I think both intuitively and based on a lot of research children that are/feel loved, supported, and challenged are more likely to live satisfying, happy, and successful lives. So, that is what my wife and I strive to do every day. And, while picking a great school is a big part of it, since they will spend quite a bit of time there, there is no replacement for the impact of parents. From their growing up sitting at the dinner table together, to having honest and open communication, to supporting their interests (learning to read, play hockey, charging electric scooters, etc.) all of these things have an impact.
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Andres Lares. As Managing Partner, Andres is responsible for the day to day operations of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute. He also continues to serve as a negotiation advisor and develop new initiatives such as interactive online training, virtual reality based negotiation simulations, and AI negotiation resources. Andres has been featured in publications including Forbes, US Chamber of Commerce, Money, Selling Power, and TrainingIndustry.com. He has also been a guest speaker at conferences and universities across the country on multiple topics and currently teaches a highly regarded course on Negotiation at Johns Hopkins University. He also served as Bowe Fellow, a year-long global business leadership program within the World Trade Center Institute in Baltimore.
Prior to joining SNI, Andres completed a Master of Business Administration and Master of Sports Administration at Ohio University, where he had the honor of being recognized as the #1 student in both programs. Prior to completing his graduate studies, Andres worked for pro sports teams, agencies, and several consulting firms, and completed his Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Queen’s University in Canada.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
I was born in Venezuela, moved to Canada as a kid with my family, came to the US for grad school and stayed here ever since.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
I had always dreamed of being the General Manager of a professional sports team. I worked a few different jobs in sports and started to second guess that desire, at that same time, I met Ron Shapiro, who was the Founder and Chairman of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute, which advised quite a few professional sports teams. As soon as I started I knew he was someone I wanted to learn from and that what this company did was a perfect fit for me. That was 10 years ago… what started as a project that was expected to take a few weeks (and me renting a room by the week in the meantime) turned into eventually taking over as the Managing Partner of the company.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
Every day is different. My main responsibilities are working with a few clients and managing the day to day of the company. My clients work is generally focused on consulting/deal coaching since we have such a great training team that I would just be getting in the way! A large portion of my client work is within the sports industry — advising on player contracts, trades, sponsorship negotiations, etc.- but certainly not all of it. As far as day-to-day it includes everything from managing our team to doing some business development, developing new content (currently a virtual reality negotiation simulation and the addition of artificial intelligence to our mobile app), hiring new facilitators, etc.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now 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 think both intuitively and based on a lot of research children that are/feel loved, supported, and challenged are more likely to live satisfying, happy, and successful lives. So, that is what my wife and I strive to do every day. And, while picking a great school is a big part of it, since they will spend quite a bit of time there, there is no replacement for the impact of parents. From their growing up sitting at the dinner table together, to having honest and open communication, to supporting their interests (learning to read, play hockey, charging electric scooters, etc.) all of these things have an impact. I think as our kids grow up we start to realize how much of an impact every experience has on them. So, not being there means there is a void that either isn’t filled or is filled by something else.. and I cant imagine there is anything richer than parent-child time.
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?
Spending time with my kids not only gives them a lot (confidence, develops our relationship, teaches them things) I also get a great deal out of it (patience, empathy, etc.). I think naturally no one can care for kids as much as their parents so that feeling of being loved and important gives them confidence — to try things even if they fail. For example, I exclusively speak Spanish to my kids so I see very vividly see the impact of my time with them first hand because they are completely fluent in Spanish as well. The same, although less vivid, applies for all the other activities we do together, from the exciting to the monotonous.
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 wife and I have singled out dinner and/or bed time as quality time that we spend together. So, that time is sacred. Ideally its dinner together talking about our days, sharing stories, etc. And, after that, it’s bed time which means reading, lying in bed, and unwinding together. That quickly became “dad’s thing” and has become very special to me and my two kids.
Others examples are taking parent/child skating lessons to help support my older son’s desire to play hockey. Going together, supporting him through it, seeing him excited to get better and do it with dad… it’s impossible to beat that experience! It comes with its challenges such as his being shy and not wanting to go with the coaches at first but that is part of the experience and makes it that much more fulfilling for both of us when he finally breaks through!
There are so examples to share… like when we walked through a park with homonyms written on the floor and my son now thinks of them — and shares them — randomly (e.g. in the car when we are driving to school, in the bath with his brother, etc.). Or taking them both on their first ferris wheel and they now talk about it every time they see one. Or watching a Hopkins lacrosse game and they become so excited they want to play and I need to learn about the sport now!
Especially at the younger ages, each experience has an impact so its important to remember that.
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? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.
My biggest strategy is to focus on being fully present there. At first it was an effort because in every other part of my life I am multitasking. But, now it comes naturally. Even if I don’t put my phone away, I’m not checking it. I’m focused on building Lego structures, wrestling with them, running around on the playground, or reaching books. If my phone is coming out it’s to video call family that we have all over the world — and makes up most of the little screen time our kids get.
Other strategies including blocking off 6:30–8:30pm every night possible so that I can be home for dinner and put them to bed. I also take them to school every morning to get a little time together, just us. I try to take trips together with them. And, I strive to have time with my kids individually, together, and then as the entire family (with my wife). All those different combinations have also been great in ensuring quality time, a great relationship, etc.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
Wow… who am I to define a good parent!??!!? I think it’s about being genuine, spending time, loving and supporting, and being patient with your kids. It means not raising your voice at or around your kids. It means working through it with them when an issue comes up — e.g. they get picked on, they get frustrated they can’t do something, they have a nightmare. It means modeling things like values, caring for people, learning, and curiosity. It means providing a clear set of rules that everyone can stick by — e.g. holding hands when crossing the street, eating meals together, etc. And it also means being present and having fun, enjoying the ride!
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
I grew up with my dad always saying that you can do anything you put your mind to and I have passed that mantra on to my two kids from an early age. If you are willing to put in the work you can achieve anything. This can be small things like figuring out a puzzle, bigger things like learning to bike without training wheels, or really big things like a getting a human being on the moon.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
I think success is easiest defined as something you would look back on and be proud of. It means having core values like respecting people, it means being a productive member of society, and it means being happy, among other things.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
I read a lot of books about baby sleep, brain development, education, how the brain works, etc.….but they are just resources, really for inspiration. I feel like most of my inspiration has come naturally from within… its not something I thought about, and I think many parents get this naturally — an instinct to want to be a good parent, even if sometimes we make mistakes and fail at that goal. I also have gotten a lot from my wife. The way she teaches our kids, works through things with them — I have learned a lot from her and find her to be an inspiration. I also learn from other parents — I notice little or big things they do and find myself imitating what I like and avoiding what I disagree with.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
You can do anything you put your mind to. Simple yet so powerful and inspiring.
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’d like to inspire everyone to be respectful of others, regardless of their beliefs, skin color, sexual orientation, religion, etc. While we certainly won’t always agree on things, mutual respect should be a basic minimum.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!