For what it's worth -- my kids do occasionally interrupt me when I'm working from home, but when I need to be left alone I let them know that if I can't work from home, I'll have to take a "real job" like the other parents, and I won't be home as much. That is usually enough to have them leave the room -- they seem to like having me around, even if I'm busy and can't pay attention to them. Gratifying, but definitely sometimes a hard balance.
Besides all the excellent points you guys have mentioned above, a major part of being a parent is to be a provider to your family. In my view, being an entrepreneur makes you a better "provider" because even if your startup does not succeed, the amount of knowledge you obtain during the entrepreneurship is huge and this knowledge can't be obtained anywhere else other than during a hands-on experience.
Many parents fear entrepreneurship because they think it causes family instability. It makes some sense, but as an ex-employee in a big company, I learned that there is no such thing as "stability." Stability is an illusion that you get while you are young and attractive enough to your employer. As a software engineer I know that software companies are not stable and the software industry itself is not stable… So learning how to make a living by yourself, without relying on your boss is a huge asset to anybody and especially to parents. I can talk a lot more about it but this is probably a topic for another conversation…
Each one of these really rings true to me, especially when it's in vogue to fund the 19 year old entrepreneur.
I would like to add two of my own, and since each one of us is a parent, we bring relevant experience. Like I said, each reason Andrew mentioned was really compelling, but I think he missed (or purposely left out) the most obvious two --
1. Parents work harder. For parents, failure is not really an option. I know how hard I worked before I had kids. I thought I was working hard, but nothing compares to how hard I work when my ability to provide is on the line. Fear can be an excellent motivator, and there's no greater fear for a parent than not being able to provide.
2. Parents start better companies. A young 20 something (who could be on their parents' healthcare) can take risks without risking that much. In fact, demonstrating entrepreneurial skills will likely help get them their next job, if they ever need one. But parents -- and most of us are (sigh) over 30 -- don't really have that luxury. Most of us have exited the employment market, and once you've left that world, it's much harder to get back in, even with your tail-between-your-legs! Since we can't just leave our jobs for any idea, parents have to be more prudent entrepreneurs.
Great article, nice idea. And I like your additions.
One theme that overlaps a couple of his ideas is "sacrifice," or subjugating yourself to the needs of someone/something else. And the terms "sacrifice" & "subjugation" might have negative connotations, but, when raising a child, it's not meant negatively, it is simply a by-product of giving of oneself to a larger purpose. It's an investment of that time and energy that delivers a product you can be proud of.
I also particularly liked the parallel he draws on working with a spouse to raise a child and working with your co-founders to grow a startup. In fact, I'm not sure who I spend more time talking to these days, but it might not be my wife...
Was "neglecting their families" actually in the version you have? I think that's a very creative and interesting interpretation. That the Tower builders had thrown themselves so much into the project that they lost all other perspective, and neglected leading balanced lives.
I think all the lessons you guys mention here are great, the one that sits least well with me is the idea of "fame-chasing", maybe I could relate to it better if fame was replaced by "trying to hit a jackpot". And I think the value there is that you need to believe in your product and in your innovation, if your sole goal is simply to make money, then you risk shifting focus away from your actual goal, of creating and delivering your product/site/Tower.
I learned something different from this story. A little bit more positive...
The Tower of Babel was the first instance of "teamwork" mentioned in the Bible. The team worked together under very strong and goal-oriented leadership. Nothing could stop them although they knew that the goal was very hard to achieve. They shared the same values and were ready to sacrifice in order to achieve their common goal. In this story, the only way to stop them (without harming them) was by splitting them apart. From a strong and united team, they became a group of individuals.
If they would have channelled their best qualities and energies, they would probably have built something really great...
So my takeaways are that every startup team should care about: strong leadership, sharing the same goals and values, readiness for hard work and sacrifices, and, most importantly, working as a team - not as a group of individuals, etc.
And here are some of our favorite Replies from last week:
- "When we drove to the Super Bowl someone said they were gonna hide in the bushes on the side of the road and shoot out the tires on the car with a blow dart so I'd crash and burn." -Robin Lundberg http://bit.ly/14GeM1F
- "I think the miserable atmosphere in "Mad Men" is actually the ugly offspring of the marriage of two relatively recent TV creatures: the character -driven show and the serialized show." -avi.mermelstein http://bit.ly/12QUC76
- "I wanted to take a nap during the one on one with Kasey-booooring . I also wanted to vomit on Ben's outfit- what the hell does she see in him." -VZ1006 http://bit.ly/17Tmg4v
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