I’ve been creating businesses and investing since high school. But when my wife, Casey Brown, and I started a family of our own, I knew I didn’t want to become the overworked-entrepreneur stereotype that never sees his wife and kids. What I’ve found, however, is that the habits I adopted for putting my family first have helped my career in ways I didn’t expect.
Getting Up Early
I’ve always been an early riser. I get up before sunrise, even on weekends. I’ve always liked making full use of my day. I’ve found that those early hours when the house is quiet are the best time to get stuff done and get any new ideas out of my head. Not only am I productive in that time, but when my family gets up, I can give them my full attention because I already know what the rest of my day will look like. And once their day starts and I get back to work, I’m not playing catch-up.
Unplug When it Matters
Being an investor and a business owner means that there’s always work to do. But I’ll turn off “work mode” at the drop of a hat if my kids come into the room or if Casey needs my attention. It’s can be hard sometimes when making time for family creates a longer to-do list tomorrow. But I’ve also discovered that unplugging periodically helps me stay in the moment with my wife, my kids, and my work. It also helps me process my day, prioritize upcoming projects, and let my mind wander toward new ideas. Unplugging from work also helps me sleep better, which makes me more productive and alert the next day.
Working From Home Often
Since so much of what I do is online, I usually work remotely at least a couple of days each week. It’s easier to be involved with my family’s day-to-day by staying home and connecting with to work through chat, video calls, or email. I’d go into the office for meetings or to get work done sometimes, but rarely Monday through Friday. What I’ve learned about working remotely is that it can actually expand your reach. If you’re investing, hiring, or developing partnerships, the right people and opportunities aren’t necessarily in your immediate area. For example, today I have staff all over the US and in other countries too. I’ve hired talented people who also put family first, and remote work means they don’t have to relocate to be effective.
For me, investing has always been about providing value. My firm, GO VC, provides startups with marketing and operations support in addition to capital, because we’ve seen that an infusion of expertise can sometimes be more important than the funding we provide. Casey and I are also involved with charitable and philanthropic organizations, which is something I’m proud of. She’s on the board of Children’s Hospital Orange County (CHOC) and is an incredibly giving and supportive person. As our kids get older, we want them to know that part of success means giving back and helping others. Being a good citizen can have business benefits too. Networking with charities and non-profits has led to opportunities with like-minded business owners that I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise.
When I speak to entrepreneurs about funding, I’m looking for business owners who are already investing themselves in their projects. If I can connect on a personal level and share their excitement, it’s a lot easier to hit the ground running and create value quickly. Investing in people I like, people I feel good about supporting, has become much more important to me as my own family has grown. If you’re creating a long-term business relationship, it becomes almost like a professional family or a marriage. You have to stay committed and work together. You have to make compromises and find common ground. But if the foundation is strong, you can build something great.