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When Blurred Lines Between Work and Home Help Us See More Clearly

By Mandy Sestak

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Sometimes, toeing the line between your personal life and your professional life can be a bit of a tap dance. Many people choose to keep some kind of separation. But what about those instances in which developments in your personal life actually make you better in your professional one? And vice versa?

Any parent would tell you that the moment they became a mom, or a dad is the moment their lives changed drastically and forever. Such a significant shift in perspective is sure to sway sensibilities in all areas of life, so what does that mean to someone with a creative profession, where perspective is everything?

With Father’s Day right around the corner, we here at Soulsight got to thinking – how do the dads in our office use their perspectives as fathers to strengthen their work? And how do the principles they practice as creatives influence their parenting style at home? We interviewed a few of our resident dads and found that, maybe not-so-surprisingly, these two very important roles (as dad and designer) have quite the symbiotic relationship.

When it comes to applying the learnings of fatherhood to design, most of our Soulsight dads found that they gained a greater sense of patience when they became fathers and they’ve carried that through their work ever since.

Soulsight CEO, George Argyros, says that he learned the importance of patience in parenting early on. “As a young father, I learned to let go and allow things to develop naturally. The result always exceeded my expectations because they were authentic.”

Authenticity was another recurring theme, with several Soulsight dads stating that they often stop and think, “If I were to explain this idea to my child, would it make sense?” This exercise often helps them ensure their message is coming through clearly and honestly.

“All good creative work has a very simple and interesting story at the heart of it. If I wouldn’t be able to explain an idea to my 4-year-old daughter and have her make sense of it, it’s not clear enough yet,” says Executive Creative Director, Justin Berglund.

Empathy was the third emerging pattern we noticed when we asked the dads of Soulsight how becoming a father changed their approach to work. Seeing how different methods solved (or didn’t solve) for a unique set of problems for each individual child allowed the Soulsight dads to see that different design or management challenges should be approached just as uniquely.

“As a director, being a father opened my eyes to the idea that not everything is one-size- fits-all. I am more aware of individuality and how I manage people or a project. It’s especially important to keep that in mind as a leader because I adjust how I give feedback depending on how various team members best receive critique,” says Creative Director, Steve Tedesco.

It’s easy to see that becoming a father gave the dads of Soulsight an entirely new set of tools to use in their day jobs, but how did being a creative prepare them for their most important job yet - fatherhood? An open, empathetic attitude was once again a popular topic.

“For me, being a parent and being a creative are a lot alike,” says Soulsight CSO, Jim Pietruszynski. “Being open to my kids’ needs as individual people and trying to help guide them on how to problem solve their needs is very similar to having an empathetic design philosophy.”

The topic of bringing design skills to their arena as a dad spurred a lot of different answers, like how organizational skills learned at work help keep you from going crazy as a parent, but one point was universal. Being a creative makes you a really fun dad.

“As a designer, you are adaptive and creative, so you are good at making the best of things. With a touch of creativity and imagination, mundane tasks can be transformed into exciting moments worth remembering. So, whether its transforming blankets and couch cushions into a medieval fortress in my living room or reimagining how functional packaging can appeal to people on an emotional level, I am always looking for ways to foster creativity in my kids and in my team,” CD Steve Tedesco added.

As we explored the relationship between being a dad and being a designer, we learned one thing for sure. The dads here at Soulsight are exactly the kinds of dads anyone would be lucky to have. As a group, they overwhelmingly cited empathy, patience, spontaneity, and a sense of fun as skills they’ve developed and use in tandem at home and at work as dads who design. So next time you are taking on that new project, new client, or new team member, remember to pause for a second and put on your dad glasses. Seeing it through the lens of a parent and treating it like an individual with a completely unique set of needs to meet will help you arrive at an empathetic solution, allowing you to create real human connection to your design. After all, isn’t that the point?

adam ferguson