Bridging the Gap Between Fatherhood and Entrepreneurship With Jon Vroman

John Corcoran 12:50

interviewed Hal Elrod and a bunch of other people that have sold Cutco. So I know a little bit of the inside of the world. But to me, it seems like if I think back on myself at 1819 years old, I don’t think I would have had the discipline to actually, you know, go out and do it. It seems so challenging, like this so hard. Yes. It is so hard, right? It’s so hard. I was involved in politics. So politics, so I knocked on doors for candidates, which that’s hard to do for eight hours a day, 567 days a week. That seems crazy. What do you think enabled you to excel in that world? That cutthroat world?

Jon Vroman 13:31

Yeah, you know, you’re right, man. There are some incredible people that have come up through Cutco and that I’m still friends with to this day, you know, people that are in our group in Front Row Dads’s Justin Donald, who is one his top managers. How, as you mentioned another buddy Jon Berghoff, whose company is called the Exchange. He’s one of the largest training companies in the world for facilitators and large group conversations. He remarkable human, John Ruhlin, who wrote the book Giftology.

John Corcoran 14:00

All Cutco gamble and interviewed him as well. Yeah, he’s

Jon Vroman 14:02

great. Yeah, really, really phenomenal. And I think that what happens is that, yeah, there’s probably a natural element where you go, that person might be extroverted, or they have this particular skill that they were either born with or that that maybe was cultivated with their parents. But a lot of it is the grits a lot. A lot of it is kind of fate by who is your manager? And who did you meet and who is your buddy and your training class? And, you know, and maybe it was an encouraging customer along the way. I think that as I get older and I’m now 48, you know, I really do think it’s, it’s a yes, and in almost every situation. Yes, there’s some natural fit for the human that’s in it. But the other one is sometimes just if you’re lucky enough to be in a conversation with the right person at the right time. It may mean that this is your path through Cutco, but whatever it is, there are 10s of 1000s that come through the door and give it a shot. And it’s not for everybody. But the people who really succeeded and figured out a few things, how to manage their time, how to set goals, how to talk with customers, we all became really tight. And then that group has stayed friends for a long, long time.

John Corcoran 15:12

Now, it doesn’t seem like a leap of logic that you would eventually find your path to Tony Robbins, kind of the Guru, the Dean of personal development. How did you discover Tony, and you actually end up kind of becoming a leader in helping to grow that community?

Jon Vroman 15:31

Yeah, you know, what’s interesting about the Tony Robbins world was that, and I’ve never, I don’t think I’ve ever told this story on the podcast, but I was hosting an event at the same venue that Tony’s UPW was going to be at. And I really didn’t know his work well at the time. But the woman had said, Hey, because we’re working together, and I was bringing a conference. There she goes, if you want a couple of tickets to go and see Tony, I can give you some tickets. And so I did, I went and saw Tony, and then I walked on fire and got rid of my limiting beliefs and walked out of there feeling like holy shit, what just happened, you know, and it was, it was incredible, was remarkable. What he was able to craft in the course of three or four days was something I’d never experienced a next-level type thing for me at that moment in my life. I was so impressed. And so I went all in. I remember I was in my mid-20s. And Tony was, so this is his weekend conference. Tickets are probably 500,000 bucks, whatever it is, but he was selling his mastery course. I had never been in an audience where anybody sold anything for a high ticket like never in my life. Right? Yeah. And he goes, you could come to all three events for $10,000. And I’m sitting there and I’m gone, what people liked. And I

John Corcoran 16:45

remember, that number just seemed like,

Jon Vroman 16:48

like, you might have what you could have said 7 million. 7 million. But you know, it was also incredible. Jon was I can think back to that moment about the internal dialogue and the wrestling match between my I’m not worth it. And what if I am? Due to that, I remember being in the room and having this am I worth it? Is that crazy? Is what I and I made the decision to invest in myself? So you did it hard to argue whether or not that or Tony was more impactful in my life, but it’s likely and both

John Corcoran 17:32

related to one another. I mean, at that point, I mean, you’d been quite successful with Cutco. Yeah, so it doesn’t. Now looking back on it to me, it doesn’t seem like that much of a leap that you would do that. But I cannot totally relate to it at the moment. It was a huge leap in your mind. Right. You know, you’re thinking, what if I tell my parents, what are they gonna think, you know, you’re spending $10,000 to join a bunch of

Jon Vroman 17:55

did tell somebody and their first reaction is, oh, my God, dude, you got suckered. You gotta get your money back. Yeah, I did receive that. Yeah. And thank God, I stayed on the path. I knew what I knew. And that was the beginning of what was a really cool journey in that world. And, and definitely changed the course of my life.

John Corcoran 18:15

And you even got to the point where you were in leadership, explain what that was. Yeah.

Jon Vroman 18:20

So when you go to all the events, I went to all the events promoted multiple times. Yeah. And then and then they asked what look now that you’ve learned this, would you like to teach this? So I went through their leadership academy, and then you can be selected to attend events as a leader, where now you’re helping other people go through the material, now you’re helping other people to have their transformation, their breakthrough. Now we’re behind the scenes with Tony, right, looking at people’s intake forms, asking how we can support people working together to create a magical experience for people. So one thing Tony’s done really well is he’s involved other people in helping to make the impact. He is a genius, no question about it. He also has enrolled hundreds of geniuses around him who want to serve. These people are people who have wild success in their lives, and who are showing up to give back to this community. And so that particular group of senior leaders was part of the we’d come in early, we’d stay late for these events. And it was really wild.

John Corcoran 19:21

Yeah. I mean, I know Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce has credited Tony Robbins with helping encourage him to start Salesforce. And there’s a lot of people I’m here in San Francisco, there’s a lot of people, business leaders that, you know, that are big fans of the work that he did. He’s

Jon Vroman 19:37

in so many ways he’s larger than life. But I also want to say this, too, that as you move down the path and you and you and you think more globally or you think about other people and other influences, I’ve realized that it was actually a little unhealthy, how attached I was to Tony and that organization, and there are lots of amazing people with lots of different philosophies, different approaches to life. At one point I knew I needed to reach out and expand and have other things to say other than This is what Tony teaches, or This is what I learned from Tony. It’s that only I wanted to expand that network. And so that was an important part of the journey, too. Yeah,

John Corcoran 20:16

yeah. So you, at some point, decide that you’re going to kind of tear up the path that you’re on, and you decide to start what became Front Row Global, and at the same time, a nonprofit. And you had a new child. So what happened there?

Jon Vroman 20:36

Yeah, this particular part of my life was, I had, I think, at a level of certainty, as I was getting clear about, and Tony taught this these human needs that we have, we have a need for certainty, we have a need for uncertainty, we have a need for significance. This is one that hit me our need for the significance of making a difference in the world. That’s the one that I hadn’t dialed in. So I started a charity called Front Row Foundation, which helps kids and adults who have a life-threatening illness, see the live event of their dreams from the front row were all the things that were in my DNA, right? It’s like Love Live Events love being in this idea of being in the front row of life. And I thought, what if we could help people who are battling for their life kind of like a make a wish, but for kids and adults of all ages, and we just focus on concerts, sporting events, like that’s our focus. And then what we could do is we could take everything that we’re learning from people who are, who are fighting for their life, about how they’re living their life, and teach that to others saw this whole thing in my head, that translated into raising millions of dollars doing that charity for now, almost 20 years. And that became a book called The Front Row Factor. And then I started giving speeches about it. And that was a decade of my life. And that’s an important decade of my life. And I’m so proud of it. But the part that I think is most important to the audience today, based on how you teed this up in the beginning also is for fathers my son was one of my kids was six, and the other was one, I had hit what I would call the pinnacle of my speaking career where I had landed a $35,000 keynote speech. So 35k for one hour, that I thought I was right, I had arrived, this was, this was kind of the top of where I thought I was gonna get in the speaking game. And the truth is that right when I got there, I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. Because I was a businessman who happened to have a family. And I wanted to be a family man who happened to have a business, my priorities were all jacked up. It was always one more season. And it was always like, Well, now that I’m getting 10k a speech, how do I say no? And now that I got 20k speech, how do I say no, it was always one more thing was like, I gotta get this book written and get it out there. And I remember saying this to my wife all the time got to do this thing with the charity got a guy got to hire an executive director got to do. And it was just constantly like, the selling myself on why more was better for the family. It was selling myself on why more was better for the world. I was showing my kids how to work hard, I was showing my I could sell myself all day long. But the point is that I was still becoming a guy who was not present with his family, who was not at home with his kids was not showing up in the way that I knew. And I knew enough to know it was happening. And I wouldn’t have a six-year-old, you’re 1/3 of the way to 18. So I don’t have many more seasons that I get to sell myself on why going to work is so great. And when you got the young kids too, sometimes I hit at work. Sometimes it’s like, Oh, I gotta go to the office. But the truth is, it’s like, I’m the boss there. I’m the king there. Right? It was I was so in control there. I could be in a coffee shop working on my vision. And I didn’t have to be dealing with the tough parts of being a dad. Right? The Screaming kid who doesn’t care that you’re right, you don’t report to you can’t fire him, right? It’s not that way. So that’s when I got 30 guys together in Philadelphia in 2016. And I said the only rule guys is to talk about our businesses. And these are really successful guys. Jon ruins their how L rods. They’re a bunch of other guys with lots of success, lots of money, lots of fame. But the truth is we weren’t talking about family like we really should have could have wanted to. And so we did three days no business talk, and all the guys were like, Oh my God, this, we need more of this. We need accountability in our lives we need, we need space we need. We need permission to talk about these things. Because we’re not having these conversations even when we’re getting together. You know, it’s quickly slips into business. And sometimes it’s uncomfortable to look at a buddy and be like, how’s your sex life? You go, there’s no good time to talk about that. But if you create a safe place for men to be vulnerable and open and real with each other, and that’s what’s called in, that’s what’s asked of them. They’ll step up, they will they’ll open up they’ll share and they’re like holy, I’ve been carrying that around for 10 years or I haven’t I had a conversation on the Front Row Dads’s retreat that I haven’t had with my best friends in 10 years. We went so deep so fast because we asked that of them, we get and we set it up in a way where they can do that. And it’s awesome. And now seven years later, we, you know, we have hundreds of men in the group we, we have created some good systems. And ultimately the whole goal is, yeah, all of it’s important, John, as you know, like, we want guys to succeed in business, we want guys to love their business, we want guys to go all in on their business and seasons of their life. We also want guys to be really healthy, we want them to have great marriages, we want them a good relationship with our kids, and do all these things. Well. That’s why we exist, because primarily a lot of groups, even the business groups are like family matters. But in our group, it’s got to be like, everything in the family gets built first, then family. So when we build calendars, we build family first, then we build a business around it to support the family, not like I built a business. And then Oh shit, how am I going to fit my family in here? Yeah.

John Corcoran 25:54

Now. Thank you for that. I know because I’ve been through this evolution a couple of times before and my business was a model that I didn’t want to pursue. I was a practicing attorney for a bunch of years, I had young kids, and I knew I didn’t want to be on the weekends preparing for a trial that starts on Monday and missing out on the family. But from that to where I am today was a long journey. And even though I’m sure for you, you said I got the certified $1,000 keynote speaker to be speeches. But getting to where you are today is a journey. So how did you go about doing that? I mean, 30 guys in Philadelphia is awesome. But it’s also I know, having done events also, that it can be hard to turn that into enough revenue that allow you to quit the day job that you had.

Jon Vroman 26:38

Yeah, you’re totally right, man. It’s so I haven’t done it very well. It’s been very smooth over the years, kind of a burn-the-boats kind of guy. I mean, when I left Costco and I went out to become a speaker, there were some really tough days like we went into debt. I was really stressed out. I was drinking too much was I wasn’t exercising like it was a disaster. And then transitioning out of speaking into Front Row Dads was a little less tumultuous as it was that first time around, because I had a pretty solid income with speaking and, and, you know, I did kind of land the plane a little slowly around speaking and I ramped up the Front Row Dads, but a better way to go. At some point, you have to go all in. And you know, what was really wild is that you know, when you look around for the gifts, the universal provide them. It was right at the beginning of 2020, when I made the decision to go all in on Front Row Dads it was just perfect. I was already landing the plane and 2019. And then the world was like, Yep, you’re not going to do any speaking.

John Corcoran 27:40

Yeah, you made that decision.

Jon Vroman 27:42

Yeah, dude, it’s so divine. The timing was

John Corcoran 27:45

perfect. Funny. I mean, that kind of parallels, similar to my experience, because it was probably around 2018 when we were doing more small-group events around the country. And I was saying my business partner, I had three-four kids at that point. I was like, I do not want to have to get on a plane to make money. Totally. And so we were already in that evolution. And then you know, pandemic accelerated and everything or decelerate and everything, everybody on your business model. Yeah. 100%. Yeah. And then it started with a live event. But now it has so much more to it. So tell people about what Front Row Dads entails today.

Jon Vroman 28:16

Yeah, you know, Front Row Dads is a community that welcomes men who want to put family first to entrepreneurs, business owners that look, yeah, join your business mastermind. Grow your business, and make millions, we are super happy for you. Get around a group of guys who are willing to put family first and have difficult conversations about how you connect with your kids. How do you strengthen your marriage with your spouse? How do you even think about the wealth that you’ve created? And how do you set up family foundations? And how do you not raise spoiled kids because money money is not always a gift to your children? You know, so it can be it can really be devastating. If it’s not handled properly, you can really create soft and weak children if you give them too much, and don’t you know, and don’t set it up properly. So there’s, there’s all these conversations that we want to have as a community, including emotional intelligence, which is one that a lot of groups don’t cover, but we want to talk about trauma, trauma we faced as children and trauma that we are facing with our kids, you know, and really addressing those things and healing generational trauma. By the way, I’ve got a great story on that if we have time, something that happened recently that I feel like I broke a cycle, which was really powerful. Yeah, go for it. Yeah, you wanna hear the story? Yeah. So this is this is really, I think I’ve shared this one time prior, John. So here, here’s the story. I’m eight years old. I live in Pennsylvania. My dad’s in the Navy and walks in the door every single night at 7 p.m. on the nose like at 659. If you stood by the door of the garage door, God that’s how disciplined my dad was, how consistent he was. He walked in the door in his military uniform Navy captain and carrying his briefcase set it in the exact same spot sitting down for dinner at the exact same time like that was our home life. This time I decided I was gonna crawl underneath his desk. And when he came through the door is gonna jump out and I’m gonna surprise him. Well, after a long day of doing whatever he did at work, he did not find that funny. And he got very angry at me. And I would have told you that I knew that made me sad. But I kind of got over it, right? And really what that meant was, I think I got great at stuffing it down, not really dealing with it until I was in a therapy session, one time a somatic healer, doing some breath work. And she took me back through my life. And I got to this moment where I started telling the story. And John, I started bawling like my body was shaking. And I was bawling. And I actually surprised myself. Because I was thinking, Where is this coming from? Like, I would have never sat down and told you that I had a lot of trauma around this, or this was unresolved, or I hated my dad, because of it, none of that. But because she tapped into something in me that was deeper than I ever knew existed there. This is the blind spot work we do in Front Row Dads a lot of times that came out. And I felt like, you know, I always just call bullshit on these people like, oh, I release the trauma. And I’m like, whatever, you know, like it just, it just sounded like something that they had to say to justify the payment they made to the therapist or whatever. Yeah, but I but I released something that day. And here’s where I saw it show up. I’m in Cabo a couple of weeks ago with one of our dad brothers, and we’re our families are being you know, hanging out together, and I’m down on the beach by myself. And I’ve got my earphones, and I’m listening to some meditation music, and I got my hands in the sand. And I’m, like floating in the clouds and meditation, right, I’m super quiet and serene, and my eight-year-old sneaks up behind me. And he grabs me and tries to scare me. Now, I did not react, I turned meaning I did react. But I turned around, smiled, hugged him, and pulled him in. And I realize, John, that over, I’m 48, like I said earlier, and for as long as I can remember, if anybody ever scared me, I would be very close to punching you in your face. Like if you jump out and scare me, I immediately get angry turn around, and punch you in your face. And I don’t know where that came from. But you said laugh with my wife, I was like, don’t scare me because I immediately get angry. And I don’t know why. But that’s just part of who I am. And you just yet and connected. But I and I’m guessing but I think this is what happened was that was living in my body at a deep core level. And I was able to process it and release it. And now my son comes up and scares me, if I hadn’t done the work as a man, I would have freaked out on him. And now he’s got the same story and would have carried the same trauma and would have still lived my life because that’s what we do when we pass on trauma. But because I worked on healing myself and dealing with my stuff, I now was able to break that cycle, my son surprises me and I embrace him and hug him. That does not make me better than my father that makes me do it. That is what I should be doing as a man, which is healing and working to make the next generation a little better than the last. And that’s what my dad did. Because his dad was even tougher than he was. And he said I worked on that. And I think I gave to you a more healed version of my father, and now you’re working on it, and you’re gonna be better to your kids. And I was to you. And that’s what we’re supposed to do supposed to pass along information, help each other out, heal wounds, right, that’s what happens. And so I share that, because that’s really what Front Row Dads is, it’s a place for men to have the conversation they’re not normally having, and to reveal blind spots. So here’s the thing, sometimes you don’t even know why you’re joining Front Row Dads, as a community, you just know you want to be the best that you can be as a father, husband, and businessman. And what you recognize, if you’re humble enough to recognize it, is that there are things you don’t even know because there’s the shit, you need to work on John, that you already know, you’re like, I know, I yell at my kids, I need to get better at that. But that’s not what you get out of our dads, what you typically get out of our dads is you didn’t even know this. And now being around all these other men, you were able to see it when you couldn’t see it before. Because we are built to thrive and relationships and community. That’s what we’re meant to do. We’re not meant to be sitting at home on our computers digesting content all day long. That’s part of it wonderful to consume some content, this content, that content, I love content in a particular ratio in my life, but what I really need is people around me. So whether it’s farmer dads or any other community, that’s what we got to keep doing that, actually. And I’m gonna I’m going to zoom out for a quick second. That actually is what I think is the biggest answer to the world’s greatest problems better and better and better local communities. That’s it. I think that’s the answer. For a lot of our biggest problem is the local community. If we can strengthen the relationships of human beings at home and with their neighbors and in their cities and states. I think that’s a huge step forward in the right direction.

John Corcoran 34:55

Yeah, yeah. That’s great, Jon, thanks for starting and sharing that story. I want to wrap up with a question, I was asked to hold this as my gratitude question. So I’m a big fan of gratitude, especially expressing gratitude to those who’ve helped you along the way in your journey. Especially peers, and contemporaries. Some of those guys, I’m sure you mentioned, were there in Philadelphia with you, who would you want to shout out and acknowledge for helping you?

Jon Vroman 35:19

Yeah, I can do I have to pick one.

John Corcoran 35:22

You can pick as many as you like. Play you off.

Jon Vroman 35:26

There’s, there’s there’s a couple of core guys that I really want to honor. You know, one of which is, you know, John Kane, this guy who was my boss at Cutco. He saw something in me. And I learned from him more than anybody how to spot the talent of an individual. I watched him do it. I watched him see the good in everybody. I watched him pick up my boys hold him in his arms, put his hand on their chest, and say I see a light in you. There is something about you. And that’s what he does for everybody. He sees the best in everybody around them. And then he brings that out, and he brings it into the community and into the team and into the business and into the family. Like he sees people for their at their best. And he understands that we’re all fallible humans too. So he’s, he’s got a lot of forgiveness. I love that guy. Jon Bergdorf is one of my best friends. He also in this core group of people, he’s a former Cutco brilliant human. I think one of the things I love about Jon is Jon has really helped me he’s always believed in me and my potential. And he’s always believed in Front Row Dads, and he believed in Front Row Foundation. And he was he always has been there building with me. And I really want to honor him for building together. He was the guy who would show up with a hammer and be like, let’s go, what do you want to build? Right? And it was, like, just so fun to create with him. And then how Elrod who, you know, best friend for a long time? You know, this guy, man, he’s just so excited about everything, like genuinely he’ll, he’ll pitch something and you’re like, dude, when did you become an affiliate for that product, he’s like, I’m not, I’m just so excited about it. And that’s how he rolls, he is so authentic, so enthusiastic. And he has brought so many people to Front Row Dads because he talks about it so often. And all these people, man, and I could go on and on and on. But those are a couple of names that come to mind that I just love, appreciate, and have been supportive of. And again, the list goes on Justin, Donald, and all these people who just keep showing up. And they keep asking me to, they keep asking me who I am, and how that will be applied in the world in their own unique ways. That’s what they do. They keep challenging me to bring Jon to the table. And to be that as much as I can. That’s what they give space to. That’s what they call it. So thanks for letting me talk about some of my favorite people.

John Corcoran 38:00

Of course, Jon, this has been a pleasure. You got the Front Row Dads podcast, where can people go to learn more about you and connect with the community?

Jon Vroman 38:07

Yeah, man calling all the dads out there, Start with the podcast, and see how it feels. And then, you know, if you really want to, you really want to go all in? Do everything you can for your family, then then say yes to the brotherhood and pour into it. Because if you give to these guys, they’ll give to you. And that’s what it’s all about. Man. It’s, you know, we get this one chance, my buddy, Jim Shiels has the best line. He says 18 summers, you know, you get 18 summers, and it starts to feel different when you’re like, what are we going to do this summer? This is summer number 12 or 13, or whatever it is, and you only got 18 of these. So in theory, yeah.

John Corcoran 38:45

Here’s another one I interviewed on the podcast. I love that conversation. A couple of days ago I mentioned the name of his business 18 Summers and why he named his business in the summers. And every time it’s kind of like your, you know, family man with businesses. You know, when you say it to the right person it goes down their spine, right? He was in our first retreat. 

Jon Vroman 39:05

He was in Philly in 2016. And Jim Shiels was there.

John Corcoran 39:09

Wow. That’s great, Jon,

Jon Vroman 39:11

Thanks so much. Thanks, buddy.

Chad Franzen 39:15

Thanks for listening to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast. We’ll see you again next time. And be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.