How He Does It | Stavros Messinis

When I get a chance to pause and reflect about my path thus far, I realize I’ve been truly blessed in my professional life. I get involved in projects and initiatives that never cease to expose me to interesting people. People with charisma, with great stories to tell. People who give back, and whose work positively impacts society. People who care enough to take action. Dynamic and creative people who never cease to amaze me. Our guest for this month’s How He Does It column, is one of those people!

I had the pleasure of meeting Stavros Messinis in person a couple of years back during an Agile Greece Summit, but the notoriety of his impactful work preceded him. Along with his wife Maria, Stavros runs The Cube, one the oldest and best known incubators here in Greece, actively supporting the startup ecosystem and giving back to the community through their multiple social impact initiatives.

The Cube is home to many Greek and international startups, digital nomads, designers, developers and change makers. Powered by a long list of coaches, experts & mentors, they aim at supporting startups all along their first steps in their entrepreneurial journey. Stavros and Maria work closely with corporates and startups in Athens and beyond, brainstorming and co-designing their acceleration plans. They monitor progress and suggest changes where they feel they should, challenging each idea and drumbeating project progress while motivating teams and individuals. Bottom line? If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, you could totally benefit having Stavros on your side, an amazingly creative… dadpreneur!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Stavros, I’m a husband and a father of two boys aged 15 and 13. Together with my partner Maria, we run The Cube. It’s a place where good things happen. It’s a place that hosts new businesses as they take their first steps and it’s a place that hosts daily events where people share ideas and learn. We’re in Athens, Greece.

Much of what we do has a social impact and one of our recent projects had to do with job readiness and remote work (long before COVID-19 forced us to think of permanent remote work!) for the unemployed or for migrants and refugees of conflict zones. With that project we affected change in a few thousand people over a short period. It was super fun.
Also, I love helping people think about their future and what they are doing for the good of society. I’m very passionate about democracy and how technology can enable it as well as how technology can disrupt those who inhibit democracy.

Stemming from your personal experience, what is the toughest part of being a Dad, and how do you manage it?

It’s really tough to try to balance work and home so that you can be there for when your kids need you. Times have changed and we’re working more and more given that we’re always connected and people and processes are constantly demanding time and effort. Things were much simpler when I was a kid.

My parents would come home after work and we’d be a family. Finding balance is tough. Also, our kids are exposed to so much more information these days and while that is, on the whole a positive thing, there are also very many dangerous and addictive elements out there that are trying to grab their attention. We really need to keep our wits about us and make sure we’re everything we should be for them and not leaving room for problems to set in.

Who is (are) your go-to person(s) when you need support as a Father? What type of support are you mostly in need of?

I like to think I’m pretty independent and had a good set of values instilled in me by my parents so it’s rare that I will reach out to someone for advice on parenting but when I do, I’ll reach out to my father and my sisters who are all parents too and always have something useful to contribute. Also, I’ll try research a whole lot about a behaviour I’m seeing or other aspect that might be troubling me or the family. Given that there’s so much information out there these day’s it’s much easier to learn that it was for, say, my parents.

What’s the No1 Skill (or Ability, or Knowledge) you have found handy in your role as a Father?

My ability to try to find compromise. It’s never easy but working with others who might not see things the way you see them can be difficult. It’s important to always try to understand what the other party is trying to achieve, what their “want” is. Try to align interests and most times that compromise will happen.

In life pretty much everything is a negotiation, especially with children. They are master negotiators and often play quite dirty! When they aren’t mature enough to understand what they or you are giving up to make something happen it can be especially challenging. If bad habits form, such as trying to negotiate in a purely transactional way “Give me this, then I’ll give you that” or in a vengeful way “You did that, now I’m going to do this” is most often counter productive.

Talking is important. As a father, I rarely have to dominate a situation because I want to find compromise but when I have no other recourse other than exhibit dominance, I really do.

What advice do you have for a new Dad?

Don’t take work too seriously. Your kids are your most important project ever. Make more kids! But only if you’re mentally able to put them first.

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