Living Life While Working Hard

I had a 19 hour day yesterday – it started when I woke up at my hotel at 26th Street at 5am and ended when I hit the sack at midnight.  I had a bunch of meetings, a few scheduled phone calls, was on a panel, and stayed on top of my email throughout the day.  I even managed to keep my FishVille fish fed and got my Cafe World food served before it spoiled.

When I crawled into bed, I was toast.  However, when I woke up this morning, I had this deep happy feeling from yesterday.  As I took a shower, I remembered four great things that I did in the midst of a very busy day.

The first was a thirty minute tour through the Guggenheim Museum to see the Kandinsky Exhibit.  Kandinsky is one of my five favorite artists and Amy encouraged me several times over the past few weeks to go see the exhibit.  I happily paid my $18 (I have a reciprocal membership with several other museums but I prefer to pay for special exhibits to support the museum), turned off my iPhone, and spent 30 minutes slowly walking up the Guggenheim ramp to the top, spent a few minutes at the top looking down at the crowd, and then wandered back down slowly.  It was a really special 30 minutes.

Improvisation 28 (Second Version) (Improvisation 28 [Zweite Fassung]), 1912

At 1:15 I was on a panel at Columbia University for NY Entrepreneurship Week.  My dad went to Columbia (‘59) so when I got to the campus 30 minutes early, I called him from the cab to have him guess where I was.  I gave him the address (64 Morningside Drive) and he immediately said “Columbia University!” I put him on speaker phone and he told the cab driver where to take me to give me a tour of Columbia and Harlem.  As we drove around, the cab driver told me his story.  He moved to the US from Israel in 1970.  His parents were Rumanian and were concentration camp survivors during World War 2.  They were rescued by the Russians and his dad was conscripted into the Russian army.  A year later he “escaped”, found his mother and her young child, and emigrated to Israel.  By the time the cab ride was over 30 minutes later, I both had a great tour of Columbia and had made a new friend with a deep emotional connection.

After my panel, I got together with a long time friend Len Fassler.  Len and his partner at the time Jerry Poch bought my first company in 1993 and both have been incredible mentors for me.  Len and I have invested together, succeeded together, and failed together.  He’s a special guy and sitting in a restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue just catching up and being together was wonderful.  We didn’t have any particular agenda – we just sat, drank tea, and talked.

Finally, at 8pm, I joined up with Fred and Joanne Wilson and Matt and Mariquita Blumberg at Convivio for our annual dinner.  This is a tradition – which includes Amy, although she missed this one because she didn’t come to NY with me this trip – that we’ve been doing at the end of the year for the past five or so years.  Fred and I are both investors in Matt’s company Return Path and have been since 1999/2000.  But more importantly, we have all become very close friends as we’ve worked together and grown together.  Our dinners are long and delicious, the conversation is a mixture of catching up combined with talking about what’s going on in the world, and as we left the restaurant around 11pm, I decided I’d finish off the day by walking 20 blocks back to my hotel.

When I look back on yesterday, it’s typical of my life.  I worked extremely hard and covered a lot of ground.  But I didn’t forget to live my life during the day.  I encourage you to find at least one special moment for yourself today, and every day.

  • Great post. Not much else to say – you nailed it here. Carry on.

    • Müzik dinle


  • hell yeah!

  • rockford

    only a vc would think going to a museum, sitting on a panel, and having dinner constitutes work or "hard work".

    i guess my 40 hour blocks of writing code and all else is really really hard work?

    • It seems I didn’t do a good enough job on my post.  The going to a museum and dinner was the “living life” part, not the “working hard” part.  The panel was definitely real work, including the 30 minutes after that I spent talking 1:1 to all the folks that wanted to talk to me.  And – I definitely wasn’t making a judgment about anyone else’s work habits – just trying to remind everyone to live life – well – when it’s happening!

  • could become envious 😉 indeed never forget to live

  • Sounds like you have the missing ingredient to the "work hard, play hard" motto, "recharge hard". Your time in the museum and with friends were great "recharging" activities.

    Although I'm feel'n great after climbing or mtn biking, it's a different feeling and purpose than after meditating, yoga, or time with friends.

    Since I've started scheduling(yes sad I had to schedule this!) some minimal "recharging" time every day I've definitely noticed a positive affect on my other activities.

  • mine sits in a bumbo and giggles and drools at me on camera. there is nothing on the planet that can beat the daily 'kid feeling'

  • Days like that are awesome–getting work done but still having segments of enjoyment with people. Having a mix like this is the dream for anyone that wants to do a lot in the day.

  • Whew! I feel slightly less guilty for scheduling yesterday. Every time I looked at your calendar throughout the day I cringed. <g>

  • I think that the idea of 'working to live' vs. the 'living to work' is the correct world view (my opinion). I also had to chuckle at the posts commenting on the 'work' part — I'd go as far to say that most of us spend a lot of time doing things… very few of us actually 'work'. Growing up on a working farm/ranch that my family still runs is work… I sit in an air conditioned car/office all day in a herman miller chair typing on my computer and talking on the phone… not exactly 'work' but it sure is fun, and I'm very thankful that I've found a way to get paid for it! 🙂

    • Great perspective on the difference between working on a farm and working in an air conditioned office at a desk.

  • Nancy Raulston

    you are a special person Brad — always make me think

    • Thanks Nancy!  I’ll see you soon.

  • Mohan

    Excellent post – put a new perspective for me on work things.Another way of having 'fun' while working hard.

  • Brad,

    Great post with some strong key messages – thanks for sharing. I had a chance to read it on my bberry this morning on the subway and have a good outlook about today.


    Building an online marketplace for outdoor advertising.

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  • Brad, this is probably one of my favorite posts of yours. I love the fact that you spent some time to talk to the cab driver. It is always interesting listening to other people's stories. They usually tend to put things in perspective.

    Thank you,

  • Thanks.  I try to talk to everyone I come in contact with – you never know what you’ll find!

  • I often come back to posts on which I've commented to see what others are thinking/saying; the thought Brendan W expressed about the cabbie reminded me of something.

    When I was doing a capital raise back in 2000, I traveled to Israel (to speak at a conference there). During the ride from Jerusalem to Hersilia (about 45 minutes or so), the driver told me things that I'll never forget – his first-hand experience as a Palestinian there. Wow. Talk about perspective.

  • Hey Brad,
    I read your post and wondered how long you can keep up this "living life" in the midst of "working hard". I used to be in a space similar to yours. One year I spent 70% of my time on the road doing acquisitions and turnarounds. Somehow the squeezing of life into work doesn't work for me any more. I remember trying to convince myself that I had a life by doing this squeeze thing and while it was so much better than nothing, it's not the same as living normally. I applaud you for making the effort to have a bit of life but seriously, working the hours you did yesterday tells me that there is something wrong with your overall life balance and I hope you are able to make a more permanent correction soon.

  • Actually, I feel like my “work life balance” is great.  I have some 19 hour days, and some long weeks, but I love the life I’m living.  I’ve been living this type of pace – with what I consider to be real balance – for about a decade now.  For more on this, take a look at some of the other posts in the Work / Life balance section.… />

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  • I love how your relate your story to us. Personally, I must admit that I tend to enjoy my life as I'm working too hard most of the time. However, I'm still looking forward for that one day where I can start enjoying my life as a young adult.

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