Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Time to Prioritise Caring

December 30, 2016

Caring

As we roll into another year we inevitably start thinking about the things we have achieved and the things we want and wish for in the new year.

If I was to express my wishes for next year in one word I would choose the word “Caring“.

I’m not sure if it is just now that I feel there is a real deficit of caring in the world, if it is just what I am seeing and reading or whether it is a reflection of my age and if I am starting to think and observe things differently?

I am worried that there is not enough caring in the world and I feel that this year has plummeted with awful incidents in Nice, Berlin, Aleppo and some of the horribleness that we witnessed in the United States by the President Elect, Donald Trump in his campaign.

Lessons in how to win elections were absorbed by a new generation and “caring” isn’t quite the word that comes to mind when you reflect on what we saw being played out for months and months in the lead up to the awful result.

Closer to home our year ended in Ireland with the homeless coming together under the simple ‘Home Sweet Home‘ banner and they occupied an unused office building, Apollo House to put much needed roofs over heads and put a public spotlight on this big issue, which is getting worse and worse. The homeless need this as they can’t go on strike to get attention.

We heard the involvement of high profile Irish musicians including Glen Hansard and Hozier being sadly criticised by some in the media as being a stunt by them to raise their popularity!

What has happened with the way we think about things?

The courts moved in double quick time (they can when they want to) incredibly to process an injunction against the occupants.

The very sad “win” was that the homeless were allowed stay in the disused office building until January 11th – Merry Christmas!!

When living in a disused office block over Christmas is considered a win for those poor temporary residents we have arrived at a very poor state of affairs. Unfortunately this was a win for them – can you imagine?

My wish for the new year is that we start genuinely caring for each other, that we teach our children the importance of caring and let them witness it everyday, that we teach caring in our schools, that we make caring a priority in our workplaces, that caring becomes part of the values that companies live by and that we put caring for people in our communities, on our roads, in our cities and countries before any other criteria.

Let’s start caring.

Happy New Year and a big thank you to all the readers of my blog posts – see you next year!!

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Strategic Communications, Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Paternity leave, gender equality and the changing role of fathers

January 28, 2016

Greg Canty and Brendan Canty

I listened with interest at the discussions about the new proposals regarding paternity leave and I fondly remembered (not!) how it was when my kids were born.

It was August, 1991 and Ellen, our second child was due. It was a busy time in work at that time of the year with my role as Financial Controller as I had to get all budgeting finalised for the following year. We were part of Guinness so it was a complex process.

I knew that when Ellen was born I wanted a little free time to enjoy the moment(s) and to be there to look after my son, Brendan who was two and a half at the time. I worked day and night and weekends leading up to that time so that when she was born there would be no issue and I could take a few days off.

Ellen was overdue and a date was set for her to be induced. I informed my boss,  Charlie of the date and he wasn’t very pleased as he was planning a management meeting on that date!

What could I do?

The hospital had a gap in their scheduling and Ellen was induced a day earlier ….my beautiful daughter arrived on the 21st August!!

My childminding role kicked in for the next few days. Two days later I popped into the office to check a few things and I was stupidly expecting a round of “congratulations” from all of my workmates.

Instead I got a serious look from the Sales Manager..”You’re in trouble“. I was dumbfounded at what I heard.

What the hell could I be in trouble for and by the way it was a girl!!” I responded.

It turns out that because Ellen was born a day earlier everyone reckoned I could and should have made the “crucial” management meeting. I grabbed Brendan and we left.

A day or two later I was back in work and was summoned to Charlie’s office ..I don’t think I even gave him a chance to open his mouth.

He got it full belt “I always put this stupid place first and this time you can well and truly f**k yourself as it is one time I am putting my family first” and stormed out. I don’t think we ever spoke about the incident again.

Two years ago in Fuzion we had our first ‘baby‘!

A few months before that one of our team announced that she was pregnant. While it was fantastic news for her and her husband, it did cause an issue for the business. She was a senior member of the team and now we had to plan about replacing her with a quality replacement.

She would be out for 6 months and she also planned on taking the extra two months. I also learnt that while she would be out she was entitled to holidays and bank holidays, so effectively she would be out for 9 months. This would be disruptive to the business as well as costing us – it was the most expensive baby I ever had!

This is life and our business had to make arrangements and cope but it did strike me that this ‘issue‘ was one that we had to solve with her. Where was the guy in this equation? Was his work disrupted or would it carry a cost for them?

Maybe she was more than happy to put her career on hold for a while and take off that precious time with her new baby but maybe she might have liked to share this gift with her husband? No one had a choice.

I imagined a different world where her husband announced to his boss that “they” were pregnant and that he was opting to take half of the parental leave. This is how it works in Denmark so it isn’t such a stretch.

I’m a dad and I’m a parent and I would have loved to have those precious days when Ellen was born back again to enjoy…maybe more than a few days?

If we are serious about the guys role as a parent and we are really serious about gender equality then us fellas need to be treated as equals.

Two weeks paternity leave..nah!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Sixteen tons and what do you get?

March 14, 2015

My dad "pops"

It was a strange 50th birthday..

It couldn’t be the usual champagne popping have a blast carefree type of a day as my dad had to have a procedure at the Bons Secours hospital in Cork.

This was very strange as 50 years to the day I was actually born in the very same hospital – who could have predicted that?

We were with him first thing in the morning as the nurse came in to bring him to the theatre. As usual even though he was apprehensive about what lay ahead he couldn’t help being his usual charming and funny self!

I’ll bring you down to the theatre Michael, will we get a wheelchair?” the nurse asked

My dad looked at her as if she had two heads – no way was that happening!

He bounced out of the bed and started joking with the nurse, relaxing my mum, me and Dee.

In the corridor he stopped her and he went into his usual routine, the routine he does with everyone, and one that makes us all smile. Even my six year old niece in the U.S. can recite this because he taught it to her when she could barely talk!

If you see me comin’, you better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don’t a-get you
Then the left one will

This seemed so appropriate and defiant and he delivered it with clenched fists and a charming smile – nothing is going to beat this man and definitely not today!

You’re lovely, I’ll go anywhere with you he says” and he linked the nurses arm.

We stood there watching as my fantastic dad (“pops” I call him) walked away from us with the nurse laughing and joking down the long corridor to a place that neither he nor any of us wanted to be on this March day.

I was curious about where the words for my dad’s little routine came from. They come from a song made popular by a guy called Tennessee Ernie Forde in 1955. His version became a huge hit and it was later covered by many artists including Johnny Cash and even Robbie Williams!

It was first recored in 1946 by a country singer called Merle Travis. The clever, catchy song is about a coal miner who has broken his back shovelling coal all his life. He never sees actual pay because the workers used get paid in vouchers, which they could exchange for goods at the company owned store:

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’, it was drizzlin’ rain
Fightin’ and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol’ mama lion
Cain’t no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin’, you better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don’t a-get you
Then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

There was no point waiting around so I went about my day, which included meetings, lunch with Dee and my two kids, Brendan and Ellen, a little clothes shopping spree in Brown Thomas and a drive to Dublin.

We got news that dad had recovered well from the procedure but he still isn’t quite out of the woods yet. Not quite what we were hoping to hear.

That evening we ended up having dinner at Leinster House with a good friend and some interesting people – the last thing on this strange day that I could have expected was people singing ‘Happy Birthday‘ to me there!

It wasn’t a perfect birthday but I spent it with people I love, I loaded some coal, I had an unexpected evening and I watched one of my all time heroes charming a nurse and defiantly saying “If you see me coming, you better step aside

Now it’s time to load some more coal ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Take me to the “nice” church

December 22, 2014

Andrew Hozier-Byrne

When I do my social media courses I do a simple exercise to get the participants thinking about their online etiquette.

I ask them the following question: “What are the characteristics of people that you like doing business with?

I see the puzzled look on their faces with many thinking ..I thought I was here to learn all about social media?

After a while they get into the exercise and I get a list that normally includes characteristics such as honest, reliable, efficient, decisive, knowledgeable, trustworthy, helpful and professional. (I do get a few mentions for ‘people who pay their bills’!)

These are big things but I also get softer characteristics, which are just as important such as passionate, optimistic, humorous and I even get a few saying I like people who are ‘like me‘!

A simple but yet powerful word that wraps a number of these things together is the word ‘Nice‘. In all of those business courses and management books do we ever hear about the magical power of being ‘nice‘ and what it can do for you?

Brendan Canty - Feel Good Lost

I found myself proudly reading an article recently about my son, Brendan Canty (www.feelgoodlost.me) who directed the Hozier ‘Take me to the Church’ video, which has until the moment of writing incredibly received nearly 52 million views on YouTube.

This is one of these miraculous stories where a music video, which was done on a shoestring budget for an up-and-coming hugely talented artist called Hozier went global. The day after the filming Brendan told me that Hozier was playing in the Pavilion in Cork and that I shouldn’t miss it. Pathetically I was too busy and missed a special intimate gig as a tiny crowd were lucky enough to witness a star who was about to be born.

Brendan played me the video in the Fuzion office before it was set live and we all knew it would be special …it was a great song, with a powerful theme all captured brilliantly by Brendan and Conal of Feel Good Lost and featuring a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers.

The video erupted instantaneously online as soon as it was published and in no time it had a lot of tongues wagging and the media caught hold of it. When the Huffington Post featured it you could feel it had the potential to have a huge impact globally. Hozier deservedly won a record contract soon after and has gone onto be a huge success internationally.

You might think that Andrew Hozier-Byrne might forget about the enthusiastic troop who made this video as he laps up his newfound fame but at every opportunity this ‘nice‘ gentleman always mentions the role that Brendan and the guys played in his success.

In Brendan’s interview he was asked about how he got his first breaks in the industry and I was proud to read what he said: “I started reaching out to people online and they started reaching out to me. People are basically nice if you’re nice to them

Nice works online and come to think of it nice works offline as well..

Take me to the “nice” church!  

 

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork

 

A tribute to young mothers!

December 10, 2014

Young mother with her baby

Oh no … The woman with the young baby is sitting next to me on the plane!!

My early prayers were that the weirdo in the queue who was intoxicated wouldn’t be next to me …can I take him instead?

I’ve dodged the ‘baby on the plane‘ bullet for long enough and this time it happened and this kid is a live wire. Within the first 30 seconds I am slapped by the little live wire as she jumps and hops and kicks and can’t stay still.

Deirdre gives me some early advice “avoid eye contact with the kid“. She always has something wise to say – I decide to take the advice.

The young mother who seems to be travelling alone is well equipped – her bags with all her necessary baby stuff are put down by her feet, which in a blink chews up all of the leg room in the already squashed Ryanair flight.

To calm the kid down she produces a bottle … That works for about 5 minutes, an IPad works for another 5 minutes and then we enter the ‘danger zone’. The kid is now standing, twisting, jumping and writhing and starting to make noise as she reaches for anything and anyone that grabs her attention.

I can barely move in my seat but the very talented mother can still manage to get things from her bag and put things away and still keep the contorting baby on her lap.

My god…. this is unbelievable… why would she even contemplate such a journey and the little part I’m witnessing no doubt came after struggling with luggage and buggies..why ?

Oh no ..Now comes the sniffing of the bum … please let it be a clean one for everyone’s sake – I was looking forward to a glass of wine and now I’m just praying for no smelly surprises!!

More writhing and wriggling … What happened – we have calm.

The drinks trolley arrives and the poor mother watches enviously as we order a red wine and a prosecco – I feel very guilty and want to ask her does she want a drink … she would probably think that I am a weirdo!

Is she dreaming of a time when life was less complicated? Where is she flying to? Why is she by herself?

We are flying to Wroklaw (up until a month ago I hadn’t heard of it either!) in Poland with friends for the weekend. My guess is she is living in Ireland and visiting home for a while ..maybe?

The kid is acting up again so she is down by my feet scrambling in her bags for the next rabbit … Baby’s bottle!

It’s all calm again. I spoke too soon … the bottle goes flying and hits me on the leg. At this stage I have my red wine firmly gripped to make sure it doesn’t go flying as well.

I’m already dreading the landing as I know it drives the kids ears bonkers, what if the she pukes ..more prayers

I don’t think you should be giving her a banana …I’m now fearing the worst …smelly bum, pukes and tears.

You won’t believe this … I manage to knock over my own red wine on my one pair of jeans …typical !! Sh**, f***, pi**.

My young mother politely reaches into her bag of tricks and comes to my rescue with baby wipes!!

As the plane descends the poor kid starts to cry with the air pressure and her mother holds her and strokes her head until the plane lands..phew!

As I come down the steps of the plane I see this miracle mother struggling with her bags, her buggy and her child before the next leg of her journey.

Mother , I salute you for the fantastic job you do !!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

Gender Quotas or real change?

November 17, 2014

Working mother with child on couch

It drives me nuts whenever I hear it mentioned ..

New legislation in Ireland means political parties are required to ensure at least 30 per cent of their candidates in the 2016 General Election are women; any party that fails to reach the target will have its State funding cut by 50 per cent. 

Parties will also be required to have 40 per cent or more female candidates after a further seven years.

My first thought is how is this ‘rigging’ possible in a modern society where we all enjoy equal opportunities and there are no real ‘blocks’ to men or women achieving what they want?

We hear about the ‘old boy’s club‘ in politics – when you probe this it is more about dynasties of political power that will keep me on the outside just as it would any woman that I know. However if I want to run I can just the same as any woman can.

The solution to the “problem” of the numerical gender imbalance is to ‘rig’ the situation by forcing female candidates in and male candidates out until the magic numbers are achieved.

Are you there on merit?  In a rigged situation you will just never know, which for me will do a huge disservice to every woman in politics.

And then we have the boardroom..

The European Commission pushed a proposal forward in November 2012. At its heart lies a requirement for 40% female representation among non-executive directors in publicly listed companies by 2020. 

Once again the solution to the “problem” of the numerical gender imbalance is to ‘rig’ the situation by forcing females in and males out until the magic numbers are achieved.

Are you there on merit?  Again, a huge disservice to every woman in business.

Are we really serious about gender equality?

I believe if we really want to achieve this gender equality then we need to radically alter our social structures and change how we look at the roles of men and women in society.

This starts with the issue of parenthood, which seems to be the key moment that derails careers for many women.

If we are equal there must be no difference between a man and a woman when little Johnny has a fever. It must be as normal for the father to run home to look after him as it is for the mother.

If we are equal there must be no difference between a man and a woman when it comes to leave after a baby is born (other than the natural time a woman needs for physically preparing and recovering from birth).

When an employee announces they are having a baby the scenario and the disruption to the careers of the person and to the workplace should within reason be the same for both the man and the woman.

Father with baby

If this happens employers will be less concerned about disruption due to maternity leave with female team members, which is always a huge challenge for both the woman and the employer with the men blissfully pushing on with their careers uninterrupted.

For example Denmark make some attempt at equality here. Parental leave is a whopping 52 weeks in total with the woman taking 18 weeks, the man 2 weeks and both sharing the remaining 32 weeks as they wish.

Can you imagine a man announcing to his boss that “we are having a baby so I will be taking 6 months paternity leave as my wife has chosen to get back to work as soon as possible“? ….congratulations!

The Huffington Post covered this topic recently: In the Nordic countries they have made it possible for parents to combine work and family, resulting in more women in the workplace, more shared participation in childcare, more equitable distribution of labour at home, better work-life balance for both women and men and, in some cases, a boost to waning fertility rates.

Policies in these countries include mandatory paternal leave in combination with maternity leave, generous, state-mandated parental leave benefits provided by a combination of social insurance funds and employers, tax incentives and post-maternity re-entry programmes. Together, these policies have lowered the opportunity costs of having children and led to relatively higher and rising birth rates, as compared to other ageing, developed economies.

As long as having a baby can disrupt the career and workplace of the woman and have virtually no effect on the man and as long as the woman is always seen as the main child carer then we will always struggle to achieve true equality.

If we are really serious about gender equality we need to fundamentally change how our society operates and forget about unfair, risky and potentially damaging  ‘rigging’ tactics when the dye has already been cast and it is just too late. 

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

 

The best of fun is the worst of tears

July 29, 2014

The best of fun is the worst of tears” is what I used say to my kids when I was dragging them away from a party or a friends house where they were having lots of fun.

When they were older I’d use it when they would get upset when my brother was returning to the States or someone else that was close to them was leaving.

My simple point to them was that the reason they were so upset is that they cared so much ..if they didn’t care or weren’t having so much fun then leaving would be no issue so in a way getting upset was just a sign that they experienced something great and was actually a good thing!

Today I sadly had to use it again when my daughter Ellen rang all upset because she had to say goodbye to her precious dog, ‘Paws‘ who has been in her life for most of it because the poor pet who is 13 had picked up cancer and was starting to suffer.

 

Paws and Ellen

Ellen isn’t a kid anymore but her tears today were bigger and sadder than the ones she used to shed years ago ..sadly there was nothing I could do except talk about the joy and love she shared with Paws, how Paws was such a special dog and was lucky to have been in such a loving home and how her memories of Paws will last forever.

Paws, thank you for showing my daughter so much love and for bringing her so much happiness.

The Best of Fun is the worst of tears” ..she knew what I meant.

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Are you singing the right song?

June 22, 2014

 

Elton John

We were chilling out the back garden enjoying this fabulous summer weather with our books and some music playing in the background.

I had assembled a very random playlist for the occasion and one to suit both me and Deirdre. I couldn’t be too selfish so there was a mix of George Michael, Glen Miller, Elton John and even Abba mixed in with some of my own favourites but nothing too self indulgent (that meant the likes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin were nowhere to be heard!).

Out of the blue on came that fabulous song by Elton John ‘Song for Guy’ which took me right back to my days of piano lessons.

When we talk about my piano lessons its a topic that brings about lots of stories. I did piano lessons for about five years from the age of seven till I was twelve when my mother eventually relented and let me pack up.

I guess she always wanted both me and my sister Laura to play the piano or at least learn some instrument – she wanted this for us and no doubt it cost her a pretty penny down through the years. Ironically I hated pretty much every single lesson and practicing even more, which is strange as I love music and would love to be able to play some instrument today.

For some strange reason my mother still has the note book from my last piano teacher “Greg is wasting my time, his time and your money

..that was a little harsh!

Song for Guy‘ was the very last song I learnt. I loved the song and as a result I actually did practice it and I reckon if I had the sheet music in front of me now and I practiced long enough I might just about figure it out again (then again I could be dreaming and overestimating my talent!)

This was the teacher’s big favour to me. Mrs Murphy agreed to let me learn a song that I liked and it made all the difference. Once this song was done she then wanted me to learn one of her choices – I had wanted to learn some Queen song (to be fair to her she probably knew this was way beyond my limited capability!) but she insisted on her choice and I quickly lost interest in my piano lessons again.

A twelve year old protesting week in week out was just too much for my mum so my career as a pianist came to a end!

Coincidentally later that evening I was chatting to a relative who was very concerned about her son who had just received his 5th year exam results. He had done really badly and she was really worried about him. Her son appears to be totally disinterested, he is very laid back and extremely lazy when it comes to his studies.

Understandably she is worried about him heading into the critical final year of secondary school, which can unfortunately shape your subsequent career path.

She then told me an incredible story about him.

School Play

During transition year he was quite interested in getting involved in the school play. This really surprised her as he is normally quiet and very reluctant to push himself forward. He asked the teacher could they do a particular play but the school had already decided on something else.

He wasn’t prepared to accept “no” for an answer so he asked for permission to do the play he wanted without the help of the school. He promised he would organise and coordinate the whole thing.

He recruited the actors, he sourced the scripts, he acquired the stage props and he directed, produced and acted in his own play.

At the end of term his play was the opening act for the official school play and apparently it was really funny and quite brilliant. It turns out that when he is motivated her son is a creative, organised and determined leader once he sets his mind to it.

While it is easy to say “don’t worry” about his exam results it is clear that he is very talented and it is just a question of him finding the right song and then letting him sing it!

Are you singing the right song? 

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

It’s been a while ..

June 4, 2014

Sicily with buddies

It’s gorgeous ..

Sitting around the pool I have my two buddies (my children) with me, Brendan and Ellen with their other halves and of course Dee, my star, who as always made this holiday happen. They are young adults now and my friends as much as anything, which is really special.

While Brendan has been on a few holidays with us during the last few years it’s been over 10 years since Ellen has come with us.

Couples separating is part and parcel of life and in my case it happened over twenty years ago. It’s upsetting and traumatic and everyone does move on but when it comes to your children this is not without a huge cost including spending time with them.

I’m lucky to be happily married to Dee who is absolutely fantastic for me and even luckier that we can all be here together.

This week I have them with me and I treasure every, ordinary yet extraordinary minute.

Greg

Time for Stargazing

May 27, 2014

Sicily - Stargazing

Departure lounge in Catania, Sicily …. Holiday all but done.

Where in the name of god did that time go? What is it about holidays that makes them rocket by in a flash and yet it seems like we have been away for weeks even though it has only been 10 days.

I don’t really like going away early in the summer because I always like something to look forward to – we have been grinding it out since the start of the year (as always) so it was either go in May when we can still get a bargain or wait till September, when we would be ready to all fall down.

This time was really special in that my kids (young adults at this stage) came with us for most of it and that hasn’t happened in a long time.

It wasn’t all bliss as I got caught out stupidly with sunburn on my ankle, which was really painful and made getting around awkward but other than that it was a fantastic break.

We enjoyed the really fabulous Minareto Hotel complex just outside Siracusa, a really nice town, as well as a brief visit to the town of Noto, our stay in a fabulous villa on the North coast, the really gorgeous town of Cefalu including the spectacular coastal drive there but most of all I enjoyed the fabulous time just chilling out with my gang.

The perfect moments were spent all of us on the loungers at the villa late in the evening sitting in the dark, sipping on vino, chatting about god knows what and stargazing..

Why don’t we take time to stargaze together at home?

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork