Dads in the Limelight – Tom Matlack (The Good Men Project)

Our 27th Dad in the Limelight is Tom Matlack co-founder of The Good Men Project. I want to thank Tom for being a part of this series. It has been great getting to know him and now sharing him with all of you!

1) Tell me about yourself, (as well as how you are in the limelight for my readers knowledge) 

I am the co-founder of THE GOOD MEN PROJECT, father of three kids (16, 14, 5), a former venture capitalist and Chief Financial Officer of The Providence Journal Company.

I was Chief Financial Officer of The Providence Journal until 1997. I was the lead investor in the Art Technology Group, which reached $5 billion in market capitalization in 2001. I founded and ran my own venture firm from 1998 to 2010 before turning to writing. My work has appeared in Fogged Clarity, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Rowing News, Penthouse, Boston Common, Boston Magazine, Boston Globe Magazine, Wesleyan, Tango, Pop Matters, and PenSpark, and I am a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-matlack).

In 2008, I co-founded THE GOOD MEN PROJECT (www.goodmenproject.org) with my venture capital partner James Houghton. I have appeared on national and local television and radio as well as in print across the country. In the fall of 2009, I led a non-conventional book tour that started inside the Sing Sing Correctional Facility and ended in Hollywood with a screening of THE GOOD MEN PROJECT documentary, followed by a panel discussion including Matt Weiner and Shepard Fairey. All proceeds from the Project go to helping at-risk boys.   

You can find me on many social media platforms including:

http://www.scribd.com/tmatlack
http://www.facebook.com/thomasmatlack
http://www.facebook.com/thegoodmenproject
http://twitter.com/tmatlack
http://www.flickr.com/photos/goodmenproject
http://www.youtube.com/goodmenproject
http://matlack.blip.tv/
http://www.goodmenproject.org/blog/

 

2) Tell me about your family 

Like many men, I have a blended family.  My big kids—my daughter Kerry is 16 and son Seamus is 14–were by my former wife.  We got divorced when they were babies, so for the first six years of their lives I was a solo dad trying to figure out diapers and sleep and bottles all on my own.  It was good preparation for life and not something I would trade for the world.  Eight years ago I got remarried to my current wife Elena and we had our son Cole, who turned five on Valentines Day.  The relationship between the big kids and Cole is something that is amazing to watch and not what I would have predicted.  It sealed us all as a family unit.

3) What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father? 

Losing physical custody of Kerry and Seamus.  It broke my heart each and every time I had to take them back to their mom’s house.  I had to deal with the fact that they would never live with me even half time.  As a result I cherish Kerry and Seamus in a way that I was missing before the divorce.  I really had my head in the sand.

4) What advice would you give to other fathers? 

Get on your hands and knees and play with your kids.  Listen to them.  Hold them.  There is no magic bullet in fatherhood.  It’s about consistently showing up and just loving your kids.  I never was much for reading books about fatherhood.  To me it is an intuitive thing that just happens naturally if you let yourself go.  

5) Seeing that you (or your position) is in the limelight, how have you come to balance parenthood and outside life? 

That is still a struggle for me.  But I learned the hard way when I got divorced that no amount of outside fame and fortune can make me happy.  I was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal one day for having architected a $2 billion transaction one day and in a church parking lot the next trying to explain to my mom why I had no where to go the next.  I am a poster boy for the fact that money can’t buy you happiness, only love and connection and family can.  I will never forget the feeling of despair on that call to my mom for as long as I live.  For the 14 years since I have tried to be a better man and live a more balanced life.

6) What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with? 

Early on I spent a lot of time with a good friend of mine who was also going through a divorce and had twins the same age as my kids AND a severely disabled daughter confined to a wheel-chair with minimal ability to speak.  I saw how he drank in the love from his kids and didn’t let all the day-to-day headaches bother him.  I realized that if he could take care of those three kids on his own, I could certainly do the same with my two babies.

7) What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far? 

In a very real sense my kids saved my life.  It wasn’t until I really soaked in how amazing the experience is that I started to think seriously about how to change myself for the better.  I remember feeding my son Seamus a bottle for the first time at my bachelor pad. I felt him fall off to sleep and inhaled the sent of him deeply.  I was finally at peace.  I still cherish that time with my son Cole.  It makes my life worth living in a real way.

8) What have been the most memorable experiences that you have had thus far as a parent? 

We have done a lot of traveling as a family, which has always been fun.  Just that feeling of being together with no outside distractions and laughing a lot.  But for me it has been watching Kerry and Seamus each go through their adolescent challenges and come through the other side of it to become happy, healthy and responsible young people with amazing and unique talents of their own (Kerry is an actress and Seamus is an athlete).  It feels like such a long time ago that I was chasing them around playgrounds as toddlers and, at the same time, it feels like yesterday.

If you have any questions for Tom, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!

Also, do you know a Dad in the Limelight? If so, please email me their contact information so that they too can be a part of this series!


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