Career Fatherhood Life Work

The Ten Words That Changed My Life


For the first time in my career, I was failing.

I was a senior analyst reporting directly to the vice president of finance and he was, shall we say, not a fan of mine. He mocked me for being so involved as a father. He found it ridiculous I wanted to see my child before she went to sleep each night and made snarky comments about how real men don’t do work around the house. He didn’t think I was dedicated even though I thought about the job constantly. Every night, after everyone else went to bed, I would disappear into my home office and work beyond midnight.

I was pulling more hours than anyone else I knew.

Every day was enveloped in stress. I had been there six months and there was no hope or relief in sight when I learned I would be getting a new boss, the newly hired senior director, who would be slotted between the VP and I. The first thing I heard about him was that he had started his career at Goldman Sachs.

Great, I thought, another workaholic, money-worshiping bro douchebag to battle.

During our first conversation in his office, he outlined his plans and goals and all of the things he believed we could accomplish. As we traded notes on our backgrounds and experiences, he said something that not only surprised me, but profoundly changed me.

“Dinner at my house is sacred. I never miss it.”

He had a wife and two children, and he made sure he was home for dinner every night. Here was a guy that was my age, but several levels above me, and yet he still made the time for his family. He woke up early and he certainly worked hard, but he never let the job overtake his life, even if it meant leaving money on the table.

“Dinner at my house is sacred. I never miss it.”

From that day forward, I followed my new boss’s cue and made sure I was home for dinner every single night. There’s more to being a father than bringing home the check, particularly in the twenty-first century.

While I loved working for him, the toxicity of the organization was taking its toll on me. I had to leave. My well-being depended on it.

When I began interviewing this time around, though, I had a different mindset. One of the first things I would tell prospective employers was that I don’t get into the office until 9 a.m. every morning. I get the kids dressed and fed in the morning and that takes priority over everything else.

It became a deal breaker for me. If they were unable or unwilling to guarantee me the work-life balance that I felt I needed for my mental health, I would withdraw my candidacy immediately.

I began treating my job search like a highly-prized NBA free agent — if we can’t come to an agreement, no problem, I’ll just find another team.

It’s now more than two years later and it’s been great. I now have two kids, I’m more involved at home than ever, and I still manage to get my work done — in fact, I’ve been promoted twice. Most importantly, I’m happy.

Oh, and that vice president that was so dedicated to the job? I recently learned that he’s been fired and returned to his home in Australia. You can only be a bully for so long.

I now have an opening on my team that I’m going to start interviewing for very soon. One of the first things I’m going to tell every candidate?

Dinner at my house is sacred, I never miss it.

Christopher Pierznik is the worst-selling author of nine books. Check out more of his writing at MediumHis work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business InsiderThe CauldronFatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Please feel free to get in touch at

By Christopher Pierznik

Christopher Pierznik is the author of 9 books and has contributed to numerous websites on a variety of topics including music, sports, movies, TV, personal finance, and life. He works in corporate finance and lives in northern New Jersey with his family. His dream is to one day be a member of the Wu-Tang Clan.

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