When Matt Sakauye was nineteen years old, he made a decision that would forever change the trajectory of his life: to one day become the best possible father and husband he could be.
It was certainly not a life plan that the typical college sophomore might think of, but Matt had been transformed by a talk he’d heard at a Christian retreat he attended at the end of his freshman year. At the retreat, a man shared his experience of identifying his purpose in life, and the story resonated deeply with Matt. “He said that everyone is shaped with this God-sized hole in their hearts,” Matt recalls. “And we all try to fill it with things we hope will give us significance or fulfillment or make us happy. In the end, however, the only thing that will truly fulfill you is a relationship with God.”
Although Matt had not grown up in a particularly religious household, he felt his experiences up until that point supported this idea. “In that moment I decided I wanted God to come into my life, and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and everything changed in that moment. I’d experienced a sense of purpose and fulfillment I’d never felt before. I felt I’d been created to be in a relationship with God, and from that point I realized what was most important wasn’t chasing material or earthly things, it was getting to know God through Jesus and investing in that relationship. And through that purpose, direction, and fulfillment, all the things most people search for will naturally come.”
With his new commitment in mind, Matt began his sophomore year searching for a greater purpose in his life. As he was being exposed to ideas and viewpoints he’d never encountered growing up, and as he pondered all of this new information, he came to a realization. “I realized that people’s most important relationship is the one they have with their father,” he says. “And a lot of who they are and the way they see the world and how they treat others comes out of their relationship with their father. And that relationship is very much connected to the relationship their father had with their mother.”
From this revelation, Matt developed his lifelong mission. “I started to think that maybe this could be the most worthwhile thing I do with my life,” he says. “The way my dad is and the way he acted with my mom had a tremendous influence into how I saw the world. It would be a worthwhile endeavor to one day become a person who could help shape the next generation, whether it was my kids or someone else’s. But the way I could do that would be to put myself in a place to be a great husband and father.”
Rather than leave this mission to chance, he came up with a plan. The first step was to find mentors who could teach him what it meant to be a good father, which he did by reaching out to a campus Christian organization with which he was affiliated. The second was to take a year off from dating in order to read as much as he could about being in a healthy relationship. “I was going to learn everything I could about healthy relationships,” he says. “So I read about thirty books in a year on dating, marriage, parenting–anything relational, that’s all I read for a year except textbooks.”
The strategy paid off. The following summer, Matt met Jessica, the woman who would eventually become his wife, while attending a three-month Christian college student leadership program in New Jersey. Although the two crossed paths a couple of times over the summer, their most significant interaction took place in a laundromat where, while talking and folding laundry, Matt learned they shared a lot in common. The two would end up speaking only once or twice over the next year, but the following summer their paths crossed again when they were both invited by the same organization to lead a group of thirteen fellow students through an international program in Japan. Although Jessica had a boyfriend at the time, Matt realized over that summer that he was going to marry her one day. He waited, however, to make his feelings known until later on, after Jessica and her boyfriend broke up and he invited her to go on a hike with him.
“I told her that I wanted to pursue a relationship with her,” Matt says. “But I wanted that relationship to be with the intention that we would get married one day.” Matt and Jessica got engaged their senior year and married the year after they graduated college. They’ve now been married for eighteen years and have two daughters, Chloe, age eleven, and Reese, age eight.
“Those decisions I made when I was nineteen have really guided how I’ve chosen to go about my life and spend my time even on a daily basis,” Matt says. “To this day, being a good husband and father steers the way that I think and act and make decisions.”
As for how he goes about being a good husband and father on a daily basis, Matt says it basically comes down to five things: prioritizing your time, supporting your loved ones in becoming who they are (not who you want them to be), challenging them to try new things, always giving them something to look forward to, and laughing a lot. “I like to have my calendar reflect my priorities in life, so twice a week my wife and I have a date night. We’ll hang out. Sometimes we watch a movie or just plan or go over finances or dream. Same with my kids. I have things with my kids because they’re a priority so I set up structures in my life so I can live out this priority of being a good father.”
Matt also credits his commitment to being a good husband and father to his career choices, including his decision to work at Gravity, which he has done for the past ten years.
“One of the reasons I came onto Gravity in the first place is because I recognized there was an opportunity to work with people who felt the same way I do about doing what’s most important in life. I saw Dan Price, the company’s CEO, as a partner. He was very smart and driven, and I saw him as someone I could learn from. But I think what was most impressive and attractive to me about Gravity and Dan was it seemed like this was a person who had strong convictions and values. But he wasn’t just someone who had them; he was someone who lived them out.”
And those values, he says, are present within the company as a whole. “We believe in doing the right thing and sacrificing. We’re willing to make bold moves to make a difference with the customers that we work with.”
Matt also sees the opportunity to extend his goal of being a good father figure to mentoring people at Gravity. “It’s not just about wives and kids. It’s about the people who are closest to you,” he says. “So much that happens at Gravity, even though it plays out in the world of credit card processing, the way we make decisions and want to be creative—all of those things are very much in line with having good relationships with the people around us. Taking responsibility and taking care to hold yourself accountable for your actions. When I come across people who want to be good parents and partners, it resonates. A lot of the people I ended up working with were younger guys who were interested in getting married and starting a family. And if we can do well on the financial side, it allows us to provide for our families. So I feel like I can create jobs and opportunities to allow people who have that goal to be able to accomplish it.”
Gravity’s commitment to work/life balance also helps make this goal a possibility for all of its employees. Matt points to benefits like unlimited paid time off as well as the $70,000 minimum wage as examples. “We encourage working hard but never to the point where you’re putting your health or relationships in jeopardy.”
In explaining how his work at Gravity complements the rest of his life’s work, Matt says, in his mind, it’s all connected. “I don’t see my job at Gravity as a job,” he says. “To me it’s all connected by this purpose. God has put me in this place and I can do things in a certain way and help people, and I see this as my role. I’m here to help people. I have these certain values and passions and I’m here at Gravity just sharing those things. And they happen to pay me for it.”
By Brooke Carey, Content Editor