Through blogging, I’ve met so many friends, including today’s guest, James Oliver. James recently wrote a book about his experiences starting his own company while also being the at-home dad of two young children. His compelling personal story also contains great advice and encouragement for others who may want to become a parentpreneur.
Here’s a transcript of my Q&A with parentpreneur and author James Oliver about his book, his company WeMontage, and juggling entrepreneurship and parenthood.
I love the title of your book: “The More You Hustle, The Luckier You Get: You CAN Be a Successful Parentpreneur.” Can you explain how this title inspires you and can help motivate us, too?
Clint Edwards wrote This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, a really funny, honest and insightful memoir about fatherhood. As one reviewer said, “It will make you laugh. It will make you think. It will make you cry. Sometimes all three at the same time.”
Clint is a great writer and I think all of us will see ourselves in some aspect of this book. Clint was nice enough to answer a few questions about his book and the advice he has for working dads.
One of the cool things about publishing a book is that you get to become “book friends” with other authors in your field. A few weeks ago, Torsten Klaus and I exchanged books. I want to share some of the wisdom and perspective from his book, The Empathic Father, which I recommend. Here’s my Q&A with Torsten, focusing on his advice on fatherhood and empathy.
1. Your book covers a wide range of issues- birth plans, attachment parenting, sex after childbirth, child discipline, work-family balance, how couples argue, active listening, etc. The through-line is the importance of leading with empathy. Can you explain how empathy can influence how dads can handle such a wide range of parenting and marriage-related challenges?
When I was doing research for a Harvard Business Review article on time management, I came across Laura Vanderkam’s work on the topic. She has since become one of my favorite authors. We corresponded on twitter, and it turns out that our most recent books were published on the very same day, just a few months ago.
I am proud to support A Better Balance by donating a portion of every sale of my book, The Working Dad’s Survival Guide, to this amazing legal advocacy organization that is leading the charge for more family-supportive workplace and social policy.
I asked Dina Bakst and Phoebe Taubman of A Better Balance to write a short summary of their work and have posted it here. Please consider joining me in supporting their important work.
Dr. Stewart Friedman is the Practice Professor of Management at the Wharton Business school, the Founding Director of the Leadership Program and the Director of the Work/Life Integration Project, and the author of several books on leadership and work-life integration, most recently the excellent “Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life.” As one of the most prominent men in the field of Work/Life Integration, he has long been one of my role models. In fact, getting to know him over the past few years has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my foray into social media.
Dr. Friedman was kind enough to speak with me about his latest book. In it, he profiles successful people in business (former Bain CEO Tom Tierney and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg) public service (First Lady Michelle Obama and former Navy Seal and philanthropist Eric Greitens) and sports/entertainment (rock god Bruce Springsteen and US soccer champion Julie Foudy) as models for work-life success. He then leads the reader through assessments and exercises so they can apply those lessons to their own lives. Great stuff.
1. Since I’m a big fan, let’s start with the Boss. Can you discuss one important lesson we can learn from Bruce and apply to our own lives?
Here’s an interview with friend, life-balance coach and author Greg Marcus about his book, his journey to a more balanced life and his advice for working dads.
1. You’ve said that your mission is to help chronically overworked people find life balance. What makes you so passionate on this topic?
Chronic overwork is a terrible lifestyle. Overworked people eat poorly, feel exhausted and stressed, exercise less, have less time with the people they care about, have less and worse sex, are at a higher risk for depression, and die younger. That used to be me. I am absolutely convinced that if I had kept working 90 hours a week in corporate job, I would be dead or have survived a major health crisis. I’m happy to say that I found a way to cut my hours by over a third without changing jobs, and went on to have the most productive and lucrative years of my career working 40-50 hours a week.
The founders of the NYC Dads’ Group reflect on what they’ve learned from their members. Powerful stuff.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know I am a huge fan of the NYC Dads’ Group, a network of about 900 dads in and around NYC. The group hosts “new dad boot camps” and frequent social activities- providing many opportunities for dads to support and learn from each other.
Founders Matt Scheider and Lance Sommerfield recently wrote a great piece in NY Parent magazine reflecting on five things they learned about dads through their involvement with the group. Click on the picture below for the full story.
Sociologist Erin Rehel conducted a fascinating research study on paternity leave and changing perceptions of masculinity. Here’s a Q&A with Dr. Rehel about her research and its implications for working dads.
Tell us a bit about your study
My research examines the connection between fatherhood, work, social policy, and shifting ideals of masculinity in the United States and Canada. I conducted 85 interviews with fathers and their partners. I find that fathers today draw think differently about masculinity and fatherhood, but there are societal and workplace barriers that force many dads to fall back into less involved parenting roles.
In this particular study, “When Dad Stays Home Too: Paternity Leave, Gender, and Parenting,” (forthcoming in Gender & Society), I argue that when fathers experience the transition to parenthood in ways similar to mothers, through formal or informal paternity leave, they come to think about and do parenting in ways that are similar to mothers.
Paternity leave provides the space necessary for fathers to develop the parenting skills and sense of responsibility that allows them to be active co-parents rather than helpers to their female partners. This shift from a manager-helper dynamic to that of co-parenting creates opportunities for a more gender-equitable division of labor.
One of the things I love most about this blog is the opportunity it has given me to have conversations with so many smart, knowledgeable people. I have learned more from this blog than anyone, thanks to your comments and willingness to engage and network with me. After I posted my piece last week about Josh Levs and his important paternity leave discrimination suit, I received the following message through Linkedin from blog reader Cynthia Calvert, Esq., who is an expert in work-family employment law.
Cynthia was quoted in the NYTimes article about Levs and she believes his case to be stronger than I believed it to be in my analysis last week. After our discussion, I think she’s right. In this case, I’d be very happy to be wrong.
I found our exchange fascinating- it really helped clarify the situation for me, especially in terms of gender discrimination and the difference between parental leave for care versus physical recovery. Cynthia was nice enough to allow me to reprint our back-and-forth here. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Hey, busy involved dad, are you feeling burned out? You are not alone- most dads are struggling to juggle work and family. But that’s a sign of progress. And in many ways this is the best of times to be a father. Guest author Jeremy Adam Smith explains five reasons why.
Jeremy Adam Smith writes on a variety of topics related to positive psychology and fatherhood and is the author of several books, including The Daddy Shift. You should really check out his work. In June, he wrote a great article “Five Reasons Why It’s a Good Time to be a Dad” which appeared at the Greater Good Science Center website. He was nice enough to allow me to excerpt it here at FWF. (Here’s a link to the full-length article.)
Paul Mifsud, Senior Counsel, Labor Relations for Major League Baseball was nice enough to speak with me about their paternity leave policy. One of Paul’s primary responsibilities is working with teams and the players on rules changes within the game of baseball, ranging from drug programs to instant replay to paternity leave. He’s also a busy working father of three. I greatly appreciate his time.
For the past few months, I’ve been reporting on players who use Major League Baseball’s Paternity Leave Policy and have repeatedly praised MLB for their high-profile support of working dads. Could you summarize Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy?
Prior to the 2011 season, when Major League Baseball first implemented the Paternity List, most Clubs allowed players several days of paid leave upon the birth and adoption of a child, but were required to play short when the player was absent. The establishment of the Paternity List enables Clubs to replace players who are granted leave for a maximum of three days, while continuing to pay the players and maintain a full roster of active players during the leave period.