New Dad Wants to Quit Job and Launch Startup. Wife Makes Him Keep ‘Home By Dinner’ Promise

For Todd McKinnon, CEO and co-founder of Okta, a cloud security platform, commitment to family was a crucial element in realizing his entrepreneurial dreams.

In 2008, he planned to quit his job as senior VP of development at Salesforce, a cloud-based software company, so he could launch a startup. But he needed his wife Roxanne’s blessing.

Considering the economy was going through a recession, and the couple had a 6-month-old daughter at the time, that was no easy task. As many outlets who had covered Todd’s story reported, he created a PowerPoint to win her approval. Hilariously called “Why I Am Not Crazy,” the presentation provided a detailed explanation for why it made sense for him to focus on starting his own business. It included multiple scenarios that ensured their financial stability no matter what went wrong.

She said yes. But as his new interview with CNN Business reveals, she also made him promise that he’d be home by dinner every night.

Keeping this commitment, he said, has helped him be better at his job. Today his company has over 2,000 employees, and has a $1.5 billion valuation at IPO.

According to CNN Business, he would be out of the office by 7 p.m., go home, then sign on again at night. But that time with his family allowed him to “take a breather, yield some control at work and gain a broader perspective.”

He also said that being a dad taught him about building a successful company culture. He describes Okta’s as transparent and collaborative, because from the start, he’s made it a point to communicate even bad news with his team.

“You can talk about things [with your employees], but the culture is really set by how you act… They don’t care what you say, it’s about what you do,” he said.

On LinkedIn, at least one employee is happy to back up the CEO’s claims. Sharing the article to her account, Jenna Kozel King, the senior director of corporate communications and content marketing at Okta wrote, “Actions speak louder than words, and because Todd always went home for dinner, I felt like I could too. It makes it OK to work and have two kids (and not feel guilty!) I am thankful to almost always be home to put the girls to bed 🌟.”