Joe Stump on How Family Relationships Change With Age

In Chapter 8 of 14 in his 2012 interview, Internet entrepreneur Joe Stump answers "How Are Your Family Relationships Changing As You Get Older?"  Moving into his early 30s, Stump finds parallel between his business career journey and that of his father.  Stump notes the rewards of a newfound peer relationship with his father.  He also shares how he is helping his younger brother, "paying off a few of those wedgies" and how his Mom remains a constant source of support in his life.  Joe Stump is a serial entrepreneur based in Portland, OR. He is CEO and co-founder of, a product management software company.  Previously he founded SimpleGeo, which was sold to Urban Airship in October 2011.  He advises several startups - including and ngmoco:) - as well as VC firm Freestyle Capital.  He earned a BBA in Computer Information Systems (CIS) from Eastern Michigan University. 


Erik Michielsen: How are your family relationships changing as you get older?

Joe Stump: I think as I've gotten older, it's been interesting. Obviously, everybody else in my family is getting older and changing themselves, right? My dad, while I've been kind of climbing up the ladder, has also been climbing up the ladder. He’s been, you know, he was a late comer and he owned his own business for many, many years and then ended up going into a more corporate environment. And so, he’s been climbing up the ladder. He kind of started – kind of about the same time I did. And it's interesting with my dad.

It was obviously earlier on in life. It was -- Dad was the authoritarian figure. He was definitely somebody that I looked up to and taught me a lot of things about everything from how to install a furnace – he built homes for a living -- to how put worm on a hook. And that’s evolved to now, like he comes to me for advice every once in a while. I still seek out advice from him and then we talk and now we talk a little bit more like peers and that’s a big deal. My brother and I had a terrible relationship growing up. We basically fought like cats and dogs and hated each other. And now, I've been able to come back and kind of pay for past digressions and help him out in ways that my parents couldn’t help him out.

A good example of that is he moved out to San Francisco recently and I’ve an enormous network in San Francisco. You know, he moved from Michigan, the most depressed economy in the States, to California, which never mind the state debt is still a booming massive economy and I was able to get him a job there. And you know, that’s great. I loved to be able to help my brother out and pay off a few of those wedgies. I think the relationship that maybe has changed the least is really with my mom. My mom has always been someone who was -- always made me feel better about myself. I don’t think I'm ever going to be at a point in my life where I won’t need people that can help me feel better about myself.

So, my mom still likes to mother me and I don’t know if as a mama’s boy I’ll ever get tired of being mothered. It's kind of funny. My mom and I, to say the least, as a fairly conservative Midwestern housewife. Her and I have different style tastes you could say. Mom’s being mom. They always want to make sure that you're staying warm and all this other stuff and she would send me clothes that I had no interest in wearing. And I finally was able to take advantage of her mothering in a way that made her feel good while also making sure that I didn’t every time get a birthday present, take it to goodwill. And she now sends me -- it's like clockwork.

Every birthday and Christmas, I get a huge care package. I get usually a 24-pack of Bell's Oberon, I get a couple dozen sugar cookies, grandma’s recipe she sends. And it's amazing. It was like, my mom is so amazing because she is the type of mother that knows that my brother likes her sugar cookie recipe and she knows that I like grandma’s sugar cookie recipe. So Jonathan gets mom’s recipe and I get grandma’s recipe. And then like I asked for buckeyes because grandma used to make buckeyes.

For those that don’t know what buckeyes are, they are the most amazing treat. They’re basically peanut butter balls dipped in milk chocolate. They're amazing. I was like, “oh. I want some buckeyes”. So she sent me buckeyes. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that. My mom, she's always been kind of an emotional center for me and I think it will continue to be that way.