“Being a father and an entrepreneur is incompatible,” is one of those lines that people tend to say whenever the familiar talk of career and life arises, as it often does. I for one, however, don’t agree with that take. Fatherhood actually helped me take a new perspective at my experience as an entrepreneur at Toucan Toco.
As I was launching my second company Toucan Toco three years ago, I was also starting another adventure. Becoming a father.
This time, I took my work-life balance a lot more seriously. Each role influencing the other, I felt like being a dad made me a better entrepreneur. I learned about essential concepts such as sharing knowledge and great values. Here’s how having kids influenced my vision for Toucan Toco.
Keep the balance
Being an entrepreneur implies putting in countless hours of work. The limit between work and home is not always set. However, I always manage to spend quality time with my children and empty my head from professional matters. Having a personal life is a cornerstone of my work.
When I’m with my family, I’m a 100% dedicated. I don’t answer the phone when I play with my children, and I don’t bring my laptop along during our weekend trips. I am drawing a clear line between both worlds, in order to have a complete focus on what I am doing.
My wife is also the reason this whole thing works out: she helps me keep the balance. Every morning I bring my children to school, and at bedtime, I tuck them in and read them a story, even if it involves finishing my work later at night.
Deal with the unexpected
Having a family implies unexpected events. It is important to be flexible and deal with them. Therefore, even if working schedules are necessary to keep team members synched, anyone can independently choose his days off and work hours. They can even decide to work remotely. As a result, people are free to take care of their family or themselves at any time, so that when they are working, there is nothing else pulling on their mind.
I thought a lot about how to provide a great education to my children. This thinking made me reconsider teaching methods with my team. For instance, to teach values like politeness or benevolence to my children, I had to simplify the way I communicated with them. I realized I could apply the same principle to my team and my clients. By explaining technical concepts with simple words and examples, by helping the client anticipate the future with our app, I can make myself more intelligible.
Furthermore, when we created our core values, I focused on how to share knowledge between us. Learning about new things, sharing information and letting serendipity kick in. It helps us remain open-minded and curious.
Create altruistic values
Being a father is also being altruistic. You give up your self-centered instinct and focus on your children. You change your habits to spend more time with your family. Listening to people and being empathetic are strong values at Toucan Toco.
According to most people, starting a family and being an entrepreneur are antagonistic. But I think they are complementary. A company that operates successfully is a company that provides a solution to real needs: solution clients are ready to pay for. You would feel overwhelmed by all the ideas you can have as a parent: childcare, child products, baby-friendly activities, educational toys or books. Your creativity is constantly stimulated.
No more excuses! Being a parent must not keep you from being an entrepreneur. It can even be the triggering point of an exciting adventure!
Charles Miglietti, President of Toucan Toco