Updated Sept. 29, 6:12 pm
A 22-point list written by his 10-year-old daughter was all it took to change the trajectory of Mohamed El-Erian’s life, the former CEO says.
In January, El-Erian made headlines for announcing his resignation as chief executive officer of trillion-dollar investment fund PIMCO in January. In an article for Worth this summer, which has recently gone viral, El-Erian explains that he decided to step down after his daughter listed out the many milestones he had missed in her life.
When El-Erian asked his child why she wasn’t listening to him when he asked her to brush her teeth, she gave him a list of 22 things he had missed (from first soccer matches to Halloween parades) because of work.
“Talk about a wake-up call,” El-Erian writes. “I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-dos… But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point.”
Family may not have been the sole factor in his resignation, however; at least one report at the time suggested El-Erian’s departure might also have been motivated by an alleged falling-out with PIMCO co-founder Bill Gross, who left the company Friday.
But whatever El-Erian’s actual reason for leaving, his blog post still struck a nerve. While discussion of work-life balance is often discussed with women in the C-Suite, men are rarely asked whether or not they “have it all.”
But the conversation is now opening up. And this is largely because men are speaking out. For example, former CEO of MongoDB Max Schireson wrote a popular blog post about his decisions to step down from his position after he realized how much he was missing in his children’s lives.
A recent TIME article asked 7 C-Suite dads, many of whom were CEOs, to reflect on their struggles to maintain a strong work and family life. Intuit CEO Brad Smith recalled leaving his wife and newborn daughters the day after both of them were born for work trips. Since then he has learned that there are “crystal” and “rubber” moments — while you can bounce back from missing a few occasions, the crystal moments (graduations, weddings, births) should never be dropped.
Since resigning, El-Erian now manages “a portfolio of part time jobs” that provides more flexibility. (Meanwhile his former firm, PIMCO has run into some troubled waters.)
“I now alternate with my wife in waking up our daughter every morning, preparing her breakfast and driving her to school,” he said. “I’m also around much more often to pick her up after school and take her to activities. She and I are doing a lot of wonderful talking and sharing. We’ve even planned a holiday together, just the two of us.”