Business Dad: How Good Businessmen Can Make Great Fathers (and Vice Versa) by Tom Hirschfeld with Julie Hirschfeld. Little, Brown, 278 pages, $23.

If you're a business dad, you know that trying to be successful at work and as a father can be overwhelming. You're probably trying to do it all but don't feel like you're doing anything well, Hirschfeld says.

To be the successful financial provider you want to be, you spend long nights and weekends at work, missing dinners, tee-ball games, and other vital fathering tasks.

Ironically, Hirschfeld says, your business experience can teach you to be an effective, supportive father. And as a venture capitalist, a member of the board at six different companies and one non-profit organization, and the married father of two, this is a man who should know.

Laying out the problems and frustrations of business dads, Hirschfeld offers the following advice: Make fatherhood your chief priority. He offers specific, realistic help to do that.

For example, every businessperson knows that the first commandment of marketing is to know your customer. It's also a starting place with your kids. Listen attentively to them, as you would with a customer, Hirschfeld writes, so you'll know what their needs are and how to talk to them.

These skills work the other way, too. Developing fathering skills can teach you how to better manage your department, relate to your team, and resolve conflicts. You can even apply parenting skills to customer service and quality control.

Negotiating, for example, requires the separation of emotion from interest, Hirschfeld writes. Once you've successfully tempered a child's tantrum, you'll recognize the point at which discussions at work get off track, and you won't be fazed if you're not popular with your staff all of the time.

"Teach yourself to navigate the convolutions of your child's amazing brain, where your success counts more than anywhere else in the world," Hirschfeld writes, "and you may be pleasantly surprised by how far your newly enhanced abilities also carry you at work."

Copyright 1999 Soundview Executive Book Summaries.