Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to have a baby.

Since, at 56, I am an wise old owl in the agency business, and since, I suppose, I have somehow managed to raise two kids and still keep my career going, people occasionally ask me how I did it. How I found time to care for my marriage, my children and my portfolio. I thought I'd lay out some thoughts that may or may not be useful.

1. Start your day earlier than most people. I've found that the end of the day (when asses schedule 90 minute meetings starting at 6) is harder to control than the beginning of the day. So wake up early, get to your kid's school early. Carve out some time to have them sit in the crook of your arm and read to them. I probably did this 90% of all mornings when my kids were young. And no matter what happened at work, at the end of the day, I had that time.
2. Have a regular weekend activity, just you and your kid. Take them out for ice-skating lessons, or to swim class, or tennis lessons. Swimming is best because you get to hold them. Make this virtually inviolable. Whatever else happens in your week, you had these special moments over the course of years.
3. Find a work partner who understands. If you need to get home at a reasonable hour and your partner needs to work all night, well, that's no good. Find someone who understands, someone who is strong if you're weak, someone who trusts you and who you can trust.
4. Find a boss who understands. If you're boss is an intolerable martinet and expects you to work till midnight every night (people who work till midnight every night aren't doing so for any other reason than they hate going home) find a new boss.
5. Find a spouse who understands. There's going to be some juggling, and some deal-making. Better doing that with an ally than an adversary.
6. Get to work 20 minutes before everyone else. Or more. I get in, and always have, first. I come in with my agenda for the day mapped out, with most of my to-do's partly done and with most of my copy written in my head. By the time people get in, say around 10, my work is pretty much done, and everyone else is back on their heels. Doing this also earns you the reputation of being crazy-driven, fast and a go-getter. Usually all it takes to earn that reputation is an extra 20 minutes or so in the morning.
7. Involve your kid in your work. I don't mean tell them about every detail, but let them see how much you enjoy what you do. Kids, like parents don't want to deny fun to others.
8. Missing a recital is not the end of the world. As long as you don't miss them serially, and as long as your kid knows how much you wish you were there, you'll be fine.
9. Missing a meeting is not the end of the world. Most meetings, if we organized our agenda, thoughts and next steps, should take no more than three minutes. You can miss a meeting and if you play your cards right, miss nothing at all.
10. Make the most of every moment. At home and at work. When you're at home, be at home, be with your kid. Not your email. And when you're at work, work like a madman. Get things done, be prolific, be funny and fast. That's how you handle both. By doing a good job with each.

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