May 12, 2021
The Right Way to Raise Leaders | S1 EP 3

Learn how Steve and Mary intentionally provided key leadership lessons to their four young children, that helped them become strong leaders when they became young adults.

Are leaders born - or made?

How can parents mold their children into leaders that people will want to follow? 

Leadership is both caught and taught, and Steve and Mary Alessi spent years exposing their now-adult children to strong leaders and explaining how they should interact with leaders. 

Years later, they now share the tips and strategies that helped their children become strong and confident as leaders. 

Key Takeaways on Leadership and Raising Children to be Leaders

  • Put your children in the presence of wise and Godly leaders
  • We have to model and teach leadership as parents to properly guide our children 
  • Never undermine authority and leadership in the presence of your children 
  • Key leadership principles can be applied in any situation for your children
  • Parents must refuse to allow their children to attempt to lead themselves before they are ready. 


Quotes on Raising Leaders from The Alessis


“The only way to enjoy your life is to lead your life.” - Steve Alessi 

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“Don’t just reach the bar, raise the bar.” - Mary Alessi

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Steve Alessi  0:00  
Welcome to the family business podcast where family is everybody's business. I'm here with Mary today, and we're talking about family and how we integrate our family and business together. And what we do here at this table is talk about things that on Sunday, we just don't have the time to talk about. So we were always, you know, encouraged Mary, by people asking us questions. How do you guys how you set an environment for your kids that want them to come alongside of you and serve? And... In our case, it's the ministry, right? But this, our conversation can appeal to really anybody that has a business that they have started, even the family being their own business. How are they able to get buy in from the kids, at the earliest age possible, so that you set that child on the path that will be helpful for them to either walk in your footsteps... So in the ministry, they come alongside of us, then eventually, you know, it starts like we're, they're behind us. They follow us. 

Mary Alessi  1:14  

Steve Alessi  1:14  
Then they come alongside of us, they walk with us. And one day, they'll be walking ahead of us. And we'll be following them. Sure. That's the whole point here, hopefully. So if you do this in business, as well, there's a model that we see where there's some similar habits, or practices or principles that we followed. So that's what we're talking about today with our family podcast. So being that our kids come alongside of us, let's go back and think of some of the non negotiables. Right, we already said church was important. We said that was very strategic, their relationship with God was very strategic and serving in the church. But let's talk about three more today. Okay, I'd like to get three more out there for us, for instance, as we think about leadership, in our home, how important it was for our kids to start to develop a mindset of leadership. Do you remember back when all of this would have started with us?

Mary Alessi  2:18  
Oh, yeah. I would say I have one memory, My first memory with Christopher. He was about 13. And he was not happy with the way he looked. He was he had just kind of blown up over the summer. And he was a typical 13 year old boy, but he could sing and I knew he could sing because we were in the car, I would force him to sing. He had no choice. I said, you're in our family, you're gonna sing. And I knew he had a good voice in our youth group was very little at the time. And we needed somebody to lead worship. And I said to him,  you need to help sing and lead worship on Wednesday nights in youth and he let me know right then, that he was never going to be a worship leader, he was never going to be in ministry to remember what he said he was going to do. No, he was going to play for the NFL.

Steve Alessi  3:05  
Yes, chunky white kid that's super slow. Yeah, yeah. 

Mary Alessi  3:09  
..that liked Funyuns a whole lot. Like, I don't think I've ever seen you run. I've heard you sing. Are you really but he had it in his mind. And

Steve Alessi  3:19  
I remember Madden convinced him he was a great football player. 

Mary Alessi  3:21  
Well, his thumbs were great at football. No, yeah. Poor Chris. He tells a story so I can tell it too, it's not humiliating, it's the truth. And I remember thinking to myself, alright, how, what do I do here? Because I knew what my mom had done. I knew the stories of your mom and dad and how they transition in this moment. But I remember thinking, wow, this is hard, because as a mom, I wanted to please my son. And this, we always had these tendencies to believe our children. And I thought, well, what if he is, you know, this split split second thought? What if he is the next Marino? We don't know. Maybe this is a calling on his life. He's 12. Maybe God is speaking to him. And then of course, reality set in very quickly. No, right now, you're not there. Here's where you are. We need a worship leader. And you're gonna sing. And I remember he fought me on that. And I said, Okay, here's what we're going to do. You're not going to have to lead worship forever. You just have to lead worship till someone better than you comes along. And the minute someone better than you comes, you can sit down and they can take your place. Well, it was sort of reverse psychology with him because I knew he would love leadership. He had just never tasted it yet. I knew that he would love the idea of walking in a new... a whole new role where he was not just a kid that went to kids ministry or youth group - that he would love having to take the lead and he did and that never ended, all the way to this day.

Steve Alessi  4:51  
 What I think important is if you see your kid have a future in leading other people, right? Then you have to put them in an environment where other leaders are operating real leadership skills.   

Mary Alessi  5:10  

Steve Alessi  5:11  
It's something that is not only caught leadership is taught and caught. 

Mary Alessi  5:17  

Steve Alessi  5:17  
It's something that you sit down and teach them which we were able to do. But it was also caught, meaning that they, they got around other people. And they saw how leaders think how leaders talk, how leaders process, yes, how leaders reserve common at certain times, and then how leaders know when to go in strong on something. It's something that they were able to learn by  watching others, which then meant, it was important for you and I to get them around other leaders. 

Mary Alessi  5:53  
Oh yeah, environment's everything.

Steve Alessi  5:54  
 So when we would go to conferences, the church always knew that if Steve and Mary, were going to go to a conference, the whole family was going to be sent to a conference. 

Mary Alessi  6:04  

Steve Alessi  6:04  
. So it was gonna be part of the budget. That's because the future leaders needed to be sowed into not only Steve and Mary, but the kids so they can be preparing them for the next generation. So we'd get our kids around other  leaders. And there were challenges with that. 

Mary Alessi  6:21  
Yes, there were  

Steve Alessi  6:22  
because if you get them around the leaders, and you need to teach them how to operate when they're around other leaders, you just don't let your kids run into an office, where there's leaders all over sitting, having conversation, and your kid all of a sudden becomes the center of attention,

Mary Alessi  6:35  
right? Yeah. They had to learn Yeah,

Steve Alessi  6:37  
you had to teach them when to say something, when not to say something. We had to teach them to know their place. We had to teach them first to be able to go up. And when you see somebody that's a leader, when you walk into their office recognize who they are shake their hand, right? Remember, I remember teaching Christopher how to really shake a man's hand. No, kids don't think that way. But all of that was putting them in a position around other leaders. Yeah, that would then help them catch what a leadership vibe is and how they should be walking in it. Now we had one of them that was kind of passive. And we had to teach that one, how to be more confident when they were around leaders. 

Mary Alessi  7:19  
That's right. 

Steve Alessi  7:19  
that they wouldn't just sit in the background. And because they may not have felt as comfortable. We taught them how to feel comfortable when they were around other leaders. And those leaders married because they were relational. It wasn't just a pay for play kind of  thing. Where it was a gig to them. They knew the value of our family. 

Mary Alessi  7:40  
That's ri ght.

Steve Alessi  7:41  
 And it was relational  at all points. 

Mary Alessi  7:43  
Yes, right.

Steve Alessi  7:43  
 So those leaders would take time 

Mary Alessi  7:47  
Always. It's true.

Steve Alessi  7:48  
 And sow into our leaders. 

Mary Alessi  7:49  
That's right.

Steve Alessi  7:50  
 Remember what the Jones brothers did every time they see him? 

Mary Alessi  7:53  

Steve Alessi  7:54  
. Remember?

Mary Alessi  7:55  
 I think I remember.

Steve Alessi  7:56  
No, you don't. They would give them money. 

Mary Alessi  7:59  
Oh, yeah, they did give them money

Steve Alessi  8:01  
they'd pull out a 20 pull out of 50. as they got older and older,

Mary Alessi  8:05  
I thought you were gonna say they would speak over their lives. They always did that, yes, they would put money into their pockets,

Steve Alessi  8:10  
they would put money into their pocket and, and our kids couldn't wait to see him.

Mary Alessi  8:14  
I know. I know. But they saw those pastors, as people in their lives as influencers, that we would then try to connect the dots, we always had those follow up conversations with them, when we would leave you were always good about that, to the point where when that a moment like that would happen, and they would receive that gift or be around that environment, you would say, Alright, guys, I want you to notice what just happened there. Do you see that? That was an opportunity for you to connect the dots for them, so that they were able to see that blessing and that offering was because they were obeying us. They were in the environment that we put them in, and they were submitting to it. And then the blessing started to come in their lives. So I think sometimes As parents, we do things, and we don't explain things, it's easy to not cause them to connect the dots to see Wow, that's why that happened. If I if I do this, I read this reward. And then they love the fruit that's on the tree of their life. Because they start to see it. They start walking in it.

Steve Alessi  9:11  
Yeah. And that's why dad was never the fun one. Dad  always pointing out the principles. Do you see what happened in you? Yes, yes, yes.

Mary Alessi  9:20  
No. But then you know, but you're always teaching.

Steve Alessi  9:22  
Yeah, instructing is that's just the way my brain was always wired. 

Mary Alessi  9:26  
And it's so important. It's helpful.  

Steve Alessi  9:28  
A lot of it was correction, because I'd see things they do in the presence of other leaders. And I didn't want them to embarrass themselves, let alone Barris us in our church ministry. So it was always about teaching. But then you mentioned the other part because when those people would come to town, right, because there was a relationship already formed... 

Mary Alessi  9:47  

Steve Alessi  9:47 other people's houses in other people's churches when some of those people the Binion's would come into town or even your own sister and Danny would come into town or Mike and Kathy Hayes, our pastors when they would come into town, there was always those moments in the back rooms, or in our home, not just in church where that leadership would begin to then pour into our kids. 

Mary Alessi  10:13  
Yeah. We never made those relationships for you and I only, we wanted to share that leadership gold, and those relationships with our children. And I think what it boils down to for people maybe whose kids are not in ministry, it's something that you say to people all the time in our church. "When you bring your kids to church, bring them over to me and make them say Hi to me" You have always done that. Bring your kids over, bring your little girls over, and let them shake my hand, introduce your kids to me and Pastor Mary. And it might seem trivial, but it is not when your kids have an understanding that there are these older leaders, mentors, people that their parents respect that are interested in them too, and are helping shape them too, it changes everything for your kid, I really believe it's like this quantum leap for them, that it allows in their life. They're not afraid of authority. They're not afraid of leaders. They don't feel so far removed, but they're also learning. And when you break down those barriers, as a parent to say, that's your pastor, that's your pastor's wife. That's your worship leader. That's your youth pastor. And you as a parent intentionalize that relationship sit at their feet, you know, it's so easy. And I believe the enemy drives this wedge. For us, as I say, we're, we're not the pastors, we go to the church where the enemy wants to quickly erode... Is that very thing you're talking about. That those mentors in our kids lives that are so invaluable. Yeah. And we as parents can become critical. Well, that youth pastor, I don't like the way he does this, or the worship leader doesn't sing my favorite song. And we talk about it at home. 

Steve Alessi  11:45  
Oh, yeah. 

Mary Alessi  11:47  
And now you can't set them before those role models, because you've talked bad about them. And I will say that we've all fallen, fallen prey to that. And we are very quick. Do you remember that one time we were at the house, it was years ago, and our kids were younger and impressionable. And a relative was over and they started talking bad, not bad. But they brought up kind of in a negative light, a pastor that was in the news. And you almost came out of your skin, I was slightly embarrassed because you got so aggressive about it. And you shut it down immediately. And it was like this reverberating effect in the whole house. Everyone that was there knew that was a moment. We don't talk bad about pastors. No. And I'll never forget that because the message sent to our children is that's off limits. Our children need leaders, if we want them to be leaders, they need to honor and respect leaders. And how can they do that if they're role models that are in their lives, We're casting them down with our words. They're not perfect. But they're available. Use them for your children.

Steve Alessi  12:52  
Yeah. I never understood why people would do that. I never understood why... Well, I know why. I just don't understand why somebody wouldn' t be more wise. never speak negative, about a leader that you're bringing around your family to influence their life. 

Mary Alessi  13:10  
No, you need them too bad. 

Steve Alessi  13:11  
If a person is not a good influence, don't hang!  Don't bring them around. 

Mary Alessi  13:15  
That's right.

Steve Alessi  13:15  
 But don't bring them around the family and talk so sweet and complimentary about that person, right when you're there with your family. But then when they leave, start criticizing them and cutting them up and talking behind their back. I mean, that right there shows your kid,  "That's a little messed up". Yeah. Oh, it does. And then they can't respect the person. Maybe they are afraid to respect the person because dad or mom doesn't respect a person. They don't want to make mom and dad feel bad. So they won't respect that person. And we can pick up on that Mary. Leaders pick up on that kind of manipulation. Yeah. When someone is feeling small and intimidated by the leader, right? And then are really being two faced.  Yeah, well, no leader likes a suck up. 

Mary Alessi  14:01  

Steve Alessi  14:01  
they don't like somebody just doing it in their presence. It's got to be real. And when you do that, then you're kind of doing the second thing that's so important. Not only do you put your younger generation in the presence of leadership, but then you as a parent, instruct or model, better yet model  leadership before your kids.

Mary Alessi  14:26  

Steve Alessi  14:27  
 A t all times, you're realizing what I'm doing. I've got all these eyes watching me what I'm saying, how I'm saying, how I'm handling my life, these kids are watching how I'm doing...

Mary Alessi  14:40  
They are.

Steve Alessi  14:40  
 so you're instructing your kids every step along the way by your example of modeling leadership.

Mary Alessi  14:50  
Stephanie said something in a previous podcast that we had together. She said, you know, Mom, you and dad would always call out in us the areas that might be hidden that the enemy was using, and you were never afraid of what church people would think. You always brought it back to God and our relationship with the Lord. How are you hurting God? And if the church people saw them behaving badly, well, that was on them. We weren't afraid of that. We never let that be something that that kept us from speaking to our children about something. Oh, because what will the church people think? or calling things out in our kids or sitting them down. 

Steve Alessi  15:30  

Mary Alessi  15:30  
 Well, we weren't afraid to sit them down. And I was really impressed that that she connected those dots, because what she's basically saying is good parents, especially in church, lead by example. And they're not two faced.  And parents that want to know how to be great parents and raise great kids be good people. 

Steve Alessi  15:49  
Yeah, that's where it starts, Mary. 

Mary Alessi  15:51  
Do things honestly, do things above board.

Steve Alessi  15:53  
Be a Christian.

Mary Alessi  15:53  
Be a Christian. And it's not easy, but you can do it. Because it's what your kids see, day in and day out. And if if you do kind of creep over into negativity in front of your kids, where you're critical, correct, and apologize for it. Be quick to say, you know, I'm raising you to be a leader. And what I did did not exemplify leadership. Yep. And I apologize, I repent, I should never have said what I said about our youth pastor, or a worship leader, or another person in the church or a relative person in the family. I never should have done that. Because that doesn't exemplify for you what I want to be portrayed. ,

Steve Alessi  16:34  
Yeah, you know, that's so good. Ane Mary, I'd say, On top of that, you know, we mentioned so much about our family, business being ministry.

Mary Alessi  16:42  

Steve Alessi  16:42  
 But this just translates to everybody's  business or everybody's family. They're good, wholesome principles.

Mary Alessi  16:51  
That's right.

Steve Alessi  16:52  
 You don't have to consider yourself, you know, a church goer to, to use these principles that are so valuable to the well being emotionally and mentally of your kids. What you're saying here is whatever principle of leadership that you can demonstrate that's healthy before your kids, then it's going to help them in every walk of life. 

Mary Alessi  16:42  
That's right.That's right.

Steve Alessi  16:42  
 And that's so important. The point there is, you don't want to put your kids around leaders and you not act like a leader.

Mary Alessi  17:22  
Oh, hashtag. That should be a hashtag. That's so great. ...but can I tell you something? Can we be real because it's the moment we can be real about things? I think one of the things that we are watching happen in our modern day, is that we went 50, 60, 70 years ago from being the generation that listened to our parents -  we were apprentices of our parents, we learned, our parents led us and guide us. And somehow we've shifted into a culture that we listened to our kids. I don't know how we got there. I don't know...

Steve Alessi  17:58  
I got a hunch.

Mary Alessi  17:58  
Okay. And you can answer that. But I will tell you, I hear it constantly. Well, my kids said, and my kids believe...

Steve Alessi  18:08  

Mary Alessi  18:08  
...and that is not.... that is not to take away from smart children. We want to have kids that are smart. We listen to our kids in some areas. But we also know we have a position as... as role models, fathers, mothers, pastors, leaders, those that have gone before. I can't ever expect Gabby, our youngest, to understand a decision that I'm going to make as her mother, that is 40 years -am I 40 years ahead of her? she's 20 I'm 50. - 30 years further down the road. There's experiences she has not had. How does she know? 

Steve Alessi  18:45  

Mary Alessi  18:45  
 she doesn't know. 

Steve Alessi  18:46  

Mary Alessi  18:47  
But I think it's so interesting that we're watching this happen. We've become a generation that are letting people who are unseasoned, they... they do not have experience, but they've got University knowledge. 

Steve Alessi  19:00  

Mary Alessi  19:00  
They've got phone knowledge... they can.... They're the the knowledge generation, they can Google it and give you an answer of a question you don't even care about in under a second.

Steve Alessi  19:09  

Mary Alessi  19:10  
 And so because information is so quick for them, it can easily create an environment where we were setting them up to be really these prodigies of knowledge and information, and "oh, but my kids said, and my kids said" well, are they right? Do they? Are they seasoned? Are you sure that's correct?

Steve Alessi  19:27  
Mary, it's the knowledge and understanding, right? They may have the ability to get the knowledge, but they don't have an understanding yet that comes with years of experience. That's why when you... you're being told as a kid growing up, you know, don't smoke cigarettes, don't smoke cigarettes, don't smoke cigarettes, and then you're over there as a kid like, well, that's not a big deal. And it's cool. Look at the attention and next thing you know it you're hooked on cigarettes and you're like, Aha. Now I see why they told me 

Mary Alessi  19:59  
That's right. Not to do this. Exactly. 

Steve Alessi  20:03  
Now I understand it. And then when you get cancer and emphysema now you're like, I wish I wish. So it's not good enough just to have knowledge. They need to have understanding as well. And as much as our kids may have knowledge, which we appreciate... even teaching kids this ...about leadership? 

Mary Alessi  20:24  

Steve Alessi  20:24  
Hey, you may be the smartest person in the room. But that doesn't mean you have the, you're the one in authority.

Mary Alessi  20:31  
That's right. That's... Oh, man. That's right. 

Steve Alessi  20:34  
You may be smart. 

Mary Alessi  20:35  
But you don't have authority.

Steve Alessi  20:36  
 it doesn't mean you have the authority, which then means when you walk into a room, leadership says, who's got the authority here? 

Mary Alessi  20:45  
That's right.

Steve Alessi  20:46  
 And my parent, the adult in the room 95% of the time has the authority. So let me watch what I'm saying, how I'm saying it, let me be respectful. Let me be honoring and not go and try to side with a bunch of people that are outside of my parent's influence to think those are the people that I need to be listening to. So I think there's there's tremendous wisdom to that phrase, I do think this is just a work of the enemy. 

Mary Alessi  21:13  
Oh, totally.

Steve Alessi  21:15  
I remember back in the day when our kids would be watching certain television shows, and they always, even in cartoons, they made the parents out to look stupid.

Mary Alessi  21:24  
Yeah, they were just idiots, that - they've been doing that for years now. 

Steve Alessi  21:27  
And, man, and so what does that do? it erodes the confidence in the parental authority does in a kid's life.

Mary Alessi  21:36  
And let me just quickly say this, whenever we'd walk through the room, and the kids had the TV on, and either one of us would hear that or see a scene play out, we would make them stop it. We didn't make them turn it off. But we would use it as a teaching tool. We make them pause it and say, Do you see how they just made that dad look? That's not normal. That's pretend and it's not right guys. And they go, Okay, can we watch our show again? But we never let that if we heard it, we would stop them and instruct them and go, that's not healthy guys. That's not your dad. And that is not your mom. Okay? Play the show. But we would make sure they knew , that that was fantasy, not reality. That was the worldview. Not our view,

Steve Alessi  22:18  
...which means here's what we did. We said, we put our kids in the presence of other leaders. Then As parents, we and leaders in the church, we had to model leadership. The other thing, though, is what you just said, we had to teach leadership. 

Mary Alessi  22:31  
That's right. 

Steve Alessi  22:31  
Constantly teach it, which meant we had to learn it first. can't teach your kids something you don't they don't have. So we had to constantly learn leadership. Now our job requires us to do it. But Mary, I remember early on in our church, I was always preaching some form of leadership principles.

Mary Alessi  22:49  

Steve Alessi  22:49  
...which doesn't come across as something that's always sexy and exciting, that's going to build a crowd, I was more of a teacher and holding people accountable for the behavior, because I particularly thought that the only way to really, to enjoy your life is to lead your life. Well, I learned that a lot of people don't want to be led. Now. I mean, they want to be led, they don't want to lead, they want to get behind somebody else and follow them. Because it's easier to be a follower than it is to be a leader. So I would always teach on leadership principles. And that's why it became important to me to develop these leaders, and then to teach it constantly to our kids. Because to me, 24 seven, if they were one day, going to walk behind us in this family business of ours, and then one day be given the opportunity to lead this family business of ours, then that is a blessing, having that blessing to lead this ministry. That's a real gift. But the principle of leadership says to whom much is given, much is required. That then meant that we don't take a break from training to lead this ministry. If one day you're going to have the privilege of leading this ministry, then every day right now, our job is to prepare you for it. 

Mary Alessi  24:14  

Steve Alessi  24:14  
So I know some people have a mindset when it comes to talking about their job or their business. "When we get home, We shut it down."

Mary Alessi  24:23  

Steve Alessi  24:24  
I didn't go with it. I think Wait a minute, how do I shut something down that becomes our life? This ministry is our life. It's not just something we do. It's not a job. It's not a career. It's who we are. 

Mary Alessi  24:36  
That's right.

Steve Alessi  24:37  
And if the kids are going to have the privilege of walking into this thing in the future, then that means you're going to constantly be taught because maybe behind closed doors... I'm getting worked up ...

Mary Alessi  24:48  
That's okay. This is good, go. 

Steve Alessi  24:49  
maybe behind closed doors is when they will start to manifest something that could get in the way of their leadership. That's right here at this church. So to me, it's like no, if it's behind closed doors, if it's in our home, and it's wrong, let's address it. Because what happens in the home can destroy what goes on in a ministry. What happens in the home can mess up a business. Yeah. So you're constantly under scrutiny, to whom much is given, much is required. And what's required of us is a constant ongoing of developing leadership. Because I think every person is a leader. At least having to lead their own life, if they don't lead a company, If they don't lead a team, if they don't lead a ministry, then at least they have to lead their own life. 

Mary Alessi  25:42  

Steve Alessi  25:43  
So there was never a break, from teaching, modeling, getting our kids around other leaders. It was constant.

Mary Alessi  25:54  
And it is still, aand I something that we both live by is not just reach the bar, it's raise the bar. So when you're talking to your kids, or wanting to raise children to live by a certain expectation, it's so easy to get lazy and just get them to just reach some bar that we've set. 

Steve Alessi  26:14  

Mary Alessi  26:15  
Instead of saying, No, we're gonna raise it. There's other cultures that aren't American. That there it's the expectation for their children to do well. 

Steve Alessi  26:24  

Mary Alessi  26:24  
And we in America, it's our culture, we can get very lazy as parents, I can tell you, me personally, it's taken both of us to keep that bar not only met, but raise it and expect more from your kids in the area of leadership that they can, that they can give. So one thing with kids getting married and moving out of the house that has been on my mind, and, and it's not, it's one of those things where you think, okay, I've had them in this house for all these years, did I do everything that I was supposed to do, if I imparted into them everything that they need, when they leave this house to be good leaders of their own home? And it really can play on your mind. Like, did I teach them how to make their bed good? Or are neat? Do they clean up their bathrooms? Do they take out their own garbage? Do they, you know, do they, do they get up on time? Do they make their bed? 

Steve Alessi  27:17  
And what's the answer to all those questions? 

Mary Alessi  27:18  
 I didn't say I had the answer. I just said these are things that I think about. I can tell you that, that it's easy to default and say, "oh, they'll figure it out". Or let me be a parent a little bit longer and lovingly instruct and teach. Because what can happen is parents, especially as our kids get older, is that we back out too quick, because we are tired. You know when Gabby got in her senior year of high school, she was my third child that we homeschooled. But I homeschooled. Let's be honest, I've mostly homeschooled 

Steve Alessi  27:51  
so true. 

Mary Alessi  27:51  
And, so...

Steve Alessi  27:53  
so let me say I did nothing for homeschool.

Mary Alessi  27:55  
I appreciate you being honest. And they did very good. They... They did pretty good. I'm a proponent of it. But I remember when we got to Gabby's senior year, something that I really give the Holy Spirit credit... for prompting me. I had been friends with another lady whose youngest daughter had been homeschooled and really didn't get the attention in that senior year. And she just went bonkers and did not do well. And I remember having a conversation with the mom. And I said, your older two are just so together, and they're leaders and they're leading their own careers and all that. What went wrong? And she didn't have an answer, but I did. Because I remember sitting with her one day. And by the time she got to this daughter, she was so tired that she was talking bad about all the teachers at school. And the daughter wanted to get out of school early because she was so smart. And she had it all together. And this teacher wasn't doing this for her. And the mom, we're sitting at dinner and I'm listening to the mom go, "Oh, honey, I know those teachers. They're terrible. These teachers don't do their jobs. They just never, you know, they're well, you know, they're, they're just so full, their plates are so full." And I'm thinking you should never talk bad about the teachers to your parent, to your kids. Now, I did it. I did it for a little bit. But you have to pull yourself out of that. 

Steve Alessi  29:17  

Mary Alessi  29:17  
. Because what ended up happening

Steve Alessi  29:18  
You defend your kid. 

Mary Alessi  29:18  
You defend your child,  that's a normal reaction. But when you're making and you're trying to raise young people that lead their lives, well, that is not a lesson you should miss out on teaching. And it shook me. And I looked at Gabby, I said that was her third, this is my fourth. It's easy to get tired, and say you know what? a GED sounds pretty good. You're so smart. And you're so talented. You know, you're not even going to go to college because you're... you can sing and you can lead. Just get in ministry if you already know what you need to do. And I realized very quickly that I'm breaking... if I went that direction, I'm breaking a pattern and a formula and a system that we had as a family to raise up strong, young people. 

Steve Alessi  29:19  

Mary Alessi  29:20  
Not only for God but to lead their lives well, and we leaned in hard. And I remember I sat her down and talk to you about it. I said, Gabby, this is your senior year, and it's going to be the best year, most intentional year. Everything that you want to get out of this year, we're going to squeeze out. I'm not going to go on the road, I'm not going to be gone. We're going to be intentional about this year. And we were and you know, nine months of really leaning in, listening to God, and comparing to someone else who did not do that. She's like the leader of leaders. 

Steve Alessi  30:32  
Oh, my God. Scary. Yes, scary. And you know, I can go on and on on this subject, Mary, because I really value it. It's one of the things that in my heart, I feel like God just raised me up to try to do because I want to be the right kind of leader 

Mary Alessi  30:47  
And you are.

Steve Alessi  30:48  
that really leads my family here leads my life first leads my family leads our ministry. But I could talk about something else as simple as even college education... 

Mary Alessi  30:59  

Steve Alessi  30:59  
... why it is so important to get our kids in and through college..

Mary Alessi  31:04  
it is. 

Steve Alessi  31:06  
Just seeing Gabby, open up her little diploma from with her A.A from Miami-Dade, just seeing her excitement of something as simple as a two year...

Mary Alessi  31:21  
I know. She did it. 

Steve Alessi  31:21  
. She's like, oh, what that gave me, which is now helping move her on to the next two years of her studies so that she could get her diploma, her degree, how important that is what that made her feel like.  Because I think the first area of leadership in a kid's life is the way they get their education. You got to lead yourself in that classroom to get that education 

Mary Alessi  31:45  
And it humbles you. 

Steve Alessi  31:46  
It really does. And we encourage our young people on staff to get your education. 

Mary Alessi  31:51  

Steve Alessi  31:51  
We even come alongside of them and help them financially to the best that we can. Because even this when they're working part time, I always say what's your priority, my job? No, it's not your job while you're working here. Your priority is your education, Get your education, we're going to do our best to help you financially in any way that we can give you extra time for studies, whatever you got to do, because that priority has to be education.

Mary Alessi  32:14  
Finish, finish finish,

Steve Alessi  32:15  
get the kids through. That's right. And if you have the financial resources to set it aside as a kid, as your kid is younger, do it to help prepare them. Right for their future education. It already locks in their minds that hey, you're going to college. Yeah, that's that's not something that... that's not negotiable, you got to do it, because that's the development of leadership. Well, we're blessed today that we can have this conversation. It's not done. 

Mary Alessi  32:45  

Steve Alessi  32:45  
 we still have a lot more training that we have to do. But I would say for anybody that really wants to see a solid kid, turn into a real solid adult, that's going to give you great grandkids, is going to come alongside of you and your business or your ministry, or just to have them there, staying close and connected with your family. You're going to have to help them deal with this area of leadership, get them around strong leaders, then model leadership to the best of your ability, which means you're going to have to learn leadership. So that in turn, you can teach leadership. 

Mary Alessi  33:21  
I love that. 

Steve Alessi  33:22  
All right, before we close out today on this family business podcast. Are you ready?

Mary Alessi  33:27  
I think so.

Steve Alessi  33:27  
 I think I'm okay with this question

Mary Alessi  33:28  
I'm never ready.

Steve Alessi  33:29  
Okay. I'm okay with this question. Because I have my own answer.

Mary Alessi  33:34  
Uh oh. 

Steve Alessi  33:34  
 it's different. All right? 

Mary Alessi  33:36  

Steve Alessi  33:36  
What is your original hair color?

Mary Alessi  33:41  
How dare you sir?

Steve Alessi  33:43  
Oh my gosh.

Mary Alessi  33:45  
I have an answer.

Steve Alessi  33:45  
I know.

Mary Alessi  33:46  
Do you know what it is?

Steve Alessi  33:49  
I'm looking at your eyebrows.

Mary Alessi  33:51  
Say it.

Steve Alessi  33:52  
Is it brown?

Mary Alessi  33:54  

Steve Alessi  33:55  
What is it now?

Mary Alessi  33:56  
It is a specific Brown. Chestnut. That's what my momma told me.

Steve Alessi  34:07  
is that a lighter shade closer to the blone brown?

Mary Alessi  34:11  
Do you know what the color of a chestnut is? I think you bring one in here. Bring one in here.

Steve Alessi  34:17  
Oh my gosh. 

Mary Alessi  34:18  
It's exactly chestnut, or mousy Brown. either mouse...? I prefer chestnut.

Steve Alessi  34:27  
Chestnut. Okay, well, now you know, 

Mary Alessi  34:29  
now you know.

Steve Alessi  34:29  
 And me? 

Mary Alessi  34:32  
You'd like to tell people that it was red.

Steve Alessi  34:35  
that was it. 

Mary Alessi  34:36  
 That's the story you tell.

Steve Alessi  34:37  
Yep. The crossing guard. The patrol on 82nd avenue

Mary Alessi  34:45  
in third grade...

Steve Alessi  34:46  
 30th street when I would walk to Banyan elementary school. She was the first one that called me Carrot Top. And she was American in Westchester. She was American. And she called me Carrot Top.

Mary Alessi  35:03  
Let's just start calling you that. 

Steve Alessi  35:05  
Now. It's what color? Chestnut, not grey. 

Mary Alessi  35:08  
It's a's a hybrid.

Steve Alessi  35:11  
I got your hair.

Mary Alessi  35:13  

Steve Alessi  35:14  
there you go.

That's it for the family business podcast.

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