Balancing Fatherhood and Being a CEO
Dads are real-life superheroes! They are strong, adventurous and extraordinary. This Father's Day we asked a couple dads in the demanding commercial real estate industry how they balance being a father and a CEO. Running a company is challenging, but fatherhood also comes with its own trials as well.
Mike Spears, SIOR, CCIM is the Managing Principal of Lee & Associates – Houston and a dad to 12-year-old twins Emily and Luke.
- Mike acknowledges that there is difficulty in keeping a good work/life balance in this career. However, it can (and should) be done by focusing on what is most important. He said that the most important thing you can do is make sure that you keep all of your commitments when it comes to family. In other words, that may require that you get up a little earlier to complete your work if you have something going on with the family. "I don't shy away from family commitments because work is calling," said Spears.
- Also, it is important to be “present” when you are with the family. Make a point to “TURN OFF” work when you are at home or on vacation. Work will always be there when you get back.
- PLAN for fun, FIRST. One of the first things that Mike does at the start of every year is to put his vacations on the calendar. That way, work related things are planned around that time. Just like with meetings/work, you are more likely to attend when you have it scheduled on the calendar.
- Spears says that it is important for you to truly identify your kids interests then make a point to engage them in those interests. For example, Luke and Mike play golf together whenever possible. Also, Emily and Mike work out together in the mornings.
- Sometimes it is even good to put yourself out there a bit. Mike loves coaching little league sports and has coached his kids in flag football, baseball, softball, soccer, and even Emily’s powder puff team during his spare time. Doing so lets him spend quality time with his kids while also getting to know their friends/team mates that they hang out with when he isn’t there.
- When Emily and Luke were in grade school, he would volunteer as a “Watchdog” where a dad takes a day to hang out at the school and help where needed. Even then, he sometimes noticed people would kind of just sit there and/or constantly be checking their phones. Not Mike, he would actively engage and spend a LOT of time at recess and PE with the kids. He had a blast with them while being able to better understand how his kids interacted with their classmates. Again, it is all about being “present” when you are with them.
- It can be very hard to juggle it all, but that is where it becomes all the more important to identify your reasons for working so hard. When you realize that your reasons for wanting to achieve success are based upon the fact that you are providing for a family and desire to give them things that you didn’t have, you can gain a sense of focus. It isn’t about the awards and recognition for Mike, instead, it is about providing the best opportunities for his family. "There's a way to be successful in business and it starts by realizing what's most important – and for me, that's my family," said Spears.
- Even more important is the time that you spend with your spouse. Mike says that it is essential that he spend time with his wife and that his kids see how important she is to him. “I am always thinking about how I want some young man to treat my daughter one day. Therefore, he makes a point to show affection to his wife and treats her as the most important person in his life. That way, his daughter will expect the same when she grows up. The same goes for his son as Mike wants him to know that when he grows up, he should fully understand how to be a gentleman. No matter how comfortable you maybe at home with your spouse, you need to be aware that there are little eyes watching you and that your actions and behaviors towards your spouse will ultimately be mimicked one day. It is crazy how much they pick up and notice so you have to stay on your toes.
- Balancing work and family takes dedication, but you can't always do it alone. With any level of success, it is often achieved by building a strong team. It is all the more important for you to have that team when you intend to spend quality time at home with the family. When you take time off or are spending quality time with your family, it just relieves so much stress (and makes those experiences all the more enjoyable) when you know that your work is being handled by a competent team and/or support system that can help. Having that will ensure that you get the most out of BOTH work AND family time.
Overall, Mike hopes that his children learn to be responsible from seeing him work and prioritize his family. “Unlike money, time is a finite resource which you will NEVER get back. Make sure that you spend that time in a quality manner”. Mike hopes that his children will one day know how important they are to him and will be able to understand how hard he worked to provide for them.
Chris Lewis is the Managing Principal of Lee & Associates – Houston and a dad to three, Colton (14), Hunter (11) and Cate (1).
- Chris is all about making an effort to dedicate time to family. A career in real estate allows you to work anywhere and at any time of day. This flexibility allows him to attend baseball games or sporting events that might fall in the early afternoon on a weekday.
- Our biggest tool today is also our biggest nemesis, technology. Chris decides to put his phone away to focus on family. "I schedule downtime and turn off my devices. The kids have allocated times they can be on them each day so should I, right?" said Lewis. It's important for him to spend quality time each day by eating dinner together and he tries to get outside to play a round of golf with his older boys a few times a week.
- One thing Chris wishes he could tell his younger self is to take it slow and enjoy each moment with his kids. "What you don’t know is how fast it goes by, and then how much you miss the old days. I would encourage anyone that has children, especially young children, to stop and enjoy the moment. It won’t last," said Lewis.
- Work-life balance is key in a happy household and thriving lifestyle. Sometimes Chris takes client calls in between cooking breakfast or dinner or in between holes on the golf course, but ultimately he is trying to make the most of his time with his family.
Overall, he hopes his children find a way to be successful in life by allocating as much time with family as possible while still being successful in their jobs.