“Make an effort to schedule one on one time with each child” With Dr. Ely Weinschneider & Natasha Martsekis

Make an effort to schedule one on one time, especially when your children are close in age and they feel very competitive. It makes them feel that they can have all of your undivided attention. I had the pleasure to interview Natasha Martsekis. Natasha is the Founder and CEO of Bright Blue Villas, an exclusive […]

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Make an effort to schedule one on one time, especially when your children are close in age and they feel very competitive. It makes them feel that they can have all of your undivided attention.

I had the pleasure to interview Natasha Martsekis. Natasha is the Founder and CEO of Bright Blue Villas, an exclusive luxury villa rental company in Greece, delivering inspiring holiday experiences for the independent-minded, savvy traveller. Martsekis founded Bright Blue Villas in 2014, following a career in banking. Spanning 19 years, Natasha’s financial career allowed her to travel the world and experience its extensive possibilities as a luxury traveller. In pursuit of her passion for travel and hospitality, Natasha created Bright Blue Villas, offering guests new and exceptional ways to experience her home country of Greece, through the eyes of a local whilst staying in a traditional Greek Villa. Before founding Bright Blue Villas, Natasha had been Head of Institutional Equity Sales at Alpha Bank for 19 years and has worked for Lehman Brothers, Shell Oil and Citibank in various senior finance roles in NY, London and Zurich. Natasha holds an MBA from Columbia Business School (Fulbright Scholar) and a bachelor degree from Athens University of Economics and Business. Currently, she serves on the Board of Cepal Hellas as a non-executive Member and is also a Founding Member for the Non-Executive Directors Club of Greece. Natasha is a frequent speaker on events promoting female empowerment, career change and diversity in the workplace. She is an active fundraising volunteer for the charity of Safe Water Sports, lives in Athens and has two children

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

Iwas lucky enough to grow up in a family where my parents taught us the importance of having a strong work ethic at school and supported our zest for learning through our adolescent years. I was given equal opportunities with my brother to pursue my professional dreams and aspirations and now by looking back I see the importance of having grown up in a healthy family environment which, valued highly the critical role of higher education in personal development.

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

After having worked in the corporate world and investment banking for almost 20 years, I was lucky to travel extensively as a luxury traveler myself. In pursuit of my passion for travel and hospitality, I created my own company Bright Blue Villas in 2014, in the heart of the Greek financial crisis. The company is offering guests new and exceptional ways to experience my home country through the eyes of a local whilst staying in a hand-picked, vetted Greek villa.

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

Having worked in a very rigid banking environment for years, I have always been under pressure to follow my sons’ schedules and take time off work to watch school plays or attend school meetings. A few years later, having established my own company gives me the luxury to make certain choices regarding my daily schedule, so if not travelling, I take my teenage sons to school in the morning and then actually start my day having meetings with my team or some of our company providers. I make an effort to have lunch with them when their school day is over and then resume my work flow by scheduling calls in the late afternoon, mostly with our US counterparties.

I feel very privileged to be more flexible to accommodate my sons’ schedules in my daily routine as I get to spend more time with them which is a real luxury in comparison to my professional life in the past.

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?

Time is one of the most valuable elements in our lives — it is what defines our lives too. Spending time is a prerequisite for having an effective communication channel with your child and avoiding issues of emotional distress or risky behaviors. Research suggests that there is a strong correlation between parental involvement and a child’s self esteem and internal controls, which points to their ability to regulate their emotions especially in the teenager years.

There are a lot of reasons why kids underperform at school or college, but a poor home environment remains a leading one. From my experience as a mum, ultra busy parents are not easily responsive to a child’s needs — especially those related with behavioral, emotional and physical hardships. That’s why these children have often poor resilience and difficulty handling negative emotions.

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 think that it is quite simple when you spend time with someone, you show them how important they are for you. Children realize that very quickly, they are incredibly wise.

There is an old saying that goes: families that play together stay together. Quality time is paramount in building strong family relationships, builds children confidence and teaches them how to interact with others in a very complicated world.

I also believe that children like role models, and parents are the obvious ones. It is very crucial, I believe, for dads to spend quality time as children look to them for encouragement, strength and support. Especially because teens boys look into their fathers as to who they will become when they grow up.

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?

In the morning, while driving them to school we are mapping together the rest of their day — and most days are incredibly busy for all of us. It has become kind of a ritual now and I think they expect it. It gives them a sense that we are all on the same page of what is required to be done throughout the day.

At dinner we discuss their weekend plans and their sports obligations. I think teenagers like a fine balance of knowing that you are present but not too much involved. They like the idea of having their parents by their side but in a more refined way.

My professional careers have always involved a lot of travelling. All these years, before heading off to a trip, I have left stickie notes on my sons bathrooms mirrors saying -I love you, mummy- I guess it all has to do with the fact that you need to show your children how much you care even if not present at home, this is what I call Phantom Time !

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.

Make an effort to schedule one on one time, especially when your children are close in age and they feel very competitive. It makes them feel that they can have all of your undivided attention.

Try to integrate time together in daily routine either during dinner or while taking them at an after school activity. You will be surprised how valuable it can be to drive around your kids in a busy city !

Talk to grown up children about your routine too and ask them what THEY would enjoy to do, sometimes you will be surprised — we need to listen to what is important to them too.

Planning a holiday with lots of family activities is always a good idea — enhances the family bonding and secures private family time. You can always involve the grandparents or other members of the family too. Multigenerational travel is currently a huge trend in the travel industry; we see families travelling together creating unique memories around the world.

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

The best example would be my husband who has infused his passion for sports to our sons since they were toddlers. He has spent endless hours with them in track fields, basketball courts, football fields or ski resorts, cultivating their love for athletics and healthy lifestyle.

Now as grown up teenagers and accomplished athletes in their sports, they like to compete with him in athletic events; quite fun to watch!

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

First thing I always tell them that in order to dream big you have to believe in yourself — you can’t have a burning desire to achieve more without having high expectations for themselves.

I built their confidence in working towards their goals by pointing all the finish lines and small or big wins they have achieved — the power of incrementalism! most parents are NEVER satisfied with their children and this can be very daunting.

I use examples of people how had low resources and came from unfavorable backgrounds but yet managed to thrive personally and professional by leaving their social mark! this is so important.

Oh and my magic word — you have to be disciplined!

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

As Winston Churchill said — Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage that continues to count.

I share this thought with my sons as frequently as I can. Success is the really the power you have as a person not to give up even when you fail.

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

Recently I have been reading the Supernormal- the untold story of adversity and resilience by Meg Jay, a tale of everyday superheroes who have made a life out of leaping endless obstacles. The book teaches about resilience in a very unique way!

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

One by famous Greek ancient philosopher Socrates of course : There is only one good, knowledge and one evil, ignorance.

Having been a career changer and founder of a company that operates in the very fast paced field of hospitality, I realize the endless need to learn new things every minute!

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 am very much inspired by female empowerment in Greece — I think any initiative leading to that would be of great importance for the development of the Greek society into the next decade.

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