In the corporate world, chief executive officers are viewed as some of the highest-ranking professionals within their field. And at such an elevated role they’re not only charged with navigating competitive waters, while running the business – but also have the influence to steer entire industries toward progress. At Golin, ours are no different. The job, no doubt, is challenging – but as any working parent will tell you, it’s all about balance.
In honor of Father’s Day, we asked our CEOs to share how they’re making it all work.
By: Gary Rudnick, co-CEO
I grew up the son of a workaholic, but saw first-hand that being a good, present, loving father doesn’t have to be sacrificed for work. While my Dad traveled a lot and stood at payphones talking to clients many a vacation, he also taught me three important lessons about being a parent:
- The little things matter as much or more as the big things. Nobody wants to miss the big things – the birthdays, the recitals, the school awards – and I think most people find a way to be there for those moments. But taking your kid’s call at work when you’re in an important meeting, showing up for even 10 minutes of their away game, or sharing memes/texts/dog videos during the workday, shows them that you are actually thinking about and prioritizing them, that you care, and that they aren’t just an important “to-do” on your crowded list of tasks.
- One-on-one time is crucial, and is often the most memorable. My Dad and I used to shoot pool, go out to breakfast at diners, and watch The Three Stooges together on Sunday mornings, and those memories are forever etched in my mind. Even with three daughters who have very busy social lives, I often take one out to breakfast alone, have a weekly trip to McDonald’s with another, and ski the harder trails together one afternoon with the third.
- Parenting is about them, not you. Share your interests with them, but do (and talk about) what they want, too. Yes, my daughters have been over-exposed to Boston sports, eaten at Carson’s Ribs more than they might prefer, and been forced to listen to music in the car that they hate. But, they also have a Dad that goes clothes shopping alone with them all the time, knows all about the catty girl group at their school, tried Orange Theory and a face mask, allows them to put on snapchat filters that make him look like a cat, and knows their friends by name.
Work is incredibly important, and often needs to be prioritized. But my proudest life accomplishments will always be my daughters – not my clients, new business wins, or Agency of the Year awards. Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself of that.
By: Matt Neale, co-CEO
I haven’t always gotten balancing my career and being a father right. Who does? Speaking on the subject, Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever said, “You can always get another job. You can’t get another family.” Prescient words that every parent should hold dear.
I once missed a birthday for a last-minute trip to China and swore I’d never again make a promise that I couldn’t keep. It’s never too late to change, until it is.
Today I lean into my two daughters’ lives. I’m a proud ‘ballet dad’ with a strong hair-game. Although, my performance bun with gel needs work. Last week was early starts, packing school lunches, planning outfits and attending late-night performances. Note: there’s nothing more soul-crushing than discovering a rejected sandwich which you lovingly prepared at 6:15 a.m.
What have I learnt? Be present and build a routine that your children can depend on. Never try to work and be a father at the same time; you end up doing both badly. The same joy can be achieved winning a million-dollar pitch and nailing ‘mystery reader’ at kindergarten. Both take thought, practice and a lot of love. Try this and you won’t go far wrong.
By: Jon Hughes, co-CEO
Being a parent is tough and I have no right to give any advice. So I’m not going to.
I’m not going to pretend that my life is a perfect Zen-fueled balance of work and family. It’s not. When I get stressed I either go into emotional lock down or become uber snappy with the kids, and my wife for that matter. As soon as I take off on a business trip I miss the family and when I get back and am up making pancakes at what feels like 2 a.m. I find myself thinking about booking another.
How come everyone else’s kids seem exponentially better behaved than mine? Why do I get totally stressed out in restaurant situations when my kids are playing up and refusing to eat anything we just paid for? And when it comes to doing homework my lieblings would rather listen to any other sentient being, including Alexa, than take advice from me. TikTok, Power Rangers and horses have far more influence on my kids than I do right now. And don’t even get me started on the damn cat!
But I guess that’s the whole point. That there is family life. It’s not the endless pursuit of perfection but it’s trying to do what’s best with what you have in front of you. It’s those priceless, tender moments like the tsunami of bear hugs you get when walk in from work that somehow wipes the memory to all the crap. Obviously I’m being dramatic here, but I either need to find joy in the chaos or just let it all wash over me. Not sure which it’s going to be yet. So here’s to imperfect parenting.
P.S. Anyone want a cat?