A Year’s Worth Of Fatherly Advice From Legends, Icons And Thought Leaders

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In 2014, we spoke with guys about everything from work/life balance to the merits of a chicken puppet. These men have careers and backgrounds that are impressive or unexpected (or both), but if you have kids and a job, their advice might prove useful. Read on for words of wisdom from Warby Parker’s co-founder, the U.S. Secretary Of Education, a bonafide Ramone and more.

On What Their Careers Have Taught Them About Fatherhood

“On expeditions … things can go sideways pretty quickly, and there are always blank spaces on the map. You can know how you’re getting from Point A to Point B, but Point C – you’re going to have to figure that out. You have think on your toes, which is the beauty of an expedition. And that’s the adventure of having children – there’s all these unknowns and spontaneously beautiful moments that you wouldn’t ever get to experience if you didn’t go on this expedition.” —Jimmy Chin, Expedition Photographer And Professional Climber

“I try to get them to recognize the message : ‘I am who I am and I don’t care what you think.'”—CJ Ramone, Punk Rock Bassist

“Gratitude … to employees and team members for the work that they do. Seeing that makes me feel great, but also motivates them and makes people feel more connected and happy. I’m trying to bring that into being a father and model that behavior, because if Griffin is somebody who is gracious, who is appreciative, A. more people will like him but, B. I think he’ll just be a happier person.”—Neil Blumenthal, Warby Parker Co-Founder

“I attend parent/teacher conferences faithfully … Education works best, when parents and teachers work together. So we try to keep very clear lines of communication open.”—Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary Of Education

On The Value Of Puppets

“I remember I was talking to a girl once, she was probably 11, and before we started the interview with Murray [The Monster] she said, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone you’re the one who holds Murray.” She knew I was under there and after 5 minutes she was asking Murray if he’d come to her house for a play date. She just lost that knowledge that he wasn’t real. As a dad, I love getting into that space where I’m a kid with my kid, that place where you just imagine and have fun and don’t think about work.—Joey Mazzarino, Head Writer And Puppeteer, Sesame Street

On Raising Music Fans

“While they’re doing their homework, there’s music on. When I cook dinner, there’s music on. In the car. It’s part of the background to them, and when a song comes on that everyone likes, you all sing along. Make it part of everything.”—CJ Ramone

On Keeping Encouragement From Becoming Discouragement

“Pull them off the hill when they still have another run in them. Go get hot chocolate. That way, they’re fired up for the next day.—Daron Rahlves, Winningest Downhiller In U.S. Ski Team History

On What They Learned From Their Own Fathers

He tried to let me form my own opinion. I remember one instance in particular, it was an election year and I asked him who he was “rooting” for. He said, “You root for sports teams, you vote for a president.” And he didn’t tell me because he didn’t want to influence my personal politics, which is something I’ve always admired him for.—Neil Blumenthal

“I hope that my son doesn’t do to me what I did to my father. My parents didn’t deserve it — they did such a great job with me and I went rogue on them. It’s interesting to look back and think about my father. He was such a man of integrity and high values. My dad raised me really well, so I was able to step back into that foundation of morality and values and spirituality even though I was gone for 10 years.”—Scott Harrison, charity: water Founder

“Go on little adventures – pick a spot with a nice view on a sunny day and take a pack with snacks, have something to eat and drink and then go skiing. My parents did that, took moments to enjoy the outdoors, and it really stuck with me.”—Daron Rahlves

“We eat dinner together and then read together as a family after dinner. We try to be disciplined in that routine; both my parents and my wife’s parents read to us as kids, and we try to build that pattern with our kids.”—Arne Duncan

On Work/Life Balance

“I’ve been working really hard for 8 years, flying around the world. There were definitely some 80-hour weeks. Now, I want to be a great dad; I want to help people get access to clean water. I don’t want our growth to slow down, so I’m challenging people around me: What can you guys do? And it’s been great to see them step into their own”—Scott Harrison

“It’s not a lifestyle that lends itself to a stable family life, but if I can do it, [you] can do it. And the reason I can do it is because I married an incredible woman who is capable of dealing with me. So, I guess if I was going to give any piece of advice, it would be, ‘Choose your partner carefully.'”—Jimmy Chin

“Realize that it’s going to take time out of your day, but to make them good humans you have to feed them well. I don’t think we can trust our school cafeterias to do that just yet. We’re making strides in that direction, but it’s an inconvenience to make them healthier. We have the means and the skills to pack a healthy lunch – everyone can do it.”—Hugh Acheson, James Beard-Winning Chef

On How To Take A Great Picture Of Your Kid

“Look at your child’s face and figure out the best angle to shoot them. Everyone has a ‘better side,’ and here’s an easy formula: 90 percent of the time, it’s their left side.”—Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Portrait Photographer

The Last Word

“The father must never grow up. It’s the kid’s job to grow up. Otherwise, the father loses the context.”—Mike Horn, Professional Explorer

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