Originally from the New England area, Geoff Vandal moved to Temple Terrace when he was 2. He graduated from King High and USF, married wife Mindy and moved to Atlanta for work, where his children Tyson and Victoria were born. In 2008, the family moved back to Tampa to be closer to family and are happy to be home.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad?
The top of my list would have to include the conversations with Tyson and Tori that leave Mindy and I shaking our heads about how wise beyond their years the two of them can be – like little Yodas.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids?
It’s a laundry list but family bike rides downtown are awesome. We bought a pedal trailer for Tyson when he was 3 and attached it to my bike while Mindy had Tori in a toddler bike seat. When Tyson outgrew it, Tori inherited it and we bought him a bigger one. If we could, we’d ride them every weekend either downtown to the Columbia Restaurant at the Tampa Bay History Center, Curtis Hixon Park or head south to Ballast Point Park. I even added a couple of fishing pole stands and we’ll drop a line in the bay every now and then.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood?
Consistency is so important and it’s not always easy.
Who influenced the kind of father you are?
My mom and dad are my role models and made me into who I am today. They were always there for me growing up and still are today.
As a father, how do you view your responsibilities?
Above all else its teaching Tyson and Tori values and helping them find the right path to take. To be there – sometimes literally – when they fall and help them get up and on their way.
What advice would you give other fathers?
Always try and see the big picture and put yourself in your kids’ shoes. Sometimes we all lose our cool, but I’ve always had more success by taking Tyson or Tori aside and having a talk in a small voice rather than engaging in a debate in big voices.
It is often difficult to balance a career with spending time with your family. How do you make time for them?
When I’m home I do my best to be present. It’s not always that simple as our devices can keep us working 24/7 if we let them. The more nights I can be home and at the dinner table the more involved I feel in both the big things and the small stuff.
What is something people don’t know about you?
I went to college wanting to be a sports broadcaster and wound up in the insurance business! As much as I loved everything sports, the closer I got to it the less passionate I was about making it a career. From the day I started with MetLife, I knew I found my niche.
What makes you happy?
Seeing others succeed both in business and in life.
Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa?
My hidden South Tampa treasure – Dairy Joy, of course! Hole in the wall old school soft serve ice cream spot on Manhattan with all the classic treats and its legendary 1950s pricing.