“As a parent, it is most important that you accept that you need to prioritize” with Carsten Rhod and Chaya Weiner

Most important is that you accept that you need to prioritize. Many tasks are not as important as you believe they are, be sure that you figure out what is really important and focus on doing this. This is not just a strategy of getting time for your children, but general business advice. I had the […]

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Most important is that you accept that you need to prioritize. Many tasks are not as important as you believe they are, be sure that you figure out what is really important and focus on doing this. This is not just a strategy of getting time for your children, but general business advice.

I had the pleasure to interview Carsten Rhod Gregersen of Nabto.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

I was brought up in a minor city of oil and industrial fishing in Denmark. Both my parents were first generation “non-farmers” moving from the county into the city but the family values were certainly “farm-based”, with very high work-ethics and strong family bonds that would always help in pressing situations.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

I’ve always been a fan of science for as long as I can remember. I borrowed books from the library about home physics experiments and one of my mother’s precious lamps felt the force of that — actually, it is still hanging over the dinner table today with the large dent from a vinegar and baking powder explosion that I made. When the first personal computers hit the market I was very keen on getting one and it was love at first sight. I got my first commercial success at 14 selling a game I made to a magazine that printed it (that’s how you distributed software back then), afterwards I took a combined computer-science and math degree and afterwards a marketing and sales degree. Having a family background of self employed farmers it was not that big a jump to start up a computer business on my own (today most of my family is self-employed).

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

I always drive the children to school in the morning unless I’m travelling. This enables me to have some chit-chat with them — though being teenage girls they might not currently be at the most talkative point in their lives. I head for work while I plan my agenda in the car. I communicate and align the daily agenda with the other team leads when I get to the office and from there on the day can be very different all according to what customer projects we are working on. Normally I can head home late since my wife is in charge of picking up the children from school — a good thing since late afternoon is needed to coordinate with customers in the American continental time zones. We have family dinner which is mandatory and afterwards, two to three times per week, we go for a run or cycle (which I hate doing after dinner, but that’s the only possible slot). I normally work in the late evening as well, something which can be unavoidable in trying to match with Asian time zones.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

I believe the most important thing that children need is love and to be recognized. They can do without material goods, expensive travelling, private schools and raised in a small apartment sleeping in a cupboard so long as you provide them with love. Not that I am advocating for sleeping in a cupboard, but you see my point. Love can be given and accomplished by other people than their parents, but parents are probably the ones who are most likely to do this over and over again even though sometimes the effort can be very demanding. When my children grow up, I want to be the person they think of who made this happen.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

If you don’t make your own decisions on what your time is spent on, the surrounding world will make this decision for you. So if you want to spend time with your children it requires planning, especially on the weekends. If you don’t take care, your children will sit all weekend glued to their tablets while you have to attend to other things.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

I’m not totally sure this study is right — but anyway, I am still happy to offer an anecdote! My children attend a private christian school and once a year the teachers reserve one day for their own training. They ask the parent to be stand-ins for this day and I have volunteered every time. I simply don’t understand why more parents in the class don’t do this, it’s an excellent time to get to know your kid in the environment they attend every day. Normally, instead of doing standard education of math and writing, the parents plan a visit to a museum or similar, it’s always a great time.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

Most important is that you accept that you need to prioritize. Many tasks are not as important as you believe they are, be sure that you figure out what is really important and focus on doing this. This is not just a strategy of getting time for your children, but general business advice.

I have attended many meetings, taken many phone calls that in the situation I truly believed they were “life and death” type of tasks to do, but looking back some were not necessary, some could have been postponed and a lot could be delegated.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

A good parent is someone who is loving, caring, and supportive, but also someone who (kindly) pushes personal development.

My kids hate that I have had them take piano lessons. The agreement (a one-sided unfair decree issued by the parent in charge, me) is that they attend the lessons until they finished the 8th grade. I’ve heard a lot of moaning about this, but the oldest of my kids is now starting to understand that the music training brings her important qualities.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

I’m not inspiring to “dream big”, some kids do not have this “burning desire” and then there’s no need to try to light up what is not there. I have had this flame burning myself ever since I was very young and sometimes I see it just as much a curse as a blessing. Instead, I inspire my kids to “believe in themselves” — tell them that I know they will do their best in whatever they decide to do, not necessarily something that has to “be big”. Both of my kids are top-of-the-class and I’m sure they both will very well. I believe that the hardest part of being a parent is to be supportive of something you might not 100% believe in yourself, but I think that is one of the most important jobs you just have to do.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

My older chairman of the board once told me, “life is short, so remember to have fun.’’ When I was younger I had a list including an amount I had to have on my bank account once I stepped out of the workforce. Now my list is very short… “Remember to have fun”.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

Come to think of it, I have not read any books on parenting, but I think a lot of the thinking of recent management books actually can be translated nearly 1–1 to parenting. F.eks. Simon Sinek “Leaders Eat Last”.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Probably somewhere along the lines from my chairman: “Remember to have fun” Also: Life is so short — and we enter and leave with the same amount of material goods.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It would not be a person, nor an ideology: but technology is what has brought the most amount of good to mankind. So, let’s invest more in research, education and envision of large technological project like going to the moon, smashing atoms to see what’s inside or terraforming Mars. All evidence shows that such investments cash themselves in multiple times afterwards even though at the start of the project nobody knows how.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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