Balancing a startup and kids? Twitter co-founders suggest calendars, not bars

Evan Williams and Biz Stone

Twitter’s co-founders had some advice for startup founders Thursday: If you have kids, you’ll have to do things a little differently.

“I don’t go to bars anymore,” said Evan Williams, one of the Twitter co-founders now working on the publishing platform Medium. Williams and fellow Twitter co-founder Biz Stone for an interview at at San Francisco’s TechCrunch Disrupt, where YouTube’s Hunter Walk asked a question rarely posed to male startup founders: Can you have it all?

Williams and Stone, who both have children, said it’s hard to maintain a balance between their growing business and their families, but one thing that helps is actually scheduling time with their kids on a calendar. Sounds silly, they said, but it works. Williams also noted that it’s helpful to have the crazy days of his 20’s behind him.

But the replies from the co-founders–that avoiding bars and pulling out the calendar can help solve work-life balance–seemed only to highlight the male-dominated startup tech world, where this seems like sage parenting advice. Of course Disrupt is not a parenting conference, but hearing how powerful founders answer the question certainly sheds some light on a traditionally sticky issue in Silicon Valley.

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in the Atlantic, “Why Women Can’t Have it All,” raised controversial questions this summer on work-life balance for mothers with children, an issue that applies to Silicon Valley but isn’t often raised at tech conferences for primarily male founders.

Silicon Valley has been criticized for having a “woman problem,” with a shortage of both female CEOs and engineers building things. It’s no surprise that startup life isn’t always conducive to family life and the buzz surrounding Marissa Mayer as the first pregnant CEO was notable.

So if the Twitter guys can make it work, does that mean everyone can? At least their strategy could lower your bar tab.

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