Nov. 14, 2020

#49 Don Britton sold his company to become a better Dad

#49 Don Britton sold his company to become a better Dad

“The best advice I can give myself as a dad is finding as many different reference points to emulate becoming a better dad.” Don Britton on DADicated.com

https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/dadicated-com-empowering-dads/id1483761456?l=en#episodeGuid=e3bb5230-b5ec-496e-adfb-902698294c13

Don Britton (2 daughters, 1 & 5) is an amazing entrepreneur with a wealth of life experience who recently sold his company in a quest to spend more time with his family.

Don grew up without his dad. He shares about his mother’s sacrifices and why (pre-kids) family seemed to be a competitive disadvantage. We discuss entrepreneur-dad challenges, family-positive workplaces, family values and mentorship for dads.


“The best advice I can give myself as a dad is finding as many different reference points to emulate becoming a better dad.” Don Britton on DADicated.com

Don Britton (2 daughters, 1 & 5) is an amazing entrepreneur with a wealth of life experience who recently sold his company in a quest to spend more time with his family.

Don grew up without his dad. He shares about his mother’s sacrifices and why (pre-kids) family seemed to be a competitive disadvantage. We discuss entrepreneur-dad challenges, family-positive workplaces, family values and mentorship for dads.

The most powerful takeaways for me as a dad were:

  1. Have frank conversations with your kids about difficult topics.
  2. Never leave a question unanswered.
  3. Teach your children the value of work and that things in life don’t come for free.

Don is an adventurous guy with a wealth of life experience, I do hope you’ll enjoy the session! If you do, hit subscribe and share the podcast with another dad or to. Thanks for listening!

Don Britton (guest):

Books:

Links:

Philipp Hartmann (host):

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Transcript

Don Britton:

“The best advice I can give myself as a dad is finding as many different reference points to emulate becoming a better dad.” Don Britton on DADicated.com

PH

Don just travelled to 50 states. 2 daughters, 4.5 (Bella) and 1 year old (Guiliana). He recently sold his company. Sold it on the quest of wanting to become a better dad and spend more time with the kids. 

 

DB

Started a cloud computing company right out of college in 1996. Cloud and hosted type services are the norm now. I have a background in accounting and operational systems. Sold in 2018 after running it for 22 years. I am now focussed on being a dad. Big part of why I ended up selling was my desire to be a better dad. I grew up without my dad in my life. With running a business, it was hard to stay focussed and balanced running a high stress business and being a dad – both require you 24/7. It began being at odds with itself and impacted how I ran the business. I became a lot more risk adverse when I had kids and with the business I felt I needed to be willing to take risks to grow it. I wasn’t as a good as a leader in the business that I needed to be and wasn’t as good a dad as I needed to be. I also lost my mom in the process of all of this. A whole swirl of things came together at once that made it apparent that I needed to make changes in my life if I wanted to have the success that I felt was success in my life. 

6:41 – I just turned 50. This was behind our trip – 50 states for turning 50. My biggest pet peeve is when people ask me if they are my grandkids. My dad went out of the picture – my parents got divorced when I was 4. I never got to know him or see him. The actions of my dad have had an impact in my life and how I look at things. I didn’t know he was an alcoholic. I only found out when I was in my 20s. It obviously impacted me as a kid – I have never had alcohol. I never wanted to bother with alcohol. As I have gotten older I have heard more stories of what happened. With him leaving when I was 4 I blamed myself to a large degree and for my mom, she was the one that was there for me to blame and take it out on. Even now, hanging out with my 4 year old on my trip, I cannot imagine not spending time with her and it made me think how bad could I have been to make my dad not want to be around. 

My mom and I moved overseas when I was 9 so she could afford to keep me. My mom took a job with the US government which sent us overseas and covered our expenses. I had spent summers with my grandparents so she could work other jobs. I got access to a lot of cultural and diversity experience. I understand what she did for me and what she gave up for me so that she could be the best mom.

After I graduated high school we moved back to the US and I went to Northern Virginia Community college. It was what we could afford. I worked at a grocery store stocking shelves. It paid for college. I then switched to George Mason University and got a degree in accounting. I always wanted to start my own business, but banks wouldn’t give me loans. Accounting was a great background for how to run a business. 

Crabtree Accounting Book 

Simple Numbers

Alan Melts? – Accounting Book talks about cashflow – changing 1% of your cashflow

Power of 1

Cashflowstory.com

Started 1 year after school. Last year of school I did an internship with a gentleman named Mario Marino at a company called Legent. It opened my eyes that I could open my own business in a bigger way. I started a cloud computing company – it took 4 years to get a prototype up and a paying client. That is how I became an entrepreneur. I constantly watched Mario and how he did things from a busines perspective and family perspective. His community mindset and philanthropic mindset and father mindset is what I wanted to emulate.

Book – father is the king, mentor teaches how to be king.

Influence – rubbing shoulders with people, even by chance, makes a big difference. What do you aspire to be? Question I always asks people in interviews. It is a lack of exposure which makes them set their bar really low. This made me set the bar really high for my team. They can do more than they realise. 

Networks. 

PH

Family – you had a very family positive business. Can you speak on that? Your view on your daughters and how you going to expose them to powerful networks? 

DB

In my company I was always focused on the individuals as a whole. If they were worried about things at home, they weren’t going to worry about things at work. I always covered health insurance. If they had families, they would need to pay 10%. Health insurance is so important. I had a climbing accident when I was in my 20s and if I hadn’t had health insurance from the grocery store where I worked at I would still be paying off debt. We also included families when we did things. We sent out thanksgiving dinners for employees’ families. When we did ski-trips it was always bring your spouse. Dinners, events, always included families. Hardest point of trying to be family friendly, in the IT space you don’t find a lot of women. First one, had a kid, and we didn’t have a maternity policy because we had never needed one. But it opened my eyes and I had her create it. I didn’t know what she needed so I asked her. That became our policy going forward. But became eye opening that we also needed a paternity policy. We tried to build procedures and policies as effectively as possible. 

We started using Gizelles and had a Gizelles coach that helped us. I like structure and communications systems that help people communicate. I tried implementing on my own at first and that didn’t go well so a coach helped. I was trying to facilitate, lead, and document the meetings whereas a coach helped me to just participate. 

PH

Daughters – do you expose them intentionally to the right networks, schools, etc?

DB

Bella was going to EO meetings with me when she was a baby. I also take my wife. EO is supposed to be focusing on 360. I like Bella seeing the business. We hang out with a lot of EO families. She gets exposed to those kids, hears me in meetings. I expose her through hearing me. Where we live, it is hard to expose her to different cultures, we live in a well-off DC area. Exposing to different cultures is important. It gives an understanding of how people look at things differently to you. How you are raised. I do purposefully put her in places where she is exposed to kids from different countries. She goes to an outdoor education preschool. It is outdoors and the kids are a huge mix of different nationalities. This is hugely beneficial for my daughter. 

During our 50 states road trip in our van – one of the early stops was Birmingham Alabama. Where the freedom writers went to and there is a bus station there where they got attacked. An area where Rosa Parks helped trigger the civil rights movement. I took Bella to the bus stop and had a frank conversation with her and she got to see pictures that might be harsh but has drawn conversations with her that have been hugely beneficial. Then Black Lives Matter came up. It was a great year to be shut off in a van. But a lot of reality was coming up and we exposed her to the conversations. She will bring things up randomly and ask. Then we talk to her about it. She asks questions that show she is sort of getting it. Never leave a single question unanswered. We had a lot of quality time together. 

There is a podcast called Rebel Girls. My wife got hooked on this podcast. It takes stories about influential women and brings it to a level that a 4-year-old really enjoys. And then we would have conversations about it with her. 

I want to try and do a blended thing of stay at home dad and work. I only sleep 4 – 6 hours a night. I don’t want my kids to think that you can accumulate nice things and not have to work for it. I want to have them see me work so that they realise if they want certain things, they need to work for it. It doesn’t get handed to you for free. I just need to figure out how to balance a blended approach. A lot of the risk for me has come off the table since selling my business. I looked at a family as a competitive disadvantage in business. I started looking at selling network alliance. Now I have financial flexibility that protects the family from decisions I make today so I can go back to being a bit risky. 

PH

Work is super structured as a family man now. Prioritise better. Warren Rusten. What are you doing with all of those seconds? 

DB

I am anal about tracking time. It was not about time, it is about the risk of running a business and the impacts that could happen when making decisions. My business was stressful, I was one hack away from going down. I grew up a lot without resources so I want them for my kids but I have to now do things to make sure I don’t lose those things. 

PH

View on inheritance? 

DB

I’m not looking to create a bunch of trustafarians. I don’t want them to suffer and I want them to have access to resources but I’m not going to pay for them to sit by a pool drinking cocktails for the rest of their lives. Shack makes it clear that he has a beach house and that his kids don’t own those things. Even with Bella, I make her realise that I have these things, not her. I started working with Warren because I wanted to be a better dad. For me, finding people to emulate or tips and tricks from others is key. Even if you had a good dad, you should find others to learn from to do things better. Talk about why kids are behaving badly, and if you don’t blame the kids, you blame the parents, but if you look at the parents, they are doing the best thing they can. Especially when in a low-income family. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs you need to put a roof over their head and food in their tummy’s.