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Can You Do It All? BlackLine CEO Therese Tucker (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Sep 19th 2010

SM: Your message is that you need to prioritize and that your priorities can change over time. Is that correct?

TT: Yes, but you need to keep your family first.

SM: That is not always possible. If your company is going through a crisis you have to put it first.

TT: For stretches, yes.

SM: Many people don’t buy that argument.

TT: Which relationship are you willing to lose?

SM: If you are the CEO and are willing to lose the company, it sends a very detrimental message to the rest of the people in the company. Your children and your company are both responsibilities.

TT: I disagree. I think it sends the right message. You do everything you humanly can without killing yourself or your message.

SM: If a crisis occurs and you need to spend time in the office, it is what it is.

TT: Short stretches of time is fine. If it is long-term, then you had better figure out how to balance everything.

SM: My point is that it is not always predictable.

TT: It is never predictable. One thing about being an entrepreneur is that you must be 100% comfortable with continuous change.

SM: What I am deriving from your story is that you made a smart decision while working for SunGard. It is hard to be an entrepreneur while having small children.

TT: I could not have done it. They have very different types of needs. I completely agree with you. You cannot devote yourself to the level you need to. Somebody may know how to do it, but it would be incredibly difficult.

SM: There is a big activist movement where people are pushing for women entrepreneurs, especially in technology. There are reasons for the lack of women. Very few women are willing to say that they do not want children and want to be entrepreneurs, which is fine. Those who choose to be entrepreneurs have the right to make that choice as well.

TT: I would have chosen my children. I am so incredibly thankful for the children I have. I have been very fortunate. I was able to start the company when I was a single mom and their father was a tremendous father. I had more alone time when I was single than I had at any other time.

SM: You had money, your children were older, and that helps a lot. You could set your own timeframe. The way your life played out you were able to make those choices. You now have clear priorities in terms of relationships. How has that translated to your company?

TT: Real intellectual property is not on servers, it is in their heads. We treat people like they are the most valuable pieces in the company. We have virtually zero turnover. We do not have to re-train because people never leave. We do have parties for birthdays and things like that. We have swimming parties where I cook for everybody. The people are very important.

SM: You have built a great quality of life. You have a manageable sized company and you can personally nurture the relationships in the company. It is also a high-growth company, but you can control growth.

TT: That lets me take the time to call my customers and find out if they are happy. I called Sony last week because one of their team members put in a list of recommendations, so I called her personally. She was shocked to receive a call from the CEO. I am in a tremendous position. I can take an hour a day and call clients.

SM: I think built to enjoy is the real goal, the holy grail. You have that. Congratulations on a wonderful story. I think you have done it all! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Can You Do It All? BlackLine CEO Therese Tucker
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[…] A good point about the negative effect on morale, when an entrepreneur prioritizes their children above the importance of the company (and thereby the career of one’s employees). Employees who work for your startup are placing a lot of trust in you – trust not to be thrown away lightly. […]

An entrepreneur tells their employees: my family is more important than you | Smash Company Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 2:55 PM PT