Home > Agency Life, Cause, Digital, Family, Guest Stars, Parenting, Work > PR Mama Guest Star: Scott Henderson

PR Mama Guest Star: Scott Henderson

September 23, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Time for another PR Mama guest post, and what the hey, let’s hear it for the boy…again. I had such a good time hosting PR Cog last time, I decided to invite another one of my favorite social media dads over to discuss balancing family and work life in this crazy business of ours. And by the way, as I’m about to dive into a roiling sea of estrogen at the Type A Mom Conference over the next three days, this may be the last you hear about men and dads for a while.  

Scott Henderson is currently the cause marketing director for MediaSauce, an Indiana-based agency that helps corporations and non-profits create and implement online strategies to achieve transformational growth.  I first encountered Scott when he left an epic comment here at PR Mama that really should’ve been a full post – it was full of such great stuff, I printed it out and carried it around with me to meetings for weeks. I liked quoting Scott in discussions about cause marketing; it always made me sound smart. The post I had written that inspired Scott’s three-screen comment was in praise of his terrific work with Tyson Foods and the Pledge to End Hunger campaign (if you remember the Social Media Smackdown at South by Southwest last year, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

Filling My Dad’s Shoes

What makes us so special? Moms and dads have had to balance parenting responsibilities with social and work duties ever since we created this thing called “civilization.”  Like most men, I judge myself as a father using my own dad as the gold standard.  I’ve been blessed with two loving, encouraging parents.  My mom and dad have given me a lot of love and attention in my life.  They’re not perfect, but they have done a great job.

My dad, “Dr. Bill” as everyone in the neighborhood called him, has always been in my life and there for some of my highest and lowest moments.  He was the all-time quarterback for the neighborhood football games we played in our front yard.  No matter what the sport, he made a point of showing up for my games and even coached when he could.

He and I tackled a number of projects for cub scouts and school.  While we didn’t win any blue ribbons, we did rack up a shoebox full of participation ribbons (this was before kids received a trophy for everything). The single proudest moment of my teenage years came when my dad was there to see my only first place finish at a swim meet in high school one early Saturday morning.  It meant so much to me that he was there to cheer me on and treat me to a post-meet celebratory breakfast.  

Grandpa Bill and Ethan: Scott's father and son reading together

Grandpa Bill and Ethan: Scott's father and son reading together

Unlike Dr. Bill, I travel a lot for my work and that’s something I have had to figure out on my own.  Don’t let me fool you – I’m still trying to find the right balance. Every job’ve had since college has involved a good deal of roadwork.  It’s not that I loathe it.  On the contrary, I enjoy traveling and couldn’t imagine having a job that kept me in one place all the time.

In fact, I am writing this post while on a work trip to Champaign, Illinois.  Giving my calendar a quick glance, I see this is my fifth work trip in six weeks.  That’s a lot of disruption for our three-person family.

For the past eight years, I have said goodbye and given that “one last hug and kiss” a lot to my son, Ethan.  He’s never known me not to travel in his eight years of life, but it’s not something he wants.

Before I left last night, I decided to interview him as part of this guest post.  Here’s what I learned:

  • He likes when I bring him home souvenirs like the small White House I picked up from a gift kiosk in Washington DC. 
  • He also likes it when I bring home sweet treats like the delicious goodness from www.thecrispery.com.
  • If it were up to him, he would make it a law that dads would never have to travel without their families.

When I take the time to think about it, I realize that my son is forming his gold standard for fatherhood by how I’m doing as his dad.  That’s an amazingly heavy responsibility, especially with all the traveling I do.  I hope he will feel one day about me as I do about my dad.

scottYou can connect with Scott on Twitter or at his personal blog.




  1. September 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Stephanie, I found your blog through Scott Henderson’s tweet. I notice you’re at Type A Mom Conference right now. Wish I was there with you – it sounds like it’s going to be an incredible event. I know Scott personally (our children go to school together).

    Scott, I really enjoyed your post. I often wonder how your family handles the travel that comes with a job that you obviously love, and seem to be so well-suited for. One thing I’ve noticed about you, and have so much respect for, is the way you have no qualms about removing yourself from the social media grid when it’s time to reconnect with your family. It’s something I find difficult – being totally present and making those moments count.

    • ssmirnov
      September 24, 2009 at 8:24 am

      Hi, Angie, thanks for stopping by and for the comment. I can’t believe the amount of travel Scott manages to deal with, I’m a road warrior wimp in comparison.

  2. September 24, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Angie – thanks for your comment. Simple solution – vigorous use of a cattle prod.

    Actually, it’s been thru open, honest conversations with Ethan and Jen (my bride of almost 11 years) that I’ve realized how much friction paying attention to my iPhone and computer during family time can create. You can only burn your hands so many times before you realize it’s not smart to pick up the hot frying pan.

  3. September 24, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Scott – that balance isn’t just tough to find, it doesn’t exist. I would love to be able to work at home all the time, while also being able to support and the incredible projects that I work with, and participate in the events that take me away. You simply can’t have both. That said, it is clear that you love your family, and that your son (and no doubt your wife as well) appreciate that how you spend your time is important – professionally, but also to your well being. It is obvious that your son is never far from top of mind. And its clear that despite your travel, and your absence from your family, the influence on your work that they have is profound — and those of us who get to work with you benefit from that. My suggestion, if you are interested, is to find the balance that is right for you. Part of the reason that I went out on my own, moved away from agency life, was so that I could have a schedule that allowed me to be at home with my son (now 22-months) some of the time, or have a more flexible schedule when it mattered most. Employers don’t always understand how to make it all work for your life, so you have to figure that out on your own. Working on my own presents its own challenges – I work late at night, I still travel too much, and similar, despite being the one who (much of the time) gets to set the agenda. But if I can claim one thing, I think I am gaining an even greater perspective on what is important and how to adapt. Closing thought: I should be so lucky by the time my son is as old as yours to have figured out how to ‘balance’ (if you will) as well as you do, given the circumstances. Know that you are doing a terrific job, and the gold standard you set will be a good one.

  4. September 24, 2009 at 11:20 am

    You’ve got it easy Scott. I have two sons that I could leave for weeks. But my baby girl (now 6) is incredibly hard to say goodbye to. Yes, I kid.

    Personally, I’d rather have a dad who traveled 6-days a week and was awesome on the one day he was home vs a dad who sucked 7-days a week. Traveling helps pay the bills, you’re not doing it to get away from your family (that’s what conferences are for). Yes, I kid again.

    Best part about being a dad… you know when you’re doing it wrong. Scott, sounds like you’re doing it right, kudos.

  5. September 24, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I love that you list what your son likes you to bring back. The simple fact that you make an honest effort to listen and learn from your child is something I think we can all do more of. 🙂

  6. September 24, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Great story, Scott. I’ll bet you’re a wonderful dad.

  7. September 24, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Love the conversation Scott, and everyone’s subsequent comments. Like Brian, I’m on my own now with my own business, and echo his comments with a few additional thoughts…

    Sometimes NOT having the structure of a regular 9to5 job that travels a lot may be just as hard …. Being closer to home (my office is now a mile away, instead of 35) means that you are THAT much more accessible for doctor’s appointments, soccer games, picking up groceries, etc.

    Now,it’s not that I don’t love doing all of this and seeing my kids, it’s just a different kind of juggling act- make sense?

    So now that my time is much more undefined now, I DO look at my iphone a lot while at home, and I DO seem a bit distracted to the kids, because, well I’m spreading my work over a 24 hour cycle instead of a regular 10-12 hour cycle.

    I’m VERY lucky to be able to see my kids a lot but what balances this out is the typical day-to-day life (exciting and terrifying at the same time) as an entrepreneur.

    And, Brian and Scott- just wait until you have TWO kids- you ain’t see nothin’ yet… 🙂

  8. September 24, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I actually liked your comment the most there, Scott.

    Being a working dad but not on the road as much as Scott, it’s hard to balance work/life in these types of high energy, never-ending careers.

    I had to do it by really looking hard at myself and saying is my head buried in a computer really what I want my kids to remember when they think of their youth.

    I brought this up the other night when sitting with friends. My grandmother always had time for a card game. No matter what was going on in the afternoon, if I asked, she would stop and play a game of gin rummy or two. I need to let my kids know that I’m that available to them.

    I don’t do it now but I will work on it.

    These lives were supposed to be so much easier but the more connected we are virtually, the more the real world fades around us.

    I’ve been balancing by not taking my computer home or if I do (you know so people can see I take it), I just leave it in the bag.

    When we were dating, I would have never pulled a laptop out if we were watching TV or a movie. Why is it so acceptable now?

  9. September 24, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Glad to see more of my fellow working dads share their thoughts, too.

    @Brian – I agree that “balance” is the new “normal” …neither have ever existed

    @Todd – shhhh, don’t let out the secret about conferences

  10. September 27, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Evening Scott –

    Thanks for reaching out and asking me to review this post and add my thoughts. I’ve been back many times – challenging myself to actually comment and share some of myself here.

    Alas – your musing on this subject – have been the unknown hungry ghost that has gnawed within my soul for years – decades – always wondering how my relationship with my child would be based on the one I’ve known with my father.

    Would I be there for him – would I embrace his interests or instill mine – would I listen or wait to talk – would I keep him guessing or be home when I said I would – would I drop what I was doing and play catch, go fishing or work late & travel – would I be a good role model, a guide, a mentor, trusting, loving supporter – Would I be continually present and learn, love & grow with him?

    Would I be a Dad?

    I’m elated to share that what I found was that I didn’t have to face those questions and challenges alone. My son – now almost three – was there to guide me – inspire me and show me the way – us the way.

    Home –
    When working from home – I have some of his favorite toys, books, crayons and play dough for him to join me as I work. If he needs me, we talk about having 15 minutes to play and then Dad has to get some more work done – so we can do something later.

    He joins me on Conference calls when it’s a working relationships that’s already established. We watch short movie clips on YouTube or chose music to burn onto a new disc. I print out pictures and he builds a story on the floor.

    Travel –
    I hate leaving home and gettign ready to go. But instead of rushing, ironing and packing upstairs for a trip – I ask my son to help me pack. And like him, he give me one of his favorite toys to bring along to help me sleep better.

    I send him pictures to Moms cell and try to talk every day. I try to pick up some trinkets when on the road – send a photo of them home and ask him which he would like. I leave small treats behind in the house and give him clues to find them when I call. And always try to get home ASAP & forgo any invites to stay an extra day to explore the sights.

    Working –

    If there isn’t a local business / networking event I must attend, leave work & get home before bath, story time and bed. And put the iPhone / mobile in the charger – don’t let auto distractions get in the way of being present and learning how cool Dinosaur Train is.

    No doubt – Digi & Social Media Dads will back online later after Goodnight Moon, Goodnight bowl of mush.

    Catch up on work during naps – not during splash in puddles and fort building time . If you need to work – swap out time in the morning or afternoon with your spouse, family members or great friends. When they’re back – put it down and be there – rejoice you got some good work done.

    And also – support all the amazing other great people in your family that help you find the time to balance work and being a Dad. When you have the time – give your wife a weekend away with friends – don’t take off the moment you have more free time – Share it – give it back.

    To all Dads – listen, engage & be present – don’t fear how you’ll balance it all – it’ll get crazy – but let all that tension slide off you the moment your son or daughter runs into your arms when you walk in the door and says – “Hi Daddy.”

    It’s the best job title any man can have and experience.

    ~Bob C.

  11. September 28, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Just coming back to the site now and reading Bob’s comments, and Bob nails it-thanks for your insight and perspective. It IS the BEST job any man can have…

  12. September 28, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Wow. What a beautiful post, and comments. I once sat next to two dads on an Amtrak in the cafe car, and after their 4 comrades got off in Philly, talk turned to their kids. The way they spoke of them made me sad for the balance that it so hard to find in our working culture, but grateful that there were such thoughtful men who loved their babies, and spoke wistfully of how they only saw them briefly before bedtime.

    My husband travels six-nine months out of the year in his job as a musician. It’s definitely hard on our children, but when he is home he’s very, very engaged- and when he’s away, we find different rituals, such as video chats and sending pictures via Iphone, for them to feel they have instant access to Daddy when they need it. Sometimes, we have Thanksgiving in October, or birthdays a week or two off the real date, because I think it’s more important that we’re together then we hit it on the traditional day. We also make it a point to road trip and see him if he’s within 400 miles of us.: )

    I do think the technologies of the past 10 years make a lifestyle like ours much easier, even as they can be more intrusive into family life. When we began dating, only Donald Trump had a cell phone, and if I missed his phone call when the tour bus stopped for gas, that was it, too bad for that day.

    I think there’s tradeoffs in every profession, but if you find one that you love, despite its demanding schedule, you work through the occasional heart pangs and look for the silver lining. Thanks again for shining a light on the Daddy side.

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