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“How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” with Simon Slade of Affilorama

Parents are the first line of contact between children and the world. For the really early years, a child’s parents are literally their entire world. That world needs to be stable and consistent in order for them to develop in a healthy, normal way. I know that my children need my presence in order to feel safe and secure. Parents are a vital, foundational part of a child’s ecosystem and if they aren’t present, it’s really difficult for a child to develop the self-esteem and security s/he needs to grow and mature.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Simon Slade. Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training community; SaleHoo, an online dropship and wholesale directory, co-founder of Smtp2Go, an email delivery service and investor in SwiftMed, a virtual GP clinic. Through these companies, Simon provides the education and resources for ecommerce professionals to start their own businesses and achieve occupational independence. Simon can be followed on Twitter and LinkedIn and regularly comments for Forbes, Fortune, SMH and NZ Business.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

I was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand. I graduated from Griffith University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Business Management and a degree in marketing. As an online seller on TradeMe, New Zealand’s local auction site, I received many inquiries about where I found my suppliers. I saw the opportunity to help others jumpstart their online sales gigs and developed the concept for SaleHoo, an online directory of verified wholesale suppliers. I approached my friend Mark Ling, who I met through squash when we were teenagers, and presented the idea. I thought Mark’s skillset would complement mine nicely, so we chatted and eventually built the product. SaleHoo reached 10,000 members in just eight months, so we used the momentum to then launch Mark’s business idea, Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal. From there, we built the parent company, Doubledot Media, and we’ve been improving all three companies together ever since.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

I am a morning person, so I head into our Christchurch office early. I schedule all my meetings in the morning, so that my afternoons are reserved for strategic and operational duties. My day is pretty well packed with meetings and oversight tasks for my three companies, but several times a week I use my lunch break to play squash with friends and a fellow CEO. Exercising midday is nice because it really breaks up the workday into two manageable sessions of 7:30–11:30 a.m. and 1–4:30 p.m. rather than one long, grueling workday. Furthermore, this allows me to come home at the end of the day and be fully immersed in family time.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

Parents are the first line of contact between children and the world. For the really early years, a child’s parents are literally their entire world. That world needs to be stable and consistent in order for them to develop in a healthy, normal way. I know that my children need my presence in order to feel safe and secure. Parents are a vital, foundational part of a child’s ecosystem and if they aren’t present, it’s really difficult for a child to develop the self-esteem and security s/he needs to grow and mature.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

The time I spend with my kids is as much for me as it is for them. While I recognize that spending quality time with my children helps their development and keeps them safe, secure and happy, it also does that for me. I am rejuvenated by time spent with my family. It’s important for all of us to carve out time to be together as a unit because we are each fulfilled by it. When our family is connected and happy, everything else around us — work, school, friendships — falls into place.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

Vacations are a really special, important time with my family, so we schedule them often and with purpose. We love to do active, outdoorsy things both in tropical climates and mountain ones. I find sharing an outdoor adventure to be a great way to bond with my kids.

That said, I don’t think true quality time has to be a distinct or a specific activity. For me, quality time with my kids is when we are all present and in the moment — phones are put away and we are experiencing something together. This might be a fun, active adventure, or some quiet time watching TV together, or catching up over dinner. I intentionally craft my days carefully so I get to spend some of that quality time with my kids every day, where my focus is exclusively on them and nothing else. This looks different each day, but it is always part of the routine.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.

In order to create space for your children in your life, you need to create space for yourself. This would be my first and perhaps most important strategy for ensuring that my children get the best of me. I know I’m a better entrepreneur and father when I’m well-slept, eating healthy and exercising regularly, so I make space and time for those things in my life. The best advice I have is to get into a daily routine and find someone to exercise with. If you have a workout partner counting on you, you’re less likely to cancel.

Another strategy that has worked very effectively for me is planning my vacations carefully. We plan excursions or family activities in advance of the holiday. By having an appointment in place, I am committed to not working during that timeframe and to focus on my family and having fun. We usually chose to book excursions for late morning, so that I can work before we leave and then again late afternoon before we go to dinner.

Sometimes it’s effective to simply force yourself to be off the grid. I try to avoid Wi-Fi signals as much we possible when I’m planning to be with the family. For family outings, try to pick a spot without Wi-Fi so you’re not tempted to work.

I would also encourage outsourcing as much as possible. This is usually a budget consideration for families, but I try to think of my time as money: would it be worth $100 to have someone clean the house so you can spend that 4–6 hours with your children each month? Furthermore, it might seem counterintuitive, but outsourcing to a caregiver might allow you to spend more truly quality time with your kids. If a nanny picks them up from school, that might give you time to wrap-up a work task so you can be fully present and participatory in dinner that night. Don’t hesitate to outsource both personal and professional tasks — work smarter, not harder.

Finally, be realistic about your bandwidth. Don’t be afraid to make drastic changes in your life and work if you feel like you can’t catch your breath. If your professional demands are making it physically impossible for you to keep up with your own health and your family, it’s time to have conversation with your boss, or start looking for a new position.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

I think the most defining quality of a good parent is someone who isn’t afraid to ask for help. My wife and I rely on each other to rise up to the demands of parenting. We communicate about our needs, failures and successes, and that learning process in turn helps us become better parents. We consult books and experts and our friends who are also parents to crowdsource ideas and solutions when we hit a snag. There is a wealth of support and information out there for parents. Good parents will tap into their resources to ensure they’re meeting their kids’ needs.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

I’d like to think my entrepreneurial journey will or does inspire my kids to dream big. We talk a lot about why it’s important to take risks and fail and learn from those failures. Those are lessons that apply to both life and business, and I hope my children recognize that big dreams are worth trying and it’s okay to fail, as long as you pick yourself up afterwards.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Success is falling into bed tonight feeling like I’ve done something to improve lives — not only the lives of my family but also the lives of others who might experience relief or success as a result of my business.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

I think the best resource for me has been other parents — my friends who are also raising families. It’s so nice to have a sounding board and I think it’s really important to keep a social circle of fellow parents around you. There is a unique sort of camaraderie with parenting and it truly takes a village. So I’d say fellow parents — my wife included! — are my best resources.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Steve Jobs said, ‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do.’ This advice gave me the courage to quit my full-time job at Hewlett-Packard to pursue a career as an entrepreneur. Three businesses later, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Being my own boss is a significant factor in my love for my job, and I love that Affilorama, SaleHoo and Doubledot Media Limited help others to also become their own bosses through e-commerce pursuits. It is my hope that our companies help others achieve occupational freedom so that our customers, too, love what they do. And again, I hope that my children see my path and use it as encouragement to pursue their passions and create a life they love.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’d like to inspire a movement where people take an active role in their own lives rather than a passive one. It’s easy to stay at the job that doesn’t really work, or keep at the schedule that wears you down, or even stay in the apartment, house or city that you don’t really like. Instead, I’d like to inspire people to be active architects of their future. I think if people truly thought about their desires and needs, and went after them methodically and with purpose, the world would be a better place.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!




In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Dr. Ely Weinschneider, Psy.D.

Dr. Ely Weinschneider, Psy.D.

Psychologist and Relationship Expert

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