Lessons Learned from Fatherhood

(Source: HuffPost.com, Author: Andrew McConnell)A good friend, father and fellow CEO recently suggested that for one of my startups and parenting pieces, I write about the commonalities between potty training a toddler and building a business. I thought it was a great idea, and told him I would work on it.

Then, nothing. The more I thought about it, the harder it seemed to draw parallels between my experiences on those two fronts. And then, inevitably around 3 a.m. one Saturday morning — when I found myself unable to fall back asleep because I was thinking about my company — I realized why I was having trouble.

You see, I had not had that much trouble potty training my daughter. She is now 18-months old, and she has been potty trained for months by this stage. It felt easy, whereas much else in parenting and building a company is anything but. I wondered what made this different. Why was this a part of parenting that tended to be difficult and painful, and yet for me it was just a blip? The more I thought about it, the more I realized there are amazing parallels between why potty training was easy for us, and why certain parts of building my company have been so much easier than others. In the end, it came down to three things:


Let’s start with the most crucial component of all: people. As my daughter turned one, I had zero expectation of beginning to potty train her. It wasn’t even something I thought about. But someone much closer to the day-to-day operations, our nanny Rosaline, told us it was time. My wife and I thought it was a great idea.

Likewise, very few of the original ideas coming out of Rented.com come from me at this stage. I am so busy working on the business, that in many instances I am removed from working in the business. As such, I don’t see the nitty gritty that many of my employees see. As they interact with customers, with the product, with the changing dynamics of the short-term rental industry, they come to me with their problems and their suggestions for how to address them.

My job as the CEO is to give them the opportunity to identify these problems and proposed solutions, as well as the owner mindset it takes for them to proactively want to do something about them. Having the right people in place has made potty training and launching new product lines far easier than it really should be.


But people are just one component of what it takes to make change or build and then implement something new. There also needs to be a process behind how to make that change. This is where process is critical. Sometimes the process may seem obvious; other times it is less so. In many instances we find ourselves working through an issue that many parents or companies have addressed successfully and unsuccessfully before, and we do everything we can to learn from them.

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