What's the Secret to Balancing Parenthood and Entrepreneurship?
People constantly ask me: “How do you do it? You run an agency, you have two children, you constantly write blog posts and you’ve just published your fourth book. How do you do it? How do you find the time?”
It’s not about time, I can tell you that.
There’s plenty of time. I’ve been in marketing for more than 25 years and I’ve been raising my children for close to 22 of those years. There’s been plenty of time. It’s about energy and priorities. You make time for what’s important. It’s finding the energy to keep going that proves to be the hardest part.
I begin every day at 5 a.m. I immediately open my laptop to write a blog post. Then I pay the bills, check four email accounts and then run (sometimes literally run) to the gym. Fitness has to be a priority too if I’m going to have the energy to get everything done.
By 9 a.m., I’m ready for what will be the first of probably a dozen meetings for the day. Up until now, there’s been a complete blurring of the personal and the professional. Now the professional kicks in, with tweets and texts all throughout the day to keep the other side of my life moving.
It’s who I am. It’s my brand.
I am a tried and true marketing person, so I believe that everything can and should be a brand, including each of us as personal brands.
I’ve built my brand as a self-proclaimed (read “self-branded”) marketing master, with a classic start at Johnson & Johnson gathering traditional brand management skills. Those skills have served me well. It was at J&J that I found my love for brands. I launched seven new products in five years during my stint. It was a lesson in setting priorities.
When my first child came along, I got my first lesson in “energy.” With my daughter came a whirlwind of demands on what was already a busy schedule, and then when my son came 18 months later I got another blast of reality -- a parent’s reality.
That’s when I became an entrepreneur. It’s been in my blood ever since.
I got off the corporate ladder and opened up a regional office for a privately held marketing agency. I later left that gig and started my own firm a few years later.
Why not? I’m an entrepreneur!
The truth is, I had no choice.
Despite working what felt like a 24/7 schedule, I was also a primary caregiver for my two babies. Talk about needing energy and constantly resetting priorities. I was working at night, taking care of the kids during the day, and vice versa.
That’s when the entrepreneur in me collided with the parent in me. That’s when I had to set priorities because there just wasn’t enough energy to go around.
I was fine with it though, because I’d always imagined that “dad” would the other side to my brand. I embraced fatherhood and entrepreneurship and just made longer “to-do” lists to cope with the demands.
When my marriage came crashing down, I discovered who I really am and came out. I suddenly found myself as a single gay dad -- so I had to re-evaluate my brand once again. No #SGD hashtags back then.
But parenting and work never stopped regardless.
While your situation may be quite different, I imagine you are also balancing the acts of entrepreneurship and parenthood -- two roles that on the surface seem quite incompatible. While the specifics are different, I’ve been there and done that. I'm still doing it.
Now years later and three marketing books published, I can squarely say that being in marketing is my calling. It’s my brand. But with two grown children, one in graduate school and the other in college, being a dad is my calling too. It’s my brand.
I have experienced the highs and lows of both.
The challenge, of course, comes with juggling it all. You really can make it all work, if you work it.
I’ve had to learn how to balance being a father with being an entrepreneur. I’ve had to come up with ways to meet the demands of clients while making the parent/teacher conference at 3 in the afternoon. Back then, deadlines didn’t cut you much slack, there was no technology to back you up, and oh, by the way, fathers just didn’t really do much of the school thing. That was for the moms.
Today it’s very different, thankfully. Well, deadlines still don’t cut you much slack.
I’ve chronicled all of this in a new book called Out and About Dad: My journey as a father with all its twists, turns, and a few twirls. It explores my struggle to do it all. It’s a story that I hope people can relate to and feel motivated by.
I’ve learned a few things along my journey, and just like with my new book, I hope to pass them along to you here. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing just that. I hope to help entrepreneurs and parents juggle the many demands of work and raising kids.