He may hold a high profile position but when it comes to raising his sons, Jim Murray is just a down to earth dad. With a title like President of AT&T Michigan it’s easy to assume Murray would always be running from one event to another and have a calendar that is busting at the seams. But as far as his sons – Jack, 11 and Josh, 9, are concerned, Murray always finds time to slow down. “You know what, if it is important, like my kids are, you just have to make time. You just have too,” Murray said. As a single parent Murray values his time with his sons and said that some of their favorite things to do as a family are pretty low key. From Thursday to Sunday every week, Murray takes every opportunity to just kick back and relax with his sons whether it be piled on the couch or hanging by the pool. “Well, we really just hang out. We go see movies, watch TV and play games. My parents live in Jackson so we hang out with them on weekends a lot. And they really love to go to the pool. We do that a lot. They swim a lot better than I do,” Murray says with a smirk. With as casually as Murray talks of his family time, it is easy to forget that every Monday he goes to work as President of AT&T Michigan. He notes his ability to focus as the key to success in his career and his personal life. “I have a good balance,” Murray said. “I have the ability to intently focus. During the week it is all work and on the weekends it is all dad.” Striving to find that balance has become a little easier now that his kids are older. They may not completely understand what their dad does, but there are definitely benefits to having a dad who knows everyone. “I don’t think they understand exactly what I do, they just hear the title ‘President’ and think I get to do a lot of cool things because of it,” Murray said. “They do get to meet a lot of interesting people though, like John Dingell and Debbie Stabenow.” As for his sons becoming presidents of large organizations in the future, Murray just laughs and responds diplomatically, “I want them to learn to work hard. It doesn’t come easy to everyone. I want them to be responsible and work hard.” A characteristic he himself embodies, Murray didn’t know exactly where he was going to end up when he was in school but knew wherever it was it would take hard work to get there and be successful. “I started college as a business major and then I took some political science classes and this is where I ended up,” Murray said. With a big title comes a big opportunity to help and that is part of his job Murray hopes to develop more and share with his sons. “My favorite part of my job is being part of philanthropic work. I like being part of things in the community that I never thought I would be working on,” said Murray. “I think it is important the boys see that part of what I do.” Like most parents, Murray doesn’t care what his boys grow up to be as long as they enjoy what they do. Murray said that the boys don’t have any specific aspirations for future careers at this point (other than doing well in their sports), but he doesn’t seem to mind, he relishes in just watching them grow. “I like watching them say funny things and grow up. Watching them experience life and kind of experiences those moments that to them are end-all-be-all, but know that from our point of view they’re not. But you know, you just have to roll with it as they figure it out,” Murray said. Murray has had to figure out his fair share of things too. As a parent Murray says he had to grow a lot to be there for his sons. He strives to teach his sons new things and is constantly learning from his sons as well. One of the biggest lessons Murray notes is patience. “They teach me to be patient,” said Murray. “I can be a little impatient at work because it is a whole different atmosphere to be at the Capitol and then come home and be a dad.” But Murray is willing to learn and has enjoyed every lesson so far. He and his boys have something special and even though it’s not perfect he knows that isn’t what matters most. “It is what you make it. Spending time with them. There will be times they are silent and times they are talkative, they will want you there and times they don’t, but you just have to be there,” Murray said.
Ami Iceman-Hauter is the Brand Manager at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. Iceman is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelors degree in creative advertising.