Our guest this week is legendary Warren Rustand. Warren’s career is as varied as it is interesting. He’s been a serial entrepreneur, served on 50 for-profit and non-profit boards, a former White House Fellow, former NBA player for the Golden State Warriors, past CEO of the World Presidents Organization, a frequent speaker, grandfather of nineteen, father of 7, including a son with special needs. and most recently author of the book: The Leader Within Us: Mindset, Principals & Tools for Life By Design. He and Carson, his wife of 56 years, have led an extraordinary life and we’ll hear all about it in two parts.
This week, in part one, we’ll hear about his career and family philosophy. That’s all on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast.
Tom Couch: Special, thanks to horizon therapeutics for sponsoring today’s special father’s network. Dad to dad podcast, horizon therapeutics believes that science and compassion must work together to transform lives. That’s why they work tirelessly to research, develop and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases.
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Warren Rustand: I was hanging around with some really interesting people. Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Bob gates, Brent Scowcroft, Henry Kissinger. That was sort of the inside team.
That’s our guests this
Tom Couch: week. Warren Ruston Warren’s career is as varied as it is. He’s been a serial entrepreneur, a former white house fellow, a former NBA player for the golden state warriors, past CEO of the world. President’s organization, a frequent speaker and a grandfather of 19 and a father of seven, including a son with special needs.
He’s led an incredible life. And we’ll hear all about it into parts this week. In part one, we’ll hear about his career and family philosophy. That’s all on this special father’s network, dad to that podcast. Here’s your host, David Hirsch. Hi, and
David Hirsch: thanks for listening to the dad to dad podcast, fathers, mentoring, fathers of children with special needs presented by the
Warren Rustand: special father’s
Tom Couch: network.
So father’s network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process. New fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads, to find out more, go to 21st century dads.com.
David Hirsch: And if your dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com groups and search dad to death.
Tom Couch: And now let’s listen to part one of this conversation with Warren Russ, Dan and David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with Warren Rustin of Tucson, Arizona, who is a serial entrepreneur, former white house fellow, former NBA player, past CEO of the world president’s organization. Co-founder and Dean of the entrepreneurs, organizations, leadership academy, international chairman Ameritas of a leadership organization, frequent speaker author, and perhaps most importantly, father of seven and grandfather of 19 Warren.
Thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the special father’s network.
Warren Rustand: Thank you very much. I’m really happy to be here. And I appreciate the opportunity you’ve afforded me to, to just have a discussion around, uh, being dads and friends.
David Hirsch: You and your wife, Carson had been married for 56 years now.
The proud grandparents of 19 and parents of seven children ages 31 to 51, including a son with special needs. Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Warren Rustand: Well, I grew up in Minnesota in a very cold place near the Canadian border on the Western part of the state, not too far from Fargo, North Dakota in an area called the red river valley.
And I love farm life. I loved working with my dad. I love growing what we eat, taking care of cows and horses and pigs and sheep, and well, what more could a young boy want, except that freedom. To be out in the woods and laundering and have that kind of fun and have a wonderful father who taught me a lot about hard work and about thinking correctly.
And so I grew up in that environment and I know when my father would put me on his lap and we’d ride that John Deere tractor down those long rows and furrows that he was always talking about good books. And he was always talking about places he had seen. And he’s talking about the wonder of the world.
And I didn’t realize until many years later that he was actually preparing me for a lot. That was unlike the one we were living at that moment in time, we were not wealthy. We were poor. We had no indoor plumbing. We had no indoor electricity of any kind and the winters get pretty cold there. So it was pretty tough, but we learned over time, my father became a good farmer.
He bought another farm and so forth. And then when I was about 11, he decided that we should move to Southern California, a place that he had experienced love there year round. And thought it was a land of opportunity. So in the early fifties, we moved out to California and enrolled in school there, and somebody handed me a basketball and a surf board, and I got to do both.
And that was a lot of fun. And then I got recruited to the university of Arizona and I was recruited by a number of schools, but I went to the university of Arizona here in Tucson and had a wonderful experience. So I had a wonderful childhood. I can’t say that I did. So it was a great experience. Great.
David Hirsch: and porn, I recall you had three sisters, you were the only son. So you had a unique relationship
Warren Rustand: with your dad. That’s correct. Yes. In fact, I tried to kill all three of my students or somewhere along the way, but they survived. So it worked out. All right.
David Hirsch: So, uh, how would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Warren Rustand: Is, uh, he was a wonderful father. First of all, he was interested in my welfare. Secondly, he was a bit of a coach. Because he would instruct me when I did things right or wrong and coach me how to do them better. And we have this wonderful and interesting relationship. Perhaps today we might say he was a mentor in that sense, but clearly he was my father and he was a very smart, very strong-willed man.
Who’s the hardest working man I’ve ever seen. And people ask me why I keep going today at my age and stuff. And I guess, because that is what I was experienced. As a, as a boy growing up as that, my father was always working. There was always something to do, and he always worked at it. He never sat around.
I’m the same way. So when we finish our discussion today, I’m going to clean out the corrals. I’ll grab a couple of grandchildren and we’re going to go clean the poop out of the corrals to make sure our horses are okay. So it’s just this notion there’s always stuff to do. Right. And we might as well get out.
David Hirsch: I remember in a prior conversation, you telling me about your dad being hospitalized for the better part of three or four months. What’s the backstory on that?
Warren Rustand: After we moved to California, he caught a really bad cold, and he went to his doctor to get a shot of penicillin at those days to kind of knock the coal.
The doctor whose nurse was not there that particular day was rummaging around for the medicine, got the medicine, fill the syringe and injected my dad. The unfortunate thing was that he had picked up the wrong medicine. It wasn’t penicillin, it was cortisone. And my father was allergic to cortisone. We found out and it sort of froze or crystallize his internal organs.
He was in the hospital for 99 days. We were called to the hospital on Christmas day, advised that he would not live through the day and that we were seeing him for the last time. He’s a tough guy. Strong-willed man. He lived through it. The doctors all agreed that when he was released, he would live about 20 years afterwards because there was a lot of damage done.
He lived 20 years to the month. And then passed on. So he died at a relatively young age for me, and I was, uh, not allowed to have him in my life and he didn’t really get to know our children very well. And certainly didn’t know any of our grandchildren, although I knew my wife quite well. So it was one of those interesting times in life when someone that we admire and love passed on prematurely, I think.
But, uh, what he left behind was a wonderful life. He called me aside one day after he’d gotten home and recovered and everything was going better, he was back in his chosen profession, any, he said sort of indirectly, we were talking about some things. He said, you know, today’s the last day that I can Sue the doctor for malpractice.
And he said, you know, I’m not going to because I believe it was an honest mistake. He had no melon tab. He was not trying to hurt. It wasn’t a stupid mistake. It was just something that happened. And there’s no reason to destroy his life or his practice because of something happened to me that was a profound lesson for me.
And I think of all the things that I’ve done in my lifetime and business is a litigious process. And yet I’ve only sued one person in my lifetime and I’ve only been. Twice in my lifetime. And that was for both corporate matters. I hadn’t had done nothing to do with me personally. So I just think that, um, I learned an important lesson there as a young man.
My father shared an interesting part of his life and thought process, and I appreciated that.
David Hirsch: Yeah, that is a very profound, uh, lesson to learn at such a young age. And it has to do with life and death too. I don’t think most people would. Be that objective. So thank you again for sharing. Uh there’s um, a list that you created, I think when you were 19, I don’t know what role your dad played in creating that list of a hundred things you wanted to do during your lifetime.
But, uh, what’s the backstory on that. And where are you
Warren Rustand: when I graduated from high school, I thought I was probably the coolest kid in the entire world. Right. I mean, that was a really good basketball player. I was student body president. I was an honor student and I had a lot of things going right. And I acted like that.
I was a bit arrogant, I think, and a bit pompous. And so I was also the commencement speaker for our high school class. And when I stepped down off the stage, there was my dad and I was all ready to go out and have fun and kind of party and have a good time. But he had a yellow, legal pad in his hand and he said, well, you’ve had a, you’ve done well in high school.
What are you gonna do in college? And I said, well, dad, I don’t have time to think about that right now. I need to go on and have a party. He said, no, no. What are you gonna do in college? And so I quickly rattled off five things that I wanted to do. They were top of mind, I just threw them out there and he wrote down each one.
I said, I want to be student body president of the university of Arizona. I want to be an all American basketball player. I want to be five, eight, a cap. I want to be a road scholar. Right. I wanted to do those things that, uh, I wanted to be one of those extraordinary people and I just put them out there and he wrote them.
And I went off at, he said, he said sinus. So I signed it. So I went off and, uh, I later put those down myself on my own piece of paper, just to remember them. And I went off to college four years later, I was on the commencement stand at the university of Arizona graduating. And as I walked off the commencement stand, there was my dad and the paper reappeared.
He had the list. He opened it up. It was folded up. He opened it up and he drew it two columns and one, he labeled success and the other, he labeled failure and he said, let’s go down the list to see how you did, where your student body president. Yes. Where you an all American basketball player? Yes. Have five, eight a Capitol.
What you remember that one bad semester? I had, I didn’t study crisis. He said, where are you? Five beta Kappa. I said, no. Any marks. Said where were you? Uh, whatever it was a road scholar. Yeah. Where are you? A Rhode scholar? And I said, well, you recall I was competing, but then Carson and I decided to get married and you couldn’t at those days be married and be a road scholar.
And so he wrote failure. So of the five things I said I was going to do, I had three successes and two failures that was pretty stark and pretty dramatic. That was an important lesson about knowing what we’re capable of doing and what we actually do. And he never talked to me about it. He just folded up the list and put it back in his pocket, but the lesson was learned and I think that was important for me as well.
So what I did was when I was 19 years old, I was in a philosophy class and it just dawned on me that I should probably make a list of the things that I want to do in my lifetime. And so I started writing and I actually listed a hundred items and I still have that list today here, right with me. And that list is, um, interesting because as 19, there were some things that were kind of soft and squishy on there, and there was some things that were pretty grand.
And so I looked at it about once a week for the next 55 or 60 years, actually it’s been 59 years since I did that. And I keep that piece of paper enclosed in plastic. So probably would disintegrate the paper so old, but, but I, I looked at it every once in a while. And as a result of looking at it, I tended to accomplish the things that I put on them.
And about 20 years ago, I created another list of a hundred. Now I’m about 50 through that, but on the original list, it’s interesting. I often ask people, how many do you think that I’ve accomplished of those hundred and there’s variations in numbers? Obviously the number is actually 90. The two that I haven’t accomplished, one was that I wanted to visit every country recognized by the United nations, but countries keep dividing and changing names as a moving target.
I’m not sure I’ll ever get there, but I have visited about 190 plus countries in my lifetime. The second was I wanted to be present in the United. I think w if I would have run three years ago, I could have been elected because we’ve proven we would elect just about anybody to that office. So why not me?
Right. I done gone. I missed my opportunity. So there’s one of those eggs. Those are two. I probably won’t ever accomplish, but they were on my list.
David Hirsch: It’s pretty remarkable that you can say 50 something years later, for something you were thinking about as a teenager. And some of them obviously were pretty audacious president United States, seeing all the countries in the world that you accomplish, 98% of what you had been thinking about at such a young age and that you re-upped, that’s what I heard you say.
Um, you know, whatever number of years ago, and you’re working on that list again, you’d made reference to the fact that when you were in high school, You were rather, um, I’ll just say self-confident and, uh, there was a person, I think it was your wrestling coach that, uh, shared a really profound insight with you.
And I think that was, uh, that was really important. What was that?
Warren Rustand: It was really important for me at the time I had finished my season. I had won some honors and awards and it was considered a very good basketball player as student body president. There’s a lot of things going well for me. And, uh, I was a bit puffed up about that.
And my ego was a bit inflated. Clint south was the wrestling coach and he was also my government teacher. And I really admired him. He was a dedicated, disciplined, thoughtful man, very bright, very able one day after class, he said, may I speak with you a moment more? And I said, yes. He said, please sit down.
I sat down near his desk. He looked me squarely in the eye and said, Warren, you’re a Jew. And if you keep acting like this, you will not have any friends. You need to get rid of your ego and get humble. And coming from a man, I so admired at that time in my life, it just, it was like a strong wind blowing me over.
It was really significant for me. I spend a lot of time thinking about that and thinking about who I was and who I am. And, uh, as a result of that, uh, I made some changes. I made some adjustments and, uh, Coming from someone like that, or like if had it been my father who said that, for example, that was very significant to me.
Um, and so I hope I learned an important lesson. I think I adapted and, um, I hope I got better and, uh, and that was the beginning of a different part of my life journey. And I think that was very, very good for me.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing. Thanks for being transparent
Warren Rustand: about that. I might share another story if I may.
So I was leading a group of about 800 people through the world presence organization, coupled to India for a one week. What we call the university a learning week and my wife and I led this. We chaired it co-chair that she was fantastic. It was a wonderful event and we were packing to go home. And as I started packing, she said, well, we’re not going.
And I said, what do you mean? She said, we’re going to mother Teresa’s charity in Calcutta, and we’re going to work for two weeks. The first week, the center for dying patients. And the second week, the center for adoptive children under the age of five with special needs. And I said, well, that’s not what I planned.
I think I need to get back and spend some money. I need to buy goat, go boats and planes and cars, and I need to do that stuff. And she said, no, that’s not what we need to do, but we need to do is go serve on. And after spending a week at the center for dying patients, where you hold people who are in their last minutes, hours, and days of life and understand what they talk about and think about is really important and was important to me.
And then we went to the center for adaptive needs kids, and every child there was missing an arm or a leg or an eye or had in some ways was specially okay. And as we looked at those 5,000 cribs and that big warehouse, there was just not enough support there. And so we jumped in with both hands and feet and fed kids and loved kids and held kids for a week.
And, uh, it was emotional. It was a special experience. And so as we got on the plane to come home, I was able to say to my wife, I understood. I understand, you know, and she like Clint south, the wrestling coach needed to pull me back to reel me in to have a real relationship of love that allows one to better understand their partner in this case and know what they need.
And so that was a special experience for me as well. Yeah.
David Hirsch: Well, thanks for sharing. Um, I’d like to talk about Carson. But, uh, you went to university of Arizona, you took two degrees, an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree. And I’m sort of curious. Now, did, did you play professional basketball straight out of college?
Or where did that fit in?
Warren Rustand: I did, but it was brief. I mean, it wasn’t, I was never going to be a grand star. I would, no one would look at me and say, there goes the A-player right. I mean, I don’t have the size, the strength. There are lots of things I don’t have. And so I was drafted by the golden state warriors.
And, um, and I was given a wonderful opportunity and the opportunity never materialized in the same way. They were a very good basketball team at the time. In fact, they had, I believe four, ultimately top 50 players in any bay in NBA history who were on that team. So here on care homes, as a scrawny kid from Arizona, I was never going to be a great player.
Right. But I got the experience and then I actually got my amateur standing back and I went and played for the Phillip Phillips 66 years, which was the number one. Amateur athletic team in the United States, we ultimately ended up playing for the national championship there. And from that, I got another really great experience.
I was invited to play on the U S team that went to the world basketball championships in Santiago, Chile, and we won the silver medal air. Um, and w so it was a, it turned out to be a fabulous experience for me, but just a different experience. So I’m grateful for the opportunity I had will award. I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to play AAU basketball.
And then from there I became the assistant basketball coach at Arizona for a couple of years. So that was fun.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. And you were married before you graduated from what
Warren Rustand: I remember. Yeah, that’s pretty uncommon. In those days. About the third day I was on campus at the university of Arizona, I was introduced by a mutual friend to this absolutely gorgeous, smart, fun, funny, terrific.
Young woman named. And I thought she was just the most wonderful person I’d ever met. And so I, uh, asked her out and she said, no, and I couldn’t believe it. I’m this really good looking chiseled out of granite kind of guy. Right. I’m thinking of another one of those ego periods in my life. I was thinking I was really cool.
I came from Southern California after all. I mean, I was really special. And so I asked her out the next week and she said, no again. And the third week, no. And I asked her about 53 consecutive weeks and she said, no worries. The 54th week, I knew that the guys she was dating had gone home for his parents’ wedding anniversary.
So I knew she was open. At least I went to her for the 54th time. Right. You know, I’ve asked you out 53 times, this is the 54th time. Will you go out to dinner with me? And she said, no. And so I’ll get all the stupid things that a guy would do in a situation. I sang, I danced, I got down on my knees. I begged I did all kinds of stuff.
Pretty soon she started laughing and she said, okay, I’ll go out to dinner with you. And about 10 by 10 30 that night, we decided it wasn’t necessary. Ever date, anybody else again? And we were married two years later, so I was lucky or I caught lightning in a jug. I mean, it was really, I’ve been, I understand my role in our combined life and she’s really a special.
David Hirsch: Well, I love that story. And, um, I remember you telling me as well that, uh, you are only good for a year at a time.
Warren Rustand: Yeah. Right. She ever so anniversary, you know, I’m hoping for a longterm contract going forward, you know, like you get in sports. And, uh, every year she puts out a piece of paper. It’s a one-year contract and she puts at the bottom, you’re still under probation.
So I never quite have the confidence that I need to have that this is a long-term deal.
David Hirsch: It helps you keep focused. But
Warren Rustand: maybe, maybe
David Hirsch: touching stories. So thank you again for sharing. So, well, I don’t want to spend most of our limited time talking about this. It would be, I would be remiss by not mentioning.
Your illustrious career. What I think about your illustrious career you’ve led numerous businesses or five presidents, uh, served on 50 plus boards. Um, I’ll just rattle through this because I think it would be easier for me to do this managing director of SC capital partners, chair, and C E O of rural Metro corporation, chair, and CEO of TLC vision, the world’s largest LASIK eye surgery clinic.
At Providence, you were director and 2 0 5, um, became interim CEO in 2012, permanent CEO in 2013, which is a company based in Tennessee. You’ve served on numerous boards, not-for-profit boards as well, while Frontiera TMC foundation, the university of Arizona foundation and the Southern Arizona leadership council, the list goes on and on and on what I wanted to start with.
Cause it was something that was at a relatively young age, was your experience as a white house fellow. And I’m wondering. How you got involved in that and what your experience was?
Warren Rustand: Another one of those kind of funny stories, because it’s probably all something I didn’t deserve at all, but I was having lunch one day in Tucson, Arizona, and one of my friends invited a guest.
He was a retired four-star general, and we had a wonderful conversation. And near the end, he said, have you ever heard of the white house fellows program? And I said, It was a program created 1963 by John Gardner, the, the head of HHS and then Lyndon Johnson, the president of United States. The purpose of the program is to bring young people early in their careers, not an internship, it’s not a post-graduate program, but after you’ve had some career success to bring people early in their career to Washington, to shadow and be with the president vice president or a cabinet secretary, and learn about government at a high level.
So. He gave me an application. I said, thank you. I put it in my desk drawer. And about a year later, I was cleaning out my desk drawer. And, uh, because I was moving offices and I happened to see it. Then I noticed it was due at midnight the next night. And so I filled it out and I wrote a position paper to the president on healthcare or something, you know, and I slipped it in envelope and sent it off.
Never expecting to hear anything again. I just thought it was an interesting idea. Yeah. And about three months later, I got a thing that said, congratulations, you’re a national 100 national semi-finalist and said, I had to go to one of 10 centers to be interviewed by the president’s commission on white house fellows at one of these 10 centers pick any one you want.
Well, I chose Denver, Colorado. I went to Denver and I found the other nine people who were there. There were about 10 people at each of the 10 centers around the United States. So I found. These other nine people. And as I met them, I was stunned. As I looked at their bios, my goodness. They were astronauts and authors and professors, and, you know, Heisman trophy winners.
Hi, I’m wondering, what am I doing with this group? I mean, I, this is going to be fun. I get to meet some really good people, but, uh, there’s no chance, right. I, I ever get this. And then the commission’s job was to choose their first choice as a national final. And then an alternate in case that first person couldn’t do it.
So as it turned out, after all the mixing and matching was done, three days later, they walked us into a room and announced their first choice. It was me. I mean, I fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe it. I was supposed to work for the vice president, but he resigned Spiro Agnew resigned from government fee because of corruption.
And I was assigned to the secretary of commerce. I was co-leading the first ever executive level trade mission to the Soviet union came back and the president of United States, then Richard Nixon had nominated Gerald Ford, the minority leader of the house of representatives to be his vice presidential choice to be confirmed by the Senate.
He was, and I joined the vice-president shortly thereafter and was there during the last nine months of Richard Nixon’s term, which was the Watergate era in the United States. Very historic time. I learned a lot to be in the white house during that time to know what was going on was extraordinary. And, uh, then on August 6th, 1974, the vice-president was so Mr.
Vice-president prepared to be president and, uh, he had a transition team meeting the next morning. And two days later, I walked him into the east room of the white house where he was sworn in by the chief justice of the United States as president the United States. So very interesting. Very interesting time.
What was your
David Hirsch: role as the appointment secretary at that point or no,
Warren Rustand: no. I was spent as, when he was vice-president I was special assistant for him for all scheduling. Um, and so then I became, he asked me to stay on as appointment secretary to the president, following his transition to the presidency. And did
David Hirsch: you try to resign?
Is that what I
Warren Rustand: remember? Yeah, I did. You know, I was, I was 30 years old at the time and, uh, I’m just, I’m just as farm kid. I mean, I’m just as farm kid, you know? And so. Uh, I was hanging around with some really interesting people. Uh, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Bob gates, Brent Scowcroft, Henry Kissinger.
That was sort of the inside. And so it became real obvious to me, very fast that I wasn’t as smart as they were. I wasn’t as experienced as they were, you know, I didn’t have the contacts and network that they had. I mean, those were all, even though Colin Powell was a young major at the time. And Bob gates was just out of his PhD program at Georgetown university.
And Sovietologists, I mean, they were just really able, they’re able exceptional people, all of them, every one of them. And so I knew that I would probably do something. I would mess it up. And when you mess up something in the white house, it becomes publicly known. You can’t keep a secret and I’d probably embarrass the president or hurt the present some way they didn’t want to do that.
And so we had a meeting in the oval office, the meeting was over, people drifted out the people I just mentioned, and I kind of lagged behind to see if I get the president’s attention. And so I said, Mr. President, may I speak with you? He said, yes, sit down. I said, Mr. President, same thing. I’m not smart enough.
I’m not good enough. I’m not political enough. You know, I’m not wired enough. Um, and I don’t want to do something embarrass you. So sir, here, sir, here’s my resignation and I put it on his desk. He didn’t touch it. He swiveled his chair around, looked out the rose garden crops. South lawn of the white house for what seemed like eight or 10 hours, probably 10 seconds.
And I was a little bit anxious at the time. And finally he swiveled his chair around and he said, you know, Warren, the very fact that you’ve said, this makes you worthy to be here. And I, what he was saying was the fact that you were transparent, vulnerable, and honest means that I can trust you.
David Hirsch: So it’s not lost on me that you were his appointment secretary.
So that has to do with his schedule. Yes. And I’m wondering, was that the turning point that really helped you focus on the importance of time or were you sort of very focused on the importance of time before them?
Warren Rustand: I think I’ve always been good with time because I’ve always been a doer. I’ve always been active.
Right. But what it taught me was that every minute is precious and for the president of the United States, every minute could be critical. And so how we organized his time. Really became central to my own scheduling process later on. And that’s the notion that everything should be driven by priorities in one’s life.
But what happens is we get easily distracted. You know, somebody will read a book and do something else, or we’ll see something fun going on and we’ll go do it. Instead of doing the things that we’re supposed to be doing, if all of us just focused on our highest level priorities, it’s amazing what we can accomplish.
So all of us who are average. Have a chance to be above average or at least have above average experiences. Right? So it’s this notion that I probably needed to learn that. And what I learned was that if I drove my schedule by priorities, if I could list my top priorities in each of the buckets of my life, and I see my buckets as family, business, community, and self, if I could select my three highest priorities in each of those, and then list under each priority.
The milestones that I have to achieve or do by a date, certain in order to accomplish that priority, I could probably be pretty good, maybe even above average. And so I started doing that and it was amazing. The transformation that occurred for me, I just did things better, more timely. I was always working on important stuff, at least as I perceived my life.
And I tended to get more done in a shorter period of time because I wasn’t as distracted. Did I still get distracted on occasion? Absolutely. Right. There’s always something going on, but I was more disciplined and that really helped me. And I always remembered back to the president and how disciplined he was in sticking to that schedule.
And one of the reasons why I think Gerald Ford, when you look at his presidency, where he started and where he ended had a really good price. That’s a really good presidency. So I learned a lot from that, learned a lot about scheduling and I teach that to other people. I try to help them understand the importance of time and we get 86,400 seconds a day.
Right. We all get the same amount of time. It’s only what we do with it. The only thing that matters is how we use it.
David Hirsch: I understand, you live on a 58 acre farm outside of Tucson. You have for the past four decades, chorus has goats, chickens, pigs, and that’s the whole family, right. Multi-generational experience. And that’s very unusual at least here in the United States. And I’m wondering, um, who was driving? That was it, you as a Carson was a decision.
You both made intentions.
Warren Rustand: Well, we decided early on that we want to have a large family. We were married our junior years at the university of Arizona shortly after we got done playing basketball, moved back to Tucson and so forth. We really decided we wanted a large family. And so we began working on that, right.
And practicing to have a large families, a lot of fun, you know, you just have to practice and practice and, but the results weren’t there. And so as a result, Uh, and at the four year mark of being married, uh, our doctors told us it was biologically impossible for the two of us to have children. It would never happen.
And we were greatly disappointed, but we’re optimistic and enthusiastic at the same time. So we went to get licensed by the state and be ready for adoption. We met a young doctor who had specialized. That form of medicine, specifically fertility and other issues. And, and he put us both in the hospital, checked us out and then did some special things with my wife.
And as a result of that, 33rd, about 30 days after being discharged, she was pregnant with our first child. Of course we were related with that. And then about every two years we had a baby, for some reason, I don’t quite understand how that happens, but it’s just one of those things. Right. But during those four years, we were waiting to have children.
We really spent quite a lot of time talking about our lives and what we wanted for our life. And that really began our process of designing our future life. The notion is that we can make choices and those choices can then play out. In our reality, if we just work hard and stay focused, we wanted to live on a farm.
I grew up on a farm Carson likes open spaces, the farm actually isn’t outside of Tucson, it’s in the middle of Tucson and it’s really, really cool. We’re, we’re five minutes from my office from shopping, from whatever we want to do. And so we were lucky enough. To buy this property. And then our children all were raised there and we had great, cause we didn’t have any help.
We just had great experience. We’d bet the feed, the check-ins and the goats and the pigs, or they die. And we had to sell the eggs and the neighborhood. And we just had a really great time growing up. And our kids went off to really good schools and went off to be educated and went off and started their various career.
We are all of a sudden played on the pro golf tour for 10 years, with one son who was black Hawk, helicopter, pilot, and part of the invading forces in the middle east and so forth. And all that stuff happened to them, but they got together and came back to us and said, you know, we really love each other and we love you.
And how would you feel if we built homes on the property? Well, I mean, for a parent, they have your children and potential grandchildren. I mean, uh, that was just unbelievable. We were just thrilled. Obviously it took us about three and a half years to rezone the property in a way that would allow that.
But in the end, our children began building houses. And so we have 16 of our 19 grandchildren there. And, you know, we have, uh, five of our seven chills. We have a dinner every Sunday afternoon at four 30 and we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries together and we sing poorly and, uh, we it’s food and we play soccer and jump in the pool and do all kinds of crazy stuff.
Capture the flag. And this last Sunday, we had a family wrestling. So it was the children against the adults and it was pretty bloody and pretty awful, but, uh, fortunately everybody survived. So it was a lot of fun.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it’s an amazing story and what a great role model you are for others. Um, and that didn’t happen.
By happenstance. Right. And when I think of Warren Runstead, one of the things that comes to mind is intentionality, right? Both you and Carson are very intentional about what you do, how you do things. And one of your family models, if not the family motto is that we do hard things. I’ve heard you say that often, and that you have a vision statements, mission statements.
And I’m wondering if you can elaborate about those.
Warren Rustand: Well, we felt over the years that, um, that it’s good to have something that a family can rally around. And as we grew up on the farm and stuff, you just have to do hard stuff on a farm I had to growing up and you have to, when you have animals to care for and property to care for, and we felt like that’s a family obligation, we could have hired people to do it for us, but we just didn’t feel like that’s what we wanted to do nor was that in our design for our family.
So we really wanted to do that ourselves. And so as a result of that, all of our children grew up the same way I grew up and that’s working hard. So it seemed natural that we would say, you know what we do, we do hard work. And so when people come along with something that’s challenging, we kind of accept that.
We think that’s a good thing to go, try to figure that out and try to get it done. So we do hard things important. We also feel strongly that families should have a vision statement. It serves as a point of cohesion and coherence for a family to be able to express ourselves in a way that says, this is what we’re about.
It should be both aspirational and inspiration. But when someone reads that they should have a pretty clear understanding of one’s family and what it’s about.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing. Uh, parenting is not a straight line. There’s a lot of twists and turns. And I know one of the challenges that a lot of parents face has to do with drugs and alcohol.
And I know that your family policy is no drugs, no alcohol, which is easy to say, but there’s a lot of influences, you know, in society. Um, Not just in college, you know, when they’re off on their own, but you know, even in high school and some cases earlier than that. And I’m wondering, um, if you had any experiences, if you incarcerated any experiences with those issues,
Warren Rustand: uh, both of us growing up had different kinds of experiences was led us to the point where we decided that we were never going to have alcohol or drugs in our bodies and system.
Right. So my wife’s mother was alcoholic. And so she would come home as a teenager and need to help her mother get into bed. Go around the house to try to find bottles that have been stashed and other things. And so she had a, a very important role in her family. She had siblings, three siblings and she, but she was the one at that moment in time.
And that age that really had to deal with that. And so that was a lasting impression for her. Mine was different. I grew up as an athlete. I wanted to be the best athlete I could be. And I did notice that as some of my friends and friends and teammates began to experiment. Alcohol and other kinds of things that they couldn’t always perform at their highest level at game time, they weren’t always their best at practice.
And I knew because I had limited physical skills that I needed to be my best. Right. And so I just decided that at a young age, probably 15 or 16 years old, that wasn’t good. I just never had any interest in it. And so, as a result of that, to this point, I’ve never tasted alcohol. I’ve never had tobacco. I just, it’s just not something I’ve ever done.
Didn’t want to don’t care about it. Doesn’t matter to me. It’s okay. If other people make that choice, that’s up to them. And my wife for the same reasons that I just discussed never did. So part of parenting is setting an example, it’s modeling behavior, right? And so our children grew up in a home where that was never present.
It was never. Sure. They were exposed to it as teenagers with other kids and other families, but we always talked about it and always had time to talk about it. And they just never showed an interest in it either. Oh, by the way, they all wanted to be outstanding athletes. They all wanted to be leaders.
They, and they were, they were all exceptional athletes. They were all outstanding student leaders. Uh, university leaders. And so it’s just something they chose not to do. And, and so, uh, I think as a result of that, it’s been in some ways easier for us. We haven’t dealt with some of the issues that other families have and, um, and I admire those families have to wrestle with that and are successful in doing so because alcohol drugs and other kinds of things are insidious in our society.
And they’re very difficult, very difficult.
David Hirsch: I remember. Maybe hearing and hearing you talk about the two chairs and I’m wondering if you could relate to the concept or the purpose behind those and maybe
Warren Rustand: boy. Well, we always referred to the chairs in our, in our house and we still do so that we had two chairs in our bedroom, in our master bedroom.
And when a child was invited down there to speak with us, it was pretty serious. And they would have a seat in the chair and we would sit and we would have a discussion about something that didn’t go as well as we had wanted to go, or perhaps as well as they’d want it to go. And so the children were aware that when they were invited to those two chairs, we needed to have a serious talk.
They like to graduate to the two chairs we have in the living room that are also designated for discussions. And that’s when you become a teenager. Right. And you grow out of certain things. You’re expected to have better behavior in lots of ways, be smarter, all that kind of stuff. And so those conversations are really elevated conversations about who are you and where are you going and what are you doing?
And what did you do today? What did you read today? What did you think about today? And we’re, you know, parents can be their advocates or they can use inquiry. You can use advocacy or inquiry and you can use it. Advocacy is really this notion of you’re telling people what to do. You’re commanding people.
What to do. You have a stated position? A stated view inquiry is really where we think most of parenting has done. And that’s asking questions and allowing children to critically analyze. Their answers and responses and think things through and come to their own conclusions. And we’ve worked really hard with our children to help them become critical thinkers so they can make good judgements over their lifetime.
And that really starts, I think when they’re in the home, when they’re young 5, 6, 7, 8 years old leading through their teens, Where they’re given the opportunity to critically assess something, to critically analyze things and then come to their own conclusions. And we found over the years that that’s been helpful to us in parenting.
Um, it’s not a panacea. It doesn’t work all the time. It’s not for everybody, but it worked pretty well with our children and our family. And we think that was one of the things that we would probably think about as being an asset. And that’s the notion of it. Just asking questions.
Tom Couch: That brings us to the end of part, one of David Hirsch’s interview with Warren Russ, Stan.
Listen, next week, when we’ll hear about Warren’s son, Scott, who has special needs, that’s all on next week, special father’s network, dad to dad podcast. The special father’s network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation.
It’s a great way for fathers to support fathers, go to 21st century dads.org. And
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Warren Rustand: But dad
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