Bill Corbett is an author, speaker, event planner, television host and parenting expert. His book, “Love, Limits, and Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids” and television show, “Creating Cooperative Kids” are known all over the world. Bill travels the world giving workshops that help adults create more cooperative kids.
- Did you always know that you wanted to serve others and help today’s youth and their parents?
No, I first had to have the experience of becoming a dad that I had never seen. My own father was abusive and absent and something inside of me told me that’s not how fathers are suppose to be. So when I became a father myself, I made sure that I was there for my kids a lot. But spending a lot of time with your kids can be frustrating when they began to act like kids. So I set out to learn from the experts on why kids act the way they do and how to interpret their challenging and sometimes annoying behavior. Once I figured that out, it changed my relationship with my kids for the better and I had a more peaceful and loving home and family. I then wanted to teach others what I had learned so they too could have a peaceful and loving home so I set out to serve families wherever I could.
- How did you get started in your career path?
Once I knew that I wanted to teach parents what I had learned from the experts, I got my degree in clinical psychology and set out to start teaching parenting classes. At that point, I had no vision for creating a parent education organization, I just wanted to teach parents, one at a time. I was inspired by Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the principle he wrote about, third person teaching. I soon realized that through the process of teaching others, I also benefited because my own skills improved substantially. In other words, if I allow myself to teach parenting classes, even though I was no expert myself, my parenting skills automatically improved through the teaching process. In the classroom I would teach the material out of a book, but back at home, when my kids would act our or just be kids, it suddenly became easier for me to know what to do because I had instructed others what to do.
After my first two years of teaching parenting classes and the word getting out of what I was doing, I began getting requests for help from parents, teachers and even professionals. There was a buzz that I created through my classes. Parents were experiencing huge changes at home and telling others. Before I knew it, I had more requests to teach at other locations than I could keep up with. By this time, I realized that I could make this bigger than it was, and reach more parents (and ultimately children) in more location. It was then that I decided to set out to build a parent education company and train other trainers to replicate myself around the state.
- How did you handle the bumps in the road? Were there any moments when you wondered if all your hard work was worth it?
You bet there were bumps. The first one was the fact that were only so many hours in the day and working a full time job did not leave me much time to help everyone I wanted to. I began getting requests for help that I had to turn down or decline. I felt awful but I realized quickly that I couldn’t save the world, it could only do it one family at a time, based on my availability. Immediately I had to accept the fact that I had to keep my day job to pay the bills and the benefits for my family. I would have to work hard at building this education company in order to ever have it provide enough income for us to survive with. I read many accounts written by entrepreneurs who revealed that it took many years to build a business enough to allow you to leave your day job. I believed in my new company so much, I was willing to keep working at it for the long haul, taking comfort in knowing that I would be able to run my company full time some day.
I experienced many other bumps along the way that made me question whether this was making any sense for me to do. I was unable to secure funding multiple times to grow my business, many of my requests to speak at a conference were declined, and some organizations chose not to work with me because I did not have the academic background they required. But I remained steadfast in my dream to reach more and more parents. For every door that closed in my face, I began to notice that several others would open instead. But the greatest rewards that kept me moving forward was how awesome my kids began to develop as a result of my principles, and the emails, calls and in-person testimonies I was receiving from parents and teachers who attended my training sessions.
- What do you attribute your success to?
I attribute my success to my passion for what I do. You have to feel passionate about your work and your vision to keep doing it every day and to have the stamina to get through the setbacks that will occur. When you truly feel passionate about it, it inspires you to keep going further, no matter what. When you feel passionate, it comes out in your work and in your relationships. People see it and admire it. It’s catchy. Being passionate about your work can even be seen in just your presence. People gravitate toward it and it changes the cells in your body. It also fuels your persistence to stay focused on the long term goals tied to your vision for what you’re trying to achieve.
- What do teens need today more than anything else?
Teens need to know that someone cares about them enough to let them discover who they are with a safe amount of freedom and independence. They need to experience that caring in a way that they can understand. Someone once said that raising a teenager is a lot like trying to nail jello to a tree; it becomes a very difficult task. I’ve also heard it compared to trying to give a cat a bath. Adults try so hard to love them and care for them, and with good intentions, but they usually go about it the wrong way. The result is the teen feeling suffocated and constricted. You hear a teen say something like, “You don’t understand me,” and the parents says, “Yes I do.” But they really don’t. That’s part of why I created my education organization, to help parents and other caregivers of teenagers, how to give them what they need in a way they need it; not in ways the adult things they need it.
- What would you tell a teen who was struggling?
I would tell them that the adults in their life do love them and they mean well, but they need a little bit of training. I would tell them to look for an adult in their life who does seem to understand them and to spend time with them. Use that adult to connect with and to talk with. Sometimes just having that understanding adult makes all the difference in the world. We all need to have someone our life we can turn to, to talk to and to feel like we are understood.
I’ve been asked to speak at a school in Connecticut this fall and they want me to address the teenagers at the high school. Their request was to help the teens get along with their parents better. So the talk I constructed is titled, The Teenagers Guide to Training Their Parent. The school was so excited about this topic that they are inviting the parents to attend as well. My intention is to give teenagers a glimpse into why their parents behave the way they do and to help them see that they DO care, they may just need some help in how they’re going about it. Parents attending will also learn how to change the way they connect with their teens.
- What else do you want to tell us about what you do and what you want to eventually be doing?
Entrepreneurship is no easy task. I left my day job over five years ago and it’s still a struggle. The type of business I selected, parent education, is not a high paying job, so it may take a few more years to keep doing what I’m doing to make the kind of income I was making at my day job. But even though it’s difficult being a writer and a speaker/trainer, I’m convinced that I’ve added many years to my life in the long run. I love waking up with excitement and passion over what things I’ll create and write each day, and who I might meet, whose life I can change, even in some small way through my work. I want to continue what I’m doing; writing, speaking on stages and changing people’s lives. There’s something incredibly fulfilling about knowing that what you’re doing could alter the path of at least one child and that altered path could lead to something incredible that I won’t see. It’s all about leaving a legacy of positive change.
- Do you have any products or services that people should know about?
I’ve written several parenting books and even a few on how I grew my business. My best sellers are Love, Limits & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide for Raising Cooperative Kids and The 2.0 Entrepreneur: 20+ Marketing Strategies for Growing Your Business Off and Online. The first one, Love, Limits & Lessons, received the Parent Tested/Parent Approved award in 2010. All of my books, CDs and DVDs can be seen at http://CooperativeKids.vpweb.com
- How can people get in touch with you if they have additional questions?
You can find me on the web at a number sites. If you’d like some help with parenting, visit http://www.CooperativeKids.com. If you’d like to hire me to speak to parents and professionals, you can find me at http://www.BillCorbett.com. And if you just feel inspired as an entrepreneur and need some help in launching or growing a business that you’re passionate about, visit my site http://The20Entrepreneur.com.
Thanks for your time Bill and keep up the good work! Our youth and their care takers needs more people like you!
Author and Speaker of the Granddaddy’s Secrets teen leadership book series.
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