Episode 15 - Isaiah McPeak - On Cultivating Lasting Joy

Isaiah McPeak (00:00):
Over parenting as, as harmful as under parenting. The most important thing I could do for my kids' future was lead an adult life worth having

Young Han (00:12):
Meetings. I love, Hey guys, I'm young, a full time dad and a, a full-time professional with the goal to become the best parent possible. The girl that show is my journey interviewing fellow working parents aspiring to be both good at work and parenting. I'm gonna do this by gathering and sharing unfiltered perspectives from my guest. So join me as I research parenthood one interview at a time

Young Han (00:39):
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Isaiah McPeak (01:31):
You bet. Delighted to be here.

Young Han (01:34):
Yes, I am so excited to talk to you about my favorite topic parenting and working. So let's get right into it. Why don't you tell us a little bit about what do you do and who are you?

Isaiah McPeak (01:44):
I do. Lots of things. That's a, that's a an hour long answer, but some of the things that I do are, are designing products in one of them right now is a product for kids. That's actually a first phone. So a take on the kid phone problem that nice parents could maybe actually live with and, and kids too. And instead of them both losing or, or just one of them losing as happens in, in today's solutions. That's amazing. Yeah. What is this product? It's called break it for me. Yeah. pinwheel.com. Okay. So it's a mode changing phone and it tries to, instead of fighting your intention where, you know, if you, if you or I open up our phone for one reason, there's about 17 other reasons drawing us to check or do a bajillion other things.  Right. And we to fight it. Well, kid kids don't have that level of impulse control. I mean, even adults don't have that level of impulse control. That's right. That's right. And there's a lot of products like, you know, YouTube kids or whatever that have drawn a, a target, a bullseye and put them on a child. And they're like, okay, you know, that children are looking at this well, it's real easy. Brain science has figured out mm-hmm, <affirmative> how to warp that brain to become a consumer instead of a creator. And, and we wanted to build a product that goes the other direction and says, no, humans should never serve their technology. Technology should serve humans, but also phones are cool, and that's the, that's the part that's a little different. Right. And so, yeah. How can a phone be a tool, not a toy and still be something that a dad gives their daughter? I have, I have a, a 12 year old and a seven year old daughters right now. And it's fun to give them things like a, you know, a skateboard or a scooter or a Pogo stick. Well, a phone should be great. Not something that I dread. I'm like, oh no, what just happened here? Did I lose my child forever? You know what I'm saying?

Young Han (03:45):
That's right, I mean, maybe we're, we're starting to open back up, but I remember like pre pandemic, you would go out and like, the kids would just be buried in their phones at these dinner places. Right. And then it's like this common theme that parents talk about, like, you know, losing their kids too screens. And it's just this common theme with this whole new, like this generation growing up in the digital, in the digital era. So I, I think it sounds great, but like, what does that actually mean? How do you actually do that?

Isaiah McPeak (04:08):
Okay. So, so there's, there's a few pillars. And, and for me it was, you know, I was stuck between kind of flip phone and smartphone. And I knew that if I got a smartphone and tried Android family link or apple screen time, I've learned a ton more since then being in this space for a couple years. But my thought then was just, my kid's gonna have my password within two weeks. I can't sit on that and, you know, approve disapprove and regulate the thing. I, I just don't know how to do that. Like, I'm not wired that way. It's not gonna work. And so as we, we actually built a, a council of therapists work with some folks here in town, in Austin that did some studies on smartphones for, for UT and, and came up with a philosophy and said, okay, for the first phone that a child gets, they're going to need to progressively learn how to use this thing, and as founders, we found that to be true immediately. Like my, my founder actually gave his seven year old son, the, the first version of, of our phone, which is, is built on, I guess I better tell you what, what the, the pillars was built on. First of all, safe list communication. So there's no, no spam calls, no spam texts, because the only communication that can come to the phone has been people approved by the parent. And second, it gets smarter at times approved by the parent. So these modes that switch through the day, right. It turns into a brick at night. Yeah. And so you don't have to have the no phones at, in your bedroom conversation or rules or anything because the phone becomes a brick at 9:00 PM or 8:00 PM or whatever, every time you said it to. And you can transition that too.

Isaiah McPeak (05:45):
And you can say, you know what, let's have a quiet and unwind mode where just this audio book or, or this, you know, ninja focused meditation or whatever is available for 30 minutes, then it shuts off. And, and so the contacts are also limited that way. So you can say, you know, during school, it's just mom and dad emergency contacts. Well now, now texting at school, isn't a problem. <Laugh> because the only reason they would be texting is, is an emergency, you know, for, for mom and dad. So, and then the last piece is the curated apps. So we, as, as parents, you know, when you even wanna find a chores app, right. There's like 12 out there, and which ones have backdoor to browser, which ones have back doors to social media, which ones have gifts with nudity and pornography in the keyboard search. Like there's always like very junk wear inside of apps. And it's not even app developers necessarily being lazy. Sometimes it's just, they're using the standard plugins and don't realize, yeah, what they're putting into an app. And then is it powered by ads or not? Right. And so what we did is we said, let's, let's curate the best in class tools for kids and key categories, productivity, school, religion, fitness, you know, let's get some, some sports skill trackers on there, that kind of thing. And, and start with a set of apps that are really high quality are not trying to pull you into 17 other places and not built on the, the engagement model. Right. Which is Silicon Valley's metric since, since like 2007, right? Yeah. The sticky back, right. That's right. Yeah. The, we want antis sticky apps. Like they're there when you need them. Right. And so you're not worried is my kid going to, to do ninja focus meditation for three hours on a bench? Like, no, they're not. They're, they're not going to use their science journal for, for three hours on in, because they're gonna use it for what they need it for.

Young Han (07:40):
I'm not gonna lie right now. Like, I actually want that whole like, custom, like nobody can call me or text me unless they're permitted feature like right now for myself. That sounds very amazing.

Isaiah McPeak (07:50):
Isn't it hilarious? No, yeah. We we've actually had to build an entire process that keeps adults from buying our phone cuz they would, they're like, oh, this is a great minimalist phone. Like, well, except hold on, wait, wait, what, if you apply to a job and you need to get a job interview from a stranger or yeah. And you wanna just order pizza without having to go through this process to approve, you know, pizza hu and stuff. But yeah, I felt the same way. And actually doing this work has changed my tech habits dramatically in, in ways, both I'm thinking of as model for kids, but also just learning like the actual compelling research of the mere presence of a smartphone making us dumber. It it's like there was this of it's setting upside down on a table when you have a conversation actually at both parties know at any point that it could be a pull and they're less connected, less invested in the conversation. Whereas if it's out of sight, but if it's in your pocket or purse, there's still a draw. And this is, it's like scientifically proven and wow, if you can get it in the other room, then you're gonna be your full self. And untraceable. And when I tried this at work for a few times, I was like, let me see what happens. I don't really have anything that important that could happen. I'm gonna turn off my phone and put it in another room for the next six hours and work. I had a day, like I haven't had since 1999, like, oh my gosh, it was crazy, but also anxiety provoking. Right. But, but I like anytime I got stuck on a hard problem and I work, I'm like, well, I guess I'd better power through it instead.

Young Han (09:21):
That's why my wife's gonna love listening to this episode. For sure. She's gonna be a huge fan of that idea of that exercise. I should definitely employ that more often because I, I think I'd say for the last better part of 15 years, I've not been separated from my phone.

Isaiah McPeak (09:35):
Isn't that wild Young? I had an experience like that. Yeah. A few years back, it was like, it was maybe three years ago somebody said, Hey, for my birthday, we're gonna go tube down the San Marcos river. And I was like, okay, I'm gonna try this. It was for the first time probably since smartphones came out. Yeah. I left my smartphone somewhere for four hours and it was hard. I, I had not had that experience in years and I'm like, what is this?

Young Han (09:58):
It was unnerving. I mean, I, I distinctly remember when I didn't have it. I accidentally jumped into a waterfall. We were in Hawaii. It was like four or five years ago. And, and I, I it's. So like, it like seared into my mind, it was so uncomfortable. Right. It was so like, it was just so weird to not have my phone. And basically I break my phone. Yeah. I break my phone. And so I didn't have my phone for three days cuz you know, Hawaii didn't have an apple store that I can go do my replacement plan with, and so for like three days I didn't have a phone and it was like seared into my memory and it, it wasn't necessarily bad or good, but it was definitely an emotional thing. Like that was probably a mixture of both and I've never tested it again. But now you're like inspiring me to test it again. Hey, so I have to ask, did you start this because your kids are starting to get to the age where they're getting phones or like what prompted you to build this business?

Isaiah McPeak (10:45):
Yes, that, that is the exact reason. And it's, it's funny. We both had that story. So my co-founder CEO, Dan, he started about six weeks before involving me in the project. And it was because his oldest son who was seven best friend in the neighborhood, got a phone. Nice. And they were like, what? The freak? You just gave a seven year old a phone, but then it, it sent him down a research, you know, rabbit trail like, well, what am I gonna do? And oh my gosh, this is impending, you know? And they found the wait till eighth campaign and sign that. But then he's like this nothing here is satisfying and it all feels really like finger wacky, like yeah, phones are bad, you know? And I'm like, they're not, they there's some cool stuff on there. Yeah. But yeah, they're all so bad. Huh. And so, so he couldn't find options. And then it was like, it was the most fortuitous thing. The night before he called me, I'd had the latest argument with my then 10 year old daughter. She was 10 or 11. I can't remember. Mm. About like, can she get a phone yet? Can she get a phone? Can she get a phone? Like a continual argument we were having? And I was just like, you know, it wasn't so much, like I didn't want her to have one. It's just that I didn't want her to have one that I could think of. Yeah. And I went and researched it and I was like in despair, I'm like, there's just, there's no option. I can, I'm sorry, sweetie. Like I don't have a good option. And then the next day he called me and he was like, look, kids don't have options for phones. It's flip phone or smartphone. And there's nothing in between. I'm like, you are so freaking right about that. What are we gonna do? Yeah. We're gonna, we're gonna solve this problem. That's amazing. Yeah. And so I, I was instantly on board.

Young Han (12:24):
Like it's almost like the universe was listening in on your conversation.

Isaiah McPeak (12:28):
That's how it felt. It really did. I'm like, how did you know?

Young Han (12:32):
Let's go into that actually real quick before you go into, go into this even further, cuz I'm very curious about this device now because I'm actually like, you know, like I have kids and I wanna know about this stuff. Right. So I'm definitely gonna check it out, but tell me about your kids. Let's let's talk about them. How many do you have? How old are they and who are they?

Isaiah McPeak (12:47):
Yeah, so I, I have 2.5 kids or do next month with, with my son, but I have two daughters and they are they're 12 and seven and they're awesome. And I, I have a split home, so I have them about half the time, one of them's more of an adventurer and she's super musical and just would never call her inside the line. And, and, and the other one is kind of like, they're both hyper intuitive, but she's just super analytical her method of dealing with problems to shut down and bred and she's wicked smart, so awesome. Those are my two kids.

Young Han (13:29):
That's awesome. And then I, I, I took the half thing as a joke, but you actually have another one in the, another one.

Isaiah McPeak (13:35):
Yeah. One in the hopper. So, so do August 28th.

Young Han (13:39):
Oh my gosh. Congratulations! Super exciting. That's great, man. What was your childhood like? Wait, actually, before we get into your childhood, let's actually talk about how you even came to being to start pinwheel. Cause I think the there's a lot of context here, right? Like to actually even get there. So I know I'm sure you have a wide variety of experiences, but if you could just give us like a high level overview of like the journey you've taken to this point, that'd be great.

Isaiah McPeak (14:06):
Yeah. I think those are probably the same questions. So I have a nontraditional life path, I think compared to, to a lot of us because I was a military brat. And so I lived in, I think, 12 or 13 places and it's funny. I counted cause we just moved into this house here in Georgetown. I counted all my moves in my lifetime and you know, that included this one, which was like a three mile move. Right. But I've moved 26 times in my life, which is pretty significant by comparison to a lot of people. Right. And so lived in

Young Han (14:40):
You're on the far spectrum of quantity.

Isaiah McPeak (14:42):
Yeah. And east coast, west coast, south north, like I've lived everywhere.

Young Han (14:50):
I cut you off you off. You said Europe as well?

Isaiah McPeak (14:51):
Yes. I spent five years in Europe and so international as well. Mm-Hmm, and so I, I love that. It has, you know, there's some downsides too, which is you don't grow up with best friends when you live that life. Right. And so it's been very hard for me actually as an adult to realize, now, here I am in Austin, Texas, and I'm gonna be here for a long time. But most of the good friend groups here are, you know, they've been friends since they were third grade and I'm like, I've never had a friend for more than three years in a place. You know, I have great friends, but they're scattered across the country and world. That's right. Yeah. So, so that's interesting. So because of that, my mom chose to homeschool back in the eighties because she was a military brat too. And you know, whenever you hear that, I think instantly people go down a bunch of different directions and assumptions. And so I have to say, look, my mom chose to homeschool because she's a great educator, and literally believed it would be a better education. It wasn't the like remove my kids from the, the dangerous, horrible natures of school or right wing thing or anything like that. It was, she really felt like she could give us a better education. She became an expert in classical liberal arts training. She started tons of homeschool groups actually across the world, and we did the first test I ever took was in college. I had, I had like a living books, education. Hmm. And so, and real projects and high school speech and debate was actually huge for me for, for a few years. And I went to, to college on a, I actually had both a trumpet scholarship to one school to university of Maryland Baltimore. And I had a debate scholarship and I did the throw on top of that. We weren't allowed electronics growing up. Oh. Or sugar. Right. So like, I, I remember like I would have a candy bar at grandma's house kind of thing. And my mom would hate that but we literally rented a television once every four years to watch the Olympics. Wow. That was, that was what I sort of grew up with until I finally got a laptop for speech and debate in when I was 16 or something like that. So it, it was, it, it was a pattern that it is funny, like some of my, my brothers and others who grew up in that community, like really hated and resented. And I think there were time it's where I did, but I have come to appreciate that. And we still don't have a TV. I've never owned a TV. And I feel like I've lived a couple different lives because of that. So I have a lot of bookshelves and I've, I've spent time with the greats, you know, and, and I love reading Aristotle and, and Plato or novels or, you know, historical fiction or biography, like there's this, this second life that I feel like I've had yeah. That I wasn't watching friends or, you know, people would like refer to all these shows and stuff and I have no freaking clue what's going on. yeah.

Young Han (17:49):
Are you, are you replicating this, this kind of like lifestyle with your kids then?

Isaiah McPeak (17:51):
Not really. So the, the key for me and you know, they have some electronics, we watch movies, we love Disney plus like yeah. You know, we put it up on the wall, but we don't have like a TV in the center of the living room. You have to get things out. That's, that's part of the way we live and, and I've come to appreciate that. And so, you know, it was like, I felt super weird when I got an Xbox two years ago. Like that's the first time I've ever had a gaming console in my life that I wasn't sneaking, you know? Yeah. And, and so like building the rules around that, but, but, but here's where I've come to is the same with phone one. Technology's neither good nor bad. Mm it's. How you use it. And there is a difference between zoning out and playing a video game and connecting and playing a video game. And if my kids and I are laughing and having a great time playing a video game, that's awesome. Let's do it. Let's do more of it. Right. That's the same as a board game or kicking a soccer ball or something like that. But if we're like, that's all we think about every day is getting to that. And then when we're there, that's what we do. And we don't actually feel better unless we're doing that. It's crossed a line into addictive types of brain chemicals. And that's not really good for us.

Young Han (19:14):
No, I love this man. You're like getting deep into it. And so I'm sure that there was some level of like psychology introspection and, and a lot of thought that went through this process as you went from this lifestyle, opening it up. When you're 16, watching your siblings react differently, you, you know, navigating this kind of adult world and getting access to everything and then having to raise your own kids. I'm sure there's this. I I'm like packing it. I could just like already imagine

Isaiah McPeak (19:41):
You're intuitively. Yeah. You're seeing things like I had a semester that I binge halo one and two Right. And I'm like, I beat the games and, and I never ever have, I've never in my life before then played a game end to end and that's beat it's, you know, that's that's right. Yeah. And then I was like, what a freaking wasted time? You know, I felt that too. And the things that I could have done. And so actually it was after that semester, I started a volunteer speech and debate club in the same town that I went to school nice. And, and started doing that instead. And I coached high school kids in speech and debate. And I, I had to tell you that was like one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And yeah. And so like that sounds, you know, super judgey. It's not, I loved halo. That was fun too. But at the same time, it's, that's the difference between dopamine hits and seratonin. It it's that, you know, choosing the high road is always harder. It's always a little less fun. But then when you look back in the foundation floor that it gives you is a lot more and it's a lot more permanent. And that's the, the kind of difference is like happiness versus joy as it were, is I don't wanna just be happy in every moment. And I don't want my kids to just be happy for a second. I want them to learn how to cultivate real joy through relationships, meaningful projects, and not as much chasing after wind or things that just disappear.

Young Han (21:11):
I love this man. This is like fascinating stuff, cuz you you've taken a really like philosophical approach to like diagnosing it. Like even the concept of like the example of what you just said even a few minutes ago about like if the video game contributes to a fun and you know, engagement with and your, your family then hasn't it served its purpose, right? Yeah. Like in the sense that you're, you're ne not necessarily doing this like thing where some people do this right. Where they like act like an ostrich, they go, no technology is bad and they like shove their head in the ground and then just shut extricate it from everything. And that's not reality either because it's coming, whether we wanted to or not, you know, that's like, that's like inevitable. And so I, I love the way that you're thinking about this. You're like it is coming. I'm not like a, like a person that's, you know, oblivious of the fact that this is happening. Whether I want it to, or not, what am I gonna do about it and how am I gonna let it into my life? And that's how you're like, basically like adjusting your parenting style. It sounds like,

Isaiah McPeak (22:05):
Yeah, I trying. Right. And, and it's like, there's, there's frustrations with that. You know, I feel like, I literally feel like we're the only kids in this neighborhood who ride bikes, you know, and that, that gets lonely and it means dad needs to come and ride the bike too, just to be fun. Whereas when I was growing up, like if I went out in the neighborhood, riding bikes, there's, there's 13 other kids riding bikes or roller blades or whatever. Right. And yeah, that was play as for my kids by and large, that's a lonesome experience. Right. Yeah. And so I can't just, I don't know, we can't raise our kids for our generation. We have to raise them for theirs, and technology is a huge part of it. And frankly, parental fear of kidnapping and all kinds of stuff is a huge part of it. Yeah. And educational overwhelm and you know, our culture trying to get ahead. It it's, it's a huge part of it. And so I can't run from that reality and just wish it was the way it was or whatever, you know? Yeah. It's, it's totally digital stuff has to be part of our lives and, and what a, what a fool. I feel like I would be if I didn't like kids find patterns that worked for them,

Young Han (23:13):
I love it, man. Like, and in some ways you've actually, by doing this company, you are basically intertwining work with being a good parent. Totally. Like you're literally like, you're like smashing the two things together and getting to like satiate, so many needs with one fell swoop. It's, it's fairly brilliant.

Isaiah McPeak (23:33):
That's absolutely. And, and in fact, it's one of the things that my co-founder and I have talked about a ton is, you know, we're, we're both, we have lots of experience in tech startups. Yeah. And there's a certain like, go, go, go nature to tech, startups and growth startups. Totally. And what we realized real early on is in order for this company to succeed at what it's doing, it has to lead and operate and be as a company mm-hmm, <affirmative> what is trying to bring into the world. And so I, I would say we have made some sacrifices to growth and speed in order to be family friendly as a company, you know, and make sure that we're hiring a lot of parents and not just 22 year olds who want to pound it and you know, then we all go hang out at a bar after work. Right. Instead. Yeah. W we have fewer social gatherings and, and the startup fun that keeps you in the office and, you know, paid dinner to keep you working there another three hours. Like we don't do any of that. And it's interesting because that's not very practiced as a model either. And again, no judgment there, like I had tons of fun in startups doing that. Right. It's a great time. But in order for us to try and build a product that that is about wellness fundamentally. Yeah. The company has to be about wellness too.

Young Han (24:59):
There's also something about solving a mechanical problem, right? Like there's something tactile that you guys are trying to solve. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> and it's also about being real about the problem. So it's somewhat like mechanical, but it's also somewhat like change management of society to a certain degree cuz you, you I've identified the problem, but there's really nothing out there. Totally. So you're kind of actually doing something that's a little bit foreign to begin with. So doesn't the company and culture that builds thing have to be somewhat different as well or else, how would it be truly authentic, right?

Isaiah McPeak (25:29):
Yeah. No, you're exactly right. Because it's so much harder. And, and there's some sleepless nights actually here, when I say this, it's so much harder to get someone to take two steps instead of one, right. If you're out there looking for something already and like, then let me just find the best one and buy it. Yeah. Whereas when there's a concept that you don't even have in, in hand, right. And we're like, no, there's no reference point. Don't wait till eight to get your kid a phone, get your kid a phone by fifth because the first version of the phone is gonna be even less than a flip phone. You're gonna put Spotify kids and mom and dad on there. And that's it, that's the whole thing. That's all the phone does. And then incrementally be build it to it'll at some point on par with a flip phone. Yeah. And then it's gonna get beyond that, beyond that, like that's a philosophy. Right. And you, you have to, and, and yet it's in a form factor we all know and recognize as a smartphone. Right? Yeah. And so there's so many mental leaps that have to happen at once to, to get there. It is. It's a, it's a huge challenge

Young Han (26:30):
I have to, I'm like dying of curiosity. Like how, how, what kind of things are you measuring in work then based on the fact that so many things are different and it's so mission driven and in a very, very visceral way. And you're literally recruiting parents. That's awesome. So what, what are some of the KPIs that you track that are different from other tech companies and also the same ones I'd love to hear?

Isaiah McPeak (26:50):
Yeah. So, so one KPI that we track that's the opposite from other companies is, is we try to look at engagement, right. We try to look at screen time, but our goal is the opposite. We, we want to show that's awesome. Yeah. And the reason is so, so we're struggling to really measure this, but we find ways to get at it is I don't know if you've ever heard of, have you ever heard of hooked the model by near AAL? There's a book called hooked out there. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So we actually, we met the author is cool. Like he didn't know that it would go the way that it did to hook a on product. Right. And he's actually written another book. That's the recanting of it essentially called intractable mm-hmm <affirmative> how to resist people, trying to hook you all the time. <Laugh> yeah. So what, what we've realized is that parents are afraid of technology because of what their kids do on it. And then kids distrust their parents because they wa their finger and say scary things about it. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> that aren't really true and back and forth. Right. It's a distrusting model and it's a, it, it, the kid goes towards secret life in, in addiction. So what's right.

Young Han (27:56):
That's what we do, that's right. Go ahead. No, I was just gonna say that's like always what happens is like, when you tell a kid not to do something where you don't actually like you, you literally prohibit something, then the natural reaction, any human action, not even a kid, even, and even adults, like when you tell someone not to do something, their first reaction is to like why to do it. I'm

Isaiah McPeak (28:13):
Like, yeah, yeah, absolutely. That's right. Right. So taking that language, right. How can you, instead of telling someone not to do something, say here's how to do something. Yeah. Right. That's right. And so, so the KPIs are around what we, what the cycle we want to activate and Penwell does not do this perfectly yet. You know, it's a early stage startup we've we we've we're, we've got a ways to go, but it's is how can I make it so that the child has a couple wins real early that make the parent proud of them. Yeah. That results in increased responsibility, that results in more wins that the parents proud of. And so now kids are proud of parents. Parents are proud of kids and we have an increasing cycle of widening responsibility. Right. And so things like just screen time, you know, my, my kid is in the bottom 10% of American kids for how much time they are on screens. Yes. You know, I'm so proud out of them. Right. That's, that's huge. But, but can I go, can I go further in as the, the child grows up, give them information that helps them assess this things. Like, can we let you just set the amount of time you wanna spend on a certain type of app before the week even starts and hold you to it? And how do you feel, or let's take a look at your texts. How many conversations do you initiate with this friend versus them initiate with you? Oh, look, you initiate 100% of these conversations. What does that tell you about this relationship? Hmm. So there, there are things that we're like experimenting with to help with that. But, but, but yeah, at a, at a high level, it's like the ability for the kids to function and go through life, go to their sports meets, start doing music, you know, start, try, get their first jobs, have green light cars, get their first bank accounts. It's the progression is what we are measuring as our KPI. Yeah. Are we seeing progression because what we don't wanna see is zero to 60. We don't wanna see here's a phone. Here's everything on it go. Yeah. And that's basically it that's the whole caboodle. Yeah. Cuz they'll fall off the deep end and, and then the, it just increases the risk of them not being able to come back out of it. Yeah. We even did one thing. We, the, the person who's the other main research or our chief mom, Shelly Dela. She and I work like with therapists and scientist is your title really? Chief mom. Yeah. Her title sheet mom made that's brilliant. Okay. Sorry. Just yeah. You threw me, you threw me a little curve ball there you got, yeah. That's that's it. So she, she had tried to say, what are the skills involved? Just a in texting mm-hmm let's break it down into components. And we ended up with 16 total skills involved in texting and you'll see it like, like when you notice it, you're like, oh yeah, my kid totally would do that things like what time of day is it appropriate to text? And I, I forgot to tell this story when, when my co or Dan gave his son a phone, first, one of his first calls was after 10:00 PM at night, calling his parents to ask for a glass of water and is like, no, that's, you know, but he didn't know not to And that's the point is of this zero to 60. Right. And so texting is another thing is, and I, I saw this on my daughter's phone actually, after she mentioned it, I'm like, oh yeah, I remember that. Where the kid texts you and then two seconds later, are you there? Five seconds later? Why aren't you responding to me? Why, why aren't you respond? And the kid gets offended because they're not getting immediate response. And they have to learn that it might be a few hours before she, somebody gets back to you and that's okay. And here's how to be okay with that. Right. So everything from that to how to use gifts appropriately in a conversation. Right. Or not overwhelm somebody by sending them a bajillion text. Right. So there's all these skills that are involved. Yeah. And parents need to be able to just, I guess, say print 'em out, right? Yeah. These are the skills and be, and the kid and parent together be like, well, how, how good are you at some of these? Well, we've never even talked about some of these and some of these I'm already good at, and some of these, I have no idea what they are. Right. That's the progression path. So,

Young Han (32:39):
Okay. So this is amazing. I'm having so much fun. Good. But now I'm just like real. I have like, I'm like, like really curious. So how, if that's the case, what, what is it like parenting having all this new knowledge and having all this stuff that you're like dissecting and getting into, like, are you literally like taking work home with you?

Isaiah McPeak (32:58):
That's a great question. So here's what it's like having a kid who has a pinwheel phone, she forgets to charge it or use it half the time. Oh wow. There was this initial excitement of like, yes, I finally got a phone and then I wouldn't say so much disappointment as, as like, it just isn't that re a part of her life. Hmm. She uses it when she needs it, you know, misses her mom calls her mom. She wants to ask she she's coordinating. Babysitting is actually the latest thing that she's doing that I think she spends the most time on the phone doing is she has a customer who likes her to babysit their, their four year old. And so she coordinates that a lot. Right. Other than that, she listens to music and audio books on it and not much else. And, and so it actually, hasn't been like that crazy, but I, I have to say, now that you're making me think about it, I'd say a lot of that has to do with her age when she got it. Right. If she was 15, it would be a very different discussion because she'd be relying on that for so many areas of life. Whereas as, as a 12 year old, who got it when she was, you know, 11, it's just not that relevant to her life. There's only a few people who, who are even on the other end or whatever. And so I guess I, I like that, it's a easing in

Young Han (34:22):
That's awesome, man. And then are you, are you taking any of these behavioral learns? Cuz you're basically digging deep into like behavioral science and child development and, and what, how, how has that like turned you into a dad?

Isaiah McPeak (34:34):
Oh yeah. Well and, and that, that's part of what I bring to the table in the first place. Like behavioral science and brain science. I'm a, I'm a communications coach by night and for, for 15 years, like that's been my subject of fascination. So it is really cool in this world to connect that to wellness research. Right. So each time I talk with a therapist and now like I just, we just had a meeting with the Harvard digital wellness lab and I'm me and this PhD there. And I'm like, I, you know, some of these conversations were like terrified to go into within two minutes. I realized we already know the lingo. We already actually, we know it's up here. And so that's, that's been really fun. And I, I would say, yeah, behavioral science is probably a big part of my parenting strategy and parenting philosophy. And I blame some of that on my wife too. She's in mental health space and it is a parenting coach and like has, has done some of that. You know, she, she spent, she spent five years at a boys ranch where parents would send their kids that they were struggling with to live there for like 18 months, you know? And then she taught a parenting class there. So I, I don't know. I, I do kind of live and breathe this stuff, but I would argue that the core of it is that relationship is first. Mm. And if you want to have influence with your child, the fundamental practice of relationship is the key. So it's not like, I don't feel like I'm a lesson I departure and I'm spewing every day, like things to think about. And oh, I gotta tell you this story. Oh my gosh. Okay. So we went into a school into a Montessori school with 16 kids as a focus group for, for building this phone, who are of the ages. I wanna say it was nine to 12, something like that. Oh wow. And, and we broke 'em to four groups. And one of the things that we did was we did empathy maps with them, which is a pretty, you know, sounds like an advanced concept, but it's, it's where we took their parents as the map. And we said, all right, I want you to say what your parents think, say, feel and do. Hmm. When it comes to smartphones, when it comes to phones. And the thing that blew my mind was when we typed it all up and looked at it, the list was perfect. If I showed that to you, you would say, yep, that's the story. The kids already know. They already heard the, the message. So there's no amount of like stressing the importance of safety online or, or whatever it is. Like every message they got it, all of it. Wow. And, and our show is to a bunch of people, the kids have already received the message. And so I just feel like it's not as parents, we don't bring home. Let me just stress the importance to you enough. We gotta change that story to, to just practical skills and how tos and putting them in environments where they can have a win and celebrate that win and allow them to have a loss when the sticks are low and recover from that loss. Because those are the things that build resilience and skill. Whereas just hearing, you know, buts in seats, in a pew, hearing a preaching, doesn't actually change behavior that much.

Young Han (37:46):
It's really beautiful. I love it. It's very, very eloquent way of looking at it. And I, I, I definitely appreciate all the, all the thought that you put into this because it can't be easy to like articulate it. It's so succinctly it's very complex and you're doing a really good job of, of packaging it up. So it's very easy to comprehend.

Isaiah McPeak (38:06):
Thanks, dude. I feel like I ramble about it all the time. So, I'm like, I wanna get this tight. I wanna package it, but I can, it's pretty tight.

Young Han (38:13):
It sounds really good. And it's very, very inspiring. And I definitely am gonna look up pinwheel and, and, and put in the back of my pocket for when my kids, you know, are in the 7, 8, 9 year old range. And I'll definitely start promoting it with my other neighbors and friends here, because I definitely think that it's very, very important, you know? And it goes back to the adage of like what we were talking about earlier. Like, you can't avoid certain things and I don't wanna be a parent that avoids it either. And, and, and this is not necessarily neither here nor there, but we don't have TV either. Right. Mm. And so we have, we do have one TV. I shouldn't say that we do have one TV and it's in the playroom and it's in, in plain sight, but we rarely watch it, you know, like, and if we do watch it, it's like me maybe once a month. And it's like a very special thing, like, we'll watch R right, because it's a new release or, you know, like we'll watch trolls and, and, you know, like, but you know, for the most part, it's like maybe once a month, you know, like it's not,

Isaiah McPeak (39:07):
It's not the go-to right.

Young Han (39:08):
That's the key. No, it's not. That's right. And so it, and, and you notice the difference, cause we've done things where we're like, oh, we'll give like 30 minutes a day. Or like, we'll do two hours a week and we've tried different, like things mm-hmm, and it's very noticeable. Right.

Isaiah McPeak (39:21):
Because that's all they're looking forward to. Right. That's right. They spend their entire day looking forward to that event. And then they're there. That's right. And then afterwards they're grumpy.

Young Han (39:30):
That's right. And they're very emotional and they're miserable. And, and then even up leading up to it, you could tell like, they're just like feeding for it. They cannot stop asking for it. Yeah. Cause they know it's coming and it's just like, man. So if you can get, if you can muscle through like a week or two of kind of disconnecting them, their mood gets better. Like it's noticeably different and it's so crazy. Cause it's not even a, it's not even an app that's like made specific to like engage you. This is just movies. And it's already like, just so like addicting.

Isaiah McPeak (40:02):
It's just, it's just screen blue. Right? Like your eyes as a kid, like it's flashing lights. It's, it's, it's Vegas, it's a casino. like, like, why would you give your kid a handheld casino and red light district? Like, what are you doing?

Young Han (40:17):
I love it, man. I, I do want get my rapid fire questions out cuz I know I can talk to you hours and hours and hours rapid fire around. Yeah. So rapid fire road. I do want to ask you the questions that I ask every single guest. So I'm gonna move on to that because it's really important to me that we get some symmetry in these interviews, but this has been really, really I training. And I'd love to have you back on as you further develop pinwheel and maybe I can have you back on in like a year or so and check in on how you're doing and sounds awesome. That'd be great, man. Okay. So here we go. I, I added an extra one. So this one's gonna be a little bit different than the ones that you may have heard it for. If you haven't listened to you. Em, that's okay as well too. But first one, what advice do you have for other parents and soon to be parents?

Isaiah McPeak (41:02):
My favorite piece of research that I've learned from this and Dr. Mike Brooks on our therapist, council, author of the book tech generation sent this to us and it's like, one of his Bailey wicks is that he, he showed me this research that over parent is as harmful as under parenting is what it basically amounted to. And there's this concept. And I literally, I almost started a podcast last summer called good enough father. And it was basically being good enough is a lot better, a lot better than trying to like literally lawn mow the way for your kid and be perfect in every way. And oh, I find, I find a lot of relief from that, that by and large, in a wide spectrum of environments, if you, as a parent are generally loving and kind and not manipulating or doing like harmful behavior, you don't have to be the one that teaches them. All of life's lessons, they'll acquire it and they're gonna be okay. In fact, they're probably gonna be better for it because they got some of it from different sources. That's backed by research. And I love that.

Young Han (42:13):
I love that too. That's really great. And my wife and I have been talking about this cuz she was listening and she reads, listens and reads a lot about parenting and, and, and just a, she, she does a lot of podcasting and stuff, but the most recent thing that she unpacked was this concept of like letting your kids be bored. Yes. And, and just letting them like self explore what boredom looks like and know just like letting them like read a book or make believe with toys or like just letting them get bored.

Isaiah McPeak (42:39):
Rightful of so much brilliance is something that, that we picked up.

Young Han (42:43):
Yeah. And it's totally working. I mean, like, I mean, I thought it was really weird at first, but you know, she'll like, you know, I'll be like, how's it going? And she's like intentionally ignoring them, listening to a podcast while she does like dishes or makes lunch or whatever. And they just find things to do.

Isaiah McPeak (42:59):
Right. I, I wonder if, if you had this experience, like, did you have an experience where you just went to that place and how many days did it take for, for boredom to start working?

Young Han (43:09):
I, I mean, I think it took us around a couple of days for like it to happen. I think it was pretty instant actually, but I'd say within a couple of days they were like immediately understanding that this is their time

Isaiah McPeak (43:18):
To explore. Yeah. For me, I've noticed it takes about two to three days to like detox a little bit. Yeah. And then stop being like, eh, I wish I could do something and so doing stuff and it stupid stuff, you know, they're like jumping on the bed and making like little plays and making stuff out of trash. And you're like, Hey, they're having a great time. It's not on me to make sure that they have a great time. That's right. They can do it. And in fact, that's the life skill that I want. Right. I don't want them co-dependent on somebody else to have a great

Young Han (43:48):
Time goes right back to what you just said, you know, like being good enough is actually sometimes better or probably better. Yeah. Okay. So here is the next one. If you can go back and tell yourself one thing before having kids, what would it be?

Isaiah McPeak (44:01):
I, I don't know if this is like the thing, the thing, but it's something I'm thinking about. Cause I'm about to have a kid and I've learned through research, the power of connection and disconnection, then connection and disconnection. This is my wife has heavy influence on, on me understanding this. But the idea that your kid can walk into another room like, and they are, they're gonna walk into another room and they're gonna come right back in 30 seconds and check and they're gonna make sure you're still there. But what they're building is the ability to feel connected while apart, and that's powerful and meaningful and wow. I wish I could tell myself like a long time ago that I want my child to acquire this ability. If feeling connected to those they love even when they can't see them. Wow.

Young Han (44:55):
That's great. I want that too now. That's awesome man. What is the most surprising thing that you learned about yourself? Becoming a parent. Ooh.

Isaiah McPeak (45:07):
Oh my gosh. You learned so much, right? It's it's unbelievable. I think because I, I had two daughters and I grew up with three brothers and no sisters. Hmm. It surprised me that I was capable of nurturing in some way. Hmm. Like that, that word sounded very foreign to me. Yeah. And, and then it happened and I loved it, that it was like automatic <laugh> and not something I had to read a bunch of books about and like books help. Right. And all that stuff. I'm not saying that. Yeah. But I found things happening inside of me that I didn't expect. And I don't know where they came for and they were just there.

Young Han (45:53):
Oh man. I resonate with that so much. Yeah. I'm like, I was like, so freaked out. Cause I'm like, oh crap. I'm a girl, dad. And like now in hindsight I'm like, I, it was just all natural and I love it to death likes. Awesome. I can't imagine any other life. Right. All right. Cool. All right, here we go. So what is your all time favorite business book?

Isaiah McPeak (46:12):
I have so many favorite business books. I've got three shelves here in, in my office.

Young Han (46:17):
Yeah, that's right. You have no TVs. You just have all books.

Isaiah McPeak (46:19):
Yeah. if I were to pick one business book and give it to someone, I would probably right now give them actually the book made to stick, which is a communications book, like chip and Dan Heath. However, I believe it applies to company's products. How you talk to your employees and public speaking as it were nice made to a fantastic book.

Young Han (46:41):
I'll have to check that one out. I love it. I've never heard of it. That's fantastic. Okay. And then my last question is Isaiah, what do you do for fun when you're not parenting or solving the technology crisis for kids? Like what do you do for yourself?

Isaiah McPeak (46:56):
So I, I have started several bands. I started a full 17 piece swing band in Washington, DC. Before I moved here, it's called the Franklin park, big band, the dances and things. And here I'm part of a super crunchy Austin band called O Antonio and his imaginary friends. And we play like super weird songs, like kiss me like a robot and putting the fun back in funeral. We play at stubs and Mohawk, like some legit spots. We did the, we were the halftime show for the Austin women's roller Derby. That was cool. That's awesome. And then I have a cover band up here in in, in Georgetown called vinyl voices in the fat brass band. I played trumpet. Nice. I got a bras section. I played disc golf. I've been picking up mountain biking. I don't know, I'm a constant learner. So it's a problem. Yeah. I gotta have multiple things that I'm bad at and trying to get good. Right. And so when the girls are here, we're, we're trying art, I'm learning to draw better. We'll do, I don't know, acrylic paints and you know, messy stuff like I'm like, yeah. Why not? Let's let's give this a go. So I don't know. I feel like I lead a really fun and enjoyable life. And, and, and it's something that I, I, I had a low point in my life at divorce that was really helpful to me. And I think it was some of it was from reading bene brown stuff. This idea that you can't give your children what you don't have. And the most important thing I could do for my kids' future was lead an adult life worth have, instead of this, I think it's very common for our generations parents to pass this on to us of like have fun until you're 20 ish. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> then now life starts and it's hard and it sucks. Yeah. And then, you know, give that to your kids. Right. They're gonna have a great time until no, there's no reason for that. I should. Absolutely. I should not just go to my kids' soccer games. They should come to my soccer games now and then, right, and, and, and like, not cuz they have to, but that's cuz of the family we are and teaching them that that's something you can enjoy your whole life. You know what I mean?

Young Han (49:04):
I love that. That is amazing mentality on life. Fantastic. Isaiah, thank you so much for joining me on today's show. I really, really appreciate it. I had so much fun and I, I can't tell you how excited am I am about your product and just your philosophy on parenting. Thank you so much for your time.

Isaiah McPeak (49:21):
Thanks young. I had a blast.

Young Han (49:23):
Appreciate it. Great. Talk to you soon, brother.

Young Han (49:26):
Thanks for tuning into another episode of the girl dad show. We really hope you enjoyed that. You and as always, please take a moment to review, rate and subscribe. We'll see you next time.

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