“Hey, Dad” Interview with Fabian Amstutz

May we introduce?

Fabian Amstutz is a self-employed presentation trainer and speaker. He helps people to present authentically and effectively, so that their own message triggers enthusiasm and their presentation is remembered. He works part-time for BLS AG and is also a lecturer at the Fernfachhochschule Schweiz (FFHS) & HSO Wirtschafts- & Informatikschule Schweiz and organiser of TEDxThun. He is the father of three children.

You train people to be able to present themselves confidently, convincingly and authentically. What are you currently teaching your children? What do you “train” them in? 

I train myself in particular not to push them into a pattern, which they don’t want. They should be allowed to develop freely at their own pace. I was recently inspired by a new song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to be precise a special line from “She’s a lover”: “the flower pink on the tree, but if you pick it to see – will it be wild and free?” As soon as you pick the “flower” and want to dominate it, it withers. This is my new guiding principle in bringing up my sons.

As the fear of speaking in front of people is the most frequently mentioned fear and this often goes back to childhood and school, I guide them so that they can independently master everyday situations to allow them to have positive experiences. For example, they order their own food. I consciously accompany them in small steps where they would otherwise still be reticent. In this way, I want to encourage them that it is okay for them to be self-confident, loud and also wild.

Your wife is the co-trainer, how do you describe your team spirit? 

She is more than a co-coach for me. She is a great role model for me in terms of education and relationships. She always has been. I think our team spirit is based on trust, respect and gratitude – three very central values for us. And it’s important for us to maintain our relationship despite having children. So we still “date” each other at least once a month. In addition, we give each other the space and time we need. If we are balanced, the children usually are too. It always starts with us or with myself.

What are the biggest challenges for you as a “working dad” and committed person during everyday life?

I only have heavy workloads at certain times. As a lecturer, for example, I am only committed to a total of about three percent of my job over the course of the year. The other jobs are also more or less flexible. During the intense phases, however, it is my time management that sometimes worries me. When I am stressed, it’s due to poor advanced planning. Procrastination doesn’t help either, unfortunately its a good acquaintance of mine 😉 But to be honest: My biggest challenge is that I often forget myself and take care of my nearest and dearest first and foremost.

What are moments in your children’s lives that you definitely don’t want to miss?

It’s not just the special moments or events that I don’t want to miss. Admittedly, I wouldn’t want to miss any of them either. What is much more important to me personally is the mindful relationship I have with my children. My dearest wish is that they see me as someone they can trust and – confide in – without them having to fear any consequences or punishment. On the contrary, I wish to take their concerns and problems seriously so that they can rely on my full support at any time and at any age.

You can’t always do both. How do you handle it when you have to choose between work and family commitments? Which comes first?

I took a long and hard look at my values a few years ago. And my most important value is: Family first.

As a result, I’ve already ruined one or two big opportunities for myself. But since defining my values, decisions are much easier for me. In the past, I always wanted to achieve and reconcile everything – those days are over and I’m not entirely unhappy about it.

To what extent is compatibility an issue for you at work – especially in your role as an independent trainer?

As I want to have a strong bond with my children and actively maintain this, compatibility is incredibly important to me. It’s simply all a question of planning and effective time management. The day has 24 hours and a lot of unused time. I learned to make good use of these unused opportunities . So, when the kids are asleep, I start another short shift.

What is your ideal workload (and why)?

I don’t have an ideal workload. I like to face current challenges and with the help of my wife, quickly find good solutions. There are no clear limits for me. If I had to give a more precise answer to this question, it would probably be 50% for me and 50% at home with the children. To be honest, I could also imagine staying at home full time until the children have reached an appropriate age.

What would you like to do better as a dad in the future? And where are you happy with yourself?

This is a long list. Just as personality development is never finished, development as a dad is never completed either. Every day I learn to a greater or lesser extent. Also all the habits that I am still working on and that are now being reflected by my children – its not always easy to face them. However, I like deep processes and gratefully accept them, even if it is exhausting.

What I have succeeded in doing so far is being genuine as a father. That sometimes means showing my own vulnerability and not suppressing it. Our three boys are able to name certain feelings and emotions – and I don’t take that for granted. Boys in particular often hear “Don’t be a sissy”, “Stop being such a big girls blouse”, etc. All these phrases. All the phrases. Consciously wanting to be a father with an intrinsic interest in a good bond – I certainly haven’t done too badly so far.

TEDxThun is about “Ideas worth spreading”. What would you like to share with your children later on?

Shared memories of a good time. When they are grown up and standing on their own two feet, I would still like us to have a good relationship. A large but certainly feasible undertaking.

Do women and men have similar needs in presentation training or can you identify challenges that are “typically female” or “typically male”? 

Not typically female or typically male in that sense. Basically, everyone faces the same challenges when it comes to presentation skills.

What I have noticed whilst organising trainings and experiences is that men tend to jump in and just try it out. The women I’ve had the opportunity to work with are more deliberate and perfectionist and tend to dare to do more at a later stage. That sometimes gets in their way. It is exciting that something is changing: I now have more female participants in the trainings and seminars than male participants – for example, there are about three times more women than men.

“Public speaking is actually quite simple and can be learned by anyone. Being able to use target-oriented methods gives confidence.

Where women have a distinct advantage is when it comes to effectively implementing “storytelling” – which is a master discipline in my circles. Here I notice that they have a different approach to the subject of emotions. Women are very good at transferring this to the audience. Men can learn a lot from other male role models like Steve Jobs or Simon Sinek.

Awina is your partner during the Rush Hour of Life. The company supports young families with day-care financing and advocates for a better work-life balance. But what does compatibility actually look like in everyday life? In the series “Hey, Mama”, “Hey, Papa”, working parents talk openly about their experiences and challenges as working parents and give insight into how they personally reconcile child and career.