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Mastering Work Life Balance With A CEO, A CTO, A Photographer, And An Ultramarathoner

Talk to any guy who successfully juggles a career or business with a family and the only common thread you’ll find is that no one goes about it in quite the same way. Routine Behavior is a series that taps successful artists, entrepreneurs, and athletes to learn how they handle the most common (and sometimes most complicated) aspect of work/life balance. Maybe there are some ideas in here that will help you nail the balancing act a little better; maybe none of this is applicable to your deal. If nothing else, you can at least feel good knowing that even a guy who’s surrounded by models all day long still can’t wait to get his ass home for dinner.

How do you reconnect with your kid when you get home from work each day?


“I start by saying, ‘Hey!’ at the door so he hears my voice before he actually sees me. My wife tells me he stops doing whatever activity he is engaged in … then waits … then I burst in and he goes wild laughing. Our evening routine is: I play with him for a bit, then I gave him a bottle, read him a bedtime story, and put him to bed.

I’ve noticed a common trend amongst us working parents: we have bought into the premise that we should connect remotely after the kids go to bed. The expectation is that we should do this to maintain our competitive edge in a culture that values long work hours. I call this block of time — post-dinner, post-putting baby to bed, and so on — the ‘Third Shift.’ This is a trend I would like to see promoted less. Parents are the core of families and for a family to function effectively, our having the time to reconnect with each other and recharge on a daily basis is very important. It could be as simple as laughing together while sharing a funny story from work. I certainly try my best to unplug for most of the evening so that I can focus on my relationships with both my wife and my child.”
— Tristan Walker, Founder of Walker And Company Brands

“I work from home, and one of the reasons I did that was specifically because I wanted to spend more time with my kids. I used to have a studio, but got rid of it 2 years ago. We turned the dining room into an office. The great thing about it is my kids come home and I see them as they walk in the door. My favorite thing about working from home is that they run in, see me, shout my name, and just come running into my lap.

I stop working until the evening. I’m one of those people who stops from about 4:30 or 5 to about 9, and I’ll work a couple of hours in the evening. It’s about shuffling your time around, really.”
— Nigel Barker, Fashion Photographer

“I work at home so I connect with them constantly. It’s more like they ask me to go on a run to disconnect with them for a while.”
— Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathoner

“The after-work time with the kids is incredibly important to me. Trying to schedule a work dinner with me is nearly impossible, and the team here all knows I’ll only join team drink events once every 2 months or so. I love to cook, but we don’t have time to clean the corresponding mess, so I tend to assemble and warm up healthy things from Whole Foods.”
— Paul Berry, CTO Rebelmouse

How much exercise do you get in a given week and what kind?


“I work out 4 times a week. I started to pick up boxing again. I’m usually out of the house around 5:45 a.m. and then back to help get Avery ready for school by 7:15 a.m. I spend time with him while [my wife] Amoy gets dressed and gets her lunch and stuff ready for work. Every day, I make sure I take him to the car and strap him in his carseat and say my goodbyes to him and Amoy.”
— Tristan Walker

“I work out 6 days a week every day at 5:45 AM with a group of guys called ‘The Dog Pound.’ It’s an interesting, eclectic group of guys. I work out with Hugh Jackman, AKA ‘The Wolverine;’ 3 Olympic swimmers, including Conor Dwyer who’s going to Rio next year, Larson Jensen, and Matt Target — they’re all gold and silver medaling Olympians. There’s a Navy SEAL, Tom Farley, the president of the New York Stock Exchange. It’s a really eclectic group of guys. Other than the Olympic swimmers, we’re all around 40 years old and enjoy the camaraderie. It’s really an exciting group. It’s the best midlife crisis ever. We could all be getting ourselves Corvettes or something else. Instead, we all decided to challenge ourselves. The first time I went, I almost vomited. That’s now become a rite of passage for anyone who joins us: they pretty much all puke on the first time.”
— Nigel Barker

“I’m in a constant state of training. On a good day I like to bang out a marathon before breakfast. I never sit down. My entire office is setup at waist level and I do all my writing and emailing while standing up and bouncing around on my toes. I’ve got a pull-up and dip bar in my office, a sit-up matt and TRX suspension straps. Throughout the day I cycle through sets of pull-ups, push-ups, dips, sit-ups and a TRX routine that’s an ass kicker. Then, in the afternoon, I like to go for a shorter, quicker run, perhaps 10 miles, but at pace that burns. So yes, I get a fair amount of exercise during the week.”
— Dean Karnazes

“I am a SoulCycle addict, and I try to keep up with yoga. I’m positive I’m a better boss and a better dad because of it. So I try to do a SoulCycle or two-a-days, and on the weekends I’ll go overboard and do 3-a-days early morning so that I’m back in action in dad mode by 11 AM for the rest of the day. I am far more efficient with my time, patient with people, and reflective in interactions when I’m exercising daily.”
— Paul Berry

What’s the longest you’ve ever played with your kid without looking at your phone?


“Great question. I spend a lot of time with Avery. We hang out as a family for hours without our phones on most weekends.”
— Tristan Walker

“A miracle of miracles, I think I’ve actually gone 2 days without looking at my phone. I do look at my phone a lot, but I’m one of those people who compartmentalizes. When I’m trying to do something, I put my phone down. For me, that’s one of those important things about just getting along in life and doing your job properly: If you focus absolutely on what you’re doing, then you’ll do the job well and efficiently and know you’ve done your best. I provide the same advice to my kids when I’m with them. If I’m not there 100 percent, I’m not going to achieve what I want, and neither are they.”
— Nigel Barker

“I’m pretty good at turning things off. I refuse to be prisoner to a cell phone. A friend once said to me: ‘Dude, you’re missing out on the digital revolution.’ And I shot back, ‘Dude, you’re missing out on life.’ When I’m with my kids, devices are switched off (or at least put into silence mode).”
— Dean Karnazes

“I often read to them on a phone or tablet, so I try to just ignore everything incoming, but once in a while (5 percent of the time) something is important enough to validate distraction. Otherwise, I try to focus on them. But I am very much a phone addict, so it’s really rare that I completely vanish from communication for hours at a time.”
— Paul Berry

What’s the one piece of kid-related gear that you can’t live without?


“We love the B.O.B Revolution stroller. That thing rides like a tank! It handles very well on runs.”
— Tristan Walker

“My kids don’t have much gear that they can’t live without, but it’s probably becoming the water bottle, which is kind of a weird thing. I never even thought about it as a kid thing. I never used a water bottle until I had children, and now it’s the one thing that no one ever leaves the house without. It’s the one thing we all run back to get – the water bottle.”
— Nigel Barker

“In bygone days it was a jog stroller, but now’s it’s a Snapchat account. Even though we live in the same household, sometimes we converse more via text. Not my preferred mode of communication, but I’ve tried to adapt to the way kids live these days (though I still refuse using emojis).”
— Dean Karnazes

“The Kindle tablet app. Doesn’t matter what device it’s on, it works across my Nexus tablet, Android phone, and of course the Kindles we have and my wife’s iPads and phones. Reading is everything, and in a crowded NYC apartment, I don’t have room for books or time to go get new ones.

For years we considered it important to find them educational apps for these devices, but we decided about 6 months ago on no more apps, no more games, and no more movies except a few times a year. This has been 100-percent killer. All 3 of our kids now read like crazy and play amazing imaginary and role-play games with each other. It’s sort of scary what a dark future we are heading into if we start letting them all vanish into their own devices/gadgets instead of learning to play with each other.”
— Paul Berry