Greg Davidson of Lalo: “Take time for yourself outside of your work and children”

One thing I like to ask myself is just “why”. Is there a specific reason “why” I need to do this now vs. later. If there is not a clear answer, then I allow myself to give my full focus and attention to my kid. As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives […]

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One thing I like to ask myself is just “why”. Is there a specific reason “why” I need to do this now vs. later. If there is not a clear answer, then I allow myself to give my full focus and attention to my kid.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Greg Davidson.

Greg Davidson is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Lalo, and dad to Jace. Leveraging years of leadership and operational experience, Greg is focused on Lalo’s growth and establishing the infrastructure needed to scale the brand. Prior to founding Lalo, Greg held leadership positions at tech companies, including Head of Sales & Partnerships at Artsy and was one of the first five employees at WayUp, a leading career placement platform. Greg graduated from Northeastern University and lives in NYC with his family.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

I grew up in Livingston, NJ. I was never the greatest student but always had several entrepreneurial side hustles. My father was the person I looked up to when it came to entrepreneurship. He always had a bunch of different irons in the fire, and that’s where I get that strength today. When I was thinking about where to go to college, I needed somewhere that was going to allow me to flex that muscle, so I decided on Northeastern University and their co-op program. That program was a huge help in helping me understand what I did and didn’t want to do in my career.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

From the time I graduated I worked at different SaaS companies in a variety of fields like sports analytics, HR tech, and lastly Art. At Artsy, my last job before founding Lalo, I was managing a team of ~50 people in NYC, LA, London and Hong Kong. It was an incredible experience as I built the team from the ground up and grew revenue > 500% in 2 years. Even with that success, I still did not feel fulfilled and knew it was time to scratch that entrepreneurial itch and start Lalo.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

That is a loaded question, as it changes so much. However, my co-founder Michael and I laid our roles/responsibilities that we each had before even founding the company. That, in turn, allowed us to focus and not step on each other’s toes, and provided for a bit more streamlined schedules. My responsibilities include Customer Experience, Operations, HR, and Fundraising. Most of my day is spent doing investor relations work. I also work heavily with our operations and customer experience teams. From there, my cofounder and I probably chat at least ~2 hours a day on business strategy, pressing topics, team, and recruiting.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

I wish I can sit here and tell you that I have done the research, but I only know from my own experience. Luckily, I have been afforded the opportunity to spend more time with my son, Jace, more than I ever expected to due to the pandemic and working from home.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

There are so many reasons, but ultimately the bond you form with your children starts from the first moment you see them and only gets stronger the more time you spend with them. The bond you build is not easily breakable and is one of the things that I cherish most in my life.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

Oh man, I have tons of different things but will share the three that I believe give him and me the most joy. Every Saturday or Sunday we go swimming. My son has always loved the bath and the first time I took him swimming he was grinning ear to ear the entire time. He splashes constantly, kicks his feet, and is the ultimate happy kid. I can see his brain working to try and figure out what he can/can’t do. It is amazing for me to be there holding him while he has the greatest time in the world.

Usually every Sunday I take my son in the a.m. to go get bagels and coffee. It’s something my Dad did for us while growing up and it’s something I plan to bring into this next chapter of my life. I will carve out a morning block or evening block for one hour everyday to make sure I get some quality time with Jace. Even if it’s just an hour, it’s a time I can fully give all of my attention to Jace without any of the other distractions I may have.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.

  • One thing I like to ask myself is just “why”. Is there a specific reason “why” I need to do this now vs. later. If there is not a clear answer, then I allow myself to give my full focus and attention to my kid.
  • Turn your phone on silent. Not only are we as working adults distracted by our phones for personal and work reasons but as soon as you have that phone out, I promise you your kid will become obsessed as well. Put it on silent and put it away to ensure you are fully engaging.
  • Block out your time in your calendar. As a CEO and co-founder, there is always something that needs my attention and keeping my calendar up to date and letting my team know when I am not available is key to ensuring you do not get distracted by things that may not actually need your attention right away.
  • Take time for yourself outside of your work and children. I have always found for myself that I need to create a balance between myself, my work, and my child. For example, it’s important for me to stay physically active and work out to keep a clear mind both personally and professionally. It can be incredibly hard to find an exact balance, but it can be incredibly impactful. I need to take care of myself to properly care for my family and my team.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

That’s a great question and honestly, I am not sure I have an answer for that. As a new parent sometimes my wife and I ask ourselves, “should we have let him do that?” Or “Is he old enough for that yet?” I don’t believe there is a perfect parent, and I am not sure how I would define a good parent. Parenting is hard enough, and I imagine each parent is trying to be as great as they possibly can be.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

My son is ten months old, so it is hard for me to communicate the idea of “dream big” to him. However, his favorite book and my favorite to read him is 100 First Words for Little CEOs — so this is just the beginning.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

I don’t like using the word “success.” Success is defined by the accomplishment of something. My goal is for myself to feel fulfilled every day based on me giving myself the right inputs like carving out enough time to be with my family, my friends, my work, and, of course, myself.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

  • The Lalo Dad Pod — Our new podcast that features real parents talking about real experiences. We started this to shine a light on Dads who straddle the line and find balance between entrepreneurship and being a father. This topic has been glossed over by the media, and we are excited to bring the discussion to the forefront.
  • My friends — By nature, I am someone who likes to observe how others are doing, take bits and pieces of what I like and then put my own spin on it. This is similar to how I act as a Dad. Over time I have absorbed fatherly qualities from my own Dad, my friends, and even their fathers, which allows me to be the best father I can be.
  • The book Bringing up Bebe — At first, I thought I was never going to read it. Bringing up Bebe is a book that teaches people how to raise their children in the French way, which is a bit looser and less restrictive than traditional American parenting. While intuitively being protective of my kid, I couldn’t imagine letting anything happen to my kid but when there have been moments when I thought I should be telling my son to be extra careful, I have thought back to this book, took a deep breath and ultimately let my son make the right decision without my anxiety.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“There is no such thing as trying.” On the surface that may sound harsh, but when you put it into perspective, it is one of the most motivating sayings. In life, you usually do or you don’t. Things are binary like that. Something works or it doesn’t work out. You win or you lose. The middle ground of trying is exactly that in the middle it can give a false sense of accomplishment when there is none. The harder thing to do is accepting you didn’t do something and using that as motivation to do it. No one cares one way or another and everyone will know you tried and made attempts, but accepting and being able to look past defeat is what makes certain people great.”

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

“Everyone should do one thing every day that makes them feel good about themselves. People get caught up so much in the outside world that too often they forget about themselves, which ultimately bubbles over on to others. By making time, whether it is one minute or one hour, you can instantly change your day and possibly someone else’s. At the end of the day, there is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect Dad. There is no “one size fits all” definition of a good Dad. In some ways, entrepreneurship and parenting are very similar. You go into both experiences completely green and as long as you know your personal strengths and weaknesses and learn from your mistakes, you will be great no matter what.”

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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