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Successful working parents share their secrets

Ned Ehrbar
Producer

“What I tell our young women and our young men is that it’s not perfect, it doesn’t go in a straight line,” Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert says. “I always say you’ve got to put your family first. It is a juggle, there’s no doubt.”

Engelbert, who joined Deloitte in 1986 and was named CEO in 2015, has two kids – a teenage son and a daughter in college. “You’ve got to integrate your work and life,” Engelbert says. “I’ve been able to successfully do that – which I think is one of the reasons I became a CEO – because I was always anchored in family first.”

For former New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, it’s all about time management. Bennett, who has a young daughter with wife Siggi Walker, retired from the NFL this year to focus on writing children’s books and running his multimedia production company, the Imagination Agency.

“Time management is very, very important to trying to do a couple things at once,” says Bennett. “Building your own company takes so much time, and so I build times” for family. “Like I’ll pick her up from school. So from 3:30, I’ll pick her up and she’s at my studio from 3:30 to 7:30, 8, and then I’ll go back to the studio. So it’s just a lot of structure and discipline.”

For Bennett, it’s easy to keep that structure and discipline by keeping his priorities straight. “The only thing that really matters is my family, so like any other people call me, family comes first,” he says. “I will drop anything I’m doing to go hang out with my daughter or my wife. So that’s how I kind of roll.”

Of course, some working parents are going it alone, and Valerie Jarrett has some words of wisdom for them. Jarrett, who served as a senior adviser to Barack Obama, advises single parents to keep a healthy, realistic outlook and find work environments that are supportive.  

“I was a single mom, but I had a lot of support,” Jarrett says. “I used to feel if I were more competent or if I slept fewer hours or if I were more organized, it wouldn’t be so hard. And part of what I want to say is it’s hard, and I encourage them to find employers who are supportive of their life choices.”

Another key to success, according to Jarrett, is being willing to admit when you need something. “Ask for help, don’t try to be Superwoman,” she says. “The question shouldn’t be can you have it all? Because sometimes when you’re asking can you have it all, you think you have to do it all. You don’t!”

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This story was originally published on October 24, 2018.