Email isn’t the only thing being delivered around here. For the past several years I have noticed that there are a ton of SendGrid babies being born. One year there were so many that we had onesies made.
This is a very special year for the founders of SendGrid, in that all three of our families either have, or will shortly have, a new addition. In an earlier post, Lauren talked about our improved family leave policy, and as I return back to work after the birth of our son, I want to add some of my thoughts and experiences, both from a family perspective and also as a founder.
Time for time off
As Lauren mentioned, this year SendGrid’s family leave policy was changed to five weeks. But that is not the only time off available to employees. Because I’ve been employed here for a few years now, I also receive four weeks of vacation. I also get one week per year of use it or lose it personal days. My parental leave happened to span my anniversary here, when that week reset, so I got to use two weeks for that.
All combined, I had 11 weeks of paid leave available, and due to SendGrid’s policy of allowing employees to go negative on the vacation balance, I took 12 weeks off, almost an entire quarter, paid leave, to be with my wife, our 2 year old daughter, and our new son. This is no special privilege I got as a founder, just using SendGrid’s standard benefits for an employee with enough tenure. My wife, who teaches high school, already had the summer off, and this allowed me to spend the entire time from between a week before our son was born, and my wife went back to work, with my family.
When our daughter was born, I only took 2 weeks off initially, saving my time off for after my wife went back to work so I could fill the gap between that time and her summer break. That was extremely hard on all of us. I’ve learned there is no harder job than being Mom, and it’s even harder when there is no one there to help, especially early on. Having the ability to take so much time off really helped to get our family into a good rhythm with the new addition, versus making my wife have to figure it out the hard way with no help.
Nothing but time
What did I do with all this time off? The short version is I spent a great deal of it helping my wife get sleep and baby free time, two things that were in short supply. I also spent a lot of time with our daughter, helping to make sure she wasn’t being left out because of all the attention given to the new guy.
It certainly wasn’t a relaxing time, but it is going to be one of the more memorable times in my life. Both memorable for the time I spent with my family, and for the opportunity to be able to do it in the first place. Something I’ve come to realize is pretty much everyone in management here has family and knows how valuable family is, and it really shows in how we are all treated when our families need us.
Going off the ‘Grid
The first thing a lot of people asked me when I got back was how much email I had to sort through after almost three months. My answer was zero. Not because I had already done it while I was out, but because when it was time for time off, I truly took it off. Turned off email and chat on my phone, turned my laptop off and left it in the bag, and turned on my email auto responder with a message that basically said “I will not read whatever you sent, call me if you know the number and need me.” Pretty much nothing that could be happening at work could be as important to me as my family, unless something was *extremely* wrong and no one else could handle it.
The only time I turned on my computer was to add our son to the insurance policy. The only time I sent email from my phone was to send pictures to my co-workers (well, okay, and to respond to a friend of mine who reached out at the same time). Otherwise I was not checking email. Alright, I admit, I did check around when I knew the financial results would come out for the month, but what proud founder wouldn’t want to see those when they show our progress toward becoming profitable in the second half of the year? I’ve worked for a lot of startups, none of which could come close to profitable, and I cannot describe how excited I am to see SendGrid achieving it.
Many people may not realize how hard it was to do this for a founder. SendGrid is my first baby, and even though it is all grown up now it’s tough to let it run on its own. Maybe part of that is admitting the fact that it can run on its own without me. While SendGrid still wants me, it does not need me. I know when my children reach that point it will mean I’ve been successful as a parent, and it is a great feeling as a founder.