Virginia Grohl and Dave Grohl

Top-of-Mind Tuesday: Our Senior VP Ponders Politics and Rock ‘n’ Roll Moms

Posted on October 16, 2018 by Ellen Mallernee Barnes

Welcome to our weekly ‘Top-of-Mind Tuesday’ blog series. Some weeks you’ll find a crowdsourced list of things our staff is pondering and learning and falling in love with. Other times our list will fit into a single theme or come from one particular Havas PR staffer. This week, Pattie Sullivan, a senior vice president in our Pittsburgh office—and a 22-year veteran of our agency!—told us what she’s been into lately:

Book I’m reading: “From Cradle to Stage: Stories from Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars” is at the intersection of two important things in my life: motherhood and rock ‘n’ roll. As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved rock music. Foo Fighters are among the bands I immediately crank up when I hear them on the radio. So, I was really interested to read this book by Virginia Grohl, mother to Foo Fighters frontman (and former Nirvana drummer), Dave Grohl. This book is a series of conversations she’s had with moms of musicians, from Dr. Dre and Kelly Clarkson to Dave Matthews and Amy Winehouse … to name just a few.

What was it like raising them? Did you encourage them, even though the odds of success were slim? How did you help them cope with the inevitable setbacks along the way?

While the stories are all different, there is at least one common theme. From an early age, many of these future stars didn’t necessary fit “inside the box.” Oftentimes, they didn’t excel in the classroom … instead they were driven by something else. Things were often, in a word, messy.

The decisions these mothers had to make—when to put their foot down, and when to give them the freedom to become who they were meant to be—is something I think all moms, including me, can relate to, albeit on a smaller scale. I put myself in their shoes. If I were Virginia Grohl—a high school teacher, no less—I don’t think I would have ever let my son drop out of high school to go out on tour with a band. And yet, in retrospect, that decision was clearly the right one, and music fans around the world thank her!

It is also comforting to me that despite the success of their children, most moms freely acknowledged that they made mistakes, had at least a few regrets and were sometimes plagued with self-doubt. For me, it’s an affirmation that although not all of us are raising rock stars, all of us in Club Mom are united in our resolve to do the best we can, make it up along the way when we need to, and most importantly, find a way to appreciate both the high and low notes along the way.

Side note: Virginia’s book was so well-received that she and son Dave are now developing a documentary series based on her book.

What I’m listening to: Political channels on satellite radio. I spend a fair amount of time in the car chauffeuring my kids to various activities. While I love to listen to music, over the last six months or so I started listening to talk radio—more specifically, political talk radio.

It seems our country is increasingly divided red or blue, and there’s no in-between. Everyone is talking. No one is listening.

As someone who’s always identified as an Independent, with political views right down the middle, I struggle to understand today’s high-stakes game of partisanship at all costs. It’s been hard for me personally to see friend and family relationships fractured, perhaps beyond repair. And so, I’m making an effort to listen to divergent opinions … to try to understand the different perspectives, even if they may be very different from my own. I want to be able to have honest discussions about politics with the understanding that, in the end, it’s okay to agree to disagree.

On my social media feeds I have started to see others express this same POV, which I find (just a little bit) encouraging. Now, I’m not naïve enough to think we’ll truly be able to bridge this great divide anytime soon, but for me, listening is the beginning.

What I’m watching: “House of Cards.” We have a TV Club in our office, where we watch a TV series and get together to dissect each season. First, it was “Mad Men.” Now, it’s “House of Cards.” We’re just underway, preparing to have our season one discussion later this month. As they say, art imitates life. And, given the times we live in, I expect a lively discussion!

Give us feedback on Twitter: What do you think about our Top-of-Mind Tuesday series? Which item above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Other suggestions? Let us know! Just send a tweet to @HavasPRUS and add the #TopofMindTuesday hashtag so we can find it.

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