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Profiles of creative and engaged fathers

Interviews with creative and engaged Fathers by

Wes Farnell is a Business Owner

Lach Ryan

Wes Farnell is probably my best Skype-friend in the whole world. We have never actually met in person, but have somehow managed to strike up a friendship that extends beyond the boundaries of business.

We met whilst I was working in the wonderful world of coffee, pushing plastic cups throughout the world. He, along with his wife Jen, was our Canadian distributor and we’d Skype regularly. Often conversation would turn to the progress of our young families.

For this reason, I knew Wes would have a good take on being a Dad to Morgan and Logan. He is intelligent, wacky, witty and knows his way with coffee.

Meet Wes.
— Lach

"I think that my philosophy on Fatherhood has everything to do with my Father"  Wes Farnell

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

Excited!  So excited! (I hope the exclamation marks convey that). I wasn’t scared or worried but this was probably down to naivety rather than anything else.

What was the birth of your kids like?

There is nothing that I have ever done, before or since, that can equate to the amazing and unique experience of being there for the birth of my children.  As we chose to have natural births, I had to remain as calm and collected as possible so that Jen didn’t freak out at me freaking out.  With our first, Morgan, he didn’t want to come out and decided that he’d make it a challenge.  It went from being controlled and relaxed, and even a little funny (you can find a little humor in everything), to intense, scary, relief, and ultimately a massive amount of joy and emotion.

With Logan, it was a very different experience, as he wanted out: as soon as he realized it was go-time he wasn’t waiting for anyone.  Of course, the same emotions were there but, when you have very little time to think about it and things go super smoothly, it’s definitely more of just the joy.

One other thing that stands out in my mind is how immensely proud I was of how Jen dealt with the differing circumstances of each birth.  I’m pretty confident that I would have begged for drugs and passed out if we had traded places.

What do you think Fatherhood has taught you?

 That sleep is a luxury, not a right.

And that there is no greater responsibility than caring for, nurturing, and developing your children to be the best people that they can be.

What is the most challenging part of being a Father so far?

We had our first child, moved country, and started our company all within three months, so I would say that the biggest challenge was - and still is - making sure that I spend as much time as possible with my family, whilst making sure that our business continues to be successful and grow.

What is the most rewarding part of becoming a Father?

Watching the boys develop and grow in to the men that they will become.  Every day there are new cognitive and social developments - a new opinion, expression – and it is so exciting, and usually hilarious, to be a part of.

What was your life like before you were a Father?

Both Jen and I had corporate jobs in London – we worked hard (well we thought so, at the time), we went out most nights, we travelled a lot. We enjoyed our lives to the fullest.  But that was a different chapter!

 Do you have a Fatherhood philosophy?

I think that my philosophy on Fatherhood has everything to do with my Father:

·         Do the best you can

·         Whatever life throws at you, be a positive role model

·         Be there whenever you are needed

·         Don’t shy away from the difficult conversations and tasks

·         Encourage and facilitate learning

·         Be honest and truthful with your kids

·         Show as much love as possible to your entire family

·         Have awareness and compassion for the people and world around you

There’s more, but this is a good start…

What elements and memories from your childhood do you look to replicate for your kids?

A feeling of safety and security, and knowing that I was loved – I think that this is an essential element for any child growing up.

What is Eight Ounce Coffee Supply all about and where is your business heading?

From an operational point of view, we import cool specialty coffee gear and then distribute, wholesale, or retail it.

But the basis of our business is to work with, and support, great people – employees, suppliers, and customers – and to help in generating a great community in the industry we are in.

And make some money.

With regards to where we are heading – it’s a tough one.  We have big opportunities, and plans, in many different directions.  Much of it is directed by opportunity and how much sleep we can get by without.

Tell us about the challenges of establishing a business and a family at the same time?

Making time for my family and time for myself.  There will always be challenges, whenever you have children, or start a business.  But you have to recognize this beforehand and remember where your real priorities lie: with your family.

What unique aspects of Canadian culture and lifestyle do you think will be advantageous to your children’s upbringing?

Of course, easy access to poutine and maple syrup will give them a massive head start in the global markets.

Aside from that, Canada on the whole is safer, has more opportunity, and feels more socially balanced than the UK.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the UK, but it is exceptionally expensive and socially divided.

How do you manage sharing so much of your life with your wife- both at work and home?

We are super lucky that we are perfectly complimentary for each other in our relationship and in business.  We love spending time together – lots of time – and our skillsets are balanced.

We also have the same goals in life and in business – which is essential.

What influences your worldview these days?

 My small group of close friends, my experience of life living outside of North America and, of course the BBC.  It may not be perfect, but it’s the best news organisation in the world.  And when every second of your day is accounted for, you need a single point of reference.

What are your strongest memories of your own Dad?

Loving, funny, fair, and the light in any room. Ok, this is true, but I have two more specific memories:

I had chosen to miss school for several days in a row with one of my friends so we set up at my house, and watched TV (I lived with my father and brother as my mother had left several years earlier).  My dad was ‘informed’ by one of my schoolmates, via her father who happened to work with him, that I was not actually in class.  She was apparently concerned for my wellbeing.

As we were on the sofa at home, watching only the best daytime shows the networks had to offer, I heard the sound of a smooth V8 coming up the street, and I quickly proceeded into panic mode.  I hid my friend in the closet and lay on the sofa pretending to be sick.

This did not have the desired effect, and I was swiftly returned to school where I was, ironically, suspended for two weeks.  What I learned that day was that the disappointment of my father was worse than anything else he could have done to me.  This is a memory that has always been with me.

The second: one morning, my Dad was leaving for work and, for some reason, I called him back, hugged him, and told him that I Ioved him: he replied in kind.  Those were the last words we ever exchanged.

Do you think he did a good job?

I would like to think so. 

What was the best thing he ever taught you?

My Dad wanted to travel the world when he retired.  He was stationed in Kenya when in the Army and wanted to return.  He also wanted to travel around the Middle East.  As he died at 57, he never got this opportunity so, whilst not directly, this instilled in me the lesson not to put things off until tomorrow that you can do today.  Life should be lived, not put on hold.

As a Father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

I believe that one of the biggest challenges that we all face is the adultification of children.  There is no doubt that the exposure that our kids have to excessive sex and violence has a negative impact on them and you can only protect them from it for a small window of time. The challenge is to equip your children with the skills to be Follable to assess what is, and what is not acceptable, but it will be a difficult task.

What are the key things you want or hope for, for your kids?

To be confident, to do something they value, to believe and commit to everything that they do.  And, when an opportunity presents itself, to grab it with both hands.

What do you think of Fathers today?

In the past few decades, many fathers have learnt that they can have an emotional relationship with their children, not just an authoritative one: this can only be a good thing.  However, I can only base this opinion on the fathers that I know.

I think generally speaking, that every father wants the best for their children: many may not have the skills to deliver it.

What do you think is the most important thing every Father should aim to achieve?

To instill a range of moral and social values in your children, and to give them the ability and strength to formulate their own views and opinions.

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