will happen again on the future, mate, because what a perfect concept, having the family there and doing what you love doing in a place that you love doing it.
JEM: Yeah. I know. It is awesome. I’m determined to make it work.
JEM: I don’t, you know, I don’t have limiting beliefs around what’s possible and that’s only through practising, you know, practising, forming the beliefs that work for me, but yeah, I believe it’s completely possible to live the dream so to speak.
treatment of bipolar disorder ADAM: Absolutely.
JEM: Not easy. Not necessarily easy for everybody. I don’t know. For some people it might be easy. They might and for other people, it’s not. It’s, you know, you put effort into something and, you know, you get returned on effort. But, yeah, look, I think it’s completely possible and I was being interviewed the other day by a newspaper down here and the guy when he asked me this, he said, It sounds like you designed all these program just so you can lead the idea of life.” And he said it to me almost for the connotation that I shouldn’t be doing that and that there was something wrong with that that I should feel guilty about that. And I looked at him and said, “Yes, I am!” He got it. That’s what I’m doing and I’m doing something where I know I’m adding value to other people’s lives at the same time. And yes, I love the Himalayas and I’ve designing a way to go there twice a year and yes, I love Indo and I’m designing a way to go there, and yes, I love living by the beach and isn’t that great?” kind of thing, you know?
JEM: And it’s just interesting that some people’s look on that is that because they haven’t figured out how to do it that they think you should feel guilty about doing it. There might be something wrong with it, you know, and I think that’s ridiculous.
ADAM: Couldn’t agree more. Yeah, perfect. And I don’t know that I need to ask you the second part of that question which is around balancing career and family because you obviously depict or that’s the angle that you’re going for at the moment and, you know, at the Bali, had your wife’s commitments not come up. The Bali program would’ve been the perfect first venture into that space, but in the meantime whilst that’s not happening, what do you think is the key to balancing career and family? Well, you’re trying to build, obviously you’re trying to build a business and that’s not easy because financially it takes time to build up to being able to deliver.
ADAM: And everything is going to be done as well.
JEM: Yeah. I mean, it’s tricky. You know, ever since starting my business, I’ve probably only work about 0.7 because wife works as well and so there’s a couple of days a week were I’m doing, you know, kids’ lunchboxes in school, school drop off and pick up and then we all have commitments that we share as well. You know, swimming classes and footie trainings and all the rest of that that goes with parenting and my wife and I share that. So building a business and only being able to give it 0.7 of your time is tricky. There’s lots of light nights, you know? I sit up and there’ll be nights when I’m doing, you know, getting through emails and reconciliation and all the stuff you can do from home that I am doing late at night. That’s just it is what it is. Would my business be doing better if I could give it 100% of my time? Yeah, probably but also at the same time I still maintain that I need to surf which is just, you know, insert here whenever it is that you do as a dad, for me it’s surfing. But, you know, I still maintain that I need to do that regularly because that’s me living walking the talk. You know, if I’m going to be coaching people around, creating an extraordinary life and creating a life, how could I be living at this realm. The struggle with, and really the only struggle is the financial thing because, you know, as you just said when you’re building a business, it takes a few years to really get it cranking and so, yeah, I’m still feeling the financial pressure at the end of each month. Most months I’m still juggling like a crazy man, going, “Okay. Okay. Pay that. Pay that. That’s going to have to wait. That’s going to have to wait.” It’s still a juggle. However, I am really looking forward to it and everything is heading in the right direction. I am pretty determined to create some sense of independent financial independence in this lifetime. So it’s one of my missions.
ADAM: And I get that coming across loud and clear which is fantastic. So great discussion some great stories around the career and those programs sound awesome and folks, if you want to learn more about Jem’s Leaders In Life programs, I’ll have links on the show notes or you can head over to leadersinlife.com. Is that correct?
JEM: Yeah, leadersinlife.com.au. You can find out how to contact me on there, also happy for anyone, if you’ve got any questions or you just want to chat further about all this cool stuff that we talked about ‘cause I think these conversations are really important for anyone to have but especially for men in Australia to have these conversations is a great thing. I am more than happy to meet anyone who’s up for conversation. Is it okay for me to give my phone number?
ADAM: If you want. We can do that at the end, Jem. Sorry.
JEM: Okay. Do that at the end. But yeah, just opening it up to having these conversation ‘cause I think there are important things to do.
ADAM: Absolutely. Brilliant. So let’s get back into the dad’s space and the next area to look at is your biggest worry, Jem. What’s your biggest worry when it comes to your children and what are you doing to mitigate those concerns?
JEM: To be honest, I don’t really do worry. I don’t. I stopped worrying. So I don’t really see the point of it. What’s my biggest worry? I mean, I guess my primary concern is not really so much about the kids. It’s about me providing what I want to be able to provide for them in terms of lifestyle support, you know, financial security, that’s probably my biggest concern. I don’t really worry too much about the kids. You know, I’m just curious to say how they go and they’ll grow and they’d becoming who they’re becoming and I feel 100% with the fact that I am parenting to the best of my ability and do I make mistakes, yes I do. And do I think we should make mistakes, hell, yes, we’ve got to make mistakes, otherwise we don’t evolve. Yeah, I am not really too concern about the kids to be honest.
ADAM: Good to hear. Fantastic. A great way to be. And the last question before we go into the power dads round. If you could change one thing, Jem, in your life to help to be a better dad, what would that change be?
JEM: If I could change one thing in my life to help me be a better dad? I was about to say, you know, more time with them but then I am changing my mind on that because I think it’s important for my kids to see me working. I think it’s important for them to see me go out and get involved in the world and take action and take risks and I think it’s important for them to see us modelling, you know, moving into our true expression of ourselves, whatever that is, you know? It doesn’t matter what you do, whether you are a plumber, a building or an architect or a doctor or whatever it is that chooses you and you’re passionate about I think it’s important for our kids to see us go to work and do that. So what would I change? Look, again, I think it comes back, it’s said, we have a broken record, but I think it comes back just to the financial thing, you know? I bummed around the world into my 30s’. I never had a career. I never had – I didn’t go to uni and all that kind of stuff. So I didn’t have a base of wealth before having kids. Would I change anything? No. Because I love the life I have lived but has it put me behind the financial, yes, it has. I’m 44 and I’ve masses of debt. So, yeah, it would be nice just not to have that pressure. That’s really the only thing I guess where I do stress is whether there’s not enough money to make ends meet and as we all know, it’s just a really stressful thing. So for the change if anything it would be that I reckon.
ADAM: Yeah, that’s the quandary, isn’t it? The life, living life or moving into the career space and building some wealth to support you when you have the kids and it is a tough balance but I particularly like what you had to say there around role modelling to your children, the fact that they do have to work hard to get ahead and to achieve their goals and I think you’re doing a great job at that, Jem. So fantastic, mate.
JEM: Thank you.
ADAM: So let’s move into the power dads round. So there’s six short questions with short answers. Are you ready, Jem?
JEM: Yeah, I’m ready.
ADAM: First question. Favourite dad toy and why?
ADAM: Somehow I knew you’re going to say that.
JEM: Because I love surfing. We just do it all together. You know, the three of us were surfing. It’s not a quick answer. Sorry. Surfboard. Shut up, Jem!
ADAM: No, mate. I love it. I love the fact that the three of you can do it together and it’s one of the things I’m looking forward to is when Oscar gets a bit stronger and things and we can get out and kayak and do different things out there in nature. It’s fantastic.
JEM: It is. It’s an absolute joy and it’s a massive, massive tip for parents who are feeling any sort of disconnect with their kids. Find something that you both love doing and do it together a lot.
ADAM: Beautiful. What about a book, Jem, that helps you be a better dad or it doesn’t need to be a dad-related book, business, anything of that nature can help us dads out there just keep ahead?
JEM: Yeah. Look, there’s plenty that comes to mind but the one I will share is called “ buy brand Levitra Loving What Is” by a woman called Byron Katie. Her first name is Byron, B-Y-R-O-N and the second name Katie, K-A-T-I-E and the book is “Loving What Is.”
ADAM: “Loving What Is” fantastic. And I’ll put that up in the show notes and put a link to that at my Amazon account.
ADAM: How do you ensure time for yourself, Jem, and I think the broken record is coming out again here.
JEM: Yes. So I do make sure that I’ve got time in the water and also I love writing music and so I’m pretty board with TV. So when the kids are in bed at night, if I do have some spare time, I’m with my guitar, writing music and that, yeah, I love that. And with technology these days, you can set up a little studio at home and record the stuff you write. So, yeah, that’s my therapy.
ADAM: I love it mate. I love it, particularly the music stuff. That’s fantastic. So here we go, what inventive trick do you use and that you can help other dads with when it comes to disciplining your children?
JEM: Yeah. Look, there’s got to be punishment. I think it’s cool if they come up with the punishment. So you say to them, “Okay, in this situation, if you do that again, we have agreed that we don’t do that and that if you do that again, what should the punishment be?” And they caught off and come up with a sterner punishment that I would’ve given in the first place. But yeah, look, just having that and then using it and, you know, if it’s always just a threat and never actually follow through with then they’d pretty quickly figure out that you’re not going to follow through with it. So, yeah, I don’t have to punish my kids very often. But I guess that’s because right at the start when we said we were going to punish them that we did. When I say punish them, I don’t touch my kids physically. It’s like you can surf for a week or you can’t go in your iPad for a week or whatever the case may be.
ADAM: Yeah. Good work. Good work. I like that idea of them coming up with their own punishment. That’s fantastic. Do you and your family have a tradition that you maintain?
JEM: Yeah, there’s probably lots of little traditions. We go camping down to a spot each year in April and that’s become a bit of a tradition with us and some of my family members. Yeah, and then a daily tradition we give thanks before we eat. We’re not religious but we give thanks just so how lucky we are. So we practice gratitude a lot. That’s a bit of a tradition.
Accutane cost ADAM: I love it. Yeah, Tony Robbins always talks about. You can’t be angry when you’re grateful. So, I’ve always liked that concept. And last question in the power dads round, what one personal habit do you believe helps you be a better dad?
JEM: Constantly seeking to improve myself. Yeah. So lots of contemplation, reflection on my behaviour and then lots of reading and wanting to learn how to get better at being me.
ADAM: Brilliant. And a brilliant way to finish the power dads round. So Jem, we got one more question there before we move into some contact details and we close out. But this is my favourite, it’s the legacy question. So what one thing would you tell your children to help them succeed in life?
JEM: Be kind. Be kind to yourself and be kind to everything outside of you.
ADAM: I love that and a great way to segue into the finish. So ladies and gentlemen, we have been talking to Jem Switajewski. Thank you. Did I get that right, Jem?
JEM: You got it! You got it! I love it.
ADAM: Today we have covered some great ground, we’ve heard some great things from what is a great dad and venturing into entrepreneur. But before we close out, Jem, give us one last tip for the dads of the world and then give us some contact details and then we’ll say goodbye.
JEM: One last tip for the dads of the world, be easy on yourself, you know? If there’s any of you out there that have a tendency to beat yourself up over the way you’re parenting, just easy up on yourself. You’re doing it for the best of your ability, you know, as we all are and there’s no guidebook and breathe, you know, breath is such as an understated powerful tool. We very rarely remember to just stop what we’re doing and take three or five, you know, focused deep breaths and there’s a lot of power in that. So, yeah, just be easy on yourself and remember to breathe.
ADAM:I love it. Jem, thanks so much for spending some time with me today. It’s been a blast talking family matters and entrepreneurial shaping business.
JEM: You’re welcome.
ADAM: Pleasure. Dads of the world, I hope you enjoyed today’s show. If you like anything Jem had to say, head on over the firedupdads.com. There’ll be the show notes and links to all the resources that Jem recommended. [unclear 50:12] hanging out with you, the dads of the world today and Jem, have the best day and we look forward to seeing you next time on Fired Up Dad.