In celebration of Father’s Day we sat down with Ember’s Founder and CEO, Clay Alexander, to chat about fatherhood and raising his 8 year old daughter, Charlotte.
Q: You’re a Founder, CEO and devoted father — how do you balance work and fatherhood?
A: I start every morning by going on a walk with my daughter through the neighborhood. I leave my phone at home to devote 100% of my attention to her during this time. I built Ember to be a family business so Charlotte is also very integrated into our office culture. She even has her own shared office at our HQ and can frequently be seen riding her bike around the office.
Q: How do you feel about raising a young woman in this day and age?
A: I am raising Charlotte to know that she can accomplish anything she puts her mind to, with no boundaries. I think it is important to point out strong female leaders as examples for her, as well as surround myself with these women in my business life and friendship circle.
Being a father has completely changed my life, my perspective on the world and people, and my definition of love. It opens up a part of your brain that you didn’t know was there.
Q: What is your favorite activity to do with Charlotte on your day off?
A: Every Saturday I take Charlotte to breakfast for some quality father-daughter time. We also like to build and create things together. At the beginning of the stay-at-home order we built a 4,000 piece Lego roller coaster and this past weekend we even built a robotic hand.
Q: How do you encourage her to pursue her creativity and STEAM skills?
A: We are big fans of littleBits, which are electronic kits for kids to build their own inventions. We’ve made everything from motion-sensing waving hands to a Bluetooth triggered system for drying nail polish.
I also love to bring Charlotte into Ember’s lab with me whenever we are running experiments so she can see and learn the science behind our inventions.
Q: Does Charlotte take interest in entrepreneurship and following in your footsteps?
A: Absolutely! I always say that Charlotte is an “Entrepreneur-in-Training.” She participates in many of the company’s activities and always has a seat at the table during meetings. She says she plans to have multiple companies when she grows up and she’s already come up with the brand names and ideas for what each of her businesses will do!
It’s important to me that she also knows the value of a dollar. She holds bake sales in the office to save up for things she wants, like a new cage for her pet bird Louie.
Q: What is the most important lesson you learned from your parents or mentors?
A: My entire childhood my mother always told me, “You can do anything you put your mind to, you can be anyone you want to be. No limits.” When you’re a kid you barely understand what that means, but it becomes ingrained into your subconscious. They were words of encouragement that stuck with me my whole life and have led the way I parent my own daughter.
Q: What does fatherhood mean to you?
A: Being a father has completely changed my life, my perspective on the world and people, and my definition of love. It opens up a part of your brain that you didn’t know was there. The moments I am most proud of now are watching Charlotte accomplish things.