On the surface, Dan Schorr’s tale is a typically cheery American success story. He put himself through Tufts University with a job as a Good Humor man. He has a supportive spouse and an 18-month-old daughter. And, after runs at companies like Pepsi and PowerBar, he launched his own dessert business. Schorr runs the new, Boston-based Vice Cream, specializing in frisky flavors like Afternoon Delight and Choc of Shame.
Dan Schorr
Dan Schorr (Courtesy Vice Cream)

One little detail, though: In 2014, Schorr was diagnosed with a potentially deadly form of lymphoma within weeks of starting his business, with just three to six months to live if untreated. Oh, and he found out his wife was pregnant the day of his diagnosis.

Now he goes for quarterly scans at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and his chances of survival have greatly improved. Still, he suffers from what he calls “scan-xiety,” terrified that every night sweat or itch could mean a recurrence.
“This is why the tag line for Vice is ‘Live life. Dig in.’ You can run a four-minute mile, like I once did, and still get cancer,” he says.
Here’s how he balances parenthood, family, work and spirituality (he was raised in an observant home) with a well-earned sense of perspective.
Vice Cream
Vice Cream launched with five flavors, clockwise from top left: Afternoon Delight, Choc of Shame, Higher Grounds, Breakfast in Bed and Bourbon Mash. (Courtesy Vice Cream)

Recognize the importance of your spouse
A supportive spouse is key, especially if you have kids, when you’re contending with late nights and early mornings without a lot of instant payoff, he says. But logistics are just as important. Schorr and his wife, who also works full-time, meticulously plan out their quarterly calendar to determine which nights he’ll be home. Then they review again every Sunday night to make sure their schedules match up.

Outline expectations for the business
Even the most patient spouse might grow a teensy bit annoyed if the business never takes off after years of late nights and hefty investments. Schorr recommends avoiding resentment by setting milestones, whether it’s a benchmark for money invested, an app launch date, a business being sold or hitting a certain revenue mark.

Schorr credits running with stress reduction. He puts his daughter to bed at 7 p.m. and then faithfully works out.
Get your priorities straight
Schorr talked to plenty of parent-entrepreneurs while launching his business. Some suggested that it was better to miss more of those early childhood years while focusing on a start-up. Others said it was better to launch a new business when kids were teenagers and more independent. Due to his strong sense of family, Schorr felt that “neither one is acceptable. I want to be there at all times,” he says. Hence that intense calendar planning. He also makes sure to take advantage of his daughter’s naps; when she’s napping, he works. And when he works, his family is often on the scene. “When Vice was at the Scooper Bowl, my wife was in the back scooping,” he says.
You gotta love what you do
Schorr has loved ice cream since his days working as a Good Humor man. His parents have eaten a bowl of ice cream each night for years. He thinks it’s a crucial way to bring people together. So it’s worth it. “There are very few people who run a business who don’t have a true passion for it,” he says. “Sometimes it just so happens to be lucrative, but you have to love it.”
Fear is a motivator
Schorr had always wanted to start his own business. Cancer gave him the motivation and a timeline. “I told myself, ‘If I make it through this cancer alive, I will do this.’ You have to live with no regrets,” he says.
Give back
Schorr plans to launch “Nice Vice,” wherein he’ll give pints of ice cream to cancer organizations, families and patients. “Ice cream has that magic,” he says.
Share your story
One of Vice’s key principles is storytelling, something Schorr picked up from his grandfather, a small-business owner who ran a five-and-dime. “Sharing your story could change the way you, and others, live your life,” he says.
Vice Cream Flavors
Courtesy Vice Cream