Changing gender roles are key to accelerating the culture shift around changing the way we work and live. Redefining Masculinity is an editorial package that investigates what it means to be a man in 2017—and beyond. As part of it, we’re asking a wide range of men across industries, ages and background to answer 6 questions about what masculinity means to them. Read more about the project here. Here’s Eric Franchi, entrepreneur and angel investor focused on digital transformation.
Thrive Global: How would you define masculinity?
Eric Franchi: The instincts to protect and provide, drive, strength, courage, confidence, standing up for what is right… while being comfortable in your own skin to be able to express yourself emotionally and creatively.
I’ll tell you what it’s not though: masculinity is not intimidation or bullying. Masculinity is not abusing power, be it physical, socioeconomic status or otherwise.
TG: Who in your life shaped your view of masculinity?
EF: My dad. He was a big, strong guy who took me to the gym with him early in the morning before school. He worked on cars and seemed to be able to fix anything and everything around the house. I watched Arnold and Stallone movies and played with GI Joes; typical 80s stuff.
Times have changed since then! These days I look to my friends who are diverse in their work and life choices as examples of how masculinity has evolved. I still watch Arnold and Stallone. Stallone is great on Instagram! We all evolve.
TG: Was there a particular moment when you felt you’d become a man?
EF: Nothing can compare to the moment our first child was born. I think you’ll find that it is a common answer. I became acutely aware of a change in how I looked at myself and the world.
TG: How has society’s view of men changed since you were a kid?
EF: So much. The progress made in gender equality has been a good thing for men. The stereotypes of the past – man as the breadwinner who wouldn’t think of changing a diaper, cooking a meal or dancing – seem like a caricature.
TG: Does masculinity influence your work? If so, how?
EF: I consciously work to ensure that, as an entrepreneur and investor, I’m creating and supporting companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion in all forms including gender.
TG: What should children be taught about masculinity?
EF: Not to worry about it, first and foremost. But know that being a good friend, son, husband and father is masculine. And being kind, caring and standing up for others is masculine.
Eric Franchi is an entrepreneur and angel investor focused on the digital transformation of media, marketing and advertising. He was the cofounder of the digital advertising company Undertone, which was acquired by a public company in 2015 for $180 million. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNBC and many others. He is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, and lives in New Jersey with his wife and children.