My son has a hockey camp; daughter has a tooth extraction; other daughter has an upcoming horse riding lesson where we are both learning to do barrels; back to back meetings and a bunch of priorities on the work front, and oh let’s not forget the global pandemic - it's utter chaos.
Every day brings a new set of challenges and opportunities. Like many working parents, I'm continually trying to better my and my family's life.
As CEO of my own company, as well as a single dad to three amazing kids, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. Many say it's about finding a work/life balance, but I disagree. I'm not a fan of balance – if you're trying to balance things, it means you are going back and forth between two opposing sides like being on a balance board. For me, it's about doing what you love, what you're passionate about, and then it just becomes a matter of integration between work and home. It’s important to build a life that you want, where you don’t mind the late-night emails nor the drive to push the envelope every single time. When you are in love with your work, it becomes part of who you are. For me, that’s building Tectonic.
I'm not saying it's easy - It's taken me a long time to get to this place, and some days are giant cluster****s, but I wouldn't change it for the world. So, how did I do it all?? Read on...
Coping with COVID-19
When schools closed in March in response to the pandemic, I'll admit—I was overwhelmed. "Homeschooling" with three kids in different grades while worrying about everyone's health, the economy, and particularly my own company's fortunes was stressful. But we weathered the storm—and now are back in school.
I didn't make the choice to send my kids back to school lightly. Like all decisions in my life, I weighed the pros and cons, talked to my kids and their mom about it, and considered all the alternatives. Of the three kids, some are more excited than others—part of me worries that as great as routines and schedules are, we might be better off packing it in for a year to travel the world while homeschooling. But that's not going to happen in a world where the pandemic shows no signs of abating. So, I try to focus on the positives—on the joy that being a Dad brings me, and how lucky I am to work in a stimulating, exciting field, and that my kids can have some normalcy in their lives and see their friends again.
I've always known that once I became a parent, my kids would come first. When they were little, I didn't take jobs that required me to travel for 29 days of the month, missing pivotal points in my kids' life. Instead, I started a company so that I could work from home and be around for the good stuff—and the not-so-fun stuff! From helping my girls with their hair to volunteering for school lunch days to assisting with coaching my son’s sports, it's important to me that I'm there. This stuff matters, and they'll remember that I was around.
And of course, my business matters too. As the CEO of a growing company, I have responsibilities towards my team and our shareholders. As any busy single parent can attest, it's no small feat to juggle parenting with the pressures of managing a demanding career as well. One thing I've learned? How many similarities there are between parenting and being a successful CEO. A lot of the same skills come into play. The biggest one? Trust.
I believe in my people. We're excelling as a company; I respect the opinions of both my staff and my kids—open dialogue, constant communication, and honesty are essential tools. And, I'm proud to say the buck stops with me. When it comes to hard decisions, I'll take the hit for my team at work and at home—modeling accountability leads the way for my employees and my kids to do the same.
The word busy has no context anymore. We are all busy. When I started Tectonic, I took the word “busy” out of my vocabulary and shifted my mindset and the word “busy” to “play big”. When you're playing big, the calendar is king. If it's not in there, it doesn't happen! Whether it's a webinar for hundreds of shareholders or my daughter's dentist appointment, I rely on time management and organization to get everything done. In my mind, I have two families to manage—one at home and one at work. Without clear guidelines and expectations for my team and my kids, we'd be floundering.
Honestly, what's the point of working hard without the fun stuff? I'm a big believer in the work hard, play hard motto, and it's something that I try to instill in both my work and at home.
Pay It Forward
COVID-19 has exposed the disparities in our society, and I'm acutely aware of how fortunate I am to be financially secure. It's important to me that my kids learn about generosity and helping the less fortunate. Last Christmas, the kids and I bought restaurant gift cards and handed them out to people in need in our community. Some years we skip presents and instead go on a family vacation (no electronics) somewhere.
At Tectonic, we also work closely with the communities in which we operate in and are committed to early and ongoing community engagement, hiring locally, contributing to non-profit foundations, best practices in environmental stewardship, and the development of a strong safety culture. It's not rocket science; paying it forward will always reap rewards.
Putting it all together
If you asked me to distill my philosophy down to five points, here it is!
- Self-care is key. Don't laugh—this is important. Get enough sleep, fit in time to exercise, eat healthy, meditate and yes take the occasional spa day. It'll pay dividends in all areas of your life.
- Build-in "me" time. No matter how busy you are, be sure to carve out time for yourself, even if it's just a few hours a week. You need separation from your kids and from work.
- Know when to ask for help. No one can do it all—don't be afraid to admit you need help. From hiring someone to cleaning your house (if that's in the budget) to calling up an old friend when things are tough, get support.
- Cultivate gratitude. The pandemic has shown how fortunate we are, and how quickly things can change. Be thankful for what you have and pay it forward where you can.
- Be present in the moment. Put away your phone, and pay attention—your kids, friends, and colleagues deserve your full engagement. Watch the soccer game with both eyes, not with one on your email.
What keeps you going? I'd love to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Reda is dad to 3 children (12, 11 and 9 years old) and the Founder, President, CEO & Director of Tectonic Metals Inc.