#53 - Voices of Aro: Why one dad says "everything is better with Aro"

January 25, 2024
Mike Genovese

Episode Summary

"Welcome back to another episode of Voices of Aro! This month, Aro Co-Founder Joey is joined by Mike Genovese, a husband of 11 years and father of two. In this episode, Mike shares the two stories he tells his friends when they come over and see his Aro box, both having 'aha' moments where he realized his phone was getting in the way of important things in his life. Mike even makes a statement that 'everything is better with Aro,' and our whole team experienced a pinch-me moment when we heard that! Towards the end of the episode, Mike shares his advice for parents in his same stage of parenting when it comes to technology and phones. If you're an Aro member and interested in sharing your own Aro story, please reach out to us at stories@goaro.com. We'd love to hear from you!"

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Episode Transcript

Joey Odom (00:03):

Welcome back to Voices of Aro. Hey, it's Joey Odom, Co-Founder of Aro. I'm so excited you're here. I love Voices of Aro and here's why Voices of Aro. Just as a reminder is conversations with people just like you and me. It's moms, it's dads parents all talking about their experience around phones and telling their stories that you'll probably relate to those moments where our kids may have noticed when we're off our phones, but then the hope of when we've put our phones down and what happens on the other side of that. Now, up to this point, we've really had a lot of moms on Voices of Aro, and today I got a treat for you. We got a dad representing. And what I love about this is very often we found this very often moms do lead the charge when it comes to phones for themselves, for their kids, but it takes a really, really special dad to recognize that, Hey, I want to be present for my kids and for them to take the charge.

And our guest, Mike Genovese did exactly that. So Mike lives in San Diego. We talk a little bit of pizza, we talk some Mexican food, we talk a little bit of golf. But what we really talk about is the moment Mike realized this phone's getting in my way, but then he tells a great story that I hope you love about his daughter when she noticed his nine-year-old daughter, when she noticed he was off his phone watching a movie with her. So here's what I want you to take away from this or take away whatever you'd like, but here's what I took away from it, is that these small moments like watching a movie, our kids want us fully present there for that. They want us to know that we're fully engaged in the same experience together. Mike tells a great story with that. I'm really excited for you to hear this.

And if you're interested, hey, if you're an Aro member, I'm sure you have experiences like this. If you're not an Aro member and this kind of piques your interest, we would love for you to check out more. Just go to @goaronow on Instagram. Go to our website, goaro.com, shoot us an email anytime with questions about joining Aro, we would love for you to be part of this generation. We want to create a new generation, entire generation of intentional families, and we would love for you to be part of that. But for now, sit back, relax, enjoy my conversation with Aro member Mike Genovese. Mike Genovese, man. So excited to have you here to have a conversation, learn about your Aro experience. Thanks for coming on and let's start. Tell me about a little bit about the Genovese family. I want to hear about you guys.

Mike Genovese (02:29):

Yeah, no, thanks Joey for having me. Happy to do it. Yeah, I've been married about 11 years. I have two kids, six and nine. So in the thick of it and living out right outside sunny San Diego and in Sanita, California,

Joey Odom (02:48):

You could do worse than San Diego. And you fled the Chicago winters for San Diego, is that right?

Mike Genovese (02:55):

I did. I did. So I was born and raised in Chicago and my wife lasted about two winters in Chicago. And then we said, if we're not going to do it now, we'll never do it. So she's about five months pregnant. We moved out west and been here 11 years.

Joey Odom (03:11):

That's awesome. What's the pizza scene in San Diego? I assume they don't go deep dish like Gino East.

Mike Genovese (03:20):

It's not great. There are a couple of Chicago pizza chains, so it's not too bad for us. A lot of New York style pizza, so we get our pizza in, but two kids to get your pizza in,

Joey Odom (03:33):

I would imagine. So I guess when I think San Diego Pizza, I just imagine a lot of arugula, just like a real fit, like barely pizza, just chopped in arugula. Is that about right?

Mike Genovese (03:44):

Yeah, that's accurate. There's a lot of arugula, a lot of vegetables. We've transferred our love of pizza over to Mexican food, so a lot of tacos.

Joey Odom (03:53):

San Diego does that. Well, there you go. Well, again, I want to hear a little bit about, again, you've been an Aro member for probably coming up on a year now. I want to hear maybe leading up to that. All of us have our stories, we have our stories of missed an important moment our phone got in the way. I'd be curious what comes to mind when you think of one of those stories for you of, dang it, the phone got in the way. It could be funny, it could be whatever may be for you.

Mike Genovese (04:21):

Yeah, I have two stories that I tell my friends when they ask, what is that box they put in your phone in? Really in the beginning, a couple Aro team members joined the company started launching it, and I was curious, what is this box? Right? The more I read about it, the more I learned about it is really the thing that got me was when you think about it, your phone is really the only unregulated thing in your life. The way that I look at it. I mean, we talk about pizza. I can't eat pizza every day. You see how much pizza you can eat or how many beers you have or how much exercise you go and do, or you get your steps in all that. And really when I thought about it, it was like the phone is really not regulated at all and not just for kids for me. And so I thought I'd give it a shot and really immediately I started noticing a difference. So when I signed up, it was, I can't remember how many get an hour in or two hours in. So you find yourself towards the end of the day, you're only at 30 minutes, and so now you start getting competitive with yourself.

So I just found that was a big difference of it's already dinner time. I'm going to put it in the box for dinner, but I still have an hour and a half to go. So get it in the box. And then you kind of sit there and you're like, now what do I do? And so I know you guys talk about intentional time a lot, which is true when you have something to do, but more so I found the big difference of like, all right, I'm going to put it in the box. What should we do right now? Let's go outside and play a game, or let's go walk the dog or go to a pool or it almost forces you to do other stuff.

So it's been a huge game changer for me. I mean, I think the two, to answer your question, two stories that I think of is one, a couple weeks in, once my kids get done with their homework, we're ready to watch a movie. I put the phone in the box and my daughter, who's about B nine on Saturday, said, I really like that you don't have your phone. You're actually watching the movie. And it was kind of eyeopening to me because I didn't notice that. But as you're watching these ridiculous six and 9-year-old shows, you're pop out your phone, you get on social media. I mean, it's mindless interference really, right? And so that was an eye-opening thing for me, is she noticed, right? Yeah. The other story I have was we were at a golf tournament, and this is where it got in the way.

We were at a golf tournament. Tiger Woods' plans a couple of years ago we're a big golf family, and we were lined up. He was walking from one tee box to another. So I got my daughter right up on the rope and I was like, give him a fist bump. And I pulled out my phone and I'm trying to record it and I missed it. And so what did I miss? There were a bunch of people, the phone wasn't in focus. I didn't really get the fist bump, but I missed her excitement. I missed the fist bump. I missed seeing Tiger Woods. And so luckily there were a bunch of people around me that were like, oh, we'll share the video with you. And we got a good picture of her fist bumping, but that was, you go to kids' games, everybody's got their phone out, a school play, everybody's looking at the play through the phone and you miss a lot. And so it's stuff like that that has really made a difference. My son had a school play. Everybody had their phone out recording it, and I was literally the only one that was just watching it. And you start to notice other things, like he's talking to somebody else. You see other people like his friends. And so that was a big thing for me for sure.

Joey Odom (08:24):

It is an interesting thing, and by the way, this is for anybody who's familiar with none of our perspective comes from a place of self-righteousness. It's just from me making the exact same mistakes, Heath, co-founder, making the exact same mistakes. The whole team, we've made mistakes and that's why we're doing this. So I say what I'm about to say with no self-righteousness, just in my own past failures. But it's funny to think about taking those videos of those moments, and it's almost like we're missing the moment so that we can experience it later. You know what I mean? We're taking a video of right now so that we can experience right now later instead of right now. You know what I mean?

Mike Genovese (09:06):

Yeah, no, for sure.

Joey Odom (09:07):

It's kind of an interesting thing we all do. I

Mike Genovese (09:10):

Mean thing, you go to concerts and everybody's recording the concert and you're like, you're at the concert, watch it right now instead of watching it later. And so no, it really is. I mean, it's really helped me be more proactive, whether it's with friends or family or conversations just, and since being on kind of the Aro trend, I started following other things on social media like parenting and seeing the interviews that you've done. And there's a lot of, there's nothing worse now with Aro. I mean, everything is just better. You're more present, you're finding up time for her friends, for family. It's been a game changer for me, for sure.

Joey Odom (09:58):

I'm curious your daughter's story, which I just love the fact that she specifically noticed, I don't know you actually, here's a question. Did you tell her that you were putting your phone away first or did she just notice that on her own?

Mike Genovese (10:12):

No, she just noticed it. She just noticed that I didn't have it right. And so she didn't even mention anything about the phone. She just said, I really like that you're actually watching the movie. When I first started with Ara, they were wondering, why am I putting my phone in this box? And I said, well, I put it away so then you and I can do stuff where we can go and play. My kids are six and nine now and seeing things about reading about parenting and following social channels, I probably only have maybe five more years of, there's Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy and that type of stuff.

Eventually my daughter's nine. It's only a couple years before she wants to play with her friends more than me, and you don't get that time. So that stuff hit me pretty hard. And that's the whole thing. That's what they remember is us hanging out, not the new bike or when she got it, it's actually riding the bike and going on those bike rides, not the actual act of opening the present. And so just stuff like that, it makes you a lot more mindful. Mindful, I will say it's kind of funny now that I'm using Aro, you notice how much other people are on their phones

Having a conversation. People put it face down on the table, a dinner party, it buzzes. They look up and it's like mindless notifications. They left the garage door open, stupid emails. It really gets in the way. And so that's a big thing is just if you can regulate it, like I said, as you have these milestones of like, Hey, you need to get four hours in today, four hours is sometimes tough, but I'm competitive with myself, so I'm like, I'm going to make sure that I put that away and have enough time to go and do what I want to do. And you're not missing anything online.

Joey Odom (12:18):

I totally agree. And I love what you said earlier about this whole notion that you, because when you put your phone down, it's almost like, okay, that's a mental trigger for you. Okay, now this means I am going to do something with intention. I'm going to do something by design with your spouse or by reading a book by yourself, with your kids, whatever it is. But it is a trigger for you to be like, okay, I'm going to go now, do the things that I want to be, do the things that a person that I want to be would do, which I really love that. I love that thought. And it is true. You said also you say maybe five more years with your kids in the tooth, very stages you put it, which I love. I was talking with a good friend of mine named Molly today, and Molly, Molly and I were saying, she said, I think success is when you make decisions that you won't regret later. And that's kind of, I mean, I don't know about you, but I am in a way driven by regret avoidance, and that seems like what you're kind of implementing. Does that resonate?

Mike Genovese (13:21):

Yeah, no, for sure. I mean, you can talk to my parents or aunts, uncles of times are just different. I work from home, so I see my kids a decent amount, but you talk to our parents and their generation of they're going to work at eight and getting back at seven, and I wish I had more time. I wish I went to more games. I wish, I wish, I wish I wish. So you have for me, I don't want to have to say those types of things. And that's the thing too is after dinner, you put the phone in the box and then it's like, all right, well, what are we going to do? I have to come up with something. And you don't really realize until you don't have the phone. I'm like, what was I doing before? Was I just on my phone or I checked it or I'd go, maybe I'd play catch, but then I'd go outside because my phone buzzed or it rang. And so that's the stuff of I find myself doing things with my kids that I didn't do a year ago. Let's go for a longer bike ride. Let's go get ice cream. Let's go instead of playing in the backyard, let's go to the park and play. Those types of things.

I've noticed my kids have noticed too, and that for me is that's the name of the game. If they're noticing, then I think about it as what were they not telling me before? And maybe they just didn't notice. It's that stuff that it's, like I said before, you're more proactive and everything is better with Aro. Those are a good catch line for me, but it really, it's true. Just you have to make an effort, right? And it's really, it's simple. I would say the one other thing is on the app too, is there's categories, family time, cleaning work, whatever it may be. There's stuff on there that I don't do that I'm like, Hey, maybe I should actually go and do this, go for a walk or read. I don't make time for reading. So it's like, all right, I'm going to get set myself a goal. I'm going to read for 20 minutes or whatever it is. And so it's kind of expanding your horizons, which is really cool.

Joey Odom (15:38):

Yeah, it is. People ask all the time, what do I do when I put my phone down? And it's a valid question because we are accustomed to having it with this, and it doesn't always have to be a magical moment as it could be something mundane. It could be something small, but I do like that where you're sharing. Okay, what else could I be doing with that, Mike? I'm curious. There are probably a bunch of other people, kids in same range as yours, six-year old. What about someone other parents who might be listening today who are maybe in your stage of life when it comes to phones and families and all this whole topic, what kind of encouragement or advice would you give to somebody in your situation who maybe has kids your age when it comes to phones and families?

Mike Genovese (16:23):

Yeah, I mean for me, I mean, my daughter's nine and she's already asking for a phone

And she's not going to get one. But that made me think of there's only a certain amount of years before she has a phone, she has an iPad, and we kind of try to regulate how much she's on it, and you got to do reading before you can watch videos or a show, but she can't bring that with her, so she's not bringing that to the park. She's not bringing that to the pool. She's eating that at home. But those days are few and far between, right? In a couple of years, I'm going to hold off as long as I can, but a couple of years they're going to be the ones that's on the phone constantly. And you can see parents of kids that are older than mine, they get annoyed with their kids always on the phone or they're always texting. And so it's taking advantage of that. Setting up good habits too, I think is paramount.

I try to get my kids to make their bed and get their lunch ready or fill their water bottle and put their shoes away. Very small stuff. And after you do it for a week or two, my son is six. Every day he comes home, he puts his shoes in the cubby. That wasn't happening a couple months ago ago. It's the same thing with the phone, but if you start teaching those habits early, it's just better for everybody. And so that with the phone especially, is you just want those times where they ask you to play and they are excited when you come home, as opposed to you come home from a work trip, they're on the couch, they're on their phone, and it's like, Hey, dad, instead of opening the door, running out into the driveway and saying, I'm so happy you're home. So maybe I'm getting old, but that's what I think of, right, is

Joey Odom (18:15):

Those types

Mike Genovese (18:15):

Of things to last. Right.

Joey Odom (18:18):

Sounds to me like you're growing wise, not old. Mike, I appreciate you. Thank you for encouraging others, encouraging me. It is an amazing thing, taking your kids' encouragement of you, and then encouraging others with this. So thank you for that. Thank you for being an Aro member, and I really appreciate you joining us today.

Mike Genovese (18:43):

Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate you guys. Appreciate you guys keep up the good work and excited for what's to come.

Joey Odom (18:48):

Hey, thank you for joining us on Voices of Aro. Hey, if you're an Aro member and you would like to be part of Voices of Aro, just shoot us an email at stories@goaro.com. If you are not yet an Aro member and you want to learn more, go to our website, go goaro.com or follow us on Instagram @goaronow. Lastly, if you would do me an enormous favor, will you please leave us a five star rating wherever you listen to podcast. Thank you so much for joining us on Voices of Aro. We can't wait to see you next time on Voices of Aro or The Aro Podcast. The Aro podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod Co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support to our executive producer Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.