An entrepreneur shares his story.
The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “What important lesson can transform every entrepreneur’s business for the better?” is written by Rami Essaid, co-founder and CEO of Distil Networks.
When I got married in September, I knew I was starting a new life with the woman of my dreams. But I didn’t know it would also make me a better CEO.
But it turns out that my relationship with Sara is teaching me about more than true love or remembering to put the toilet seat down; it’s changed me as a businessperson.
Before I go on, you need to know some things about me: I’m one of the most impatient people around. I’m ambitious, driven, and analytical—and not always easy to be around.
I’m so restless by nature that I quit college to start my first business. I spent most of my twenties and early thirties—I’m now 33—as a workaholic. My mind was on work pretty much 24/7, which was just fine with me.
Then I met Sara. Perhaps the most emotionally generous person I’ve ever known, she is everything I’m not: patient, mild-tempered—a “stop and smell the roses” type—and she’s opened my eyes to a different mindset in leading a business.
She’s shown me how important it is to be more of an active listener and consider others’ points of view more carefully than was my habit in the past.
I’ve also found a healthier work-life balance. My stressful, always-on mentality is gone, replaced by clear boundaries between the office and home. Sara and I have an agreement that when I’m home at the end of the day, I’m truly home—no emails or late conference calls. And, barring unavoidable travel or work-related emergencies, weekends are exclusively our time. By disconnecting more, I feel I’m not only a better husband, but a better CEO because I avoid burnout and come back to work more rested and energized.
I also manage my time better. Before we left for our honeymoon in Hawaii, I took a hard look at all of the recurring meetings on my calendar, and discovered that a third really weren’t worth my time. Deleting them has helped me become more efficient at work, which is good for the company and also my work-life balance.
Last but not least, Sara has been amazingly accommodating when I need an objective set of ears on some work-related challenge. Our leave-work-at-the-office policy doesn’t preclude her occasional role as a sounding board, and I value that greatly. She knows me so well and always has excellent insights and advice.
I encourage other entrepreneurs to look at love and relationships not as obstacles to success, but instead as enrichment to their everyday life that will enable success and happiness.