Changing gender roles are key to accelerating the culture shift around changing the way we work and live. Redefining Masculinity is an editorial package that investigates what it means to be a man in 2017—and beyond. As part of it, we’re asking a wide range of men across industries, ages and background to answer questions about what masculinity means to them. Read more about the project here.
Thrive Global: How would you define masculinity?
Michael Katz: Masculinity to me is about maturation and I think the most of my maturation has been based on me becoming a more empathetic person. Accepting responsibility and holding yourself accountable in anything you do, personally and professionally, requires a strong understanding how others view the world. No matter how you define it, and I can’t tell anyone how they should define it or prioritize their life, but there’s a responsibility to yourself, your family, your job, your friends etc. To me, being masculine is about being the best father to my son, husband to my wife, son to my parents, CEO to my employees, and friend to my friends as I can be.
TG: Who in your life shaped your view of masculinity?
MK: Lots of people. My parents were naturally the first to shape my view on masculinity but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had mentors who have taught me a lot about responsibility, balancing life and work. I’ve also learned a lot from observing how certain people handle themselves. But my wife has probably been the biggest influence since there is no person who has seen me grow and evolve as a person more than she has, and we just had a baby 15 months ago, and I think with Conor, I will continue to evolve and grow as a man.
TG: Was there a particular moment when you felt you’d become a man?
MK: No, I don’t think there was a single defining moment. There have been lots of moments but this has been a natural progression and I think I continue to mature and evolve as a person, and most importantly have come to embrace the maturation process through ups and downs, and helping others through theirs.
TG: How has society’s view of men changed since you were a kid?
MK: I don’t know if I understood societal views as a kid but when I was growing up, masculinity was often portrayed as this rugged and tough persona, often with a strong physical appearance and very little emotion. I think this has completely changed, and will continue to change as society changes. It’s important for men to be more dynamic, more empathetic, and think physical presence isn’t nearly as important, as we live in the age of information and technology where the skills needed as a man are quite different than what was needed 50 years ago.
TG: Does masculinity influence your work? If so, how?
MK: Of course. As a CEO and cofounder, I must carry myself a certain way because for better or worse, lots of people will pick up on my behavior so I aspire to be a leader that people look up to and lead by example. I try to lead through strong action, a commitment to following through on my word no matter the situation, and creating value through customer-centricity. That’s my responsibility to our customers, our employees, our investors, and our partners.
TG: What should children be taught about masculinity?
MK: I plan on teaching Conor that masculinity is about growth through empathy and staying true to himself, helping to define what masculinity means rather than inheriting a definition that he must conform to.
Michael Katz is a cofounder and CEO of mParticle. He drives the company’s vision and strategy as it provides industry leading customer data solutions to multi-channel marketers.
Michael was formerly founder and CEO of Interclick, which was a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ prior to its $270 million acquisition by Yahoo in 2011. While at Yahoo, he served as Vice President of Optimization & Analytics.
He is a sought-after angel investor and advisor and sits on the Board of Directors of BrightlineTV, the leader in connected TV ad solutions. He has also served as a mentor to startups for Techstars since 2015.
Michael is passionate advocate for animal rights, serving as a volunteer for the Southampton Animal Shelter since 2013 and on the board of Humane Generation, a committee of the Humane Society focused on animal rescue. He is a graduate of Syracuse University, and lives with his wife and son in New York City.