Dear Js,

I’m losing it. Children have no off switch. Almost every day, I open the garage door to a crying baby, a yelling toddler, a howling dog and a frustrated mama. As the day wears on, our tanks run empty. When they run empty, patience disappears. Every night, I’m a hair from losing it. But somehow, just before I do, it’s almost bedtime. And one last story later, one last milk from downstairs later, one last hug, one last scream and shhhh you better not wake your sister up… one last diaper change, one last potty time, one last chat, one last blankets back on, one last cry and tantrum and one last defense of a hail-Mary I-don’t-want-to-sleep manipulation… you’re asleep.


So tired. We could sleep. But SILENCE! Silence is opportunity. Finally, time for ourselves to do something for us. Is it safe? We pray you don’t wake up. I lie on the floor with my head in my hands, stretching my neck. Then I work out a little, take a shower. And head downstairs to work. Just an hour or two left in the night. So much left to do. I feel like goofing off and being lazy. I do, then time ticks forward. Not much time left. Gotta get some work in before my eyes go lights out. Writing, reading, coding.

Sometimes I wonder if I can take the edge off. Will drinking help? I think we’re just all tired at the end of the day. Drinking may dull the senses but it might sap away the little strength I have left too.

My eyes are blurry. I’ve been reading too much. I just complained to mama, “I need a faster way to put this in my brain.”

I’m almost done with Profiles of Genius. I started reading The Demographic Cliff. It’s the work of economic weatherman Harry Dent, who, like each of us, is searching for meaning. Dent looks for it in demographics. He’s not a scientist, so being human, he finds patterns where there are none, and makes the error of trying to shoehorn them to make a point. Or worse, make a prediction about the future.

Because this:

There's a correlation between how much chocolate a country consumes and how many Nobel laureates it produces

There’s a correlation between how much chocolate a country consumes and how many Nobel laureates it produces

Does chocolate make people smarter? No. This is an example of one of the most common logical fallacies people fall for: Correlation does not imply causation.

But still, data is data. It’s the conclusions you have to be suspicious of. And even though you can’t be sure about the future, you can be sure that people don’t change:

What people spend money on throughout their life

What people spend the most money on throughout their life

This is the consumer life cycle. It shows what people spend on. Notice that spending rises when adults start working/renting. First big bump happens when couples buy their first house. Peak is at trade-up house, when teenagers strike (~age 40-50). Then spending drops when kids leave the nest to go to college.

Given this data, what conclusions can you draw? Take a minute to think about it for a bit. When you’re done, come back and I’ll share what I think.

Back? Good. What did you think? Maybe now’s a good time to call me or mama to chat. Or use this excuse to catch up with your bro/sis. Anyway, here’s what I concluded: Families drive the economy. Households with families tend to want bigger cars, bigger houses, more food, school, etc. We spend more. And because we spend more, we are also more motivated to make more money. A household with no children can’t justify spending as much raw dollars as one doing it “for our kids”. No matter how passionate or greedy someone is, he or she can’t outwork a mother doing it for her family.

Next, notice the big ticket purchases a family makes at the peak: Houses + Home stuff. For most families, this is the biggest lifetime purchase. So, now you know when people spend the most money (when family matures) and what they spend the most money on (family, home).

Do you see what this could mean? There is no better way to grow an economy than by encouraging people to have kids.

Next, population:

Demographic cliff

Demographic cliff

The idea is, if you know that families in their 40s have the biggest impact on the economy, you can plot a chart of when people turn 40 to get a sense of what the economy will look like. The thing to note in the chart is that the population blew up globally after WWII, in the Baby Boomer generation. And then, for the first time in history, the generation that followed had fewer people.

So if 40-year-olds with kids is what drives the economy, what happens when Boomers die? They will leave a smaller generation of 40s in their wake. Die-ers outnumber Buyers. And down goes the economy.

“But what about technology?” I hear you thinking. Good, you were paying attention. I mentioned in my letter a few weeks back about Ronald Coase and decreasing transaction costs from advancing technology. And how tech is a multiplier of wealth. Surely, with better tech, better opportunities, we can be just as productive and just as wealthy with fewer people?



(Technology is a wildcard, so here’s a puzzle for you: Do you think better technology makes the demographic cliff better, or worse?)

Anyway, since industrialization, we’ve been gifted cars, airplanes, unlimited free information (Internet), smartphones (global communication), free broadcasting (YouTube), free publishing (blogs), zero barriers to doing business (PayPal).

But did that change anything? Doesn’t look like it.

We think that having fewer kids, lets us educate them better, give them a better life. But the trend still holds. Why? One reason could be that when parents migrate from breeding big family to use as child labor in farms to urban life, they often have to work harder and longer at their desk jobs. Cost of living is higher. Time is scarcer. So we get a smaller population of children being raised by busier parents… who often have to outsource the parenting to daycares and nannies in order to work more to pay the bills.

I closed the book after reading that paragraph

I closed the book after reading that paragraph

We are healthier, live longer and more advanced. But strangely, this makes our population decrease, not increase. This phenomenon can be because of factors such as education, birth control, higher cost of living, or career disrupting nesting.

So it seems that the best way to grow a country’s economy is not to work adults harder. But to invest in children. Countries where moms get paid time off and aren’t pressured to work raise more children. With more numbers, you get the law of large numbers in your favor.

And that’s why, as good as parents today raise their kids, they aren’t more successful on average. Opportunity is nothing without the mindset to exploit it. Actually, the income gap between the rich and the poor has widened, despite better opportunities. No matter how many people you have, the majority will be slackers. The top 10-20% will always drive 60+% of the economy.

So, since success rates don’t change, a big population beats small population always.

Here’s a fun tip if you ever become a dictator of a country: reproduction is inefficient. Since everyone has the right to reproduce, you get a muddy average. You can do better than average. Boost your economy through selective immigration. Choose to beef up your population with only the best people. Another bonus of immigration is that immigrants tend to migrate around 30+ years old. This means you infuse your economy with people who are peaking in productivity and consumption.

Here’s another idea that might be useful for business: given that families spend the most money, and they spend the most money on their home, why not align your business with families and homes? If you are creating a new market, it’s probably good to anchor it to ‘rite of passage’ events in family life. Better yet, anchor it to the fantasy of their biggest purchase: owning a home.

Even the great masters struggle. We’re too used to seeing finished and polished products. It’s terrible. Because it hides the truth from learning minds — that success takes hard work. So, I enjoyed stumbling upon this rare treasure in one of Dr Seuss’ books. It turns out it was the last book he worked on before he died. He didn’t finish it. His editor got a hold of his manuscript and finished it, as true to his vision and style as she could. In the process, she gave us a glimpse of the master at work.

To most people, it could be unimpressive… and surprisingly awful! You see Dr Seuss struggle with rhymes and fumble with words. But to maker, it is inspiring! Precisely because it is awful. You get to see that even good books and good authors start out awful. And you get to see that beautiful things are born from terrible beginnings.









Sleep debt wave crashed on us again. Mama and I passed out after putting you two to bed. Two nights in a row. Parents always try to stay awake at night no matter how tired we are, because it’s the only personal time we get. We had grand plans for the rest of the night, but this time our brain said nope. Good news is we’re refreshed now. Full tank of energy again. Bad news is my worked piled up last night and I didn’t shower.

Mama’s on the hook for two deliverables this week. First, filling her upcoming workshop. This is the “blurb” we came up with to sell it:

*NEW* Breastfeeding Mama Tribe for Mamas with Spring 2014 Babies

If breastfeeding is natural, why is it difficult? Because in modern times, we fly far from home to go to school, to work, and to fall in love. And because of this, we often start families alone, with little support from our family and community.

As an LC, the biggest reason I see for mamas’ breastfeeding challenges is we don’t get to see other moms mothering their babies. So we don’t get to learn like nature intended. It’s sad to see moms in pain, especially when most problems (such as bad latch or not making enough milk) can be easily avoided by 1) joining a breastfeeding community and 2) seeking expert breastfeeding support before birth.

So, to guide you to confident breastfeeding, we’re starting a NEW ____ Breastfeeding Mama Tribe this Spring 2014!

This is for moms with Spring 2014 babies who plan to or are already breastfeeding. The group will be guided by ____, MS CLC to support you and give you answers to your questions, such as:

How do I know if my baby is hungry? (your baby gives you many clues before resorting to crying)
How much does my baby need to feed? (“once every 3 hours” applies to very few babies)
How do I know if my baby is full? (One example: learn signs that show when your baby is swallowing)
How do I tell if my baby has a good latch? (One hint: fishy lips)
What’s the best position? (Cradle hold? Works all the time only in the movies. Learn holds that work for your body – so no muscle cramps or back pain)

The Spring 2014 mama tribe begins with a 3 hour class for you and your partner. There will be Q&A after. The price for the class is $120. You will get one FREE follow-up phone consultation, plus a special mama tribe rate for your first home visit. After your baby is here, return to swap stories and congratulate and support each other every Monday 10am – 12pm at our weekly Breastfeeding Mamas Group.

Email ____ or call ____ by March 5th to reserve your spot

So far one mom signed up. We’ve yet to see if this works. The benefits of installing this process (over ad hoc 1-on-1 consultation) are as follows. Minimize 1-on-1 time, group selling, group servicing. Sell bundle, with free perks that can be used as an excuse to follow up. It’s no longer pestering, “Btw, if you have any questions, feel free to call me smileyface.” But, helpful reminders: “Don’t forget you have your free phone consult. 5 people have already redeemed it – when can I call you next week?”

Plus, the freebies/perks are use-it-or-lose-it things. (Loss aversion.) It’s things they already paid, so they will be more motivated to take advantage of them, which leads them pre-sold to the “next steps.”

Best of all, this is a system. We’re testing it in one place now. If it works, it’s easy to roll out in other places (midwives, pediatricians, other biz). Same “ad”, same workshop, same process.

The second thing mama got me on the hook for is a newsletter. It’s getting there. I don’t have the finished work now, but I’m trying to nudge mama to finish it before her workshop/class. Because then, she can slip her ad as a Free Standing Insert into the newsletter, which will go out to a few thousand local moms.

This week in pictures

After putting on T-Rex head: "I am foxy loxy"

After putting on T-Rex head: “I am foxy loxy”

Then mama went to kitchen. She came back and caught you tyring to put that on Julie. “She wanted to try to be a Tyrannosaurus.” Mama said NOOOOOOOOO! You cried.

Bicycles R Us:

I let you ride it all over the store until a lady yelled at me, “SIR, Bicycles only in the bicycle section PLEASE!”

Mama giving you the "he's growing up too fast" look

Mama giving you the “he’s growing up too fast” look

Those cheeks!

Those cheeks!

We discovered that the library lets us borrow Audiobooks. They are awesome. We are against TV and digital devices, but audiobooks seem okay. You’re listening to someone read while you flip the pages — just like we do for you. Awesome because we get a break:

I showed you how to use the library computer:

This is how many books you borrow every week (you had twice as much as what you see in the video):

Can't wait to read. We can't wait for you to talk so you two can talk with each other

You can’t wait to read. We can’t wait for you to talk so you two can talk with each other

This is how much you love reading

This is how much you love reading

“A book” The k is silent:

Mama's car's turn to need a jump. You helped me "fix" the car like you helped fix the dryer

Mama’s car’s turn to need a jump. You helped me “fix” the car like you helped fix the dryer

Nursing KingKing

“KingKing is feeding her baby”

Mama: "Power cleans partner!" She decided she was going to Crossfit today no matter what. You fell asleep in the car on the way, so she waited in the lot 1 hour til you woke up. At first you were fine in the stroller, but mama put you in the backpack when you wanted out

Mama: “Power cleans partner!” She decided she was going to Crossfit today no matter what. You fell asleep in the car on the way, so she waited in the lot 1 hour til you woke up. At first you were fine in the stroller, but mama put you in the backpack when you wanted out

I caught mama asking this question to other moms: “I just started bringing my 9mo with me since she won’t stay with anyone else (husband included). She did great our first time, half the time in the stroller, half the time in the ergo. Luckily we were not doing anything above the shoulders with the bar. Which moves would you consider ok to do with a baby in a backcarry? Or what should I not be doing with the baby in a backcarry?”

"I’m not a kids’ dentist, I’m a grown up dentist, I help kids and grown ups!"

“I’m not a kids’ dentist, I’m a grown up dentist, I help kids and grown ups!”

I just want to floss your teeth so you will go to sleep

Daddy just wants to floss your teeth and put you to sleep

Dino Dancer. You fell, I laughed:

We went scootering while mama worked and helped some mamas on Monday:

Drop-off stories. Birds:

On the way to school, Joshua looked out the window and said, “Birds!”

1 minute later, he said, “Birds are like planes”

I said, actually, planes are like birds.

I explained to him how in the beginning there were only birds and no planes. And people wanted to fly so they looked at birds, and they learned and tried very hard and they made airplanes like birds.

Then he talked about us flying to Puerto Rico in an airplane. I said we didn’t make that airplane. We just borrowed it. Someone else made it, and we shared it.

Then he asked, “Why is James only for the plane?”

I said because we were going on a plane ride and we wanted you to have something to play with.

He took bunny with him to Starfish. He’s more socially confident these days. After tailing me to put things away, he ran off to a group of his friends who were playing with the train tracks. When I was done I went to say goodbye. At first, he was standing by the side watching. Then he said, “Look, a bridge. That is a new bridge.” I hugged him and said I love you good bye etc. As I left he picked up a car to play together with Max, another blonde boy and a blonde girl. He drove the car on top of the new bridge. The girl thought about protesting but decided that it was okay.

I don’t want to go to school:

J didn’t cry or fuss, but he kept saying he didn’t want to go to school.

I said but you can only see your friends if you go to school.

He said, “I only want to play with grownups. I want to stay at home all the time.”

After I hugged him and kissed him and said goodbye today, I walked to the door to leave.

I turned around to wave, but this time he was right next to my leg looking up. He smiled and said “I want to come with you.”

I knelt down explained again and hugged him. Ms Marissa saw that he was having a little tough time today so she came over to help. She said they were going to make plants he could take home to grow.

She carried him and he looked out the window to say bye.

Pickup stories by mama:

“I’m tyrannosaurs Rex pterodactylus artiopterix James lightning and I was dry after nap time!”

Also his own grammar police: “I catched it, no I caught it!”

When mama picked you up, you wanted her to read a few books. But when she sat down to read, you saw that all your friends surrounded her. You said, “Let’s go home mama.” You didn’t want to share her.

Now I’ll finish with your latest developmental milestones.

Julie, you can clap with both hands open and make a sound. You love to eat. You also love to scream when mama doesn’t feed you fast enough. Mama has also been trying to get you to sleep in your crib at night. A few nights, we enjoyed simple luxuries like turning the lights on. And talking.

Now J. Your bed rails are down. That’s changed many things. One night, I put you to bed. A few minutes later, you were quiet so I got up to go back to my room. I plugged my phone to the charger and breathed a sigh of relief. I thought, okay, time to take a shower but when I turned, there you were standing in the dark behind me. Still and silent, holding your tiger, like in a horror movie. I glanced again at your hands to make sure you didn’t have any sharp objects. You said, “I was alone.” Yes, that was the point. So we did it all over again.

The other problem with your new bed setup is that you are waking up and jumping into our bed. Which is also where your sister sleeps. As hard as we try to keep you quiet, toddlers guarantee that things never go as planned. We tried putting a gate up, but that just stops you body but not your voice. And you cry for us to bring you to our bed.

The latest thing I’m trying is sleeping in your room. It’s working out so far, although that means I’ve been sleeping on the couch or on the floor in your room for the past few weeks. Now, when you wake up, you come snuggle and nap with me on good days. On other days, you stack your toys around me, jump on me, ask me to read you books. But that itself is a blessing, because I remember there was once when we couldn’t take our eyes off you because you could have found a way to kill yourself while we weren’t looking.

But this independent free-will thing is very trying. The problem with children is you don’t come pre-loaded with “how to behave like a human.” So you’re constantly testing your boundaries. And you’re constantly testing the boundaries of the world around you as well. What will happen if I jump off the couch? What will happen if I throw this? What will happen if I keep turning the lights off and on? What will happen if I push my sister?

Bsaically, you’re a demon rebel boy. I get angry because you are born with no rules, and you need to learn all the rules in every situation we have in modern life.



P.S. Grandma and Grandpa are coming. Sigh. Only reason I said OK is because they are your grandparents. I am not looking forward to it. Every time they visit, they take away my time, money, energy and happiness… especially when they try to help or try to rekindle their fantasy of a family. I don’t know if I told you, but I sent them home early the last time they visited. I’ve been in a rotten mood ever since they started shopping for their plane tickets. But they are your grandparents. So we’re sucking it up for you.

P.P.S. After not getting to rider the roller coaster, we had to explain that you need to grow some more. So at lunchtime, you ate twice as much as you normally do. You said, “I ate, so I can go on the roller coaster now.” So, we realized that you needed a lesson on how growing takes time:

How things grow

How things grow