I choose to live the life of an entrepreneur and all that comes with it, including my responsibilities as a dad with a young family, along with leading a fast-growing business.
But like many other life choices, it’s often a tough one to get right.
My personal core purpose, why I believe I exist, is to inspire myself and others by doing things that barely seem possible. This may be a draft of what I’m about, but it’s been in action for quite a few years already.
By continually learning, growing and doing, I believe I can contribute to the world by becoming the best version of myself.
I further believe I can contribute to the world in a meaningful way by leading and helping to grow our national healthcare business, The Physio Co (TPC).
The Physio Co exists to help older people stay mobile, safe, and happy. We do this by providing on-site allied health services for older people.
I've been building The Physio Co for 14 years. From a standing start of one person (me!) in 2004, we’re now close to 150 team members who deliver close to 300,000 health consultations a year across five states of Australia.
The past 14 years has been a heck of a journey, both professionally and personally, and when it comes to running a business, those two worlds are inextricably linked.
I've progressed from being a carefree single bloke in my early 20s, to firstly meeting someone who became my girlfriend, then my fiancée, then my wife, and then the mother of our children.
During that same period, the household I live in has gone from a small flat/home office accommodating one purpose-driven entrepreneur with big dreams, all the way to a bigger house that is home to a growing family of five, 180 kilometres from The Physio Co’s main office in South Melbourne.
Seven years ago, we made the decision to move our family out of Melbourne to country Victoria; this is our preferred way to enjoy life and raise our children.
So you could say life has become a little more complex over the journey. This is a situation I’d say most entrepreneurs, people, find themselves in at one point or another.
Along with being the best business person and leader I can be – someone who strives to do something useful in the world – I also have this burning desire to be the best husband I can be, be the best father I can be, and the best person I can be.
But there are compromises that come with making that happen.
For example, I’m away from my wife and kids for at least a couple days every week. That’s tough.
So, we’ve had to find a way to make it work the best we can.
To that end, together we have developed what I like to call our ‘rhythm of connection’.
We have a rhythm as to which days I’ll be home, and which days I'll be away. We stick to that rhythm as much as possible, but it can – and does – change.
As a result, I miss things. Sometimes I miss birthdays. Sometimes I miss anniversaries. Sometimes I miss school and sports events.
I don’t think I've been home for my own birthday for about five years. I’ve certainly been in Melbourne a few years for my birthday. Two years ago, I was in China. The year before that, I was in Sydney. That’s just mine, let alone my wife’s, my children’s birthdays, and lots of other events.
But I certainly don’t miss all of them. And one thing we have created as a family is a rhythm that I will absolutely be connected with my family, wherever we all are.
Rhythm of connection
When I’m not at home, our rhythm of connection ensures I have a twice-daily FaceTime call with my kids. We speak at 6.45am and again at 6.45pm every day, and it seems to work really well.
On those calls my four-year-old daughter, Harriet, always asks: “Where are you, Dad?”, and that sparks conversation and an opportunity to ‘show her around’ via video call.
My eldest daughter, Alex, is always interested in what I’ve been doing that day. And, of course, I love hearing about what she’s done at school that day: maths, reading, sport, all of those things.
And little Roman, who’s two, just loves to grab the phone, dash around the house with it clasped in his tiny hand, telling anyone nearby that “Dad's here”. He does the same thing when it’s time to say goodbye. He runs around, making sure everyone says goodbye to me, which is part of the daily ritual, and I love it!
Life is full of compromises.
I’m 100 per cent committed to my family.
I’m also committed to my friends and my community.
I’m also committed to my business, in my case, The Physio Co.
I’m fully committed to doing the best I can in my job and my career.
It takes effort to make all that work. For me, a big chunk of time is taken up travelling, whether it’s to The Physio Co office in Melbourne or to other TPC locations around the country. I’m also a keynote speaker. I do something like 50 to 100 presentations a year locally, interstate and sometimes overseas.
All these activities are part of the rhythm of what I do as an entrepreneur, leader, husband, father … human being.
Rituals and rhythms
If years of learning, growing and moving around have taught me one thing, it’s the importance of rituals and rhythms to stay connected with family and team members at work.
The twice-daily FaceTime ritual is one of ours. Another is that during school holidays, we spend time together as a family in Melbourne.
When we’re all in Melbourne, I’ll go to work at The Physio Co while the rest of the family explores the city. For at least part of the time, my bigger kids will come to work with me. They come to the office, they get involved, attend meetings, listen to what’s going on and gain a better understanding of what I get up to when I’m not at home.
From time to time, my kids also watch videos and listen to podcasts of presentations I’ve given, which gives them another perspective of what Dad does. Last week I created a podcast episode specifically for Alex’s grade 2 class at school.
Another rhythm we’ve created is that we make sure our family gets involved with TPC events as much as possible.
Working from home
On the flip side, when I’m working from home, usually 1-3 days per week, I’m involved in all the other jobs and rituals, such as dropping kids off at school and kindergarten. I’m coach of my daughter’s under-10 basketball team; I’m involved in our kids’ swimming lessons, putting the bins out, reading books, making slime, changing nappies. You know the drill.
Lastly, and the most important part of my rhythm, the most valuable person in my life is my wife, Kimberley.
Kim and I are husband and wife, friends and team-mates. We work together as ‘Team Parent’ for our kids. We also make time to connect, to reconnect, to align ourselves, have fun and enjoy life.
This big life that we choose is super-exciting, super-exhausting, super-energising, and super-complex. But it’s made simpler by rituals and rhythms of connection.
Author and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk talks a lot about the need to “over-communicate” with family and friends when there’s a lot of complexity and commitment to blend. I’m not so good at this just yet, but I understand what he’s saying:
Over-communicate, over-communicate, over-communicate so everyone knows where you are, what’s happening, what needs to be done, and how it gets done.
This is my experience with creating a rhythm of connection that works for us. What’s yours?
I’d love to hear how you firstly survive, and then move forward to thrive. What are your rhythms and rituals when it comes to family, lifestyle and business?