Parenting and Startups – Struggles, Biases, Lessons Learned

by Oct 28, 2020Lessons Learned

After eight years of parenthood, as I am updating this post, I can say nothing can truly prepare you for being a new parent and entrepreneur. Just the new role of a parent is hard enough, yet many of us are also building companies and careers simultaneously. The realization that this little human will need all your support for a long while wakes up that instinctive hustle you are very unlikely to have felt before. But for me, there was also payroll to meet and deep commitment to the colleagues who trusted me enough to join the risky journey.

So what are some of the essential strategies I have learned?

  • Take parental leave at least for a month. While you may have been a cognitive superstar before, you will be like a hung-over college freshman for several weeks. Sadly, this is only relevant in the US. A lot to be said there, but I will keep it to myself this time around.
  • Without a strong partnership of equals between you and your life partner AND an alignment of values with your business partners, (co)founders, executives, and team, it is a Sisyphean undertaking. While it is vital to surround yourself with an army of supportive people, do not be discouraged by the detractors. There will be your share of doofuses, who will be asking why you are leaving the office at 5 PM (because daycare closes at 6!). They are the same ones doing absolutely nothing to help you, as you are working basically around the clock. Focus on the helpers, brush off the fools.
  • Be wary of your biases and do not over-rely on experience or expertise. Even with 2nd or 3rd kid, it will be an endless number of lessons to learn. Look at your child(ren) and draw inspiration from their unrivaled curiosity; mirror it and learn from it. Overcoming the curse of knowledge makes you see opportunities and solutions where you thought there were none.
  • You will make mistakes – lots of them. Be kind to yourself. It will seem like there is no end to them, but just like your child had to fall on his or her bum a lot before learning to run, so will you. If you are learning and progressing, you are doing it right. Progress is the focus.
  • AXingtreat yourself, and make sure you keep the context of this being a marathon and not a sprint. Perfection is the enemy of progress, so I hope you let things slide from time to time. People will understand if you communicate.

As a closing thought, I wish I could describe the amount of energy and drive the parental journey gave me. Yet, none of the wins I treasure would have been possible without the support and understanding from my highly-driven scientist wife and the patience of my kids.

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