I’ve been fortunate to work at Silicon Valley Bank for 25 years, nearly my entire professional career.
From the day I started there, and every day since, I’ve been proud to be part of an organization that works with the coolest companies in the entire world – companies run by really smart people who turn ideas into real products and services that are transforming how we all live and work.
Engaging in work that supports innovators and entrepreneurs has been an exciting and inspiring experience, and I wanted to share that experience with my kids from the time they were very young.
Over the years, we rarely missed an opportunity to attend summer company picnics and enjoyed a whole host of other work-related outings together, including client family performances of the Nutcracker in SF, tea time for fathers and daughters and, of course, Take Your Kids to Work Day.
Over family dinners we always shared how each of our respective days had gone and I used that as an opportunity to talk about the people I’d met and the big decisions I’d been a part of. We celebrated the good days and laughed about the bad days, and I wanted them to know that every job had both. The experience was cathartic for me, and I hoped it was educational for them. Most importantly, I believe it strengthened our bond.
Some of the most fun times I’ve had with my kids had to have been practicing speeches in front of Nick and Lauren when they were between 6 and 12 years old. (Yes, I may have resorted to bribes on occasion). The best speeches, as we have always been told, tell a story, are motivating and captivating, and usually include some humor. Being kids, their feedback to me in each of these areas – and others – was immediate. They couldn’t wait to share their critiques. “I don’t understand.” “That didn’t make sense.” “That wasn’t funny.” Or just the simple “Why?” were common refrains.
They took their job seriously and I can honestly say their input helped. The simple “Why?” was the best question they asked, as it made me reflect and ask myself if I understood the “Why?” Their insistence that I explain “Why?” in simple terms helped us connect with each other and helped me tell a better story.
It didn’t hit me how much our “work” discussions were sinking in until Lauren was in 8th grade and she shared how proud she was that she knew what I did and why I did it. During her final week in 8th grade, parents were asked to come to school and reflect on their kids’ experiences. I will never forget reading Lauren’s paper on what career she wanted to pursue. She said she wanted to be a banker. As she described her reasons, I could see that many of our past conversations had woven their way into her thinking and her future aspirations. A proud day to be a father.
Today, Nick is a sophomore at the University of Michigan and a co-founder of a start-up. Lauren is a high school senior, working part-time at a retail clothing store and hoping to get into a top undergraduate business school. I talk to Nick almost every day about his business and Lauren tells me about her good days and bad days at work. I’m so proud of both of them, and love spending as much time as I can talking with them.
I’m sharing this story not to highlight my kids, whom I think are extraordinary of course, but rather to share how important our experiences together have been – not just for them, but for me, as well. Sharing my work with my kids has helped us connect, made me love my job even more and allowed me to thrive – both as a dad and as a business leader – in a unique way.
So my simple advice is to find ways to share with your kids what you do and why you do it, as well as the ups and downs of the good days and the bad days. I promise it will be a “win-win.”
Greg has been a champion of the innovation economy since he joined Silicon Valley Bank in 1993 as a banker to fast-growing technology companies. Today, he is the CEO of the world’s only bank dedicated to the innovation sector around the world. SVB has been named one of the fastest growing public companies in the U.S. and one of the best places to work. During 2017, Greg was recognized in Worth Magazine as one of the “Power 100: Top Influencers in Global Finance (#82). He also received the #1 Bank CEO for mid cap banks by Institutional Investor Magazine.
Greg was the president, chief operations officer and chief banking officer prior to taking on the CEO role. Earlier in his career, Greg ran the company’s Venture Capital Group was also a co-founder of SVB Capital, which manages some of the world’s top-rated venture fund-of-funds and co-investment funds. Greg is a member of the Executive Council of TechNet. He was recently the chairman of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG), and a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University.