Employee spotlight: Q&A with Brian Van Note

We recently sat down with Client Supervisor, and new father, Brian Van Note to learn about his time at Infinite Global and how his newest role as dad impacts his work (and vice versa).

Tell us about yourself.

I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area a little over two years ago after spending 10 years in Kansas City. Prior to the move I was with a public relations and strategic communications firm that worked primarily in the B2B space. While I enjoyed my time in Kansas City, my wife and I both wanted to move to the Bay Area and finally had the opportunity to make it a reality.

Since moving to the Bay Area, specifically Berkeley, we’ve changed apartments twice and are finally settled in. It has been a bit of an adventure, but we both love it out here. My wife is a practicing attorney at a firm located in the East Bay, so the legal world is something I can rarely escape from. Recently, as we decided that life wasn’t stressful enough, we welcomed our first child, Theodore William Van Note, into the world. He is the one in the picture and is ridiculously adorable. I assume he gets this from his mother.

What are the challenges of balancing fatherhood and your career in legal public relations, and how have you managed them?

The biggest challenge is finding enough time in the day. For me, time is a valuable resource and it needs to be treated as such. I’ve found myself waking up quite a bit earlier, so I can get a lot of the tedious tasks of the day done (doing dishes, cleaning, laundry, etc.) before I come into work. It makes my work time much more efficient, and it also provides me the opportunity to really enjoy the few hours a day I get to just hang out with Theo after work.

Another part of maximizing the amount of time you have is making sure you are taking full advantage of your down time. I don’t get a ton of time every day with Theo, so when I do have time, I make the most of it. Having time with no emails, phone calls, meetings or agendas has become much more valuable to me lately. I don’t need a ton of it, but it’s important to me to fully embrace the time I have.

What aspects of fatherhood apply to your legal PR career?

The biggest I can think of is the need to be a jack-of-all-trades and be adaptable to whatever situation may arise. Don’t like doing diapers? Well guess what, they are coming whether you are ready or not. Demand complete structure to everything you do? Remember that when you are changing said diaper on the floor of a restaurant bathroom because they don’t have a changing table. I mean seriously, what respectable restaurant in the 21st century doesn’t have a changing table? I digress.

Theo, like our clients, will have changing needs and it’s on us to adapt to them. This could apply to something as simple as a slight shift in media relations strategy, or a client coming to us asking for recommendations on brand strategy. Being nimble and able to adapt quickly is critical for ongoing success both in my career and as a dad.

Did a career in PR help prepare you for fatherhood?

I’ll be honest. I chuckled at this question because really, nothing prepares you for fatherhood. It is a tiring, exhilarating, humbling experience and, being only eight months in, I’m not sure I really know what I’ve gotten myself into. However, I think there are a couple things that I could identify as being helpful over the past year or so.

One is patience. That applies to dealing with difficult individuals as well as difficult, tedious and unknown situations. So much of our day-to-day work is waiting, which makes keeping an even keel all the more critical. The second skill is sort of the counterbalance to patience, and that is the ability to respond quickly to events and crises as they occur. When news stories break, we have to respond quickly, calmly and methodically. It’s something that applies to my current life on a day-to-day basis.

What advice would you give to soon-to-be fathers?

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to plan as much as possible, but be aware that your plan will change constantly. It’s easy to think that the constantly changing nature of having a kid necessitates not having much of a plan, but that would be a mistake. It’s similar to work we do with our clients. Just because priorities shift and unforeseen events occur, doesn’t mean there should be no plan.

Also, assuming you are continuing to work, make sure your company is on board, supportive and flexible about what your changing needs will be. Needless to say, I’ve been lucky in that regard and I’m grateful for the flexibility I’ve been given. A strong support group is critical for success both personally and professionally.

Brian Van Note is a Client Supervisor at Infinite Global, where he works directly with his clients to help them achieve their media relations goals. He can be reached at brianvn@infiniteglobal.com.

Jesse Dungan is an Associate Vice President at Infinite Global, where he helps professional services firms develop and execute strategic public relations initiatives. He can be reached at jessed@infiniteglobal.com.

If you are interested in learning more about a career at Infinite Global, feel free to email Brian directly, or contact the firm.

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