“Having the confidence that they are loved and matter is huge for your children’s development.” with Kit Corral and Chaya Weiner

Firstly, if you are not there consistently for them, try to think of how your child perceives that. They don’t have the tools to understand everything in their world. They need to feel like they belong and are wanted, and that they aren’t alone in looking out for their best interests. It sounds cliche, but […]

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Firstly, if you are not there consistently for them, try to think of how your child perceives that. They don’t have the tools to understand everything in their world. They need to feel like they belong and are wanted, and that they aren’t alone in looking out for their best interests. It sounds cliche, but to me, kids’ psyches are very pliable in their early years. Confidence for kids is everything and having the confidence that they are loved and matter is huge for their development.

I had the pleasure to interview Kit Corral, the Creative Director and Co-Owner of PRESS PR + Marketing founded in 2007 and based in Tampa, Florida. Throughout his career, he has worked on a wide variety of national advertising campaigns as a creative director and writer at agencies throughout the Southeast. His client work includes Tobacco Free Florida, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, AFLAC, the British Virgin Islands, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Steak ‘n Shake to name a few. Kit’s passion have ranged from performing stand-up at several clubs throughout the Southeast to, most recently, earring his brown belt as a competitor in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Kit lives with his wife and ten-year old son in Tampa.

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

I grew up in Tampa, where both my parents did as well. My family’s original business, started by my great-grandfather, was in cigars, which is a huge part of Tampa’s heritage. I lived for a few years in Tegucigalpa, Honduras as my father oversaw the operation and production of our family tobacco farm. This was definitely an eye-opener as a 6,7 and 8-year old.

Family was always a very important factor to me. I’ve got a very large family of over 100 relatives, most of whom live in Tampa. So, although I’m an only child, I’ve always been surrounded by a huge family and lots of cousins close to my age. I was also lucky enough to grow up in a neighborhood full of boys who are some of my closest friends to this day.

Like most kids, I played a lot of sports, watched a lot of bad, 80’s television (Alf, anyone?), but I also read a bunch of comics as a kid. The art, stories, characters, they were all hypnotizing to me. I have to laugh because it was a little like our version of screens. I could zone out reading those things for hours, over-and-over again.

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

My mother and father are very creative people so I come by those skills naturally. They’re both very outgoing and extremely smart. But for me, it was their wit and insight into things that really struck me early in life. Being an only, I spent a lot of time in the company of my parents and their friends, and got to hear story after story, joke after joke, and it was a huge influence on my point of view and sense of humor today.

In school, I just kinda went with the flow and didn’t know what I wanted to do. Early on, I was really good at science and math, so I just figured I’d go with that and see what happens. I studied Chemistry and Fine Arts, and had some pretty amazing teachers, but the creative arts was way more fulfilling and came much more naturally to me.

Initially in my career, I started at an ad agency as an art director/designer for the first 7–8 years, and it was great. But the more I worked conceptually on campaigns, the more I gravitated to the writing and strategy part of it all, and switched over to writing. This exposure to both disciplines in the creative process helped me to work with and influence both art directors and copywriters, as I moved up to being a creative director.

After 20 years or so working for agencies, in 2011, I decided to step out and start an agency with my wife and we’ve been going strong ever since.

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

It varies, as I’m sure most people’s schedule does. We’re up early and getting ready, reading the news, grabbing breakfast, and going over everyone’s schedule and needs that day — this includes my son. We always ask what he has for his day at school to make sure we all know.

The majority of my day involves meeting with clients, developing strategy, concepting and developing creative for clients, and working with our creative team.

A big thing for us is having an outlet — some sort of fun to balance out the grind. For me, it’s training and competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the last 8+ years. I usually train a couple hours 4–5 times a week whether in classes or competition practices.

My son is big time into baseball, and I’ve been lucky enough to coach him since he was a little guy. He’s in the 10–11 year old range so it’s getting pretty competitive and between games and practices, we’re usually at the field 4 times a week minimum.

After that, it’s dinner, bath time and some before-bed quality time watching something he likes (Ninja Warrior or cartoons, etc.) to close out his day. After tucking him in, I’m usually quickly going over email and other projects before going to sleep around 10:30–11:00. The next day starts it all over again.

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?

At our office, we have a saying referring to a client’s brand: “If you don’t define who you are, someone else will.” And I feel like this idea definitely applies to your kids too on many levels. You need to help them define things in their life or someone or something else will.

Firstly, if you are not there consistently for them, try to think of how your child perceives that. They don’t have the tools to understand everything in their world. They need to feel like they belong and are wanted, and that they aren’t alone in looking out for their best interests. It sounds cliche, but to me, kids’ psyches are very pliable in their early years. Confidence for kids is everything and having the confidence that they are loved and matter is huge for their development.

Secondly, kids are exposed to things that they don’t understand all the time. If you’re not there to explain it properly and put it in a context that they understand, they will define it for themselves. The things they say, their behavior, all of that stems from outside input. And if you’re not on the job and acting as the translator, things can go pretty awry.

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?

I find spending time with my child very rewarding and enjoyable. As I said, confidence for kids is everything. Knowing you have their back in every instance lets them feel secure and comfortable with themselves. Even at 10 years old, my son and I talk like friends. That respect of being treated as an individual lets him know that what he says matters to me and that he’s important. I want him to feel comfortable talking to us about anything and everything and that confidence can overcome a lot.

Another big reason is that they need guidance to find who they are and what they love. Kids are notorious for going with the flow. Whether it’s sitting on the couch playing screens or being noncommittal about doing things — they don’t embrace change enthusiastically for the most part. They’re comfortable, things are good, so their attitude is: Why rock the boat? This is exactly why parents need to be engaged with their children. Kids need help finding that thing that they can “own”; the thing that they love doing just for the sake of doing it. Whether it’s sports, art, music, or something else, finding that particular interest that can be theirs, will help them with their confidence and defining who they are. It gives them something that they know they’re good at and that, in turn, gives them a sense of self-worth. If parents are not there to nudge them when needed, kids could miss out on the opportunity that they need most.

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?

• For years, we have had our time in the evening where we all pile in bed and watch TV and chat before bedtime. Since he could barely talk, he’d refer to this as “having a party”. Years later, the “party” stuck in our family vernacular and we still have one before bedtime.

• I coach my son’s baseball team and have since he was probably 5. Some of our best talks are in the car on the way to and from practice and/or the games. Coaching is great because it’s a bit of a parenting parallel. You get more time to learn how your child takes interaction, criticism, etc. This is a bit like a practice run for real-life instruction. It also allows me to get closer to him in a way that we can connect through sports but also provides me an opportunity to advocate for him if needed

• On the weekends, we always find a way to do something meaningful together…away from the screens. It’s all about the experiences, That could mean Friday night dinner, a couple of hours at the pool, catching a few college football or baseball games together, etc.

• As I mentioned earlier, I never go a night without officially tucking my son into bed. That is something he counts on and I want to make sure I always follow through. It literally takes five seconds and counts for a lot in their book.

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?

• My number one asset is my calendar. I live by it. Everything goes on it; not just work stuff. Baseball, movies, quality time, whatever, I put it on there. I make sure to block off time in advance every week that way I know I’m allotting time for him, and I honor it just like I would client or agency time. Hours in the ad industry are notoriously chaotic (the understatement of all understatements), but the calendar is your shield against that. Structure is key. Your time and schedule is subject to the same axiom I mentioned earlier, “If you don’t define it, it will define itself.” Years from now, no one — including yourself — is going to remember why you skipped a baseball game or recital to work late. Conversely, if it happens to be the day they hit it out of the park, that’s a moment you’re never going to forget. Use the schedule; stick to it. You’ll be all good.

• Another reason why I am able to spend quality time with my family is that I own my own business. I’m fortunate enough to be able to make my own schedule and have capable people who work for my agency who can handle most anything even if I’m away.

• It’s taken me a while, but I had to learn to say ‘No’. As much as I want to meet a friend out for drinks, go to a game, etc. I can’t commit to all the invitations from friends, family and work contacts. It can be overwhelming at times and will end up boxing out the quality time you need with your children. I have learned to let go of my FOMO.

• Meal time is some of our best time together. We do our best to put down the screens and we just chat about any and every topic imaginable. Ask a lot of questions. The answers may seem long-winded, confusing or mind-numbing at times, but kids want to share their experiences and contribute as much as adults do. Practice makes perfect, so the more they share the better they understand how to share.

• Ask for help. This might mean that you share household duties with your spouse, share carpool with a friend or hire someone to help with the house cleaning. Whatever it is, asking for help frees up time in your schedule to spend with your child.

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

There are a lot of qualities of a good parent and it really depends on your specific life circumstances but I feel like the best parents are ones who are:

• Physically and mentally engaged

• Constantly and consistently providing their children with love and support

• Define boundaries for their kids and explaining why they’re needed and what happens when these are broken (consequences of action)

• Real and matter-of-fact with their children

• Encouraging and supporting the child’s strengths and interests

I also ask questions — A LOT of questions. Doing this lets them figure things out for themselves in having to explain it. Especially as it pertains to discipline. “Do you think that was a good idea? Why would you do that?” works much better when they have to explain their thinking than merely screaming “Don’t do that!” in my experience. You can see it on their faces when they realize they’ve messed up/crossed the line.

Defining always helps clarify things for kids too. Letting them know what’s expected ahead of time sets boundaries and, if they are crossed, lets them know that discipline or punishment is not coming out of the blue. And more importantly, there’s not much arguing because they knew well in advance.

Recently, my son was playing the (dreaded) Fortnite with his friends online. He was constantly yelling into his headset to his friends to the point where we had to ask him to keep it down…twice. After that, I told him that if happens again, the Nintendo Switch goes away. The next night, sure enough, he was yelling again. I walked in and held out my hand and asked him to turn it over. He knew exactly what was happening. He gave it to me without a fight; no yelling and no arguing because he knew the deal.

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

Constant encouragement to work hard for what you want is one way I inspire our son to dream big. You aren’t just automatically good at something. No one wakes up one day an all-world hitter or math genius; it takes time and hard work to get there. I am always telling him you can do and be whatever you want, but it isn’t going to just come to you. You have to reach out a grab it.

One idea I’ve always stressed isn’t necessarily “big” but I try to remind him to think differently. Just like in advertising, most problems have a million different solutions. The most expected ones rarely make a difference in people’s minds, and it’s up to him to figure out his unique idea of the solution. The one example was a book report with an oral presentation. He was running the typical 2nd grade playbook of “My book is _____ and it was about ____….” Typical stuff. I asked what he could do to differentiate himself. What did he like that he could bring to the report that would make it fun for him? He decided to write an entire 3 minute report in his own little hip hop style and perform it; complete with a costume. It was a huge hit with his class (and thankfully the teacher) and he felt really good about finding his particular solution that let him stand out.

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

That’s such a tough question because success looks different to everyone. To me, success is about balance, but mostly, it’s about being happy and content.

One of my other favorite phrases is “embrace the grind”. It took me a while to fully understand this until I met some of the fighters at my gym. They work, and work, and work, and then work some more. It’s exhausting and often thankless, but they never complain and they always show up. Not out of obligation, but because they love it. That’s when I got it. It’s about doing something because you love it, not because of what you get out of it. If you’re not happy doing what you’re doing, something’s off.

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

I’m not much of a self-help guy when it comes to reading or podcasts, most of mine are escapist stuff that I use to unplug my brain for a bit to decompress (shout out to Sarah Koening and Conan O’Brien). But I think a lot about whether or not I am a good parent. I try and step back constantly and evaluate myself as a father, but my greatest resource for parenting would be my family. Whether it’s advice, reassurance on decisions or help, my wife, dad, mom, my in-laws — they all play a really big part in that.

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

I know this is going to sound corny, but the ‘Golden Rule’ is golden for a reason. I’ve always tried to treat everyone the same and with respect and kindness, and I’m teaching my son to do the same. Everyone has something to teach you and everyone has ‘their thing’. No one is above anyone, and you’re never too important to be nice to someone. My family stressed this above everything.

My experience with this was, like most kids, being bullied when I was younger (mostly middle school). It was a crusher for me. There were days I just flat-out didn’t want to go to school. I would fake being sick, whatever it would take, but I hated school and questioned a lot about myself. But luckily, I grew out of it and hit my stride in high school, and those turned out to be some of the best years. But I definitely learned a big lesson from being alienated and how that makes people feel less than human.

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. 🙂

I think this goes back to my favorite Life Lesson Quote. I feel like lots of folks have become so short-tempered and impatient with others. You see it every day on the road, in line at the grocery store and in our schools. It’s pretty sad. It really doesn’t take a lot to to do something nice — once a day, once a week, whenever you can. It doesn’t have to be “We are the world.” or some huge production; it’s really pretty simple to start. Open the door for the person behind you. Give a friend a compliment. Let someone in your lane in traffic. Smile and say hello as someone passes you in the sidewalk. It’s just that easy.

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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