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HackerNoon Leaders David & Linh Smooke Discuss Parenting Challenges on the Parents in Tech Podcastby@qinen
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HackerNoon Leaders David & Linh Smooke Discuss Parenting Challenges on the Parents in Tech Podcast

by Qin EnApril 25th, 2022
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Building a company as parent entrepreneurs, prioritization in decision making, and the role of technology in parenting. In this special episode of Parents in Tech, I speak with David and Linh Smooke on what it is like to be husband-and-wife entrepreneurs, maintain a routine to balance work and family, and manage their child’s exposure to technology.

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Building a company as parent entrepreneurs, prioritization in decision making, and the role of technology in parenting. In this special episode of Parents in Tech, I speak with David and Linh Smooke on what it is like to be husband-and-wife entrepreneurs, maintain a routine to balance work and family, and manage their child’s exposure to technology.


Listen to the podcast episode on iTunes, Apple Podcast, Spotify or Google Play here >>


David and Linh are the Leaders of HackerNoon, the leading hacker, and developer publication on the internet, and parents to five-year-old Norah, as well as a soon-to-be-born son. HackerNoon is a technology publication that features more than 25,000 curious and insightful contributing writers.

Being a parent while leading a company requires you to be flexible, Linh says. It is the skill set that one can learn from parenting. For David, a big part of managing a business while being a parent is knowing that he can count on Linh in both areas since they are a team.

Making necessary adjustments was something they had to do. David and Linh did not plan on having Norah while HackerNoon was growing. This prompted their decision to move from San Francisco to Colorado in order to make space for their growing family. The move was beneficial to David because it helped him organize his priorities while making sure there is a balance between the responsibilities of being a CEO and a father.

Realigning priorities and being honest with yourself is also key. At first, Linh thought that she could manage both a high-growth and high-gross company while pregnant. But later on, she stepped down from being an international contractor to refocus and take time for herself and baby Norah. When she felt it was time to come back to work, she did so by joining David in HackerNoon.

David and Linh learn as they go, bouncing off each other and applying lessons and values they have learned from raising a family to managing a business and vice versa. Linh shares that David is the maximizer of the company who always comes up with new ideas. On the other hand, she is the optimizer, coming back to what they have done and working on how to improve them. In summary, they are two talented people who balance each other out.

In dealing with anxieties about her career, Linh says it was definitely challenging. She said that feeling nervous and unsure about these things is normal. She attributed the anxieties to her postpartum hormones and believed that things will work out.

Building a routine helped David a lot at the time when HackerNoon was in its own “infancy”. He worked at HackerNoon while Linh was taking a break. It was a conversation the couple agreed on: the importance for David to work while being a parent.

Being supportive of one another is something that both David and Linh are thankful for. The experience of parenthood and running a company has helped them grow together and find balance in their parenting dynamic. Linh appreciates how David makes parenting light by making it a fun responsibility. David on the other hand acknowledges the parenting areas that Linh is better at than he is and appreciates how easy Linh can put Norah to sleep. 

On different parenting styles, Linh brings up their differences in growing up and how this experience has influenced them individually, especially with David being American and Linh being Vietnamese. When cultural differences and the use of language were topics of discussion, Linh decided to raise Norah in English. The parents agreed on a set of values that they want to teach their children. One of which is the importance of creating rather than consuming, especially when it comes to using technology. 

Curious to hear more from David & Linh? Listen to the full episode here >>

In introducing technology to their daughter, David and Linh are very particular when it comes to Norah’s screen time. They implemented the rule of having no gadgets during family mealtimes and no devices during the day. This prohibits Norah from watching  TV during the day, David specifies. The same rules will be kept once their son is born.

In dealing with the inevitable exposure and curiosity of their children towards technology, both of them are also following the rules they set—they prioritize creation overconsumption. They are aware that their children will be immersed in technology as they grow older, but they are firmly drawing the line at using it mainly to enrich their minds while they are younger.

On using technology in their parenting journey, David and Linh mention using Messenger to keep in touch with each other’s side of the family by having a group chat with them. They also bought Norah a polaroid camera, describing it as the perfect thing to get a three- to five-year-old kid, as it helps capture how kids see the world. Linh also allowed certain apps on iPad, such as Khan Academy and the drawing app Procreate.

David says that one of the greatest things about being a dad is knowing that he is not the most important person in the universe. He says that if he lived his life believing otherwise, he would have lived a lesser life. He expressed how he is so incredibly proud of being Norah’s father, saying it’s the greatest thing he has ever done.

On having her second pregnancy, Linh shares that there is less fear of the unknown because of the knowledge she gained from being previously pregnant with Norah. She briefly talks about the conditions that were triggered because of the pregnancy. When she was pregnant with Norah, she had hypothyroidism. This gave her high heart rates, many hormonal ups and downs, and weight loss. Now, it was a different case; she is dealing with gestational diabetes which makes her control her diet. They know that every pregnancy is different, and both she and David are hoping for a healthy birth.

About David’s worries and anticipations, he is wary of making some technical mistakes with the new baby, particularly in diaper changing. Ultimately, he is looking forward to getting to know his son and seeing a new personality.

Linh emphasizes that children are people of their own, bringing up a parenting misconception that a parent is in control of what their kid will be like. She says that although children would naturally take time to develop, they already have a mind of their own.

On receiving parenting advice from the HackerNoon community, Linh mentions one of their employees and how she sees how calm he is with his son and how that calms her and David as well. She shares that she wants to foster a parent-friendly environment in HackerNoon.

On being a parent in tech, Linh has learned that having kids has helped her be more aware of the legacy or impact she wants to leave the world, especially her children. And just because they work in tech doesn’t mean they believe that it is the end all be all. For David, he has learned to balance his responsibilities as a father and founder by completely splitting his time between the two.

About Parents in Tech

Qin En is the founder and host of Parents in Tech, a podcast for parents in Southeast Asia who are technology leaders, founders and investors about what it really takes to balance career ambitions with family aspirations. Since its launch in January 2022, Parents in Tech has topped charts in Singapore and the Philippines in the Parenting and Kids & Family categories. Don’t forget to head over to www.parents.fm to stay up to date with new and previous episodes, join our community of parents in tech or drop me a line.

Produced by Podcast Network Asia and PodMachine

The biggest podcast network in Asia, Podcast Network Asia (PNA), offers a simple and affordable growth and editing subscription service for podcasters across the globe. Its newest product, PodMachine, is an AI-powered system that helps podcasters reach their fullest potential with minimal cost.


Quotable Quotes

“[Parenthood] doesn’t hurt your career.” 

“You [get] to carve time out as a parent to do something on your own, that can get lost in everything. Balancing our abilities to get those moments in our routine has been really helpful.” 

“He was never not a part of anything when it comes to Norah. That’s something that David has never compromised even in the hardest time of HackerNoon. In that way, I’m extremely thankful to have such a partner in a husband.” 

“I think that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done, is to have my daughter, Norah.” 

“You give birth to this person and you give some of your DNA to this person, but they are a whole person, you know. They need time to develop, but they have their own predisposition that is completely theirs… So the idea that you can just mould kids into whatever you want, yeah, it’s not going to happen.”

“[Having children] will not change your outcome in what life will be. It will make you have a more fulfilling life if you have kids, and it’ll change your priorities, but you’re going to be who you are and you’re responsible for your things.” 

Episode timeline

[01:23] Introducing today’s guests, David and Linh Smooke

[02:26] What is HackerNoon about?

[03:44] What’s it like to manage a company while raising a family?

[04:42] Was the timing intentional?

[06:16] On moving from San Francisco to Colorado

[08:21] On managing boundaries between work and family

[12:31] Linh on their complimenting work ethics

[13:25] Linh on taking time off

[16:20] David’s coping mechanism

[18:38] What do you appreciate about your partner?

[21:35] Linh on different parenting styles

[25:13] David on different parenting styles

[27:52] Linh and David on limiting screen time

[31:02] Using technology in parenting

[33:20] The best part of being a dad

[35:05] Linh on the second pregnancy

[38:02] David on how different pregnancies can get

[38:44] David’s worries and anticipations

[40:03] Common parenting misconception

[41:12] Parenting in the HackerNoon community

[43:43] Lessons learned as a parent in tech

[47:33] Connect with David and Linh Smooke