Why I am leaving the best job I ever had

Earlier this summer, Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO.

While the press haven’t asked me, it is a question that I often ask myself. Here is my situation:

* I have 3 wonderful kids at home, aged 14, 12 and 9, and I love spending time with them: skiing, cooking, playing backgammon, swimming, watching movies or Warriors or Giants games, talking, whatever.
* I am on pace to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every 2-3 weeks. During that travel, I have missed a lot of family fun, perhaps more importantly, I was not with my kids when our puppy was hit by a car or when my son had (minor and successful, and of course unexpected) emergency surgery.
* I have an amazing wife who also has an important career; she is a doctor and professor at Stanford where, in addition to her clinical duties, she runs their training program for high risk obstetricians and conducts research on on prematurity, surgical techniques, and other topics. She is a fantastic mom, brilliant, beautiful, and infinitely patient with me. I love her, I am forever in her debt for finding a way to keep the family working despite my crazy travel. I should not continue abusing that patience.

Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.

A few months ago, I decided the only way to balance was by stepping back from my job. MongoDB is a special company. In my nearly 4 years at the company, we have raised $220 million, grown the team 15x and grown sales 30x. We have amazing customers, a great product which gets better with every release, the strongest team I have ever worked with, and incredible momentum in the market. The future is bright and MongoDB deserves a leader who can be “all-in” and make the most of the opportunity.

Unfortunately, I cannot be that leader given the geography of the majority of the company in New York and my family in California.

I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have an meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice.

In one month, I will hand the CEO role to an incredibly capable leader in Dev Ittycheria. He will have the task of leading the company through its next phase of growth (though thankfully not of commuting across the country while doing it!). I know the company will be in great hands; his skills fit our next phase of growth better than mine do. And I will be there to help (full time, but “normal full time” and not “crazy full time”) in whatever areas he needs help. More about the announcement can be found in today’s press release.

I hope I will be able to find a way to craft a role at MongoDB which is engaging, impactful, and compatible with the most important responsibilities in my life. As great as this job has been, I look forward to creating one which is even better.

– Max

157 comments so far

  1. Gabrielle Walker, Human Resources Manager on

    Ahhh…nice…someone who “gets it”.

  2. ashimmydevops on

    Max, good for you! It takes a big man to realize that being a Dad is the most important job in the world. I faced a similar situation a few years back. When my sons teacher thought i was an airline pilot I knew something was not right. Good luck. You have done an incredible job at MongoDB! Be proud.

  3. Matt Asay on

    I love this post, Max, as you know. It describes how I feel: sometimes in our rush to get rich or be popular or whatever, we lose sight of a central fact: our families can bring us far more joy than any commercial success can. Commercial success needn’t be mutually exclusive with family success, of course, but too often is (Steve Jobs comes to mind, sadly).

    At any rate, I’m glad to get to work with you whatever title you happen to wear for a season.

  4. Amy Schireson on

    Max — congratulations on making this difficult and wise decision.

  5. Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett) on

    Classy stuff Max – thanks for meeting me earlier in the year. I enjoyed it. Definitely the right kind of decision. This business is too punishing at times.

    • Max Schireson on

      Thanks Dennis. It has been a great 4 years but I need to step back a bit. Very excited about the future of MongoDB!

      — Max

  6. Casey Green on

    Max – in the weeks following 9-11, when I was suddenly “grounded” beyond my control, my then 6 year old daughter stopped me while I was giving her some behavioral instructions on a weekday and, with all the innocence of a child that age, asked “Daddy, why are you here?”. It was a moment I will never forget, and one that permanently changed what I was and wasnt willing to do for “work”. You’re making a great life choice here. And you’re one of the most talented individuals I’ve come across in my career, so I’m quite certain your talents will find a home with an organization that recognizes what you’ll provide inside the constructs of what you’re willing to — and not willing to — sacrifice.

    All the best to you & your family.

    -casey

    • Max Schireson on

      Thanks Casey! Right now they still have a great home in MongoDB; I am excited to continue as Vice Chairman. The concern about how people might react to this post is theoretical and for the distant future :)

      • Casey Green on

        Ahhh, got it! Clearly I didn’t chase the link to the news release. :-) Congrats again.

  7. If only I could afford such a choice…

  8. Rick Greenwald on

    Max – a great decision, and I am very proud of you for making it. Maybe now you can find time to go back and pay for that pizza we had 18 years ago.

    • Max Schireson on

      Doh! Let’s find a time to get another pizza, I will pay this time, with interest.

      • Rick Greenwald on

        Great – I’ll ping you when I am up that way next. Congrats again, Max!

  9. Wayne Martin on

    Nicely done, sir! You are not leaving your game, just changing it.

  10. Jeff Carr on

    On a day when my faith in our “chosen” industry’s priorities are not all that high, this was the highlight. Great decision Max, thanks for sharing something so personal.

  11. Anonymous on

    Nice. Your making the right decision!

  12. Ernest Matthewson on

    Respect Max… I made a similar decision last year. 2 young boys (4 & 2) and a demanding job didn’t go hand in hand. I’m now “doing my own thing” and loving every minute. Maybe one day the money will be the same, but my precious time with my 2 boys and wonderful wife will be mine, not lost to some corporate ideal…

  13. […] Schireson will now be vice chair, according to a statement the company issued today. Schireson has cited personal reasons for the change in a blog […]

  14. […] Schireson will now be vice chair, according to a statement the company issued today. Schireson has cited personal reasons for the change in a blog […]

  15. David Hornik on

    Congratulations on your new role. So glad that someone has articulated the challenge that men also face. And gladder still that you have found a role that hopefully allows you to have it all.

    • Max Schireson on

      Thanks David. I am excited and feel very fortunate, first world problem!

      — Max

  16. Oskar Acosta on

    It’s really not a hard decision, these first world problems.. I took a 75% pay cut 10 yrs ago to move to Sweden so I could really raise my kids and I can’t help but feel how natural this is and un-natural that was. Balancing one’s life not only produces creative energy, it seems to improve long term thinking / vision / perspective. Next is to help support a union for developers…

    • Max Schireson on

      I am indeed very fortunate to have this first-world problem.

  17. Michael Levit on

    Max,
    Congrats on the transition. As many have articulated before me, it’s a great choice and certainly the path less traveled. Glad you were able to see what really matters. Look fwd to catching-up in PA one of these days when we each have some time.

    • Max Schireson on

      Thanks – and look forward to having the time soon!

  18. djhersh on

    Kudos! I did the same thing a few years back at Jive (prior to the IPO), and it was a very difficult move. I wrote about it here: http://www.davehersh.com/2013/10/the-background-one-flew-over-the-startup-nest/. If you ever need help dealing with what’s next, let me know :).

    • Max Schireson on

      I will definitely read your story. Congrats on a great company and a sane decision in a crazy time. Thanks for reaching out and nice to meet virtually!

      — Max

  19. Isaac Sacolick on

    Very brave Max. Congrats on making a tough decision and being open about it.

  20. Tom Callahan on

    Hi Max.. Congrats on your decision..

  21. […] Schireson will now be vice chair, according to a statement the company issued today. Schireson has cited personal reasons for the change in a blog […]

  22. Phil on

    I’m sure you’re doing the right thing.

    Will it cost you tens of millions of dollars someday? Well, maybe, but the point to bear in mind is that only a tiny, tiny fraction of humanity are ever in line for that kind of payday – I mean tiny, I mean 1% of 1% of the 1% – and there’s no way they’ve all got to the front of that queue by raw talent. So really, all you’re disqualifying yourself from (in the worst case scenario) is a massive unfair advantage. Making it on merit is still open to you; so is getting to somewhere that you’re comfortable with (which sounds like a cop-out, but it still puts you in the top 10-20% luckwise).

    • Max Schireson on

      I am very fortunate and expect no sympathy. I just mentioned the risk of career damage because real or imagined I think it keeps folk from discussing this more publicly.

  23. miriam on

    Max- What a beautifully written announcement. I am proud of you and your decision. Cheers! Miriam

  24. Michael Stearne (@mstearne) on

    Excellent post! Great to hear you’ll be enjoying life more for a while.

  25. Alison Wagonfeld on

    Max, congratulations on your decision…and thanks for sharing your thinking. Interesting to read that nobody ever asked about your work-life balance. (I probably get asked about once a month.) I look forward to seeing you — together with your family! — in Tahoe this winter.

  26. Isabel Schireson on

    This is Isabel (12, daughter). I’m glad you will be able to spend more time with us at home. yayyyyy.

    • Max Schireson on

      Thanks Isabel. You are such a joy in my life, I am excited to spend more time together.

      — Max

      • Samantha Davenport on

        This comment thread alone validates your decision!! Congrats Dad on the decision to invest in the future generations of society and family values!!

  27. Oliver on

    Pretty inspiring.

    My 3 ones are aged 14, 12 and 9 – all girls. Currently on a 2w business trip 10.000+ miles away from home. While these days staying connected is easier then 10 years ago as we can use WhatsApp and other tools to stay connected 24h – It’s still painful… On the other hand: Loving the job and the global team I am working – they are friends and kind of family as well. Business travel is the only way to stay connected with my business friends. Always a trade off. Llast but not least – the older the kids get the more they want (and need) to be on their own. So my take is that we have to reconsider our work life “balance” (hate the word …) at least on a yearly base. While it might be the right decision for you today – in 3ys things might look different as then your youngest one will be 12 and might more tend to rely on friends then on parents…

    All the Best.
    Oliver

    • Max Schireson on

      Thanks.

      I expect I will still have some travel but much much less.

      As they get older I they act like they need us less but they may actually need us more.

      I really hope (and expect) that I can have that engaged connection to my job without it becoming overwhelming. It won’t be easy but I am excited to try.

      — Max

  28. […] This is a leader. Why I'm leaving the best job I ever had, by @mschireson: http://maxschireson.com/2014/08/05/1137/ […]

  29. Vincent Barr (@VincentBarr) on

    Max, thank you for continuing to inspire people to be themselves.

  30. Ralph Seferian on

    Max very inspiring and thoughtful decision. Wishing you great success in this next step. The family will be stronger and you have the right priorities. Best, Ralph

  31. tealtomato on

    I love this! Today I just wrote about something similar — making the most out of enjoying every moment you can. Check it out at http://www.tealtomato.com
    Congratulations on discovering what is important to you and having the courage to go for it :)

  32. Startup Dad on

    […] post announcing the reasons for his departure is well worth a read as they’re so uncharacteristic and refreshing.  A couple of parts that […]

  33. citygirl44 on

    Reblogged this on City Girl Says and commented:
    “Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.” Best article I have read in a long time.

  34. tmmorning on

    I could not pass up the opportunity to reply to Max Schireson’s blog after reading a Facebook message left by Sheryl Sandberg. While I expected the blog to highlight a heroic female for having the courage to lean in at the corporate table. To my surprise, the blog opened my heart to an individual who knows the value of family. I wish you the best as you prioritize your responsibilities leading with your family first. Warm regards, Teresa

  35. Angela Bartels on

    Max, great post. My husband and I are both working parents of 2 small children, 3 years and 1 year. I’ve accepted a new role that requires me to travel once per month for a week. Although he has a demanding job as well, he is managing the household while I am away and he is the one that pushed me to take on this new role. Regardless of gender and even regardless if you’re a parent or not, everyone has a personal life (whether a caregiver, etc) and I think it’s important to ask everyone – how do you balance it all? Thanks for sharing your story.

  36. Axansh on

    At your position, taking such a decision, you need to have solid guts.

    Max – a great decision,Respect !

    Cheer :)

  37. Karen on

    I’m giving you a standing ovation over here for your amazing and unselfish decision. Children are the future and need their parents growing up. I gave up my career for 6 years and was a stay at home mom full time to our only daughter. It was important for me to be there for her and raise her with good strong family values. As a reward, I was able to experience all her first experiences and record them. Her first word, her first steps, using the potty, etc etc. It was a sacrifice because we were in our early 20’s and had no money for any luxury’s like vacation or a new car and we rented a 2 bedroom apt. But I’ll tell you, it was the best quality time that has its rewards. Now she is 20 and in college on a scholarship and just a great person. That is our gift to the world and we are proud. I eased my way back into the workforce after she turned 6 and slowly we build up our wealth to include 3 new cars and our own house. Never regretted the decision to stay home and raise her. I actually miss those days of being poor, because in reality, I was the richest. Good luck to you and your wonderful family! You will cherish these quality times forever and so will they!

  38. Paul Kogan on

    Max: Kudos to you for making this decision. Its a great signal to the industry, and we need more of them. Once again, you prove to be the “mensch-iest” guy in the room. And thanks for sharing your thoughts with such honesty in this post. As you know, I am in the same bi-coastal boat, and by god, its not easy. I’ve missed a good part of the last year in the life of my 8-year old, and no matter how my company’s journey plays out, I am not getting that year back. These are not easy tradeoffs, and its inspiring to see someone with the courage to make them.

  39. Joe on

    Max,
    Jobs will come and go, but your family will always be there unless you choose work over them. I applaud you and your thoughts. I am glad you were able to make this decision without a life altering decision.

  40. Adi Bilauca (@abilauca) on

    I’m convinced that CEOing you family will have a great effect on 10gen :). I learned the hard way that the “normal full time” is sometimes more productive. So I’m glad for both you and 10gen. Best of luck!

  41. Rocio on

    Thank you for sharing this difficult decision. The world is in need of more, men and women, willing to speak up and take a stand on these issues and put the importance of family above financial or professional gain. The progress and well being of individuals within a family can only mean progress for humanity.

  42. Appreciated!! Its been always ultimate goal is family for whom we work a-lot. its really appreciating you realized family does not only need money they need our time as well. :-)

    Good luck :-)

  43. Mark Hamade on

    Love It! Absolutely Love it!!! You can never get back time with the kids!!!

    Look at what you have done at the company! WOW!!!!!

    They still need you & will lean on you!!!

    You also give another brilliant mind a chance to carry on what you have done!!!

    Who cares what the title or the amount of time you put at work!!!! Your impact has & will continue to be amazing…

    This whole post has a ton of awesomeness!!!!

    I am not going to tell you good luck, but congratulations for being awesome & following your heart…..

  44. miniminiyo on

    You’re making the right choise, work is for life, not life for work! Sure you’ll work in other way, and then…life your way ;)

  45. Pablo on

    “Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn’t have the courage to say “yes” to life?” Paulo Coehlo.

  46. Massimo Sgrelli on

    Tough decision and even if I don’t know you personally Max, I am definitely sure you did the right thing. Your job and the opportunities you are leaving on the table are probably a dream job for the majority of the people in the technology business. The right company, awesome brand and the chance to make millions in the next few years while having fun it’s the perfect mix. On the other hand you must always ask yourself how much money you really need for you and your family to live a happy life, together. I’m from Italy and family is really important for us. Our culture is centered around family, even if most of the time I had and still have the very same problem you had. Sometimes I chose to follow work opportunities, but getting older – I’m 45 – I understood that you don’t need to make the best job on Earth to be happy.
    As a final word let me say this is the first time I read something like this and I’m convinced that you should talk about your choice again in the future, because I’m sure that family and success in the tech business not only are fully compatible, but living a balanced life will help to create better companies too, companies that last.

    Massimo
    PS: Sorry for my poor English.

  47. filiptepper on

    I love this and I hope that you won’t be missing any more of your special moments. And thanks for pointing out that dads have hard time splitting their time between family and work too.

  48. Linda Showalter on

    How refreshing! Kudos!!!

    Your industry is brutal on everyone. I hope you’ll use your insights and position of power to help change the executive culture that condones and often requires people to work “whatever hours it takes to get the job done.”

  49. […] an article of this guy who has chosen to step down from the post of a CEO to be more with his kids (http://maxschireson.com/2014/08/05/1137/) And I went wow, we need more men like these and kudos to him. On the other hand, I […]

  50. Julien SIMON (@julsimon) on

    Hi Max, you did the right thing. All the best!

  51. […] A short blurb here won’t do this justice, so just go read the resignation letter of the CEO of… He’s stepping down to spend more time with his family, and in this case it’s not a cliche. […]

  52. […] A short blurb here won't do this justice, so just go read the resignation letter of the CEO of hot N… He's stepping down to spend more time with his family, and in this case it's not a cliche. […]

  53. Digininja on

    I turned down many well paid and career progressing jobs to become freelance so I could spend more time at home with the family. I don’t regret any of it.

  54. […] Schireson posted on his own personal blog that he was “stepping out and up” for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that he has 3 young children and being away from home so much was painful.  Max’s family is based in Silicon Valley where is wife is a physician and Stanford professor. MongoDB is headquartered in NYC. So the bi-coastal routine plus regular CEO duties had Max logging airlines miles at a 300k annual clip. That is a tough number to live with for an extended period of time. […]

  55. […] Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never h… […]

  56. […] Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never h… […]

  57. Kimberly on

    No success can compensate for a failure in the home. All too often it is the mother who bears the burden of those decisions. It is good to see a father making that choice and making it publicly so others can learn that dads can make those choices, too.

  58. Anne Jensen Chatroux on

    Congratulations Max. I believe you are leading the way for more people to ask if they really want one of those extreme jobs or if they would be happier with a more balanced life. It seems a bit of a taboo for men to ask that question, so good for you to do it so publicly!

  59. jcurran on

    May your decision (and this post) be an inspiration to many other technology men still trying to find their work/life balance. Best wishes!

  60. Jeff on

    Max, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. And the kids grow up and leave the house before you know. Best to you and the family on the next chapter.

  61. Inspiring write-up Max. Keep up the good work and enjoy every moment with your family. Cheers.

  62. olivvv on

    You are disqualified as a CEO conformist to the day-before-yesterday typical social model. And you are now very qualified as a human with courage, and abilities to make choices. Is that a CEO skill ?
    I think so, and you’ve put yourself as a product in short supply. So the demand may even be higher when you come back.

  63. Christopher on

    “Family Comes First”. This made me remember a movie I saw titled “Click” (Adam Sandler). Your sacrifice is the best, your job for your family. Good man, I must say.

  64. Shelley Bird on

    Absolutely right — it is all about choices! Being a parent takes as much effort as a career, as does a marriage. They don’t just work. You have to work at them. And you have to make choices. The decisions I made with my husband about our family meant that my career eventually took the lead and I became the sole breadwinner. Despite that pressure, I know I’m lucky to have the home arrangement that I do. But there have been plenty of trade-offs along the way to arrive at our current situation. Call them compromises if you like, but they are my compromises. I own them, guilt and all. Hat’s off to Max for articulating this Gordian know so well, and for owning his choices.

  65. catthom on

    Reblogged this on scotswim and commented:
    Anyone who juggles the demands of work and parenting can relate to this tale, Max and his family are fortunate they can finance this choice. It is important to do what feels right for you and your family.

  66. mehbertslife on

    As a 19 year old who never had a dad for the first nine years of her life and gaining a step dad who was pretty much always working on his projects and was not very easy to communicate with, I think taking time away from your job to spend more time with family is a very special thing. Nowadays, not many people realize that true happiness can come from those closest to you and not from material items like money and we need more role models like that!

  67. maryfabro on

    Loved your post on so many levels as a woman, a mom, a ex-career oriented individual. Kudos for making that brave realization and acting upon it. Actually, I sincerely hope (and I don’t think) it will disqualify you as a CEO in the future. We need to find better balance between life and work to create a thriving work environment, you will be the perfect CEO candidate then. Best of luck in your next endeavours!

    • Max Schireson on

      Thanks! I love the company so I hope to stay a long time just not as CEO.

  68. Joe Leond on

    It’s absolutely about affording the choice. NOT for everybody, unfortunately.

    • Max Schireson on

      Yes, we had the luxury that I could afford to make this choice. For others the trade offs are much more painful.

  69. jyarmis on

    When my son, now 23, was 9, he was getting ready to go away to sleep away camp for the first time. I asked him if he was excited. “Yes and no,” he answered. The yes: it should be fun. The no: “I’ll miss mom.” “What about me?” “You’re never around, anyhow.” Talk about a wake-up call. May you never hear those words.

    • Max Schireson on

      That must have been hard. I hope you found a way to spend more time.

  70. Lew Hollerbach on

    Max,

    You’ve probably seen various articles and mentions of “The Top Five Regrets of The Dying”. Easy to search for this. Second top regret among those in hospice, certain to die soon, was “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”. So at least with this decision you can strike this from your potential list.

    Good move.

    I’m a developer and MongoDB user, and you and your team have built a great product. The momentum is there, the leadership and technical talent is there, so it’s a perfect time for your move.

    Congratulations, and best wishes for a new and sparkling life!

    • Max Schireson on

      Thanks! I never hear about people regretting not working enough!

      Glad you are using and enjoying MongoDB. Lots of great new stuff coming in 2.8!

  71. dba on

    Max – I can’t thank you enough for your leadership; of MongoDB and in demonstrating how to prioritize the most important things in life. You are a great leader and example to us all and it’s been a great pleasure working with you. Looking forward to future adventures!

    • Max Schireson on

      Thanks David. The whole Flybridge team has been great to work with and I look forward to staying in touch even if I am on the east coast less often.

  72. Pat on

    I guess I’ll be the one person to rain on your otherwise “pat on the back” parade.

    Why did you wait until your youngest is 9? With your insane CEO schedule and your wife’s professional schedule, the damage is already done. Kids’ personality traits are pretty much baked in by 4 years of age. You’ll recover some long term parent/child bonds with the 9 year old but for the 12 and 14 year old, my guess is after they leave for college, you and your wife won’t hear much from them except maybe briefly around holidays. Spend a day doing some developmental psychology research on scholarDOTgoogleDOTcom to see what I’m talking about.

    They already know implicitly, intuitively, where they stand in your and your wife’s eyes vs. your careers. And they aren’t wrong to think that, they did indeed come second to your careers. To say your children are the most important thing in the world to you and then to neglect 80% of their childhoods is delusional. I applaud your change in trajectory but goodness, the thinking in the upper economics classes is so much different than the middle class I guess.

    I see, quite freqently, families making 50 to 75k a year down here in middle/lower-middle class land, forgo an additional 40 to 50k a year (which radically changes the life of a family making 50-70k) the moment a child is born. More often the wife but sometimes the husband will quit jobs or go part-time until the kids start school and turn down promotions 50% of the time. Maybe it’s a class thing, maybe it’s a generational thing, who knows.

    I can’t say I have any idea what the allure of seven figure money and power can do to the psyche but apparently from your post and from many comments, I see that it quickly blinds them to the sheer force of social and inherent happiness that comes into existence after many episodes of laughing with a child, conquering a difficult homework assignment, going for a walk or bike ride with them or simply getting into a 30-minute long “deep” conversation with a 4 or 5 year old (which is both an hilarious and almost transcendental experience). 150,000 years of evolution have created something that 200 years of capitalism have hidden with giant, shiny dollar signs.

    I wish you the best of luck in repairing those bonds but you have to admit, to this point, your children were in no way the most important thing in the world to you. I think maybe 4th or 5th after accolades and respect from peers, control, money and general excitement about your job that was unchecked.

    • Max Schireson on

      I don’t think I deserve even 10% of the accolades I have gotten. I hope the time I have carved out to date has been enough to create some lasting bonds, only time will tell. I did highlight the negatives of my recent schedule, it has not always been that bad or I would have left sooner.

    • steve on

      Pat. I’m sure you like many others have an opinion on at what age a child no longer requires the full support of a parent. I will have to disagree with you on the topic of building and re-building bonds. Humans are very versatile and can change at anytime. My children have shown me this for many years, and I still manage to make changes as well. We all strive to achieve in this world. We can also find more time to be a family. Good luck Max, it will work out fine. Enjoy your family and build those bonds.

  73. Ann on

    You only live once and there are no do-overs with the time we have with our children. Kudos on knowing your priorities and having the guts to make it happen

  74. Mary Anne Mohanraj on

    Max, congrats and best of luck with the new position! :-) And thanks for discussing the gender issues involved so publicly; this is how we change the corporate culture. Well done, you.

  75. pgillin on

    Beautifully expressed. I’m sure you’ve heard that no one on their deathbed ever regrets not having spent more time at work. If you can afford it, you should do it. Congratulations on making a hard decision with confidence.

  76. Milder Lisondra on

    Mr. Schireson, you have set an example not only for other CEOs and executive level folks, but also for many men in the workplace that are caught in the cycle of work more , get more, need more, work more, etc. Your courage to choose the one part of your life which you cannot make more of, time, shows true bravery in our modern world. I have been in a similar, albeit smaller scope, with my career over the past 8 years. Many have asked my why I choose to work in a way that allows me so much time with my family. I tell them that time is the only thing I cannot make more of.

  77. Iva Faye Kname on

    Nice if you can afford it.

    Don’t strain your arm patting yourself on the back. Can I polish your halo for you?

    Millions of dads and moms can’t afford to drop out. They have to slog on every day, not doing jobs with “amazing customers” but sitting a cubicle, answering calls in some call center, or wondering whether the little martinet of an office manager is going to try to sexually harass them again today.

    • Max Schireson on

      I agree and feel very fortunate to be able to make this choice.

    • Scott Hutchinson on

      I hear YA There is WAY too much $$$ at the top … And the polishing the halo was funny too..

  78. ian spandow on

    great post Max, and a great move. Good for you.

  79. mitchitized on

    Made a similar decision three years ago, which included relocating to Italy. I cannot tell you the magical things that we have experienced since, AS A FAMILY.

    I grew up a “latch key kid” and grit my teeth every time someone confesses that yeah, they are also a parent but the career is top priority… I think you’re an awesome guy, and have done an awesome job, and wish you the best as an awesome Dad.

    Much respect.

  80. Frank on

    Good choice, it is however made a lot easier since I am assuming you made enough money to give your family almost any opportunity they need or want.

  81. Irene Murphy on

    Max,

    Brave and wise decision. You have run a great start up, and you can now enjoy your family. Congrats to you Max!

  82. Gabriel Mattos on

    Thank you Max. Thank you very much. That’s one issue we should be addressing our thoughts more carefully. We are definitely not our jobs. Or at least not only our jobs. We gotta get back on living. I have a feeling that’s the only way we are going to see people as people and give others a chance to be happy. Congratulations and happy living!

  83. Aditya Mishra on

    Hi Max, I read out your post, and, Congratulations on taking such a tough decision professionally, and, trust me its not an easy decision..

  84. Mary on

    I realize you may be in a position to do this where others in this world can’t, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t a very hard decision to make. Great post! Have fun, Dad!!

  85. qpatt1 on

    The greatest reward will be the abundant and fulfilling time to simple be present with your family and friends in a more meaningful way. Bravo!

  86. Perry Mizota on

    Kudos to you and your wife. Many years ago, I made a similar decision to place more emphasis on being a dad. Professionally, it may not have been the best decision I ever made but personally, I have no regrets. Enjoy.

  87. annie on

    Hat tip to YOU, Mr. Schierson …… you truly have priorities straight, and hope those priorities include the Lord because it sure sounds like He has a place in your life!

  88. Mike on

    You’ll have plenty of chances to make more money, kids only grow up once.

  89. Ricardo Pineda on

    Max:
    you are fantastic! this is the best decision you can ever take! The most important business we have is our family!
    Best regards from Honduras (Central America)!
    Ricardo Pineda

  90. Allison on

    Max, you are a real man. I only hope this is a catalyst for more talk and change here in the US. Many things need to change, I am lucky enough to be able to cut down to 2 days a week after my baby comes but I know that is a luxury all too many people do not experience. Best of luck to y’all!

  91. Birinder on

    Only a person who starts Listening to their inside, will come up with this decision. God Bless people like you to inspire us all! Being the dad is the best job in the world if you do it properly. The other day My 4 yr old daughter said to me “Daddy why don’t I see you in the morning when you go to work” My answer was “so that I can come home to you as soon as I can “. I have never seen a million dolor in my bank account yet, but a BIG smile on her face definitely worth more than that to me!!!

  92. Jenny Weigle (@jennyweigle) on

    Max, I truly admire what you’re doing. I wish you the best in your professional AND personal future. You are an inspiration for men AND women.

  93. Phileosophos on

    I’m glad you can do that. It’s a pity those of us without millions don’t have so many choices.

  94. Lisa on

    No family should have tens of millions of dollars, that’s more for countries. What families do need are present parents. Bravo to you Max!

  95. March Gallagher on

    Wow. So brave. Thanks for speaking out on your decision.

  96. Allyn Reid on

    Max! Love your honesty to yourself and to your values, it is people like you that can change the way things are being done and still make a huge difference.

  97. makais on

    Best of luck to you Max

  98. Ryan Grimm on

    Congratulations Max!

    I was just having a conversation last night about trading off some income/career advancement for more family time and I think it’s the best tradeoff someone can make. You continue to be one of the most intelligent and grounded individuals I’ve met. I’m very happy for you and your family.

    • Max Schireson on

      Thanks Ryan. Hope you navigate your way through your trade offs too. I think you will, thanks for keeping in touch and the kind words.

  99. […] at 3:31 on August 7, 2014 by Andrew Sullivan Executive Max Schireson explains how his desire for work-life balance led him to take a step back in his career: Earlier this […]

  100. tiffany on

    I applaud your decision to make more time for your family. However, I think the reason men are seldom asked how they manage their career and family is because they are not really managing both. seems like your wife has an equally demanding job but found the time to be there when the dog was hit by a car and your son needed emergency surgery. kudos to you for supporting her and your family and making them a priority!

  101. Madhu on

    Might be a hard decision for you, But, I’m sure you will never regret for doing that.
    I wish, you will not miss any memories anymore. bonne chance :)

  102. Bill K on

    Nice post Max.

    After two potentially fatal health problems in the same year (a stroke and cancer); I made the same decision that spending time with my two young sons was the highest priority in my life.

    After that very good decision I unfortunately made some rather bad decisions that eventually led to bankruptcy.

    If I had it all to do over again I would still chose my children over my business.

  103. mar on

    Pretty awesome…..need more dads like this in a crazy hectic world. Your salary w your kids and wife will be priceless! 😊

  104. a-IT-guy on

    Max, don’t know you but awesome story I manage a team in a understaffed and over utilized IT operations team in let’s just say rather large company. I have always put my family first over work however a recent role change has required me to put in many hours almost on a daily basis which is interfering with my family life. I often tell people here at work and my own team that they only get once chance to raise their kid however now with a 2nd on the way I’m challenged in figuring out how I can raise my 2nd like I did my first. Lots of things have happened here that have made me realize that most IT guys prefer to work long hours rather than make a change to spend time with their families. One day I plan to make this same change if something else doesn’t change so again congrats to you for doing this. Don’t worry about the money or future lost opportunities, remember your mission in doing this. This was about what was important to you….your family…all else is second. Good luck to you!

  105. Garffy4109@aol.com on

    Max, you should feel fortunate. The people who actually do the work that made you a millionaire do not have the choice to quit a job.

  106. sarah on

    Max his is so inspiring. As a working mom, i’m met with this very hard challenge and also know my husband is too! Dads are so important. What is as impressive to me is your attention to the people here who have reached out and you have reached out back. Your are doing a lot of things right and setting a great example for your children who will be met with these challenges too….hopefully our world will be a different place not run on 60-80hr work weeks.
    all the best!

  107. Alex Theis on

    Kudos to you Max for having the courage to make a difficult, yet great decision. Maybe even bigger kudos for the way you’ve handled some of the comments here. Your kids are blessed to have you as a Dad. From one father to another – enjoy every moment!

  108. Rick on

    Max,

    As a dad to 4 kids very close in age to your 3… I can support you 110% and say you are absolutely making the right decision. There is nothing in the world that you can do that is more important than being a daddy. Mind you, I don’t have a physician spouse or a successful internet business, but I can tell you that I’ve never missed one of my kids’ football or soccer games. But that on the scales of work life balance and see which ones carries the most weight.

    Have you told your kids? Brings a tear to my eye thinking about that moment, letting them know you’ve chosen them – and your wife – over work. That’s something I would remember for a long time. You are having a great impact on families everywhere.

  109. Terrance Kennedy on

    Great decision! Extremely courageous. Now, I think you should take the family and go to Disneyland.

  110. Esse on

    Its the best thing you could have done Max! Too many kids are missing out on their parents because they are too busy. God bless you and you family! (SAHM here)

  111. Lindi Dlamini on

    Dearest Max, nothing but applause fom me for the courage to not only make the decision but to remain in that business – liberating others to think harder about their choices and bolder in their decisions, knowing it takes nothing away from them. Healthy self esteem at its best. The best part for me though, is not being married to your success and letting the appropriate leader at the appropriate time to take the work you have done growing the business to the next level. That is often the hardest part for successful business leaders – walking away at the too of their game. As a woman who has been a senior executive in financial services companies in South Africa for some years , I am inspired.

  112. Niall Lucey on

    Thank you so much for making this so public. Doing it is great for you and your family. Making it a public issue helps the rest of us a lot. The example is badly needed.

  113. caitlinpomeroy18 on

    I think this is such an important message and one that often gets lost beneath criticism and judgement. You have one life to live, and living it to its fullest means different things for different people. This is a brave choice, and I salute you for finding peace in your decisions

  114. Natarajan ramanathan on

    Fabulous thoughts and actions, Max. It is very rare to see this candor. Am very sure you are one one of the few people out there whose thoughts and actions are in alignment with each other. MongoDB and it’s employees sure are a privileged lot for having had a person like you in their midst. Wonderful and a very heartwarming note.

  115. Steve Maislin on

    Did the same thing in 1985 and it was the best decision of my life. No regrets, just plenty of happy memories involving family.

  116. […] a billion-dollar technology “start-up” (a pretty mature one).  This week, he penned a blog post announcing his resignation as CEO to spend more time with his family.  It has been praised as […]

  117. sarabjit bedi on

    Great choice but trust me neither you nor me are the first ones to do so in history.
    The sad part is very few take such choice in this part of the world.
    Good part is you did not loose the family before you could realize the path , for me it was late.
    Advice …stay debt free to avoid getting back into the rat race of catching your own tail.
    Good luck

  118. Karen on

    Congratulations Max — you have reminded me and I hope many others of what’s most important. I hope the media takes notice and begins a broader discussion with other male leaders about work life balance. My husband and I made a decision when my oldest child was one that he would significantly scale back so that he could be home with him (and with my daughter too when she came along). It was the best decision ever for our family. We have great kids and a stronger marriage for it.
    Enjoy every moment!

  119. Diogo on

    Congratulations Max. You will discover something you would never going to be able to experience spending your precious time working instead of living your life. And by having this “time off” you for sure are going to be able to have time to equilibrate family/life and professional life. It is obvious for everyone that nowadays many companies suck way more people’s lifetime that they should. Nothing against the productive chain…just a reflection for all of us are urgently needed, and some of us have the courage to allow itself to experience this.
    A big hug from Brazil…yes, your blog is running around the world!!

  120. David Meiri on

    Great post and decision, Max. I see you now have time to respond to all the comments :-)

    I often wonder why people in a similar position to yours choose their career over everything else. I work for a big Fortune 500 company ($25B annual sales), with perhaps dozens of executives who could comfortably retire tomorrow with $10M+ in the bank (or $100M+ in case of the CEO), but instead choose to continue to work 70-hour weeks. What drives them? Money, power, status? Or are they truly enjoying their work so much?

    Personally, I recently realized I have enough, cut my job (and pay) by 20%, switched to a position that lets me do fun stuff (I’m a software engineer), and couldn’t be happier. I have plenty of time to play tennis, go sailing, improve my piano playing, read, or anything else I put my mind into.

    Talking about “enough”, you might be familiar with John Bogle’s story about Joseph Heller, who attended a party given by a rich hedge fund manager with his pal Kurt Vonnegut. When Vonnegut informed Heller that their host makes more in one day than all of the book sales from Heller’s popular “Catch 22,” Heller responded, “Yes but I have something that he will never have… I have enough.”

  121. Luciano de Oliveira on

    Great decision! I’m not at C-Level but always had in mind that any work should serve as a way to give back to society what you received. Economy and capitalism, in my vision change values and priorities. Glad to know that still have people that put family in first place. Wishes os happiness and lot of fun for you with your kids.

    Regards

    Luciano de Oliveira

    • Max Schireson on

      Work is many things to me: a way to contribute to society, a way to express myself, a way to engage, and a way to earn money.

  122. Deb Kearney on

    Thank you! What an example for other big leaders! When more men are able (and allowed) to find the balance, corporate America will finally settle into long term growth that encourages loyalty and hard work rather than long-term servitude that dehumanizes and encourages apathy among the rank & file. Only when corporate America makes the paradigm shift will women no longer have to juggle and balance career and motherhood. In your search for family and true fatherhood you have made a giant step for womens’ equality!

  123. Celina Ratliff on

    Kudos to you Max! Beautiful family memories are waiting to be be formed as you engage in the next chapter of your life :-)

  124. Pam on

    While your intentions are honorable, it is difficult for most people to make this commitment. My husband and I corporate jobs after 9/11 – not by choice we had to reinvent ourselves. Going from six figures to zero in a two week period definitely causes panic! After being Mr. Mom while I (the higher college educated of the two) slung food, dealt poker at the casino and basically took any job I could while building a small urban dairy he became disabled with degenerative arthritis. It took everything we had saved to stay on our feet, mostly to make that 18K a year in health insurance premiums in his decline in health, pay the car insurance and property insurance. While my little goat dairy is growing every year, after 8 years I am just starting to break even! I will die poor but happy! Money isn’t everything but it sure helps you sleep at night to know the electric bill can be paid! I miss that sleep!

    • Pam on

      It should read “LOST” corporate jobs


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