A good parent knows his/her responsibility is to support their child in becoming a responsible, independent adult. That you’re there to support them on their journey but not live their journey. That you are their chief champion as well as their chief advisor. That you give your love unconditionally and remain non-judgmental. Great parents work as a team, there are some things that are better understood and handled by partners — being self-aware to recognize these moments ensures the best can be done at all times to help our children on their unique paths. For our daughter she naturally gravitates towards each of us for different things, for this I am grateful as she grows into a young woman. At this point in time, she is aware that I am there at all times to support and protect her as she explores who she is.
Asa part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Colin Anson. Colin is a digital entrepreneur, and the CEO and co-founder of child image protection and photo storage solution, pixevety . In 2012, Colin saw an opportunity to create a unique business within his area of passion, photography. He witnessed first-hand the potential risks and harm the mismanagement of photos can have on children. And he became an advocate for protecting every parent’s right to determine how their child’s photo is used, and protecting every child’s right to safety and digital privacy. After learning of the minefield of privacy laws and the daily stress for schools in managing and sharing the photos of every single student, Colin decided to do something about it. And pixevety was born.
Thank you so much for joining us Colin! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
Born in South Eastern Sydney I was the youngest of 2. My older brother was born with disabilities which naturally adds strain on any family but also some amazing and unique experiences. Apart from that, I had a very ordinary Australian family upbringing, playing cricket in the backyard with friends and family. However, my father did run his own business and had a natural entrepreneurial flare as well as an inclination towards finding market needs and inventing solutions. Both parents had their own personal interests that they were passionate about: my mother was passionate about equestrian sports; my father was a passionate fisherman, so I had exposure early on to how one’s passion can drive human spirit.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
As result of my family upbringing, I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset and started my first business at age of 19. I then moved into big corporate life and ended up in a global media company, which has had the biggest influence in my career. It was a time when the internet was changing the media landscape and it was a huge privilege to be a part of it and influence the transition.
I then married and had a child. This stage in life is wonderful for anyone who has an entrepreneurial mindset because you become the ‘protector’, thinking of ways to improve life for your new little one. For me, that occurred when my daughter became school age and I began to witness how her image was being captured and used for purposes beyond areas I was comfortable with, without our knowledge, let alone consent.
I then became obsessed with researching into why this was an issue and in finding a solution to this challenge, especially around photo sharing and consent which made me realise there was no one solution that could help. All that done, I decided to build it myself. I left my permanent job and started my own business working out of the home garage for 12 months and then, once I started to acquire some clients, grew the business from there.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
Chaotic. If I am at home (as I travel regularly interstate and overseas), I usually start my day around 5.30am when I am woken by my 6-year-old Springer Spaniel. I’ll then check emails have a shower and head into the office or direct to a meeting with a client. I also have two offices in Australia: one in Sydney and one in Brisbane, and I regularly need to visit the Brisbane office which hosts our tech team. If I have the luxury of being in the Sydney office, I will usually have breakfast with my sales team before coming back to the office to check-in with customer service. If I don’t have other meetings scheduled (either with clients, potential clients or vendors), I will be working in the product itself, making sure it is doing exactly what it should and problem-solving with the different pixevety teams on planning and improvements. Being a business process SaaS solution, we are continually working to tight product release timeframes. My day typically ends with me leaving the office around 6pm to head home and spend quality time with the family (I try and set a ‘no work’ zone between 6–9pm at night) then go to the gym, attend to any last minute calls or emails, test the platform one more time before going to bed around 10.30pm.
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 know from growing up (in addition to having a brother with disabilities) that not having the right level of parental attention when young can greatly influence the way you make decisions and choices when your older. You are so busy trying to get their attention, that you will do anything to get it, and then, when you don’t have a full understanding or appreciation of the key learnings they have gone through in life to make them who they are, you can easily misinterpret their communications and intentions. Growing up is all about hearing the war stories and learning from these stories what to avoid in your own life. If you don’t have that deep and meaningful relationship with your parents when you are growing through the major growth stages in life, you will struggle.
From now being a father myself, this role is something I hold dear as I struggled in having my own son/ father relationship — as I am sure many have. My own childhood experience wasn’t ideal, and I can assure you that having a father figure is essential for a child to build self-assurance and internal security. The lack of this kind of support ensures a lack of a “home”; a word that represents so much more than mere bricks and mortar. For me, this was missing. The constant need to attract my father’s attention and approval led me down the path of constant self-doubt and questioning when all he responded with was disappointment, disapproval and often contempt.
As I grew older my perspective changed. Time is nature’s way of providing balance; as is a healthy marriage and being open to seeking change… wiser times led me to know that the issue wasn’t me, but my father, and it is in my power to not repeat the same mistake with my own daughter.
I was told once by a far more experienced father than myself, that merely being there is often enough as your children grow older. For them just knowing that you are close by provides that important sense of “home”. Adding to this, time spent at home should be as inclusive as possible, especially as I am often away on business. This means being actively present with my daughter — physically, mentally and emotionally.
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?
Even the simplest thing, like having a bedtime story read to you at night, not only helps you to read better (and there is statistical evidence of that) but gives you that one-on-one experience with your child to ask them questions and for them to get your advice on life.
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?
When I was growing up, I really didn’t have great one-on-one quality time with my parents — perhaps it wasn’t the “thing” to do back then, I don’t know…We would obviously spend time together but not quality time. We did seem to attend many big family events with extended family which I can recall were very happy times.
Now that my daughter is a teenager, I try and find opportunities where I can pick her up from school or take her to an extra-curricular activity outside of school to ensure we have quality dad-daughter time and she feels comfortable talking to me about any current issues she has on her mind during that day — making the conversation as timely and relevant as possible. At this time of her life, feeling comfortable to talk to me about anything that is on her mind is so important.
I also learnt that if I could find interests and hobbies that we both liked (i.e. watching the old Star Trek TV episodes) we could bond even more and could understand each other better. I was surprised when doing this how similar my daughter and I are!
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 sure you are always there for the big moments: if you don’t have time, find time. You can never get those special moments back. And capture those moments so you can reminisce about them later
- Set aside time every day (usually in the evening when with family) to completely disconnect from work and ensure the family sits down and eats together to discuss the days triumphs and challenges
- Find the one thing that you and your child can enjoy together: your special bonding exercise or activity, for us it can as simple as going for a swim in the pool (and it’s odd how you miss those things most when you are away)
- Stay connected — if not physically — emotionally, whether it’s an impromptu message or call. For us we have a connected home that allows me to change the colour of her room lights whilst away
- Lead by example, do what you say and what you promise. Nothing can beat trust…
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
A good parent knows his/her responsibility is to support their child in becoming a responsible, independent adult. That you’re there to support them on their journey but not live their journey. That you are their chief champion as well as their chief advisor. That you give your love unconditionally and remain non-judgmental. Great parents work as a team, there are some things that are better understood and handled by partners — being self-aware to recognize these moments ensures the best can be done at all times to help our children on their unique paths.
For our daughter she naturally gravitates towards each of us for different things, for this I am grateful as she grows into a young woman. At this point in time, she is aware that I am there at all times to support and protect her as she explores who she is.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
Dreaming big is not something that our house has a short supply of. We live and breathe this every day by running our own business. The big dreams are balanced out though with sheer hard work and commitment, this is something that we don’t hide from our daughter. If the opportunity exists, we try to expose her to a select few situations and show her that problems are just a part of life and it’s our choice to adapt to these tough situations to help us reach our dreams — one step at a time.
It is important to share that any dream has a path to success, and that walking the path is more important than talking or knowing the path. If the dream can be made reality, walk that path knowing that commitment and hard work are essential components.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
Firstly, I don’t consider myself as masterful, not even close, and I think this is an essential mindset that helps us as a family. I constantly look for areas of improvement and often catch myself out in scenarios where I could have done better. I try not repeat a poor experience, but I am not always successful — I recognise this in myself.
My definition of success is the ability to create, build and sustain… whether it is a happy home, happy and confident children or a thriving business, the definition is the same. The key is to create and build an ecosystem of self-worth, often driven within a safe and supporting environment that ultimately leads to self-reliance — and being comfortable there.
My home, my work and my family, are all tight teams. Tight teams are built on trust, empowerment and kindness — these should never be regarded as weaknesses and if they are seen this way the team is not unified and changes need to be made.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
I know I should be highlighting literacy masters; however, I am not that way inclined. I do however enjoy audiobooks, and particularly autobiographies. They can be on anybody, whether they are famous actors, businesspeople, companies and or simply have something to share. I take inspirational support from their stories around commitment and work ethic.
The best stories highlight the importance of family, and, how being a parent is the most important role in your life. It takes focus, kindness, honesty, commitment and love. There is always time for love, and this can come in the form of simply just being there… I enjoy the books that highlight human character flaws where people see and share their flaws, confront situations and identify areas of improvement. It is often through these stories that they share they wished they’d been home more — it is from these stories I try to learn and improve in my own life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
… “The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work…”, Thomas A Edison.
Because my life has always been based on walking the path and earning my stripes and I find it hard to respect others who haven’t done the same hard yakka, doesn’t matter from where they started from.
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. 🙂
Seek humility in anything and everything you do! Understand that walking the path is infinitely more valuable than knowing the path. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, just know that you are always standing on the shoulders of others who have come before us and be humble.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!