This article was produced in partnership with our friends at Nest.
As an entrepreneur, my work and personal life have always been intertwined. I’ve started companies with some of my closest friends. When we’re together we talk about work, our kids, life. Work doesn’t start and stop at the office door — it’s fluid. Having kids hasn’t changed my work responsibilities, it’s just helped me think about them differently.
I used to spend my mornings looking at my phone, reviewing metrics from the day before and thinking about the work ahead. Now I get woken up by my 2-year-old daughter, Emma, jumping on our bed and my 4-year-old son, Charlie, waiting for me when I get out of the shower so we can shave together. (Razors and shaving — they’re kind of a thing in our family. “Razor” was one of my son’s first words.) I still glance at those metrics, but hanging out with my son and daughter puts those numbers in perspective.
Fatherhood is a transition for all guys. If yours doesn’t look like Jeff’s, it might look something like this …
I feel an immense sense of responsibility to the business, of course. And, I also feel responsibility for my family and kids. I don’t think I realized just how much one person is capable of caring about another until I became a parent. Once Charlie was born (and then Emma, two years later), I thought about how deeply I care for them and how people who work for us have parents who care just as much about them. I’ve thought a lot about what I would want for my kids at a company like Harry’s and whether I’m running the business and creating an environment for our employees in the same way that I would want someone to do for my kids.
Work and life are still fluid, but having kids has made me a more empathetic leader and, in a funny way, more disciplined about being flexible. Starting a company can be emotionally all-encompassing, but I’m seeing the importance of planning work around life and not life around work; it’s cliché, but true. I live close to the office so I can have that extra half hour in the morning with my kids, walk to work, and be home to read with them before bed. I block off dedicated times where I try to put down my phone and shut off my computer, which I had never done before, to make sure they have my attention. I’ll work later at night after putting the kids down or on Sunday evenings after spending the day with them.
On the weekends, what once was a noon wakeup is now 7:00 AM. Brunch at 1:00 PM is now at 10:00 AM. We still see our friends, but now our kids play together. We still explore all the things New York City offers, but we see them through our kids’ eyes and interests and share in what excites them. Some of those things my wife and I would have done anyway — walk around Central Park, have a picnic — and some of those things I hadn’t done in 20 years— like go to the top of the Empire State Building.
The ultimate adventure, to my son, would be visiting our factory in Germany, which he sees as this fantastical, far off place. I’ve told him when he gets as tall as my shoulders he can go there with me, and so he often asks, “Am I tall enough yet? Can we go to Germany?” It’s just another way my worlds at Harry’s and at home come together — most 4 year olds are itching to go to Disneyland, not a razor factory in Germany. I still have all the same crazy things going on that I always did, but now my family plays the leading role. It’s the same … but different.
Jeff Raider is the co-founder of Warby Parker, Harry’s, and his 2 kids, Charlie and Emma. He avidly incorporates giving into his life and startups; Harry’s donates 1% of sales to the education nonprofit City Year and requires its employees to volunteer at least 25 hours a year.