Just my business had its best quarter ever. As founder and CEO, I can proudly say that I was not there for most of it.
However, I had a good excuse: I was on parental leave to raise my first child. Since I started this business, I hadn’t taken more than a week off, which included getting married to my very patient husband. When I tried to schedule a sales presentation the same day we had our civil ceremony at City Hall in San Francisco, he rolled his eyes.
Needless to say, I was afraid to take time off. Baking that little muffin was no easy task, and I wasn’t sure how I’d react if she were on Earth. But I wanted some time off and the chance to get to know her and myself in this new role.
I reached out to some of my investors and asked them to put me in touch with CEOs who had taken parental leave and was introduced to several male CEOs who sheepishly told me they only needed a week or two.
I finally got a lead on a CEO who had taken some time off, but to no one’s surprise, she was too busy to talk to me. Reasonable! I did receive good advice about taking leave while running a company. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
We were new to this level of planning, but this was an excellent opportunity to mature our process and give everyone a sense of purpose and direction in my absence.
Tell people that you will be taking more time off than you intend to
You’ll want to tell people that you’re emailing and taking phone calls from your hospital room while you’re breastfeeding. “You really won’t be able to step away,” many people told me.
My wise friend and investor from Mindset Ventures, Jules Miller, advised: “Tell everyone it’s 12 weeks, and if you want to come back sooner, fine. But you never know what this experience has in store for you.”
She was right. When my daughter was 28 days old, our house flooded. We had to pack everything and move three times in three weeks. Since I hadn’t fully recovered yet, I threw my back out from the move and couldn’t even hold my baby. I was grateful to Jules for her wise advice and the flexibility to really check out and get my life back on track.