An Entrepreneurial Reminder
On 16 April, 2014, my father—an entrepreneur—suffered from both a stroke and a heart attack at the age of 67. When I found him on his condo floor, he was nearly motionless. Today, he lives with a full-time caregiver who helps him dress, bathe and eat. He can’t walk or work without assistance. The business he founded 20 years ago, the company I watched him build, remains dormant.
Like my father, I also own a business. I’m married, and I recently became a dad to two beautiful children. When I’m not working or with my family, I manage my father’s company and personal finances. There are weeks when I fight to keep my head above water, juggling the affairs of my own business with those of my father’s. I want to help my beloved father, but I don’t want to suffer the same fate.
When my father started his business, his attention began to shift. Work became a mainstay, and within a couple of years of incorporating, he was pushing 18-hour days. Running a business became an addiction, one that worsened over time. I spent years trying to get him to create a better balance, to invest more in his health so he could thrive alongside his business. I nagged him about exercising, sleeping and eating well, but the more I spoke up, the more guilt I felt in projecting advice like a parent.
Since my father’s health issues occurred, I’ve been paying close attention to the way fellow entrepreneurs live, many of them approaching life the way my father did: getting little to no exercise; putting in long hours at work; and ingesting high amounts of caffeine, sugars and stimulants just to keep up with the grind. I’m noticing a common theme— prioritizing one’s business over one’s body. Most of the corporate world has slipped into this trap. Many people believe there won’t be a cost to their neglect. I was given a reminder that there’s always a cost.
My father took care of business first and everything else was second. I believe this type of mindset is flawed; entrepreneurs should foster a new shift in behavior so they don’t continue to view exercise and personal wellness as time wasters. Admittedly, I fell into this trap when I started out in business. I was concerned that partners, suppliers and clients would see my exercise routines as lazy, since I wasn’t in the office “early” like everybody else. But ever since my father’s stroke, I no longer hide behind how I structure my day. In fact, I actively embrace it.
Today, I put my health ahead of everything on the “to-do” list. Regular exercise, meditation, journaling and good nutrition are the first “profit and loss” items I focus on. I start my mornings eating
a healthy breakfast with my kids, followed by writing in a journal or a workout. I am not at my desk before 9:30 a.m. ever. When I share this approach with my staff and clients, the responses I get are mostly positive. People don’t think I’m lazy. Instead, they envy the control I have over my time and day. Better yet, this routine has made me more productive, focused and energized in my business life. I now know that if I take care of myself, everything else will follow suit.
I wanted to share my story in hopes that all EO members start putting themselves first. Work priorities can be endless, I know, yet the list of health priorities should never be empty. As entrepreneurs, we have the luxury to decide how and when we do things, so let’s start taking control of our health and wellness. Consider the obvious irrelevance of everything else when we don’t have it.
Adam J. Levinter is an EO Toronto member, as well as the founder and president of ScriberBase, Inc., a subscription solutions company. Contact Adam at [email protected].