Q&A with Julian Flannery & Rick Buhrman
With Father’s Day approaching, we sat down with two of our favorite dads — Julian Flannery, Summus CEO and Founder, and Rick Buhrman, Summus Board Member and Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Sator Grove Holdings — for a quick Q&A session on work, fatherhood, and advice for dads-to-be.
Q: What’s the best part of being a dad?
Julian: If you’re in need of humility, become a dad. Supporting a human through different stages of early life is fascinating, humbling, and incredibly gratifying. Being a good parent requires constant self-reflection because your kids don’t do what you ask them to do all the time, but they sure act the way you do.
Rick: Not having to be a mom! Joking, but not really. Having just welcomed our third child, Tobias, I’m reminded again of the herculean vocation of motherhood. While being a dad is a full-time job, it still feels like just a supporting role in the journey of parenthood.
Q: How do you balance your career and being a parent?
Rick: By integrating them as much as possible. One motivation for Paul, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Sator Grove Holdings, and I was to build a company where we had the freedom to seek to thrive in both arenas—managing tensions as they arise but never pitting one responsibility against the other. Having said that, both are important expressions of who I am but only one of them is essential. It helps me to surround myself with other dads who agree with this.
Julian: I’m married to a successful executive who puts her family first like I do. We are hyper efficient, prioritize constantly, and have had the good fortune to find careers that fit the joint journey of parenthood. I’m an early riser, so I can get 2-3 hours of uninterrupted time in the morning, which helps. My daughters also wear their Summus t-shirts around, so I know they love what we are building.
Q: What has been most unexpected?
Julian: When you think you have it figured out, the ground shifts. You can read all the books, reflect intensively, and be open to change, but I’m always surprised at the uniqueness of humans and the journey they are on.
Rick: Just how much I’m turning into my own dad! 🙂
Q: What do you want your children to know about the purpose-driven work you do every day?
Rick: It’s cliche but I really do believe that work is an important element of what it means to be human. I feel so lucky to have stumbled into my ‘calling’ where my work is aligned with some of those things that matter most to me. And I desperately want the same for each of my kids – whatever that profession is that gives them joy and makes their spirit sing. Currently for Theo, Grace and Tobias that would involve lawnmowers, ladybugs, and dirty diapers, respectively.
Julian: That life at its core is about service. You need to be resilient, relentless and can be incredibly ambitious about your work, but doing things — big and small – in service of others is the ultimate definition of success. So in the end, it’s really not about you.
Q: What would you tell other fathers/parents about why Summus is so important today?
Julian: Summus is a tool to make better decisions on your family’s health. It gives incredible peace of mind to parents and caregivers – knowing that you have access to leading physicians across the country on everything from allergies to cancer.
Rick: One of the scariest moments as a parent is whenever your child is sick. We’ve perhaps experienced this to an extreme; however, I do believe it’s a universal reaction even if your child’s life has never been at serious risk. Every day, Summus is coming alongside parents and helping to alleviate that fear by bringing fast access to the best medical expertise in the world. Sometimes it is for something fairly benign, like allergies. In other cases, it is for something incredibly complex and life threatening. In every case, Summus is there for the family and equipped to help where few others can.
Q: Any advice for new or expectant dads?
Rick: BUCKLE UP!
Julian: Take yourself out of the center. Be a role model for your kids. Be a great partner to your significant other. Learn to work without much sleep in the early years.
Q: What is your best dad joke?
Julian: I am terrible with jokes. Ask Rick. He’s funny.
Rick: I don’t have one but if I did, the butt of it would most definitely involve Julian. 🙂
Julian and Rick’s insights highlight the profound impact fathers have at work, at home, and beyond. As we celebrate Father’s Day, we are inspired by their stories and commitment to balancing career success and fatherhood, striving to always be in service to others.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and father figures who inspire us and enrich our lives!