Healthy Family
May 4, 2022

Redefining Fatherhood: The Journey Of A Warrior Dad

Jeff Wickersham shares how you can elevate fatherhood with the Warrior Dad Experience. Transform your life, lead your family, and build a lasting legacy.

It only takes one dad to rewrite the family tree forever. Rewrite your story and become the Warrior Dad your family deserves. We explore family and business dynamics with Jeff Wickersham, the visionary behind the Warrior Dad Experience, in this impactful episode. Today, Jeff discusses his firm belief that dads are the linchpin for a thriving family and a fulfilled life. He discusses how fathers are the driving force for change, clarifies the misunderstanding about their so-called "balancing act," and talks about the key element to becoming a Warrior Dad. As the episode concludes, Jeff emphasizes the importance of embracing change, taking small steps, and building upon daily wins. Learn how to become the Warrior Dad for your family now.

Redefining Fatherhood: The Journey Of A Warrior Dad With Jeff Wickersham

What's going on? I am with another episode of the show. I got Jeff Wickersham from Pennsylvania on the episode with me. What's going on, Jeff?

Brett, how are you?

I'm doing fantastic. Thank you so much for being on the show. I know we got introduced by a good friend, Scott Landis. You were on his podcast, the Awakened Life. He's a good friend of mine. In this episode, we're going to talk about one of my favorite topics, I don't think we talk about this enough. It's about how to be a dad. Not only a mediocre dad or a dad who's surviving with his family, but how do we be a warrior dad? It is something that you created. You have The Warrior Dad Experience. I want to hear about that. Before we get into what the Warrior Dad Experience is and how you’re impacting thousands and one of your goals is 1 million dads and 2 million children, let's talk about you. How did you get into that? Take us into your background a little bit.

I appreciate those kind words. I wear a pink wristband on my right wrist. I lost my mom to breast cancer several years ago. It is her birthday as we record this. When you watch the woman who brought you into this world leave this world and take her last breath in front of you, it fundamentally changes you at your core. That fragility of life 2x4 smacked me upside the head and said, “What do I truly want to do in life? We get one trip around the sun.”

Eighteen months later, I was forced out of Corporate America. I ended up opening a boutique gym locally. I was always into physical fitness. My late mother was a school teacher but also taught aerobics at night. What organically grew out of that was mindset, which is mental toughness. It's not that we have a shortage of gyms in the States. It's that battle that you face, I face, and we all face that’s six inches in between our ears. I needed to uplevel myself as a husband, dad, and leader.

I still remember I had bad habits from my college days, my twenties. I was out drinking with the guys, playing cards until 2:00 in the morning, and going to coach a fitness class at 8:00 AM. When I went to give my wife a kiss, she dropped a great truth bomb on me. She said, “How are you going to go teach fitness and wellness when you stink of alcohol?” I was like, “That's pretty powerful.” I started that personal development journey, and then this 2023, I’m concentrating on who I want to help serve and how I can make a difference in the world.

I had a friend who had a friend who is a dad of three who committed suicide. My sister knew a dad who committed suicide. I said, “I love nothing more than being a dad to my 2 boys, Jackson, 15, and Carter, 13. It’s dads.” I've gone through the trials and tribulations. I've gone through alcohol. I've battled porn. I've battled gambling. It is all these vices that chip away from us. I've built a structure and a battle-tested system. It is time to come back and help other dads do it. That's where The Warrior Dad Experience was born.

I love that. I'm a huge fan of anyone trying to help out dads. I've supported another organization called Dad Camp. I take my kids to a dad camp each year. It’s one of our favorite weekends. I can't wait to talk about The Warrior Dad Experience. Before we dive into what it is and what you're exactly doing, you talked about a dad committing suicide. It was Thoreau who said, “Many men live in quiet desperation.” Out in public, we think we might even have it all together, even as business owners. Behind the curtain or within their own homes, sometimes they live in this quiet desperation.

You've made it a mission of yours to impact 1 million dads and 2 million children by January 1st, 2053, changing one dad at a time. Can you dive deeper into your research? You could have done any mission. There are a lot of different things that you could have done and directed your life toward, but you chose this particular mission. Can you take us into a little bit more of your own soul searching into why this mission?

You said it right there. Suffering in quiet isolation and desperation. I was that dad. I didn't have the strength to ask for help during my dark times. I saw it as a weakness. Most of us are programmed to feel that it's a weakness to ask for help. It's a strength. I wouldn't have fallen down as deep as I did if I had that courage. I always like to say, “I could tee up a golf ball outside my house and hit a driver. Although I'm not a very good golfer, I could probably hit five houses of dads that are suffering in that quiet isolation.”

We're very typically lone wolves. We don't search out and have a brotherhood or a community. I knew that I needed to uplevel. When I started to do it, I knew there were other dads that were in my spot, maybe 2 spaces behind me or 1 space behind me that I could help and guide. That was truly coming from a place of pain when I said, “That's who I want to help.”

Let's also say family structure is constantly getting eroded. It's like the beach and the shore is washing away the family structure. Some families never eat dinner together. We are losing that connectivity. At the beginning of 2023, my family, for the first time ever, all sat down and wrote their missions out for the year. They are not New Year’s resolutions but missions because missions are a must.

Warrior Dad: We need men to step up and be leaders. They're told a lot that they don't matter. There's nothing farther than the truth. Your family needs you to lead, needs you to be that Alpha.

We're all attacking them, my wife and my two boys. The connectivity, power, and energy we have is like a sports team coming out of the tunnel. I have felt it. I've seen it in my boys, my wife, and myself, so I said, “This needs to happen. I'm not satisfied with where society is headed. Hatred, polarization, anger, and all of these things are crumbling at the seam.” I thought to myself, “Where do we start?”

One, we need dads. We need men to step up and be leaders. They're told a lot that they don't matter. There's nothing further than the truth. Your family needs you to lead. Your family needs you to be that alpha and when you show by doing, your family follows. I've seen it in my life. That's a little bit of the backstory and why I leaned into helping dads.

I love that you leaned in and your family created this mission. Life is so much better when you are living for a purpose or a mission, not wandering in the wilderness. I see a lot of dads, especially since I work with a lot of business owners. Typically, we are on a mission for business. In that, we sacrifice other things in our life or we are very type A over here and driven but passive in our own homes. I've seen that time and time again.

A lot of times, we feel like we have this balancing teeter-totter. We're like, “If I go after business success, then I have to sacrifice my family or I'm going to go after my family but I'm going to sacrifice my business.” You go at this with whether you can do both. I want to ask you that. Can you do both? Is this life a teeter-totter of like, “If I go after family, I sacrifice this. If I go after business stuff, I'm going to sacrifice that.”

That’s a fantastic question. I love diving into it. The answer is yes. As we're recording this, I'm having the best month in my business history. My kids are on their toes attacking life. I'm pouring into my family. Whoever coined the term work-life balance is such a myth. There is no balance. Remember the teeter-totter, how hard that was? Balance is a myth.

I read something in one of the books I read. Can we have personal and professional satisfaction? That's something we can hit. Balance, immediately, you go to, “I've got to have half and half.” That's not the case. If you want to be extraordinary and you want to be uncommon in this thing called life personally and professionally, can you be satisfied each day?

Maybe you pour into your work and you've got to put in twelve hours because you're building. You're satisfied in that area. If you only have an hour with your wife and kids, if you put away the phone and you're intentionally pouring into them, you can be satisfied in both areas. I believe it, but so many times, we're programmed that it's got to be work-life balance.

Another one I hear is, “Wait until your kids are teenagers. Wait until the teenage years.” It’s total BS. My fifteen-year-old son still asks us to go for walks as a family. If you pour on your kids, anything is possible. Don't believe what you hear in the common vernacular out there because it gets legs and then you start to believe it. It’s so not true.

I agree. Balance is a myth. It sounds like you have integrated your family with a lot of the things that you do in your business. We talked about the best business leaders. Their business is on some mission. You've integrated that into your family. It’s not like you're doing two separate things. A lot of times, we're like, “I got business and then now, I'm family. I got my Dad hat on.” You're integrating into that. You’re taking the leadership principles that you're learning and teaching your kids and putting that into your family. Do you feel like that has been one of the missing pieces that you've taken these things and integrated rather than having you compartmentalize life?

I would say so. Both impact each other. You can't be crushing work, going home, sedating yourself with alcohol, gambling, not having time with your family where your kids don't know who you are, and living a thriving, fulfilled life. If you can't provide, you're going to feel like a shell of a man. I've felt both. I've gone through both experiences.

If you have a foundation, and this is what we do in the experience of bookending your days, you control those. You have stability and a foundation to attack life and all the chaos that it's going to bring. I had a dad who jumped into class two. He said he did all the podcasts and read all the books. He's done it all. The Warrior Dad Experience gave him more stability than all that by 10x. He's got 4 kids under the age of 7.

That's cool. Let's dive into it then. You got the Warrior Dad Experience. You're on a mission to impact a dad’s life. Can you take us into what is the first step? What's the experience like? Take us into what is it. It sounds awesome. I want to be around other dads. I want to sharpen as a dad and a professional business guy as well, but what is that? What am I walking into?

Number one is brotherhood. That's so missed by men and dads specifically. Being around other family-focused, growth-minded dads immediately raises your game. You start bringing the best out of yourself personally and professionally. Brotherhood is a key component. The other piece is energy. We have to dial in your energy. I hear it all the time from dads. The number one thing when I did a poll on LinkedIn was they want to cultivate and sustain their energy.

I'm 48 years young. I hit PRs at the gym. I have done some crazy challenges like the Goggins challenge. I created my own challenge. People all the time say, “How do you do it?” I am intentional about how much sleep I get, how I stack wins in the morning, how I eat, and how I exercise. I can get so much more done in the day when I do that.

Brotherhood is one. Energy is another. Consistency is number three. It is being able to do it day in and day out even when you don't feel like it. We go through the process of defining our identities, energy, work, and love. How are you going to show up? What's the future pace of your success moving forward? When you do that, you don't rely on your feelings.

Many times, I don't feel like getting up out of bed at 5:00 AM to go hit a workout and stack wins. My identity is that is who I am, so I take action and spiral up. I feel better and I'm consistent. That’s important. That's the other piece, number three. Number four would be accountability. Dads have little to no accountability out there.

Any adult really has little to no accountability. We're only accountable to ourselves. We say something and then we half-ass it. Maybe we'll do it or maybe we won't. Maybe we keep it internally and then wonder why we stay stuck. I have accountability where you're checking in every day that you're doing the work. When you see other dads do it, it inherently raises your game. Brotherhood, energy, consistency, and accountability are the four ingredients that you feel right away when you jump into the experience.

We can dive into each one of those and do a whole episode on each one. I'm going to pick a couple of questions. Let's talk about energy, for example. I know for me and guys that tune in to the show, we're busy professionals and individuals. I have three episodes to do particularly. In between that, I'm doing other Zoom calls and meetings. I'm a real estate guy, so I'm looking at deals. I'm talking with my team. We had a team meeting. We do a lot. I'm no different than anyone else than you and anyone else tuning in to this show. I am not special by any means.

A lot of times, after all that, typically, some of the leftovers come into the family. Here's one specific question. I was having a conversation with my wife. I try to be intentional, especially at dinner. We do sit down as a family at dinner and at least have 3 or 4 hours with the kids and the family before we put them to bed. Sometimes, I have a hard time shutting it off because, throughout the day, I'm pounding. I’m grinding. I’m focused. I’m into it. It’s hard to wind down.

Sometimes, I have a problem giving them and being present with the kids and then shutting it off even though I want to shut it off and I desire to shut it off. I'm like, “Please, I don't want to think about other things. I want to be completely present with my kids.” Other times, I'm completely drained from the activities of the day and I have nothing left to give. Could you give me advice on this whole energy piece?

I'll give you some positive, helpful feedback if that works for you. Number one is language or how we speak. I heard you say busy. I love replacing busy with productive. Busy feels like a burden. Busy is like, “I have no control.” It sounds to me that you're pretty darn productive. Productive is like a privilege. That language shift in one word change is incredibly important.

The other piece is I heard you say, “I try to do this.” Like Yoda, there is no try. Do or do not. I am going to be intentional. All of a sudden, the power of your subconscious mind comes in and says, “Brett is serious about doing this every night. We're shutting off what we're doing.” That would be some nuanced language that I heard that I love diving into. Not only can we apply that to ourselves, but we can apply it to our kids. My sons will say try and I give them The Rock eyebrow raise and they know they need to change their language.

I love to paint a picture. Let’s use your example of being intentional with the family. You're in a room. You want to go through that door right in front of you. That's the gateway to being intentional with the family. When you say the word try, all of a sudden, a door opens up behind you. You have no idea it's there. Your subconscious mind is like a ghost that goes out and walks out the back door. You go to try and open that door, drop, kick it, or whatever but it won't open. We've got to harness the power of our language to have us do things. That would be one.

Warrior Dad: Your subconscious mind is like a ghost that goes out and walks out the back door. You go to try and open that door.

Number two, I talked about identity a little bit ago. Define how you want to show up in the love aspect. I define myself as dad and husband of the year. When I have feelings of being tired, and I get tired, and I have feelings of not wanting to do things, since I've defined how I'm going to show up as dad and husband of the year, that always plays in the back of my mind.

I'll share a short story with you. It was over the summer. My wife and I liked to take walks together and get a little alone time. It was hot out. We went for a walk. My youngest son, Carter, was shooting hoops in the driveway. I wanted to get into the AC. I was sweating a little bit. I was run down from a work day. He said, “Dan, can you rebound for me?” My initial thought was, “I wanted to go up in that air conditioner and sit down on the couch.” In my mind, what rang? It was the Dad of the Year. It was like, “Would Dad of the year do that?” I stopped from going in and said, “Absolutely.” We rebounded. I gave him a hug and said, “Thanks for asking.”

Those are powerful pieces to the puzzle. Language is one. When you define your identity, you have it play in the back of your mind. I felt like I wanted to go into the air, but my identity was like, “That's not who you are.” I took action. What happened was I felt great about that. Imagine if I had gone in, sat in the air, and he's out there. I missed a micro-moment that I'll never get back with my son.

My boys are 15 and 13. My micro-moments are dwindling. It’s so incredibly powerful when you think about it and you intentionally pour into your kids every day. They are your legacy. I always like to say, “It only takes one dad to change a family tree forever.” Let that sink in. As one dad, you can change your family tree forever for generations to come. You can be that grandpop sitting on the porch with your grandkids and then telling stories like, “Grandpop was pretty crazy but he gave us all these things and all this wisdom.” That lights me up. That gets me excited.

That's good. I love the language piece. Thank you so much for the story. Having that identity piece goes back to that language. Who are you? How do you define yourself? Let's talk about consistency. This is the one that I failed. Let me change my language. This is the one that I see many men struggle with. It is being consistent. I have some of these high moments with my kids. I love to do some of these big things. Some of the day in and day out, I see men struggle with being consistent. Can you take us into that?

When I was reading your profile, I saw an extremely disciplined individual. I see a guy who wakes up at 5:00 AM, does these crazy runs, meditates, and takes cold baths and ice showers. That's what I see. I'm like, “He is structured. He is disciplined. That's who he is.” Sometimes, other guys might not. They'd be like, “My personality doesn't maybe fit as well as that.” Have you always been like that or is this you training yourself and other guys to be this consistent person? Talk about this discipline in consistency.

I have not always been that way. In my senior year on the male side of my high school class, I was the biggest complainer. I was voted the biggest complainer. In my 20s and 30s, I still had those things from college fraternity days that I was doing that weren't lighting me up. My mom passed and I had to question everything. What was my purpose? What did I want to do? What kind of dent did I want to have?

One of the last deep conversations I had with my late mother was when I was taking her down to a treatment at the University of Penn in Philadelphia. She was going on hospice care so we knew the end was near. She was only worried about being forgotten. She said, “I'm going to be forgotten by the grandkids.” I made a promise to her then. It was probably a baton passed subconsciously that I didn't realize back then. I told her, “You battled breast cancer on and off for seventeen years. It's going to be passed to me. I'm going to pay it forward to my sons. Your legacy will live on forever.” Many times, we don't think about that legacy and what's going to happen.

I was not born this way. I have gone through the trials and tribulations. Dark times and consistency are the ultimate force multiplier. You can put in effort and time, but if you don't have that consistency outside those parentheses, you're not going to get true growth. That's why this day was 2,124 straight days of meditation.

I have non-negotiables in my life. I drink water, meditate, and move my body every single day. When you have non-negotiables, consistency becomes pretty easy because you don't negotiate with your mind. I'm 1,800 days of either an ice bath or a cold shower. That's a mental rep that I get in every day. It's getting cold up in the Northeast. The showers are getting chilly, but I do not negotiate. When I get in there, I tell my mind, “We are freaking moving forward.” I don’t negotiate and move.

The greatest part about it is we were on a walk, my youngest son, wife, and me. My wife was cold. It was getting a little chilly. My youngest son said I take cold showers. I shared the journey with them and they bought in. I'm incenting them to be consistent. The one thing I will say to dads that aren't consistent, and I had this conversation with a dad who jumped into the experience, is, “When we start out, I make things so simple and easy they're almost laughable. That's how you build momentum. That's how you build progress. That's how you build consistency.”

Warrior Dad: Making things simple is how you build momentum, how you build product, how you build consistency.

That's why I tell dads that are like, “I’m going to start 75 Hard,” “I like Andy. I listen to his stuff, but that's the dumbest thing you could do when you're starting from scratch. You have to start slow. You have to crawl before you walk. You have to walk before you run. You build this momentum.” Jeff who was the first dad that jumped in class one texted me he had run 200 straight days. It’s incredible. He never did that in his life, but he started out small and has built it up.

It becomes a habit. When it becomes a habit, it becomes autopilot. That discipline and that consistency runs by itself. 90% to 95% of what we do is driven through habit. If you're stuck in the same place, you have to hit stop on that never-ending treadmill of life. You have to take a moment of pause of reflection and say, “What do I need to change? I'm getting that same result.” I love doing the work myself. I'm a practitioner. I'm consistent because that gives me the authenticity to coach and lead the men and the dads that jump into the experience.

Let’s talk about this last before we wrap up this show, which is accountability. People don't want to be accountable. They shy away from accountability. Whenever you talk about, “You're going to be accountable.” They're like, “I don't want that.” They walk the other way. They go out the back door. It's much needed for growth. Talk to us about this. How does The Warrior Dad Experience keep us accountable?

It is two things. One, on a daily basis, you're checking in. You got your work done in the morning. You stacked your wins. We talked about energy before. You're giving your energy out to the other dads. When energy bounces off each other, the whole group is energized and ready to attack. We're checking in daily.

In addition, on a weekly basis, we're getting very intentional on, “What's one big domino I want to knock over personally? What's one big domino I want to knock over professionally? What's one thing maybe I procrastinate on that I need to take that's uncomfortable?” We get those into the chat. You get them into the chat and all of a sudden, a switch kit is flipped in your subconscious mind. A Virginia Tech professor did a study. When you write something down or you put in a group what you're going to do, you're eight times more likely to do that thing. That holds you accountable. As well as in the beginning, I make it very clear. You've got to put in the work to get the results.

Many of the dads have gotten to a point in their lives where maybe they want to tweak some things. They're a pretty good dad. They're pretty good in business. They want some outside changes and some tweaks on the edge. Some dads are in the pain cave. They're in the cave you talked about, which is quiet isolation. They need big changes. We all move together. We're not perfect. You have to give yourself grace. You get up and do the same thing tomorrow. You get 1% better. It is this continual growth. It’s so important to be accountable.

If you're not coachable, you're not a right fit for me. If you're of a growth mindset, you want to pay it to your children. I always have conversations with my boys. I'm very upfront. They're like, “Dad, am I ever going to be as good as you?” I'm like, “Jackson and Carter, you're going to blow me away. You've been meditating with me before school for the last three years. You do a gratitude journal. You do all these little things that I incent you to do that I share with the warrior dads. You're going to blow me away in the future.” Accountability is the missing ingredient in life. If you're running from accountability, it's no wonder you're probably in the pain or you're probably in a place where you feel stuck in a rut and you can't get out of it.

That's awesome. Thank you so much for your wisdom. I'm grateful for you to be on the show. I want to give you an opportunity. This is very interesting. The Warrior Dad Experience is also a new program. You're in class six. The six groups have started to go through this Warrior Dad Experience. You said you have a 100% success rate. Guys are getting results. They're growing consistently through your program. How does someone get involved in this?

They can go out and check out all the Warrior Dad details at I'll also put my money where my mouth is. If you want to grab a time with me, here's my personal cell phone. Shoot me a text. Tell me your time zone. We can grab a time and chat. (610) 564-2107. Remember, dads, it only takes one dad to change a family tree forever.

Thank you so much for being on the show. This is a wrap for the show. We'll see you guys next time.

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