The Coffee Chat (#20)

My conversation with Peter Lai - VP Of Strategic Alliances, IoT America, newsletter writer and Dad to 2 kids under 10

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Hi there 👋🏽

Earlier this month I decided to take a few days off from work. I also decided to continue sending baby T to daycare on those days. Some people found it strange - why would I not be with my child when I was not working?

I did it because I wanted a break. I wanted to recharge myself. Just have a few hours everyday during the week where I had no responsibilities to care for another. To do simple things like sip hot coffee, take a nap when I want and binge watch TV.

IT WAS THE BEST DECISION EVER.

If you can, give yourself the permission to take out time just for yourself. It does not make you a bad parent. Put on your own Oxygen mask first!


 Now, on to today’s coffee chat…

Meet Peter Lai

Peter’s background spans over 17 years in technology sales, solution architecture, and business development. His wife is currently a c-level executive at a major museum in Dallas. Together they are parents to 2 kids under 10.

Below is my conversation with Peter…

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family 

I’m Peter and currently, I work at a startup based in Texas as head of their channel partnerships. I’ve been in the business of managing and forming partnerships and ecosystems for the past eight years after spending many years in a technical sales role. I started Partner Up, a newsletter late last year on best practices and strategies to grow business partnerships and alliances and also advise startups on partnerships and go-to-market strategy on Fridays in Clubhouse. 

I met my wife, Kerri, eight years ago and got married a year afterwards. She is currently a c-level executive at a local museum. We tell everyone that we balance each other out well because she’s more social than I am and a little bit more spontaneous than my reserved nature. We both love traveling, the arts, and trying new types of cuisines.

We have two kids, Josie (age 6) and Jack (age 3). 

For you what was the hardest part of becoming a new parent? How is this different with your second child :) ?  

The lack of sleep is no joke. I remember the early days and months where we both had no idea if what we were doing was right or wrong. Even with all the books and advice you get from others, when it’s 3 am and you’re barely awake, none of that information matters. It took a while to determine what worked for us and how be productive with minimal sleep. We knew the sleepless nights were coming with our second child, but nothing still prepares you for it. Our son was much different from his older sister as a baby, so we had to go through a new routine because what worked with her didn’t work for him.

After becoming a parent did you adopt any new beliefs, behaviors, or habits that have most improved your life?  

For me, it’s the belief that it’s okay if things don’t go according to plan. I’ve always been a bit of a rule follower and one that relies on routine and structure. You try to set a routine around the standard affairs like remote school work, reading, and bedtime routine, but it doesn’t always go as planned some days. It took many reminders from my wife about this to relax a bit and realize that I’m only stressing myself and the others around me by being too structured. 

Did you take any paternity leave? If yes, how was the transition back to work?

I took a week off work for our first child because my former employer didn’t offer paternity leave at the time. The transition back was tough because I felt guilty for going back when I should have stayed home longer. For our second child, I was working from home at that time as a consultant, so the transition back to work was a little bit easier because I knew what to expect. I did my best to put a plan together to gradually ease back into my work routine and taking on clients.

Given that you are part of a dual-career household what choices have you and your partner made that have helped you become a dual career household with kids?

We rely on each other and a very close group of friends to coordinate and help out when needed. Also, Kerri’s parents live locally so they help out when we are tied up with a work commitment that can’t be avoided. I think we’re lucky to have this, but at the same time, we make an intentional effort to adjust our schedules to accommodate our kids' needs (sports, events, etc) so we don’t have to always rely on others.

The biggest challenge that working parents with young kids have is a lack of predictability in their schedule and limited time for themselves. How have you managed this?

This is such a hard thing to address because it’s still an ongoing process to figure out what works best. We try to balance out the responsibilities whenever we can. Sometimes it’s 50/50, but some weeks could be 60/40 or 40/60 between the two of us with work. Usually in the evening, we’ll switch between who cooks and does bath time with the kids. We have our time to relax when the kids are asleep, and lately, it’s also been my most productive time to catch up on my side projects and work.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investment you have made after becoming a parent?

Fitness is a big part of my life for many years, so I used to go work out five days a week. To carve out two hours (including driving) to spend at the gym isn’t such a good idea with kids. The best investment has been having a mini-gym built out in our garage that allows me to sneak out in the morning when everyone is asleep to spend time to myself to mentally and physically recharge. Now that they are a little bit older, I’ll invite them to work out with me in the garage, so incorporating physical activities together in a way to teach our kids about staying active and physically healthy has been a joy. 

What advice would you give others who are on the cusp of becoming parents? What advice should they ignore? 

Don’t worry if things don’t go as planned. No matter what anyone tells you, every child is different so what worked for them will likely not work for you. Just listen to what they say and appreciate that they are trying to help. Also, learn to be aware of when you’re about to be really stressed out and ask for help or take a breath. When you’re running on little sleep, stress can easily creep up.

Quick-fire questions:

What’s the best thing you have watched recently?

Mare of East town on HBO Max

What’s the best thing you have read recently?

Atomic Habits by James Clear

What’s the best thing you have listened to recently?

Right now, I’m still learning how to improve my newsletter as a creator so I’ve been listening a lot of podcasts like Nathan Barry’s Art of Newsletter and Li Jin / Nathan Baschez’s Means of Creation.


I would love to hear from you, feedback is always welcome!

And if you happen to know an inspiring working parent who should be featured in a future edition (or if you yourself are one) - please do get in touch

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