Text 16 Jan Leaving my startup to support Nora’s startup

Saturday I fly to the most remote place on the planet and drive on the worst roads, all in the name of clean drinking water for all, and showing my wife that I got her back.


(Villagers digging 3 ft trenches to lay the pipe to run the water from the mountains to the tap, if you’ve ever donated to water for waslala, your $$ goes to the hardware and tools you see here, not labor).

Not only do I love the challenge of being the best manager, friend, CEO, etc, I often ask myself, am I being the best husband, am I doing what I can to make sure Nora and I spend quality time together, and that this business doesn’t consume our lives.

Do I get consumed by work, then come home and sleep, only to wake up again the next day and do it all over again? Its harder than ever, and I think that is why I smiled when Nora and I compared frequent flier miles to see how we fared this year, she was at about 51k, and I was at 68k…as I looked at those numbers side by side, I smiled a bit.  It was my reminder and my proof that although this company takes me all over the world that I keep Nora as a priority and try to move dates around to ensure we get to spend time together as often as humanly possible.

Luckily Nora is getting her PhD in Urban Education at Temple University and that her dissertation work allows her to do some work from anywhere, but she also has made sacrifices (yes traveling the world to Nora in many ways is bittersweet, its a sacrifice too) like not teaching this past year so she and I could be together more, but that is for another day…something many people don’t know is that my wife has a startup as well, its been around a little longer than SEER, as she started it while still in college. 

Nora and I never lose track of the fact that we are wickedly lucky, we travel like crazy and have seen so much of the world in the last 2.5 years (I filled a passport in that time) so it came as a shock to me one day in a London hotel, as Nora and I hopped from flight to flight and train to train she turned to me and said… “I don’t want my life to be following you around the world.”  - If you know me, you know I react quick, but this time I listened.  She went on to explain that if we don’t take time while we are traveling to enjoy where we are, that she might as well stay home.

That kinda hit me like a ton of bricks because, she was right.  She had her own startup, and her desires to change the world (at least for people in rural Nicaragua who need clean water and for kids in urban settings to get closer to equal education). That is a BIG part of why I married her, she had real strong desire to have an impact on this world. I put myself in her shoes…I totally got it, and not only did I get it, it made sense, so from that moment forward I have always made sure that when Nora and I travel we always add a day or two so we can just “kick it”, visit one of her friends in that country / city. 
So when I get a chance to fully support her startup, I do.  Supporting Nora’s startup and being there (Waslala Nicaragua) is the POLAR opposite of her supporting mine.  Let me tell you about my first (and I thought last) trip to Waslala Nicaragua, it SUCKED.  Our Limo picked us up in Managua, this limo had 3-4 other people in it and was uncovered, oh its called a pickup truck. 
View from the “limo” & below was one of the “passengers” :)image
So we settled in figured who was going to sit where, and off we went….8 hours straight in the back of the truck, over unpaved roads, I had bruising all over my back, I was covered in dirt, and the road was so bumpy (for 6 of the 8 hours) that I couldn’t hold a book, or an iPad in front of me long enough to read anything, I was defeated, and just listened to rage against the machine and gangsta rap for as long as I could, and told no one to talk to me.
Take a look at the road - 8 hours of that was brutal!
Once we got there, Nora was a sight for sore eyes, people throughout the town wanted to catch up. See her “Rand”, “Will”, “Tom” and “Richard” live in waslala and while Nora knows those dudes from our time traveling, I never met those people for her.
We arrived and showered, I can’t speak Spanish that well, so I couldn’t communicate well either.   Over the week I was there I met people who Nora’s startup impacted, and while they couldn’t tell me in words, you could see the sincerity in the people, her “startup” was helping them live better healthier lives. 
Nora went back for a month recently to complete her research and just couldn’t get it all done, so she asked me if I could go back once again, and given all that was going on in the company (2 new offices, tons of hiring, tons of awesome projects, working on corporate governance, relocations, HR, Re-orgs, etc) I said, I don’t think so…I’m stressed out just thinking about it.  It was going to be super tough.  
I knew she was disappointed, but to be potentially disconnected at this time (there is often no internet, no electricity and no hot water) would have been way tough. Then I thought, how much it means to her, and how it gives me a chance to support her startup, and I changed my mind, this was a chance for me to put aside my startup for 1 week, for hers.  1 week out of 51 where my startup takes so much of our time is a small investment to make to show her I cared.
After Waslala, its going to be more travel, and then more travel for my work. Who knows what the future holds, because Nora dialed back teaching last year so we could spend time together this year, but now she knows that she misses being a professor, so that’s going to eat into her flexibility with my travel schedule.  That’ll be the next challenge, but I think we’re up to figuring out that delicate balance.  For now I gotta pack my backpack, some of the crappiest clothes I own, malaria meds, every charger I can get may hands on, water bottles, anti mosquito spray, well you get it…we ain’t staying at “The W” lets put it that way.
Waslala here we come!!!!

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