Men As Partners in Change
We are proud of ThirdPath’s trailblazing role supporting men’s increasing involvement with family. We’re also proud of the men who have been trailblazers with us – men like Matt Schneider, co-founder of City Dads Group and ThirdPath board member.
Here are a few of these amazing dads’ stories. You’ll quickly see how they are forging a new path for everyone around them.
Excerpt from Michael Andersen-Leavey’s post:
My husband, Matthew, and I chose the surrogacy path to fatherhood. When we started our journey in November 2014, my employer provided six weeks of paternity leave to primary caregivers; Matthew’s only provided one day for the birth of a child.
Fast forward to January 2017. My employer, American Express, extended parental and paternity leave to 20 weeks to all care givers! In addition, it was paid paternity leave – at 100% pay – and your job remains protected for the duration – well beyond the protected, unpaid 12 weeks of leave made available to parents through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
I was very open about my plan to take the full 20 weeks when our son, Cole, was expected to arrive in January 2018. My colleagues, including those I reported to, were very supportive of my decision. In fact, I came across many dads – in and out of my workplace – who wished they had such an opportunity to take any paternity leave when their kids were born.
Taking that time off to care and bond with Cole during those early months of his young life was important to us, especially since my husband had to return to work soon after the birth.
While on leave, I used the time to introduce Cole to music through classes offered at a local studios. We also had fun attending “Daddy and Me” classes at a nearby children’s education center. The time away from work provided me with the opportunity to be the father to Cole that I never had growing up. (Read the rest of Michael’s post on the City Dads Group website.)
Excerpt from Marlon Gutierrez’s post:
Before having my daughter, I took a job with a company where everyone worked remotely and it also offered better paternity leave…
When people ask what I do, first and foremost, I talk about being a dad. Then I’ll talk about our real estate investments and then, if I feel like it, I’ll talk about my job. I no longer tie my identity to my career, and it’s allowed me to break free from making decisions that only benefit a toxic patriarchal fantasy as opposed to doing what’s truly best for myself and my family.
As often as possible, I try to encourage myself to think differently.
Sometimes I fall into these periods where I find myself leaning toward working more hours than I should. But then I remind myself that the best job I’ve ever had is being a father. At those moments, I close the computer, play with my kid and worry about getting stuff done later. I also find it interesting, that the more I do this, the more productive I become in the time I do dedicate for work. (Read Marlon’s full post on the City Dads Group website.)
Thank you Matt, Michael and Marlon for proving how men can be equally competent caregivers. Want more inspiration? Tune in to our next Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar to meet another inspiring pioneer doing work, family and leadership differently!
Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community. This month we are putting a spotlight on Ben Applegate – founding partner of Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen.
Ben founded his firm on the “counter cultural decision” that instead of requiring excessive work hours in order to meet an inflated bottom line, their firm would value time for life alongside earning “enough money.”
Ben Applegate: “We founded our firm in 1998 after leaving a larger firm. It’s a boutique practice providing housing and community development work funded primarily through tax credits and the government.
“Our mission statement has always been to be the best at what we do on a nationwide basis while balancing profitability and lifestyle for all of our employees. Anytime we bring someone into the firm we talk about our shared vision – to make a good living, but not necessarily the greatest of livings. That filter has served us very well. If we get a sense that someone who we are interviewing is only negotiating hard on salary, we know it’s not going to be a good fit.
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“When we started we had 4 lawyers, now we have 29 lawyers. I’m not sure if all of our success is do with our shared vision, or if it’s also to do with being a mission driven law firm doing community development work. But I do know that we never have to recruit, and we have a waiting list of people who are willing to abandon the “golden handcuffs” at their big firm positions to work with us.
“At many big firms the target is now 2,000 billable hours in order for you to get your bonus, and you may not even get your base salary if you don’t hit that target. We have been able to build our firm on a 1700 target. It’s a good trade-off. The discount on their salary is made up with more time for life.
“It doesn’t always work that way. We go through periods of ‘episodic overwork’ – when things pick up. But when this becomes ‘chronic overwork’ we know it’s time to go hire more people.
“There have been times when someone bills over 2,000 hours, and what we do is counsel them to see how we can help them get their lives more in balance. Obviously this was the opposite kind of conversation they were having at the large law firms that they came from.
“The benefits to our clients are clear. If you can operate within the 1700 billable hours model, that leaves capacity for the inevitable periods of episodic overwork, but you can meet these upticks in demands with greater efficiency and less burn out. If you are already at 2000 billable hours – if you are already running the factory at over capacity – then when you get another order in, something is going to break.
“The whole dollars trade off is something I’ve been preaching to Jessica and the other ThirdPath Pioneering Leaders forever. It’s really about making that counter cultural decision that enough money is enough, and that we don’t have to make it all about maximizing profits.”
To learn more about Ben Applegate and two other inspirational leaders who have created thriving law practices that support people to be successful at work AND successful in their lives outside of work, click the below SoundCloud icon. These three leaders are:
- Ben Applegate – Founding partner of Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen – see below for more information
- Tony Doniger, Senior partner at Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen – read his commentary on this topic
- Peter Lando – Founding partner of Lando & Anastasi – read more about their firm’s philosophy
Thank you Ben, Tony and Peter for leading the way to creating truly 21st century workplaces!
Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community . . .
Andrea Knowles was clear early on that she wanted to live a life that included time for both work and family. To accomplish this, fresh out of law school, she began taking the steps she believed would most likely help her achieve this goal.
Andrea began her journey by securing a position at a large law firm. While there, her goals were to work hard, gain experience and respect, and to save as much money as possible so she would have more financial freedom later on.
Unlike some of the other newly hired lawyers at the firm, Andrea lived well below what she earned as an attorney and put all her extra savings towards paying off her student loan. Once debt free, she then kept up this modest lifestyle in order to build a nest egg that would fund a year off and let her travel and see the world. After working long hours at the large firm, she needed this time to relax and breath. She also knew taking this time would play a crucial role in her ability to search for the ideal firm that would support her longer term goals.
During her year off Andrea traveled and spent time with friends and family. She even met her future husband. After about 6 months, she began looking for a new place to work. While being interviewed at each law firm she was very open about wanting an integrated life, and she looked for firms where people were already living this way. Did people have children? Was life outside of work important to them? Could people work reduced hours? To really understand the culture of the firm, she also looked very carefully at the leaders. Were some of them role models for the type of life she was looking for?
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When she began working at her new firm, Andrea worked full time. She also got engaged, married, and then began looking for a house with her husband. While doing this she saw it as another opportunity to think ahead about their future goals. For example, she advocated for a house that would support a short commute. She also knew the importance of finding an affordable house so they could cover other important expenses like the cost of day care and her goal to work reduced hours when they started a family. Soon after this was all put in place, they got pregnant. In fact, they learned they were going to have two children not just one!
After the birth of the twins, Andrea began experimenting with working flexibly and reduced hours. The benefits of a reduced schedule allowed Andrea to take off most Fridays for almost 2 years. She then had a year where one of her twins required numerous doctor’s appointments, so instead of taking Fridays off, she used the company’s flexibility to work half days to attend the appointments. When the twins were in preschool, she continued with an 80% schedule and flexed her hours for different family responsibilities, including helping out at their children’s co-operative pre-school. When the twins entered first grade, Andrea went back to full time hours, though she continues to flex her hours as needed for family responsibilities.
Andrea’s determination to live out her dream of having an integrated work life informed her decisions early on. She made financial decisions that allowed her to live debt free and save up the funds necessary to hunt for a firm that embodied her vision of work life balance. Many of her fellow employees and leaders have families and work flexibly themselves. She also sought out a life partner whose goals for work and family were similar. And she took time to interview prospective employers until she found a good fit.
What are your goals for an integrated work life? What steps have you taken, or do you need to take, in order to get closer to your dreams? Listen to our full interview with Andrea and be inspired by a story that will help you think about how all the different pieces – work, money, partner and family – can fit together to support an integrated whole.
Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community . . .
For many jobs today, work can be done very differently, sometimes even completely virtually. On one of our previous Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars, we discussed these ideas with Kyra Cavanaugh, author of the book, Who Works Where and Who Cares? We also invited two leaders who manage virtual work teams to share what’s made their teams so successful.
Since this webinar, Chris has been promoted, but he continues to manage his new team virtually. We’re also proud to have Chris as a member of ThirdPath’s Pioneering Leader group, and on one of our recent calls, it was fun to hear how Chris is still using these important flexibility tools today.
Tool #1: Define performance objectives. Kyra underscores, this is not just an important tool to use for flexible work teams – but for every work team.
As Marketing and Sales Leader at Marriott, Chris learned that successfully managing a virtual work team can come with a few curve balls, but through prioritization, communication, and trust he was able to build on his team’s success. It also helped that Marriott clearly defined performance standards. Productivity goals were carefully defined as a way to promote key priorities and related behaviors. Activity logs and weekly updates also kept the team on track to help drive results.
Tool #2: Capacity and resilience. Kyra explains, managing the long-term resilience of a work team doesn’t just benefit the individual team member it also benefits the organization.
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Tool #5: Communication. No surprise, the key to all of this is good communication.
Chris knew the glue that held everything together was good communication. Not only did his employees have to communicate their capacity and work preferences, they also had to communicate what they wanted to make time for in their lives outside of work. Chris also communicated what was going on in his life, especially if it was going to impact his availability. In fact, if there were life issues that would impact their ability to complete a task on time, all of them were responsible for communicating that to the rest of the team. What he noticed from all of this, is that it helped everyone build up a strong rapport with one another, which also helped them hold each other accountable for the work they were doing.
Our discussion with Chris and Kyra helps underscore how flexibility will look different in every organization, and how support from upper management will always make it easier.
When Marriott made the shift to a flexible workplace for departments like marketing and sales, the organization had to learn what it meant to manage remote staff. Chris learned that flexibility requires more trust and greater transparency. Marriott helped by clearly defining expectations. Employees did their part by clearly defining their work capacities and obligations outside of work. Together – individuals, teams, managers and senior leadership – we’re able to optimize a new way of working that benefited everyone, including the bottom line!
Thank you Chris and Kyra for leading the way to creating truly 21st century workplaces!
Want to learn more? Check out the “integrated leadership” section of our website – discover how men and women are advancing in their careers while also creating plenty of time for their lives outside of work.
Every few months we feature the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community.
Eric and Ana Lisa
Eric and Ana Lisa are leaders and role models in the nonprofit world who prove you can be committed to the mission of your organization and have time and energy for your life outside of work. In fact, by prioritizing what was important to them outside of work, they learned how to become more effective at work – and even build better organizations.
Sometimes it takes an important conversation or an urgent need from a family member to recognize that work can be done differently. In fact, it was just these types of situations that allowed both Eric and Ana Lisa to make the changes required to find a more satisfying and “integrated” approach to work and life.
Eric began his career as a community organizer. Doing this type of job required a lot of evenings and weekend work.
But when he and his wife began thinking about their family goals, he knew this would need to change. After talking with his wife, Eric began looking for work that would allow him a 4-day workweek, where he could also work the majority of time from home. By doing this, Eric knew he would have a work schedule that allowed him to have days where he would be the primary caretaker–something he truly desired.
Ultimately Eric found a leadership position in an organization that was willing to meet his family’s needs. There were trade-offs, working 80 percent time also meant a 20 percent pay cut, but he knew this was the right decision. With his parents and brother close by to support him and his wife as they became new parents, Eric was able to enjoy fatherhood on his own terms.
Ana Lisa was a self-described workaholic when she was a mid-level leader at a domestic violence organization.
Then a family medical health crisis suddenly demanded the family’s time and attention. For the next six months, either Ana Lisa or her husband were required to be at the hospital every day. Ana Lisa experienced this crisis as a wakeup call to modify her working habits. No more working evenings and weekends. Instead, Ana Lisa learned how to delegate more. She also discovered her coworkers liked the change since it meant no more 2am emails. Ana Lisa is now very clear how modeling a balanced life gives her team permission to do the same.
Since then Ana Lisa changed jobs, and in the process, negotiated a 4-day work week. Her new job was with a foundation that supports regional non-profits by funding leadership development and internal infrastructure. She also participates in an intergenerational working group rethinking leadership across generations. The topic of work life balance is a popular one in the group. Many of the younger employees see leaders who have had their lives consumed by work and don’t want to do the same. Together, they now discuss how leadership can be done in new ways.
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Eric and Ana Lisa both see a growing number of skilled employees who want the same kind of flexibility as they did.
Eric has also experienced being able to afford to hire excellent talent at 80% of the cost – people they couldn’t afford at 100% cost. They also see how these types of arrangements create a lot of loyalty amongst employees and employers, and even a competitive advantage for nonprofits who make this kind of culture change.
During our conversation with Eric and Ana Lisa, they were very open about the challenges of working in the nonprofit sector — lots of work, limited funding, and the lingering belief that true commitment to an organization’s mission requires a willingness to work yourself to the bone.
Yet, their personal experiences have helped them see there really is a better way. In fact, with role models like Eric and Ana Lisa, we are confident more will follow in their footsteps.
Listen to the full interview with Eric and Ana Lisa to be inspired by their stories. Or check out the many resources we have on our website for leaders who want to design an integrated approach to work and life.