A former lemonade stand entrepreneur turned Venture Capitalist
I recently chatted with a friend of mine who said he wouldn’t mind being a stay at home Dad. Soon after, I saw the following article asking the question whether or not the husband of Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo) will stay at home with their baby? (http://bit.ly/QFkpWk) I thought to myself, “Are you kidding me?” Honestly, I pay much respect to those parents (both Moms and Dads) who choose to stay at home full-time. I did it for two weeks and I was about to stick a fork in my eye, if not in both eyes. This doesn’t include how emasculating it feels when you take your kids to the park and all you see are stay-at-home Moms and nannies (also women). Or, that often, a man finds a decent amount of his identity in his work. Honestly, I think people who say a statement like this before they have kids fall into two buckets: 1) They haven’t had kids before (obvious) or 2) They haven’t spent an extended period of time with their own kids. If you have spent an extended amount of time raising your children, you too will realize, comparatively, working professionally is a cake walk. People who disagree with me either don’t have kids or haven’t done it before.
I tweeted a while ago, which is harder, a start-up or a baby. I found the response quite overwhelming in favoring start-ups. It’s funny because I find the two very similar on some ways. You experience sleepless nights. You’re always tired or exhausted. You sometimes feel beaten down. Yet, it’s all somehow rewarding. =) However, I find one of the toughest things about parenting vs. doing a start-up is that 1) You can’t give up on your kid like you could a start-up and 2) You never really know how well you’re doing as a parent because the race is more like a marathon than a sprint. What do I mean by the second point? Clayten Christensen, wrote a famous book called “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, which is a must-read for disruption in technology. However, he teaches a class at the Harvard Business School (HBS), which I find even more interesting, called “How Will You Measure Your Life?” (http://bit.ly/9fYNvR) While I didn’t go to HBS, I found what was written super inspirational. One of the key takeaways for me is that in the professional world, a person is often measured quarterly and annually with 360 peer reviews. However, as a parent, you really don’t know how well you’re doing until much much later, often not until your kids go off to college or enter the workforce. There is no 360 peer review, no bonuses or raises, just the simple hope and trust that what you’re doing as a parent is the right thing day in and day out.
At the end of the day, having a child and doing a start-up are equally very hard. Which one is tougher? Well, since I’ve never done my own start-up, I polled the experts, entrepreneurs who’ve both had children and done start-ups. Overwhelmingly, the answer always seems to be having children. =) While I give much props to those Dads who choose to stay at home and raise their children I think this is a very challenging cultural issue to overcome in the near term. But, maybe there will be more cultural acceptance of this as time goes on.