Evan Thorpe - Venture Capitalist
"You can spoil kids with certain things, but you can’t spoil kids with love, so don’t hold back."
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Though I am a US citizen, I moved to Asia when I was 8 years old and my family and I have been based here since (between Hong Kong and Indonesia). After working in FinTech for eight years, I joined US-headquartered SixThirty Ventures to lead our investment team’s efforts in Asia Pacific.
How old are your kid(s)?
Two boys: aged 8 and 6; they share a well-honed ability to negotiate with one another and get along very well.
Who is the primary caregiver in the household, and what are you and your partner’s parenting philosophy?
My wife and I both work and so we tend to split parenting duties between us. Starting in 2016, my wife and I both took a year off from working and took our kids on a roadshow to visit family scattered over the world. It was a tremendous experience to spend such a long duration with them at that juncture in their early years. We also get a lot of help from grandparents and other relatives!
What's your favourite moment in the day with your kid(s)?
Right after dinner we will often play table top games such as Catan, Dominion, Agricola, and others. It is a great opportunity to share a common interest and spend time together as a family.
How do you keep yourself sane?
My wife and I try to be as intentional as possible about how we manage our lives as individuals, as parents, as active participants in the groups we belong to, and as citizens of the world. Whenever we find ourselves out of balance across in these areas, we try to be deliberate about restoring that balance. With our kids being the age that they are now, we probably spend more time as parents than as anything else and so we need to work hard to not neglect the other facets, as well.
Best tech tip on parenting. This can be apps / hardware / gear you use, and how you use them.
My wife and I read a number of books and other resources and even took courses on parenting. We have picked and chose what resounded with us; if it worked, we used it. My wife and I are both partial to Excel and so we do a lot of family and financial planning on spreadsheets. With the kids, we also use a system of merits and de-merits in our household to validate what our kids are doing, which is helpful to us functioning effectively as a group and charting their progress. They get to save up their merits to earn toys and books.
Most helpful advice you've received as a parent.
Yeah, there is no shortage of ideas out there! And the ones that have helped me the most really stand out. The best pointers I received: You can spoil kids with certain things, but you can’t spoil kids with love, so don’t hold back. Another would be to let kids help and contribute around the house and as members of the family. Another big one: always listen to what they tell you about their lives. These wise words have really helped me.
What lessons do you not want your kid(s) to learn?
Drugs and substance abuse destroy lives and there are many who have been able to free themselves from the hold that addiction can have on them. These lessons are often learned the hard way and I’d certainly prefer my kids to not have to learn those lessons first-hand.
What was the best lesson you learned from your child?
Great question. It would have to be when I learned that when they are intently working on something and doing fine on their own, don’t interrupt them. This was not an easy one to learn. Because I got used to traveling so much for work –like so many of us in this business- and so when I would get back home, I would try to over-compensate by spending every second with them and I would leap at the opportunity to insert myself into every activity they were involved in. I realized that I should restrain myself from interfering with their choice of activity so that they can develop their own views free from my evaluation of them.
What is your proudest dad moment?
There are so many! Both my sons recently got into scouting and camping. I learned a great deal in scouts as a child and young adult, myself, and to see them having their own experiences there has been very edifying.
If you could ask anyone, dead or alive, for their best parenting tip, who and what would that be?
My maternal grandmother passed away years before I became a father. She raised three children of her own who are each very different from one another and even more important, are very different from her. I really admire people who understand that their kids have to find their own way but still remain very close to them; I would have loved to ask her how she maintained that balance.
How do you manage technology exposure for your child/children?
It’s my viewpoint that kids need to understand how the world works so that they can navigate it on their own as they grow older. Technology is undeniably a big part of this world they grow up in and we are able to accomplish great things by leveraging its various forms.
As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Mankind has achieved incredible capabilities afforded by science and technology and yet we often lack the reason on how to best utilize these capabilities. I think this starts at a personal level and developing personal ethics and an understanding of the humanities is often neglected simply because there are only so many hours in the day and screens have a way of drawing people in and not letting go for long stretches of time. As a result, we try to make sure the humanities and arts in their offline formats are not neglected; we make sure our kids spend a lot of time drawing, creating, and reading books. We still let our kids watch TV on airplanes, though; that is a big treat for them!
What hobbies do you and your children share?
I play ice hockey and have been teaching them how to ice skate. The table top strategy games I mentioned earlier are also a big activity around our house. We’ll see how it develops, but as long as we do things as a family, I feel pretty good about it. I believe that what you do matters less than the fact that you do it together.
Finally, your best dad joke!
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana!