Having a schedule and setting time aside without technology or phones, to avoid distraction, is essential. In addition to having a predictable (as realistic as possible) schedule, regular expectations are great too. For instance, every single morning, unless there is an emergency on the Internet network, I make breakfast for our family and we enjoy it together. The children look forward to creating a menu and cooking with me, and it also starts off the entire family on a calm, fresh, and positive strong start to our day. Reading and having discussions with our children to explain to them that we work first and play later helps them understand that if we all work as a team and accomplish our tasks, we can have uninterrupted high quality time together.
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Dominic Serra. CEO Dominic Serra is a Metro Detroit husband, father, entrepreneur and founder of Metro Wireless. Dominic has been involved with several successful ventures in Telecommunications and Real Estate over the last 15 years. What started as an engrossing hobby for the self-proclaimed Wireless nerd soon evolved into a thriving business. Dominic’s commitment to providing the greatest value continues with Metro Wireless becoming a go to leader for business continuity and high availability wireless bandwidth Internet options nationwide. When not leading, he enjoys tinkering with electronics, fitness, biking, and spending time with his family. Dominic not only runs a company that provides business Internet to hundreds of companies, but is also a father to a 5 and 6 year old boy and girl. Working in the city while living with his family in his rural childhood home provides great opportunities for a truly rich family life. To assist with this, another building on their home property, a renovated and completely finished “barn”, serves as a second office. This second office helps Dominic spread his time between office and family life, allowing for more focused work and planned family activities. At home, Dominic takes the children on long bike rides on very local paths, hikes in their back woods, fort building, marble runs, intense family games, traveling, campfires, and other adventures many outdoors. As soon as the suit comes off or an opportunity arises, he is out with the kids fathering at his best.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
I was born in 1982 and grew up in a rural area of Romeo, MI, which I later bought as an adult. Having two married parents and 3 siblings, we had a busy family life out on the farm. Last year, I purchased my childhood home and made the move with my family so that I can raise my children where I grew up.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
Being through several ventures including real estate and telecommunications, I noticed the heavy need for underserved areas for business Internet. I started Metro Wireless to bridge the gaps for businesses who desperately needed access to fast and affordable business Internet. Building my own network off the tops of tall buildings using fixed wireless, I am also able to utilize my technological and computer skills which I very much enjoy.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
Typically, days are split up between being in the office, taking meetings, and visiting deployment sites. Being with my family is important and a priority, that is why there is an appointed “2nd office” building on our home property. This allows me to avoid the drive into headquarters and additional home time to spend with the children doing the things we work so hard for!
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?
Children need to have their parents present in their lives. There is ample research that proves that having loving, caring, and present parents in their daily lives that show a genuine interest impacts them in a positive way into their adult lives. Being a positive real role model and guiding them through school and childhood in every aspect of life makes the world of a difference, after all, both nature and nurture have great impacts on development.
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?
Making time to spend with my children not only is impactful for them, but for me too. When dad comes home, their faces light up and they are excited and look forward to our many family adventures. Also, it is important to spend time with both children individually as well, and show them independent attention. Over time, children develop a sense of security and love knowing that their parents are here for them to foster their growth.
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?
As with everything in life, quality trumps quantity. Evening after school activities that are meaningful could include a nature walk, building a marble run or constructing a lego masterpiece throughout the week. On weekends, I take the children on long bike rides on locally accessible biking paths, hikes in our back woods, build forts, travel away from home, have reading parties, campfires, drumming circles and other adventures many of which are outdoors.
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.
Having a schedule and setting time aside without technology or phones, to avoid distraction, is essential. In addition to having a predictable (as realistic as possible) schedule, regular expectations are great too. For instance, every single morning, unless there is an emergency on the Internet network, I make breakfast for our family and we enjoy it together. The children look forward to creating a menu and cooking with me, and it also starts off the entire family on a calm, fresh, and positive strong start to our day. Reading and having discussions with our children to explain to them that we work first and play later helps them understand that if we all work as a team and accomplish our tasks, we can have uninterrupted high quality time together. Being a CEO and having a business owner for a wife allows us to include our children at the office and events at times, allowing for additional time together and great real life experiences for the children. Even though they are only 5 and 6 years old, they have already both had a variety of real life work experiences and have learned how to appropriately behave and interact in professional settings. It’s a win win! Finally, getting involved and showing up at the children’s school is essential. Not only does this improve their education because of the teacher parent relationship, but also shows them that community, volunteering and partnership is treasured in their family. Our children know that their education and school is valued in our family.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
Balance. A “good” parent tries to balance their priorities and responsibilities to the best of their abilities but also teaches their children that the family must work together to achieve success in all aspects of life. They also love their children unconditionally and even through tough times and mistakes, walk through everything together.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
I take my children on long hikes, teach them to be present, slow down, meditate and breathe, and take them along on work experiences and events to show them that you can build and create anything! I believe that immersing them into real world situations and encounters opens up their minds to the world around them. Also, ironically enough since Dominic runs a telecommunications company, their family limits technology use at home. The children get to watch tv only occasionally and when doing so, choose something meaningful (usually a classic children’s movie) and only use iPad’s at school because it is part of the school’s curriculum. At home, we also have a library with hundreds of books which overlooks our property and is inspiring in the most meaningful ways, especially because my father build it many years ago when I was just a little boy.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
Success is linked to feeling that you are constantly improving yourself, your business potential, and the world around you. Goals being met, improvement showing measurable difference, and making an impact with your company mission is what defines success.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
Many parents think it is selfish to think about you first, as the children should always come first. They do, but at the same time, our family puts importance on “self”. In order to be a great impactful father, husband, CEO, etc., I have to be at 100%. Therefore, meditation and yoga are a big part of my life. As part of a book club to stay centered and focused in life, the current reading that has been significant is “You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter” by Joe Dispenza. It is an incredible eye opening read.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms, even when his hands are empty.” Growing up with a father who created success from nothing and having a wife who also was able to build a successful business after immigrating from a struggling life, I knew I wanted our children to understand what true happiness is. Making sure our children know where they came from and feel gratitude is a priority in our family along with helping them become all around good people, the kind of kids that ask if someone else needs help and are aware of the world around them, wanting to make it better.
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. 🙂
Appropriately since I am passionate about provide Internet to businesses in need, allowing for more vast Internet expansion across the globe is one of my visions. Yes, food, clean water and supplies are absolutely essential in every part of our world, but allowing for Internet access opens up a world of knowledge and communication among different cultures so that they can do the work needed in their communities. “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!