“Being a good parent requires perseverance and always being their biggest champion”, with William Scott Forshaw and Dr. Ely Weinschneider

For me, being a good parent requires perseverance and always being their biggest champion. You really just need to be thoughtful, caring and treat your kids like adults. They need to be responsible for their own decisions so, in particular, I always give my oldest girl Liliana options. This recognizes that she can make her […]

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For me, being a good parent requires perseverance and always being their biggest champion. You really just need to be thoughtful, caring and treat your kids like adults. They need to be responsible for their own decisions so, in particular, I always give my oldest girl Liliana options. This recognizes that she can make her own judgements which ensures that she understands consequences. For me, a good parent allows their child to grow in this way.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview William Scott Forshaw, CEO and founder of British luxury leather brand Maxwell-Scott. From the very beginning, William has acted as an antidote to the fast fashion culture by championing the traditional Italian leather industry. His skilled artisans, based in the heart of Tuscany, handcraft timeless briefcases, purses, travel holdalls and accessories for the modern individual with classic taste. After years of face-to-face selling, he pivoted the brand online now selling across seven international websites. He works with a skilled team (including his wife Charlotte) in the heart of Yorkshire where he moved nearly seven years ago to spend more time with his family.

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

I was born in Harrogate, a spa town in Yorkshire in the north of England. I imagine mine was a rather average upbringing. My parents always provided for me and my brother, and encouraged me throughout school. My mother Jacqueline would say that I have always had entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, I have always been terribly independent and, therefore, she knew that one day I would own a business. Nevertheless, I amusingly did enjoy a brief career as a child actor. Thankfully, though, my life took a different path and after university and a few years of working in advertising, I founded Maxwell-Scott. Funnily enough, in the early days, working alongside my mother.

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

My mother has always been an inspiration to me. It was her love for Italy and interest in the traditional Italian leather industry that put me on this path. Whilst working in advertising, I realized that many of my corporate London colleagues carried poor-quality briefcases or plastic bags to the office on a daily basis. The aim from the very beginning then was to create classic pieces of the highest quality to last a lifetime. In the beginning, I sold face-to-face with the customer where I had originally spotted the problem. I would sell in receptions and cafeterias or would hire a meeting room in the office buildings. The success of the first two years operating under this method meant that I then had the money to expand to do exhibitions, as well as having stalls at Cheltenham Racecourse, Burley and Badminton Horse Trials.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I decided to pivot the business into online sales, launching a website in around 2008. I built the first Maxwell-Scott website myself as a simple online brochure for existing clients. It was then all about little steps. For a while I was developing the website more and more, just by myself at home, as it was performing better than the appointments which had been important in the early stages of the company. Since then I have strived to establish the brand within the ecommerce landscape. The flexibility that being online provides means that I was able to move my business and young family out of the chaos of London-living and back home to Yorkshire. My wife Charlotte and I now work with a small team here to further the progress of the brand.

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

A normal day usually starts with an early rise, helping Charlotte to prepare the children for school and a trip to the gym, before arriving at our Head Office at around 8:00 am. Mornings are usually back to back with meetings — I could be talking to the production team about upcoming collections, the marketing team about new campaigns or the dispatch team about customer orders. After lunch from the village bakery and a quick walk with the dogs, I spend most afternoons developing future plans and working on current business deals.

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?

Personally I believe that there are a multitude of reasons as to why not spending time with my children would be detrimental to their development. Generally it seems the case that the child grows practically and emotionally when parents are present. It is important to me that learning is not kept to the classroom and instead, that I am able to teach my two children Liliana and Jackson how to traverse life successfully. Spending time with them allows me to pass on practical life skills and develop their emotional maturity. Being present whilst doing this however is crucial. It is not necessarily about the time you spend with the child, but the quality of that time spent. I always want them to know that, in that moment, they have my entire focus. This way, we are best able to bond through interaction, in turn better understanding each others character.

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?

Firstly making time to spend with your children is vital as it builds a solid relationship that continues throughout your life. I will still use my mom as a sounding board for any ideas. And so, I think that it is important to provide your child with such a foundation that underpins their lives. Within this, I can teach them important skills that they can take further in their own lives. For example, skills relating to cooking, crafting and socialising all help to contribute to a child growing up to be a well-rounded adult. Then, from my perspective, spending time with my children makes me happy. This in turn makes me a better father and boss.

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?

My favourite part of the day is when I put Liliana to bed in the evening. We always spend a lot of time, just the two of us, discussing the day and whatever else she feels inspired by. It is such a sacred time to me when we get to bond. Moreover, we always do something on a Sunday as a family. All of the jobs then are done and we can spend time together as a family. Sometimes Jackson and I just watch a film together as sitting on the couch for a good cuddle is such a precious time. I also always make time to just have fun with the kids. This can be as simple as being playful whilst watering the garden when the kids will run down the stairs in their swimming costumes in preparation of getting soaked themselves. It is just crucial to find those joyful moments.

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?

  1. Communicate — One of the biggest barriers I face is that Charlotte and I work together, so with both of us deeply involved in the business life can get pretty hectic. One of the key parts of our relationship then is communication. It is vital that we discuss how to balance the workload so that we can share our time with the children too.
  2. Prioritise — Most things can wait. Spending time with your children at home can not though so it is best to analyse what needs immediate attention and what could wait until tomorrow.
  3. Breathe — Taking a step back and re-centering can help you feel present rather than preoccupied by deadlines and demands. Mindfulness techniques are really helpful for checking in.
  4. Be Flexible — This is always important as having children is unpredictable and so, we have to be able to adapt to all of the very different situations that can be thrown at you. Really, flexibility is key to being both a successful CEO and a present parent.
  5. Be Bold — Creating more space in our lives to give our children more quality attention can require bolder moves. The biggest way in which I have ordered my life in the hope of being a great parent is the decision to move from London to York. Yorkshire is my home and importantly, the pace of life is slightly slower here than the general rush of London. This slower life can thus be spent as a family.

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

For me, being a good parent requires perseverance and always being their biggest champion. You really just need to be thoughtful, caring and treat your kids like adults. They need to be responsible for their own decisions so, in particular, I always give my oldest girl Liliana options. This recognizes that she can make her own judgements which ensures that she understands consequences. For me, a good parent allows their child to grow in this way.

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

I always encourage my children to be creative. My daughter especially is always inspiring me with all of the many different things that she makes. I can see her in the future taking the helm of Maxwell-Scott as she is so thoughtful, gifted and innovative.

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

Success often feels like such a vast and intangible idea. But to me, success is much simpler. It is contentment. This can come in many forms — for example at work being content means to me that I feel fulfilled and driven in what I do. This allows me to be excited for the future and the many different ways in which I can grow Maxwell-Scott as a business. At home, though, contentment and in turn success just mean being able to enjoy the time I spend with my wife and children.

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

Safe to say a business and young family leaves little time for books and podcasts. To me, it is paramount that I listen to my gut instinct in business, whilst surrounding myself with the best people, and then am present at home with my wife Charlotte, our two children and the dogs.

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

“Good things take time” and I would add hard work! I founded Maxwell-Scott in 2002 and since then, it has consistently required hard work and patience. I want my children to equally understand that dreams take time and hard work and so, they will need tenacity. A good work ethic is essential to achieving their goals.

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. 🙂

There is a lot of discussion at the moment in the UK about the possibility of reducing the working week to 4 days. The UK Trade Union Council (TUC) called for this in its September 2018 report. A 4 day week was favoured by 45% of participants, with 81% wanting a reduction of at least one day. The average 9 to 5 working day, five days a week, in fact was established by Ford Motors in 1914. Ford decided to reduce the working week from 48 to 40 hours as he believed that too many hours were bad for workers’ productivity. Now over a century has passed and we remain faithful to this formula, even though conditions and technological capabilities are very different today. I believe if we took this leap then it would give parents the time to spend with their children which, as discussed, is vital. We must construct society more forcefully around family and developing relationships with each other. The 4-day week would provide me the time to sort all of the admin jobs, that would otherwise have to be done on the weekend, whilst the children are still at school. This way when they are home they will receive my full attention. It would revitalize us as a workforce and provide time — the most valuable commodity of all.

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

About the Author:

Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in New Jersey. Dr. Ely specializes in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, parenting, couples therapy, geriatric therapy, and mood and anxiety disorders. He also has a strong clinical interest in Positive Psychology and Personal Growth and Achievement, and often makes that an integral focus of treatment.

An authority on how to have successful relationships, Dr. Ely has written, lectured and presented nationally to audiences of parents, couples, educators, mental health professionals, Clergy, businesses, physicians and healthcare policymakers on subjects such as: effective parenting, raising emotionally intelligent children, motivation, bullying prevention and education, managing loss and grief, spirituality, relationship building, stress management, and developing healthy living habits.

Dr. Ely also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column about the importance of “being present with your children”.

When not busy with all of the above, Dr. Ely works hard at practicing what he preaches, raising his adorable brood (which includes a set of twins and a set of triplets!) together with his wife in Toms River, New Jersey .

Dr. Ely is available for speaking engagements, and can best be reached via drelyweinschneider.com.

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