Asyou may know, about two and a half years ago I founded a new start-up company with my son. It has to be said that I am approaching 60 and my son is approaching 30, but why not?
You read a lot about passing the baton in companies, the initiation of a generational change. Our story is different: it started with father and son sitting around the table exploring innovative ideas, sketching them out, talking to others and eventually asking, “Why not?”
So I resigned and off we went. The ideas were and are a bit wild, but friends and acquaintances encouraged us to continue. In the end, we came up with eight business ideas that we will gradually bring to life.
This is where the exciting father-son dynamic comes up. Equality is always easy to say, but to live this virtue is thrilling and marked by ups and downs, especially in the start-up phase. On the one hand, there are conflicts regarding new ideas: how should things be, why this way and not another? Thinking big is always an issue. Respecting the strength and energy of youth and at the same time listening at all levels also prove for fascinating dynamics. Listening, fighting for the cause without crossing the red line in terms of respect was a challenge, especially at the beginning.
Then there is the daily interaction in the team. Is my son also “the boss’s son” to the team? Am I even the boss? Not at all! How do we separate professional and private matters? There are many, many such small points that have sometimes led to both sides having to take a day off.
But all this bears fruit over time. We have managed to build something together with many others on an equal footing. It is a constant give and take, the giving of knowledge and relevant network contacts and also the taking of different, sometimes wild new ways of working. All this together and one and one may well make three.
Creating a shared vision with your children and experiencing it with them is a priceless feeling – for me, and I think for my son too, calling each other at least 20 times a day to turn that vision into something real is an indescribable experience.
I used to show my son how to build a sandcastle with hands and shovels – now we build those castles in reality. And I have to say, I get a little younger every day and I always look forward to the next sandbox.