Most people would consider family to be a top priority in their life.  Yet few people specifically invest time and energy into working on their skills as parents and/or spouses.  Jon Vroman started Front Row Dads with the mission to help family men with businesses come together to discuss best practices and learn about issues facing them in fatherhood.  In this conversation, Jon and three Front Row Dads discuss some of the lessons they’ve learned since the start of this unique and amazing group.

EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING WITH FRONT ROW DADS (Jon Vroman, John Kane, Adam Stock, and Dan Casetta)

Q: Jon Vroman, since you’re the founder of Front Row Dads, let’s start off by having you tell us how Front Row Dads came together and what gave you the idea to start the organization?

  • John Kane and I were chatting over dinner one day and he asked me, “what can we build together?”
  • We love to learn with and from amazing people and thought, “how great it would be to get 30 of our friends together and discuss being better husbands and fathers?!”
  • As a disclaimer, it’s not like we thought we had all the answers. This was a quest for information by learning with and from amazing people.
  • We realized if we learned just one new idea from each person there, we’d have 30 fresh new ideas to help us on our mission to be great family men.

Q: I remember Jim Sheils bringing up the idea of the Matrix of Education.  He encouraged us to connect to the toughest times in our lives by making a list of our 5 toughest time, and by connecting to our toughest times we got an idea of what our kids really need to learn.  What else do you remember about that first retreat?

  • (Adam Stock) I also remember something Jim Sheils talked about; his ideas from the book called Family Board Meeting. Basically it’s a methodology of spending 1-on-1 time with your kids.
  • What I’ve realized is that I thought of my life in a binary way. I was either being a dad or I was being a business person but after starting to do 1-on-1 time with each of my kids, I realize just how much my kids crave 1-on-1 time with me.

Q: Adam, can you share the different ground rules that Jim stipulates are important when doing a 1-on-1 with your kids?

  • The most important one is No Electronics.
  • You spend 4 hours together.
  • It includes a meal together to have time for reflection and discussion.
  • The kid chooses the activity and makes the plans.
  • (John Kane chimes in) I would have to echo what Adam is saying here about how profound the Family Board Meeting has been.
  • (JK) There was another speaker at that event, Jason McKenzie, and he shared his story in a very vulnerable, compelling and authentic way. His story touched me deeply.
  • (JK) Another thing that was amazing was the exercise we did where we spent 20 minutes where we wrote down our dad super power- the thing we felt we were doing really well.
  • (Jon Vroman adds his perspective) I’ll answer the question from my perspective too. What I got from that event was not what I was expecting… I thought it was going to be a strategy.  What I realized was that I was a guy who focused a lot on relationships but it was always more surface level. But getting 3 days together for an immersion like that weekend where we could go really deep with people was something that I realized I was missing from my life.

Q: Jon (Vroman), tell us the story of Tiger and the rock wall.

  • This story was masterfully told by Jon in such an engaging and poignant Notes won’t do it justice. Please do yourself a favor and just listen to it 🙂 but here were Jon’s lessons/takeaways for your reference…
  • The lesson is that we treat people as we remember them yesterday and not as who they can become in any one moment. That’s why so many parents are blown away by their kids.
  • We need to learn to look at our kids, look at our lives, look at our businesses, look at everything, with a fresh set of eyes on a regular basis and challenge ourselves to see potential and not the past.

Q: I know that some time in the year following the first Front Row Dads retreat, you decided to go all in on Front Row Dads and make that your full-time pursuit.  What made you make that decision?

  • (JV) I couldn’t not make that decision. Once I know, I can’t be talked out of it.
  • When your why has heart your how gets legs.

Q: John Kane, what was something you’ve taken with you from one of the 4 Front Row Dads retreats you’ve been to?

  • Getting to hear John Israel talk about his Mr. Thank You project, and how the book came to be was neat because it was one of the first times he had publicly shared that. At the end of his message, he had us take some time to write our own thank you card.  I wrote mine to my dad and after the retreat I sent it to him.
  • Little did I know that a few months later, we would lose him, and when I went back home to be with family, my thank you note was on his bedside table.
  • I was always able to write that thank you card but something about being in a certain environment that encouraged me led to that special moment that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
  • (DC) John Israel posed the question: How do we treat that which we’re grateful for?

Q: Adam, how about a takeaway that you want to share?

  • Kelly Flanagan, the author of the book, “Loveable: Embracing What Is Truest About You, So You Can Truly Embrace Your Life” … he talks about 3 things that we yearn for in life: Purpose, Connection, and Worthiness.
  • I realized that I had never reflected on that word “worthiness” before, and I realized that I didn’t feel I was worthy of a fit body for some reason. I realized through listening to Kelly that I needed to ask a better question of myself.  “What if I was worthy of having a fit body? How would that be?”
  • I am worthy of having a fit body. Getting more healthy has a dramatic impact on the energy you have to deal with your family.

Q: Let’s get into some of the parenting habits that we’ve discussed.

  • (Dan continues) I’ll start it off. At our retreat in Florida the idea was shared of helping kids to generate empathy, and that empathy is a critical element for success emotionally.  “Let’s talk about how this makes your brother feel.” Learning how to put your kids into other people’s shoes.
  • We also discussed the idea of talking to our kids about what we want them to do rather than what we don’t want them to do. When we talk about what we want, it’s a way of creating a goal.  It becomes aspirational and makes them want to do it.  When we talk about what we don’t want, it’s restrictive and the idea is naturally resisted.

Q: What are some other things that have come out of the retreat?

  • (John Kane) Going to the retreats has given me the opportunity to pause and really take a look at myself and how I’m showing up.
  • (JK) I’m not proud of this, but I used to be the guy who would give my best at work and then come home exhausted and I didn’t give my family my best. So I started to think about ways I can upgrade the way I would show up at home.
    • Leaving my phone in my car when I got home and making sure I was fully present when I was at home.

Q: You bring up the concept of prioritizing and scheduling, and Adam has done some teaching on this concept to the dads.  Would you be willing to share some things you’ve found to be helpful when prioritizing and scheduling your time?

  • A lot of people take the end of each year or the beginning of each year to map out their business plan for the year, but how many people make an annual plan to map out their family life.
  • We have 3 limited resources in our life: Money, Time and Personal Energy.
  • Your calendar reflects your priorities.

Q: What were some takeaways you got from this last retreat in San Diego?

  • We’re not just responsible for our actions but we’re responsible for our reactions.
  • Between stimulus and response is choice.
  • “I am the decisive element”
  • “Anger is almost always an emotion for people who wish to control others while simultaneously failing to control themselves.” (Adam)

Q: How about you, Jon Vroman? What were some takeaways you got from this last retreat in San Diego?

  • One of our pillars is self-awareness and self-control.
  • A lot of one’s success is bounce-back or resilience.

Q: What does the future hold for Front Row Dads and how do people find out more if they want to?

  • The future is to be open to new members. We want 100,000 members from 100 different countries.
  • For more: com


  • What matters most in your life? Most people would say their family is what matters most. Your calendar is a reflection of your priorities.
  • The Family Board Meeting. 1 on 1 with each of your kids every 3 months.
  • Positive leadership is more powerful than negative influence or anger.
  • “Anger is almost always an emotion for people who wish to control others while simultaneously failing to control themselves.”
    • Anger is one letter off from the word, “Danger”
  • Show appreciation and gratitude.



Show Notes provided by Carlo Cipollina.

To learn more and get access to all episodes, visit our podcast page!

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