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Staying Sane as a New Working Parent
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working parentHi, I’m Peter.

You know, Peter. Peter Vogopoulos. The other guy from Firepole Marketing?

*Sigh*

One of the wonderful things about being part of Firepole Marketing is connecting with awesome people who like what we do. When I say “Peter Vogopoulos” they usually say “hello”. When they hear “Firepole Marketing”, their (virtual) faces light up and they say “Oh yeah, Danny Iny! I know him… I love his stuff. What was your name again?”

Truthfully, it doesn’t bother me in the least. I’ve taken a quieter role within Firepole Marketing by choice, but am thrilled with what’s going on. And I can’t expect anything different. After all, I didn’t guest blog my way to notoriety, run a marathon, write a book about engagement, found a start up, get an MBA, or get married while taking a blog from nothing to success.

But I did something that changed my life. More than any of those things would have.

I had a baby.

Well, technically my *wife* had it. But I was there when it happened, supposedly sharing in the miracle of childbirth, as Robin Williams puts it (check this out at the 1:55 mark to see what I mean – watch out Robin has a potty mouth).

And I bought my first house as a married man with a baby, which is MUCH different from buying one as a single dude. Like, MUCH different. Moving is tough when you have a kid because you can’t blitz for a month and get all the things you need done.

And I kept my business active, taught full-time at the John Molson School of Business and got involved in a start-up of my own.

Maybe not as impressive as running a marathon, writing two books, and blogging my way to notoriety, but if you are a parent, then you can sympathize that it can be challenging in its own way. For me, anyway. Besides, I’m always fond of saying that Danny is a super-human who exists to make the rest of us look like unproductive fools.

In the end, I learned a few things about keeping a business afloat and being productive as a new parent – some of them in a not-so-pleasant way. I’d love to share them with you while sharing a bit about me.

1 Happy News

Sometime in November 2009

I’ve never been so excited in my life to hear about someone peeing on piece of plastic. My wife caught me before heading into a prospect meeting to tell me she’s pregnant. I remember hanging up and thinking.

“Holy crap. I have to make more money!”

My prospects were probably wondering if I’m that happy all the time.

But beneath all that, I was also just a *little* terrified. I am going to be responsible for another human being. A little tiny one, to boot. Up to now, I’ve barely kept plants alive.

Work was good. Business Development was rolling. Clients were getting awesome results and enthusiastically referring business saying “You’ve gotta work with this guy. He makes you do the simplest things but they make a ton of money.”

But I was working lots of hours, usually after the wife was tucked away in bed. There was always another speech to prepare (speaking is a great way to generate leads) and another marketing strategy to devise.

I knew things were gonna be different. I just didn’t know exactly how yet.

But that shouldn’t have stopped me from planning for the worse. I was absolutely delusional about what being a working parent entailed.

2 Loved Ones

Jully 2010 – Thomas arrives and he’s beautiful

I can try to write about this and the experience of being a parent and about how you won’t believe how much you can love your child and how it changes you, and all that. But I remember when new parents used to wax poetic about this to me. I also remember doing my best to continue smiling and be polite.

So I’ll sum it up this way: You’ll never understand until you have your own. And I’ll leave it at that.

But the cycle of life does turn. A scant two weeks later my Mom rushed off to be with her sister, my most beloved Aunt.

For the most part of my childhood, my Aunt had lived with us and was affectionately referred to by the kids in the neighbourhood as “my second Mom”. This of course led to all sort of quizzical looks by other parents that I couldn’t really comprehend – I mean, what was so hard to understand about this? She was like a Mom to me. Period.

My Aunt had moved away some years ago to care for my dementia-suffering, bed-ridden grandmother. It’s a long trip and I hadn’t been to see her in years. Too many years.

And now, she is dying. And rapidly.

My wife said that I should go. I said nonsense. Thomas was barely two weeks old and it’s a challenge with two of us, let alone one person who just went through 36 hours of labor.

My Aunt went very fast. She was coherent when my Mom arrived and enjoyed Thomas’ photos. Three short weeks later, she was a shell of skin and bones, muttering incoherently and not recognizing her own sister.

She was my second Mom. I still cry because I was so damn stupid. I thought she’d always be there.

A month later, probably because she knew that my Aunt was gone, my grandmother passed away, too.

I cried again.

Lesson #1: Take a moment to enjoy, because they won’t always be there.

We juggle in our lives. We juggle being business owners, family members, working parents, sons, daughters, workers, home owners, whatever. Each of these roles represents a ball we juggle.

Some balls are rubber. If you drop them, they bounce back up without a mark on them.

Other balls are glass. If you drop them, they nick, crack or worse – shatter. Drop a glass ball, the damage is irrevocable. It’s gone.

We need to make sure that our desires shouldn’t come at the expense of other areas that are important in our lives, like loved ones and health. Unfortunately, these areas are the ones that suffer when we get busy.

If I could have a do-over (and boy, don’t we want one of those sometimes?) I’d have taken that damn trip years ago.

Who do you need to take a trip for? Take a moment. They won’t always be there.

 3 Focus

Two months in.

I am starting to get back into the swing of things at work, after having taken some time off when Thomas was born.

I walk into my office and try to orient myself on my next projects. I no longer have the time I used to, so let’s focus on essentials, shall we? Let’s look at them one at a time.

This one? Not that important all of sudden.

That one? Hmmm. Not that important, either.

In fact, many projects that were “urgent”, “important” and “ones that I absolutely wanted to do this year” were all of sudden not-that-frickin’ important.

Amazing. I could not believe I let myself be seduced by all these silly distractions.

Lesson #2: When you only have time for essentials, you suddenly realize how much time your distractions used to eat up.

Being forced to pare down and focus I realized that many things on my plate weren’t all that important. Necessity not only forced me to scale back, but also made me realize how crazy my expectations were.

Cast a critical eye on your own projects. Which ones are really important in that they further your goals, and which ones are merely distractions?

4 Time

Six months in

It’s 1AM. Oh no.

I can hear Thomas from my office.

I’m in the middle of doing client work due the day after tomorrow, but I know tomorrow is a wash. I’m teaching for most of the day and then I am meeting people. By the time that’s all done, supper and bath time and I’ll be toast from tonight’s late night. Thomas has been having trouble sleeping due to teething and consoling him tonight can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. In the latter case, I won’t be going to my office again; I’ll be collapsing in bed next to my wife.

It’ll have to be done tomorrow, somehow.

Because right now, it’s 1AM and I’m being called into service. For some reason (which I do secretly enjoy), my son only wants his Daddy at night. Even though it’s all about Mommy during the day – at night, we ONLY want Daddy.

So I pick up my tiny son and we go to our rocking chair. And I coo him back to sleep and tell him those bad teeth hurting him are only temporary and that the Tempra should kick in shortly. I sing. Those moments in the rocking chair are precious. It makes the lack of sleep and the sore back worthwhile. I think I paid for my osteopath’s honeymoon in Paris.

Where did my time go, I asked myself silently?

The entrepreneurial 90-hour work week is no longer for a possibility for me since Thomas was born. Priorities have changed and situations dictate that time must be spent outside the office.

Even though I pared down I still didn’t have enough time for every important project I want to do.

I had remembered my wife coming to speak with me to arrange baby-sitting between our work schedules around what babysitting help we could get. We had to rely on the grandmothers, but one works and the other ferries my father to hemodialysis three times a week. And don’t even get me started about daycares in Quebec, that’s a 10,000 word post on its own, but Thomas is too young for daycare, anyway.

She laid the news on me. “What do you mean ‘cut a day’?”

She was telling me that we each had to cut a day from our work activities because we have no choice (she works for herself, too).

My mind was reeling. How the heck am I supposed to do this? Teaching at the University is a full-time job on its own and naturally I won’t compromise my efforts there. And I still had clients on retainer.

But with this, business development time had just dropped to zero.

So here I am in a rocking chair, enjoying the moment, but still wondering. Despite paring down to only the essentials, those are still hard to accomplish. I need LONG lead times for deliverables because everything is so unpredictable. I can’t bank on doing the work in the 48 hours prior because one bad night of teething or one late babysitter and BLAM – my work schedule gets toasted. It’s not like you can leave the guy alone in his crib.

How’d this happen? I fell into the most common entrepreneurial trap of all time.

I didn’t put the people in place to support the growth.

Lesson #3: “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” -John F. Kennedy

Whether it’s becoming a parent or any other life changing event that can creep up on you, you’ve got to have your duplication systems primed and ready. They have to be already in place for them to take over from you as soon as possible.

That’s why those initial days of a business – you know the ones I am talking about, when YOU are the business and you can’t afford help? – are the riskiest and most fragile. If something happens, you’ve got nothing to fall back on.

In my case, I stubbornly refused my own advice I give to every entrepreneur I counsel and didn’t have a network of assistants and virtual assistants ready to go. And when I needed them, they weren’t there.

My advice? Outsource and delegate even if it hurts. Anyone on the planet who is getting anyplace successful is doing it using leverage – cheap, specialized, hired labour in particular. If you aren’t doing the same you’re gonna be eating their dust soon.

5 Delivering

I am an “I”.

One of the personal assessment tools I use with my clients is the DISC. It classifies people into four behaviour and communication types.

  • D-types are direct, action-orientated and have little patience for fluff. If your car is on fire, they are directing the firemen.
  • I-types are people-oriented, empathetic social, outgoing and optimistic. They love parties. If your car is on fire, they bring marshmallows.
  • S-people are steady and stable. They are the rocks in your life. If your car is on fire, they are consoling you and making sure you are okay.
  • C-people are analytical, methodical thinkers who keep their sock drawers organized alphabetically. If your car is on fire, they are on their iPhone looking up Consumer Reports for your next car.

Hello. My name is Peter Vogopoulos. And I am an “I”.

Being an “I” can be great, but it’s often also a pain.

For instance, we need to feel liked and included all the time. Want to hurt us? Don’t invite us to your party. We’ll cry on our marshmallows.

It also horrible in other ways. Being so optimistic, we tend to underestimate how long things will take us, like deliverables and getting to places. Traffic will be great, you’ll see! That’s why “I”s have a tendency to be late for things.
Also, we are bad at saying No because we like pleasing people, so we’re often overloaded doing things we should have said “no” to.

Being an “I” is tough when you have a business partner, too. Stuff needs to get done reliably and on time if you are working with someone. It helps if you have a great partner. Danny took on the lion’s share of promoting Firepole Marketing and has done an awesome job.

His book, Engagement from Scratch!, was originally supposed to be a joint project – it was just too much for me. Writing and doing my share of promoting a book wasn’t going to be possible.

Regrets? Some. But you can’t look back and judge decisions you have made – as long as you made the best decisions you could with the information you had at that time.

Lesson #4: Don’t second guess your previous decisions; instead, make next ones accordingly.

6 The Present is a Gift

Take a moment to enjoy the present.

Like clockwork at 6:00AM a little voice rings out from the other room.

“Pa-pAaaaa?”

It’s my favourite part of the day.

“Hi, little honey! Did you sleep well?”

His little arms are outstretched and waiting. We always like wrapping out arms around Daddy’s neck in a hug and be walked around for a few minutes after we’ve just woken up

This won’t happen forever. Neither will the rocking chair. So I enjoy these moments while I can. Soon, he’ll be a disapproving teenager, rolling his eyes at me and wrecking my car.

I enjoy the moment. I learned how from a friend.

The last time I saw Steven, an MBA colleague of mine who I regrettably haven’t spoken to in a while, he taught me a valuable exercise. Steven is smart as heck and walks to the beat of his own drum. He’s into Tao and mediation. And all that jazz.

We were having coffee and I asked him to tell me more about that jazz.

Peter, we are all too busy existing and don’t live in the moment. Everyone is busy doing things to get to the next thing and don’t enjoy what they are doing in the present. And as a result, time feels fleeting.

Look at you for example. You are pouring sugar in your coffee and stirring it. You are doing it mechanically, like you’ve always done it, no doubt. But take a minute and let all your senses enjoy this trivial action. Watch as the granules drop into the liquid, see the ripples of the surface and stir it with intention, feeling the resistance of the liquid. Repeat the word “stirring” and focus on this moment.

Cheesy sounding, but I am always open to any personal development idea, so I did as instructed.

A funny thing happened. Time seemed to slow to crawl. I felt like I enjoyed my moment. My coffee was the best-tasting coffee ever.

Wow. So that’s what that’s all about.

And so this morning, I am having a coffee-stirring moment. I can feel Thomas breathing on my neck, I can hear his little heart beat and enjoy every little coo of pleasure.

It’s the Day I Had to Cut from Work and I’ve got a crapton of work to do. Correcting papers and writing copy for clients. It’ll keep. I’ve got lead time, but not much.

It’s the Day I Had to Cut from Work, but it’s not called that any more. It’s called Daddy-Son day and later we’re gonna get awesome vegetarian pizza and stroll in the mall to look for some little slippers for little feeties that are freezing on the cold tile at home. Robeez are awesome and the best thing for little feet, you should look them up.

My wife and I don’t work as much. We don’t bring home as much bacon. We made some sacrifices.

So you don’t hear much about Peter on Firepole Marketing. And I’m okay with that. But I thought I’d take a minute and say hello.

 7 The end – and thinking productively

The idea of having to pare down and get less done in more time has inspired a ton of thinking around productivity and efficiency for me. I started to wonder given all the productivity advice that exists, how much of it is really useful, meaning you can draw a direct line from that behaviour to success and how much of it just distraction. Assuming we can quantify everyone’s individual perception of what success actually is, I got to thinking that if we were to poll people and their productivity and success behaviours, we could find the ones that truly lead to more productivity.

Yeah, it’s probably been done. But we’re doing it anyway.

All throughout the month of March here on Firepole Marketing, it’s Productive Marketing Month. We are going to look at what makes us most successful and efficient as the people responsible for business development in our businesses. It will culminate in a survey with some awesome partners and some awesome prizes. Keep an eye out for the details.

Welcome to all.

-Peter

Peter Vogopoulos is the proud co-Founder of Firepole Marketing, and even prouder father of Baby Thomas. Special thanks to Merlin Mann for inspiring this post with his awesome essay. I clearly don't write like Merlin, but wish I did.

54 Comments

  1. Sarah Arrow says:

    Hey Peter, welcome back (not that you were really ever gone).

    As a working parent, it’s tough but we get through it. We juggle the schedule and we make the time for work and family. In fact our transport business is a lifestyle business that we grew around the needs of our family.

    Enjoyed reading your post :)

  2. Peter! Awesome stuff!

    I sent you a personal e-mail in response to your personal blog post, but I wanted to weigh in here, give you deep, deep respect for who you are and what you do at FPM and in life, and also increase the comment count :P

    Thank you so much for being an example for us all. You clearly take responsibility for your life, and that’s awesome.

  3. Nicky Moore says:

    I am feeling a little insane myself when I think of my reactions as I read any blogs associated with either of you now. Wait. I meant that as a compliment. Ha!
    I’m that fan who sits behind the veil of the computer screen and mentally pictures this friendship as two -sided when you don’t know me. (Still being positive…I’m getting there). Because in reality, you two are like my favorite celebrities: I am thinking as I read, “Oh, that Peter, what a great guy. I think it’s so cute how he described the birth of his baby,” and “Yeah, Danny. I know him, too. I know all about how he ran the marathon and got married. Yeah, we go way back.” But really, we don’t.
    Now here’s where I’m complimenting: in two short weeks, I already feel like we’re friends. I already feel like this is a relationship. I already cannot hardly sit still long enough to wait to take it to the next level. Once I I get my business out of my head and off of paper, I will. But I hate going so slow with this relationship! (I won’t “get naked” in front of everyone, so more on that later :) )

    That is “Marketing That Works” in my opinion.

    Bye friends!

    • Hi friend!
      I find this element of putting myself “out there” simultaneously fun and weird. If it’s not evident, I am a very private person for most topics except when it comes to where I am in life because I believe that the best thing I can do for someone is share my own challenges and mistakes.
      So it’s really neat (and weird) to hear about people who I don’t “know” (but know) to enjoy reading my humble experiences, but also to get to know me in this cool (but weird) way.

      I’m glad to know you better, Nicky!

  4. Cassie Witt says:

    Hey, great article! It made me cry and smile in places.

    I, too, am a work at home parent, and a recent one at that. It hasn’t even been too months since I was laid-off and decided to take the plunge into full-time freelance instead of looking for a job, but I am getting a routine down. Some days are still a struggle and incredibly unproductive, but you can’t have everything.

    And, yes, the time I get to spend with my son at home is much more important than making all that money. I hope to change the money, thing, of course. But, for now, I’m enjoying seeing my son open the door every day after school and give me a hug.

    • Isn’t that awesome, Cassie?

      I sincerely wish you all the success in the world with your freelance business. Please work hard to learn the marketing that will help you enjoy that success — for the sake of your son. Seek out help (send us mail, we read it all) when needed and learn, test, adapt. You can do, many people have and they are not better or smarter than you. Take action, be focused and don’t try to do it alone.

      Best to you, Cassie. I will be looking for your news.
      Peter

      • Cassie Witt says:

        Thanks Peter! My freelance business is actually Social Media, so no worries there! The part that’s the hardest right now is juggling client work, home, and finding new work. I was looking into guest blogging here. I’ll send you my idea soon. Hopefully, it will be a good fit for your blog. :)

        Thanks for the advice about not doing it alone, too. I have learned that pretty quickly. In fact, a lot of the business I have is from partnering with other companies to offer my services. The longer I do this the more I learn that (at least to get your foot in the door initially) it’s more about who you know than what you know.

  5. Wow Peter. Great stuff here. Thanks for opening up and sharing.

    My favorite part? You figured it out my friend. And while your boy is a baby. You cannot believe how many men I console who have just watched their baby walk out the door heading off to college.

    Oh, except their baby is no longer a baby. She’s 18.

    All the money in the world can never replace the precious moments with your wife and child. Never forget that my friend…. :-)

    Eric

    PS. Oh, one more thing: Your post is very similar to the one I ran on Forbes this week. Like minds? :-) http://onforb.es/xsXKvG

    • Hi Eric,

      Wow! Neat post on Forbes – congratulations and what a story.
      No, I hadn’t read it before writing mine. As Danny will attest, this post took me over a month to write. It was hard to do all three: open up, say something worthy of our readers’ time (I hope) and write it well. My inspiration for the story was Merlin Mann’s essay which you can read from the link at the bottom of the post.
      I clearly don’t write like Merlin, Freddy (aka Danny) or you, but I’m not afraid to keep trying until I do.

      As for figuring it out – yes, I count that as one of my life’s richest realizations. Thanks for validating it!

      Best,
      Peter

      • You got it my friend. We are just on the same page… :-)

        Oh, and I’ve spent over 12 years “taking it easier”. Why? 3 girls: age 15, 13 and 11.

        Would not trade that time for any amount of money…

        Thanks Peter… Eric

  6. Norbert N says:

    Hey Peter,
    having a 19 months old daughter, full time consulting practice, and a startup brewing, I can relate to what you are saying. For me, though the problem is slightly elsewhere. Here is the situation: I work for clients during the day and when finished, I start a “second shift” – the startup. And it is the time of switching from one to the another that poses the problem. I know I spend less time with my women than I would like and going to the second shift instead of home makes me feel guilty. It’s not that I have second thoughts, I am 100% sure I want to build the startup, but at the moment it is just not absolutely necessary that I do it – my consulting practice sustains us well enough. Have you experienced such feelings of “guilt” when switching from your lecturing day job to Firepole? How did you cope with it? I tried to move the second shift to after the baby falls asleep, but I couldn’t take it for too long – too tired in the mornings. So I tried to do some work over the weekends, but that’s just not enough and the progress is accordingly slow. What helped me though was Tim Ferris’ book The 4 Hour Workweek, especially the part about creating time (a.k.a. work elimination and “packaging” to do more by working less).
    Anyway, good luck to you and your family!

    • Hi Norbert,

      Boy, do I ever understand you. I teach, I have my own consulting practice, I do Firepole Marketing, and another project still under wraps. Each have their ebbs and flows. But when the flows happen at the same time, it can get very hectic and crazy.

      Firepole Marketing started about six months before my wife got pregnant with Thomas. As we’ve mentioned before on the blog, this crazy program of our took a year and a half to develop (yeah, I know). So Firepole was in progress before my boy was born.

      Here is is where guilt come in: When Thomas arrived, I had to change things if I wanted to live in alignment with what’s important to me. I couldn’t do some things anymore. Danny and I worked out an arrangement and with other opportunities I started saying no a lot more. But I do feel guilty every time because I feel I let colleagues down.

      I don’t do things perfectly, which as a business coach tends to shock my clients. I live by the principles I teach, sure, but hey, I’m human too. I fall off the wagon, make mistakes and have a coach of my own to give me the clarity I can’t get because I’m not a observer to my own life, I am living it (much like a player on the field can’t be an effective coach to themselves).

      If I could offer you my own perspective about your situation, I’d say that you have to mind the glass balls. I know that a startup has the potential to set you up for life, but it can also leave you with a lot of learning and experience (the positive side of “failing”). If we assume that your family is a glass ball worth protecting, then do this: Give your family a blank week calendar and ask them to fill in the time they want you to spend with them. Then, fill in your consulting hours (because it brings in the bacon), then put in the time you can devote to the startup. Not enough time? Optimize and outsource the heck out of your business (as you are doing) so that you can give more time to your startup. But try not to take away time from your family. It might me an retooling your relationship with this startup. That might be what’s needed. Because honeslty, let’s imaging for a (horrible) second that your family “glass ball” broke. I think that if you lost your family, you won’t give a hoot about your startup.

      If you are committed to your startup then get your family’s buy-in that you will be doing this for finite period of time. Set a deadline. After that deadline, you start devoting the time back to your family, regardless of where the startup is. This has the added benefit of lighting a fire under your butt to do only the most direct things towards success.

      I hope these ramblings made sense. Your comment stuck a chord with me. I hope what I offered up helps in some way.

      Good luck to you, Norbert.

      Peter

  7. Hi Eric,

    Wow! Neat post on Forbes – congratulations and what a story.
    No, I hadn’t read it before writing mine. As Danny will attest, this post took me over a month to write. It was hard to do all three: open up, say something worthy of our readers’ time (I hope) and write it well. My inspiration for the story was Merlin Mann’s essay which you can read from the link at the bottom of the post.
    I clearly don’t write like Merlin, Freddy (aka Danny) or you, but I’m not afraid to keep trying until I do.

    As for figuring it out – yes, I count that as one of my life’s richest realizations. Thanks for validating it!

    Best,
    Peter

  8. Fran Sorin says:

    Hey Peter…

    Reading your story, I smiled and thought to myself ‘yippee, Peter is making decisions that will have a profound effect on his family…and himself’. I’ve never heard a parent say ‘I wish I HAD NOT spent so much time with my kids when they were growing up’ …the usual refrain is ‘I wish I had spent more time with them’.

    My kids, now young adults, just came to my house for dinner. We were laughing, talking, and just having a great time. I don’t think this would be happening if I hadn’t developed a strong connection and spent time with them when they were kids. It’s the best of the best.

    Thanks for opening up and sharing. It’s good stuff. Fran

    • Good for you, Fran. That sounds like exactly what I’d love to have a couple of decades from now.
      I’m happy you shared that. I feel like that I won’t regret today’s choices.
      Best,
      Peter

  9. Bobbi Emel says:

    Peter, thank you so much for sharing your story. I echo one of the previous commenters: You figured it out at the right time. Little Thomas brought you the blessing of being in the moment and I hope someday you’ll remind him, too, of the lesson.

    Enjoy!

  10. Diane says:

    Wow, what a powerfully simple (or simply powerful) story. I, too, teared up while reading this. As a parent and a grandaughter who couldn’t visit her grandmother in her last days because doing so would be an admission of her impending death, this really hit home for me, and hard. I’ve known for a while that Danny is an amazing person. Now I see that his “silent” partner is, too. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, and for helping me to forgive myself and look toward a better future. Really, thank you.

    • Hi Diane,

      I am so sorry for your loss. It must have been very hard for you.
      I am really grateful that sharing my story helped you. It makes doing it worthwhile. Thanks for reading and sharing.

      Peter

  11. Jane says:

    Peter,

    Your words are just the same as my hubby’s words. Things that highly synchronizes our life with yours are the following:

    1. Our son was born May, 2010 (about the same time).
    2. He absolutely needs his Daddy in the night to console him, if we wakes up on a bad dream or couldn’t sleep. His Daddy takes him away from me (so that I can at least sleep) and on the other room I can hear singing and hopping, to make him sleep.
    3. In the morning when he wakes up, we can hear Papaaaa with wide arms and about 10-15 minutes of hugging tight around the neck with his Daddy :)
    4. My hubby always says “It won’t be long when he becomes a teen and starts seeing girls. You won’t be able to tell him what to eat and what to wear, you won’t be able to sleep next to him kissing his forehead and you won’t be able hug him whenever you want as you do now :)” – so don’t drop the glass ball.

    How true!

    I totally understand why you’re behind the scenes at FPM ;)

    Jane.

  12. Susan Connor says:

    Been there and done that. Children all left home. Have grand kids now. Kids left me the dog and cats [Thanks kids] with the intention that now I have to walk the dog and get away into real life.

    Yes I well remember the first [2nd, 3rd and 4th]. Parenting causes you to fit in more distractions between your focus times. Enjoy. Keep records [hard and soft copies and in duplicate]

    Now here’s the crux of my response… what is flagpole marketing?

    • Thanks, Susan. I can’t imagine four right now.
      Firepole, not Flagpole :-) That’s us. We are Firepole Marketing and if you’re a small business owner we want to help you with marketing that works.

  13. Robin says:

    Peter,

    Your post has obviously struck a chord with many and I am no exception. Six months ago, I was laid off. I took that as the proverbial kick in the pants I needed to start the PR business I’d been dreaming of for years. I was thrilled that I’d be working from home. My husband and I have a 5 year old who started kindergarten in the fall and this meant I could volunteer in his class and make sure he got on and off the bus safely.

    I also had visions that I would be a cross between the Wonder Women of Productivity and Macguyver, accomplishing far more between the hours of 9-3 than I ever had in my previous 40-hour life and with two candy bars, a piece of string and a rubberband able to whip up a Halloween costume, get dinner on the table, and clean the house. So, it was a little disheartening to have my husband come home, see the house a wreck and the laundry not done and ask “what did you do all day? The fact that I’d been pouring over research for my business plan, attending a networking event , or helping out in our son’s class didn’t have a good ROI if the money wasn’t coming in yet.

    I admire your ability to prioritize and juggle all those glass balls without dropping too many. I intend to learn to do the same. Thank you for sharing your insights!

    Robin

    • Robin,

      More power to you! Enjoy this silver lining of being laid off.

      When I stay home I don’t get 20% of the chores my wife does when she stays home with Thomas, so I’d never dream of saying a darn thing about “what’d you do all day” because I see how tough it is. Maybe you could switch roles with your husband for day and let him try it out. :-) Just sayin’.

      Best of luck with your PR business, Robin. Stay productive and focused. Let us know if we can help.

      Peter

  14. Robin says:

    Thanks, Peter…I am loving this way of life and realizing that while I have to do more to get anything, it is soooo worth it. I will definitely be in touch!

    Robin

  15. Really great post, Peter! And oh, how I can relate!

    My father passed away unexpectedly in November and now I’m a caretaker to my mom and dog while I’m also in the process of moving to Colorado to more formally launch my biz (various resort websites). I’ve only finished one segment of the copywriting course I took from Firepole (even though Danny’s class ended 2 weeks ago), but I just can’t feel guilty anymore. I’ll get to it in due time b/c I feel it’s important, but there are so many other tasks (and emails) that I’m just deleting off my to-do list.

    It’s a funny thing. When you step off the entrepreneurial treadmill to deal with life’s struggles for a few months, you realize how unnecessary all those “used-to-be-important” tasks are.

    • Hi Connie,

      I’m sorry to hear about your father, Connie and admire you for soldiering through these challenging times. I think the way you are approaching it is the ONLY way you can: do the work methodically, as best you can, and most of all — don’t feel guilty.

      One of my good friends, who is very observant, keeps reminding me: God’s delays are not God’s denials.

      Best to you,
      Peter

  16. Daniel Rose says:

    Some wonderful tips in this post. I’m really not sure where to begin my response! I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head, and I quite like the part about the present. I’ll be watching my next coffee very carefully…

    • Hi Daniel,

      It was freaky – and peaceful, at the same time.
      “Stirring, stirring, stirrrrrring…”
      He seems to always be in that state — I really should have coffee with him more often and learn even more about “that jazz”.

      Peter

  17. This is so true – “our desires shouldn’t come at the expense of other areas that are important in our lives”. Becoming a parent is an experience one can never describe in words. However, this phase of life can teach us so many crucial lessons.

    You’ve shared some of the most important tips in the article above, while keeping it engrossing and fun to read.

    Thanks for the effort, Peter.

  18. selena says:

    This is so.my.life! Today I had all the time in the world to work on my writing, but I watched “The Incredibles” with my 5 and 3.5 yr old boys. And now, I’m up late :)
    I miss the times in the rocking chair ;) so sweet to re-live it with your post.

    I feel like I spend so much time reading about how to become successful, but never having the time to actually implement what I have learned…mainly b/c there is SO MUCH INFORMATION out there.

    That begin said, I LOVE what you are proposing for March and can’t wait to see how LESS-IS-MORE in business :)

    Take care and enjoy your boy!
    Selena Moffitt

    • Hi Selena,

      Thanks so much for telling me that I’m not the only one whose life resembles this!
      I hope some of the stuff we’ll do in March will be good for all of us working parents.

      As for your other point about reading vs. implementing — I’ve got a doozy of a post in my drafts that’ll discuss exactly this. I’m getting on my soapbox because we all need a kick, methinks.

      Best,
      Peter

  19. Matt Tanguay says:

    Hey Peter!
    It’s great to hear from you – I figured that your newborn kept you busy! ; )

    I didn’t know the DISC personality types. I’m a D, that’s for sure!

    I think I would make some choices much differently if I knew I only had a few months to live – did you watch Randy Pausch’s last lecture? Very inspiring.

    In any case, thanks for the update!

    Cheers,

    Matt

  20. Peter — glad to see a post from Danny’s silent partner. Thanks for sharing your personal story. We all need to that more because people want to interact with real people on the web. Thomas is lucky to have such a caring dad!

  21. Rodney C. Davis says:

    Hi Peter. I’m new around here.. actually still reading “Engagement from Scratch,” but I’ve been keeping up with with most of the company’s other stuff.

    I totally get what you’re saying about being a new father. You’re going to be juggling for some time to come, but you already know its all worth it.. big time.

    I have only one thing to tell you. Get rid of the guilt. You aren’t letting anyone down. Anyone who thinks so either isn’t a responsible parent as yet, or have their priorities screwed up. Thomas deserves all of you.

    You’re right.. less is often more. See, once you’re taking care of first things first, you get a lot sharper and a lot more efficient at what you take care of next. You differentiate between what’s truly important in life, and what’s just urgent. They’re frequently not the same.

    Let’s hear more from you. But don’t wait ’til you have to give us as much as you did in this post. Truth be told snippets would go further with folks like me. My last blog post for February touches on that part of parenting.

  22. Timo Kiander says:

    Peter,

    I can totally relate to this!

    Me and my wife had a son on November 2011 and our lives changed :)

    I think that having a baby is the best productivity lesson you can have: You really need to prioritize your work, simplify and get rid of all the unessential tasks so that you can focus on things that really matter.

    Cheers,
    Timo

  23. Hi Peter,

    This is the best post ever. And it SO explains what I’ve been thinking and feeling this year. After 10 years of trying to get pregnant, I had my son last January (after 90 hours of labor). You bet THAT put life in perspective.

    I completely relate to your article and paring down to the main essentials, as well as how to slow time to a crawl by being fully present in every moment.

    I quit my 40-hour-work-week job and pared down.

    And finally I am relaunching my blog, writing while my 7-month-old son naps. Which gives me a few hours/day. And I must write FAST.

    Speaking of which, he just woke up. And he’s ADORABLE.

  24. [...] surfing, I found: Staying Sane as a Parent and Business Owner. Hmmm, anyone who’s figured this one out is a genius in my [...]

  25. [...] a child, your priorities change, and that was definitely the case for Peter (read this post for a very powerful account of everything that was happening for Peter). We tried to adjust schedules, and we tried to bring him back into Firepole Marketing after having [...]

  26. […] my recent post Staying Sane as a New Parent and Business Owner, I shared how my life changed after becoming a father and how it impacted my […]

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