How To Be A Present Father And Raise Gentlemen Who Will Pursue Bigger Dreams Than Can Possibly Fit Into Any Box, Meet Jesus Diaz, Jr. An Incredible Dad, Episode 79

Happy Father’s Day in the U.S. Jesus Diaz Jr. is a dad and my husband. I get to witness how much care and love he pours into our three sons so I wanted to bring him on the podcast to share some of his wisdom with you – whether you are a guy with kids or a single mom who finds herself having to be the father figure in her kid(s)’s lives. 

Jesus was born in NYC and raised in Jamaica, Queens. His parents came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic and they recognized that the only way to improve the life of all future generations would be through the pursuit of an education. 

Jesus’ dad, in particular, believes in the power of an education to push forward his six children’s lives in meaningful ways. As a result, his dad decided to work at NYU, and in turn, put his six kids through an NYU education. Pretty extraordinary, right? All of this to say that Jesus’ viewpoint on fatherhood, what it takes to raise gentlemen, how to stay present even if you are returning to a long-commute, and still get them ready to activate their big dreams is valuable. 

Part of it could be in his blood but there are parts he learned along the way both of which we will tackle in this conversation. Jesus has three boys himself comprised of identical twins and a singleton. 

So enjoy this conversation, not just because I married the guy, but because his personal life and career choices have merited his wisdom on what it takes to raise kids who will dream even bigger. So what is dreaming bigger?

Here’s what dreaming bigger means to this week’s guest: Jesus holds onto a quote a close friend in college shared with him: “if you tell someone your dream and they don’t laugh at you then your dream is not big enough.”  Truthfully, we can’t wait for our kids to make our bellies laugh! 

Meanwhile, for Jesus, his commitment to spreading the importance of an education is not just something he has kept in the family. Aside from Jesus benefitting from his dad’s ambitions which also included continuing his education at the Columbia Business School, Jesus has gone on to activate this message to people outside of his family. Early on, Jesus served as the Publisher of Latino University, a national college magazine with a circulation of 200,000 readers and today he continues to bring his dad’s message of appreciating your education to underprivileged youth by way of being a founding board member of a charter school in The Bronx. Enjoy this conversation! 

Share this with fathers or single mothers who could use a refreshing perspective of what it takes to be a great father figure.


  • Multifaceted: Being a father is multifaceted. You have to be not only a father in the traditional sense, but a lot more – a coach, a teacher, a protector, and a provider. Being a positive role model throughout all of that is important.
  • Parenting: Being a dad is an open canvas. You don’t have to necessarily follow all of the models you’ve seen or heard before. You can make parenting your own.
  • Attention: You’ll never understand how much your parents love you until you have your own child, and then you have to take care of them because then you start to realize how much attention and time your parents put into you. 
  • Curiosity: As a father, you learn as you go so it’s a constant learning process. Just by being there, you learn so much. Inviting conversation with your kids is so important, incredible, and necessary. So create that space for yourself in your own daily habit with your kids. 
  • Stories: Retelling the goodness we see in our kids is so important to them. Notice how their  ears perk up when you talk positively about them and around them.
  • Balance: There’s a constant battle of trying to figure out that happy medium where you’re channeling all the best stuff in their development, but also not being overly harsh in terms of punishment.
  • Independence: There will be a point where your kids will be their own individuals. Teach them to constantly think independently.
  • Presence: All you have to do is be present. Be a steady figure who always shows up and is open to having conversations about anything and everything. Then they will always know they can rely on you for an honest answer, advice and guidance, instead of someone else.
  • Support network: It always takes a village to raise children. It takes good sports programs on weekends, or kung fu or jiu jitsu, different programs that might be available where they can learn some discipline outside of the home and some structure. 
  • Community: Expose your kids to some community groups and show them some other role models and leaders in their community that are in leadership positions as men.
  • Play: Being present shows up differently. It’s not just enforcing rules but also letting a little loose and being playful, silly, acting like a kid and just demonstrating a different side of you.
  • Time: You have 18 years to season your children and bake them, if you will. Once you’re done with your time, they’re going to grow up and bump into the world in their own way. As a parent, you have to calculate what you’re going to do and how much time you’re going to spend with them. As a dad, you’ve got to decide, how much do you want to represent?
  • Becoming a man: There’s not really a ritual that exists in many communities to alert a boy that he’s going to be a man now. So you have to be intentional and make sure they understand the responsibility they must carry forward with their future partners in life. 
  • Dream: Jesus often refers to them as gentlemen when he talks to them because that’s what he wants them to be – responsible, thoughtful, intellectual humans, who go into unpredictable life circumstances and always be that rock or pillar for other people around them. 
  • Influence: Everyone plays a role. You can learn so much from your dad. But also, let’s not forget what your siblings and what your mom also provides to make you a man, a dad, and even a more well-rounded human being. 
  • Creativity: Through the power of observation that you have a good sense for the talents your kids might have. And then you get to brand them in a way that’s going to serve them and help them figure out and cultivate these ambitions. Brand your kids, but give them an opportunity to continue to explore their very many talents. 
  • Courage: Being present is a huge ambition but be open to having both easy conversations and hard conversations with your kids.

Links to continue to learn from Jesus:

Follow and connect with Jesus Diaz Jr:

Continue to listen to An Interview With Melissa Llarena podcast episodes 

Continue To Explore My Other Binge-Worthy Episodes

Want to continue the conversation?

Find me on Instagram! You can read my daily mini-blogs centered on the same three topics that my podcast features: creativity, courage, and curiosity. I believe that without all three it would be impossible to solve the challenges we were each uniquely made to solve. Wouldn’t you agree? I’m easy to find on Instagram @careeroutcomesmatter

Rather keep it professional?

Let’s connect on LinkedIn. I encourage every single podcast listener to connect with me.




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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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