My first baby
My first baby is my company, that’s why I’m certain I will be a chill mum. The anxiety of the unknown (future proofing the company), the worries of who is interacting with my baby (reputation and bad actors in the supply chain) and the controlling mindset of wanting to know everything (wanting full visibility of the processes).
It was perhaps necessary in the phase of the company’s growth, especially since that was my first. In the second one, things are 100x more chilled. The first company also has processes in place to build and grow better. It was perhaps part of my principle of “knowing the rules of the game, playing the game, writing the rules of your own game”.
As I begin my research on how to still be my ambitious self and be a present mother, i noticed a lot of similarities with building a company (with multi-location teams) and being a mother. The anxiety of the unknown (baby falling sick, weird symptoms during pregnancy), worries of who my baby is interacting with (germs, exposure to the internet too early, bad friends in school) and wanting to know and be involved in everything (parents-teacher meeting, meet up with parents, bake sale).
I know the rules of the game now. I’m writing my own rules this time.
Being an ambitious leader of my companies strangely prepped me to be a present parent. 5 skills that are likely to work in both situations. Disclaimer: not a mother yet. Just have experience taking care of my baby brother and saw lots of babies growing up.
**Systems** systems systems. Systems are everything. Having a system in place is extremely helpful in building routines and structures.
In a company, that means processes and systems of how things work
In parenting, that means an organised way of splitting time in work and family, house chores and dating time. Having a system is the top most important advice of ambitious parents.
**Delegate**. Hire people better than you and delegate that work out.
In a company, that means hiring people better at accounting, better at process building, better at software engineering.
In parenting, that means hire help. Get a nanny, get a live-in helper, get help from parents to take care of the kid.
Be **prepared**. Flexible in execution. As a girls scouts, be prepared is the motto. I’m always prepared with plans, yet remain flexible in execution. After all, the incomplete contract theory in economics is about the unknown unknowns of life.
In a company, that means having systems and processes in place. It means planning for worst case scenario. It means having a direction and strategy of where we are going, yet adjust based on macro market conditions.
In parenting, that means learning and reading about this phase in life. Busy life with work and a baby, and it’s easy to forget about oneself. And be prepared for the various highly probably situations and build a system around it.
Time off. It sounds absolutely impossible but at least try. Try to find some time off. It sounds crazy in the beginning, but realise that there is an end date and you can breath again. There is no such thing as balance, and it’s a constant readjustment to find that equilibrium that lasts for just a split second. But in that moment, you are at peace. I’m grateful for those moments.
In a company, the first 4 years was insane. I was working 18 hours days, 7 days a week. I took the first bus to the office and last bus home. It was insane and I did not have a vacation until 2022 summer. Now when systems are more in place, I take time off quarterly to reset and plan for the next phase.
In parenting, well I’m not a parent yet but I imagine taking time off helps. My friends who are parents get baby sitters to take a day off, one of the parent to take care of the kid for a weekend and the other takes a vacation break. Time off is nothing to be guilty about, it’s just a way to reconnect with oneself again.
The first years are always going to be hard. Suffer a bit. What is coming is worth everything.
Ask for help. It’s ok to admit that it is hard! It’s truly genuinely ok. This is exactly why no many people do this, because it is hard. And the ability to even begin any of these (entrepreneurship, leadership, motherhood) is an achievement in its own rights. That is something to be proud of already
In a company, I find that the hardest thing is not knowing what help to ask for. I am very lucky that people around me are always supportive and ready to help. Perhaps it is just me but it took a long time before I know what to get help with. For example, getting introductions, bouncing ideas, validating hard decision though process. It doesn’t need to be formal help too, a brainstorm of ideas or just talking through my though processes is a massive help actually.
In parenting, ask for help. And it might be weird but it’s fine. Ask for a hug if required. Ask for babysitting help. Ask for advice. Mother groups and forums are good other than doctors. There is really no shame.
I’m glad that my first babies are my companies. After building systems, everything is actually much easier in life. I have plenty of systems to allow me to do various things, fortunately. And when it comes to parenting, just like it is impossible to shield my company from macro conditions, babies will fall down, babies will fall sick. That is totally fine. It is part and parcel of life and growing up. I don’t need to micromanage everything in the baby’s life just like how I hate that in the company’s management.
I’m glad i got to learn parenting skills this way. I also can’t wait to play this game by my rules, battle test it and share the system with others.
I believe if someone wants to be both an ambitious driven person and a parent, they absolutely should. No one should have to give up one aspect of their being. Sure, there are trade offs, but it should not to give up who you truly are. A trade off of not going to the movies or fly significantly less is a good trade off. I’m not defined by these activities.
I am a person who believes I can have it all. And all I will have indeed. I will show you how….. once I battle test my systems and succeeded. Otherwise, well, we try again.