Ep 1: How one leader’s personal planning created workplace change

The Work-Life Equation, season 3, episode 1

David Newson, founder of XNW Digital, is a seasoned professional who brings a unique perspective to the discussion of work-life integration and mindful leadership. With a successful career in marketing and a genuine commitment to striking a balance between professional success and personal fulfillment, David's insights into intentional time management and navigating the challenges of parenthood and leadership are sure to resonate with working parents and leaders seeking improved work-life integration. His personal journey and experiences offer valuable wisdom and practical strategies for finding harmony between professional and personal responsibilities.

Read the full transcript

00:00:05 - VoiceAmerica
Welcome to The Work-Life Equation, hosted by Priya Krishnan and Paul Sullivan. During this episode, you will hear from working parents just like you who understand the daily struggles and triumphs while finding our unique work life equation. Now, here are your hosts.

00:00:24 - Priya Krishnan
Hello, everyone, and welcome to The Work-Life Equation. I am Priya Krishnan. I'm the Chief Digital and Transformation Officer at Bright Horizons.

00:00:32 - Paul Sullivan
And I'm Paul Sullivan, the founder of The Company of Dads. And I'll be your co-host along with Priya this season. Today, our guest is David Newson, who, as we speak, is the Chief Digital Officer at Cerity Partners, a wealth management firm. He's got some big changes ahead that he's going to talk about, all positive, all built around the work life equation. David is somebody who's kind of, I've known for years. He's come up the ranks in marketing. He's very successful, but he's always kept his eye on striking that balance of being there for his son, being a good husband, being a human. And so it's pretty awesome to have us join us today. David, thanks for being our guest.

00:01:15 - David Newson
Thanks for having me and thrilled to be.

00:01:19 - Paul Sullivan
I like to start kind of the first question. I know Xander, your son, he's five now, but there was a time know you weren't a dad, you weren't a husband. How is your perspective on work and life and how they integrate and how they fit together? How has that evolved over the years in your career as your personal life has evolved?

00:01:45 - David Newson
That's a great choice of words there, Paul. It was completely life mean and it felt like it happened all at once. There was really no. As many folks that you talk to about their own lived experience, there really just wasn't preparation for what it actually became. And you have all of these preconceived notions about, oh, I want to be a great dad, and this is what it's going to mean to be a great dad and I'm going to do this and I'm going to do that and we're going to do these amazing things together and there's going to be all of these. And you set up these piles of expectations and then you're at the hospital, your son's given to you and you're just kind of like in this kind of liminal space of, oh, my gosh, this is a living, breathing human being. Oh, my gosh, is he healthy? Okay, he's healthy. Okay, we go home and then it's like, okay, now what? And then it just kind of feels like everyone else's lived experience. Right? Like, you are in it. Like, all night long you're in it.

00:02:51 - Paul Sullivan
All day long, the next day you're in it.

00:02:54 - David Newson
And it really was completely life altering. And so we went from this worldview of it's us in the world or my husband and I in the world, and then it was like, wait a minute. This is a family with a capital f in the world. And it just kind of set. It was like we were setting sail on this entirely new, completely transformed life journey. I think that's the best way I can put it.

00:03:30 - Paul Sullivan
Hearing that, you just took me back. Priya had two sons. I have three daughters. And I remember when my oldest daughter, who's now 14, was handed to me, and they fit in the crux of your arm, and she's now 14. She's taller than my wife. But when you talk about getting right into it, like, okay, we have the baby. We got this. We have this figured out. And then three days later, we get a call from somebody who's at our house saying, do you know that your basement is filled with water? And I said, what are you talking about? And it broke. And so you get right into it. And so it's know, even if you don't plan on having this work life and not even work, just life and kid life and all of this, know, Priya's got a bunch of great questions, but I'm thinking here, when you look back, you were in San Francisco, very successful there. You're now in Portland, Oregon. How do you look at those different phases of your life? Are they on a continuum, or does one sort of stop or pause when Xander is handed to you, when Xander is born and you continue on this other journey?

00:04:36 - David Newson
That's a great question. I think it's just one big piece of the whole. It's not like a book with chapters. I mean, it's easy to explain your life in chapters. It's like, oh, once upon a time, I was a Mormon missionary. Okay, that was a chapter for sure.

00:05:01 - Paul Sullivan
Which for listeners is true. He's not just saying it is true. For listeners. That is true also.

00:05:06 - David Newson
Very true. And so, looking back, sometimes it feels like chapters. But when it comes to once I found. Oh, gosh, once I found my way in the world, in work, in life, that just feels like this beautiful journey is overused, but it feels like this beautiful journey. And I'm lucky enough to have a partner, a husband that is my kind of partner in think the old adage is like, partner in crime, partner in crime, doing illegal things. So it's like the. The person who's attached to you no matter what. That's like, oh, no, we got this. And in the moments where you're doubting yourself, they kind of look at you and they're like, hey, everything's going to be just fine. Right. Or in those other moments where they might be doubting, and you just give them a look, and it's just like, hey, everything's going to be absolutely just fine. So it's really just kind of part of the whole. Yeah.

00:06:08 - Priya Krishnan
I always say that you don't get a handbook, right, like, for three things in life, which is you're entering the workforce when you get married and then when you have children. And I think the one with children is the toughest because you're responsible for another human being. Not that when you're married, you're not. This is a little one that you influence and you're raising, and you're responsible for how they turn out somehow, you at least believe that is the case.

00:06:34 - David Newson
Sure. And there's also, I remember thinking this, and it's not that you don't. Or in our situation specifically, it's not that you don't adore your partner, your husband or spouse, but there's this immediate, instinctual, primal instinct that if your child is in danger, you're going to be the person who lifts the car off of them, or you're going to be the one that pushes them out of the way at the expense of potentially your own life. And not that you wouldn't for your partner, but you might pause for a moment.

00:07:18 - Priya Krishnan
You understand what true, unconditional love is with a child, I think.

00:07:22 - David Newson
True. And so, of course, you would like to think, like, in certain situations, like, you just go and you just act from this instinctual place. And I think what I'm really trying to draw attention here, too, is, like, with a child is its most visceral, its most potent form of unconditional love that just moves through you unlike anything else.

00:07:47 - Priya Krishnan
And it's interesting that you say that. So I'd love to hear about what challenges you've had at work as you were raising Xander. And how has that influenced how you think about other parents at the firm and supporting them?

00:08:02 - David Newson
Sure. So when Xander was first born. So when Xander was first born, I was at a firm called Bos, and then Bos merged into Cerity Partners. So Cerity Partners is part of the greater whole now, but at the time, it was a regional firm based in San Francisco. And I count myself very lucky. I was one of ten partners at the firm when Xander was born. I didn't want to let down my partner, so maybe I didn't take as much time as perhaps I should have. In hindsight, I think I took twelve weeks, which was, to me, a nice chunk of time. My husband had even more time, frankly, like, as much time as he needed from a work standpoint. And that was wonderful because we had some longer term consistency of who was going to be home. And then what I had at work was like, well, yeah, go take the time, go be there. And I think a lot of it was more in my head. But then becoming an executive, like, at a larger firm, as we moved through time, then it became, wow, there's challenges here. There's, like, people on different coasts. There's a time difference. There's time in the morning. That's inviolable space for me, right? Like, I'm the parent that gets up in the morning when Xander is getting ready to get to school and do his whole routine. I'm the guy that's doing that. And so I had to put in place. Some would just. You'd have calendar scope creep all over the place, right?

00:09:57 - Paul Sullivan
You and I, David, have talked in the past about your calendar, and I want to touch on that in a second. But what I really would like to ask, when you were at the legacy firm that merged into Cerity and you took those twelve weeks, was there a model for you to do that? You're quite senior at that firm, but was there an equal to you, a spirit to you who had done something similar and said, it's okay? Because you mentioned, like, when you went out for those twelve weeks, you were a little bit. A bit nervous. We found that without a model, without somebody sort of being vocal about parenting and saying, I'm taking this for these twelve weeks, I got a bomb. I'm a human. It's tough for people to do it because they think, am I going to fall behind on work? Am I going to be judged for this? Should I even be doing this? What was that like for you five, six years ago when it happened?

00:10:43 - David Newson
I worried a lot about it over the course of my career. It's also interesting, too, because there's an x factor here. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community that might elevate concern in some ways, where it's just like, oh, gosh, it wasn't too long ago where there were very few people like us who could have families. And then getting that even codified into laws and then there's a lot attached to it, a lot of historical background to it. And so for me, even though I was hearing all the right things, but to answer your question, no, there was not a model. Most of my partners had already gone through the phase of kind of starting families. So they had older children and they were just kind of like, oh, yeah, take the time that you need, but being good partners, that's what a good partner says, right? You say those things, but sometimes it works out in the wash. Like, okay, how is it really going to be? Are they sending me emails asking me questions while I'm out? Right. Or are they really allowing me to take the time and have the space with a newborn happy to report, like, no one sent me an email, which was actually fantastic. Fantastic. But that didn't stop me self imposed worrying about like, well, wait a minute, what does this mean? I may be losing touch with work. What does that spell for me long term? But I worried a lot. But yeah, no model was kind of winging it and worried a lot.

00:12:28 - Paul Sullivan
Fair enough.

00:12:29 - Priya Krishnan
I also think that the fact that you said the scope creep or contain the scope creep on your calendar is very admirable because it allows other people to do that and say, I have permission because of the fact that somebody I know and I admire and is senior in the firm does it and calls out and contains the space that they have with their children. So you seem to win this trailblazer in many ways, right? I read this article that you wrote about how to adopt children and you've gone through a very detailed process on here are all your options. And this is what we chose. So how have you approached that? How have you sort of taken this lead and said, it is okay, I don't need the permission or the role modeling like Paul was talking about. And what's driven that?

00:13:20 - David Newson
What's driven? And headline here, one headline when I talk about my time being a Mormon missionary and this separation between my life as a member of a church environment and then after coming out and also coming out during a time where the church was less accepting of such things had different consequences for me in my life. But that was like the genesis of knowing, just a very deep inner knowing about who I am and then allowing that to play out in the world instead of knowing who I am and then going through the motions of expectation. And so when I look back, it's like, well, that's kind of easy. Like, okay, well, maybe it cost me my career, but at one time I lost my religion, right? That was very close. That was something that I held near and dear to. It felt like an absolute part of who I was. And so it's kind of like, well, you lose your religion, you can move through the rest of your life in ways that perhaps require a little bit more, I don't know, courage or modeling. I will also say I had good support. Like, had an excellent executive coach. I've had a coach for many years. As I was kind of coming up through the ranks, I actually asked for it, like, hey, are you willing to foot the cost for this? Can we split the cost for this? I would love some support on the executive side as I move through because I want to be a good leader. I want to be a good role model, and I don't know how to necessarily do that instinctively. So I would love to learn and have that support. And I got that. And part of our work together was, okay, well, what does this mean for you becoming a parent? What does it mean for your career? And it's interesting, like, when you move through the world with a little bit more intention, not always, but it can work out. And I think in my case, I have to just count myself as very lucky, too.

00:15:56 - Paul Sullivan
You talk about that intention, and I want to come back and really kind of make this explicit for the listeners. When you claim that space to get Xander ready in the morning, what is it, like 07:00 a.m. To 830, is that correct? I remember that correctly.

00:16:12 - David Newson
Yeah, it's like 650. The alarm goes off and 08:00 my husband is like whisking him off to school. Yeah, right.

00:16:19 - Paul Sullivan
And so people might listen and say, well, what's the big know? That's early in the morning. But the big deal is you're on the west coast, the center of gravity, the firm that you work for as we're speaking. I know we have more to talk about in the second segment, but the center of gravity there is New York City. So that's the east coast. So if you're on the east coast, everybody else, nobody would care. But you're on the west coast. And that's know the east coasters are revving their day up and they called you and then you sort of said, no, this is my time. I'll be available afterwards. But talk about that's good for you and great. Yeah, like you, David, happy, that worked out good, but it had a bigger effect within your firm.

00:16:56 - David Newson
And talk about that.

00:16:57 - Paul Sullivan
Bigger effect that, that have you sort of parenting by calendar, sort of modeling what you needed and being a partner, the firm respecting that. Talk about the effect that that had on other mothers, fathers and caregivers within your firm.

00:17:13 - David Newson
Yeah, I think it had a positive effect. And maybe not through intention, but out of necessity. I just couldn't manage a bunch of calendars, like work calendar, personal calendar, like this calendar, that calendar. It was just like, wait a minute. The center of gravity for me is work from a calendaring standpoint. And so I needed to use my work calendar for my life. And I just blocked in Xander daddy duty. Right. In the morning. Right. And I just blocked out from six until eight just to make sure that east coast folks understood. Like, oh, no, I can't squeeze something in before 650 on the east.

00:18:00 - Paul Sullivan
Wake them up.

00:18:00 - David Newson
Yeah, totally. It would just like, create and honestly, to be absolutely transparent, I'm not really up before 650. Xander right now has a habit of crawling into my bed, right. And so I don't want to disturb him, so I'm not going to get up and disturb sleep. And so what that means is I just kind of shift my, I'll go to bed later and then get up at 650 with him because I know he's basically going to be right next to me. And so what wind up happening is I scheduled that time. I also scheduled time. I schedule my lunchtime. My husband and I both work from home and we sometimes rarely connect about family stuff. And so lunchtime is our connect with family time. And so I book that on my calendar and then I do pick up in the afternoon and I book out. I block out, like, Xander pickup time, right? And that's like west coast time. Like 230 in the afternoon, right. And then I'm kind of missing west coast time in the later part of the afternoon. But then I come back online at night when no one's pinging you for anything. But what wound up happening was lots of folks see the time blocked and they're like, I'm going to go in and try to get a meeting in there. And so I would say for the first, I mean, it just happened month after month. It got a little exhausting, honestly, because it was just like, whoa, come on. But it was different. Some of the same folks, sometimes different folks. But what wound up happening was folks started sharing. No, Newson, do not ping him between six and eight, right. We know that's our prime time here in New York, but that's daddy time for him. Super respectful. Once it kind of took some time for it to uptake, right? But once it went up, then, okay, great people understood and they talked about it. I thought that. That was fantastic. I would wind up getting introduced and sometimes at speaking events, and if the colleague was there, they would actually say something like, this is the guy who actually blocks out daddy time on his calendar. And everyone knows, don't ping him, don't bug him, don't write. He's doing his thing. And I have to say that that actually allows me to be a more present parent right in that moment because I'm not thinking, who's pinging me? What am I missing? I get to really stay focused there.

00:20:37 - Paul Sullivan
And finish that thought. How has that helped you be a better worker? You're not divided. You're not sort of parenting secretly or shamefully when you should be working and you're working when you're working. How has that impacted the quality of your work that you're doing?

00:20:52 - David Newson
When you're focused on work, it goes back to intentionality. Instead of having your attention be split, your attention is focused. And the same way that I was focused on being a parent when I'm with Xander, the same way I am focused when I'm focused on work. And so, like, folks talk about flow and kind of getting into flow when you're working, a lot easier for me to enter flow state, right? Much easier because I don't have to worry about Xander when I'm working, right? We're managing that, right? So when I come back online at night, my husband does the whole routine and going to bed, brush teeth, bath, brush teeth. Like, okay, off to bed. My husband manages that. And that's when I get to go back online and I don't have to worry about what's happening in the house. I can just come into my home office and put my head down and bang out a bunch of work. And it's also very convenient because both the west coast and the east coast are offline by the time I'm coming back online.

00:21:59 - Priya Krishnan
I'm telling you, it's so, so important to role model and very, very critical for people to see somebody does this, I have permission to do it. So kudos to you for getting that going. I'm going to switch gears a little bit, David, and ask you how is having Xander influenced your leadership style and how have you changed as both a manager and a leader in your firm once you've had him? Has that impacted it? I can certainly tell you by example it has. When I had my boys.

00:22:29 - David Newson
Yeah. Historically speaking, perhaps wasn't the most patient leader. Right? Like, I'm a classic type a, driven. Like, oh, wait a minute, if it was due today, at noon. And I didn't have it by last know. Come on, what are you doing? Like, what's happening? And after having Xander much more patient and also much more explicit, having a child where especially, like right now he's five, right? So there's, know, what do teachers call it? Executive functioning. Right? Like self regulation, where we're sitting down and reading books. Like, know, like we're talking about how do you manage? And it's really a wonderful. I comment often to my husband, like, what am I, five years old? There's times where I'm reading these books on how to manage your state, your emotional state or your emotions. And there's something for me to learn in all of that, even though it might be super new for him and something that we need to repeat over and over and over again. But for me, even. And then how that plays out at work is like, okay, I'm more patient. I'm more explicit. Just because a thought went through my head, I can't expect others to understand that a thought crossed my mind, right? So being explicit about those things and setting expectations, not from a lenient standpoint, but more from a clarity standpoint. If you're clear, then it opens up space to have conversations about, like, okay, the how. And I think before I had Xander, I would move a million miles a minute and kind of expect people to read my mind.

00:24:25 - Paul Sullivan
I'm glad you clarified that. And you didn't say know. I find myself just getting up from the table and running away like my kindergartner does. On that note, we're just going to take a brief break, and so, listeners, stay tuned. We will be right back and you're listening to The Work-Life Equation podcast brought to you by Bright Horizons.

00:24:47 - David Newson
Thank you.

00:25:00 - VoiceAmerica
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00:26:17 - Priya Krishnan
Welcome back to The Work-Life Equation podcast with Paul and Priya. We were having a conversation with David in the break, and Paul, you wanted to dig into something specific with David, so you should jump right in.

00:26:29 - Paul Sullivan
Yeah, thanks, Priya. I mean, one of the things I was thinking about. Go. Whatever our career is, whatever our field is professionally, there are sort of markers. You aspire to get promoted to this, promoted to that, promoted. Maybe a different job. And it's not exactly laid out for us, but there's something ahead. You become a leader, not just as an expert marketer, but you become a leader in the space of sort of work life integration and as a working parent, a working dad, not just within your firm, but also when you talk and you're talking to other people in that CMO marketing space, they're listening to the experience that you've had and the success you've had with other people at your firm saying, okay, I can take some time for my son or daughter the way David has. How does that feel and how did that come about, really? Did it really come about from your own personal experience and it's something you just embraced?

00:27:27 - David Newson
Well, the historical context is, once upon a time, my husband and I didn't even think that we could even have a family. We couldn't get married. There just weren't legal protections. The environment did not give rise to us having a family the way that other folks move through the world and have a family. And so when that became possible and then we realized, like, together, that made sense for us, having Xander and becoming a dad felt like a calling, not just like becoming in. And I'm not minimizing anyone else's experience, but for me, there was just this very deep sense of, like, oh, my goodness, this is a calling. And I have got. When someone is called to something, right? It doesn't matter if you're ready or, like, you have to do. So I very much had this feeling that it was a calling, and that's been my North Star. So Xander being our north Star, it's like, when I have a North Star, then the rest know falls into line, or it doesn't. And for me, it's really fallen into line. And so when you have a calling and things are working out well for you, you talk about it, right? It becomes a very visible and tangible part of the fabric of everything that you do, including work. And I think, historically speaking, for know, once upon a time, I couldn't even be out at work, right. And I was working in Manhattan at the time. Right. And I did not feel comfortable being out at know. And then fast forward, right. And I got an award for being an outstanding professional in Francisco. Right. And that just felt like, wow, my goodness, there's a beauty and a sanctity in it all that just feels like a final validation that who you are and what you're doing is now accepted and you can move through the world in a very different way. And that has a very deep connection for me. Right. So when I talk about Sander, when I talk about that experience, when I talk about moving through the world in a certain way, then people can feel that, right. It's electrified.

00:30:10 - Priya Krishnan
That, for me, triggers a two part question. One is, if somebody who's a young listener on our podcast could think, hey, he was a partner, and he gets to do this, just like it's a responsibility for you to showcase. By the same measure. It's almost like he's just really senior in the organization. Of course he could pull it off. Can I do it as somebody who's younger in the firm? The second is, while you've gone through what is an incredibly difficult set of navigations in life, it feels like you've managed to navigate that quite successfully. There must have been things that fell by the wayside. Then you felt like, hey, this isn't working out for me. How did you deal with those?

00:30:57 - David Newson
Be more specific on the second part of the question.

00:31:00 - Priya Krishnan
How did you think about. There were times that it didn't go right with Xander, and you're like, did I take on the right thing? And is this too much of a battle? And I have no precedent for people who've done this before me. How have you dealt with adverse situations where there is no benchmark for you?

00:31:21 - David Newson
Yeah, maybe I'll answer that one first. It is interesting things that come up, something that came up recently that when it does come up, it's not uncommon for it to come up because children are naturally curious and they're always asking questions. And one question that came up recently that just always, just for both my husband and I, maybe less my husband for me, for sure, it always kind of just like. I'm like, oh, whoa, I wasn't expecting that. And I don't know really how to respond. I mean, I know the technical answers here, but I don't know how to respond in the way that a five year old can understand because it's complicated. Right. And the thing that happened was, you know, picking Xander up at school and one of his classmates actually said, does Xander have a mom? Right? And that's just one of those things where it's like, oh, gosh, we should be prepared. I'm supposed to have notes on that, right? I am supposed to have the party line of what I'm supposed to say when these things come up. And in those moments, instead of going to a script, I paused for a moment because it took me off guard. This was just like, pickup. So I'm kind of like, okay, is your jacket on? Do you have your lunch? Do you have your water bottle? Your backpack? Okay, let's go. Right? And then it was like, oh, des. And I've given a lot of thought about it where it's like, well, wait a minute. I don't want to frame things as an adult versus what a child has and what a child does not have, because creating a sense of lack for me was just like, well, wait a minute. No, there is no lack here, right? He has two amazing parents who have such incredible love and a desire to be better for him that, no, he doesn't have a lack. But for a five year old, he just might be asking the question like, okay, well, what's going on here? Right? And so the way I chose to respond to the question was, well, Xander's very lucky he has two dads. And I said, but if you're asking like, oh, is a woman involved in this process? Yes, absolutely. We needed to rely on the help of a few women in order for Xander to arrive into the world. And then I asked, know, did I answer your question? And he said, yes. And I said, does it make sense? And he's like, not entirely, but I'm okay. And I thought, okay, awesome, right? I don't need to say anymore, right? He's okay. I answer the question. It may not make sense, and it's also hard for it to make sense at five years old. Right? Yeah. So that one always. I'm almost always unprepared for that question because it actually just kind of sets. I don't know, it sets off a buzzer inside, like, oh, my goodness, are we lacking in this way? Right. And when the answer is obviously no, but it tickles the insides, I had something very similar.

00:34:39 - Paul Sullivan
I want to answer the first question, because that was my question as well. It's great. But I had something similar. My six year old is friends with these twins who have two dads, and she did, how do two dads have a baby? And I answered by saying, why do you ask? And she says, oh, because Alex and Kate are my dad's. Their dad said that they used a surrogate. What's a surrogate? I explained, like, jean, oh, shit. Surrogate, fine. And she went on her way because it just was like. It's like the old story where when sometimes you're at the ATM and kids say, daddy, mommy, where does money come from? Where does money come from? And you give them this long disquisition and it goes, and it's all off base and like, no, where does it come from in the ATM? How does it get out of the ATM? And you're like, oh. And so I always ask the question to, like, how complex of an answer do you give?

00:35:33 - Priya Krishnan
Yeah, it is the literal versus the lateral. They're always sort of thinking laterally, whereas kids questions are very literal. But I sort of pose my first question again to you, David, which is, what would you say to our younger listeners who say, hey, he was a partner and he could do this. I am not, and I'm starting a family, and I'm still fairly junior in the organization. How would you have dealt with it if you were in that situation? My guess is, similarly, I get the sense that.

00:36:10 - David Newson
I'm not one that's big on advice, but I can speak from the eye perspective, for sure. Starting a family, like we mentioned earlier, is one of those really big moments in life, and there's such a depth to it and it's life altering and changing and all of these things. And I really needed to take a stand. And maybe it was perceived right. Maybe I was inventing things that were happening at work. And yes, I was a partner, but even if my younger self, yeah, I would have stepped out and taken the time. I also think for younger people, and I can speak from just being in the C suite for some time now. Conversations are being had, like, younger generations in the workforce, and what they need is very. I have the view it's not actually different, but what's different about it now is the workplace needs to be able to continue to attract talent, and in order to do so, is willing to do more. And I think that is a wonderful thing. So I think young people have never been in a better position to take the time, to spend the time and ask for things. I mean, what's also very interesting, I was talking to a young person recently on something entirely separate. It wasn't about families and taking time, but it was really about. Wait a minute. The wealth management space has kind of been around for a very long time, and it feels very slow to be changing and moving and even catering at all towards younger talent. And this happened to be someone who was a TikTok influencer in the financial planning space. Right? Which is kind of a new thing. And what's super interesting is what he had learned was that what he was sharing with other young people was, you can only negotiate once. When you enter a firm is the only time that you actually have the most power. One of the things that he was negotiating was, I own my social media followers. No one else does, right? And there had been some litigation in the field, like, oh, no, someone had built a TikTok following 250,000 followers. And the firm asserted, no, we own those. Those are ours.

00:38:53 - Paul Sullivan

00:38:54 - David Newson
And it's interesting, because now, young people, when they enter, if they have a following, or if they intend to have a following or leverage social media, they can actually negotiate. And I think firms are very quick to say, like, oh, yeah, we're happy to have that conversation. Right. And I think so, too. Those questions should be being asked, and if you are getting any other answer other than what you need to hear as a potential parent, then maybe it's not the right place.

00:39:22 - Paul Sullivan
Let me take Priya's question and ask it to a different group, and that's your fellow managers, be it your fellow cmos or marketing chief, digital officers, different firms or other managers within the wealth management space or other industries that you've worked in. Let's say that they had a different experience when they were parents. Let's say they had a different experience as caregivers. How would you, and I know you said you don't like to give advice, so therefore I'm going to ask you to give advice. How would you advise them to handle the questions that they're being asked, so that they're actually answering the question that their direct report that their employee is asking them, and they're answering it in a way that's beneficial. By beneficial, I mean beneficial for the employee. But look, companies have to make money also beneficial for the company, because there's got to be a right way and a wrong way to answer these questions.

00:40:18 - David Newson
Sure. Ask the question one more time, Paul. I want to make sure I give you, this is an important one, and I want to make sure I'm very succinct in my response.

00:40:29 - Paul Sullivan
For people, managers who are listening, how would you tell them to not rely, perhaps, on their own experience to answer these questions? How would you advise them to answer these questions the way they ought to be answered in 2024, when somebody comes to them about work life equation type question, a parenting question, a caregiving question, whatever that may be. How would you advise them to answer those questions now in 2024, and not how that question may have been answered to them when they're in that same position?

00:41:04 - David Newson
Honesty and transparency. Honesty and transparency. I think it's literally that simple. And that even means being honest and transparent, potentially, about their own experience and how things were. What's also interesting, too, is I can only imagine if I were just entering the workplace. You're not equipped with the historical knowledge of what workplace has been over the past. You only have your lived experience of how things were with your parents and kind of what you were exposed to. And so maybe a little bit of positioning how the workplace has evolved over time, but also being very clear about the organization's values. Right. Organizations have values for a reason. Right. It helps build culture. It helps build an environment that everyone wants to be performing, hopefully in very productive, high performing ways and high performers. And I think this is what's fascinating. Parents are incredibly high performers. I'm not quoting any studies. I don't know if there even are studies out there, but I know from the parents that I've seen over the course of my career. And it's not that other people aren't performers either. But if you want someone to really get something done, you give it to someone who is a parent, right. Because they have this uncanny ability to manage and prioritize things that really matter. And that is a wonderful skill set that is essential as you move through work life. You need to know what really matters and what doesn't and how to prioritize one thing over the next. So honesty, transparency, and I think just.

00:43:08 - Priya Krishnan
The context of both what Bright Horizons does and what we see within the workforce. Paul? I think the fact that there are these multiple. I completely get your question because my parenting experience isn't the same as somebody who's entering the workforce right now, but also listening, I would sort of say, hey, what is different about your context that I don't get? And I think then organizations like us support employers, provide these services, and support these families. I think the challenge for most employers is that it's five generations in a workforce, and those needs are very different. And it's the definition of family is changing. So how do you support, what is the new family today?

00:43:53 - Paul Sullivan
That's right. David, this has been awesome. Thank you for joining us. Today we're going to end each and every one of these podcasts with three questions, and everybody gets the same three questions.

00:44:08 - David Newson
Okay, no pressure.

00:44:09 - Paul Sullivan
So you're going to be graded and judged, just so you know. All right, first question. What's work life balance to you?

00:44:21 - David Newson
I think about work life balance less about them being other and more about them being integrated. How can I move through work life integration? And integration doesn't mean, like, work is spilling into your home life. It just means I'm allowed and permitted, both from my colleagues and for myself to show up at work as a whole human being.

00:44:46 - Priya Krishnan
Got it. And what is your go to way to unwind when you're not juggling work priorities or doing the carpool duty or answering, where did Xander come from?

00:44:59 - David Newson
Totally two things. I'm either in a swimming pool, swimming laps. It's almost like meditation for me. And one of the big reasons we're in Portland, Oregon. I'm a tree guy. You'll find me on the trails in Portland.

00:45:17 - Paul Sullivan
We haven't mentioned this, but your husband works for the Sierra club, so I'm glad that you are a tree. Absolutely does. Yeah, I was following the swimming part, but then I was going to say, you're going to go all in on the Portland pinot noir. And the third question here is, again, I got tasked with asking you the advice questions twice. But what advice would you give to other working fathers who are trying to balance their career aspirations, what they want to be in their career with their family obligations?

00:45:52 - David Newson
Oh, I'm so bad on the advice thing. One thing that I notice, and I don't know what to do about it. And this goes to what you do, Paul, what's lacking, or what was lacking before the company of dads is this sense of community. I think there's many dads in the workplace that probably feel lonely in their roles. In the role, right. Not lonely, but in the role of being a dad at work, it can feel lonely. And so what can augment that? In my own mind, I think, oh, what can augment that feeling? And it's like, well, community. A sense of community, the ability to have conversations or even tap into conversations with other men that are experiencing a similar experience in life. And we know human beings are incredibly social, right? We both work from home, but we need to be out in the world. We're social recluses, right? We like to be social, but we also have this really deep home component. And so I just think there more community for dads.

00:47:15 - Priya Krishnan
Social recruiters. I like that term. Thank you. Thank you so much, David.

00:47:23 - VoiceAmerica
What's more magical than a childhood filled with days of play, learning, exploration and discovery at Bright Horizons? We think of childcare as a chance to help a child experience it all. Our teachers go beyond the usual ensuring your child has an enriching, satisfying day. They take the time to listen, engage, encourage, and celebrate the wins, big and small. At Bright Horizons, we put the care in childcare. Visit brighthorizons.com to find a center near you. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Work-Life Equation. For more parenting resources, visit brighthoriozons.com and be sure to follow us on social media.

Priya Krishnan, Senior Vice President, Client Relations and Growth Operations
About the Author
Chief Digital and Transformation Officer
Priya Krishnan comes to Bright Horizons after founding and running India's largest childcare business. She is the winner of many awards for her work in the space, including Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Young Turk, FT1000 for Asia, and Red Herring Asia.
The Work-Life Equation, season 3, episode 1