Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cats and Dogs

My wife received this email, and I couldn't resist passing it along. I hate cats.

A Dog's Diary:
7 am - Oh boy! A walk! My favorite!
8 am - Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!
9 am - Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!
Noon - Oh boy! The yard! My favorite!
2 pm - Oh boy! A car ride! My favorite!
3 pm - Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!
4 pm - Oh boy! Playing ball! My favorite!
6 pm - Oh boy! Welcome home Mom! My favorite!
7 pm - Oh boy! Welcome home Dad! My favorite!
8 pm - Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!
9 pm - Oh boy! Tummy rubs on the couch! My favorite!
11 pm - Oh boy! Sleeping in my people's bed! My favorite!

A Cat's Diary:
Day 183 of my captivity.

My captors continued to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal.

The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from clawing the furniture.

Tomorrow I may eat another house plant. Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded - must try this at the top of the stairs.

In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair - must try this on their bed.

Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear in their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was.

Hmmm, not working according to plan.

There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the food. More important, I overheard that my confinement was due to my powers of inducing "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit.

The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an informant and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured.

But I can wait; it is only a matter of time.

Entrepreneurship and Parenting

This mini-essay was written for Ben Casnocha's upcoming book.

Entrepreneurship has long been synonymous with long hours and tunnel vision. Reporters delight in noting when the unimaginably wealthy still keep a sleeping bag in the office for pulling all-nighters (Dave Filo of Yahoo) or work 14-hour days (Marissa Mayer of Google). But what happens when the culture of workaholism meets the reality of parenthood?

If entrepreneurship requires reaching deep into your bank account of effort and energy, becoming a parent involves emptying that account, taking out a second mortgage, and then borrowing an extra $50K from that guy named Fat Tony who hangs out downtown in his always-empty dry cleaning business. How do you balance two seemingly all-consuming pursuits?

Historically, the answer has been the "starter family." The spouse (usually a wife) you divorce and the kids you never get to know, but whose therapy bills you cover. Then, once you’re rich and successful, you find a younger spouse and raise a second set of children whom you shower with wealth and affection.

Increasingly, however, parents are unwilling to pay this price. I know I’m not. We’re looking for that magic solution that will allow us to have both startup and family, and the techniques we’ve adopted might just help everyone (yes, even you Ben) improve their work-life balance.

1. Multitasking

Whether it’s bringing your computer into your son’s room and lulling him to sleep with the gentle clacking of the keyboard, or bottle-feeding your baby during a board meeting, a willingness to incorporate work into family and vice versa allows you to double-book without cheating either.

2. Compartmentalization

When you’re not explicitly multitasking, compartmentalize. Establish that every day includes periods for work, and periods for family, and keep those buckets sacred. This will also force you to focus on your top priorities in both categories, rather than allowing one or the other to run away with your life.

3. Meaning

Find meaning in your work and family, rather than seeking it in golf or other hobbies. There just isn’t much room for frivolity when you’re committed to a 28-hour schedule in a 24-hour day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t recharge your batteries. Your work and family should be rewarding enough so that you don’t need to sneak off to the golf course or a bar to derive enjoyment.