Over the last several years, I have noticed one ultimate truth in my life – you can’t buy, make or find more time. Time is the greatest currency and is the most valuable thing we have. It’s not oil, gold, water – it’s the seconds that pass by, ones we seem to forget about because we are focused on the seconds that aren’t here yet.
Time is the main reason that I recently changed career paths, leaving one of the best jobs that I have had in my life. I was in charge of one of the largest digital properties in the US, leading the product strategy, P&L and teams responsible for billions of dollars of revenue for a well-respected brand beloved by many. I was happy, driven, struggling to drive deeper and broader change to leave a lasting mark on their history. I wanted to change the course of an enterprise and after I set things on the right path I noticed somethings that started to trouble me…
I spent over 18 hours on a plane every month, including travel time that’s over 24 hours where I am in motion, randomly checking email and trying to be productive (usually enjoying in-flight entertainment). If I was traveling that much, living in two different cities, I wasn’t able to give full attention to the two most important things in my life: my family and my career. Notice here that my family comes first. It’s easy to say, easy to write, but in practice when you are deep in the day-to-day work of your life, something you have practiced and tried to perfect for years it becomes harder and harder to weight in the small decisions. “Should I work late tonight?” “We can go to the zoo tomorrow.” “I will be home in a few days.” “I need to take this call.” “I have to get this done.” We have all said these things and more. We forget that the small things are the big things, that family and happiness are why we can work like we do, pushing technology, industries and companies into uncomfortable and profitable areas. It is our base and without it, we can’t survive.
I needed to rebuild my base. 19 months ago, the universe brought forth a 5-year project that my wife and I dove headfirst into; her name is Loie, my daughter. Although we have pondered it, we can’t find any fault in her, her actions, her strangeness, she is absolutely amazing. I am sure every parent out there feels the same way, they have the “one” – the special child that will change the world. We feel that way. I feel that way. Kids need guidance, family and more importantly, their parents – both of them. I was brought up, as were 60+% of my peers, in a broken home with my parents splitting up when I was very young. I sought father figures elsewhere, anywhere. I learned from anyone I could, piecing together random lessons on life, design, function and more as I worked my way through any information I could. It was a true and pure struggle and one I don’t want my daughter to repeat. I want to be the one that answers the tough questions that she wants to know. I want to be there for her when she needs a father figure. I want to set the standard for any future relationship with a man that she has (hopefully not until well into her twenties). I was starting to realize that what I wanted wasn’t happening. I was on a plane, a thousand miles away, on the phone, working.
So, about 3 months ago I changed things. I walked away from a job of a lifetime, a paycheck without worries, security of a Fortune 50 company that’s unparalleled in today’s economy, perks that would make anyone blush – for something way better. Time. Time with my wife and daughter – my family. At home. There is no way to get this time back, no way to offset it, no way to slow it down – only embrace it and work within it.
So, to answer the question that many have asked, that is my next thing – to find the balance between work and my life, my family. As I look across my desk at the offers, emails and potential opportunities in front of me, I can see that I am in charge of the balance I am trying to find, a balance that is equal, without an imbalance on either side. I have solved larger problems for many others and have brought innovation and ingenuity that was never used to deliver solutions that ultimately were successful. Surely, this should be possible – I guess only time will tell.
For now, the suitcases are hidden, the alarm clock isn’t set and the calendar is wide open (except for the zoo trips and play dates) so I can find a new footing and a new opportunity that allows me to deliver the best I have for my family and for my career. In that order.