On a beautiful Chicago fall day, Laith Saud, founder of ManAfter, invited me to attend a parent coaching session he was giving to local business leaders in Franklin Park. Saud is a trailblazer in the new niche of the larger life coaching industry, parent coaching. Saud claims only one qualification, though he has a PhD, he claims his qualification is being himself successful parent.
Saud is a natural presenter; he paces slowly, speaks deliberately and holds the microphone more like a performer than a corporate speaker. “Parenting is your primary role as a leader and being an affective leader is your primary role as an executive,” Saud said. The way Saud weaves together parent coaching, executive coaching and research is impressive. Even though Saud is a “girl-dad,” this talk was about raising boys.
The parent coaching industry is not entirely new, there are dozens of parent coaching services available in most major metropolitan areas. Therapists provide most services and Saud insists this is what makes ManAfter different. “Therapy is for healing a wound, coaching is for tackling life,” he says. Saud’s martial arts background emerges often in our conversation, he sees much of life as a fight.
ManAfter began as a divorce coaching service, helping executives navigate the nasty world of divorce, “while maintaining dignity and sanity in the process,” Saud says. Parent coaching was a natural part of divorce coaching, “I was helping men overcome their negative emotions and ensure quality time with their kids.” I asked Saud why men; “well, divorce is one of those things that men and women experience differently, even though the degree of difficulty is the same for each.” Since its inception, ManAfter has worked in conjunction with HumanAfter, a company that helps men and women with a variety of human resource services.
This afternoon was a ManAfter talk focused on raising young boys. Saud insists, based on deep research, that boys are living in crisis. He cites the best selling work of Warren Farrell and John Gray The Boy Crisis and Lukianoff and Haidts’ The Coddling of the American Mind, along with insights from cognitive behavioral therapy and neuroscience. Saud discloses, “I’m not a clinician or therapist, my background is in history, but that is the oldest study of human behavior.”
After the talk, which was well received, Saud was approached to offer more talks; he is optimistic about the future of parent coaching as a corporate perk. “I approach companies now to provide these events in the same way they do motivational talks or leadership talks…In fact, I’m sure the audience gets more out of these talks, than the highly career-centered leadership talks, parenting is your life and most important legacy.” Saud has a way of getting you to agree with him and who could argue with that?
Tina Johnson helped bring The Marketing Folks from a-weekly newsletter to a full-fledged news site by creating a new website and branding. She continues to assist in keeping the site responsive and well organized for the readers. As a contributor to The Marketing Folks, Tara mainly covers industry new.