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Hard Choices

SurveyMonkey's Dave Goldberg on Managing Family Time

SurveyMonkey's Dave Goldberg on Managing Family Time

I like to work. I like building companies and creating things with smart people. When I met Sheryl, I knew she felt the same way. It would have been weird for me to expect one of us not to work after we had kids. I’m not willing to not work. If Sheryl had ever said, “I don’t want to work,” that would have been okay. It never came up. I’m glad she works. I think it’s good for her. It’s good for our relationship. I think it’s good for our kids. I grew up with both of my parents working, and I liked it.

I started my first company [Launch Media] at 26. I took it public, then sold it to Yahoo! (YHOO) and stayed another six years. That meant I was commuting between San Francisco and Los Angeles. After the fourth or fifth time stuck at LAX for five hours on a Friday night, I realized I was spending most of my time at the airport. I felt I wasn’t helping enough at home or getting stuff done at work. It was hard to leave a business I’d built, but I quit.

Soon after that, Sheryl joined Facebook. I decided to not take some opportunities because I knew her job would involve a lot of travel. SurveyMonkey was the perfect situation. We bought control from a founder who wanted help in taking it to the next level. I moved the company from Portland to Palo Alto. It was the right place to hire talent, and I wanted to be close to family.

It’s important to us to have a family dinner routine. When I was a kid, we had our family meal in the morning. My dad made breakfast. In today’s busy, hectic world, you have to fight for that kind of consistent family time together.

I leave at 5:30 to get home for dinner. When Sheryl [who recently revealed that she, too, leaves work at 5:30] said that, it was a big deal. I don’t think anyone’s going to care that I leave at the same time. We’ve always done it. Sheryl didn’t feel comfortable talking about it publicly. Nobody asks me about it publicly, so I didn’t have to worry about that. People know I have a wife with a big job.

Our son is 7 and our daughter is 4½. One of us is home almost every night for dinner. Both of us are home probably four nights a week. We schedule work dinners after the kids go to sleep. We’re fortunate we’re able to afford some help. We get to spend a lot of time on our kids instead of mowing the lawn. — As told to Diane Brady 

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