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My guest today is Alex Barker.

Before we get into it…

Alex Barker, PharmD loves helping pharmacists create fulfilling careers and lives. ​​He founded The Happy PharmD to provide career coaching and career development classes, and since 2017, the company has helped over 1,500 pharmacists.

His best-selling book, Indispensable: A prescription for a fulfilling pharmacy career has sold more than 4,000 copies and helped countless pharmacists love their profession again.

When he isn’t working, he has fun with his wife and two beautiful daughters, plays Nintendo and Dungeon & Dragons, enjoys coffee and good guacamole (not at the same time), and reads comics.

Now, Let’s get into it. In this episode…

We go deep talking about: 

  • Mental illness, guilt and shame as a first time dad
  • Accepting your circumstances and trying to make them better
  • Sabbaticals
  • Identifying our mistakes as parents when it comes to punishments
  • The truth about the entrepreneurial journey
  • Having a healthy business + Family life
  • Finding your zone of genius.

Just like all first time dads, Alex Barker transition to fatherhood was a struggle.

He mentally struggled with the idea that he was not doing enough as a father.

His struggle originated from his dad leaving while he was young and all his life, acceptance was the theme of his life and he hardcore sought it and desired it.

Alex let’s all dad know that, “You are a great dad most of the time and it’s okay to have bad days too!”

It’s okay to let your children know that YOU ARE NOT PERFECT and that you also make tons of mistakes.

Quick question… Do you apologize to your kids when you realize that you’ve gone too far with your punishment or reaction?

Stay tuned to this episode and find out about Alex Barkers take on this!

Find Alex online at:

Webhttps://thehappypharmd.com/

LinkedIn@thehappypharmd

Facebook@TheHappyPharmD

Curt Storring 0:00
Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. Today's guest is Alex Barker. Before we get into it, Alex Barker PharmD loves helping pharmacists create fulfilling careers and lives. He founded the happy PharmD to provide career coaching and career development classes and since 2017, the company has helped over 1500 pharmacists, his best selling book indispensable, a prescription for fulfilling pharmacy career has sold more than 4000 copies and helped countless pharmacists love their profession again. When he isn't working. He has fun with his wife and two beautiful daughters plays Nintendo and Dungeons and Dragons, enjoys coffee and good guacamole not at the same time and reads comics. Now let's get into it. In this episode, we go deep talking about mental illness, guilt and shame as a first time dad, accepting your circumstances and trying to make them better sabbaticals identifying our mistakes as parents when it comes to punishments, the truth about the entrepreneurial journey, having a healthy business and family life and finding your zone of genius. Like a ton of first time dads Alex Barker's transition to fatherhood was a little bit of a struggle, he struggled mentally with the idea that he's not doing enough as a father, his struggle originated actually from his own dad leaving when he was young and all his life was looking for acceptance. Alex, let's all dads know in this episode that you are a great dad most of the time, and it's okay to have bad days too. This is just such an excellent mantra that we talked about in this episode. It's also okay to let your children know that you are not perfect and you make mistakes. And the question that I have for you is do you apologize to your kids when you realize that you've gone too far with punishment or a reaction to something? Stay tuned to this episode of find out about Alex Barker's take on this exact question to connect with Alex, you can find them online at the happy farm de.com on LinkedIn, Alex Barker at the happy farm D. And on Facebook at the happy farm, as well. I really enjoyed talking to Alex about everything. He is a fun loving guy. This was a lot of fun. And I hope you get a lot of value out of this one. Here we go with Alex Barker.

Alex, welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. Thank you for joining me, I am pumped to talk to another dad, another business owner and another mastermind community member of a community that I love. And yeah, thanks for taking the time, man. Because I know this isn't your usual sort of job or your gig. So I very, very much appreciate the time that you're willing to spend with me.

Alex Barker 2:26
Happy to be here, Curt. I love doing these sort of things. And it doesn't really feel like a job. So it's, it should be good. That's part. Hopefully it'll be a helpful conversation to others. Yeah,

Curt Storring 2:37
yeah. And I really appreciate just the the willingness because like you said, you had checked out what we do before. And so you know that, you know, we like to go in deep, and be vulnerable and just share because for me, that's been one of the most impactful things, just hearing that other men have struggles like I do, and not feeling alone in them. So the first thing that I would love to do is talk about your journey into fatherhood. Because for me, as listeners will know, it was a miserable, challenging time for me, and I was not ready at all. And on the other hand, it has been the single greatest teacher. For me, it has shone a light on to all my dark shadow places. So what was your transition? Like? Was it fairly straightforward? Or did you also have moments of struggle? Or plenty?

Alex Barker 3:23
I don't think any dad is ever ready. Because that would imply that you've done it before. And usually most dads have not ever had a good before. So I had my first during graduate school and my doctoral program. And no, I was definitely not planned. It was not something I had intended. So it was definitely a struggle, but not one where I felt like giving up or like I can't do this. But it certainly wasn't a part of the plan. I'd say the struggle at the time was probably being overly critical of myself. I think the constant struggle that I have mentally is is being way too hard on myself, I I even took a day off yesterday, mental health day because I could tell I was not having a good day and my wife encouraged me, you know what, just take the day and do whatever you want. I think that's always been my struggle as a father, like not being the perfect dad, or feeling guilty when I want to play video game by myself and not be around my kids. But I've also learned through my journey that leaning into my guilt and shame has actually created some really powerful new actions. For me as a father, it's helped me lean into what makes me a good dad versus just maybe hiding those emotions. You said we're going deep so we'll get

Curt Storring 4:49
I was just about to say man, I was like okay, I got some follow up questions with this mental health and then you're like guilt and shame. Bingo. Like, let's go. Sure. So can you talk about little bit about what that looks like to you like maybe where it's come from how you've dealt with it. And then what are those positive outcomes that have come from you actually diving in there?

Alex Barker 5:09
Well, shame is like the one thing in human culture that we're, we're taught as a part of a human characteristic or feeling. We're not born with shame, right? There's the saying, you know, in children, there's no guile, right? They say what they want. And that doesn't get you very far in life, you quickly learn that, right? You eventually learned there's activities and things you do in life that you should be ashamed of, because that's what society teaches you. That's what other humans do. And we mirror each other. Because our brains are hardwired that way. It's a deep source. For me, my mother, unfortunately, went through a divorce with my biological father, at the age of two, he had an affair, he didn't want to work on the marriage. So he left us that left a deep wound on my soul. I only just realized this in my 20s, like, holy crap, you know, I've been seeking acceptance from any anybody in everybody for most of my life. And I did that by being a class clown by making other people laugh. And unfortunately, what that meant for me, though, is that I was looking for an ideal picture of myself, one that could be accepted by others. And that's impossible. chasing an ideal or perfect fatherhood is like Chasing the Sun, or the edge of the Earth or the horizon. Because, well, unless you're a flat earther, if you are cool, but when you get to the horizon, like, let me know, I want to see like, take pictures, please. Ice Wall they keep talking about. But it's impossible, you just, you just keep arriving at a new horizon for you to reach. And my father, who I well, I should say, technically my stepfather who I call Dad came into my life, great man, his flaw working too hard. And I mirrored that as a, as a child, and now an adult. He's a good man and I and I want to be like him. And so I have these deep rooted beliefs that come up when I feel like, I'm not working hard. I'm not doing enough. I could be better. And all of those would have should have could a statements create guilt and shame and, and sometimes action, you know, to alleviate those feelings. But I'd say in recent months, I've, I've even improved on this by acknowledging them, accepting them and taking new actions based on those negative thoughts. But yeah, it all comes to probably a new place of acceptance. Really. Which very grateful for because it, man, feeling guilty all the time that you're awful dad is mean, it's not a place you want to be. Right. Yeah, it's not a place that you, you should stay too long. Yeah. And

Curt Storring 7:55
that is such an important point that I like to talk about in like, in one of the courses I have, we talked about mental reframes, simply because it's so overwhelming to constantly believe that you're at fault, and you are screwing up and you should feel guilty. And so you started off the conversation saying, like, you know, you've never done this before. So how should you be an expert going into it, but we kind of just assume like, I should be an expert at this, I'm screwing up my kids, I'm doing whatever. And I felt that so hard. And so just alleviating that with the understanding that a everything that's happened to you, as a child, as you were just talking about, like your dad leaving wasn't your fault. But it's now your responsibility to do something with what you've got in life, as well as you've never done this before. So cut yourself some slack as you go through this journey of fatherhood. And, you know, I'm starting to realize that I could just like interview you as though I'm interviewing myself because I have a very similar story. My own father had an affair and left us when he was when I was three. And thankfully, very thankfully, he stayed in my life. But that caused immense abandonment, neglect, feelings, that if only I could be perfect, and maybe I would get his love, maybe he wouldn't have left. And so I'm hearing in your story, this like idea of perfectionism and performance, to seek love. And so where else in your life has that come? Because for me, it showed up in relationship, I tried to be the hardest badass I could to like push people away, in order for them to prove to me that they wouldn't be pushed away because they were bigger than me. So like, this is the one of these things that I've noticed. So has this perfectionism come into, like any other parts of your life that you've had to root out consciously?

Alex Barker 9:39
You know, perfectionism, maybe a nuance of it. I think the theme of my life is acceptance, seeking it, desiring it and hopefully now in my 30s Giving it a really great coach of mine revealed to me through some really deep conversations that the things that move me the most in Life are things of acceptance. So Lord of the Rings movies, I'm a huge fan. And the self sacrifice of many of the characters is what emotionally moves me to crying because they both love and accept themselves and others and are willing to, you know, lay their life on the line for for others. So when I think about how has this influenced me this desire for acceptance, it's almost in practically every social interaction. As a child, I was small, and I have never really been large. And of course, what most boys value when you grew up in the 90s was physical strength. So I had nothing, you know, to compete in that nature. And so I used my wits and my charm and every harsh word that I could do to make other people laugh or like me at the expense of others often, and I was a verbal bully in some ways. For sure. I used to, I still joke that I tell people, I was a, I was a dick until I met my wife, she really did change me for the good. People liked me. But if I didn't like you, you know, I made it known. I made it no. And I was not a nice guy. But it forced me. All of this desire kind of forced me to really develop the skills that I naturally had, which was public speaking, which was the ability to persuade, I mean, hopefully, the ability to make other people laugh doesn't happen all the time. But that's okay. And even to this day, my main business is, is really about acceptance as well. It's really about getting people to accept their circumstances, and change them for the better. So I would say, maybe only small parts, but it is my life's theme, fortunately, or unfortunately.

Curt Storring 11:57
So when I think of acceptance, I, when I think of acceptance, I go, like, you have to get past guilt. You have to get past like the shadows and what it is and curves and all that kind of stuff. Have there been specific tools practices, you know, working with coaches, you've mentioned, that actually helped you get past that? Because I feel like that's probably a huge block for a lot of guys going like, Well, yeah, I would get better. But like, I just can't accept either this happened to me or I did this. So what in your experience is the path to acceptance?

Alex Barker 12:30
Hmm. Talk to a therapist. That that is certainly helpful. But for me, personally, there's a statement that a friend gave me that has been constantly coming up to my mind, which is, I'm a good dad, most of the time. And I don't know why for me, but that that, just that it's it's like, sinking in a mud bath feeling. If you like mud baths, or you know, just like it sits really well with me, because I acknowledge I'm never going to be perfect, and that's okay. And I'm going to mess up my kids. That's okay. That's how humanity works, unfortunately. But for me, I like yesterday, literally the day before this recording. I was just feeling awful. Just down in the dumps. And in my misery, I was able to tell myself, I'm a good dad most of the time. And it's okay to have a day like this, where I do the bare minimum. I don't have to be everything to these kids. Because if I am I mean, they're, they're gonna find out in a few years there. They're 10 and seven, that I'm not God, that I'm not perfect. And that I make tons of mistakes. I mean, I apologize all the time. But for them, they they need to know dad isn't good today. So don't ask him to wrestle. Don't ask him to do bedtime story. Don't ask him to do these things. Because my ability to give more is depleted. And that's okay. That's all right.

Curt Storring 14:07
Yeah, that's powerful self talk. And that's one of the things I want to explore on this podcast eventually deeper. It's just like the words we say to ourselves, shape our reality. And most people, most people's words are pretty shitty. And I love hearing Sure. I love hearing just that like that mantra. And in fact, this is a interesting synchronicity. The man I interviewed before, this episode is also part of this community that you and I are part of. And he said the same sort of thing. He said, we have a mantra, and I think his was this too shall pass in the good times and the bad times. It just keeps you grounded in level. And I love that being able to draw on I'm a good dad most of the time. I might steal that myself. So thank you. One of the things that came up though, was this idea of you said something like you see these things, you accept that they're happening and then you can do something productive with them sometimes. And there's this saying that we use in men's work and men's group, which is note, own, and then transform or move past. And so all of this healing work, in my experience starts by self awareness, you note that there is a thing that happens. And then through acceptance, it sounds like you get to own that. Yep, this is me, this is how I feel. These are like my judgments. And then there's like an energy that you can move to get through that. But it starts with figuring that out, noting and owning, were there things in your journey that allowed you to see that? Or have you always been quite introspective? Like, I'm thinking about, like meditation journaling? Were there practices that allowed you to get that self awareness in the first place?

Alex Barker 15:42
As oblivious, I can be some times to the things around me, I am often in tune with my effect on others, I've always been able to pick up how people feel. Because as a child, I trained myself to try to get people to like me as much as possible. To an annoying perspective, almost, that has been helpful. But for me, what's been the most helpful as an adult is the recent realization that I'm a verbal processor. It literally happened this morning. We have I wouldn't call it a dilemma, but it's kind of like a hiring issue. And I didn't quite know, what do I need to do to process this? Like, how do I figure out what the best thing is? And I thought, well, let me actually talk to my coach, I've got a business coach. And I thought, That's my action step. Okay. I'll talk with her tomorrow. And I wanted to briefer on the issue. So I made a video about it. And it was just me talking. And as I talked for, literally four minutes by myself to a camera, I came up with a solution. And I was like, oh, that's what we need to do. So now what I do almost on a every other day basis, in the mornings, I will just talk to myself. And I'll ask myself, How am I doing? And what is my body saying, I've never really been I've tried meditation, I've done it for years, I still do it. Now, I don't feel a huge benefit from it. I do prayer, I do exercise, I do all of these things. And I find very little benefit from it. So you probably shouldn't be amazed that the guy who loves attention loves hearing himself talk, loves to talk. And that is the solution. I think everyone's solutions are different. And some people swear by certain things. And all of the things you mentioned are great practices, definitely try him out. Life is short, why not try him. But for me, being able to talk out loud to no one in particular has been the best mental health improvement really, in the last couple years. For me,

Curt Storring 17:47
I love that man on so many levels, just because it's not one of the ones you usually hear. But I was reading a book on coaching, just so that I could get an idea of how to help men better. And one of the things the author said was that 80% of a coaching session, could 80% of the value of a coaching session, I should say, would be gotten if you showed up and you were a light post. I've read it. Because most of the issues are simply you needing to talk about it. And if you were okay talking to a lamppost, and like you get most of the way there. And so I love that. And I get that personally doing this, to be honest, and in my men's groups, because like sharing what I'm thinking a I find it like lifts the top layer of fluff off. And what's underneath is like, oh, shit, there's the answers, or simply being held in a space, like my container as a man to hold my own shit, which feels enormous at times, is it's restricted to what I believe my container is. And sometimes it's big. And sometimes it's small. But when I have something that's bigger than my container feels like it can hold, having someone else to talk to, or even just saying the words out loud, like you do, allows this container to grow, either. It's the room you're in, it's the men you're sitting with. And it's like, suddenly someone else but me can hold all of this shit that I'm going through. So yeah, man, I'm very grateful that you went there. And we'll need to remember that for my own sake. And as well as the other men who are more sort of verbally oriented. Is there anything else that comes up on your journey just in terms of like your own self work or healing that's been useful to you?

Alex Barker 19:28
I'm sure there are things nothing in particular comes to mind. Okay, that's how I like it. I like the way you framed the way you process things with people. The way I learned it was acknowledged except action, the three A's of mental health IT acknowledge you feel something accepted, because what I often do is make myself feel bad for when I acknowledge it, or when I see it or feel it and take an action. What can you do to process this or, you know, just make your feel better? Because it's all in your head. You know, my, my wife has never once thought you're a bad dad. Never,

Curt Storring 20:08
ever, but how many times has she in your own head?

Alex Barker 20:11
That's the conundrum about the issue. Like, you doubt your own ability that you are a bad dad. And yet externally, everyone else feels like you're doing okay. You're doing just fine. And yet, you doubt your own self. So who do you Who do you listen to yourself? Or other people? It's hard to get out of our heads.

Curt Storring 20:37
Yeah, absolutely. It is. The last thing on sort of this beginning bit on just your journey is I want to talk to you about apologizing to your kids, because I heard you say you apologize frequently. And this is something that I have learned to do as well. But can you walk through what that might look like? Because I have heard men go like, well, if you apologize, you like lose the power dynamic, and they see you as weak and all this kind of stuff, which in my mind is BS. But can you talk a little bit about like the process of apologizing to your child, and when it's appropriate and how you do it?

Alex Barker 21:09
It's interesting, you know, when you say that, like what comes to mind is just, you know, like a redneck hillbilly fathering style. And truth be told, like I'm a redneck, I grew up in a Redneck area. So like, that's not the way my dad did. But I would say he probably didn't apologize to me as much as I apologize to my kids, when it's appropriate is when you make a mistake when you know it. And you know it. You know, when you're doing something wrong. I do it all the time. Because I know, I'm the adult, I should be the one that's an emotionally in control. This doesn't happen all the time. I raise my voice sometimes. i What else do I do? I mean, sometimes I'm a little bit rough with them when we roughhouse. Sometimes I assume things I assume, my youngest child who like is a conniving, like will do anything to not do work, I sometimes wrongfully assume the worst of her and her intentions with things and it causes me you know, to say something negative, or overreact with perhaps a discipline. And by discipline, I mean, like, you know, timeouts, typically, like, that's how we might my daughter hates them. So we use them all the time, because it gets her to change your attitude and recognize what she's doing. So when I do those things, in the moment, rare, you know, maybe half the time, I'm able to, like, immediately recognize you're over the line, you've crossed into uncontrolled territory, this is not how you should respond as an adult. Like, you wouldn't do this to someone on your team, to someone that you know, is doing something wrong. So you need to apologize. But I, I totally reject that idea that you can't apologize to your kids. Like, do you want children that aren't gonna apologize for when they do wrong? Like how idiotic I don't know this? When you said that? I was like, gosh, I'd hate to meet people like that. Like, can you imagine working with people like that, that never apologize? Never take ownership? Never say I did something wrong? Glow? Yuck.

Curt Storring 23:24
Yeah, gross. And, and unfortunately, I've heard it, which is, I talk about this. I talked about this on purpose. Because I think it's so important to teach them that you are fallible, that you make mistakes that you are willing to own up to your responsibilities, which is you know, you made a mistake, you screwed up and you're going to take now your own responsibility rather than, you know, push it on your kids, which is the worst thing to do. Like, Hey, kid, I screwed up. But like, I'm not going to tell you, I'm going to make you feel shameful about it now, because you're gonna wonder like, what was it about me that caused dad to, like scream at me, it must be something that I did, which is what kids do. Like that is so damaging. So I'm glad that you're just like, I'm glad that you were sort of rough on that to be honest, because I like that sort of fire that dads might not hear. And like usually only get that in like men's groups or like best of best friends. So if that is something to the listener that you struggle with, you just been called out. So

Alex Barker 24:21
yeah, and I don't want to work with you. Sorry. Yeah, work with Curt. And then and then we'll talk not. Yeah, I don't know why you'd want to work with me. Yeah. Not after hearing that.

Curt Storring 24:33
Alright, so let's move on to this. sabbatic Sure. This is one of the topics that you brought up. I want to I want to know all about it. So why don't you just walk us through what this was? Why it was how it was like, can you just talk to us about that story a little bit and then we'll go deeper?

Alex Barker 24:48
Yeah, sabbatical. So you may have heard it that you may have think like, oh, isn't that something that like authors do or professors do like they just take time off to work on something? Well, Truth be told, That's not. That's not how it originated. So a little bit of history which I, I always find this fascinating. So the Jewish people, right? Everyone's heard of them, everyone knows that they've got this book, bunch of laws and on how they're supposed to live. Well, one of the rules that was in this book was called the sabbatical year. And don't quote me, I'm not a scholar on this, but just paraphrasing, hope you can accommodate that. They were told by their prophets that they were to work the land for six years, and then on the seventh year, they were supposed to rest not do anything. And I remember learning about this and thinking like, what the heck did they do for a year? Like, they just sat around and was like, well, whatever? No, not at all. In fact, what they were meant to do during that time, was to learn new things, was to experiment with new, new strategies for what how they could grow and harvest more. They were supposed to whatever fruit was yielded from the land they were supposed to give to the poor. And like just all around what a great not just a mental practice, but just a better practice for a better society. And I was fascinated by this. And when I dug into the history behind it, this had been about the sixth year of me working after graduation. Of course, you could probably consider going to grad school full time work, but from I graduated in 2012, and it was 2018. And I had been side hustling all during that time, and working a full time job. And so when I quit my full time to do business full time, I realized I should take a year off, or maybe not a year, but at least three months. My wife loves vacation. So she was on board with the idea. And I thought, how cool would it be just to go around the entire country live in a van and experience America, I had never gone well. I've been to the West Coast, excuse me through flights, but I've never driven through it hadn't been to too many national parks. And I set up my business so that it was fairly functional without me at the time and absolutely loved it. One of the best experiences of our family's life, I wouldn't live in a van again. Fine. It was just a blast had such a good time with my kids really had some great moments with them. And definitely a highlight of Alex Barker's life.

Curt Storring 27:37
Man, I love that idea. And, I mean, this is something that I think is sort of normalized for you. And I travelled for two years with my kids. And it's just amazing, like one of the best experiences of my life. And it's like extremely unusual for the average person. So were there things that you did to sort of set guardrails for business? I know you said you sort of made it, someone operational without you. But is this something that most people can do? Or what was it that the entrepreneurial life allowed you to do this,

Alex Barker 28:06
all the ladder, working a day job, I couldn't take off more than a week at a time. And I hated that absolutely hated that. And there was no way that I was going to be able to do it. And the other thing too, when there are some institutions that will allow sabbaticals, they have policies for it. But they are only allowed, if it benefits a company, which of course, makes sense. Why would they continue paying you unless you're going to do something? So you're going to get a degree, you're going to take some intensive class, you're going to write a book or something. But it's so rare that it's just unlikely to ever occur. And since our American anyway, society, you know that we're workaholics and we just can't commit to something like that. So it was totally the entrepreneur lifestyle that allowed me to do something like that. The only guardrail I had was I had every other week meeting with my operations team. Just make sure everything's going okay. No issues. And there was one major issue that came up. Unfortunately, it was because a team member quit. So that did require a few phone calls. Yeah, that was messy, but reliving that past is not fun. But yeah, that that was the only major issue and it worked out. Just fine weed business did well without me, considering I didn't work for three months.

Curt Storring 29:31
I see you did no work other than these calls. Yeah, you know, phone call

Alex Barker 29:35
every other week and maybe an email or two but, you know, I didn't have my phone. Why I had my phone but I didn't check email or you know, do anything like that. It was awesome. Just existed, you know, in a van, of course. Yeah. Pros and cons. Yeah, but it was a it was just a it was just a blast waking up every day and deciding What are we going to do today? We'll figure it out, you know, and got to see a lot of America, it was great,

Curt Storring 30:08
long, amazing, I would like to talk to you about, like making the jump from working to operating your business and like making the mental changes that might have needed to happen to go along with that. But before we get there, because I, what I'm trying to do here is allow people to see what's possible. But I also want to know, like, what else did you do? Like what was awesome about your sabbatical? What were some of the highlights? What did you learn? Because there must have been like lessons that popped up about family parenting business, what were some of those highlights that that really stick out about this time,

Alex Barker 30:43
retrospectively, one of the lessons was that we did want to be more location independent, obviously, COVID has put, you know, quite a damper on that we were planning on next month actually traveling to Costa Rica, but because of the pandemic we've decided to not, so we haven't really been able to, like, fulfill that desire. But it's, it's coming and we're working on it. So that's one thing, but I, I think it was just the the small, quiet moments, having conversations with our kids, right before going to bed, you know, talking with them about life. And there was nothing really intentional. You know, you read some of these books about, like being intentional father, and it kind of gives us perception off, you constantly have to make use of every moment, every day, always being intentional. And it kids get tired of that. I don't know what kind of kids grew up in those environments, but not ones that I would want to be because that means everything in life has to be purposeful. And I don't, I don't know who those those thought leaders are. Because like most of life is full filled with meaningless junk, and fun and misery. And so the quiet moments with my kids, talking with them about life, what they do, what they want to do when they grow up, or why do bugs exist, was just building a deep relationship with someone I love. And it was, I mean, it was fantastic. It probably set in motion for me as well, just the time at night with my kids. At first, I didn't like it. But now what I do with my kids is because of that I write when we put them to bed, I hang out with them in bed for like, I don't know, half hour, sometimes an hour, most of the time it's wrestling. But then we do a story. And then we talk about stuff. And that's created a lot of really great conversations. I'm sure you're the expert on this, but I've read the statistics about like, marriages that break down, because like they only spend like 30 minutes a week talking with each other. And I was like, Oh my gosh, I couldn't imagine talking to my my wife for only 30 minutes. Right? A week. Yeah. Like, I'd have to, I'd have to make up stuff to do. I'd have to go away from my house. Yeah, I have like, I don't know, an affair to like, go that much. Are you kidding me? Like, that's insane. So you know, just building deep relationships by being intentional, I guess. With nighttime, that's a great lesson.

Curt Storring 33:24
That's perfect. And actually the follow up question that was like, What did you take from that to like, go into your everyday life now? And it seems like that exactly, was what I was gonna ask. And so you've answered that. Is there anything else that you're like, from this experience? I'm going to do more? Or I'm going to like let go of this. Was there anything that you surrendered or let go of because of this?

Alex Barker 33:45
You know, not right away. But now that I think about it, I think the hustle? Are you doing this business full time? Or do you have a full time job as well or a part time job, I've

Curt Storring 33:55
got other businesses that that keep this going for now. And the the goal is to make this into the full time thing so that I can serve more guys and just like be on it all the time without going like, I got to stop doing this because you got to pay the bills. So yeah, I've got I've got other businesses, I've sold some other businesses. So yeah, that's,

Alex Barker 34:17
I feel that pain. I think what now I feel that transfer, it didn't happen right away. But now what I feel is that the hustle habit became destructive for me. You know, I work full time, did a 20 hour plus side, hustle, working evenings, mornings, weekends, and it created this habit within my mind that in order for me to fix a problem, I have to get into it, and I have to work my magic on it. That's really changed now that my teams have grown. And I would have to say I work a lot smarter than harder. That's been very transformational. Because it's, it's gotten me to the point where I only work, you know, 20 hours a week, maybe Unlike you, I have other businesses and side projects and other things that are fun. But I'm able to do them because I don't work like a dog anymore. Perhaps that's one of the major changes that I don't think I immediately put those two and two together until now. You're welcome.

Curt Storring 35:18
Well, let's go back to getting here in the first place. Because I know this is an aspiration for a lot of men. And it's like, where do you even start? Did you have a bunch of savings? Did you know exactly the type of business you were going to do? Has this always been something you wanted to do? Like, what was your transition? And then we'll sort of talk about mental reframes and stuff along the way.

Alex Barker 35:39
No, I, I wanted to be a comedian. Actually, when I was a kid, I used to make videos like this is pre YouTube. So I was doing that before YouTube, and I missed that train. Unfortunately, I decided to go down the safe and easy way. Math and Science were my thing. So pharmacists make six figures and you don't have to touch blood butter guts. Ching, you know, sure. That sounds like an easy gig. Did it was smart enough to pass all the stuff. And as soon as I started practicing, I was like, Oh, this is not creative. This is not very fun. I could eventually become a professor and maybe do some fun stuff. But boy did I don't like academics, the politics, the bureaucracy, the waiting. Well, so during my residency, I discovered podcasting. And I discovered leadership and AI business. And I was like, Whoa, there's this whole world out here that I've never heard about. And I gotta get into it. So I did almost anything and everything to make money online. You know, I chased the Smart Passive Income dream, and I actually sued.

Curt Storring 36:50
That is where I started that was first I went to and found like, oh, you can make money online? Sweet. Yeah,

Alex Barker 36:56
no, I did the same thing. I sold stickers, I sold, kids wheelchairs, I sold. Online content, I did coaching, consulting, had a social media company for a while. And I made some money. But all during the time, I just kept focusing on different things. Because my creativity was like exuding energy. And like, any new idea was the best idea. And it was right before 2017 that a friend and coach told me, you know, Alex, I think you're missing something, you need to focus. And I had a lot of shame and guilt about that. Because I felt like the people who I started with, were now doing their things full time. It's like, what's wrong with me? Why haven't I been able to do it? And I had a lot of shame about that. So I leaned into it. And I discovered my zone of genius, which was, hey, it's coaching. Hey, it's speaking. Hey, it's pharmacist because that's what you are. I rejected that for a long time. I had a huge identity crisis, not I would not a crisis and identity chip on my shoulder. Because I felt betrayed. I felt like, what did I become? I'm nothing like these pharmacists. I'm really not I'm, if you find another pharmacist, like me, like it's very, it's very rare, personality wise. And so I had a hard time with that. But once I said, Alright, I'm going to be the pharmacist career coach, and I'm gonna dedicate myself to doing it if and if I cannot replicate income in 18 months, then I will quit this. And I will try something else. I go work for someone else. And luckily, within 10 months, I was able to start paying myself regularly did that for about six months, and my wife and I said, Okay, we believe in this, we can do it. Let's save up our Emergency Fund. And by August 2018, I quit my job. Took a three week vacation, which I haven't been able to do since I was in school, you know, because of summer. And it was, it was awesome. It was great. Not always amazing. I do feel like a lot of our new entrepreneurs love talking about how awesome businesses without talking about how much it sucks to. There have been lots of scary moments, lots of doubt, doubts of like, oh, no, do I have to go get a job like I don't want to work? Oh, man, I don't want to go. I'd rather just give me a job in McDonald's. I don't want to be a pharmacist again. And it's always worked out. It's always worked out. And very blessed, really, to be where I am. I mean, I'm able to do this, right. This is not like probably there's not a pharmacist listening. Maybe there is see your podcasts I have no idea. Probably not. But like, this is not related at all, but it's fun for me. And that's what business allows you to do if you do it right anyway. But that's kind of the journey and the transformation I've had to go through to achieve this dream.

Curt Storring 40:17
Yeah, man, the, the shame of not being where the other people you started with are is real dude, like, I was there too. I am, in many ways still there. And I like to justify it, I go like, well, I traveled for a couple years, I've got kids, these other guys don't have kids. Like I put like, full time effort into like, unscrewing myself, because I was so miserable all the time. So like in a work capacity, I just put all the work inside, and like, you know, kind of dealt with the business stuff and stayed afloat, and it was good. And, you know, I'm also very fortunate that I've been able to pay for everything and have for 10 years. So like, I'm doing pretty well. On the other hand, good. Like leaning into that zone of genius. I want to talk about that a little bit. Because I sometimes I wonder about that for myself, like, what is it that I am uniquely good at? Where should I focus? Because I'm pretty good at everything. And that's kind of a curse?

Alex Barker 41:12
And you're humble? Well,

Curt Storring 41:15
that's part of it too. Well, this is very true for me, like I am very good at almost everything I do. And that causes me to just think that I should do everything disallowed me from delegating properly in many ways. And so how did you lean into that shame? Like, what do you mean, I leaned into it found my zone of genius, that's like, sweet, like, I want to do that, too. How did you do that?

Alex Barker 41:42
The zone of genius. It's honestly a term that I've stolen from Gay Hendricks, who is way smarter than I am on the subject. He's got some excellent books out there, I recommend them. For anyone who's interested in this topic. I've slightly modified it into career stuff, the zone of genius simply implies that it's the place where your greatest gift to the world is given at its fullest. That's my own interpretation of it. And a zone of genius is, it's a place where the work doesn't feel like work. You feel satisfied by how you're being compensated, when people experience it, or whatever that it is. They go, Wow, maybe not everybody, because some people are gonna hate your guts, because that's how life works. But some people are gonna say, Wow, that that was something special. What do you did? And I think like you, sometimes when you're doing business, or you're side hustling, you get this notion that you have to do everything. Perhaps this kind of comes down to acceptance as well, in the subject. We talked about previously with kids that you have to take on everything, the burden belongs on you, because you're the man or you're the father, you're you're the guy, but I know my shortcomings. They are plentiful. And I don't want to get good at them. Because I'll never be great at them. Right? Yes. I bought onto the idea very early, that it would make more financial sense to pay someone less than I would pay myself to do a job better than I could do it. And so I hired a VA, I think in 2013 She's been with me ever since then. And oh, that's unusual. Yeah, she's. Yeah, she is amazing. She's my operations manager within my career coaching company, but then her and I actually have another business as well, basically outsourcing virtual assistants. And there's so much in this world that I hate doing. So why do I want to waste my limited time on this earth doing it? I hate taxes. I hate reading email. I hate social media. i What else do I hate? I hate written communication. I hate checking details, reading contracts, and hiring operational people has been the best decision ever. Because all I have to do is just tell them do this. And then they do it and they love it. That's the weird thing to me is they love doing that kind of stuff. For me. Oh, man, I couldn't think of a worse way to spend my mornings, my afternoons my evenings than doing the work they do. But they love it. And there's people out there who loves all sorts of work. They are working in their zone of genius. And I love finding people that, you know, just don't try to convince me you can do something. But do you live it? Do you live and breathe it? So when I hire my salespeople, you know, tell me about what how you convince others to do something than you want. Tell me about how you interact with your family. So I've just learned my zone of genius has been really talking about Being genuine, being me, really, I'm not an introvert. I'm not an organized person. I'm not any of those things. And so by finding that role, I was able to lean into it do that kind of work. Coaching was a part of it, but that's not where I feel energized when I'm done. Like, when I'm done with this podcast, I'm gonna feel better. I'm gonna feel energized. I have a webinar tonight. I know when I'm done. Yeah, it's gonna be stressful. But at the end of it, I'm going to be like, ah, yeah, alright, I feel good. I feel really good. Kind of like drugs. So that's been my own personal journey, I guess through delegation.

Curt Storring 45:43
Yeah, that's, that's amazing. Then what? Go ahead, you're gonna say something else?

Alex Barker 45:47
Probably, but I forgotten it.

Curt Storring 45:49
Great. Well. Okay, let's go to the last thing we're going to talk about, I think we got like six minutes left, you made a note on like, the distinction between a healthy business and a healthy family, and maybe not a distinction, the relation between those two things? Do you want to just riff on that for a little while? What do you see as being a healthy business? And like, how does that relate at all to your family?

Alex Barker 46:15
You know, I think the core of that is values, how you treat others is a reflection of how you treat your family and vice versa. In fact, one of our dilemmas recently in our business is should we hire this salesperson, there's a certain person who we know very well, and he has a ton of very valuable assets. We know if we hire this guy, he is probably gonna make us quite a bit of money. And we will certainly benefit from it. But he is not a fit for our company. He does not fit into what we value. One of our values in the career coach company, specifically I'm talking about is fun. If something isn't fun, you need to you need to figure out how to delegate it, eliminate it or systematize it, that's our, you know, that's our solution to those kinds of things. He's not a fun guy. He is a workaholic, great guy, insanely organized. But if he was to join our culture, he would shift it, people would have conflict with him. And how we treat this situation, deciding on whether or not we want to include someone into it, despite the fact that it would probably go against our value is the same way that I treat my family. What we allow or don't allow in our family is a reflection of what we believe in. And so for example, I have to continually teach my youngest daughter, that complaining isn't right. Complaining isn't right. It's true, it stinks. And it's okay to feel sad. It's okay to feel frustrated by something, but complaining about it, that we're not there yet, that you don't have this video game, that your cousin has a cell phone, you don't, that's fine. But there are solutions to fixing this problem. For every problem. They may not be perfect, but there are solutions. And that's where the focus needs to be. So I would say, you know, if you especially if you run your own business, how you treat your family is also probably how you treat your I don't want to say business family, because it's not a family, its business. But the relationships are so similar that they may as well be a pseudo family. That's, I think, what we believe,

Curt Storring 48:34
yeah. And what I'm downloading is like get clear on your values and then be consistent with applying them. In both cases. That's

Alex Barker 48:42
hard. Especially if you don't believe in apologizing. You got a lot stacked against

Curt Storring 48:46
you. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I guess even the meta point is what you're saying is like, get better values if your values suck. Right?

Alex Barker 48:57
Yeah. And if you've never thought about it, I think you just have to ask yourself, what do I value? And if you don't know how to ask that question or answer, excuse me, look at your checkbook and look at your calendar, look at what you do and spend your money on. And there. That's how I discovered this year, honestly, that fun was such a priority for me. Because we we have an annual retreat, and we were reassessing our mission and our values and all that. And I realized, like, you know, what's missing here is fun. Because everything that's not fun to me. I complained a little bit to my team, and then we figure out what to do about it. I say, this sucks. I don't want to do this. Okay, I'll do it. Great. Awesome. That's exactly what I was about to ask. Because they love that. Maybe not everything that I asked them to do, but we should have had them come on to the podcast, I would have been an interesting conversation. Is all this true, everybody? Yeah, yeah, it's true. It's true. What else whatever Alex says. But yeah, if you look at your time, look at your money where going, that's what you value. That's what you value. So, yeah, great. Revise the actions that made for this podcast. How about that?

Curt Storring 50:08
There you go. Let's, let's leave it there. If you don't know what your values are a write them down B if you don't know how to find them, look where you spend your time and spend your money. fantastic way to end. Alex, this has been a ton of fun. In case there is a slew of pharmacists who are like on this podcast in the world. Where can they find you? And maybe even if you're on like, I know you hate social media, where can people find more? Oh, we're on

Alex Barker 50:33
social media. It's just it's, it's not me. Me, it's my it's my team. You know, they people know it. People know. It's it's my team handling things. Um, yeah, you can go to The Happy PharmD (PHARMD.COM) That is our career coaching company for pharmacists. I'm on LinkedIn happy to connect with people there. You'll have a conversation probably with my VA, but happy to as well to eventually talk with people in real life as well. So yeah, that that'd be how to find me.

Curt Storring 51:10
Sw eet Alex Barker on LinkedIn. And The Happy PharmD is that what I heard? Mm hmm. Yes. Beautiful. Okay, Alex, this has been a ton of fun. You are indeed a fun person and I feel that from you. So thank you for just like showing up man. I really really appreciate the time.

Alex Barker 51:25
It was a blast. Thanks for chatting with me

Curt Storring 51:33
that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. It means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today, including Show Notes resources and links to subscribe leave a review work with us go to Dad.Work slash pod. That's di d dot w o RK slash pod. type that into your browser just like a normal URL, Dad.Work/Pod. To find everything there you need to become a better man, a better partner and a better father. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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