The American Genius - 8 dad entrepreneurs share how they balance work and life


father day mifold

Happy father’s day, dad entrepreneurs

If you are the child of an entrepreneur, you’ve watched your parent work their fingers to the bone (sometimes literally, other times figuratively), and you have admiration for his grit and determination.

The next generation of dad entrepreneurs is here, and their take on the work/life balance conundrum is very different. Tech startup founders, inventors, and business men of today involve their children, care about every waking moment they can spend with their kids, and go above and beyond to make them a priority.

Eight fathers tell us below how they balance their work with their family life, and we salute them this father’s day:

Kevin McCarthy – founder and CEO of McCarthy Music

“My daughter Sophia, 6, has been intimately involved in the development of my company’s first product, the Illuminating Piano. Since Sophia was 4, she’s been playing occasionally on various prototypes. It’s been a great way for us to connect about what I do and it’s inspired her to want to invent all sorts of things. I think trying to involve your children in your business is a somewhat overlooked aspect of work/life balance, but it gives them a much better understanding of what you actually do. I also work 7 a.m.-4 p.m., which gives us an additional hour or two each night to spend together.”

Marc Gorlin – founder and CEO of Roadie, Inc.

“Anytime I have a decision to make, I ask myself  ‘What’s most important?’ I do this at Roadie all the time. When put through this simple filter, questions get, well, simpler. For example, last week, I had the choice of being five minutes late to a meeting or ordering flowers for my daughter’s debut as the Dragon in Shrek the Musical. The meeting could wait.”

Edward McCloskey, founder of WaterWipes

“Ensure that, as a father with kids of teenage or younger ages, you make sure that you allow enough time in your life to spend regular ‘family’ time with them and to be around, available and interested in their day-to-day lives. It is way too easy to get sucked up into the ‘thrill of the chase’ when building your business, but your kids will have grown up and moved on before you know it, and you don’t want to miss out on their developmental years. So the challenge as an entrepreneurial dad is to both do the best you can in growing your business and also make sure to spend regular quality time with your children. It’s as easy – and as difficult – as that.”

Peter Waisnor, Vice President, Tenba

“Be home for dinner, be in the moment and arrive with excitement. I travel about 25% of the year, much of it internationally, and I could easily travel twice that amount if I went everywhere I was asked to go. To minimize my time away, I often take red-eye flights home so that I don’t lose a full day for travel. And when I arrive home, no matter how little I have slept for the time that I was away, I arrive ready to do whatever my son wants to do. My son is very excited to see me and hang out when I return, so I don’t want to spoil it by letting him know that I’m exhausted.”

Sean Folkson, Founder, NightFood, Inc.

“Get your kids on board: It might not be possible, depending on your business, but my both my kids love NightFood, so they understand when Daddy has to work late or on weekends. Whenever we are in a mall with a GNC store, my 5 year-old Benny wants to go in and do a sales call. We’ve even featured him in some promotional videos and ads we’ve done. He tells his friends and teachers about the bars. He feels a sense of ownership, which makes me proud and makes things easier. Also, try your best to leave work at work and understand your priorities.”

Roger Wilson, Owner, GermBloc

“Keeping perspective on what truly matters can easily change when you stretch your mind to think outside the box and create innovative products that you become emotionally attached to. Whether your new idea becomes a success or failure, you want to maintain your priorities realizing that having faith and family will last forever and your awesome new idea will not give you true fulfillment long term.”

Jon Sumroy, creator of mifold

“It’s never easy being an entrepreneur – bringing something new to the world. But there are two huge myths that make people think being a ‘daddy entrepreneur’ is particularly hard: the myths that only young entrepreneurs can succeed and that being a “daddy entrepreneur” requires life/work balance. To combat these myths I suggest: be a good entrepreneur (do your research!), merge life and work, commit to the very important things, bring your kids with you to business activities, and create kiddie entrepreneurs.”

Gregory Schern, Founder of Ogden Made

“My success is wholly dependent upon my family’s support – any success at being a ‘dad entrepreneur’ relies upon understanding that long days, and extended periods away from home are not possible without a great family support network. The best way for that to happen is involve them in the big ideas and let them come to work, meet the team, and share the success. Also, time management is the toughest battle – and don’t forget that your employees and team members have families, too!”