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Male Entrepreneurs on How Being a Dad Has Changed Them
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Male Entrepreneurs on How Being a Dad Has Changed Them
Warren Broadnax

Male Entrepreneurs on How Being a Dad Has Changed Them

15 Dads Share Their Experiences of Fatherhood and Entrepreneurship

Becoming a parent is a life-changing, schedule-altering, heart-melting and mind-bending experience. The same can be said about becoming an entrepreneur. Both require risk, vulnerability, learning from your mistakes and most importantly, patience.

RELATED: 10 Traits Of A Great Father

For those proud papas who are fathers not only to their companies but to kiddos, Father’s Day is a time to reflect on how the experience of juggling each area of their life has changed them as a leader and a human. Here, 15 inspiring male entrepreneurs share their candid experience of not only being someone’s CEO and boss but more importantly, someone’s dad.

“I’m a more compassionate employer.”

Thomas Donohoe - Entrepreneur and Father

Thomas Donohoe, Founder of Level Agency. Dad to Eleanor, 6 and Giavanna, 4

While I think many CEOs and entrepreneurs have an innate ability to always be kind, patient and understanding of the mistakes of youth, I did not come close to having those qualities early on in my career. Fatherhood definitely changed that for me.

While I’m still working to walk down the path of being a good human at all times professionally, I’m positive that being a father has accelerated that personal growth exponentially.

“I’ve found joy again.”

David Weiss - Entrepreneur Dad

David Weiss, the CTO and Co-Founder of Hatch Baby. Dad to Maya, 16; Derick, 13; and Ben, 6

Since becoming a dad, I've seen the world through my children's eyes and found a level of joy that was lost in my adult life. Before you have kids, you get jaded and take a lot of things for granted, especially the simple things. But since becoming a dad, I've rediscovered things I love — just how beautiful a sunrise is, how exciting a basketball game can be — by experiencing them with my kids. It's a profound shift.

“I’m no longer number one.”

Dennis McKinley - Entrepreneur and Father

Dennis McKinley, CEO of Milk Insurance and The Original Hot Dog Factory. Dad to Pilar, 2 months old

I no longer worry about me — I’m no longer number one. That alone has made me a savage in business. I know that I have a baby at home that I need to provide for, so it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy. I have a hungry baby at home!

On the flip side of this, I’m so gentle when I’m around my daughter. When I see my baby I’m at my weakest and most vulnerable. There’s absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do for her or her mom.

“It completely changed my direction in life.”

John D’Eri - Entrepreneur and Father

John D’Eri, CEO and Co-Founder of Rising Tide Car Wash. Father to Thomas, 30 and Andrew, 29

Watching my son Andrew – a vibrant, lighthearted individual with autism – struggle to find his place in the world, I spent countless hours thinking about what Andrew would do when I am no longer here to support him. When Andrew aged out of the public school system at 22 years old, I decided to change my career and create a business where he and others like him could find sustainable employment.

My son Thomas and I started Rising Tide Car Wash in 2012. I now have two car washes and employ more than 80 people in the autism spectrum. Watching people like my son, Andrew, go from a quiet, marginalized and unsure young man to an empowered, ready to try new things and take on new challenges is one that I find most fulfilling. It is amazing what employment can do for somebody that was put on the fringe.

RELATED: CEOS on Their Morning Routines and Keys to Success

“They've taught me to disconnect.”

Juan Palacio - Entrepreneur and Father

Juan Palacio, Founder and CEO of BloomsyBox. Dad to Alicia, 8 and Laura, 6

Before having my daughters, I used to work around the clock to tackle menial tasks and accomplish larger goals, from getting my website ranked for a keyword in Google to hitting the sales budget for the year. Now that I have my girls, I see things differently and believe that building your company goes beyond whatever success metric you might have (money, recognition, etc). It becomes more of a legacy for your children, a way to teach them to love what you do and to pursue your dreams.

After a long or strenuous work day, I always look forward to getting home and spending time with my family. My daughters have given me a gift, a way to disconnect from work that I didn’t have in the past. Being a dad has taught me a lot about time management; how to use my time more wisely in the office. I've become very careful about what I focus on each day, and believe I am a better leader and father because of it.

“I view people differently.”

Nate Checketts - Entrepreneur and Father

Nate Checketts, CEO and Co-Founder of Rhone. Dad to Gabe, 10; Will, 7; and Cole, 3

I notice it perhaps the most in thinking about how I view others. As a parent, you see the whole person in your child — their fears, their dreams, their concerns, how they are treated and viewed by others and how they start to view themselves as they grow.

It then becomes a bit more natural to not look at others with harsh judgments but rather as whole people and to be far more understanding when others are going through difficulties or struggles. At its core, my kids have really helped me deepen my understanding of charity and love.

“I want to show them a better life.”

Warren Broadnax - Entrepreneur and Father

Warren Broadnax, CEO of She’s Happy Hair and GGB Trucking. Dad to Everett, 15; Karter, 10 and Warren Jr., 2

In my family, it was very common to grow up without a male role model. It’s unfortunate, but we are a part of the intergenerational cycle of fatherlessness. I decided at a very early age that when I became a father, I would be the positive male role model in their lives.

My boys changed my life for the better. I’m constantly working extremely hard because I don’t want them to go through the struggles I experienced. I am proud of the fact that I am able to provide them with ongoing security and stability, developing them into strong young men. They don’t have to live in a stressful situation because I am their hero and they know without any doubt that they are a major priority in my life. I was given the greatest task ever and that was to be a father to my boys.

“I realize the importance of support.”

David Nicholson - Entrepreneur and Father

David Nicholson, Co-Founder of Living DNA. Dad to Clare, 3 and Orion, 10 months old

The biggest change has been appreciating the responsibility I have as a father to support my kids to grow up and remain untouched by society. It’s not to mold them to be anything other than all that they naturally are. This has helped me approach life in general, understanding that no matter how old we are the most important thing is being supported to be all that we are. By making my role as a father a lifelong priority, it not only strengthens my family and home life but also my work-life.

“It's reinforced my priorities.”

Luke Holden - Entrepreneur and Father

Luke Holden, Founder and CEO of Luke’s Lobster. Dad to Poppy, 1 and a baby due in October

[Being a father has] caused me to become more organized and less selfish with how I choose to spend my time. On a weekly basis, I take personal inventory of three categories that I think are imperative for balance; state of family, business and person. Every Sunday evening, when getting organized for the upcoming work week, I schedule personal time for workouts, and family time with my wife and daughter, and just with my wife.

The balance that I have struck has resulted in days starting earlier — around 5 a.m., but have generally afforded me the opportunity to be home for a little play, bath, bottle and a kiss goodnight. Ironically, while the workday might end earlier than before becoming a dad, I think I am accomplishing more than ever.

RELATED: 12 Tips for Balancing Work and Family Life as a Modern Dad

“I’m less selfish. Sort of.”

DJ Haddad - Entrepreneur and Father

DJ Haddad, CEO and Creative Director of Haddad & Partners, CMO of 321 Ignition. Dad to Dylan, 10; Eviana, 8; Drew, 4; and Sienna, 3

I would like to say that I am less selfish now that I have kids. It’s a nice sentiment — and it’s mostly true — but after giving it some thought it’s not really 100 percent accurate. I suppose I am still selfish, however, I only get the opportunity to be selfish for a mere 18 minutes a day now. So, by default, that makes me selfless for 1,422 minutes each and every day. Which is pretty impressive and quite fatherly, right?”

“I stopped thinking about someday – and made it today.”

Dr. Ben Duke - Entrepreneur and Father

Dr. Ben Duke, Chiropractic Physician, Professional Speaker and Author. Dad to Bianca, 3.

As I looked down at this gorgeous wrinkled raisin no bigger than my hand, I started to feel sweat on the back of my neck. But these weren't the normal fears of ‘I don’t know what to do!’ or ‘Will I be a good father?’ My fear came from a different place. Up until this point I had ambitions for what I wanted to achieve in my life. Goals I wanted to hit. Milestones I wanted to reach. However, holding little baby Bianca was the greatest motivation I had felt in my life because I knew she was going to be watching me and learning from my every action from this point forward.

Did I want my example to be comfortably OK? Do I ever want her to ‘just settle’ in life? Hell no! I want Bianca to push her limits. I want her to strive to be the best version of herself. I want her to grow up to live out her highest calling with determination, compassion and so much joy. I threw my ‘someday’  talk out of my mindset and started pursuing my dreams. It led me to many achievements and real bucket list items that I had been waiting to do.

Too often, we fail to teach by example what we most want our kids to learn. I believe my greatest victories have been through my personal growth when no one is watching. But now someone always is.”

RELATED: How To Be A Better Father

“I think differently about the long-term.”

Chris Coombs - Entrepreneur and Father

Chris Coombs, Chef and Owner of Boston Urban Hospitality. Dad to Carter, 3

As a cook, we are oftentimes adrenaline junkies that tend to live in the moment and we thrive on the rush of the restaurant industry. I feel like becoming a dad has repurposed my long-term approach to life and business. I now have to worry about the well-being of someone other than myself. That is a 10,000-foot view, but now I am much more focused on what steps I can take as an entrepreneur to make sure that my son lives an awesome life and above all else, is a good person.

[Fatherhood] has also taught me patience. Sometimes as a parent, you have to have patience when your child does something differently than you had expected. I have also found that I use this in the kitchen a lot with my team. They may try a different technique or plate a dish differently and instead of correcting it right away, I try it because sometimes even though it is different than what I would have done, it works better.

“I am fulfilled in a new way.”

Craig Hammond - Entrepreneur and Father

Craig Hammond, CEO of Peejamas. Dad to Marshall, 6; Truman 4; and Dantzel, 20 months

Being a father has been the greatest challenge, and blessing in my life. I've had the luxury of having different professional 'titles' and 'responsibilities' in my life. I found a lot of accomplishment in those titles. However, the moment I became a ‘Dad,’ it was the highest honor or title I could ever hold.

I've found that no accomplishment outside of the home has ever given me more happiness than major milestones achieved with my family. Additionally, any professional accomplishment would not be as sweet without my family.

I want to achieve professional success most so I can provide a rewarding life, full of memories and experiences for my children. Certainly, life is no longer primarily about me or my wants, but rather, what I can do to shape and influence the life of each child of mine so they can only multiply our efforts to be a force for good to humanity.

RELATED: CEOs Share the Most Impactful Book They've Read

“My perspective on risk has changed.”

Dr. Rudy Gehrman - Entrepreneur and Father

Dr. Rudy Gehrman, DC, Physio Logic Executive Director and Founder. Dad to Clara, 19 months

Becoming a father has made me realize the importance of balance in all areas of my life. From a health perspective, in business risk-taking and quelling my adventurous spirit; all my decisions now consider effects on Clara! My focus on living a longer and healthier life has taken on a new meaning since becoming a father.  

As an athlete and entrepreneur, I have realized that my risk-taking days are numbered! I think twice now about how my decisions, whether on the ski slope in British Columbia or in the boardroom, will affect my family's future. Risks and benefits are weighed very carefully as my responsibilities to my daughter are of great importance. I am grateful that I took many risks at a young age and lived a full life before becoming a father.

“I’m a better person.”

Rick Stollmeyer - Entrepreneur and Father

Rick Stollmeyer, Co-Founder and CEO of Mind Body. Dad to Emily, 26; Marc, 24; Madison, 20; and Laney, 14

Becoming a dad means you’re no longer the most important person in your life. It has challenged me to be a better person. In fact, being a dad has challenged me to be the best version of myself every day. It has also changed my outlook on the future, as I have committed to investing in a future that exists far beyond myself.

From feeling more motivated to accomplish career goals to improving time management and reassessing priorities, these dads prove that fatherhood doesn’t hinder success, it promotes it.

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