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Becoming a parent marks a meaningful shift in responsibility. We find ourselves full of hopes and desires for this new story before us, aware of the impact we have. Yet as wisdom is passed along, we realize growth is often a two-way street and find ourselves receiving just as much (if not more) in return.
Husband, son, adventurer, boss, friend — these are some of the names Brad, our CEO, is known by throughout his day. However, being known as "dad" has quickly become one of the most meaningful and life-giving experiences for him. We sat down with Brad to discuss the many layers of fatherhood that have impacted him and his story. Recalling moments with his own father and the lessons he learns from being a dad, he shares the beauty in the way our stories weave with one another's to help us grow.
What are some moments with your father that were impactful?
My dad never really grew up — it’s one of the things I admire most about him. Yet in many ways, he is also a grounded and deeply spiritual man. As a kid, I always appreciated this dichotomy: in the span of a day, he could go from meditating and reading Eckhart Tolle, to suddenly engaging in something much more playful, like joining me on our trampoline and attempting to bounce me so high that my mom could see me from the second story window. I have countless memories of such days filled with seemingly polar experiences.
But my favorite moments with my dad occurred when he could bring both sides together into a single activity that we could share. He found these opportunities in sailing and skiing — activities that blended a sense of true serenity (and on the best days, a nearly spiritual experience) with bouts of adrenaline and excitement. I treasured the days we would escape everyday life and set off to the untold adventures that awaited us by water or snow. I never knew what each experience was going to be like, but each created space for deep conversation and connection between us, and inevitably, a chance to get our adrenaline levels up and really feel like a couple of kids. This continues even today as we adventure side by side as grown men.
What has been your biggest lesson becoming a father, and what does being a dad mean to you?
I could try to list all that she has taught me, but I think the greatest lesson has been learning that I still have so much room for improvement in order to be the dad I want to be for her, and to be the person I want to be overall. Of all the time I’ve spent reading books on self-improvement and talking to coaches of one sort or another, nothing has cast a spotlight on my areas of growth so accurately (and quickly!) as my daughter does... sometimes without even speaking a word.
What continues to amaze me is that she does it with true unconditional love and a commitment to keep showing up to work with me on it. No matter how many times I fall short, she never says “I quit” or “You’re terrible at this.” She usually just looks at me with a smile that says, “Hey, let’s try that again... I’m game if you are.” (I’m crying as I type this.)
I’ve never been more grateful for anything in my life. And to me, that is what being a dad really means. To show her and everyone else around me the same grace, patience, and unconditional love that she shows me every day; to never stop working on becoming a better version of myself. It is a commitment not to simply teach, but to grow together.
"To me, that is what being a dad really means. To show her and everyone else around me the same grace, patience, and unconditional love that she shows me every day..."
What lessons do you hope to impart to your daughter?
I wish for nothing more than for my daughter to look back on her life and say, “What an amazing experience.” I often think about what lessons I can instill in her to give her the confidence and trust to live a full life. Here are a few I hope she carries with her:
1) Never lose your sense of adventure. The world is a wonderful place full of wondrous things. Be open to seeing them, and you will find them no matter where you are.
2) Follow your heart no matter where it leads. Trust that the path will unfold for you even if it is not clear when you choose it.
3) Rules are for others to follow. You will never be your fullest self by following others’ rules.
4) Your natural expression is the greatest form of art. Allow yourself to express freely without shame or guilt.
5) Difficult does not mean bad. Many of our most difficult experiences in life teach us the most, and these end up being the most rewarding in the end.
6) Never cease to be a student. Intellectual curiosity will lead you to many exciting insights and discoveries in life.
7) Sometimes you need to be soft, and sometimes you need to be loud. You have a strong voice, use it. Use it for good, use it to make positive change, use it to stand for what you believe in, and use it to help those who may not have a voice.
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive...”
– Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
Fatherhood comes in many shapes, sizes, and most importantly — stories. As you learn and grow from these stories, may you find perspective in lessons and joy in recollection.
And at the end of the day, document what matters: days spent together.