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“The number one thing you can do as a parent is to just be there for and with your kids” with Todd Lancaster and Chaya Weiner

The number one thing you can do as a parent is to just be there for and with your kids. My parents were a musician and an artist. They never missed a game, performance or anything. But better yet, they were present at home, too. They were with me every evening. I am confident that […]

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The number one thing you can do as a parent is to just be there for and with your kids. My parents were a musician and an artist. They never missed a game, performance or anything. But better yet, they were present at home, too. They were with me every evening. I am confident that being present and available consistently improved my confidence and I am certain that by me doing the same my kids, that their confidence and development has benefited.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Todd Lancaster, Chief Creative Office for GoDo Discovery Co. Part ad agency (greenlight=Go), part think space (HOWDO=Do), GoDo is a Dallas-based creative collective dedicated to finding and activating a brand’s truth. GoDo works with a variety of innovative clients to explore new paths to change their businesses forever, including Gold’s Gym, The Dallas Morning News and Café Momentum.


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

Like most “creatives” in the business, I was a kid who liked to draw. Drawing is always the first entry to creativity — first mimicking the art you see around you, then expanding to create your own. The first children’s book I remember trying to draw and emulate was Little Toot, about a tug boat. That boat is now tattooed on my arm.

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

Earlier in my career, I was lucky enough to follow my passion and paint murals for a living, which was such an inspiring and cool experience. I then moved on to running ad agencies at the University of North Texas and Foster Grant. I also held creative director jobs at a variety of different agencies and companies, working on clients ranging from Fortune 500 to local boutique brands. Holding these various positions and experiencing different opportunities has brought me to where I am today. Right now, I’m a partner and Chief Creative Officer of The GoDo Discovery Co., a creative collective dedicated to finding and activating a brand’s truth. I find myself here because I firmly believe that when you know who you are, you can better tell others about yourself and your brand. After 25 years of creative direction, I needed to have a purpose for the art that I create for brands and felt the brands need that purpose, too.

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

My kids are 11, 15, and 19 years old, so my schedule revolves around them. On a typical morning, I get up and make their lunches, which I’ve done since the first one started school. I’ve probably made millions of lunches over the years and I love getting to do that, so much so that I will continue to make lunches until the last one graduates from high school — I know that for sure. Then, I go to work and pretty much work a typical 9–5. Thanks to the awesome team I have and the company culture GoDo Discovery Co. encourages, I’m able to be flexible with my schedule. That said, I try to get back home to hit all the games and activities my kids are doing. And of course — I always try to squeeze a little music (at any capacity) into my day.

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 or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

The number one thing you can do as a parent is to just be there for and with your kids. My parents were a musician and an artist. They never missed a game, performance or anything. But better yet, they were present at home, too. They were with me every evening. I am confident that being present and available consistently improved my confidence and I am certain that by me doing the same my kids, that their confidence and development has benefited.

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?

As a parent, your main concern is your kid’s happiness. Growing up with parents that were always there for me certainly had a major impact on my outlook when I became a parent. Understanding them, knowing what their likes/dislikes are, and building up their trust is so crucial to forming that connection. For example, when my son started showing an interest in music, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to spend time getting to know what kind of music he was into and what he was interested in playing. Turns out, he liked punk, just like his old man. That night, we played punk rock in our house with a full-on band and loud, amplified noise. This connection between my son and I led to the highlight of my life — when my then 16-year-old son called me on stage at his punk bands’ concert in Deep Ellum, Dallas and asked me to sit and play a punk song we learned to together that helped introduce him to music. It was so amazing getting up there and doing what we loved on stage, and the best part was, we got to do it together.

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?

There are a few things that I make a priority to do with my kids to ensure I’m being the best dad I can be.I always have put a lot of effort into detaching myself from work and any other distractions, to make sure I’m focused on the time I’m spending time with my kids. First one being simple — playing at home with them. Seriously, just getting in there with their imaginations and playing with them as young kids was so great. Another way I’ve spent quality time with my kids was reading to them. I read to each of my kids every night of their elementary school years. We have a fun collective memory of the books and stories we shared — it’s part of our language now. I also coached their sports teams. When my kids were playing YMCA basketball, I was coaching the team and it was a great way to be involved in their lives while teaching them valuable lessons at the same 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?

I don’t think there are true guidelines to follow; you just have to do it, it has to be a priority. Find out what your kids are into and get into it with them. If your C-level job prohibits you from doing that — then quit. For real…quit. Or find out a way to make the time. With your influence as a leader, you have the ability to infuse a type of a culture where it’s encouraged to make time for things that are important to you outside of work — like your children. Challenge the status quo and promote a healthy work/life balance as a leader. I’d say to:

1.Make your kids your number one priority

2.Engross yourself in your kids interests — find out what your kids are into and get into it with them

3.Power down — be present, focused, and fully engaged when spending quality time together

4.Make every minute count when together — engage in conversation on the way to school, during breakfast or dinner, or before bed

5.Actions speak louder than words — show up, be supportive, and go the extra mile. In most situations, our jobs in the business world aren’t a matter of life or death and our kids are only young once. Be there.

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

Easy — one that spends time with you. Someone that makes you feel worth it. I learned this when my dad drove 300 miles on a weeknight to watch me play in an intermural basketball game in college — then took me and my friends out for pizza and drove back home 300 miles. He did that same thing again when my punk band played a random college battle of the bands. It meant the world. He went to all that effort to be present and supportive and that’s when I knew how lucky I was. That’s a good parent — going the extra mile (literally) to show your dedication and showing you care. Actions always speak louder than words and your kids will realize that, just like I did in that moment.

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

This is a big one. My first son graduated high school last year. He’s super smart and super creatively talented. However, school was not a fun experience for him and he decided not to continue on to college. As a dad, having my first child not go to college was scary as hell, but I rolled with it. The way I inspired him to be an artist and musician, gave him the confidence to do his own thing and I’m choosing to support that. His dream is to be a tattoo artist. He’s worked just as hard building a portfolio as any college freshman and he secured an apprenticeship — which is the first step of his dream. His dream isn’t a C-level job, but the life of an artist/craftsman.

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

Honestly, success is if my kids are happy, alive and thriving and if I did something to impact that — either by being there or butting out when necessary. I feel fulfilled and successful when I know my kids are content and enjoying life.

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

I have none. My resources are what my parents did for me. Kids, especially mine, are too unique to be led by canned parenting tools (at least I like to think so). Every day is a new challenge, one I face with just being there and spending real time with them and the family.

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

Start Your Own Band,” quote from the band “Minutemen” — by either Mike Watt or D. Boon. Don’t just sit on the sideline and listen to others or try to emulate them. Do your own thing. Start your own band. Sing your songs. Whether it’s a real band or a metaphor for anything else. “Start Your Own Band.”

You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d start a FEAR FREE Movement. Everyone is too afraid. We need to be braver and empower each other in all aspects of society. If people weren’t so afraid, they could do so much more.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

— –

About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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