Can there be a balance between your work, your family and your life? If you work in the creative industry and struggle with work/life balance you are not alone. Motion design veteran, Robert Hranitzky, talks with Chris about the perks and perils of striking a balance between your love of work and your love for life and family.
Robert: Thank you so much for having me, Chris. So my name is Robert Hranitzky. And I work as a freelance creative, running my own design studio in Munich, Germany. And I specialize and focus on motion design, but also do traditional graphic design and do a lot of public speaking, and teaching here and there.
Chris: You're also a model from what I can see from WalKam's ads. So that's part of your credentials now, and fans of the show, know who you are because they've seen you on YouTube. So if you're new to us, and you find this conversation to be super interesting, I highly encourage you to go back and watch those two episodes. But for everybody else, that's new, welcome aboard.
Chris: And on today's episode, we're going to talk a lot about work-life balance and how two family men, you and I, or people who have families, how you manage an active career. So the way we're going to talk about this is we're going to first just jump into what was life like for you prior to having kids and having a family? Just the work you, the young person who's really driven, ambitious. What was that like? What was that life like for you?
Robert: Well, life before kids was certainly massively different in many ways. I was doing the traditional hustle all day, every day as much as I can. I have the fortunate position to love my work just as you and any or hopefully most of creative people love their work and I don't take this for granted. I always thought it's a privilege to just go in and be excited to create something new and always be challenged to learn a new tool or a new technique or try this or try that.
Robert: So I was working a lot and I didn't really consider it as work although I found it to be strenuous at times, especially during my internship in Hamburg, where I essentially went from, for example, from doing five times a week sports to once in six months and also having the fridge with things not looking so well after a few days or weeks. So this was a time of late shifts and working really long hours and this was during my studies so this carried over even after I finished my studies and moved to Munich.
Robert: So I was working super late nights I was always a late-night person. I still have trouble getting up in the morning and really get the engine going. So I was more like, "Okay, let's start work from 10, 11 something like this way into the night." And this is where I thrived really. Was no email, no phone, and nothing. It's 2 AM, 3 AM, the best ideas pop up. "Let's try this technique." So, yeah, I was working really long hours and I learned a lot doing that and really appreciated that time a lot.
Chris: How old were you?
Robert: How was your time?
Chris: Way before? Yeah, I want to share some of my experiences. But how old were you and what year is this? So everybody gets a sense of where we are in history.
Robert: So right now I'm 40. I was. Hang on. I was 25 during my internship. I think I was 26 or 27 when I graduated from university. But I started work and freelancing even before I studied so, I think right after doing my... What would be equivalent of high school? I think at 20, I started basically, to freelance before studying. So this has been on from 20 to 35, I would say. So our oldest is now five years. I was 35 when he was born. So I think for about 15 years the hustle was pretty intense, right? And a lot of fun too, but so different to today.
Chris: Right. A lot of long nights, right? So when you say you're working and being inspired at two in the morning, what is a typical day like? When you get up when you go to sleep and did you do this five days a week or seven days a week?
Robert: Back in the days?
Chris: Back in the day.
Robert: Back in the day. It was much more unstructured. It's funny actually. Because when I was younger, it was basically like you say, "Living the dream of a freelancer." Just not giving a damn. Still, of course, being disciplined and getting stuff done. And finishing the projects on time. Of course, this was obvious and an absolute necessity, but still going on to the basketball court, playing basketball, coming back late in the afternoon, working.
Robert: So it was not really a schedule. It was going with the flow and just doing whenever inspiration hits me. Mostly I try to work five days a week. But for me, weekends weren't as holy as they are right now. It was Saturday, "Hey, someone has a cool idea. We can do something with UV lights and fluorescent colors and we can film it and close up." And, "Yeah, let's do that on a Saturday." No one's going to bother. And yeah, it was just whenever you want, and whenever inspiration and the muse hit you. Whatever that was.
Chris: Right. It sounded like you were just living in the moment, and just living to whatever your heart and passion took you. And I think that's a really cool and special period in your life. And of course, all things changed. But before we get there, so I'm getting this now. Whatever you felt inspired to do, you did. If you wanted to play basketball, you would, if you wanted to stay up to four in the morning, working on some new technique, you would do that. And you didn't have to feel guilty or anything else because it was just about you and your personal and professional development, right?
Robert: Correct. Yeah.
Chris: Okay. Super. All right.
Robert: How was it for you?
Chris: Not that different.
Chris: When I got out of school in 1995, I started my company just a few months after graduation. And you know, when you start a company, there's a lot of responsibilities and the company I started, I almost had a staff almost from the jump. There was more work to do than I could do, and mainly just reached out to people and started to bring them in. It wasn't full-time but it was full-time freelance people working for me, very early on. That meant that the hustle game was really strong.
Chris: I do want to tell you this because eventually, a couple years after I did get married, and I was working with my friend, then my girlfriend then she became my wife. But for those first... I think five years. I didn't take any holidays, there was no vacation. It was just work all the time. If I wasn't working on a project, I was either reading or developing myself as a person.
Chris: So there was a lot of things I needed to learn about motion design, about title design, about even how to structure a company and the technical aspects like... Back in the day. Because this is 1995, when we were able to connect two computers together and share a printer, my mind was like blown. Just Apple Talk this is not even Ethernet. And we're just hooking things up. And so that was my life. Just spending time reading Mac World Magazine, just thumbing through things and seeing like, "Oh, I need a router. That's what a router does."
Chris: So I was our own IT person, delivery boy, I was the designer, the art director. Every role that had to be fulfilled, I did them all. So we're talking about some serious nights. And just to echo what you said, there were nights when I was literally tending the rendering because it took so long to render back in the day computers were not fast enough. And I would just wake up every couple hours, check the rendering and fall asleep on the floor next to my computer. It was pretty rough. And that was the hustle-grind life.
Robert: Yeah. Well, I mean, the fan noise... I mean, it can be very soothing.
Chris: It can be. White noise.
Robert: Yeah, totally. Hang on '95... Was that Mecca seven or something like this Mecca was eight or-
Chris: Oh, I don't even know. It's pretty ancient, man. I was asked to fix two or three or something like that.
Robert: Yeah, it was.
Chris: The first After Effects I use is made by CoSA not even by Adobe.
Robert: Yeah, correct.
Chris: So we're talking about like the Quadra... Is it the Quadra 700 and 900. It was in that era.
Robert: Before the G3's came even out.
Chris: Yeah. Oh, my gosh, we're talking about ancient technology here.
Robert: But you know what's funny? Because that's a similarity that we have or a parallel... Would you call it like... Yeah, that's the similarity that we share. Because you learned, like you said, you learned how to how to set up a router, how to set up this how to set up that, the hard way because you had to do it because there was no one else that was doing this for you.
Robert: So you have all this background knowledge of how to do things, getting your hands dirty and not just being like, "Oh, I'm the fancy designer, I'm coming in. I'm not going to open up any tools. I'm just going to have wild ideas, and I have my slaves that can execute it for me." So I think it's good to have that background and technical foundation as well.
Chris: Honestly, if I could have afforded it or knew exactly how to do these things, I would have paid for it, but I didn't have the money. So a lot of this is just about pure necessity. And I may come across to some of our audience as a hoity-toity designer now, kind of an ivory tower looking down at the minions working at stuff. But there's still this part of me that grew up as a first-generation immigrant who didn't have any money.
Chris: So at times at the office, I'm picking up trash. I just do what needs to be done. That's the stuff that people don't talk about or see. But I just get the job done. And that's all I care about.
Chris: Okay, let's talk about the transition now, okay? So we know... I think a lot of people identify and understand this. And sadly for some people, I shouldn't say sadly, but it is the case for some people who now are married, who have kids, who are still living the grind-hustle life. And so they haven't changed.
Chris: I mean, this is how they define themselves. And that's their decision, that's prerogative I don't want to be sitting here being too judging. But let's go into the next phase when you have your first child, how does that change you? Does it change you and what adjustments do you start to make?
Robert: Well, when our first child was born, this was obviously, the biggest, massive, dramatic, most beautiful, most intense, most strenuous change in our lives, to be honest. It's something that I couldn't have envisioned really and although, a lot of people said and told this and you read about and you try to prepare as much as you can. And then when the kid is there, all of a sudden, it's even more different than you could imagine your wildest dreams in many aspects. In the bad aspects as well as in the beautiful aspects.
Robert: And I pretty much instantly knew that okay, the way I lived my life or the way we lived our lives has to adjust to that. And the other thing that was that pretty much immediately happened was when I held him in my arms was the shift of responsibility and the shift also of what is important in life and all of a sudden everything else apart from family became secondary.
Robert: It was weird because before it was just like hustle and grind and make the most beautiful animation and every pixel perfect and earn as much money as you can because I don't know, we just need money and you just want to output your best work but all of a sudden, you know why you're doing this. All of a sudden, this purpose was there that you could see so clearly and all of a sudden you were like, "Yeah, of course, I want to provide for this little human being."
Robert: And this was funny, all of a sudden it was like an epiphany. You realize this is why you do this. This is beautiful. I can do something that I like and get money and provide for the family at the same time. But the catch was to find the balance of spending time with the family and spending time with work. And obviously, I think one of the biggest changes was realizing the value of time.
Robert: I mean, you always say time is money and money is time and for me, it was like a blah blah blah thing because it seemed... As a young person, time is the relative, right? I mean, it seems like you have unlimited time on your hands. How much time can you spend just sitting on the couch like, "Oh, what I'm going to do now with my time?" Damn. And now, all of a sudden it's like, "Wow." You have an half an hour for yourself.
Robert: Oh, my gosh, this is such a precious time and I would say there's no moment in your life when at least for me, it was the case or for us when you realized that all of a sudden, "Holy [bleep] Time is really really precious." And how a little tiny to have. Never before have I figured it out so dramatically as after the first and especially, after the second child. So he came two years after our firstborn was born. So it was an even more dramatic change.
Chris: So it sounds to me, Robert, that having your child gave you a focus and clarity on time and how you were using it, or sometimes you may be misusing it. Because now there was a consequence, if you mismanage a project, if you procrastinate, if you took on a bad client, or weren't clear on the objectives, you had to spend more time fixing something versus spending time with your partner and your children, right?
Robert: Mm-hmm Yeah, that's correct. And also you could feel the pressure and for me, it was a lot of times and today still is, it's almost nothing to feel that pressure. Running your own business, running your own studio is not easy. I mean, things are going well, but it's not apples are falling from the tree and just have to catch the projects. It's a hustle still is. Very fortunate that things are going well. But I don't take it for granted, but at the same time knowing when things would go south, it's pretty tricky.
Robert: I mean, we have a good social system here in Germany, thankfully, but still, it's kind of like, "Wow, okay." You really think twice about messing up a project whereas before it was like, "Well, if I mess it up, it's just pixels." It's still as pixels. We're not doctors, we're not going to save lives here but at the same time, the importance and the value of a project and of your work is shifting.
Chris: You have a partner and does your partner... Is her responsibility to take care of the kids, or does she also work? Tell me about the home dynamic that you have.
Robert: Yeah, that's a good question. So her name is Marina. So Marina and I, we decided to have... So we decided to split the time. So it's not the perfect way that we did it. I don't want to pretend that we or I am, he knows it all. And this is the right way, this was our way and it's worked for you. So this is why we're sharing it. Some of it will help other people as well.
Robert: So the way we decided to do it was, first of all, I took a few weeks off after birth, and I think a week before birth as well. I was taking a bit slower. And then when he was born, I think I was home for three, four weeks, maybe even more, I don't remember quite exactly. So we wanted to spend a lot of time, the magical first couple of weeks, just as a family to settle in as a family, get to know this little wonder and yeah, just spend quality time, not rush back to work.
Robert: At the same time, we also decided that that Marina will take two years off from work. So in Germany, you are allowed to have so called... It's called parents time, Elternzeit. So you get some payment for a year or you can split that payment in two years. So you will still have the same amount but you can have it in one year or you can split it for two years. And we decided to do that. So I knew that the pressure was on me to provide more because there was only one income coming in for two years.
Robert: But for us, it was important to have full two years for our kid where he's getting the full attention of at least one parent and at the same time, I tried to do to the balance between work and getting enough work done and earning enough money for all three of us. But at the same time, spend time with the family. So it was like juggling and it was hard and it was difficult, still is until today. But this was our decision to do so. And when our second kid came two years later, we did the same thing over again.
Robert: So we wanted to have another two years. It was not a full two years. But we said it has to be fair in some regard. And obviously, the older went to the kindergarten after almost three years or two years and eight months, I think. He went to kindergarten, so almost three. So this took some pressure off because in the mornings we would have time to take care for the baby and run errands and do some housework. And so this was obviously, a lot of help.
Robert: So, same thing for two years for the little one. And now she started to work, almost a year ago. So she's working half-day and four days a week. So Friday, she's off taking care of the family and herself and the house. And yeah, this is how we balance it. It works pretty good for us, I must say. It's certainly not the best way or the perfect way or the right way. But for us, it works. Sometimes better, sometimes not so good. But it's a process.
Chris: Well, let me open up the bandage a little bit and talk about the ways that it doesn't work. Because I think we can all sit back and say, "Look, everything worked out just fine." But I think there's a lot to learn in those points of tension or friction that exists. So I'll share mine with you in a little bit.
Chris: But with you having a child is a seismic shift in your life and your priorities, you've already said that, but it also affects the dynamic between you and your partner, between you and Marina. So can you talk a little bit about how emotionally things had changed or expectations, or anything like that? So that we can understand some of the challenges that you had to overcome.
Robert: Frankly, the biggest challenge for her and my biggest appreciation for her at the same time is that she essentially gave up her career. She still is working in marketing. And she's a very clever woman and a very smart woman and she still is very good at her job but obviously, going up the career ladder, pretty much stalled after almost a four-year break. And also, you will not be crazy successful if you only work four days a week, half a day.
Robert: So basically, she took that cut and she said, "Okay. Yeah. Screw the career. Family first." And then this is something... I mean, she studied two topics and all this basically, more or less goes down to drain. So this is a big sacrifice that she's doing and I appreciate that. And sometimes I have to pinch myself and remind myself and again, not take these things for granted and be more appreciative of her giving up her career, at the same time supporting me as much as I can to support me and me chasing my career, which means I'm not chasing the career as I was five or 10 years ago.
Robert: So obviously, for me, it's also I had to settle with, "All right, so this is it basically. I mean, I'm not going to be the CEO of the biggest and best design company in the world, I'm not going to be the best designer in the world." And I accepted that. I'm still trying to be the best me I can. And still, try to be the best designer I can be and still try to improve and learn every day. And just as we had in our conversations on your YouTube channel, I'm still trying to build new things and learn new things, but at a different pace and I just have to accept that and roll with it.
Chris: When you said that, your partner Marina had to sacrifice her career and basically, all the time that she put into her education and her life so that she can be a mom to your two kids, did she accept that? Like, "This is what I want to do with my life or this is the compromise I have to make?" Because I think depending on the individual, they have a different attitude about that.
Robert: I think a little bit of both, to be honest. It's funny what nature does to, especially, to moms or to any human being but it's instinct sets in. She has very huge motherly instincts. For her, it's sort of instinct and it's a heart versus mind thing. When the heart is a full-on mother and sometimes the mind goes like, "Oh, yeah. This would be nice and this would be nice." So it's a mind versus heart fight sometimes.
Robert: The same for me, not to the same extent, obviously. But it's certainly not easy. I mean, there's no regrets and nothing. We always have this saying between us, if we always try to find a way for someone else to take care of the kids like a babysitter or daycare or whatever, why do we have kids then? The whole purpose of having kids is to spend time with the kids. And that's true. At the same time, there's time that you need for yourself as well as for your work because it doesn't help anyone if you're not happy.
Robert: If you just spend 110% time with your kids but you don't take care of your own needs and your own desires maybe just, I don't know play a game or do sports or research for a project maybe an hour longer that makes you happy then by all means you should do that. So this is something that is sometimes a little bit difficult between us to find the perfect way of how much time each one gets versus how much time we spend with and for the kids.
Robert: But we try to balance it as good as we can. So we always remind ourselves so, "Hey, we wanted to have kids. This is why we have kids." So just you know [bleep] spend time with the kids. Because it's fun and it is fun. It's always reminding ourselves of, "Hey, it's perfect the way it is. We just need to find a way to make it all work."
Chris: Did you guys have this conversation prior to having your first child, to go through the roles or scenarios, expectations?
Robert: In parts, we did, yeah. So we decided about how much time she's going to be off from work and that I'm going to be the sole provider during that time but not to the extent as it is right now. Because like I said before, you couldn't plan it, you couldn't envision how much time this is going to take, how much longer it's going to take to get out of the house. You're invited to some friends or you're just going out for lunch with the family and how much longer it takes to pack in the diapers, to pack in little glasses with the food back then when he was a baby.
Robert: And get the stroller into the car and Jesus, strap the kid in and how long all this takes. We figure, "Oh, yeah, we're going to be taking off in 15 minutes." And you know what? It was 30. So I don't know how it was for you. But for us, it was like, "Oh, my God. This takes longer than we expected." And this was with many things. So in parts we planned and some things worked out the way we planned and some things were dramatically more different.
Chris: Well, I think if you got out of the house 15 minutes after you had planned, you're doing pretty good. You're winning at the parenting game because there were days... I have a strong-willed child and he was, I think four years old, he decided he doesn't want to go places. So this was now beyond just packing and getting things in a car. So it's like, he's going to insist that he stays home. So he was crying and screaming and yelling for half an hour. He's like, "I don't want to go and I don't want you to go."
Chris: So those are two options that were not available, right? So we had to go through that and that really tested our parenting skills, my patience, my self-control, my self-worth, self-esteem, because when he was going through these phases, where he was really just an emotional ball of fire and energy and there was no reasoning with him, it really just made me think to myself like, "I'm not cut out for this. I'm not a good father. This is not working."
Chris: And I hadn't thoughts like that where I was thinking, "I did not sign up for this." So I feel deep empathy for parents who have to raise a child that has a learning disorder or something else, some kind of disability, that... Take what I went through and multiply that by 1000. Because then these are just a normal everyday struggle. And for them, it may get a little bit better, but this is the life that they're now committed to. Whereas luckily, I went to a family therapist and got some coaching on this and it really changed how I thought about myself and I got really good practical skills to apply to my children to be a better parent.
Robert: And that's interesting. So what because we having a similar phase right now. The little one is three and a half and the big one is five and a half and, and this emotional ball of fire. We have that sometimes. I mean, just this morning. "Yeah, I don't I don't want to go to kindergarten." I'm like, "Jesus, we're running late already." And I'm like, "How?" So in the morning, we split up, I bring the kids to kindergarten and Marina picks them up. So this is how we split things so I can work longer, she takes off earlier. So this is how we split that up and that works pretty well.
Robert: But I'm alone in the morning and oh, boy when he has a will and he says he doesn't want to go or he wants to pick... I don't know. He wants to bring a toy and it's not bring your toy day, I have discussions and sometimes I totally relate to what you said you were like "Wow, I feel like I've not signed up to this. What can I do?" Really my nerves are down and I just don't know what to do. I'm feeling this is the end. I succumb to this. I give up. What can I do? And so what did the therapy tell you? What was the magic thing?
Chris: Okay, yes. Now, we can get into this. So I went to see a specialist, she does family therapy. So my wife and I, we show up, we talk about a scenario or situation, and then she gives us some reasons as to why what's happening so that she helps us to appear underneath the emotion as we're now detached from the experience. It gives us a lot of clarity. And then she gives us very practical advice.
Chris: So here's the things that we've learned from her. One is that children like attention. It doesn't matter if it's good attention or bad attention, attention is what they want. So when you withhold that from them, it changes certain ideas so the worst possible way to deal with a child who's having a tantrum is to give them more attention. That's exactly what they desire. So sometimes, my wife and my oldest, they would get into some disagreement, and both of them are going to go through thermonuclear war. I can just hear it from the other room.
Chris: It starts out civil. An accusation is thrown, it goes back and forth, and each side digs into their trench. And the next thing I know, there's a lot of yelling and screaming, and then somebody storms off into the room and slams the door. And it's just like yelling and crying uncontrollably for a really long time. So I would try to be the peacekeeper and come in and say, "Look. Hey, what's going on?" And then my son would just yell at me. He's like, "Get out of here." And I'm like, "Hey, are you okay?" He's like, "I don't love you. I don't want you. Get out."
Chris: I was like, "Okay." So that hurt me. I know he didn't mean these things. But it hurt me. It hurt. Because I don't care what people say, words do hurt. So I go and tell the therapist and she's like, "Here's the thing. Why do you want to check in on him?" I said, "Because I want to make sure he's safe and he's okay. And I want to show him that I care, that I'm not just ignoring him."
Robert: Exactly the same on this. Exactly the same.
Chris: Same, right?
Chris: So this advice is going to save you 100 bucks at the therapist, okay? So she says to me, "Here's what you do. You go, you knock on the door, you go into the room and to say, first, you take away his power, which is, I'm here to check in on you. I'm going to leave as soon as I see that you're okay. And now that I see you're okay, I want to let you know, when you're ready to talk to me, I'll be in the other room, and there's walk out. You take away all his power, you give him none of the attention that he craves and desires, you're not going to engage in it. And I walked away." I was like, "That's going to work?" She's like, "Try it."
Chris: I didn't even understand the theory behind all this stuff. I'm a good student. So I just do exactly as I'm told. Knock on the door, I go in, say the exact same thing, I leave. And you can almost set your watch to it like three minutes, two minutes, one minute, he's done. Slowly, door opens, he walks out as if nothing has ever happened. And he's totally cool. I just couldn't believe how powerful that advice was because he can go for hours.
Chris: Your child will if you have a strong-willed child will be stronger than yours. And what happens is you cave, you give them what they want, you agree to give them the toy or the pizza or whatever it is that they want. And they'll learn over time, if I do this I get this result.
Robert: Yeah, I know not to do that. So we learned this the hard way. But I was always like the... Excuse me. I was always the give in person. "Oh, look he's crying. Oh, it's so sweet I learned not to be that much anymore. Sometimes I am but it was a learning process for me as well to learn not to give in which is important because then they're going to use you and abuse it.
Robert: And every time that they want something they just going to put on the crying face or whatever and then you get in and you will be in the losing end. But that's a good idea with the knock and just say, "I'm here for you." And just leave calmly.
Chris: Yeah, you just tell them ahead of time so they can't tell you to get out, "So I'm just checking in on you, I'm going to leave in a minute. I just want to let you know that I'm here for you when you're done and that I care about you." And just walk out the door. He can't even say anything because his brain is like, "This is shock and all." Right? You just come in, it's a blitzkrieg, you go in, you do your thing and you leave. They didn't you have enough time to process what's happened until later. And then that's when they start to calm down. And that's it.
Chris: Because before I try to rationalize it like, "Okay, what did you say to mom? And when she said this, she meant this." And then they would just go nuts on you. So here's another thing I learned from my therapist, which is, children find comfort in safety and knowing that somebody is in charge. This is a really critical thing. So they find comfort and safety in knowing that somebody is in charge because they know that the world is chaotic. And then you become that foundation, the pillar that holds up the roof and is really, really important.
Chris: So she would give me an example, right? And she would say, sometimes the kids might dart off in the parking garage. And then you grab their hand and you say, "Hey, stick with me." What are you really doing? She told me to do this, she's like, "Get down on their level." And say," See, from this point of view, this is what you can see. And then pick them up, and then hold them at your height. This is what I can see. So in two cars from now, you see that person is about to back up. When you're walking through, you're not going to see that. So what I'm trying to do is to keep you safe. So when I say stay here and stay next to Dad, this is all I'm trying to do."
Chris: So there's a lot of that that's going on. And I'm the kind of dad who will sit down and talk to my four-year-old as if they're a fully developed adult. I don't want to babytalk them, I don't want to give them fake reasons. Because I know growing up my mom would make up all these reasons, right? She would make up reasons to get me to do stuff like, "You want to do that because your arm will fall off." Or just something crazy. And then over time, what you start to learn, as you start to learn about the world is, "Mom just makes up stories. They're not really credible."
Chris: So I was taking the philosophy... And dad's do this too. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying in my own personal experience, is that I sit down and I really tried to explain to the person in real hard facts and logic versus making up a story for an expedient conclusion. So you will see me sit there and talk about the smallest thing for 30 minutes. And I think I learned that a lot from my dad just refined through coaching and through therapy.
Robert: That's a very interesting point. Yeah, I mean, it's a good point to do this, going down on their level thing. For example, it's funny because I learned this from photography, because I do a lot of photography and a lot of kids photography as well. And there was one thing I learned was there's a totally different level of kid photography, that you can do if you go down to their eye level, because most parents do photography from above, looking down and taking a photo of the kid from their perspective, but once you really kneel down or even light down on the floor and be really low on their level, all of a sudden, they open up and the same thing happens when you talk to them from that level.
Robert: Because all of a sudden, you're on the same level, you're not talking down to them, but you're also talking to them on their level, you get down to them, you look them in the eye, they don't have to look up. But it's actually a really, really good point with a car like, "Okay, so if you check out what you see and check out what I see." I'll try that the next time. So it's a good idea.
Chris: And we have a lot of agreements too because another thing too is being that we are now no longer poor. When I grew up, we knew better to ask for things. But because money seems in material now, people can get whatever they want. We used to go to the toy store and the kids loved going to the toy store. And the expectation probably set up a little bit because the grandparents spoiled them like, "Whatever you want, you just get." So there's this expectation that you go in the store and they want this and they start, "Can I buy this?"
Chris: And I got tired of dealing with that. So we have an agreement, we sit in the car, it's like, "This is Toys R Us, we want to go inside, right? We want to spend time looking at things and playing and exploring. And I'm fine with that. But here's the agreement, we're going to go in there, you're not going to ask me for anything. If you do, we're going to leave and we're not going to get to do this again. Are you okay with that?" And then you have to think about that. So we have agreement.
Chris: And so you can learn a lot about client relationships, setting up expectations, setting up boundaries, getting alignment, and all. So they'll say, "Yes." So in this store, like, "Dad can I?" I'm like, "You remember? And I just remind them to hold them to that and it's really hard. I can see it on their faces. This is where my mom would look from behind my shoulder and say her heart's broken to 1000 pieces.
Chris: And she sees little whimpering like, "Boo. I did agree to this but I still want it." Kind of thing. And I say, "Mom." I just gave her the signal, hand across my throat like, "Cut that out. You do not break this." And then over time, that's how my kids behave. Go ahead.
Robert: So your kids are 13 and 10?
Chris: No. 15 and 13 now. One just turned 13.
Robert: 15 and 13.
Robert: Right. 15 and 13. So you also have the... So it's exactly 10 years between our kids.
Chris: Yeah. And how old are you?
Robert: I'm 40.
Chris: Okay, I'm almost 50. See that. I just had my kids a little earlier than you.
Robert: So that's another thing. Because there's always this question of when is the time right to have kids? When is it okay? When are you financially at the level of wanting to have kids? When are you emotionally on the level of being ready for a kid? When is the perfect time? And we found that there's really no perfect time because there's always something that could be better. You could always have a better place to live, better-paid job, more money. I don't know. There's always something that could be more perfect and better.
Robert: So essentially, what it means is the time is now whenever it is. And you just have to work around it. The only thing that I was thinking and now that five years, almost six years have passed, is that it could have been a little bit earlier. To more personal tastes. I feel younger than I am. And I might look younger than I am. But it occurred to me because I love doing sports, I love basketball and swimming and all this stuff. So for me, it's like, "Man, I want to do sports with the kids. I want to take them on one on one. I want to play against them. I want to run with them. I want to do this with them. I'm going to travel with them."
Robert: And so I think I'm going to be pretty good at 60, still fit. But at the same time, I was like, "Yeah, if I would be like 50 or 55, maybe I would have a few more years left on a certain fitness level." So that's the only thing that occurred to me. But that's also another thing, why I stay healthy. That's the motivation. I started basketball training again, couple weeks ago, watching my diet more than I did before, because I just thought, I want to be fit, I want to be a fit dad in the long run.
Robert: It's not like I'm going to play on a high level, that's not my goal, but it's just keeping myself in shape and Marina's doing the same thing, by the way, right now. And it's good to develop that attitude, be able to have a motivation, to be able to be fit around and with the kids.
Chris: Right. I want to talk about a couple of things since you brought this up about when's the right time to have kids. And I'm not saying that anybody needs to have kids. But those of you that are listening to this, that are contemplating having kids, I think the way you need to look at is like this is that you would not go into business and partner with somebody very lightly. It's a lifelong commitment. And I think I would look at having a child as almost having a partner in life that you're committed to forever, in ways that you can never divorce.
Chris: You can separate from your spouse, but you can't really separate from your kids. So this isn't a question of financial security or any other thing. It's just really are you mentally committed to taking care of somebody and reprioritizing your life? If you're not, don't do it. I also think about this is that you must have a really strong relationship with your partner, whether you're married or not because it will test you. If there's a way for it to break, it will break you because all the sudden, now, you don't even have time for each other or yourself.
Chris: It becomes a new priority that your children are your priority. So I would really seriously think about that because I know some friends that are going through divorces, and thank goodness, most of them don't have kids together. Because now, your lack of getting along is going to dramatically impact the psychology and emotional well-being of this child. I do think you have to hold on to that. So I know back in the 50s there wasn't a lot of love and some relationships and marriages. But they stuck together so that they put the priority in their children.
Chris: And so until after the kids went off to college, then the parents divorced or do whatever they wanted to do. But they held it together. I think that's a really important thing. You're in this for the 18 years that you've agreed to. It's an 18-year contract and taken that seriously. And you talk about priorities are the new priority, which is you used to live for you. In your bachelor self, that's all that mattered. It was hedonistic, you do what you wanted to do, you ate what you wanted to eat, you played as hard as you wanted to play.
Chris: But it's really interesting now that you are living for a higher purpose, which is not only to be around for your kids, but to be a role model, to be active, and to be a participant in their lives, not just a bystander, and to provide for them, those are the many things that you're going to do. So I think that's really interesting. For me, having children changed everything in my mind. It made me want to be a better human being, it made me be more conscientious of the decisions that I'm making.
Chris: Because I keep thinking, this is the template in which they have to look at. Not necessarily follow but this is one of two of their strongest, most influential sources of information, mom and dad. From that, they're going to decide I will follow this path or move away from it. So it's almost like you have a little person who's recording all of your actions and deeds, and it makes you just that much more self-aware. And I think that if you want to be a good parent, that that's what you have to do, those are the commitments and sacrifices you have to make.
Chris: Now, some of us and I admire people were able to do that, especially the parents who put their career on hold, reprioritize, and focus on their kids. And I think the word of warning here for people are able to do this, who desire to do this is make sure you don't lose yourself in this process because you're not going to be any good to them either. If mom or dad are miserable, feeling this pining for something else, even when you're there in front of your child, they're going to feel that energy, it's hard for you to conceal that all the time.
Chris: So I think you have to be happy, healthy, balance, loving, and that's how you can provide for your kids. So my wife and I, we made an agreement. Now, there was no hesitation on our part because her maternal instincts are very strong, and she didn't love working for clients anyways. So the idea of being a home... What is that called? Homemaker, caretaker, was suited fine for her. It just put a little bit more pressure on me, but I don't feel the pressure because that's how I'm hardwired. So my wife and I, we're very businesslike when it comes to our relationship. We're very practical and pragmatic.
Chris: "Chris, you go to work, you do what you need to do. And I'm not going to stay at home texting you like, "When are you going to be home?" When are you going to be home?" And if you have to go and do a talk, I'm not going to say like, "Oh, you make no time for us." So we have an amazing, beautiful relationship. It wasn't always like that. But we had a lot of clarity and agreement with what we're going to do, right?
Robert: So this developed over time?
Chris: Yeah, and I have to say that before we had kids, I think I've noticed this a lot in relationships, about five years into a relationship, you go through a really rough patch. So we went through a rough patch of explosive arguments, disagreements, taking each other for granted. And then it's a make or break it moment for us.
Chris: And that year of searching and discovering, allowed us to find ourselves and to recalibrate and balance. And I wanted to make sure that was in place before we even talked about having kids. Because the last thing I want to do is to bring up a child and it's super toxic, unloving, hateful environment.
Robert: Yeah, that's a very good point. And also, it really struck me what you said with the point of refocusing, and what was the word that you were saying?
Robert: Exactly. Yeah, the word you were saying. So with reprioritizing your life, this is really a good example but also looking at yourself and being self-aware about how you behave. It's funny because it makes yourself a better person. So it's almost like you want to be good. You want to behave and you want to be a good role model. And it's funny because it again, this will make you a better as well as a better creative. Because you want to spend the time that you have more efficiently.
Robert: At the same time because you want to spend time with the family but you want to also push forward with this job. So this will help you to set to protest or you don't procrastinate as much. At the same time, you want to push forward. It's this crazy balance. What do you call it? The ballet dancers when they have to do the split. Is it called the split?
Robert: It's doing a split between two chairs. One chair is spending time with family and kids and the other is spending time for you and work. I still would say, I didn't find the golden way, yeah? I'm still searching. I don't even know if there's a golden way or the right way but it's a big, big challenge.
Chris: There's a thing from Jim Rome, he talks about this, and I think it goes something like this... The story is a person is at work, and they miss their kids and their family. And so they leave work early but they grab some of the paperwork with them. So they leave and they come home. While at home playing with the kids, they're thinking about the paperwork and the things that they have to finish. And so they steal time from that. And what Jim is saying is that that's really no way to live.
Chris: So when you're at work, do your work and once you're home, be a parent. And don't mix those two up. Because one, you perform poorly at work, people at work, think, "Oh, you left early, you're less efficient." And when you're at home, you're really not present anyways. So, it's segregate, segment those two worlds a little bit so that... Give your best at work and give your best at home. So this is a philosophy you feel like no compromise.
Chris: A lot of people think life is about compromise between you and your partner, you and your children, work and family. And I think this dilutes everything, and you just become average at everything. So the agreement that my wife and I have is, I'm at work, I'm focused at work, unless there's an emergency or something really critical at home, don't send me little photos and little text messages about what somebody is doing because it's hard for me to finish work. And I will also when I come home, I'm done with work. So let's not talk about work, I just want to put that away, okay?
Chris: Now, that's an ideal that's not always easy to live to. I'm just saying that that's a philosophy. Now, I'm realizing here that I don't have a ton more time talking to you because I have another thing I have to do. So, Robert, I want to talk about a little bit about the future, in terms of, where you see your life and how you're making adjustments as you're learning and course-correcting as your two children are going to get older and older and you want to spend more time with them.
Chris: Especially because they become more interactive, they have similar interests as you and you can throw them around or you can play basketball with them or whatever it is that you want to do, you go swimming. So they become much more interesting humans as they get a little bit older, right?
Chris: So what adjustments or plan or observations do you have about where you're going as a parent?
Robert: So the foreseeable future, so the next couple of years, I think, things are going to change and certainly things are changing already. And we can feel the change because they get older and they get more self-aware and they can do more things on their own. At the same time, we can share things we like. So for example, two weeks ago, we bought a tent. So a whole camping equipment, we went out camping just last weekend.
Robert: So we try to find things that make us both happy. So both us, parents as well as both the kids. So we try to spend time together where we're both enjoying the time and spend quality time and not say like, "Okay, so this is only something that gives me pleasure or gives her pleasure or just the kids' pleasure. For example, going onto a playground, of course, you can have fun at the playground as a parent too but it's limited. You don't want to crawl through little things all day or go down to sled all day because it's made for kids, essentially.
Robert: So we're trying to find things where all four of us can spend time and have fun doing that. And obviously, sports is going to be next, in the next two, three years maybe. When Elias can play soccer or basketball and we can spend one or two hours on the court. Both be happy doing that. We already do a lot of swimming together. It's a lot of fun for all of us. So these are the things that we are trying to do where everyone will benefit from it.
Robert: At the same time, it's a very good point that you brought up with when you do work, it's work time and then you just spend all the energy that you have on the work time and be efficient on this. At the same time, not to carry work home. I must say I find it difficult because as a creative, the mind is always on. For me, I'm still working on finding that off switch. I find myself thinking about things a lot of times, unfortunately, because you're trying to find the next big idea for this project or something didn't work out and you're just trying to figure out a way and sometimes it pops up in your mind. And it's frustrating.
Robert: So I'm trying to to find a balance and I wanted to start meditating. I don't know if that's the thing I'll be able to do. I downloaded the app Headspace. I've used it three times and I keep forgetting it. It's a new thing. I need to get used to it and I need to ease into that. But it's definitely on my list to meditate and find a better inner balance that makes me more calm and more self-aware and more aware of the moment. And so this is something I'm looking forward to, to be more focused and more attentive about the right now.
Chris: Good observations. Okay, so I heard something from Art Center, Professor Harold Garrison, and it really helped me to solidify and crystallize a philosophy that I had but he articulated so well. He said a lot of people talk about work-life balance, and that's probably what this episode is going to be called, right? But for him, he thinks about it as work-life integration. So he says if you imagine a box and you cut the box into four equal parts, one might be work, one might be things that you do for yourself, one might be for your partner and one for your kids. Something like that.
Chris: So personal goals, professional goals, your relationship with your partner and your children. And that people tend to compartmentalize. And I know I'm guilty because I just said to do something well and focus on that. But something that's been interesting that's happening to me now, is he says that if you fill up each box, there's no rule to say how big each circle can be in the box. So then when the circle starts to overlap, some magical things start to happen. For example, with you personally, when you do motion design work, that's a work goal, but it also fulfills a personal life goal.
Chris: So when you're doing projects that you love, like say Star Wars fan film, then your work and your personal goal overlap really beautifully and it makes you really happy. So much so that you're willing to spend extra time and energy and your own money to make it. Now, maybe your partner is out of this. But your kids, if your kids grew up loving Star Wars and they were featured in the film, so that they're playing out roles for you with you, or they're helping you do a composite or something, then those three boxes start to overlap quite a bit.
Chris: So I'm looking for now, maximum overlap. And another Jim Rome thing is if you look at the ant, the ant is a very humble and very honorable and admirable insect in the world that during summer and spring when most insects are grazing and eating and playing and being joyful, the ant works because fall is coming. And, of course, winter is coming. So the ant has stores of food and can relax in peace and be able to thrive in their colony while other insects are dying.
Chris: So for me, in the early parts of my career when I had our first and then our second child, I was still really focused on work. And the long-term plan wasn't clear to everybody. It was sacrifice now, so this was the summer and the spring for the winter, which is now, they're in their teens, and I get to travel the world with them. Like yesterday, we decided we want to watch a movie at 10:30 to watch Spider Man: Far From Home. And we booked the ticket, we're one of eight people in the theater. And I was just sitting there watching them, I was holding my youngest son in my arm. It's like, "This is pretty rad."
Chris: It's Wednesday, middle of the day. And I get to do this because I've designed my life so that I have this freedom now. So my wife was basically their primary caretaker for one through 10. Dad wasn't always present but now 10 and up, I'm really free, flexible, we're working together, we're talking about how to cut their videos, how to post on social media, explaining certain things to them, and introducing them to all the things that they might fall in love with, who knows?
Chris: So I think first, you start off with work-life balance. And then you might migrate to work-life integration if you can do this. I think if all your areas overlap, you're going to be a really super happy person and at the end of the day, that's wealth to me.
Robert: Absolutely. I mean, it's a very good metaphor and I remember hearing it from you before, I don't know where it was, maybe on one of the episodes, work-life integration is a really good point and this is something I did poorly. I'm my own boss, right? But I was so into doing work, and I was so disciplined, which is a good thing. You have to be disciplined but I was so disciplined that it almost became obsessive. Like, "Okay, I have to be in at 9:30 the latest and I have to work until six to get this done." Even if there wasn't something that had to be done.
Robert: It was like, "Okay, this is work time. I have to be at work." Whereas now, since a few months actually, I'm trying to shift it around. Funny enough to be more like it was before kids. When it was like, "You know what? It's a sunny day. I'm just going to, I don't know. I'm going to play basketball or just go out." And I don't know integrate times differently not to be in a very schematic way of, "Okay, work has to be done from nine to five. And so yeah, sometimes you know what? Why don't I start working from, I don't know, nine to midnight but have a beautiful time in the early afternoon and go swimming with the kids because it was super hot.
Robert: And so I'm trying to shift that away. And really enjoy the privileges you have when you're your own boss and when you're a freelancer. Of course, the job has to be finished on time keeping the deadlines, but at the same time taking the freedom that you have and integrate it, as you say, into your life. So this is something I'm really trying to work out somehow. So it's a challenge. But yeah, I try to make this and obviously, if you're happier doing this, this will translate over to everything, to your work as well as to your family.
Chris: Okay, that was awesome. I would love to talk to you a little bit more, Robert, but I have to start preparing for my next thing. It's been a real pleasure talking to you. And I think if more people, more creative people, especially someone like yourself, who's an independent person working based out of Munich, is that where you're at?
Chris: Based out of Munich, and you and I are having this conversation across oceans and talking about parenting and things that aren't sexy topics to talk about but is long overdue so that people have some sense of like, "Here's how Robert's doing it. Here's how Chris is doing it, somewhere in between or something totally different works for them." And neither of us are in this position where we're saying, "This is it. This is the one true way."
Chris: I think we're both just trying to share openly and honestly about our struggles, what we've learned in the past and where we still have ways to go. And if you think that this is going to be helpful, let us know. Send us some feedback. Robert, where can people find you on the internet?
Robert: They can find me on website. It's hranitzky.com or on Instagram, it's @hranimator. So H-R animator, or on Twitter, which is H-R animation.
Chris: Are you more likely to respond to a question or comment on Twitter, Instagram or on your website?
Robert: Most likely, it's on Instagram. So this is where I get messages and where I gladly reply to messages and also feel free to check out my YouTube channel where I also reply a lot for tutorials and stuff. So the YouTube channel is not going to be about parenting though.
Chris: So maybe you want to DM on Instagram but definitely check out his work on YouTube. And that's probably what youtube.com/ what?
Robert: Robert Hranitzky.
Chris: Robert Hranitzky. And the H is silent in Hranitzky.
Chris: Robert, it was a pleasure. I look forward to having more conversations of this and other topics with you. And we'll see where this journey takes us both, okay?
Robert: The pleasure was all mine. Thank you so much for having me. My name is Robert Hranitzky and you're listening to The Futur.