8,000 miles + 1 wife + 2 kids + 1 startup = ???
I remember when I first landed in Silicon Valley in April of 2013.
Bugcrowd was 3 months old, and we’d seen enough early traction with mainstream customers for us and our Startmate backers to have our “Holy crap, this is actually going to work” moment. I’d landed in the US to learn to language of US business, raise a seed round of funding, and scout things out for our move to Silicon Valley.
A constant source of bemusement my new friends in the US was the idea that a 31 year old married guy with 2 kids under 4 years old would be willing to pick up his family and move 8,000 miles to pursue an early stage venture.
(That… and the fact that folks in the US seem to think that Australia is way further away, and way more different to the US than it actually is).
Here’s why I did it then, and here’s why I continue to be grateful for that decision today:
My wife is my co-pilot, not my passenger.
I first realized I was wired up to be an entrepreneur in 2006, just after I got married and left security engineering for a job in sales. I’d always loved inventing things, and pursuing commercialization gave me the opportunity to see ideas grow and become useful in the market.
It was back then my wife and I started chatting about doing a tech startup and moving to the Valley “at some point in the future”. When Bugcrowd started taking off, we looked at each other with a grin and said “Well, here it is — Let’s go!”
Risk brings focus.
As a father, husband, and primary breadwinner I don’t have the option to mess about with unproductive ideas all day… I’m in it first to win; then to learn and have fun.
This is an amazingly powerful thing… The imminent sense of responsibility that comes with having a family often makes decision-making a much clearer process. In a start-up, where the 99% of the rules haven’t been written yet, something that can otherwise be seen as kind of a drag is actually incredibly handy.
My family make me a better CEO.
The kinds of things that negatively impact the family life of a CEO are, in general, also the kinds of things that create single points of failure within a business.
If my business is harming my family, it’s because there’s a problem with how I’m running my business.
Work/life balance becomes far less theoretical idea when you have a family. I see failure to protect that balance as a direct reflection on my performance as a manager. My role as co-founder and CEO is machine-builder, not marionettist.
btw… I’m not talking about the inevitable and transient busy periods. I’m talking about chronic neglect. The good thing is, it’s easy to identify when it’s going off track, and it’s easy to fix (See “My wife is my co-pilot” for a hint on how this works in practice.)
My kids are learning pursuit of possibility. Firsthand. From their mum and dad.
This is by far the best thing about it, and the greatest reason to do it. There’s little to describe how rewarding it is to see the early signs of possibility thinking showing up in my kids.
My kids describe me to their friends as “the leader of Bugcrowd”, and right now my daughter wants to build a company when she grows up. Whether she does or doesn’t I don’t really care — The point is she is proud of her mum and dad, and has seen firsthand that you can do pretty amazing stuff if you put your head, mind, and heart to it.
In a world where kids are educated to be cogs in a machine, my kids are seeing the up’s, down’s, in’s and out’s of being a lever.
8,000 miles + 1 wife + 2 kids + 1 startup = Sometimes tough, sometimes amazing, always fascinating, always incredibly rewarding.