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Parenting Creative Adfest

Why becoming dads made creative directors at ADK better at their jobs


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

March 22, 2017 | 4 min read

A neurological change occurs in men’s brains when they become a dad, helping them to become better at working in creative jobs, according to Naohiro Togawa, creative director at ADK Tokyo and Chris Gurney, regional executive creative director at ADK Global Singapore.

ADK Adfest

ADK creatives Chris Gurney and Naohiro Togawa say they got better at their jobs after becoming dads

Speaking at Adfest in Thailand this week, the two creatives took to the stage to give personal accounts of the neurological change that happens to men’s brains once they have children and therefore are able to form a closer bond with them.

According to reports, the hypothalamus and amygdala parts of the brain grow, leading to men becoming better at multitasking and more empathetic, though it also makes them more forgetful.

Togawa argued that since becoming a dad for the first time three years ago, his career had never been better due to these changes. He said that despite wanting to share the responsibility of childcare with his wife, who also works full time, and reducing his working hours, his career was going from strength to strength. He even believed that he was winning more pitches.

“After a while, when I got used to it, I was doing better and I was becoming more productive. I was faster at decision-making and I was winning more pitches. I am having one of my best years as a dad, it couldn’t have been a coincidence,” he said.

Togawa and Gurney agreed that these attributes, becoming a parent forces quick creative thinking to solve problems, as well as encouraging imagination and storytelling, all important attributes for creative businesses.

Gurney explained: "It is good to view things in strange ways. When was the last time you acted like a kid? Inherently, we have a childish streak, and it’s a good thing. We should take it on instead of being so serious about how we figure out our thoughts and ideas. When you look at how kids interact with world, insights appear that gives birth to bigger ideas.”

Both creatives also argued that learning from children’s simple needs and desires led them to reconnect with basic human needs.

“It teaches you about fundamental human behaviour. Kids desires and the things they do are core things routed in all of us. There’s so much we can learn and take from kids, the raw and pure beings that they are. This was challenging me to expand my creative thinking and that could be why I am doing better now,” mused Togawa.

Gurney and Togawa used examples of dads being creative that had gone viral online to demonstrate the point, including Action Movie Kid, which has over 700,000 YouTube subscribers, #CheerioChallenge and A Toy In Space, which has over 5m views on YouTube.

Gurney also noted a recent creative hack that he, and fellow dads that live in the same building, dreamed up in Singapore recently. Faced with a bunch of kids that were getting increasingly bored on Sunday nights, they created a zombie game, in which the kids had to use maps to find the parents who were hidden, dressed as zombies. So successful was the game, both as a fun activity for kids and as a way to get them running around outside, that it spawned more events, even turning into a larger scale Star Wars themed version. Gurney says he’s now getting requests from across Singapore to turn the game into something more official.

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