David A Morales: How Extremely Busy Leaders Make Time To Be Great Parents
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
You instill your values in your children and they in turn grow up with a solid foundation of values like faith, family, grit, integrity, kindness, etc.
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview David A. Morales.
Growing up in a poor, mountainous region of Puerto Rico, I had no idea I would end up where I am today: an executive shaping the future of health care and public policy in America and a father dedicated to faith, family, and perseverance.
Today, as an executive of a health benefits company, I get to see hopes and dreams lived out in the lives of members every day as I work to advance improvements in health care quality, access, and affordability.
Over the last two decades, I have held a variety of roles, including serving as chief strategy officer of a multi-national hospital company, leading my own consulting company, growing a successful not-for-profit organization, investing in real estate, and enjoying a rewarding career in public service.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
I grew up between a poor community in Puerto Rico and in my teenage years, in a poor, working-class urban city in Massachusetts. The backstory is simple, I grew up fighting my way out of poverty in search of a better future that often seemed all but unattainable.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
A lifelong journey of learning important values from my parents and understanding how the choices I made daily would impact me in the future. I knew I did not want to be poor, but I did not know how to achieve better. I learned from watching others around me either fail or succeed and I held a deep passion for personal improvement and growth. I embraced the tenets of faith, family, and grit to get where I am, and those are the key themes I share in my new book: American Familia.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day-to-day schedule looks like?
I lead a health benefits company that provides health coverage for almost 200,000 state employees. My day starts at 5am:
5am: pray and read the bible
5:30am: read emails and the news
6:00am: wake up my two sons and my wife and prepare breakfast
7:15am: share drop off duty with my wife
8:am: meetings / calls
12pm to 1pm: lunch with my wife
1pm to 6pm: meetings / calls
6pm: dinner with my family
8pm to 9:30pm: family time
930pm to 11pm: work out and read
Weekends: family time!
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?
You can either instill core values in your children or let schools and strangers do so. Your children are like sponges, and they absorb and learn from your actions and words. The more you let others shape them, the more they develop traits and values that are not your own. I structured American Familia as a conversation with my sons to help communicate the direct role of parenting in instilling the values that helped shape my personal success.
On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?
- You instill your values in your children and they in turn grow up with a solid foundation of values like faith, family, grit, integrity, kindness, etc.
- You can “re-engineer” or correct false information or erroneous information they may learn from others
- You can teach your children to be productive adults and embrace work ethic and entrepreneurship, vital to self-reliance
- You can advance personal responsibility and critical thinking to teach them how to think, not what to think
- You can teach your children to embrace and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy in American and learn to be grateful for the constitutional freedoms we enjoy in America
According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?
- Reading time — read the bible together
- Critical thinking time: discuss current affairs and argue pros and cons
- Put away all technology and eat together
- Play pool together
- Take long walks
- Take long drives
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.
- Intentionally schedule family time on your work calendar
- Shut off your emails and cell phone during family time
- Take time off work at least three times a year to spend time with family
- Proactively let your company know about certain family events that are mandatory and for which you will not be available to work
- Ask your supervisor or staff not to email or call during family time
- Sacrifice your time or sleep for your children’s activities
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
A good parent is someone who selflessly sacrifices their time and energy to raise strong, confident, loving young men and women. In my case, I declined a multi-million-dollar job to raise my two sons and restore my relationship with my wife and children.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
I expose my children every day and every weekend to remarkable people and I encourage my children to aim to do better than my wife and I have done. I also remind them that they are capable of achieving more than they can ever imagine. We remind them that the only obstacle is the person they see in the mirror. We also discuss with them the tactics thy can take to achieve their dreams. For example, if they want to become doctors, they will need to go to college and medical school and then they can strive to not just be a doctor, but the CEO or owner of the hospital. One of the key takeaways from American Familia is that any young person, from any background or circumstance, should dream big and become more.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
Success is my ability to instill faith, confidence, kindness, integrity, and love in my children by my actions. My family and their welfare always comes first.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
- The bible — the source of truth, love and redemption. The psalms, proverbs, and the book of Ephesians and Romans are especially powerful
- Conversations with my parents
- My wife — she is my pillar
- Pastor Tony Evans (YouTube sermons)
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“People don’t have to believe what you say, they have to believe what you do” — Coach David Dempsey (my high school football coach)
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Tell everyone how blessed you are, no matter the circumstances or challenges you may be facing.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!