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On Leadership and Fatherhood with Sonos CEO Patrick Spence
Dadditude Newsletter #3
Balancing work and family is a constant struggle for many parents. When you’re an executive of a global brand, this pressure gets turned up to another level.
Sonos CEO Patrick Spence spends a lot of time thinking about how to prioritize to make sure he gives his family the focus and time they deserve. Learning how to keep a keen perspective and understanding the importance of “being there” has been a huge factor in his evolution as a parent and business leader.
We spoke with him recently about his strengths as a dad as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his daughters passion for learning and friendships.
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Tell us a little about yourself (from the family point of view. Dad of… etc)
I've been married to the most amazing person for almost 19 years, and we have been blessed with two wonderful girls. My priorities are family, fitness & Sonos, in that order.
How old are your kids? How would you describe each of them?
We have a 17 year old & 14 year old. Both are kind, curious & determined, which is everything. The older one is a classic first-born, Type A personality, achiever. The younger one is a more quiet & contemplative, (quietly) fiercely competitive, and intuitive.
How does being a father influence your leadership style at work, and vice versa, how leading a company influences your parenting style?
I definitely feel like I am a better leader as a result of being a father. I think it's made me more empathetic, and forced me to be more focused & intentional at work. Being a father also keeps work in perspective - my wife & the girls always help me put work in perspective, and keep me humble because they're always making fun of me.
What do you think is your biggest strength as a parent?
Empowering them to make their own decisions. The flip side of that is they have to own their decisions. So if they choose to sign up for an activity/ sport, they have to follow through. They each made their own decision on where they would go to high school, and I think that forces them to own the decision and figure it out.
What stresses you out the most as a parent these days?
Our girls have not been at school for almost a year at this point. I've seen their passion for learning start to wane, and a lower level of connection with their friends/ classmates/ teachers. There is light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines being rolled out, but I do worry about what the long-term impacts of the last year will be for all kids.
What side of parenthood do you wish you had invested more time and energy in the past?
I think we underestimate presence. Just being there when they need someone to listen to them. You can't schedule those moments. Early in my fatherhood journey I travelled too much (I was away 163 nights in one year) so I missed some of those impromptu moments. The silver lining of the last year has been that we've had so much time together, and had dinner together almost every night. That has been amazing.
Can you tell us about an especially favorite/special moment with your kids recently?
Our younger daughter has always wanted to return to Canada, so we all figured that would be for college (which is 3 years away for her). The pandemic, and remote school, drove her to start looking at in-person high schools in Canada. On her own initiative, she started contacting boarding high schools near our family in Canada, and convinced her sister they should finish high school in Canada. The girls decided this would be the right path for them, despite how hard it can be to change high schools mid-stream. They agreed that either they would both go to one, or neither would go. They applied, did interviews, and were ultimately both admitted to one they targeted. As difficult it is to have them leave me & my wife, it was incredible to see them take the initiative, do it together, and make a hard decision like this.
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Next week, we’ll be featuring our interview with Born Human’s Andy Chambers.
See you then!