Fatherhood & Entrepreneurship
I joined the gang tribe almost 9 years ago when my son Silas was born. I was young and afraid.
I embraced the entrepreneurial journey 3 years ago, building my startup, SIKA Inc. Here are some things I’ve learned
1.BE PURPOSE DRIVEN
When you hold a newborn in your arms, it hits you with all the force of the entire universe, that how well this little one will thrive depends entirely on what drives you. You ask yourself, “What’s my purpose?”
When you look into your child’s eyes, you know your purpose: to help them grow and gain the skills she needs to flourish. Purpose tested over time is called conviction. If you embrace being a Dad, you will feel this conviction.
It is that sense of knowing you are on the right path. And in the start-up world if you are pursuing something disruptive that will change the world, you will need to be fueled by a profound sense of purpose. It is what keeps you advancing towards the objective when you are small and unknown or young and struggling to find your footing
2. MAKE IT COUNT
The life of an entrepreneur often entails tons of travel. Sometimes it is in the same city, as you seek to win new clients, investors and donors or these days it often involves bouncing around the planet. The thing is as a father, you know that each step out that door to travel is time you can never recover with your child. It is the ultimate trade-off. You have to ask yourself, how important and value-added is this trip? In fact, how valuable and results oriented is each minute of the trip from sunrise to sunset?
During the earliest days of fatherhood, I took a business trip. As I stood at the door, Silas’ mom was holding him and she said a word of encouragement, “Make it count.” And that has become my mantra on and off the road. Young entrepreneurs often have difficulties in understanding how to make their efforts count. As a father, you know that your mandate is to focus and make every choice count. This is exactly what entrepreneurs need to do as well.
Fatherhood is nurturing your child. What you nurture grows. If you feed good habits, they will take root. If you fuel bad ones, they will grow wild. The same applies in the start-up environment. Entrepreneurs need to be mindful about the culture they are creating. They also need to nurture different talents at different stages; just as fathers must do with their children at the different stages of life. This means paying careful attention and knowing when a shift is happening and then adapting the mix of nurturing.
The other aspect of nurturing is that it is more about guidance than control. Children are individual beings that grow into interdependent adults. Entrepreneurial teams are comprised of interdependent people. They are not interchangeable cogs in a machine. The goal then is the master the art and science of nurturing.
4. KEEP THE SPIRIT OF WONDER AND CURIOSITY
Children are filled with the spirit of wonder and curiosity, that is when they are not tired or cranky. They have an infinite supply of questions and there is the magic of listening to their free associations. They are formulating a worldview, so everything is being explored and discovered. They also want to know how everything works.
These same two attributes are essential for entrepreneurs. They are responsible for generating innovations and then figuring out how to transform them into real products and services. Entrepreneurs faced with the heat of day to day survival often lose sight of one or the other. If they only focus on the exploration, they never make it to creating a viable venture. If they only focus on questioning on how to get to the objective, they might miss the eureka moment that opens them up for a necessary pivot.
5. BE GREAT NOT PERFECT
Fatherhood is humbling. You realize that any pursuit of perfection is impossible. You cannot do everything at an A+ level all of the time. You might do one thing at that level, but everything else will suffer. What you learn to do is embrace the pursuit of being great versus perfect.
The nuance is that you shift from quantity to quality. You understand that there are only so many hours in a day and so many shifts you can squeeze in before you tap out. This means you must clear out any clutter, zero in on what’s most important and then apply your best to it so that you can generate great results.
6. IT TAKES A TRIBE
It takes a tribe to raise a child. The key question that pops up in a father’s mind is who is in this tribe. You think carefully about the attributes and depth of character of the tribal members because they are interacting with your most precious treasure, your child.In the same way, entrepreneurs should be mindful about who they bring into their tribe. Young start-ups are subject to disproportionate influence. Great tribal members can dramatically accelerate both the speed at which a young venture grows and the scale which it can reach. If a rotten tribal member slips into the mix, then it can seriously threaten the venture. You would never willingly put your children in harm’s way.
Entrepreneurs need to apply the same level of scrutiny and excellence to whom they invite into their professional tribe. An expensive wrong hire, a lazy board member or a greedy partner can all derail a venture. Yet a hard working, high energy and results oriented tribal member is an unrivaled ingredient to the success of start ups.