How We Monitor Kids Screen Time (Including Bedtimes and Time Limits)

A few months ago, a friend sent me a beta device to help me monitor my kids online. And it’s simply the coolest and simplest device I’ve used.

I added all my kids and their devices, set their filter level to kid or teen, gave all of their devices bedtimes, and set a daily time limit.  It took me about five minutes to set it up.

Well, it is finally available and I thought you’d want to know. It’s called Circle.

It filters out bad stuff.

When friends come over, I can quickly add them to our circle.

And it gives us an easy way to monitor activity – whether it’s websites or apps or gaming consoles – right from the app on my phone.

With one click, I can even pause the Internet in our house (perfect for dinner time or homework time).

Lauren gets three hours online each day.  Whether it’s an app on her phone or the home computer – circle knows what devices she has.  Matthew has an 8pm bedtime, which means the Internet stops going to his iPod at 8.  Emma’s filter level is set to kid, so if she tries to visit a questionable site, she will see appropriate content instead.

Circle is easy to use.

Just connect it to your Wi-Fi, add your devices (phones, iPods, gaming consoles, computers, etc) and set up the app. There’s no monthly subscription fee and it’s really easy to use.

I’ve personally been using this for a couple of months now and I ordered a few for Christmas presents.

You’ll see it soon in Disney stores and major retailers, but here’s an exclusive link to order online right now.

With three kids in our house, I’m so glad there’s finally a simple solution like this.

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ScreenCast: My Evernote Setup

Here’s a short screencast showing you how I use Evernote on my computer to keep track of everything. I use Evernote to save ideas, notes, writing ideas, research, and even Big Green Egg recipes. It’s one of my favorite productivity tools.

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Three Lessons Learned Building a Backyard Chicken Coop

We’ve always lived in neighborhoods, but recently we moved to a couple of acres and built a chicken coop.  Here are three lessons learned during that process.

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The Two People Every Organization Needs


Every organization, whether it’s a business or a non-profit, needs at least two types of leaders to find sustainability. Gino Wickman and Marc Winters call these two people the visionary and the integrator.

The visionary generates ideas, sees the big picture and provides the passion. He has a mental picture of the future in vivid color.  But it can be tough to stay focused, execute on anything that looks like details, and falls victim to too many ideas.  

The integrator beats the drum and makes sure the trains run on time.  They are steady, more detailed, and are often the voice of reason.  Integrators are managers who know how to get things done.  

Occasionally, one person can fulfill both of these roles, but it’s extremely rare. You’re likely one or the other.  I’m a natural visionary but can live int he integrator role if necessary.  I won’t thrive there, though.  

What about you?  Are you a visionary or an integrator?

Every organization needs both.  It’s Yin and Yang – two forces seemingly opposed to each other but actually help each other as they interact. One without the other is doomed.  

Walt Disney (visionary) had his brother Roy (integrator).  John D. Rockefeller (visionary) had Henry M. Flagler (integrator).  Henry Ford (visionary) had James Couzens (integrator).  In each of those cases, it was the powerful combination, not just a great idea or not just daily execution, that led to success.

In the book Rocket Fuel, Gino and Marc give five rules to make the visionary/integrator relationship work.  These are worth considering.

  1. Stay on the same page.  A monthly “same page” meeting can help, giving each person space to check in, talk about issues and solve problems. 
  2. No end runs.  Since visionaries and integrators solve problems differently, this rule prevents complaining and power struggles.  
  3. The integrator is the tie breaker. Consensus management doesn’t work so decide in advance who will break the ties.  They suggest the integrator since the visionary will be passionate about every idea! 
  4. You are an employee when working in the business. Even if you’re the owner, when you’re doing the job portion of your role, you have to have accountability. 
  5. Maintain mutual respect.  Fake respect won’t work; treat each other like partners. 

The visionary/integrator language is helpful for me as I look at my business. What about you?

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Two Questions Every Potential Customer is Asking


Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to hear Dan Pink speak at the Authority Rainmaker event in Denver. Copyblogger is one of my favorite websites and Dan Pink is one of my favorite authors.  His book, To Sell is Human, is fantastic.

Dan talked about the two questions every customer is asking and challenged us to answer these questions in a compelling way. Here are those two questions.

  1.  What’s in it for me? 

This is the top question in people’s mind.  Not your product.  Not your business.  But themselves.

Customers don’t care about your product – they care about what it will do for them. They are about how it will work and what will happen.  In other words, they just want results.

They are more interested in the outcome than the process.  They are attracted to the benefits, not the packaging.

Want to see an example? Just do a Google image search for “diet book covers.”  They feature healthy, in-shape people because those are the results people want.  They don’t want to eat less or exercise…they want to look like the guy or girl on the cover.  The titles of the book are usually people focused (You on a Diet) or benefit-centric (watch the pounds disappear).  It’s all about results and benefits.

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Belle Beth Cooper says people don’t buy products, they buy better version of themselves. That’s a great way to say people don’t want your product, they want what your product can do.

Jason Fried says it like this: If you truly want to sell something, it’s fine to describe it.  But focus the majority of your efforts on describing results.

If you want your product or service to connect with customers, you’ve got to talk about what’s in it for them.

  1. Compared to what?

Dan Pink says this is the second question people are asking when thinking about your product or service.

People don’t make a decision based on the merits of your particular claim – they compare that  that claim to something else they have heard or experienced.  “People make decisions in relative ways,” Pink says.

He shares the story about a man sitting on the sidewalk looking for donations.  His sign read, “I am blind.”

Someone then modified the sign to say, “It is springtime and I am blind.”  Donations went up with the second sign because the additional words gave people a point of comparison.  People can look around and compare their feelings of spring to what the blind man can’t experience.

When people are looking at your product or service, they are comparing it to something else.  The comparison might not be fair in your mind, but it doesn’t matter.

For example, Church Fuel sells coaching and resources to help pastors lead their churches to healthy growth?  Do you know the number one objection we face? People tell us there’s so much free information in blogs and podcasts.  They see our products and immediately compare them to all the free information out there.  It’s not a fair comparison in my mind, but that’s not my call to make.

How you position your product really matters.

If you’re YETI, you don’t position your cooler next to the red IGLOO or try to compete on price. You position it next to other high-end products like the Big Green Egg or expensive fishing boats.

If you’re trying to sell an online course, try positioning it next to consulting, which is usually priced at a premium, not the cheap courses you can find on

People are going to compare your product no matter what so go ahead and figure it out and make decisions accordingly.

I’m thinking through these two questions in regards to my business. If you want to learn more about the psychology of selling, I highly recommend Dan Pink’s book To Sell is Human.

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