Ever since I became a dad a little less than 2 years ago, I’ve had to re-prioritize my life and lay dormant several side projects near and dear to me–one of which is this blog. Hence, why this is the first new post I’m writing in over a year.
Becoming a father has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had. I still don’t enjoy the feeling of warm poo on my hand every now and then (not mine, but my son’s), and the sleep deprivation has been horrific. But at the same time, having a child is just like falling in love, all over again. At the end of the day, my wife and I have created a brand new best friend, and our lives are way more fun and interesting.
Right before my son arrived, I sort of went into this reactionary life mode. Pre-kid, I was winging my career as an entrepreneur; however the prospect of having a child made me believe that I needed to get a steady job and that my days as a risk-taking entrepreneur were over (at least until the kid’s in college).
So, I got a job. A great job in fact, working as a product manager at Facebook.
Turned out though that it wasn’t a good fit. While I could see myself enjoying a wonderful company like Facebook at some point in my life, I still had too many ideas that were tugging at my soul to explore. I really missed startup life too.
One of my mentors, Julie Brush, told me something that re-shaped the way that I think about career: Joy at work will manifest itself as joy at home. Your family will feel a difference when you come home feeling good after a hard day’s work.
Facebook was an incredible experience, but I wasn’t feeling joy working there. As a result, I became grumpier and grumpier at home, and it was getting harder for me to switch on to my happy self when I was hanging with my wife and son. I wasn’t living up to the husband and father I aspired to be.
One day during Spring this year, my wife shook me by the shoulders and said, “You need to quit. Go back to being an entrepreneur, I believe in you.”
Her support blew me away. I couldn’t believe she was pushing me down the risky path once again!
After a series of long discussions, we decided that leaving my “safe” job was actually one of the best things we could do for our son and family. One of our family values is self sufficiency, and showing our son that we (the parents) are capable of carving out our own livelihoods and defining our own paths was an effective means to teach that lesson.
So I quit.
After taking a few months off, I was lucky to be offered an Entrepreneur in Residence role at 500 Startups (an amazing place to work by the way) and now I am back to starting new companies again.
Announcing a new project!
I’m really excited to share my latest project, which launched just a few weeks ago: Read Your Story
At Read Your Story, we make personalized children’s books featuring a child’s face and name as the protagonist. Create a book through the site and you’ll receive a physical storybook that your little one will love forever.
The project was borne out of an observation my co-founders and I had: children get excited when they see pictures of themselves, as well as hear their own name. It’s our thesis that by merging these concepts into storybooks, we can inspire children at a young age to get even more excited about reading and set them down a path of loving books throughout their lives.
It’s a wonderful business. All we are doing is making products that inspire joy and learning in children. And what makes it even better is that I’m working with a rockstar team to make this vision happen (I’m talking about you Donna, Jeanette, Jonathan, Pauline, Karim, and Jack!).
Hope you’ll check out Read Your Story.
Enjoying the ride
This is the fourth company I’ve started. For this new project, I am taking a very different attitude about the work. I’m trying to be mindful to enjoy the journey more.
In previous projects, I was weighed down by a chip on my shoulder to prove that I could be a successful founder, from start to exit. I got a little too obsessed with hitting a big revenue run rate and hitting a big exit that would get me rich. I was very driven toward my goals, but at the same time it was difficult for me to enjoy myself because I always felt that I was coming up slightly short in some way.
I’m older now. My family and experience have given me a healthier perspective, and I don’t think I have anything to prove anymore. I just feel really grateful that I can start something new with great people and chase a noble mission.
There are plenty of challenges ahead for this new company: I’ve never run a B2C business before, nor do I have any experience with e-commerce. The learning curve has been frustrating, yet at the same time, still fun. If any readers out there can share advice on how we can blow up Read Your Story into a big business, I’d love to speak with you.
It’s wonderful to be creating again. I’m back!