Your age, Your professional moniker, and daughter's age?
41; Beverly Hills-based wealth manager; and Father of Simone age: 6.
When you became a father, what surprised you most about the experience?
The most surprising experience for me was how quickly Simone grew. I traveled weekly between New York and Los Angeles when she was a baby and after a few days “on the road,” I noticed even the smallest changes in her.
You wife, Stephanie is a reporter with CNN, which means you both have heavy professional demands on your time. How do you balance the career demands with the requirements of Simone's world of school, recitals, social events, extracuricular activities, and quality time?
There’s definitely a balance, however, we are unified in that Simone is our priority. I appreciate that Steph recognized early the demands of our careers, so we hired a nanny who loves Simone and who’s been a part of our family most of Simone’s life. Professionally, I work with a solid team to support the needs our clients which allows for more flexibility, so I can be a part of Simone’s events. The news cycle is a little trickier to navigate because events such as the unrest in Ferguson or the unexpected death of Prince are totally unpredictable. When Steph receives the call to cover stories that are out of state, our nanny is already in place to handle things like picking up Simone from school. We use our careers as teaching tools for Simone, also. She’s been a part of our careers from an early age, so it’s fun to have conversations about some of the lighter stories that Steph covers or helping Simone figure out her “needs” versus her “wants.”
What is your most treasured time spent, or activity with your daughter -the 'just us time' that lives in your heart and mind?
We love flying back to my hometown of St. Louis for our annual father/ daughter trip. Simone has logged a lot of miles in the air and we have a lot of fun playing games, reading, and having conversations. While at home in LA, there’s usually a weekly “dance party” where she shows me her latest dance moves while we make dinner or dessert. Simone loves to help cook, so it’s nice to incorporate some dance and music while waiting for food to bake.
What has been the best self-revelation you've had since becoming a father?
That being silly is amazing! I’ve been told that I can be a little serious, so I truly enjoy being silly and having fun as father.
How has the relationship with your father informed who you are as a father?
The relationship I had with my Dad was a strong and loving one. Unfortunately, he passed in 2011 when Simone was one, however, I was so lucky that he was my Dad and that Simone was a part of his life. His love and respect for my Mom, his fairness when guiding my 2 older brothers and me, and his patience and kindness especially with kids who wanted to learn was an amazing model for me. I strive to model these types of behaviors so Simone will know what to expect from those who will be a part of her life as she gets older.
The biggest misconception about Black fathers is...?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that we’re not present for our kids and that we’re having babies indiscriminately. Chris Rock told a funny joke about the difference between songs written about our mothers versus our fathers which was hilarious. He referenced the Temptations song, “Papa Was a Rollin Stone” which to some people across most cultures is true. However, we just want to be able to protect and provide for our families just like anyone else.
Having children is a big responsibility, there is private school, sports, medical, college, and a more to consider which can seem daunting for many. What advice can you offer to young men for how to plan for fatherhood? Do the rewards outweigh the practical responsibilities?
Before any major event in your life, it’s important to plan/ prepare. Ask yourself, “What’s not working for you?” and begin working on those things. Tighten up your balance sheet. If you’re constantly worried about finances, then you will not be able to focus on being present for your child. The rewards totally outweigh those practical responsibilities, however, it’s important to know yourself and live within your means, so you can be the best father that you can be for your child.
What's the biggest lesson your daughter has taught you?
One of the biggest lessons that Simone has taught me is that “she’s got this,” as she sometimes likes to say to us. It’s okay to give her a little room to grow. For example, it’s tough to watch your child fall when she’s learning how to ride a bike, however you know that she won’t be able to grow and succeed on her own if you’re always there to save her. Those small “falls” are how we grow, so it’s an amazing experience to watch Simone finally learn something new after she’s been at it for a while.
How has being a father informed how you move through the world?
I see the world and my relationships with others through a different lens now. I value the importance of our community more than I did when I wasn’t a father. Raising a healthy, honest, curious, and respectful child is much easier when we model those behaviors that we want to see in her and surround ourselves with others who do, as well. ICON MANN has several examples of those who are building strong and positive communities and I’m grateful to be a part of it
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