Be as involved in fatherhood as you are in business, says entrepreneur Damian Rhodes
It’s 5am and my first meeting of the day begins. In my profession, I meet some of the most influential professionals in Hong Kong. At 7am I am having breakfast with a CEO; at lunchtime I’m meeting a CFO looking to restructure his team; at 8pm I have drinks with the co-founder of a prestigious property development company.
But my first meeting was with my toddler son, who wanted to “play castles” with me. This encounter was just as important as the others that day. It wasn’t scheduled, but when you’re used to working 14-hour days you have to be flexible.
I’m not an expert on balancing my role as a father with that of an entrepreneur, but I do believe that I have to be as involved in fatherhood as I am in business. It may seem counterintuitive to spend time away from work, but I prioritise time with my children. This may mean putting my mobile on flight mode for an hour, taking time to call home or diarising that school play alongside business meetings.
A lot of the successful businessmen I know also believe that fatherhood is compatible with, if not conducive to, a thriving career. Through the “Dads in Hong Kong” Facebook group that I started, and the “Dads Network” of ‘dadvocates’, we share stories encouraging active fatherhood. Being an involved father doesn’t mean neglecting work. What it does mean is that we make time for our children. We play with our toddler son before work and attend our teenage daughter’s sports day. We encourage them, express an interest in what they do and help set boundaries.
I came home from work last week and my son ran up to me and hugged me. I asked him about a picture he’d painted that day. He beamed with pride and described with enthusiasm what he had done.
I don’t believe in achieving a work-life balance, as work is integral to life. At the same time, my identity isn’t based on career alone. Family and fatherhood are vital to me, and years spent advising people about their careers has made it clear to me that a loving home can have a powerful impact on both professional success and well-being in general.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Planning for family.