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“Parenting is a responsibility and a gift more so than a job or requirement”, with Matt Saurage and Dr. Ely Weinschneider

A good parent is one that is mindful of the fact that the role or responsibility of raising children is a gift and never complete. Some people, for instance my father Norman, are not only lifetime learners, but always teachers. Throughout my life, whether I felt I needed it or not, he never stopped guiding […]


A good parent is one that is mindful of the fact that the role or responsibility of raising children is a gift and never complete. Some people, for instance my father Norman, are not only lifetime learners, but always teachers. Throughout my life, whether I felt I needed it or not, he never stopped guiding me or contributing to my education. He always found ways to teach me about people and relationships.

Parenting never ends. It wasn’t even a term a generation ago. It was “raising kids” or “guiding youth.” Parenting implies there is a job to do. Parenting is a responsibility and a gift more so than a job or requirement.


As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Matt Saurage, fourth-generation owner of Community Coffee Company, currently serving as the Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors. Matt has been involved with the family business since 1995 in a variety of roles including: coffee selection and roasting, brand marketing, coffeehouse operations, and new product development. Early in his career, he lived in Brazil to better understand the nuances of farming and trading green coffee and continues to travel abroad to visit coffee farming communities. He was elected President in 2005 and Chairman in 2012, becoming the fourth-generation Saurage to take the helm of America’s largest family-owned and operated retail coffee brand.

Matt helps guide the company’s philanthropic activities, including the Community Cash for Schools ® program benefiting education, Military Match program providing coffee for active duty troops, and environmental and sustainability platforms. He serves on the board of several local, national and international organizations focused on public education, coffee health, and sustainable agriculture; currently serving New Schools Baton Rouge, National Coffee Association, and World Coffee Research. He and his wife, Catherine, enjoy time together raising five children and supporting local, non-profit organizations in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


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

As a child, my parents were actively involved in our family’s business. The topics of family and business often intersected and as the youngest of five children it was always challenging to find my voice. I learned to choose my words wisely and listen. I often watched my parents to get a better understanding of what business was like and didn’t realize that at the same time I was learning to be a better parent as well.

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

Today I serve as Chairman for my family’s company. It’s tough to identify a single point in time or one story about what brought me here. My personal goal is to leave the family business in a better position than when I entered the business. At this point in my career, I am focused on conveying my vision through employees of the company and through my children as they become adults.

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

My weekly schedule is straightforward with certain days allocated to work on specific areas of the business or volunteer activities. I typically don’t have standing meetings that fill my calendar and spend my time working with others individually on their tasks. That said, the needs of others — including the needs of my children — demand prioritization and flexibility. I do make time for a weekly cupping session. I cup coffee weekly with my mother and brother and our company’s green coffee buyer. When the kids’ schedules permit, I include them. To learn this quality component of our business. It gives them the opportunity to ask questions and learn about coffee from one of our subject matter experts.

Let’s 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, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

Why is it important to make time to spend with your children? Relationships with children should be aspirational for both. For instance, talking with your children about the business, which is not taboo, is a way to relate your interests to theirs. It also provides time for them to share their interests with you. Communication is the key to understanding and learning. Spending time with your children is a valuable lesson in learning how to communicate and solve problems.

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 some examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

Here are some examples of ways in which I spend quality time with my children:

First, I try to identify what is ‘quality time’ for them. For my kids, it means having meaningful time — time when I am simply present and curious about their interests.

Second, making experiences for them to experience my work and why it matters.

My oldest daughter recently traveled to Honduras with me to visit origin. We were able to spend quality one-on-one time together and create memories that will last forever. Not only was I able to show her what it means to maintain a relationship with coffee growers, I was also able to share with her why I am so passionate about coffee.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. 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?

Here are some of the strategies I use to create more space in my life in order to give my children more quality attention:

I have to prioritize what I do because the calendar does not lie. If my calendar is filled with activities related to the business and lacks a balance with time for my family then that’s a problem. Second, I delegate to others, even around the household. At work, I try to focus on the things that are most important for me to be involved with and allow others to take responsibility and learn and develop in order to help me free up time.

A lot of quality time with my children is spending time with them in their environment, in their school or at school activities, and is most meaningful for them because it creates opportunities for them to shine. I find that quality time on their terms proves to be more memorable for them.

I work when my kids are asleep. Frankly, with technology today it is easy to accomplish a lot of work after hours which allows me to be there for dinner and homework. I just prefer to leave work for after they are asleep.

I also try to take care of myself emotionally and physically which allows me to be more alert so that when I am not working I can be with my family, engaged, and energetic.

Lastly, communication is key. I seek input and feedback from my #1 support, my wife Catherine, who keeps me on task and connected.

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

A good parent is one that is mindful of the fact that the role or responsibility of raising children is a gift and never complete. Some people, for instance my father Norman, are not only lifetime learners, but always teachers. Throughout my life, whether I felt I needed it or not, he never stopped guiding me or contributing to my education. He always found ways to teach me about people and relationships.

Parenting never ends. It wasn’t even a term a generation ago. It was “raising kids” or “guiding youth.” Parenting implies there is a job to do. Parenting is a responsibility and a gift more so than a job or requirement.

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

I inspire my children to dream big by asking them what their aspirations are and, whatever they say, by asking more questions and showing support. I encourage them to play and use their imaginations. I do my best to be there to help them figure out how to achieve their dreams. By not creating obstacles to dream I inspire and teach my children that there are no limits.

As a spokesperson for my family’s company, I’m provided opportunities for travel and afforded experiences that I can share with my children. I know that my one of my sons has interest in movie and television production. I was recently able to include him in the activities surrounding a major sponsorship and even provided him with the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with experienced media professionals during the execution of a broadcast event. Had I not known of this interest I would not have been able to share this experience with him in such a way.

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

I wouldn’t say that I “masterfully” straddle the worlds of career and family. I think success is when at the end of the day I know that I have achieved my personal goals to be a good leader in business and a really good father who shares unconditional love with his children. To me, regardless of the outcomes of business or life, there is success as long as there is unconditional love.

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

My favorite children’s books are The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. Although children’s books, Silverstein’s story has always resonated about the role of and the challenge of time and what it means to give of yourself and serve others. As for Johnson’s story of young Harold, it speaks to the power of imagination. When I read these children’s books they keep me grounded in the simplicity of what life really is and how quickly it passes. You can’t get time back and you can’t be too grounded.

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

What is my favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Nothing too good or too bad ever lasts too long, always be reaching for the next moment in life to make a difference. Of course, contrary to that, you have to stop and celebrate the successes you have today with no regrets. This is true in business and in life.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

If I could, I would inspire others to stop and be present, if only to take thirty thankful breaths and listen. As a parent to five children, it’s difficult to connect to each in the way they need to be connected to individually, in the limited amount of time I have. I rely on finding the person they trust or share with the most to help — for me it’s my wife, Catherine. She is an essential part to my understanding what each of our children’s needs are. In business or at home you have to rely on good people with shared values to help along the way. Having a solid relationship with my wife helps me connect to my children.

Thank you for sharing your inspirational thoughts with us!


About the Author:

Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in New Jersey. Dr. Ely specializes in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, parenting, couples therapy, geriatric therapy, and mood and anxiety disorders. He also has a strong clinical interest in Positive Psychology and Personal Growth and Achievement, and often makes that an integral focus of treatment.

An authority on how to have successful relationships, Dr. Ely has written, lectured and presented nationally to audiences of parents, couples, educators, mental health professionals, clergy, businesses, physicians and healthcare policymakers on subjects such as: effective parenting, raising emotionally intelligent children, motivation, bullying prevention and education, managing loss and grief, spirituality, relationship building, stress management, and developing healthy living habits.

Dr. Ely also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column about the importance of “being present with your children”.

When not busy with all of the above, Dr. Ely works hard at practicing what he preaches, raising his adorable brood (which includes a set of twins and a set of triplets!) together with his wife in Toms River, New Jersey.

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