Tell us about your work!
The Think Tank (TTT) is a full-service communications agency that works with consumer packaged goods brands across North America to drive trial, lift sales and grow baskets. This could include contests, promotions, social/digital content, AR, in-store communication, influencers – really depends on the brand and objectives! We work with a wide range of clients from high growth startups to multinational brands. My wife and I are also working on a side-business launching late summer 2021: Wander – internationally spiced nut butters.
Why did you decide to work at to work at The Think Tank?
I joined TTT when a long-time friend I met on the first day of orientation of my MBA inquired if I'd be interested as he was considering purchasing the agency. I've always enjoyed marketing and this was an incredible opportunity to expand my marketing knowledge, work with brands in areas I'm passionate about (food & bev CPG specifically) and work with incredible experts, namely my VPs who oversee all our accounts. I'm usually the person you come to with an idea to execute but over the pandemic I had a few business ideas. I looked into a couple but Wander had the greatest potential and was fortunately also the most interesting!
Tell us about your family!
My wife and I have a 2.5 year old daughter, Sofie, who is a blast. She loves to sing songs and is one of the cheeriest people I know. Both sets of grandparents live within 30 minutes of us, which has allowed them to be a big part of my daughters life. The extended families also live relatively nearby and provide a fantastic support system.
What was the hardest thing about becoming a dad?
The hardest part about becoming a dad or really any major life altering change is adjusting to the new expectations and priorities. My evenings and weekends typically revolve around Sofie, whether it's specific outings for her or working visits around nap times. Walks around the block can take over an hour depending on whether Sofie wants to run, walk, push the wagon, be pulled or be carried. Mowing the lawn isn't always done at the time I want to do it. Being a parent requires acceptance that what you want isn't always what will happen and patience to be fully present and engaged with whatever is actually happening at the time. I will say that having a dog was great prep for this as the adjustments to your schedule and having to consider what to do with them are quite similar to the first couple years of being a parent.
Has being a dad impacted your career? How? *
Building on the previous answer, being a dad prioritized being present for my family and reframed my career to be about providing opportunities for Sofie. I used to be an avid networker and attend multiple events a week in an effort to meet new people and source new business. I was also involved with several organizations on volunteer committees/boards. While my wife didn't love my schedule, she recognized I viewed it as a key part of my role and career. Once I knew I was going to be a dad, that perception shifted – I stepped down from the volunteer roles and became hyper selective about which evening events I'd attend. Being available is fantastic but is only part of the equation. I already recognized that costs have risen drastically and it's not realistic to expect to be able to provide all the same opportunities to Sofie that my parents gave me. The pandemic further highlighted this and I think the combination lead to my developing the idea behind Wander. I'm starting it partly to put my theoretical and second-hand knowledge into practice but also as a means to provide more for my family and finally to create a life experience of Sofie growing up in a food business, not unlike my childhood spent working in my dad's Bulk Barn franchise!
What's one thing you've learned from your child or children? *
The benefits of using conditioner in long hair! Seriously though, she's teaching me how to use my imagination and creativity again. Back when I was a camp councillor, one of the camp directors asked us during a training session "when was the last time you played?". Even in using the broadest definition of playing, in the room of 50 or so young adults, most of us said it had been months. As we get older we either stop playing or play within restrictions whether it's sports or board games. The most amazing thing about kids is their imagination and creativity. Playing involves pretending to cook, creating houses out of blocks, "drawing" things that only they can see… If you want to play with them, you also have to be able to imagine and engage with their world. I've definitely noticed an increased level of creativity and idea generation in the last year as I've been coming up with stories and drawing landscapes with Sofie.
How has being a dad made you a better or different leader? *
I've found I've become more emotional since becoming a Dad. It's made me aware that historically I take a stoic approach and don't necessarily express how I feel. I believe it's important to walk the talk and model the behaviours you want to see, whether that's for your child or your team. As a result, I don't hide emotions from Sofie and talk to her about how I'm feeling as well as helping her understand her own feelings. While I've always been transparent around business matters, I've also worked on being more transparent about my emotional well being with the team, which has been reciprocated and has lead to deeper conversations.