The Coffee Chat (#26)
My conversation with Rahul Bhargava - A management consultant with 16+ years of experience, an entrepreneur and father to 2 sons under 6!
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Hi there 👋🏽
As a kid some of my favorite days during the year were festival days. The house was always buzzing with activity, sweets and chocolates were your meals, playing music loudly was acceptable and there was always a small stack of gifts.
Over time, the magic around festivals started fizzing out, to the point where some festivals just became days when I did not have to go to work!
All that changed as I became a parent. Now every holiday every festival has become a reason to celebrate. As a parent, these festival days are my way of exposing Baby T to different cultures and showing her how magical the world can be.
In a span of 5 days we celebrated Halloween and Diwali with a lot of gusto. Another reason why having kids is great. They make festivals fun again.
P.s: A very happy Diwali to all those who celebrate. Wishing you and your loved ones health, happiness and joy!
☕ Now, on to today’s coffee chat…
Meet Rahul Bhargava
Rahul is a Toronto based Management Consultant with 16+ years of experience - 6 of which were spent at Mckinsey. About 10 years back he founded PurpleCrest, a boutique advisory firm that provides management consulting to mid-market firms.
Rahul and I met each other thanks to an AI superconnector - aka Lunchclub. The AI obviously did a great job as Rahul and I had a whole host of things in common :)
Below is my conversation with Rahul…
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I am the Managing Partner at PurpleCrest, a boutique management consulting firm that helps business owners of mid-market organisations create growth strategies that deliver better results. Since last year, we have also started supporting organisations in capability building in the areas of critical thinking, problem solving and productivity. This was a result of how Covid-19 impacted the organisations and employees, changing the nature of work as well as skills required in the New Normal.
I also run a side project where we work with healthcare professionals to support chronic patients reduce stress and sleep better through mindfulness based solutions.
My wife Megha, is a lawyer by education and a baker by choice. Our career choices are helping us bring a very different set of skills in raising our 2 sons, a 5 years old and a 20-month old!
For you what was the hardest part of becoming a new parent? How is this different with your second child?
The hardest part for me was the mental shift required, and with that acquiring the emotional intelligence to support my wife. For the first few months, I really struggled picking up the emotional signals from her. Since I was an entrepreneur, theoretically I was my own boss. Practically, it is harder because your business and life become one as an owner. Additionally, my first kid was born in India where there is a lot of support available from family. That also made my own mental shift slower.
The second time was very different for me. We were in Canada this time. I was mentally, work-wise and emotionally better prepared (perhaps matured also!). Even though the first few months were stressful for both of us, it was easier for me to take complete ownership of certain responsibilities as a father. I’d say that once the mental shift has happened, ownership and actions become more natural.
After becoming a parent did you adopt any new beliefs, behaviors, or habits that have most improved your life?
I guess all 3. First, I believe that I am the best person to inculcate in my children what I value most. That belief reduces conflicts as my expectations are from myself rather than from my wife. Likewise, she focuses on transmission of her own values.
My morning routine has improved, and that includes meditation and journaling. I guess that has also resulted in some change in my behavior at work, as my outlook has become more patient.
Finally, now that my younger one’s sleep routine has stabilised, I have learnt a lot more about sleep myself and have made it a habit to sleep for 8-hours a day. There is extensive research on this topic and I highly recommend everyone to optimise their lives around 8-hours of nightly sleep once the children are 10-12 months+
Did you take any paternity leave? How was the transition back to work?
I couldn’t, being an entrepreneur! Though there was a transition back to work with 2 kids in the house and work from home due to Covid-19. That has been tough for all of us, and not unique to my situation.
What choices have you and your partner made that has helped you become a dual career household with kids?
We have experimented on this one - primarily the choices my wife had. When we became first time parents, my wife decided to pursue her passion as a baker instead of a full time role as a corporate lawyer. She opened a cloud bakery, and that gave her the freedom to devote time to our son as well as what she loves doing. This was in India.
Now, in Canada and with our second son, she plans to be in a full time role. In both instances, the choice was made not so much for monetary, but for social benefits and personal growth.
Being with like-minded people, including other parents is essential to grow in parenthood. Career or pursuit of passion gives a great medium to get connected to others, take a break from a demanding role at home and learn skills that are useful as a parent. This model also makes me more responsible as a father, and not confine myself to the role of a financial provider.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investment you have made after becoming a parent?
I would say that my investment in my meditation practice has been the most worthwhile investment. I used to meditate earlier too, but after becoming a parent the second time, I have become very regular. It has made me more self-aware and has helped me make better choices at work and at home.
The second best investment has been in my reading. I now read a lot more than I used to read before becoming a parent. And that includes a lot of books on parenting, communications, neuroscience and relationships!
The biggest challenge that working parents with young kids have is a lack of predictability in their schedule and limited time for themselves. How have you managed this?
It is a challenge, and till kids start going to school there is no easy answer. I have created a schedule that consists of waking up 2-3 hours before my kids wake up. That is my time with myself and helps a lot.
Other than that, the proven habit of managing and following a calendar or timeboxing is what works well for some predictability. But more than that, accepting certain amount of chaos and unpredictability has been a better approach.
What advice would you give others who are on the cusp of becoming parents? What advice should they ignore?
I am a believer of making habits and systems. My advice is to build strong habits around your own health and well-being before becoming parents. This includes physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. This is so fundamental, yet ignored by many or adopted as a measure temporarily. Each aspect of well-being would have an impact on the child’s health, your own health after child-birth and your growth as a parent.
I don’t have a strong view on advice to ignore, because most of the advice out there is so focused on the mother! One advice that I did ignore from others was about pediatric nutrition. Given that nutrition is not covered in much detail in general medical curriculum, I would advise to ignore very stringent guidelines on this. Get involved, do your research and make joint decisions with your pediatrician on this one!
What’s the best thing you have watched recently?
What’s the best thing you have read recently?
Cured by Jeffrey Rediger
What’s the best thing you have listened to recently?
How to talk so little kids will listen by Joanna Faber and Julie King
I would love to hear from you, feedback is always welcome!
And if you happen to know an inspiring working parent who should be featured in a future edition (or if you yourself are one) - please do get in touch
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