Sports, Leadership and Kidiosity with Andy Zurcher

Episode 028
Duration 41 min
Andy Zurcher - Father, Coach and Leader
Andy Zurcher

New episode with my native Colorado friend, leader, and amazing human – Andy Zurcher!

In this episode Andy and I explore the positive power of sports, leadership and creating quality connection with our kids. Andy shares his awesome background in sports, which inspired him to coach at different levels and eventually launch a recent startup (Kidiosity) that helps parents create quality time with their children.

As a father, I’m deeply inspired by Andy’s mission with Kidiosity, which solves a big problem in a world of “mass distractions.” Creating quality time with our children is more challenging than ever, and something we can all use a little help with. I encourage parents to check it out!

“The opportunity to impact a life in a positive way is worth a lot more than the dollars that might be associated with that particular pursuit.”


[00:00:00] Ali: Welcome back folks Ali here with a special friend, Mr. Andy Zurcher. We go back quite a ways. In fact, Andy is part of my early days moving to Denver. We worked at a company called Service Magic, years ago, and even as I say that with you here, Andy, it's like there's some nostalgia that arises and then we ended up sort of meeting and, and connecting later at a deeper level on different projects throughout life.

So I'm excited to have you here, not just to jam on air, but also to get current with some things that are in focus for you and have you share a bit about your story. So, Andy, welcome. How would you like to introduce yourself?

[00:00:45] Andy: Thanks Ali. It's great to be here. Always great to reconnect with, with old friends and it is funny, as you get older, the more special it gets when you do because it's harder and harder to find time for friends and maybe that's a function of the age of my kids and your kids. But, uh, how would I like to introduce myself? Gosh, that's a heck of a question. I am a native of Colorado. There aren't a ton of us left, so that true, a little bit unique.

Yeah. I am a proud father of four amazing kids. Two older daughters and then two younger sons. My second daughter, it's her birthday today and she turns, 19. So, um, awesome. They are 20 and today, 19, and then 16 and 14. I've got an amazing wife, uh, named Anne, who we've been married for 22 years. Kind of charting things together. I have career-wise, sort of navigated and how we found each other was you know, in earlier stage things. And so I've always sort of somewhat gravitated towards earlier stage, whether it's called startup culture or, or just earlier stage companies are always a little more interesting to me in creating something. And all the, the ups and downs and problem solving that goes along with that is, is always fascinating to me.

Um, and, and of late I've found myself more attached to and, and have started a company a couple years ago that's called Kidiosity, and it's designed to help make it easier for parents to spend quality time with their kids. Hmm. Something that's near and dear to my heart and, and as I was sort of journeying through that I sort of realized that a good chunk of my life and what I'm passionate about and what I enjoy the most is coaching and teaching and leadership and those types of relationships are so much fun.

I played a bunch of tennis growing up and, and then played at the University of Notre Dame and ended up spending a couple years as an assistant coach of the tennis team there. And that was one of those kind of milestones that, that, as I look back was like, yeah, that has really sort of formed what I really enjoy and what I'm passionate about. And the, the opportunity to impact a life in a positive way is, is worth a lot more than the dollars that might be associated with that particular pursuit.

Um, also my brother and sister and I have taken over a ski club that my parents have run or my mom ran for, we're approaching 50 years since 1974. Wow. Called High Rocky Ski Club. And, uh, we take 350 to 400 kids up to Vail every Saturday in essentially January and February and into March a little bit where they get to learn skiing and go off with their instructors and classes.

And another sort of one of those things that in hindsight, like kind of awesome that it's another way to engage and help shape and try to be a, a positive influence and leader in the future of those that matter the most. You know, the youngest in our, in our world.

So, um, I'm probably just blabbering here too much, but you sort of opened it up so wide.

[00:03:36] Ali: Yeah, I love it. Dude.

[00:03:37] Andy: These are the things that, that sort of occupy my mind and keep me interested and maybe as I get a little older, in a touch, more reflective, you start connecting dots, you know, maybe in the rear view mirror that, aren't always obvious if you're looking out the windshield. So, anyway, I probably board your listeners to, tears. So hopefully somebody's still awake as we proceed.

[00:03:56] Ali: No, no. I think you have a very unique background and now you've sparked a few things that I want to touch on. The first is, I did not know you were a competitive tennis player. Wow. I knew some of these things just from our history together, but that I didn't know, and it peaks my interest because I didn't play at the, uh, same level as you. So you played D1 at Notre Dame?

[00:04:25] Andy: Yeah. In fact, this is sort of interesting to get into it a little bit. I did, I played D1 and then after college I went and traveled and played professional tennis, and spent time in Australia and Europe and Central America. And I knew pretty quickly that I wasn't, good enough to, make a living, you know, in perpetuity as a pro tennis player. But I was maybe wise enough to take advantage of the opportunity to travel the world and see some things, and so, mm-mmm one of the stories that, comes to mind is I was playing in Germany for a circuit there and I think I had lost, you know, a match and had the choice to either practice a little harder, you know, that afternoon or something, or go visit a concentration camp. And so I went and saw Dachau spent time touring that in the afternoon and there's nothing particularly unique about that but just kind of cool that tennis enabled me to sort of see the world a little bit.

And, and as I look back, growing up, I spent a lot of time traveling around the country. And then in college traveling around the country and, and that's probably been a pretty meaningful influence on my worldview is, is a function of both the travel and the teammates and the connection. Another story that you might appreciate, I think the first time I ever experienced. Gosh, and I'm, I'm going weird places here, so sorry about this, Ali. No go, go. Um, the first time I ever experienced kind of racism as you think about it, I was, uh, 14 years old and my parents put me on a plane and I landed in Shreveport, Louisiana, where the National Clay Court, or I guess it was the National 14 and Under, tennis championships were. And I was housed with a family and, and a super, super nice family.

But the very first night, I think I practiced at the courts, and then I went to their home and we're having dinner together, and they're sort of giving me the lay of the land and, and just the nicest people. And said by the way, when you leave, you know, you don't go four blocks that way. Mm-hmm, because that's where the Negros live. Oh. You know, and I'm sorry, apologize for you saying that. But it dawned on me that I had learned and read about Rosa Parks and all these things in history books, but I didn't really understand what that meant until you're seeing it.

And these people they were not in any way raising their voice it was just such a part of their culture that they just wanted to share and communicate that. And all of a sudden you know, wow, a light bulb went off for me. That's like, that's what it means. Or that's one way that this is manifest is a belief like that it was just, you know. So anyway, I don't wanna go too deep into that. But a good example of how kind of the, the sport of tennis that I enjoy and loved and it was amazing for me to, to sort of help learn life lessons and sort of character. But an example of how that brought me to a new place from just a knowledge perspective, that who would've ever thought that that's what you get out of, right, pursuing a passion.

[00:07:12] Ali: Dude. Yes. Lessons there. Like you said some new awareness at an early age. Yeah, that's profound. The other thing that clearly came through as you gave your beautiful intro is that you mentioned leadership in coaching as a part of just sort of your lifestyle, and I feel like the context I have of you being involved in sports and coaching teams has always been present.

In fact, one of the things that I always remember, and I'm not sure if I'm still on this, but when I first worked and interacted with you at Service Magic, you led this March Madness tournament bracket. And even years after I left there, I was like, oh, cool, I still get invited. Like Andy runs it and I feel like this wasn't like a baby thing. Do you still do that today?

[00:08:03] Andy: I still do. It's going back to, I think in high school I started running a pool and, wow, and those were the days when you'd literally collect all the 35 draws. And then you'd have to go, like you're grading papers after a, a day and you're marking down scores. And so it's been, gosh, you know, we're talking, 30 years or something and I still run it. Ironically, what I love about it most anymore is, it's a reason to stay connected to people. Yeah. And so often it'll solicit an email back that just says, hey, you know, Andy, how are you? Here's what's going on in my life. And that's super cool as a little bit of a, a side effect of doing that.

[00:08:39] Ali: Dude. A hundred percent. Yeah. It's about relationships. Something that's slightly related to this. My next door neighbor across the street, I kid you not still runs the oldest fantasy football league in Colorado history. Every year his buddies show up and some of 'em fly in, some of 'em are local. He's been doing this for, I think, 30 something years, like before fantasy football was even cool, before the idea what it even was. He was featured on the channel nine news a year or two ago. So I love that. I love that you still hold that commitment because, sure, there's the competitive and the sports side, which can be fun, but ultimately what's really under there is relationships, like you said. Yeah.

[00:09:23] Andy: Yeah. Fantasy football at some point you just realize who cares whether who wins. But it's the opportunity to heckle each other and to trash talk ultimately, ultimately to stay connected over, over that many years is really cool. What an awesome sort of tribute to what sports can do is just help people stay connected and yeah, the Broncos are struggling, like all get out this year, but how many conversations does that enable and facilitate when you see people that you haven't in a while? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. There's something about that. And as I'm feeling a little more reflective here, again, think of how many times that you know, remember being back with my grandparents one time and my grandpa was talking to my dad, and often the conversation was about the Cleveland Indians, or about a particular sport.

But really what the conversation was, was them going back and forth saying, I love you. Yeah, I love you too. And it happened to be, the topic of conversation was about, I couldn't believe that so-and-so struck out on that three, two pitch or whatever. But really what they're saying is in, in their own language, I really care for you and our relationship is special. And so I was young when that's, I remember that impression that it made on me, so I've always appreciated that sports can be a pretty cool connector of people.

[00:10:35] Ali: Mm-hmm. Dude. Absolutely. Yeah. It's like there's this hidden language that, that you've just pointed on that sports is one of many things it does in terms of allowing us to bond. I'm actually really feeling that with my son Everest. He's almost seven, and I took him to his first Broncos game this year.

To your point, they're not very good. I was even there, Andy, and I've been sharing this with some people recently because this was like a month ago. Yeah. I stepped into this environment. It was just me and him, father, son experience. I was excited for it, and it had been years. I don't do pro sports very often anymore.

So I'm stepping in this environment, 70,000 fans. It's loud. We got great seats, which is intentional, but still there's some energy about being at a pro sports event that I don't like right now. Just, yeah, my introverted father leave me alone ways or like, that's not where I want to be. If I want to spectate, I'd rather do it from the couch in my own terms. But the whole point of this was the experience with Everest and just his face and his reaction to like staring at this huge scoreboard or even in the beginning.

The cool thing that Broncos do where the skydivers come in. And then watching the game, I don't even know how much the game he actually watched, but just being in tune with the score and asking questions. That experience the father-son bonding is really hard to replicate.

[00:12:00] Andy: That's so cool. And a memory that no doubt he'll have for the rest of his life. Absolutely. You know, and yeah. That's so, so neat.

[00:12:07] Ali: A hundred percent, man. I have a different story around, Coaching at young sports, which I may share if we get there. But what I wanna...

[00:12:16] Andy: Please do, I talk about a passion of mine and, and sorry to cut you off, but I sit on the Leadership Council in Colorado for the, um, Positive Coaching Alliance. Mm-hmm. And it's an organization that's designed to help sort of pull the positive, the life lessons and the character building aspects out of youth sports. And reduce the win at all costs kind of mentality that it seems like have taken hold of many youth sports, whether it's organizations or simply certain coaches or, or certain parents or things, and you're sort of missing all the goodness that sports provide in terms of an opportunity to create conversation and you're winning, you're losing, and how do you deal with that? And perseverance and sportsmanship and teamwork. And we could go on and on and on. So anyways, I would love to hear, the story cuz that's interesting. I'm so interested in that stuff. And obviously I have a bunch of stories of of my own that have helped shape who I am.

[00:13:09] Ali: Yes. Okay. What I realized last year, so Everest was five turning six and we enrolled him for a basketball league. Not a hyper-competitive one, but an organized rec center. And I have a very competitive background, not at a collegiate level, but I'm just naturally athletic, gimme a ball, tell me the rules, I'll figure it out. And then I like to play and lead and compete. Yep. And in this instance, I wanted to observe as dad, not sign up right away, be coach, and get thrown into the mix.

But what was really interesting and kind of evolved, Andy, is that as I was observing as a dad and a spectator, some things became very clear to me. For example, half of these boys did not even want to be there, and I didn't have to ask them that. Their body language was telling us that, right? Yeah. However, all the parents wanted to be there for one reason or another, and some of them were vocal, some of them were not. Some of them were on their phone the whole time. It was just so interesting to observe, like what was happening here.

And then later in the season I offered to coach because the coach had to step out. So I helped coach some of the games and that was an entirely different experience where I'm like, holy cow. Like these kids, I'm not sure if I'm like guiding them cuz like I'm on the court running with them, you know? And these are lowered hoops. So the standards are, are, yep. But it's still a game and there's still a ref and a scoreboard. And the whole thing I, I'll summarize with this. It was very interesting to observe this and really pay attention to like, what are the social dynamics in play here? Um, and where, where is the focus? Because I could observe some coaches, for example, where their ego was completely on the court.

Yep. Yeah. In other words, kind of yelling in a way that, in my opinion, is very aggressive for five-year-olds. Yep. And becoming frustrated whether it was influenced from parents who have their own projections on what they wanna see their kid do, right?

So all these things just circulate and I, there is still a part of me that is very excited to coach because I want to bring a presence to youth sports that will lighten me up. And I think I can help share with kids, but it was a really fascinating first perspective and to being like, oh, this is what it's like. So I'll digress. What comes up for you when you think about the state of youth sports and especially since you sit on this board and you have a lot of experience in that world?

[00:15:49] Andy: Yeah. I continue to believe that there aren't many better canvases with which you can leverage activities to help, you know, your, your children prepare themselves for life, mm-hmm, and, and things. That said, the data, and I'm gonna get some of this wrong, but it's something like, gosh, 70% of kids drop out of sports by the age of 10 or something like that. But my feeling is that you have, unfortunately too many coaches, too many parents that apply so much pressure to the outcome and at the expense of all the goodness that can be afforded.

And so what I love about the Positive Coaching Alliance, it's not like everybody kumbaya and hug and don't try and win. The first goal is, is to try and win the games, right? And in the pursuit of an outcome, of winning. All the goodness kind of happens when you don't win. Mm-hmm. And oh my gosh how do I deal with that? It's not like, oh yeah, don't keep score and just play. There's value in sort of keeping score. Interestingly to me, one of the things that I find most fascinating about success at those levels is the more you focus on the process and the things that you can control and the less you focus on the result, guess what, when the people who are trained that way and focus on the, the procedural elements, end up with more success.

Mm-hmm. And it's, and sort of ironic, right? I think the overall ecosystem is unfortunately too influenced by a few bad apple coaches. I think most coaches of of youth sports are in there for the right reasons, but mm-hmm, you hit on it, all of a sudden your ego gets tied up with whether your, seven year old basketball team wins the league. Yeah. And the big picture, I mean, let's be honest, who cares? Right?

So you get that and then you get parents who, anymore feel pressure. I think the cost of college. I think the other data point at the age of 10, I think 50% of parents believe that their child would get a full ride athletic scholarship. And the reality is it's closer to entering high school. If you're playing high school, one or 2% of those people will go on to play collegiately, much less get a full scholarship, you know, at division one. So, mm-hmm, big disconnect in expectations and reality there. But you have these organizations that wanna pay their coaches and make the money that can afford to do this year round.

And so all of a sudden, you know, Everest is about to start feeling pressure. Yeah. To like specialize in a sport at an obnoxiously young age. When by far there's more value, both in the competence in an individual sport. And in just your health and everything else of playing multiple sports and sort of just getting exposure and enjoying what each of the sports has to offer, both athletically and different team dynamics potentially.

And there's just so much there, but I can't keep my organization going if it's only a fall sport. So I have to convince you, you know that you need to play in our winter league and you need to play in our summer league or whatever. And so, right. You know, all of those things create a little bit of a trend that heads in not quite the most beneficial direction for our kids.

And you can certainly find great coaches, great organizations, great people involved, but unfortunately, that's not everybody. And so you have to be smart about how to navigate to find the right situation for your kids. And I hope that you do jump into the coaching world because we need more of you out there, um, coaching.

[00:19:20] Ali: Thanks, man. I appreciate that. That's, that's well received. And those are great words. So I agree with so much of that. One final note here, an interesting thing I learned while being in Ireland this past year, Andy, was that they have two very popular sports in their country. One called Gaelic Football and the other called Hurling. What's so cool about these sports to me, is that the men and possibly women, the athletes that compete at the highest level, which is organized, which is broadcast on TV. Yeah. 50,000 plus fans are paid $0. That is amazing. Oh, this is it for me at least, because I understand why we have systems for professional athletes and compensating that I'm not taking anything away from that. But I think that people who play at the highest level because they love it, there's a whole different energy there than people who play at the highest level because they're paid to.

[00:20:27] Andy: I had no idea. That is the coolest thing I've heard in a long time. I love that.

[00:20:32] Ali: You got a plumber and a doctor and a carpenter just out there giving it everything, you know.

[00:20:39] Andy: Uh, it's, it's the old Olympic sports, right? Yes. It's the old sort of Olympic nature before. Uh, well just look like what's happening in college athletics now with was it NIL Name, Image, Likeness. And all of a sudden you're paying people and crazy and all of a sudden, the joy and the, and the beauty of the games themselves become tainted in a pretty meaningful way.

I love that. I did not realize that. I'm gonna do some research there.

[00:21:03] Ali: Yeah. It was pretty cool. It caught me off guard in a really nice way. So we will talk sports all day long, but I want to get to the question on this show. I would love to know what's in focus for you right now?

[00:21:15] Andy: Well, I probably jumped the gun a little bit with just sort of all of those things, but, KIDIOSITY is probably the thing that's been the most in focus over the last couple years. A bit of a passion project to sort of create a business, to try and help parents, who we are all increasingly busy. You hardly see your family because you're bouncing from piano lessons on Tuesday to practice on Wednesday and Friday and games or just whatever, whatever it might be. Mm-hmm. Um, and so society has sort of created this, and social media maybe speaks to this too, a little bit of just this pressure to like, keep up with the Joneses and my kids have gotta be doing everything that we're all doing.

And at the end of the day, the best memories that you have sort of with your family and, and with your kids are, are rarely, the big wins of the championship or whatever. But, the time that, that somebody's, you know, milk flew outta their nose because they were laughing so hard at the dinner table because we were talking about, X, Y, or Z. Yep. And so to me that, that was kind of the ethos behind what KIDIOSITY was all about is can we in any way make it easier to try and create connection points for parents. And so what KIDIOSITY, is essentially, is built around, is the principle of that. And we execute that with a daily conversation starter.

And that's a little bit of a selfish feature that we added from asking my kids every day, hey, how was school today? Fine. What'd you learn? Nothing. Right? And the conversation sort of dies right there, right? So like, okay, where do I go from here? I don't use them every day, but every day we publish a conversation starter.

It's just designed to get past the weather or the Broncos game this weekend or something. And, and so often they're tied to seasonally relevant things or character traits or things where you just kind of ask a question and interestingly, most of them you or I could probably have an interesting conversation around the topic. It maybe is about character or is about honesty or, forgiveness but ideally the conversation starter just prompts a way for you to sort of engage in a more meaningful way. And so that's one of the features that I love is just trying to create opportunities to connect at a different level.

I think there's a 300 or or so different activities in there. We try and make those easy. We have a picture of every step along the way and bullet points on step one, you do this. But importantly we also try and weave conversation into those too. So, an example of that would be like the fingerprint family, that probably everyone in kindergarten, you know, you make your fingerprint for every member of your family, and then you draw this stick figure or the dog or whatever out of your fingerprint. That's one of the activities.

And within there, we also have a let's talk sort of item. So it's like, hey, what's something about everyone, every member of our family that's unique? And whether you incorporate that into the drawing, while you're doing this activity with your kids, the hope is that we give you some prompts to then engage on a different level and have conversation like that.

The most important feature within is what we call topics and it's the least creative name you could ever imagine, but the idea is, subject matter that might be of interest to a kid that also ends up hopefully being interesting to the parents too. Um, last week one of the subjects, in fact I, may just sort of pull this up, but, like whales and so it's like interesting. And so we have like a video about whales and then we provide conversation starters around that. Mm-hmm. And then we have, did you know facts about whales? Um, but just interesting facts where you're making learning fun and the idea is learn something new with your kids.

And then we have book recommendations and activities that go along with those types of things. But so many, Apps and, and, and products these days are almost designed to like outsource parenting so you can keep my kid busy, like give 'em the iPad so that I can go do a few things and they can watch, Frozen for the thirteenth time. Right. Um, we're trying to be opposite of that, which is sort of create opportunities for actually spending time together and connecting.

And I guess the last thing that we also offer is a daily, we call it insights and inspiration for parents. And that comes in the form of either an inspirational quote, some words of encouragement some did you know facts that are maybe research or maybe just interesting facts about parenting or about children? Some we call it, uh, laughs basically for parents inside jokes that they would appreciate. Books to read or opportunities to read or articles to read.

And then the last one is my favorite, which is sort of parent to parent advice. Mm-hmm. And it's like the inside scoop. The very first one that came about was, a woman sent us the note that she was struggling to get her kids out of the house. And, you know, it just just took forever. And so they created a skill for their Alexa device and they said Alexa, we're getting ready to leave. And so Alexa would play the song, It's Time to Move It, Move It. Yes. And they trained the kids to know when this song ends, we have to be in the car. Oh, I love it. And what a cool piece of advice that I would've never thought of.

But hopefully we can share some of those wins that we're all fortunate to have from time to time as parents, that sometimes you stumble upon that end up solving a day-to-day problem type thing. Yeah. Anyway. Wow. That's been what KIDIOSITY is all about. Definitely a passion project and I'm not sure we're gonna ultimately get over the hump and make it a meaningful growth or a profitable, you know, crazy big business. Mm-hmm. But it's certainly fun to dive into that and create something that I'd like to believe at least, has a chance to make the world a hair bit of a better place.

[00:26:37] Ali: Absolutely. Yeah. I pulled it up as you were talking and you just gave such an awesome overview. So to summarize, it is a web and mobile application that enables parents to engage and connect in all the awesome, the beautiful ways that you just described, and there's a couple things that really stood out to me. First, I think this mission to bring quality engagements to the parent-child interaction is critical because to your point, everybody, including myself, is virtually guilty of the iPad. I'm just overwhelmed for various reasons. And you used a really good term, how do I kind of put parenting on autopilot, which is the opposite of quality time, right?

And I'm not saying every single moment with your children needs to be quality time, cuz that would be virtually impossible. But having resources like this instead of the iPad for me is a really healthy direction because so much of our world is continuing to evolve in digital format and I honestly think a lot of it is garbage. I've been telling my kids that lately when we give them the opportunity to be on their devices, I'm like, hey, that looks like junk or garbage. I own my feelings and tell 'em, I think that's garbage you can make your own decisions, but that looks like garbage to me. Right. Yeah.

As I was listening to your overview and looking at some of the awesome things on the website, like this is authentic stuff. Bowling with cups, cotton ball race course, apple and lemon volcanoes. Like this isn't stuff you can just press a button like boom. It's like we actually have to use our minds. We might have to get creative. Yeah, we have to work together.

Dude, the other thing that really popped up for me as you were explaining this is what's so cool about this, at least my filter on it, is that the brand name is awesome, by the way, KIDIOSITY. But in so many ways, I feel like even though this is for the parent, let's say, to use, to engage, my mind went to, if I use this with my kids, what am I gonna learn?

Yeah. Which is totally the phase I'm in is like, it's just so much more about, oh my gosh, I am learning from them. Like I'm not really teaching 'em anything. Yeah. You know, and this tool feels like a cool way to facilitate that.

[00:29:02] Andy: Well, you just hit on some of the, obviously not surprising, you sort of get what we're trying to accomplish and I've been guilty of, you know, you get together with friends and you talk and, and all of a sudden I'm throwing out a fact. Like, I never knew that polar bear's skin is black and their fur is actually transparent. But just interesting sort of stats like that.

I'm constantly throwing around to people and they're just laughing at me like I'm just Mr. Nerd Ball. But absolutely, it's fascinating to learn this stuff alongside and there's nothing better when you get those moments. And my kids are a little older now, but when you get the moment where your child just gets super excited about something and, I, I love the, did you know statistics where, you know, a sunflower can grow to 30 feet tall and, what does that really mean?

As your parent, I'm gonna say, you know how tall that is? That's as tall as two of our houses on top of each other. Something like that. All of a sudden, their mouth starts to drop and they're like, whoa, that's really cool. Or a cheetah can run 70 miles an hour and you're like, that's as fast as we drive when we go to grandma's house or whatever. There's just so much, yes, fun in both. And we actually talk about sort of the Disney principle within that you know, when you watch a Disney movie, it's like, there's two different laugh tracks. There's comedy that the six-year-old is howling about. A statement later is almost comedy designed for you to, to appreciate. And we'd like to believe that there's something of that in our products such that the kids are learning and are enjoying and having fun. But it's fascinating stuff to learn as a grownup too.

[00:30:34] Ali: Hmm, indeed. Yep. I think there's so much value for both parties in this. So I'm a fan. Obviously, we're gonna link to this. I'm gonna tell people about this now that I have a better understanding. So you spun this up. I'm a little bit curious about just the story as much as you wanna share. So tell me a little bit about how this came into your world and then, because you have this great wisdom and leadership in being a part of building technology, how did you bring this to life?

[00:31:07] Andy: So the short version is, and in fact I think, you know, Will Giuliani, yes, who's my co-founder in this. We were working together on, uh a project that was called Dobot and was a really cool app that helped people save money towards reaching their goals. Mm-hmm. That got acquired by Fifth Third Bank out of Cincinnati. And so we worked a couple years to help integrate that product into the suite there. My run ended there. Will's Run was ending there, and we had talked, you know, for years about doing something together and if there was a common thread to those conversations, it came back a lot to children related stuff or how do we create opportunities for families to be stronger or to build kind of cooler relationships and things.

And so the sea sort of parted and it was like, hey, now's a good time. Let's give it a run. Mm-hmm. And, we had some ideas and just decided, let's get after it. And so, we basically just said, this is what we're gonna do. Didn't go out and raise too much money. I put a little bit of money into it and, and so became a, a labor of love and didn't have, wild success right out of the gate and are still, you know, sort of finding our path. But, it's been awesome and, and one of those journeys, you never really know what you're gonna learn until you're in it. It's the most challenging thing I've ever done. And I don't know that I've been wildly successful at it, but, it is wildly successful as a vehicle from which I've learned so much about myself, about starting a business, just so many different things that, all of which I know, you know, well too.

And it's hard to describe until you sit in the seat and, I've sat in so many seats where I, I've been a part of maybe a board meeting or something, but the eight feet around the table from me to the owner or founder, that may as well be a marathon of distance because I can be a part of my role within an organization and do my best to be successful, but you don't really understand the nature of trying to build something from scratch until you sit in that seat as an entrepreneur. And I don't begrudge any of that experience, even if we ultimately never quite make it over the hump and build a wildly successful company out it.

[00:33:14] Ali: Hundred percent, man. So, there's so much insight in there. I wanna emphasize the courage. You had this beautiful moment with Will, who's an awesome human as well, where the timing's now, and you acted upon that. I feel like most people get that indication and the fear overwhelms them so they don't jump in for all the obvious reasons. All the reasons society tells us not to. It's too risky, you're never gonna make it, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So props to you both for having the courage to bring this to life cuz it is real.

And the other thing that you mentioned, is there is certainly a gravity to starting something. The depth of knowledge, the learning that comes with that, which I think is very hard to replace. You know, you can try to work on all the different teams and all the different scenarios, but to your point, until you start something from the ground up, it has its own unique learning curve and challenges and rewards. So that's the beautiful thing. Like you guys are on the journey and who knows where it's gonna go. But in many ways, I feel like you actually did the hard part. The hard part is starting, yeah. The hard part is getting behind it. Moving. Especially today, because one of the things, as we both know, when we got into the world of technology product development and you got in earlier than me, it was a very different landscape than it is now.

So that's why I really honor that you guys started this. I'm actually in a phase of life, Andy, where I'm kind of resistant to starting new things. Yeah. I'm actually looking for creating a bit more space and like simplifying, but that doesn't mean I won't get the itch to start something new again. It's kind of built in me as it is in you, but I just wanna recognize you guys for getting in and starting this, especially without raising a whole lot of money, because that is challenging today.

[00:35:06] Andy: It's hard. It it, it's the hardest thing I've ever done and somebody reached out to me from Notre Dame. They knew that I had sort of started something and they're like I'm doing research, and this is a PhD student on the loneliness of an entrepreneur. Hmm. And I was sort of like, wow I would never use that word. But then I started actually thinking about it and you don't have a team that you're, you know, connecting with at the water cooler at the office. And so, it's actually a pretty apt thing to explore and study around entrepreneurship is the, the nature of there's no one else to look to. You sort of look to yourself. Maybe your co-founder, whatever, but it can be pretty darn lonely.

[00:35:41] Ali: Super lonely. That word has been, in my world recently under this exact context, like when you really dive into something or you immerse yourself in, let's just say a passion project or a mission and you have to start, lonely is the word. That is a huge insight. Wow. Okay. We have a clock to honor. So I wanna wrap up with some fun fire questions. Does that sound cool with you?

[00:36:10] Andy: That sounds good.

[00:36:11] Ali: Sweet. First one, what is the best book you've read lately?

[00:36:17] Andy: I'm gonna go back to sort of a bit of a classic, I read it recently with a group of guys that I get together with some regularity that's kind of a, a faith oriented group, kind of a Bible study type thing. But we read, _Man's Search for Meaning_, by Victor Frankl. One of maybe the most popular books of all time and it's about a man who spent, I can't remember, three, four years in concentration camps in Nazi Germany and his kind of wrestling with faith and how that changed, you know, his life and perspective. And it's pretty awesome. And there's just a lot to be gleaned from the way in which he processed and worked through survival, all of those feelings about human relationship and faith and just a deep book. One of those where you could probably read every few years and you'd get something totally different out of it the next time you go through it. Mm-hmm. Yep. That was, that was a special one.

[00:37:10] Ali: I've heard similar feedback from people I respect that this was a profound book and funny enough, I started it, but I was in a season where I had a lot going on, so this is a really nice nudge to pick that book back up.

[00:37:23] Andy: Yeah. It's worth doing. You'll enjoy it.

[00:37:25] Ali: Thank you for that. Cool. Next question. What is one of the funniest things your kids has have said lately? If one comes to mind.

[00:37:35] Andy: Yeah. And a, a funny one doesn't come to mind, but one that was sort of maybe poignant and moving that comes to mind. It was a text exchange of my daughter who's a freshman in college and she shared with me, I think her first test, you know, and she sent me a note, I got a 97 on my first test. And she's intelligent, but she's just a worker. And so she's prepared and I was just like, oh my gosh, congratulations, you worked really hard. And then her response was, thank you for sharing with me, your work ethic that helped me to do that. And I was like, you deserve that, you've earned that, that is all you. And then she said, no, dad, that's all God. Mm-hmm. And I don't wanna go too deep into the faith aspect, but, um, that's important to us and very important to her. And it was just like, wow how cool that she's sort of relating something that she accomplished and, pointing to others and, and not using it as an opportunity as so many of us do, to sort of look at me, look at me and, and how important I am. And so I was really, really proud of receiving that and thinking to myself, gosh, at, at, at today, 20, she's still teaching me things, like you wouldn't believe. So...

[00:38:43] Ali: Wow. That is beautiful. What a reflection of some of your, your family culture, your values. So thanks for sharing that, man.

[00:38:51] Andy: Yeah, you bet.

[00:38:52] Ali: Last question, man. How would you spend 10 million bucks if you couldn't use it on yourself or anyone you loved?

[00:38:59] Andy: Part of my journey when I was traveling and playing tennis professionally was I visited a lot of places that wasn't on the tour where you're in Rome and then you're in Paris, et cetera. I spent time in El Salvador and Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and so the opportunity to see people who, who have so much less than we have in the United States generally speaking, and yet the amount of joy that emanates from them and the smiles and laughter and so I, I guess 10 million dollars may not go that far, but I'd love to be able to pick a community of those sort of less fortunate with less access to opportunity to sort of improve their life. And be able to invest in, in that type of mission work, I guess might, might be a way to think about it, but, to impact those with less to create opportunity for them.

[00:39:45] Ali: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I think that is just a beautiful way to reflect back that you bring a very warm, generous energy to the world. I've felt that since I met you, and all of this stuff that you're doing, it just demonstrates your leadership. And I appreciate you, man for creating space for this. So thank you.

[00:40:10] Andy: That's overly kind of you and I appreciate the opportunity to reconnect with you and hopefully I haven't bored your audience too much, but, uh...

[00:40:17] Ali: Not at all. No. Appreciate it. This has been a pleasure. And if you would do me the honor. Maybe there's a tennis match in our future. I did play very competitive high school tennis, so I might be able to help you break a slight sweat.

[00:40:32] Andy: Yeah, absolutely. Let's do it. I love it.

[00:40:35] Ali: Cool man. Well thanks for being here, Andy. Until the next time.

[00:40:39] Andy: Appreciate it Ali. Take good care.

Ali Jafarian

Ali is a creator and coach who's passionate about guiding people to their truth. That's a fancy way of saying he wants to help people realize their most authentic life. He's a family man, entrepreneur, conscious technologist, explorer, podcast host and many other things that inspire him to stay curious and learn. He's also a huge advocate for nature, hiking, adventure, testing physical limits and experiencing the natural world.