Jeremy Schoemaker, known by many as Shoemoney, is one of the most recognizable names across the blogosphere.
Shoemoney is well known for his success within the ringtone niche and also developed, and subsequently sold, an eBay auction ad network known as AuctionAds.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jeremy about his thoughts on work life balance and what that has meant for his family as well as his career.
Can you please tell me a little about your family? How many kids do you have? How old are they?
Sure. I have been married for almost 4 years. My wife works full time as a Anesthesiologist. We have 1 child (so far) , Juliet – 17 months born June 23 2006
Can you provide a little bit of background on your career and professional interests?
In 1995 I got a job with a internet service provider who was going to offer dial up internet access. I started at the ground level. I did phone support for years until I decided I wanted to go back to college…. then I decided I was finished with college and found a niche as a system admin for banks.
In 2001ish I moved to Des Moines, Iowa and took a job with Wells Fargo Financial at there help desk. Within 2 years I worked my way all the way to be the lead Unix server security administrator. Shortly after reaching this position I met my wife in Des Moines. We date for a while then she moved to Omaha, NE. Our relationship continued long distance for the next 18 months until I was fired from Wells Fargo but quickly got a job with a company called Commercial Federal out of Omaha.
About 2 years after that we got married… but then I lost my job and started working on my company full time. 2 years after that we had our child Juliet.
How would you define work-life balance?
I don’t really… I always have my treo on me which sends me alerts and email. Whenever I get a second I am always monitoring emails and messages. Sometimes I just have to turn it off.
I would say I am pretty bad about letting go about business stuff. When I get to spend time with my daughter I just leave my cell phone at home. Its not like its a scheduled thing…. I think the key is to have people in place you trust that can handle things if it hits the fan and you are not available.
Do you feel that dads have a harder time achieving work-life balance than moms? If so, how?
I can only speak for our family and I can definitely say in our family my wife has a much harder time with it. Being I run my own company I am very flexible and fill in for dr appointments and what not. My wife many times is on call and her schedule is completely inflexible.
What do you personally find is your biggest struggle to achieving a healthy work-life balance?
Mentally letting go of frustrations. I am very obsessive about my work and one little thing unfinished will take away my focus from my family… I have to just send myself a email reminder and let it go. I have gotten much better about this but its still a struggle.
What do you remember from your own childhood with regard to your dad’s work-life balance? Was he around or always busy working? How has that influenced your own views on the subject?
My father was a 9-5 labor worker. He was very big in the UAW and held a position there for a while. He always tried to make time to do stuff with his kids. Unfortunately he had to work out of state from the time I was 11 years old until I was in my mid 20’s so he was absent a lot of my childhood.
How have you learned to identify when your work-life balance is too far out of balance in one direction?
I have and also my wife will make me aware when I haven’t. Its something I am always trying to improve on.
What is one of the biggest mistakes that you have made with regard to work-life balance?
Trying to think I could do something productive (work wise) while being the primary care taker of a infant 😉
Have you faced any stigmas or criticism for focusing on your own work-life balance? Do you think focusing on your family has impacted your career? If so, how?
Without a doubt it has impacted my company(s). The most profitable time in our companies was right up until the birth of my daughter then it took a major nosedive for about 7 months until I came up with the AuctionAds idea. That really turned the ship around.
I have never been a good manager… of myself or others. Good structure and management skills I feel can help pull you through times like these. As we prepare to make more additions to our family I feel I am much more prepared now.
What is one thing that you wish you knew at an earlier age with regard to work-life balance? That is to say, what is one piece of advice that you would give to a new dad as he struggles to find his work-life balance?
Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Get an office outside the house if you do not have one already. That was really key for me.
How has your work life balance changed since you had kids and do you think it has changed for the better or worse?
At first it was way way worse but now its much better. I also feel my overall management and leadership abilities have improved along with those.
Do you think your work life balance has changed as your kids have gotten older? How?
Its still really to early to tell.
How important do you think it is to find time for just you and your spouse without the kids?
Oh god, crucial. Once a week we go out and have date night and get dinner and a movie. Its really nice.
What tips do you have to “unplug” from work? Can you completely unplug?
Really its about having a good foundation and people in place you can trust can handle things. If you have that then you can truly let go.
What activities and/or interests do you pursue as a means of relaxation?
This probably sounds sad but I get 1-2 hours a night I love to just lay in bed with my wife and hit the TiVo.
Jeremy, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on work life balance and what that has meant to you as a husband and dad.
Thanks for the interview!