Editor's note: We asked noted entrepreneurs to reflect on what they wish they'd known starting out and to put it in a letter to their younger selves. Seth Goldman is a co-founder of Honest Tea, a 5-time honoree on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.
There are lots of job advice you'll benefit from (fire people sooner, equity is more valuable than salary, don't buy a bottling plant), but there's one practical piece of advice that you'll benefit from every day. Rather than just tell you to prioritize family over work, you'll do well with a more specific tactic: live close to your work and find a way to have a car-free commute.
In 1993, the year after you have your first son, Jonah, you'll live in Arlington, VA. You'll have a 90 minute (on a good day) commute to Northeast Baltimore where you'll manage a summer service program to help demonstrate the promise of AmeriCorps.
Your work day will be sandwiched by 90 minutes of sitting in stressful, stop-and-go traffic, so it'll be challenging to look forward to Mondays. To have more time with Jonah, you'll get up early to take him for a walk before heading off to Baltimore, and then spend an hour with him before he goes to sleep. But the combined three hours you'll spend in transit are direct tradeoffs with time that you could have spent with Jonah and your wife.
Your commute will also stop you from exercising and relaxing. Instead, you'll be alone, by yourself (in a non-contemplative state) and whatever is on the radio. The long drive will be bad for your posture, your fitness, and your temperament, not to mention the environment.
At the end of the summer, you'll have moved to New Haven, CT, where you'll start at the Yale School of Management. You'll end up renting an apartment a few blocks from campus and bike to classes. After that, you'll never live more than a bike ride away from work, and you'll look forward to work. Every morning you bike to work you'll get a little exercise, release some stress, and stay connected to the seasons and the natural world around you. You'll be a biking commuter and never take it for granted.
As an employer, you'll always try to find opportunities for your employees to more easily balance work and life, by creating incentives to make a bike commute at least as appealing as driving. Your future company, Honest Tea, will provide bikes to your employees and offer biking commuting subsidies to match the car parking subsidies you provide to car commuters.
You'll recognize that not everyone can afford to live close to work, and urban housing is often more expensive and smaller. For those who can't bike, mass transit commutes might be better for the environment, but are rarely a source of joy. However, for you, a short commute will be a gift that keeps on giving.