Matt was previously a cofounder of FeedBurner which he and Dick Costolo (former CEO of Twitter) sold to Google for north of $100 million dollars. Below is a summary of what Matt has to say about raising kids while building and selling startups.
It is difficult to raise kids as it is, but life with kids adds various degrees of difficulties. No one has the silver bullet. The ability to specialize could be really helpful — one person with the highest earning potential goes to work, while the other stays home to manage the family. For Matt and his wife that meant he went to do startups. Of course, this wouldn’t work for every family in every situation, and you have to figure out what’s right for you.
Matt recommends locking in hours when you are 100% available for work, then drawing a line to be 100% available for your family and/or outside interests. Of course sometimes important and urgent tasks take priority, but this hard helps to be the most present parent, and to be an accountable and responsible coworker.
Set a predictable schedule and commute routine. Schedule will let others know when to expect you and remove the ambiguity of whether daddy is coming home for dinner. Meanwhile, a routine commute could be a great time to listen to books, podcast, to learn new stuff, or to exercise. In Matt’s case, he bikes to work — Not only is it an excellent way to setup guard rails for your work and home life, if you get a bike or otherwise exercise during your commute, it is a way to stay healthy and in shape.
The day your first child is born you remember very clearly. There is no guide for you, and the best you can do is look for patters of behavior you have seen and imitate that, or look at your parents and do what they did well. Pattern matching can be incredibly helpful in life.
The day your first child is born you remember very clearly. There is no guide.
Among the 4 cofounders of Feedburner all had kids so they all had empathy for each other. Everyone understood the physical and emotional burden that kids took on life. Most people are more productive with good rest and these guys actually encouraged each other to take breaks and not work themselves to death.
At all of their startups, Matt took on design, their CTO did the code, Dick did all the CEO sales stuff. It was important that everyone could contribute and be heard, but time was precious and it was best spent focused. Common cultural ground kept the team productive, and when in need, they could all cover for each other and strike a good balance in the down time to recover and spend more time with the family.
“Don’t spend your day doing whatever. Spend 6–8 hours focused on work and then do something else. Both activities will benefit greatly.” — Matt
If you want to help your kids solve problems, try not to do it FOR them, instead help them to understand the problem better and give them the tools to get the right the answer on their own. Offer choices, instead of giving directives.
Offer choices, instead of giving directives.
Sometimes you might have to call their bluff, and gently push your kids to at least try something they might pursue, but let them have fun and pick what it will be. If you have more than one kid, they might very well be different people wanting different choices, and that is okay.
Take advantage of whatever resources will help you as a couple prepare. Your hospital, community centre, library… find something that works for you. Once the baby comes you will be busy and it is good to know what you both want to do with work and kids. Have a plan on who is doing what; who is making money, who is changing diapers…etc. Be honest and transparent with each other. Find down time to rest.
If you are interested in the debate about working yourself to death vs. having a family, Sarah Lacy talks about the conundrum of Silicon Valley startup expectations and parenting life. Check out my review if you are curious, listen to the podcast summary, or read her book.
If you want to hear one dad’s opinion on how giving choices can lead to an amazingly creative and prosperous life, check out this interview with Michael Parenteau and hear his story about raising a daughter while paying for the living with art. Yes you can!
❤ from Seattle. Kirill Zubovsky