#1 DAD

Little startups that pay in love are a blank canvas that comes to life through you.

By nature, parents want to provide the means for children to go beyond their potential. As entrepreneurs, when we see the best of ourselves in someone we care so much about, a sense of renewed purpose often emerges. To celebrate Father’s Day, here are a three parenting tactics I’ve found especially interesting.

You’ve Got Mail

Secure an email for your little one, then use this communication channel to write to them as they grow up. Whether you start writing before they are born or begin this practice later in their life, imagine what a gift an inbox full of thoughtful updates will be in the future! This new email can be shared with family and used for future account setup if you want, but at a minimum, you will have created a personalized time machine.

Along with all the sentimental content you’ll deliver someday, your kids will appreciate having a solid address to use as their primary email someday. Such a preferred email address may not be available years from now, so I’d suggest securing something they can use long after childhood. For example, firstname.lastname@gmail.com is a safe place to start and while you’re at it? Perhaps it’s a good time to register a domain in case they ever want to build on their name.com.

They Grow Up

Similar to how death can inspire us to live, recognizing that kids will grow up, reminds us to enjoy everything about each moment. Everyone tells us to cherish the simple joys of life, but it may be worth getting a little extra creative. One way to enhance your family’s ability to relive memorable moments, is by using multimedia marketing skills to tell family stories in a way that makes memories easier and more fun to revisit. Most people have an endless collection of photos/video on their smartphone, but scrolling around a digital device doesn’t translate into something a group can enjoy together. As we all know, it’s easy for good things to get lost when there’s so much noise as well.

Your future self will thank you when you spend the extra effort to organize content outside of the latest social media platform. This attentive, pro-active organization will also make relics easier to craft. Whether it’s a photo slideshow you put together each year, a fun collection of audio recordings, something printed that sits on the shelf, or a video edit that highlights your adventures, the time spent compiling these legacy projects will rarely feel wasted.

Avoid Routine

“Time flies” and “they grow up so fast” is accurate, but I’m convinced that avoiding routine may slow down time. The freedom to be spontaneous is a privilege and everyone will define such freedom differently, but a proven path to explore such a reality is entrepreneurship. Boundless hard work, dedication, and resiliency are what it takes, but our own suffering provides a stronger sense of purpose and the chance to enjoy more treasured time doing things that make us happy.

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What’s your go-to parenting tip? Share it as a comment or hit me up!

The time and energy family life requires is immeasurable, but as the love from your kids somehow unlocks more hours in the day, new perspectives form and fresh motivation is released. Perhaps a reward for parents who lead by example is the opportunity to share everything with those who matter most.

Exploring Education

Educational organizations are key actors within entrepreneurial ecosystems. As a community builder, collaborating with students and leaders within educational organizations has been enlightening.

While I’ve always enjoyed exploring the intersections between entrepreneurship, innovation and education, it feels like I’ve been thinking and talking about the future education a lot more lately.

Perhaps it’s my Regional Rep role for an educational program like 1 Million Cups? Maybe it’s how many caffeinated community builders I’m supporting, who also work in this space? Blunt thought provocations from Naval Ravikant keep me on the edge of my seat and having a daughter who’s about to experience the classroom for the first time has to play into my heighten curiosity as well. It’s clear that my interest in education does not emerge from a single source. It’s the collective interactions. It’s my interest in accelerating others. It’s wanting the best for my little startup that pays in love. Even deeper, it’s an optimistic enthusiasm for our future.

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I’m envious of students who are being encouraged to explore their entrepreneurial spirit so much earlier. I only regret two things from my experience in college: not starting a business and not understanding the value of an engaged network.

Our connected era and the rising cost of higher education seems to be signalling a cultural shift. It’s less about earning a piece of paper so you can work for someone else. The future of education feels more like providing a safe space to explore knowledge, social interactions and what creative activities feel like play to you, but look like work to others.

We learn, earn and then give back. My hope is that we can inspire future generations to go beyond what we think is possible. Can we leave behind parts of the system that feel like day care and replace them with curricula that reward pure wonder, initiative and skills that help more people evolve ideas into reality? Outside the classroom, can we celebrate life-long learning and those who break down barriers so more people are set free to push past the status quo?

As Greg Horowitt said in our conversational jazz, without order nothing can exist, but without chaos, nothing can evolve. Let’s build for the sake of our future, by never fearing unicorns in our balloon factories.

Love Triangles

As we celebrate our love for one another, Valentine’s Day felt like a heartfelt time to reflect on building a business with and around members of your family.

The permanence of family leads to many business partnerships. Some operations pass from one generation to the next. Others spawn when family members decide to start something new. Still more businesses come together as people create new family bonds and merge their work into love triangles.

It seems obvious to start something with those you love. In some cases, the convenience makes it easy. In other cases, it can become a necessity to turn the family into a team. No matter the why, transparency and trust within a family is hard to beat. This allows family members to wholeheartedly lean on one another. Such an unwavering ability to count on each other is why family businesses always have a chance.

While family businesses can thrive for generations, there are dangerous downsides as well. Not everyone who loves each other should work together. Home and work are often like night and day. The difference between the two makes each one better. Living and working with family makes it hard to separate the two. This can lead to arguments that extend far beyond the office. These inescapable emotions can damage relationships and bleed into the broader team. While you’ll spend the most time with your family, building a life together doesn’t mean you have to work on the same thing. A healthy amount of individuality allows each person to do more and space makes coming back home even sweeter.

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Do you work with family? If so, share your best tips in the comments! Also, did you know Brad Feld and Amy Batchelor wrote an entire book on this, called Startup Life?

Whether you build a business together or not, family dynamics affect all entrepreneurs. The most direct impact comes from your significant other. Your co-founder in life has a huge influence on your ability to thrive as an entrepreneur. Almost like separations of power, each person can provide contrasting perspectives, honest feedback and valuable support to balance the time, financial and emotional responsibilities of life.

Co-founders in life who share authentic trust give each other stability, fewer restrictions and more opportunities. If you find the love of your life, help them be their best. Admit they are the better half and be humble enough to let them return the favor. Such motivation from inside the home fuels a deep sense of abundance. The result is a more determined mind, body and soul eager to learn from the person who knows you best. This constant support brews loving vibes that spill into your work. Two people who push each other to be better than they would have been alone is the ultimate gift.

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To love is to share life together,
to build special plans just for two,
to work side by side,
and then smile with pride,
as one by one, dreams all come true.
The Meaning of Love – Krina Shah

Pure Wonder

Children embody a state of wonder that entrepreneurs can learn from.

They wake up each morning without a plan. They have no preconceptions. No judgments. No worries. A lack of expectations allow kids to naturally live in the moment. They get excited about the little things and cry over nothing. Their states of pure wonder is fascinating.

Now, fast forward 20 years. The world hardens us. We want to impress and make our mark, but life can feel exhausting and the need to make ends meet adds constant stress. Our experiences make us more intelligent, capable and aware of our surroundings, but they also limit our ability to feel pure wonder.

As you’re building a business, release from the daily grind by thinking like a child. Pretend you were born yesterday. Be silly once in awhile. Forget the agenda. Color outside the lines. Get weird to solve problems. Laugh at your mistakes. Play in your sandbox and have fun getting messy. Let a child-like sense of wonder shrink your ego to make room for what’s next. What you’re building matters and if your work allows you to feel pure wonder, be thankful and pass it on.