One of the most powerful lessons that I’ve learned over the past decade was taught to me by my daughter Viviana two years ago, when she was just eight years old. I thought it was fitting to post this today on her 10th birthday.
My three daughters Viviana, Valentina and Simona were born in March 2010, July 2011 and June 2013, respectively. All three of them have essentially grown up with my business. They know me as dad around the house, but professionally they know me only as the founder of my business. For their entire lives I’ve been the founder and CEO of N6A, and that’s the only professional title with which they associate me. They have been surrounded by my business every day in some way, shape or form, since they were born. Perhaps none of them are as inextricably linked to my business as my eldest daughter Viviana, who was born just a few short months after I started the company.
On March 25, 2010, I sat in the delivery room at Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, when my wife gave birth to Viviana. I was brand new to entrepreneurship and I was brand new to fatherhood at that time. I look at my daughter now and she is a beautiful, confident young girl who is entering her pre-teen years. As our business has grown, so has she. Just like I’ve learned valuable lessons about entrepreneurship over the past decade, I’ve learned infinitely more lessons about fatherhood. Those are the lessons that are most important to me, not the ones that I’ve learned about being a better professional. Ironically, through my professional work, she taught me an important lesson about fatherhood.
Viviana at 1 week!
As anyone who has started a new job, career or business during the same period in which their child was born can attest to, the relationship between children and careers are inextricably linked. When children and careers grow up on parallel tracks, you often remember life events and associate them with career milestones. People have a way of remembering specific life events and associating them with new jobs, new career beginnings, and new professional milestones.
For example, the morning before my daughter was born, I remember hiring our first employee. The day after her Baptism I remember we signed our first office lease, and the day of her first birthday coincided with a major milestone industry award that we won. I remember her taking her first steps not in my living room, but on my office floor. I remember her picking up the phones for our employees once she learned to talk, taking the train into the office with me every summer, and sitting in a moving box when we moved into our first office.
I used to be ashamed and disappointed in myself that I was unable to simply remember my daughter’s life events without any association whatsoever with my business. I used to feel like Viviana got the short end of the stick because her father was always thinking about work in some capacity, and it was difficult for me to disassociate my business in its entirety whenever we were sharing a life event.
I used to feel guilty about these things until Viviana taught me an important lesson in 2018. At that time, I was debating whether to sell our company to an interested party. I decided to disclose the news to Viviana.
“Daddy might sell the company,” I said.
Of course, my daughter didn’t understand the economics or any of the professional consequences that would come along with the decision to sell the firm, but she immediately understood the lifeconsequences. She went on to tell me how content she was with her life, and she remembered so many of the same life moments that we shared in my workplace.
In that moment, it was clear to me how much she associated my business with her childhood. The most gratifying part as a father was that, all her memories were positive and demonstrated that she had learned important life lessons through her exposure to my work. She looked at my business, and in her own eight-year old mind, it was clear that she associated it with life lessons that build the character and values that all parents want their children to have. Values like female empowerment and equality in the workforce, financial risk taking, and the power of self-belief and self-confidence.
These were values that were important not just on a professional level, but on a personal level. In that moment, it was clear to me that through my work, I had impacted my daughter in a meaningful way. From that point forward, I stopped feeling so guilty about taking my work home with me.
My daughter taught me a valuable lesson about the relationship of children and careers. She taught me that your career can be one of the most powerful platforms to teach your kids the most important lessons that a parent could teach.
Thank you, Viviana for teaching me this lesson. I love you. Happy 10th birthday.
Posted by Matt Rizzetta