I will never forget that shining night in when I fell in love with Jean-Luc, now my husband and partner in adventure. If I remember right, our 7:30 a.m. first conversation at a conference, over breakfast, was about employee benefits. We talked all night, walking the summer streets of New Orleans. By dawn, we were firm fellow adventurers, a bright trajectory we’ve been flying now for almost a decade. My previous loving-but-struggling relationships, plus this one life-changer with Jean-Luc, have always pulled me to be curious about what, if anything, is different about romance among entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs and romance
Here is a Valentine’s bouquet of different perspectives from entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bezos, Tony Hsieh and Keysha Ka’oir on romance. See if any of this advice resonates with you . . .
Jeff Bezos: in love with resourceful
At Summit, the Amazon and Blue Origin founder shared with the audience that meeting his wife Mackenzie ended his series of professional blind dates because she finally met his bar: “I wanted a woman who could get me out of a third-world prison.”
His focus was on resourcefulness and smarts, and he found it when he interviewed the fellow Princeton grad who became his wife six months later–and before Amazon. “I think my wife is resourceful, smart, brainy, and hot, but I had the good fortune of having seen her résumé before I met her, so I knew exactly what her SATs were,” he joked in Vogue.
Elon Musk: the search for your soulmate
In November, Elon Musk shared with Neil Strauss of Rolling Stone that, “I’m not looking for a one-night stand. I’m looking for a serious companion or soulmate, that kind of thing.” He shared, “I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me.” This is the man that is simultaneously reinventing trucking, automotive, communications, manufacturing and space flight, with a side hobby in AI. Maybe a relationship is just a matter of time, literally.
Richard Branson: love is a well of courage
On the 40th anniversary of his relationship with his wife Joan, Richard Branson wrote a public Valentine’s letter:
Had you asked me what I thought love was when I was younger, I would have told you it was an overwhelming emotion that grips and squeezes your heart till it sings with an erratic beat. Perhaps it was my hormones, but this was what happened when I was a teenager, lusting after girls with pretty eyes and coy smiles. I even wrote dramatic poetry, waxing lyrical about my unwavering passion and desires. Here’s my first love poem to prove it.
However, as I have grown older I have realised that love is something entirely different. Last week I wrote about how I met the love of my life, my wife Joan. Having spent 40 years with Joan by my side I have had the courage to do so many things others would deem impossible. I have been able to take risks – that have been fundamental to my success in business – which I probably wouldn’t have dared to make without Joan’s love.
She has taught me that love shouldn’t just squeeze your heart, it should cradle it. It should prop you up, not bring you down. It should make you strong, not weak. The way I see it, love is a steadfast boat that allows you to make safe yet exciting passage across wild seas.
Keyshia Ka’oir Davis: gotta have equal pay with equal play
Many women entrepreneurs are ultra private about their love lives, but Keyshai Ka’oir, the Jamaican beauty guru who runs 3 companies, isn’t one of them. She shared with The Cut this week that,
“I’m not a trophy wife, and I don’t ever want to be classified as that. I almost feel worthless if I don’t have a new product coming out or something new to do. So no, the answer is no. Gucci’s wife? Laying home? Never. I would die. I want to see other women be as independent and make as much money as their husbands these days. It’s easy.”
Warren Buffett: better yourself
The Oracle of Omaha shared this advice on Bill Gates’ blog about his take on relationships.
You will move in the direction of the people that you associate with. So it’s important to associate with people that are better than yourself and actually the most important decision many of you will make, not all of you, will be the spouse you choose.
And you really-;you want to associate with people who are the kind of person you’d like to be. You’ll move in that direction. And the most important person by far in that respect is your spouse. I can’t overemphasize how important that is.
Oprah Winfrey: Only on your terms
“Live life on your own terms,” Oprah shared with Vogue last year about how her long relationship with Stedman evolved. She said marriage was never on the table. “Nobody believes it, but it’s true. The only time I brought it up was when I said to Stedman, ‘What would have happened if we had actually gotten married?’ And the answer is: ‘We wouldn’t be together.’ We would not have stayed together, because marriage requires a different way of being in this world. His interpretation of what it means to be a husband and what it would mean for me to be a wife would have been pretty traditional, and I would not have been able to fit into that.”
Tony Hseieh: Monogamy is boring
Marriage isn’t necessarily the goal for some entrepreneurs. Tony Hseieh, who built Zappos and then sold it to Amazon, shared with Playboy as reported in Fortune:
From a purely evolutionary point of view, the guy who’s monogamous will have fewer copies of his genes in the next generation than a guy who’s not. I think it’s pretty hard to find one partner and call it a day.
Using the analogy of friends, why not find just one friend and call it a day? The answer is because you get a different type of connection, different conversations, different experiences with different friends. I would say the same thing is true on the dating side.
Entrepreneurs innovate in love like in business
Despite age, race or gender, reading these perspectives, it’s clear that entrepreneurs are inventors in love just like they are in business. Because they are entrepreneurs, there may be specific marriage pitfalls, but there’s no typical path, plenty of false starts, lots of high ideals, and ultimately, few traditional relationships. No matter where you are in your love life this Valentine’s, hopefully this handful of perspectives will help you see that whatever path you are on, it’s yours all the way. There’s no such thing as normal.
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