[update to this post on April 22, 2006 - the interviewee was shut out of his original blog, and has a new one at the updated links here.]
At long last, dear readers. Today's Smart Man Online is also a Smart Dad. Chris De Le Rosa left a comment on a post of Jane's many moons ago...and...we were uncertain of its origin. We thought it might be - horror of horros! - SPAM! Being the open minded folk we are, we wrote to Chris and asked him about his comment...and were rewarded with a new friend! That's why we always check out our comments - because in-between the spammers (and there are a lot of those, heaven knows), there are really interest -ed and interest -ing folk who write short, pithy notes worth reading.
Chris is someone we liked immediately. When we discovered he is a stay-at-home Dad, we liked him even more. When he told us he has 3 daughters - well, we just about fell off of our chair! Really, now...what's not to like about that? Read on and see how smart, talented, hard-working, and sincere Chris De LaRosa is ...about life, about his work, and mostly - about his girls.
Lip-sticking: We're two really busy folk... But my sense is that you're a people person, like me. Even though we've never met, tell me what you think of me. No, really...I'm exploring the value of my writing as 'Jane'. Some folks seem to get confused by that -- they wonder, "who is Jane?" Do you think YOU know who Jane is? And, is Jane someone you'd invite in for coffee?
Chris: Time does not permit me to read as much as I would like to. But what I really liked about you (if you recall how we met) you gave me the opportunity to "defend" a comment I made on your blog. What could have been mistaken for "spam" was actually a sincere post to the whole work from home topic. Would I invite you to coffee.. yes, I like meeting/speaking with successful people who are as passionate about their craft as I am. Plus, I know I would leave that coffee meeting with a few gold nuggets of business tips. [likewise, we're sure!]
Lip-sticking: Speaking of coffee, as a work at home Dad (we applaud your efforts for that-- woohoo!) do you drink a lot of coffee? What's your favorite brand? How about flavored coffee?
Chris: Coffee is not really my thing. I’m more of a Tetley tea guy..about 3 cups before 9 am. However I do share a cup with my wife when she’s not at work (she’s a coffee person). We have a tiny little coffee machine that makes about 3 cups, and it’s usually Tim Hortons (Canadian gourmet?) and Folgers.
Lip-sticking: Let's get serious -- Genuine Jobs ...tell us about that. What's Genuine about it? What's the focus? What kinds of people are you hoping to attract? Where does your database come from?
Chris: I’ve been very lucky to have been working from home for over 6 years now and I know all too well the freedom I’ve enjoyed. Being able to be there every day for my daughters when my wife decided to go back to school to be a nurse and now that’s she’s working full time.
Fortunately, I was able to find someone who is not only my boss but, a mentor. I started off working for a local company that ran a work from home website, after we noticed that the company was going downhill I decided it was time to make a move. After-all we had 3 children under 5 and my income was the only one. Since I was familiar with the business (websites) I decided to create one that would host vacant jobs people could do from home. And it would pay for itself by placing banner advertising on it (no charge to users), since I hated the way similar websites charged users.
My thinking was: How can someone afford to pay to apply for a job, if they’re not working? During the beginning stages times were very tough, since I didn’t know much about traffic, link popularity etc. A good friend out in Vancouver introduced me to David Ledoux, an MLM Millionaire, that recently wrote a book and need someone to do his support for him (answer emails etc). So I jumped at the chance, since I could do this from home as well. I quickly learned the ins and outs of an e-commerce site and with Mr. Ledoux as a boss and mentor he always encouraged my progress.
Today I pretty much run all his online operations.
But, back to Genuine Jobs I continued working on GenJobs in my spare time, until I finally started making some money from it with the banners and by joining some affiliate programs that I recommended to visitors. The positive emails we receive daily only encourages me to do a better job with the website...that is probably my strongest drive.
When you get an email from a mom in Utah saying that she’s tired of looking for a job to help ends meet and that she’s grateful to find a site such as ours… where she does not have to pay a fee she can't afford, this puts a smile on your face.
There are 4 of us in total that look over the html, admin and job researching work. The jobs we post must meet some requirements.. the main one being NO FEES to apply. Our thinking is that a legitimate employer will never charge someone to apply for a job :-)
We’re in constant contact with employers and recruiters that usually have vacant work from home or freelance jobs. Plus we try to find employment sites that have jobs that are work from home related and post those as well to our database. But in such cases, we contact the employer to let them know that we’re posting their vacant jobs to our database and it’s free to them. If they would prefer not to have the job on our website, simply contact us and it will be removed if it’s already posted. In that email to then, we mention that if they didn’t object to the job being posted with us, they didn’t need to get back to us. We know employers are usually busy people.
The goal from day one and still today.. is to provide a resource to help others work from home. A resource that’s free and honest. That’s why we always tell users that if they come across a vacant job posted on our website that’s not legitimate that they should contact us immediately for us to warn other users. There’s simply too many scammers out there that pray on hard working people to get their money.
You see, the internet has made it possible for me and many others be able to work from home, but it’s also open the door for scammers.
Lip-sticking: Do you think the work-at-home industry is growing? Are young people, we mean those 35 and younger, more in tune with family-oriented careers? What about couples - we've done a fair number of interviews where BOTH parents are at home, working. They share everything, job, housework, cooking, and childcare. Is this the wave of the future?
Chris: Well I’m proof that it’s an ever-growing trend. By looking at our daily traffic to Genuine Jobs, with thousands of visitors daily, we can safely guess that more and more people are trying to get started working from home. We’ve never done a survey to determine what age group visit our websites, but I do know in many instances (from some of the emails we receive) many of our users are young parents that want to spend time with their growing family and still be able to generate an income. [hear, hear!]
Re: Couples: In my personal case it came to the point where my wife wanted to get out of the house and pursue a career after being at home with 3 kids for a number of years. My wife (Caron) is like many people that question what I do… she needs to be around people, she needs to have that secure pay cheque and works well knowing that after her 7-7 shift..that’s it!
Note: I think the entire work from home concept can be very deceiving to people who’re attracted by the idea. It’s NOT easy as some may make it seem. It takes a lot of dedication to not "slack-off" and if you’re a person that need interaction or someone to tell you (lead) what to do you will find it very difficult. You must also be able to separate work from in, at home.. for me it was buying the house we now live in, when I finally had a room (with a door) that I could call my office. A makeshift office in your living room or kitchen does not really work…too distracting.
Lip-sticking: We know you have 3 beautiful daughters -- we hope you had a chance to read about our granddaughter's speech at the wedding (www.thirdage.com) -- tell us in your most proud Papa voice, all about these magnificient creatures. And then, tell us what you hope for their future.
Chris: This one is tough, since there’s so much I can say about them. They each have their own personality and do things to show their individuality on a daily basis. I would love for them to be entrepreneurs like myself, but like my parents did.. I’ll support them in whatever they choose in life. We try to do all we can as parents to guide them in what’s perceived as being "good" so we can only hope they use our guidance to shape their lives in a positive way.
Here are their names, a trait that stands out and my nickname for them… India, the youngest – very active and bossy! (very shy in group settings) – "coocoo" or "boy"
Tehya, the middle – very hard on herself, needs things planned and with perfection (very dry humor) – "Slayer" or "slay-oh"
Kieana, the eldest (tween) – she questions and challenges me, something I like. My nickname for her is "Skeenaa" but Caron has called her "pie" from the day she was born.
* If you grew up in the Caribbean you’ll understand the whole nickname thing. It’s a must to have at least one nickname. For me it was "birdlegs… I had the skinniest legs as a child. [well, we beg to differ - we weren't called Chicken Legs for nothing, when we were little!]
BTW.. I just wanted to say good luck to Tehya who’s having her first Provincial level gymnastics competition in mid December! [good luck, Tehya! you'll be fantastic!]
Lip-sticking: Do you read to your girls? What kinds of books do you read to them? Which leads us to ask, what kinds of books do YOU read? What about your wife? Is she a reader? Either of you write?
Chris: To be honest I’m not much of a reader. Though I’ve been forcing myself to read as much I can about Internet Marketing and other web related developments. I do have a growing reading list for next spring-summer. [perserverance is the key - read, read, read -- just stay away from those Dick and Jane books!]
Though I don’t read to my girls, I do help them with school work, especially math which seems to be their weak subject. We do encourage reading at home, with the final 30 minutes before bed being reading time. I think having 3 girls (pretty close in ages) in our teenage years, we never had the time to read. We were kept very busy. Caron does enjoy mystery novels though. About 12 years ago I was hooked on Jeffery Archer and Sidney Sheldon books.
Lip-sticking: It's time to get into the nitty-gritty of blogging. We know you blog...when did you start and how often do you post? Do you agree that blogging is a great way to build community? Do you think CEOs should blog, or should they leave blogging to their marketing managers?
Chris: I’ve been blogging at A work from home dad for the most part of 2005 and I try to post as often as I can. In most cases it’s every 2nd day. Though I may not have anything to say, I try to find relevant articles to share with my audience. I recall back in the mid-nineties building a community was done via message boards/forums, which are still big today (I belong to a few of them). But I see blogging as the next step in community building on the internet.
And, I think everyone should blog :-).. it’s a great way to let off steam and keep in contact with an audience. As far as CEO’s blogging I really don’t have a comment on that, but can you find a better way to keep in contact with ordinary people? People who’s contribution can make your business a success? Marketing managers would probably have a better grip on things and be able to work the blogs to the company’s advantage.
Lip-sticking: Who does the most shopping in your house? How much is done online? Will you do a fair bit of holiday shopping online? What's the worst experience you ever had shopping online?
Chris: That would have to be me, simply because I go to the market, deli, grocery and Costco..(household needs) I use this time to take a break from work. Plus my wife hates doing that. She’s more of a mall shopper.
We do a fair bit of purchasing online, especially around Christmas time. We tend to find more unique gifts online [yes, yes, yes!], items we would not normally find in stores in Canada. We’ve purchased game and electronics from US based websites, a robot from the UK and many items on ebay.
Speaking of eBay, that's my worst experience to date [then we won't link to them]. On 2 occasions I was scammed. Won 2 auctions, paid and never received a product. But I’m not one to sit and take things (didn’t use a CC or I could have done a chargeback...used a cheque in both instances) so I contacted the FBI department that looks after auction scams. Only recently I was contacted by the Florida Department of Justice.. after 4 years they finally found and convicted one of the persons that scammed me on ebay. I was also allowed to contribute to that persons sentence. My advice, use a cc with online purchases, they’re normally covered/insured by your CC company.
Lip-sticking: If the Internet collapsed tomorrow -- and you knew it wouldn't be back up for months -- would you panic? How would that affect your daily life?
Chris: I’d be CRUSHED! Though I’ve been told a number of time from my Mentor (Mr. Ledoux) that I should create different streams of income I’ve not put his advice into use (not yet- that’s 2006 goals). Everything I currently do is online.
Chris: My daughters all want Ipods! [we should have known!] Growing up around me they’ve become very "techie"..I love gadgets and so do they. Discovery toys has a great metal detector that we purchased last year that make a cool gift for a child. Tehya continues to have lots of fun with it. Oh, and "Chat Now" is also on our list. Our daughters have never been Barbie girls. They have a bin with about 25 dolls and they must have played with them a total of 4 hrs. I really don’t know much about Mattel, sorry. [no apology necessary]
The girls want ipods...isn't that just dandy! Kids today!
We think Chris and Caron are doing a fab job with their girls. They should have an ipod, don't you agree? This interview reconfirmed our belief that the Internet, and blogging, will dominate all forms of business and communication in the next 5 years. And we really like that Chris is focused on helping other folks become stay-at-home Moms and Dads.
We have to say it: what's not to like about that?