Men should find time from busy work routines to be with their families

Multi-generation family enjoying Christmas meal at home. [Getty Images]

By any standards, it was an amazing story of an inspiring and remarkably successful man. Manu C came from India with $350 in his pocket and built an empire of over $3.5 billion spanning two continents and over five countries.

At the end of the interview, the lady asked him if he had any regrets and he paused for a long time then said softly, “if I could live my life all over again, I would give up all this just to have more time with my daughters.

"I had no time for their birthdays, school events or holidays and now they are grown up and they have their own lives and they have no time for me.” I knew him well.

He was a corporate titan, oozing with charm, and as dangerous as a shark. Six months later he was dead.

ultra-rich men

At the age of 33, I was a vice president and head of the Citibank Private Bank, running five countries out of Dubai and reporting to London and Geneva.

My life was a high of dealing with ultra-rich men. Some were even heads of state. My routine was meeting with these people wherever they were and advising them on how to manage their billions.

It was a life of first-class travel, five-star hotels, limousines and all the perks that came with such work. At the age of 35, I quit to start my own business back home in Kenya.

From the age of 35 to 40, I tried to do business in Kenya at a time when this country was literally like the Wild West.

It was a difficult and depressing time, the newspapers were always full of people and companies being auctioned. I was soon hustling and trying to stay one step ahead of disaster and I was too proud to go back and look for a job – despite several offers.

Meanwhile, my two boys were growing up without me. I was never around. The reality for most men is that whether you are doing well or struggling, you must make time for the family.

We put our work ahead of everything else because we believe that we are doing this for our families.

These days, I am often invited to speak to graduate students, and I always insist that true success is not just work or business success, it is a work-life balance that includes the children and family.

Sent me greetings

Like Manu’s children and mine, they will remember with happiness the happy time you spent with them and attended their functions – they will never remember that you paid their school fees in time.

So to all of you guys in your thirties and early forties trying to achieve success, remember this lesson.

Last Sunday was Father’s Day and all my kids sent me greetings. We should all reflect on our role as a father.

Do you really make time for your children and family? I try my best and I think that sometimes I judge myself too harshly.

I cannot ask my children what they think of me as a father, their answer will be too polite and perhaps, too sensitive so as not to hurt me.

I love my children and I wish I could have done more, but I tried my best. The jury is still out. They may be reading this column and all I want to say is that I tried my best.