Tim Burke

Sometimes a forced change of plan can be a high hurdle for a Lead Dad to surmount.

Tim Burke, a Boston guy born and bred, always believed he had to be in the office longer than anyone else to be a good leader. If he was doing it, everyone else would do it. “My dad was a fire chief in Boston, my mom was an office manager,” he said. “It was a very working-class background, and my working style became 70-hour weeks.”

It brought him success. He rose through the ranks. As a sales manager at a tech startup when Covid struck, he kept working those 70 hours, albeit in his basement. He was committed. Then a few months ago, the company laid him off.

His view changed. Burke, our Lead Dad of the Week, is a husband and father of two boys, 8 and 4. His wife Chase, a cancer survivor, works in the tech industry, and just as he got laid off, she was starting a big new job. So Burke rethought how things were going to work.

“I’ve never had more than two weeks off in my whole entire life,” Burke said. “With Henry I did get three weeks off. With Teddy I got a one and a half weeks. My honeymoon was two weeks as well.”

He started thinking about those hours: “Is this sustainable? What was I doing? We learned the hard way through my wife’s illness that life is very fluid.”

When he recently met up with a former direct report, he was surprised to hear her say he would have been a better manager had he gone home at a normal time.

Burke has passed up two job offers that would put him back in the basement for 70-plus hours a week. He might pivot into human resources. But for the moment he’s appreciating the opportunity to reflect.

“I get to do things I didn’t get to do before – spending time with the kids, making dinner, working out,” he said. “The anxiety has been real around the financial part. But everything has changed in a good way where both parents are equal and we’re figuring this out.”

Welcome, Tim, to The Company of Dads.