Today is the publication date of my agent-sister, Dorcas Cheng-Tozun’s debut book, Start, Love, Repeat: How to Stay in Love With Your Entrepreneur in a Crazy Start-Up World (Center Street, 2018). I’ve known about her book deal for a while now and have loved following her publishing journey. Like most authors, Dorcas and I went through several rounds of submission for our debut books and had to rewrite and revise just as many times. But it’s all worth it when the final product comes out!
I read Start, Love, Repeat a few weeks ago and was so impressed by the many interviews she conducted and the case stories of these other entrepreneurs and their marriages. It’s not an easy life, that’s for sure. Long hours, lots of traveling, and there’s no such thing as a work-life balance.
But what I enjoyed most were her personal stories. Dorcas met her husband in college when they were both at Stanford. He’d started some other start-ups before hitting it big. According to her book, most entrepreneurs fail at 3 start-ups before having any success. That’s an encouraging statistic, no matter one’s field. (Publishing, anyone?)
When Dorcas’s husband Ned and some friends decided to start d.light, a company that provides solar energy to developing countries, it starts out small. But after much hard work and grueling hours, the company takes off. And the directors decide they need to be closer to their clients if the company is ever going to make it long-term.
So Dorcas and Ned move to southern China and Ned’s partner moves to India. But Shenzhen isn’t want Dorcas expects. (I don’t blame her; it wasn’t easy when I lived in Hong Kong and ventured north to this border town.) Since Dorcas uprooted her life in northern California for Ned’s business, Ned decides to compromise and open an office in Hong Kong. That move across the border makes things so much easier on Dorcas and she writes candidly about this and how compromise is not impossible in relationships with entrepreneurs.
She covers all topics that might come up in a marriage to an entrepreneur and nothing is taboo. Nothing! What I didn’t get was the complete selfishness of some of the people she interviewed. They canceled dinners and vacations and couldn’t spend one evening with their spouse without work getting in the middle. Sometimes I wondered if that was the nature of the business or the personality of that particular person.
When Dorcas received this book deal, she and Ned and their young son were living in Kenya for d.light. They were there just under a year and it was another sacrifice her family had to make for the company. But the way she looked at it, it was another opportunity to experience another culture and learn about another part of the world. I love that outlook and think that would be a great perk. Moving overseas isn’t just confined to entrepreneurs; it can happen in many professions. (But not all! I would encourage my husband to take a job overseas if other countries recognized US medical licenses, but many don’t! Go figure.)
So this book will be helpful to a wide range of people, not just those married to entrepreneurs. It’s a quick and entertaining read and full of life lessons we can all understand.