Chatting over coffee might not seem like hard work, or work at all. But it can be hugely creative and valuable. So keep talking.
Those of us of a certain vintage will remember the old BT advert that ended with the strapline ‘keep talking’.
It was a powerful ad. Featuring Stephen Hawking’s voiceover and images of ancient civilizations and decaying tanks.
It even inspired a Pink Floyd track.
It demonstrated just how big ad budgets were around 25 years ago. And that if you throw enough money at the ad industry it will sometimes come up with a corker. Certainly it was more classy than previous efforts featuring Bob Hoskins getting in peoples faces telling them ‘it’s good to talk’. But the message was essentially the same.
Talking has been on my mind this week. Because I’ve been doing quite a bit of it. Meeting a range of contacts who have featured on the site before or will be featuring in future. These chats invariably degenerate into a wide ranging discussion about the pressures on dads, parenting and gender inequality.
Not a good use of my time. Or is it?
Stephen Hawking was right when he said we had to keep talking. (Which is hardly surprising, he was a very clever chap.)
Because very often these broad discussions trigger new thoughts, ideas for blogs and stories. And they wouldn’t get there if we just focussed on the narrow transaction – what I can offer them and what they can offer me.
And these chats also amount to practising what I preach. Because the key to making life better for working dads, for parents, for everyone really is communication.
It was one of the three key instructions in my book (along with acting and agitating). Communicating can mean different things. It means talking to your partner about how you see parenthood shaping up before you become a dad. Do you want to take Shared Parental Leave? How are you going to split the domestic duties? And it means talking to your employers about how you’re going to implement that vision. The sooner your bosses know that you’re thinking about taking extra paternity leave for example the more they’ll appreciate the notice. If you are an employer it means making your staff aware not just of what your policies are around paternity leave and parental pay but communicating clearly and loudly that there’ll be no drawbacks for those that take up their rights.
And it means talking to other people about parenthood. Those chats over coffee I had this week might have looked like idle chit chat. But after each meeting all the participants came away energised, convinced that they are on the right path in championing a better future for working dads. You can’t put a price on that.
So my resolution for 2020, such as it is, is in the first place to give myself a break. Not beat myself up for spending too much time chatting over coffee, but recognise the immense value in those talks, in connecting with interesting people. And secondly, to have more of them. To keep talking.