How to manage a high-performing Product career and active family life.
I’ve always been building products mostly in my own startups and I’m on my second startup now, this is a huge challenge with two young kids. There really are no easy answers.
What I have found is really key is full engagement with whatever the time is, so focusing on quality not quantity. Even if I’m with my wife for 15min I try to fully engage with her in that time. It doesn’t help to spend time with someone and be constantly glancing at your phone. Even something as outing your phone away during dinner and bedtime helps
Thanks for sharing this, Adam. I feel like there aren't enough fathers that talk about this tension between family and career, perhaps because it's not seen as a traditionally masculine topic. As a dad in a dual-working household I feel seen and I appreciate you opening up the conversation.
One thing to add - setting boundaries as a leader is good for your teams as well. My partner always reminds me "Taking time off is setting a good example for your team" and it's true. When people see their leaders modeling balance, they feel safer taking time off, not responding after hours, and bringing up when their out-of-work priorities conflict with their jobs.
Great post! I think your point on creating the right expectations for teammates around you is super important. As a parent of three kids with demanding career, I find that's the most reliable way to ensure I can enjoy and be fully present in times when teammates are working while I'm with my kids. I also had a similar experience to you in learning some hard lessons with my first kid.
The writing that influenced my thinking most on this topic is Clayton Christensen's book called 'How will you measure your life?' It's a short read but I think the framing and clarity probably speaks to product people.
When my youngest was born (in 2012) I went back to work 4 days a week and hired a nanny 4 days a week. That allowed me a full weekday to focus on being a mom exclusively, which fueled me to go full-steam on the other (work) days. Now that my kids are older (8 and 11), I want to spend even more time with them than I did when they were little. In lots of ways, they need me more. So now I’m doing part-time fractional product leader work. I think a lot of new parents consider cutting back on work during the baby phase and assume they’ll want to return full-steam when their kids are school-aged. They don’t realize that’s when a lot of the fun (and hardest/most rewarding work) begins.
Thanks for sharing, Adam. I am very new at that parenting thing (3 weeks!) and have just got back to work. My "plan" so far is to be even more sharp on deciding where to put my energy, reduce cognitive load wherever it is possible, and work more intensely (using pomodoro technique as a stepping stone). Wish me luck ;)
I love reading this. And I hope more people where sharing similar traits. As someone growing my PM career and 2 kids at the same time. It's a fine prioritization balance between the two. But at the end of the day, as much as I love Product Management, my kids will always be my real priority.
Thank you for this open, honest and helpful write-up. There are so many parents working in product, so good to see this topic getting some well-deserved attention.
Since the birth of my daughter, my wife and I both switched to 4-day work weeks. I'm really enjoying it and feel like it's a great balance (also to have a day of just you and the kiddo). We're both at Senior PM-level though, not really sure if it would work above.. But maybe that's the concession to make then. If it is, I'm happy with it :)