In 2008, I decided to start a company, so I moved to Boulder, Colorado for three months to take part in an intensive startup accelerator. As if that weren’t enough change in my life, I also decided to get married, taking two weeks out of the summer to dash back to North Carolina (where my fianceé had stayed to run a research lab). We got married at the courthouse, spent a week at the beach, and then I returned to my newborn startup.
The company did incredibly well; we managed to raise venture financing and soon relocated to San Francisco. I decided to rejoin my wife in North Carolina, however, and began working remotely. My wife applied to several of the top psychology graduate programs in the nation, with the eventual goal of moving out to the Bay Area where she would pursue her PhD and I could work with my team in-person again.
There was skepticism about my choices from our investors. My team tried to support me as best they could, but there was internal skepticism as well. I held firm, promising to joining the company in the future when I could move my entire family. But it was clear that I had to follow through on that promise if I wanted a long-term future with my company. I poured every ounce of energy I had into my work, and bided my time until I could return to San Francisco.
Instead of being accepted at a Bay Area school, my wife got into a program in Los Angeles. I knew if I wanted to lead my company, I could not continue to work remotely. it was hard for me to imagine starting another company in Los Angeles, where I had no network, venture capital was less plentiful, and the city was dominated by the entertainment industry (which I know nothing about).
But I kept telling myself what I have always known: This is a long game. My life with my wife is the longest term decision I’ll ever make; one that trumps companies, business opportunities and short term optimizations. Our careers, which are not two independent entities, will encounter numerous challenges.
I didn't know how I was going to do it, but I knew that supporting both my wife’s career as well as mine was the best long-term decision for us, and a precedent I wanted to set for future obstacles. We decided to forge into the unknown together and figure out how to make our lives stronger once we got there. So we moved to Los Angeles.
Surprisingly, our love affair with Los Angeles was almost instantaneous. Eight months after arriving, I transitioned out of my previous company and started a new one locally. It wasn’t ideal, but it has since worked out: My network is stronger than ever and I'm more excited for the future than I dreamed was possible. Meanwhile, my wife is working on her PhD alongside an amazing advisor in one of the best labs in the country, setting a strong foundation for her growing career. Making the decision together to move to Los Angeles has shown me that no matter what life throws at us, we’ll be able to handle any bumps in the road.