The Supercreator Conversation: Mike Jones
In honor of Father’s Day, my Dad and I chat about his earliest memories in fatherhood, his reaction when I decided to move to NYC and what his next chapter looks like now that he’s retired.
☀️ Happy Sunday!
Welcome back to Supercreator Select, a weekly newsletter for premium subscribers to The Supercreator filled with exclusive features to help you escape from the relentless digital news cycle, discover inspiration to apply to your creative work and focus your attention on the stories that matter to you and your creativity.
In this week’s issue: I share my full conversation with a special guest: My Dad! We caught up in honor of Father’s Day to chat about his earliest memories as my father, his reaction when I decided to move to New York City in six days and what his next chapter looks like now that he’s retired.
I hope you enjoy the interview. And if it’s hard for you to find joy in today, know I’m sending love and light your way.
The Conversation: Mike Jones
The Supercreator: Let’s start by taking it way back: What’s your first memory as my Dad?
Mike Jones Sr.: Wow, I have many. But one of the first [memories] was me knowing I was going to have a son and how excited I was to know that I was going to be a dad to a son.
I remember the night that we were waiting for you to be born. I was working nights at UPS. And I went to the hospital. I was so excited to see you be born that I actually didn't sleep much at night. And I sat at the hospital for hours waiting on you. But I eventually had to go to work. And not long after I got to work, you were born. I just remember being at work and having a little more energy when I was moving those packages and loading and doing the things I was doing and couldn't wait to get off to see my son. So I was very excited.
I always wanted to have a lot of boys. I wanted to have this big family with like five boys and one girl. Because I always knew that we would be rambunctious. We would be into watching sports and some of the things that you and I made our traditions through the years — it just would have been five times more. So what I remember is just the excitement of knowing that I was going to have a son and I was going to have a chance to be a dad to a boy
Growing up, I was unafraid to share how I felt about something, whether it was with my words or through my emotions. How did you and Mom find harmony in letting me be expressive while making sure I knew what lines to stay behind at home and at school.
Now, me and your Mom many times had our shoulders shrugged and palms up because it was always new with you. You were vocal. You had your opinions. And you did not mind stating it. And what I learned is that I had to transition. I didn't want to box you in and not allow you to have a voice. So instead of me asking you to adapt, it was something that I chose to do because I got to experience more of your personality. I never wanted to shut that down. And to this day is one of your biggest assets.
I just remember sometimes talking to your Mom, like “If this boy don’t [get it together]” because that's how I was raised but me and your mom, we just wanted to allow you to remain expressive and not quiet you down and not have you be robotic, not have you be afraid to express and say how you feel because only then could we deal with you as you were. So we never tried to change you.
We raised you to be respectful. That was the barometer — in the house, in church, in public, know how to act and respect others. And that was never an issue. In the house though, we gave you a little more rope as long as you were being disrespectful. It was okay to disagree and we had many, many conversations — too many to count — when we both were being expressive. But we always landed somewhere in the balance where we’re still respectful but we still had our say.
Yeah, I think that’s perfectly said. You’ve mentioned it a little bit already, but from your perspective, in what ways am I similar and different now and then?
I think the way that I would say that you are different is I believe you have more confidence in yourself. Not to mean you didn't have confidence [before]. But sometimes it takes doing [something] to build confidence. And the example I always use is that to me there's a fine line between confidence and fear. On one side is, I believe I can do it. I believe in myself. I know that I can do I know that I'm capable. And then on the other line is, but how do I take the leap? How do I go for it? What if it doesn't work out? That's fear. that spear So, the confidence you've always had. I don't think you knew that you had it. But I've always believed you were confident in how you speak, you're confident around friends. And confidence isn't always an action or a belief that's easily expressed. But when you have to move and take a step, you've always done that.
You don't realize it when you're basically a teenager or a young adult [and] you're starting an online magazine and your Dad is upstairs with his chin in his hand saying, How is he doing this? Where does this come from? Because I was confident within my comfortable surroundings but I could have never taken the leaps of faith that you took at such a young age. So that gave me confidence in myself as a Dad by taking off the reins and letting you go in whatever direction you wanted to go. You were doing things at such a young that I still to this day can't comprehend. And then the day that you decided to go to New York—
—Yeah, we’re going to talk about New York in a minute. But as much as you’re willing to share: How has your faith shaped who you are as a father?
It's been everything. Because, you know, I've always told you that being a parent is the hardest job I've ever had. It’s on-the-job training. You don't always have the answers. So I often talk to God, I'll often utilize my faith and how I've raised my kids because when all else fails, I believe that I'm going to be given the right words to say the right things to do. And I do believe that if what I do is for the betterment of my children and I seek guidance that 99.9 percent of the time, I'm going to make the right decision.
Have I always got it right? No. But I feel that when I don't let emotions take hold and I pray about it — there have been times when you and I have talked and when I was talking to you at that moment, it wasn’t me talking. So I grew up having a faith-based upbringing in some of my households and it’s one of the first things I believed in raising my children was to give you a foundation of knowing who Christ was. And I believe that it's the single most impactful thing that when you went to New York, I felt comfortable because I felt that God had prepared me and you both. And when you got up there and you got your church family, you took your foundation of faith with you. Strange city, you didn’t know anyone but you found a church home that surrounded you. And that’s why I say God is in Texas, but God is also in New York. So, yeah, I’m a believer and I always have been.
I grew up in a newsy family, which should come as no surprise to subscribers based on the work I do. You read the Dallas Morning News every evening after work and Mom watched the local news while she cooked dinner each night. Was it an intentional choice for you to show us the value of knowing what was happening in our world, our country and our community? Or did you just like the news? [Laughs]
Well, no, it was information and education. Whether it's reading a newspaper, reading books, and nowadays, when used properly, have social media and the internet. When you buy a subscription for your TV, you have hundreds of channels [to choose from] and all that. And what you choose to put into your mind, I think is critical. Yes, I read sports, but I also read the metro section. Because I want to know what's going on in schools and stuff like that. And I looked at comics because I love to laugh. I love to giggle and to take the edge off.
But I do believe that you do things that you want your children to emulate. So it wasn't important that you read the sports page or the Dallas Morning News. But it was important that you would see me read because I needed it to be something that I thought was a positive. I never knew what all you and your sister would pick up from us as parents. But I knew if we did enough positive things, you would emulate that.
So it was intentional because I wanted to break some of the generational things that I had in my family, I needed to create things that I had not seen in my family, but that I wanted to instill in my children so they can do the same in others around them.
I celebrated my seven-year New York anniversary last week. Some subscribers may not know that there were only six days between when I told you and Mom I was moving and when I landed in NYC. What do you remember about the conversation we had when I shared the news?
I remember when you came into the house and your your your your presence was different as if you had something that was going to be serious. I remember you sitting on the sofa to the back of the patio and I remember not knowing what you were going to say but feeling like it was going to be something. And I remember when you told us what you wanted to do and what your plans were, I had this, aha, oh yeah moment where it's like, Okay, he’s prepared for this.
Because the first time you went to New York is when we sent you up there for your Fashion Week and all that and how I scrambled to put all that together to give you that dream, not knowing what the outcome was going to be. I looked at it two ways: He's going to go, get a taste of it and say, No, it’s not for me. Or he's going to go and he's just going to have an idea and he's going to like say, Well, maybe down the road.
But I remember feeling calm. That's where my faith [came in] and it was also me feeling that you were ready. And that's hard to comprehend because how can your son, who you who's gonna move miles away, be ready to go to a place that's strange? You didn’t know anyone. You didn’t have a job. And it’s like the faith and the belief we’ve been preparing you for all your life, not knowing it was going to be New York. So our approach was that you can go because you always had a home. And even though I wasn’t going to make it was for you to come home, I knew you had a home [in Texas]. And I felt it was important for you to go. And the fact that it's seven years is just beyond me. Not that I didn't believe that you could do it and that you're doing it. But to me, it’s all the more validation that allowing you to do what you're doing was the right thing to do.
I was I was proud. I was excited. Because it's something that I could have never done. I could have never started an online magazine from scratch [in college]. I could have never facilitated through people in different parts of the world I really never met. I could never just uproot my life. I’m a little small country boy from Farmersville, Texas and to go to New York?! The Big Apple?! I live it through you. And it’s amazing.
In what ways, if any, did you adjust your parenting style when I moved?
I think that the way that I have been intentional, and I think it's something that you should notice, is that tried to be somewhat hands-on and knowing kind of what I felt I needed to do in terms of, whether it’s a text, financial support or if I hadn't heard from you in a minute, maybe reaching out. But you talk to your Mom just about every day. And through your Mom, I kind of knew what was going on.
But I’m still watching, still listening to what you don't say. I'm still watching where you are mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I'm still waiting to hear those keys. I listen to what your Mom says and doesn't say and I fill in there. But I let you and your sister be adults. I don't over-parent. I don't call you a lot — not that I don't think about you every day and pray about you. Because I do I think about you every single day, I pray for you every single day. You cross my mind multiple times a day. But I have to let you figure your lives out on your own. And it doesn't mean that I'm not still as involved as I would like to be on want to be. It just means that you're adults now. And I don't want to coddle you. I don't want to make it seem like the world won’t eat you up. I need you to build a muscle and prayer life and spirituality and faith. But in the back of your mind, you know your dad is there at the drop of a dime.
So how am I different? I'm different because I continue to let you spread your wings. And those wings are getting stronger. So when you go out and you get when you get tired, you can come back here to help you get stronger and then you go back out and you're able to be in flight longer. That's how I think about it right now.
Football season is right around the corner, which means another year for our Dallas Cowboys to build us up only to let us down. [Laughs] But in all seriousness, how important has it been for us to have something to bring us together no matter what we were going through individually or in our father-son relationship?
You and I connected through our love of sports. You were raised to be a Cowboys fan from the very beginning. And that's one of the things that I cherished is Dad and son watching their favorite team together and you wearing that doggone headset with your game plan as if you were coaching the Cowboys and how I would look out of the corner of my eye and smile. Those memories are irreplaceable.
And now, it’s something that I’ve missed. But in lieu of that, you're doing what you're destined to do. It's still gonna be a text message or a phone call. We still have our commentary on the game. We still get mad and don’t want to be bothered when we lose. We still have our superstitions. Those things will never change.
I don't know if your mom ever told you but I don't watch too many Cowboys games at home anymore because—
—It’s not the same.
—It's not the same. So I get up and go watch somewhere else because I would look over there and you’re not there.
I can totally relate. What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a Dad?
I think being a parent is a privilege. So when you bring children into the world, you're responsible for them. They give you so much joy and heartbreak and everything that goes into being a parent, the reward is so much greater than anything that can be labeled a downside.
Your Mom and I have a common goal of raising people. So we've had our nieces and nephews in our house for years. When they needed to be here, they came here for teaching, for whatever, until they could kind of get their gathering. So not only did we raise you and your sister, we all we've always built a steady, safe place for others to come. And the reward is you get to instill into young people and you get to see them go live a life that is kind of because of you in some ways.
And I just appreciate that God allowed me to have at least you two — you and your sister. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's helped me to become a better person, a better father. It's helped me to deal with some of my upbringings and allow me to make adjustments. It's allowed me to just appreciate that my kids are my kids forever. I don't take it lightly.
I took parenting very seriously. I stopped doing things in my life that contradicted me being a good parent. Had I not had kids, I don't know that I would have stopped doing certain things. Kids change you and help you to become better when there's an alignment. You and your sister are the best gifts in my life, to this day. I wouldn't have become the man that I became while raising y’all on my own.
On the flip side: What’s the most challenging?
Trying to stay consistent when you know, there are two other beings watching you. You as a son, how I treated your Mom and you watching that and hopefully not having many memories of me mistreating her. I mean, me and your Mom have been through some stuff but it's not something that infiltrated the upbringing for you and your sister. So knowing that two other people we're going to be influenced by what you did or what you did not do. And even when your children don’t understand that you’re doing what you think is best, still doing those things because you think it's this. And then sometimes not even knowing if what you're doing is the best or the right thing to do.
You’re also a grandfather — or “Papa” — to my incredible niece and nephew. Talk about what that experience is like for you.
It’s an extension of having had my own two kids and then really just being in awe of having two grandkids because you just could never fathom being grandparents. That's not something I thought about when you and your sister were coming up. Both of you were very adventurous. I knew that having kids was not going to be a priority in either one of your lives. I was shocked that I had one grandchild. I don't even think I really talked to either of you about kids because if that was ever going to be the case, I wanted it to be on your terms and be in your time.
But having two grandkids — two totally different grandkids is wonderful. I love being a Papa. I have a 15-year-old grandson right now I was looking at his picture the other day and I was tearing up because I was just wrestling with him and watching him slide down the stairs on his stomach not that long ago. And now his voice is deep, he has his facial hair. [Laughs] And the other one is an intellect who’s learning about the stock market right now and choosing her stocks to purchase. But I absolutely love being a granddad. It's amazing. I wish I had more. [Laughs]
You retired a couple of years ago, but you’re still young and it looks like you’re in the best shape of your life. What’s next for you?
I'm still working through that. I'm giving myself time. One of the things I wanted to do when I retired is mentoring young people so I am involved with that.
I've also had I have a lot more time to work out and to tap into my overall health and well-being, both mentally and physically. I read more. But I don't necessarily get up with an agenda every day. I know that I'm gonna get up, pray, meditate, do my devotions. I have a couple of folks that I do Bible study with every Thursday. I have this group that I do Monday motivation, then Wednesday, we have a check-in, that same group. So I'm reaching out because I’m pretty introverted so it takes a lot for me to reach out and to become a part of something while still feeling like I want to have some control over how much in me I put out there. So I'm just I'm figuring it out.
But I'm not putting pressure on myself. I'm definitely more into my finances and helping people with their financial well-being. And me and your Mom, we're just in that space to where we’re just trying to look at where we are in our lives and where do we want to go? We’re taking our time to figure that out.
Last but not least: Describe being a father in one word.
Fatherhood in one word. [Pauses] It’s a privilege.
Thanks for always making time for me, Dad. I love you. Happy Father’s Day.
Here’s a preview of what’s on my radar this week:
Amazon Prime Day is June 21 and 22. Here’s what I think about the two-day shopping event.
Lots of random pop culture moments tomorrow: International Yoga Day, National Selfie Day, World Music Day and National Handshake Day.
The Senate is expected to vote on the For The People Act this Tuesday. The bill is unexpected to pass but now we’ll have an official record of where lawmakers stand on comprehensive voting rights.
A few Congressional hearings I’ll be covering:
D.C. statehood (Tue 6/22)
Federal sentencing for crack and powder cocaine (Tue 6/22)
Youth Vaping in America (Wed 6/23)
The role of child care in an equitable post-pandemic economy (Wed 6/23)
Voting in America (Thu 6/24)
Comprehensive Paid Leave for the Federal Workforce and Beyond (Thu 6/24)
The policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Education (Thu 6/24)
I’ll also be watching to see the White House’s next move in the infrastructure negotiations between the bipartisan group of moderate lawmakers and the progressive resistance to any deal that excludes meaningful climate action, investments to the safety net and corporate tax reform.
If you have any tips on the people, companies, products and trends shaping how we work and live in the creator economy? I’d love to hear from you. DM me on Twitter or reply to this email. If you require additional anonymity, I have set up encrypted tiplines for extra security. Just get in touch and we’ll go from there.
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And remember: In addition to Supercreator Select, your subscription to The Supercreator includes 24/7 access to the full archive and access to my private calendar to book 20-minute check-ins during my weekly office hours. Thank you for supporting my work. See you in tomorrow’s Supercreator Daily. —Michael ✨