2 Babies born 12 days Apart. 1 Dad: Me

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The Issue

A long time ago in a time and place far away from here and now an innocent but transformative conversation happened…….

Dad: “Son – something I wish I got the opportunity to do was to have a business of my own”
Me: “Why, dad?”
Dad: “It’s a passion I’ve always had. You get to be responsible for all. Good or bad.”
Me: ……….Internalizing all………..

Gestation period: 20+ years.

July 29th 2017: Baby #1 was born. I acquired Perfect Surface.

August 10th, 2017: Baby #2 was born. Jule and I expanded our family with our second son. A LOT was going on at this point. I flew in from Houston (location of the business) 24 hours before his birth to take Julie to the hospital. However, complications kept me in Chicago for ten extra days, rather than the planned three.

Baby #1 needed to operate without me during a crucial transition point. I was juggling time in the hospital with time at home with my 4 year old son, while attending to the logistical details in the aftermath of the acquisition. Among many other things, I remember working to set up bank accounts from my seat in the ICU, so that technicians already leery from the change in ownership wouldn’t revolt and set the building on fire because they didn’t get paid. There was also the perpetual worry about any continued influence that the old CEO could be having on the business in my absence.

What a time to be alive, huh!?

Rookie Take: Three Lessons I learned that Summer.

1. The time to dream was then. The time to live is now.

It seemed like in an instant, everything I had wished for had come true. I had a family and a business, but it felt like everything came all at once. It certainly wasn’t happening at a convenient time.

The only option I had was to fully live in each minute, whether I was at home, at Julie’s bedside in the ICU, or stepping out to take one of what seemed like 1,000 calls that came in every day. (Yes, I left my phone on in the ICU. Bad, I know.)

One thing I realized (not voluntarily) in the midst of exhilaration, fatigue and stress was that to fully experience the dream, I had to live in the NOW.

No strategic thinking required. Just the moment. There was more than enough to obsess over. But I did not have the mental capacity to obsess over anything. Life felt simple in one minute increments.

How do you balance your work and life?

Life felt simple in one minute increments.

2. Get Paid. Get Help.

A disclaimer: the following is going to sound ostentatious. Although my 2004 Corolla and student loans (long story) would beg to differ with that characterization. So hear me out: We hired a postpartum doula for Julie! Do you guys know what that is? Sounds like the word Latte to me.

It’s not like I was throwing money around, but…as a CEO, husband and dad with multiple competing priorities, you have to know when to get help – especially in the early days. I was flying back and forth to and from Houston to tend to Baby #1 (the business), so someone needed to care for Julie as she dealt with complications from the birth and needed experienced hands. A doula fit the bill.

Side Note: The responsibilities that you will have in any senior leadership role, including CEO will require delegation not just on the work side of things but on the personal side as well. You need money for that. So negotiate your compensation packages accordingly.

With money, I tend to spend on things that buy back time – Nanny – buys time with Julie, Home gym (subscriptions) – buys back drive time to and from the gym, Virtual Assistant buys back time from managing the logistics of making sure this email goes out to you etc.

3. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude.

In the blog post introducing Rookie CEO, I talked about the relative, ongoing nature of success. There are new challenges to embrace, new achievements, a new flagpost to aim for…it’s like I’m wired to want more, almost as soon as I get the thing I wanted before.

It’s an insatiable appetite for growth and progression that can be destructive to my present accomplishments.

But, you can’t function that way forever. One way I’ve found to counteract this…discontentment, for lack of a better word? Spend a few minutes every day just being thankful.

It sounds simple, but it’s changed my view entirely on what I’m experiencing in the moment. This exercise has served as a steadying force in times of extreme success and failure. Both of which you will hear a lot about as we move along together on this journey.

Being thankful has served as a steadying force in times of extreme success and failure.

Roo-minate: 3 years that have felt like 3 lifetimes.

I mentioned one of my prior blog posts that this 3 year journey has felt like 3 lifetimes. With that comes some thoughts that have crystalized about the balance between work and life.

Work-Life? Its all Life to me

This might be a function of the entrepreneurial path…although I doubt it. I find myself working when I should be sleeping. I wish the reverse were the case as well. Balance is hard to strike. But I’m learning! 

I am learning to have a corresponding intrusion from family and hobbies into the workday. Covid has helped with this. Having an open-door policy for my kids into the home office or taking them to the park during the workday has been great for me mentally. 

Home, hobbies, and work are all mixed up into one to create the rich tapestry of my life.

To caveat, I fully recognize that not everyone has the opportunity to do this and due to fixed hours and circumstances that make this difficult to replicate. But the point is to adopt the mindset that work is an enriching activity that feeds into other aspects of life. I’m probably out to lunch on this. I’m sure you guys will tell me.

For me, I’ve found work to be an enriching activity that feeds the other aspects of life. 

Zoom Out

I found it was a lot of pressure when I looked at each day trying to figure out what is work and what is life. Zooming out and looking at it from a broader perspective has allowed me to figure out if I am balanced or not.

For instance, if I am preparing for a huge customer meeting next week, I will be disconnected from my wife and kids during that period. It is incumbent upon me to make sure I make it up to them later.

Keep the Antenna Up

The signals are usually all around me when things start to get out of alignment.

  • “Your days and your nights are filled with work,” – Julie.
  • “Dad play with us” – Sons.
  • “Are you listening to me?” – Operations manager 

People will signal their discontent, so it’s essential to keep the antennas up and adjust accordingly.

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