Reflections on Turning 46

Today is my 46th birthday. I’m hanging out with a bunch of friends and family, enjoying their company, and reflecting on the past year. 45 was a good, but intense year. Lots of ups, a few downs, and much learned. Following are some of the things I’m chewing on as I start being 46.

Mortality: I’ve had a lot of reminders of mortality lately. In the past year, several close friends’ parents have died and a few other friends have gotten very ill. When I think about being 46, I accept that even in the best case scenario I’m probably half way done with my time on this planet. I’m happy with my physical self – I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in since I was in my early 20’s – but I’ve finally decided to really focus on dropping the 20 pounds I want to get rid of. Rather than being 210, I’d like to spend the rest of my life around 190.

Optimism: I’m an optimistic person – always have been. I’ve noticed an incredible amount of negativity around the system in the past year. Historically I’ve tuned out most of it because I ignore all non-tech news, but I’ve really noticed it in the tech news the past year. Clearly a switch flipped and the journalist / bloggers decided the best way to get attention – or at least links – was to be negative. Balanced is fine (not all is good), but the preponderance of negative trending toward nasty and hostile, especially without any facts or substance behind it, is a drag. I haven’t decided what to do about this yet, but I think I’ll likely just keep tuning it out the best I can.

Learning: I had another awesome year on this front. Between the companies and entrepreneurs I get to work with, TechStars, the books I’ve written, my running, and all the random stuff that I talk about and explore with Amy, I’ve learned more than I could have hoped for. I especially loved the experience of living in a new city for a month (Paris) – just living – not trying to be a tourist, or alter my normal work rhythm, but live in a totally different place for 30 days. Amy and I are going to do this in New York from mid-April to mid-May in 2012 as part of our “live for a month in a different city every year” experience.

No Assholes: I’ve worked really hard to get to a place where I get to spend almost all of my time with people who I want to spend time with. I’ve been able to do this while figuring out how to engage with lots of new, interesting people all the time. I’m going to work even harder at this at 46 – more great people, no assholes.

Travel: My greatest personal disappointment while I was 45 is that I sucked at managing my travel – again. At several points throughout the year I was completely exhausted from the endless cross-country travel. I’m taking a totally different approach at 46 – I’ve already locked down my entire schedule for 2012. With the exceptions of emergencies, I’m not making any trips that aren’t already scheduled. There will be a lot more video conferencing in 2012 and longer stays in cities when I do travel. Who knows if that tempo will work better, but I’m going to try.

For all of you who are part of my life directly, who know me through this blog, or have a relationship with me in any way, thanks for being part of my first 45 years. I look forward to spending time with you during the next 45.

  • As I’ve said personally many times, thanks.

  • Great post, Brad. Thank you so much! One of my favorites, yet.

    I loved the 1 month in a city every year and ‘no assholes’ bit. And I completely share your point of view on optimism. 

    And lest I forget, Happy birthday!! 😀 

    I was reminded of this quote..  🙂

    ‘If you still have more dreams than regrets, congratulations! you are still young!’

  • i love the no assholes rule

  • David Cohen

    Honored to be able to spend time with you and to learn from you over the last 6 years.

  • Happy 46th Birthday, Sir.  Thank you for writing your “Venture Deals” book, it is a tremendous asset as I go out to raise VC $ for my small company.

  • Happy birthday, Brad. 

    And wrt future birthdays, aging, etc., it’s really a birthday recognition issue. Since there is no auditing, however, I suggest doing what I have done: transition the age-accounting books to a non-GAAP biannual birthday recognition system. It has worked wonders here, to the point that I’m contemplating stretching out birthday recognition to triennial. Screw PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

    Helpfully, your friend …


    • I just usually celebrate it for a week. That’s about the same approach, right?

      • Yes, so long as you also move to Base 365 counting, which I strongly encourage.

        • I’m only 2E in hex. That’s how Howard Morgan does it.

          • I’m gonna tell a little story on you here, hope you don’t mind-

            I recently emailed Brad this string 

            0110 0001 1101 0001

            He subsequently sent me a few emails in which he (more or less) said “I can’t figure it out.  What does it mean?”

            My reply: “it’s a random BS string meant to confuse the machine.  It worked.”

  • Weiyi

    happy bday brad!

  • Happy Birthday Brad! I too love your “more great people, no assholes” rule. That’s a great reminder for us all. Life is too short to waste it on assholes. Thanks for the reflections and enjoy celebrating.

  • Happy Birthday.  If you seriously want to lose the weight, I have a way.  I lost 30 lbs this year.  I downloaded to my phone and computer-and kept really serious track of what I ate.  Secondly, I lifted weights and increased my muscle mass, which burns more calories. My back is crap, so even though I wish I could run marathons like you, I can’t.  So, I lift and walk.  It’s all about intake.  

    God bless you, your family, and have a nice glass of wine.  It’s good to be on earth at this time.

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  • Om

    Happy birthday brad and many more great years to you. There are few good guys around, and you are one of those rare ones.

    Ps: will u change shirt brands in yr#47?

  • Hussain Bandukwala

    Happy 46th Brad! Wishing you the best for the future!

  • Happy Belated! I hope you have a great 46 and beyond.

  • Happy Birthday Brad!

  • Christopher Knorr

    Happy birthday Brad. I came to know you initially as a VC probing into my companies technology while you were evaluating consumer empowering fitness/wellness technology to invest in…

    In the two years since, I have come to respect, admire, and follow your open dialog on life. While you clearly have a stated focus and stated mission with your blog and how you spend your time I see your blog through a different lens. 

    I like to view all your efforts in a simple way. “to use thoughtful dialog and real examples to raise the bar for the potential of what everyone can and should do in work, life, and relationships”. 

    Here is to positive collateral consequences, learning new things and increasing the positive signal next year. 🙂

  • Happy Birthday, Brad. I am turning 48 next week.



  • Happy Birthday!

  • hello!!! thank you for such an incredible post! great job! keep it up!

  • joyeux anniversaire. With Euro dropping like a stone, you won’t be able to resist another European Tour next summer.
    Have a great 47th year.

  • James Mitchell

    ” I’ve already locked down my entire schedule for 2012. With the exceptions of emergencies, I’m not making any trips that aren’t already scheduled.”

    This is beyond ridiculous. You are vastly overscheduled.

  • Mark DiMassimo

    Brad, I recently attended my grandfather’s 100th birthday. Hey, you never know…

  • Belated happy birthday from snow dusted Scotland. Hoping to meet you again early in 2012  (TechStars Cloud)

  • Hi Brad – happy birthday!!

    I love your blog for the tech investing insights and the lifestyle thoughts. I have benefited hugely from both, and if I was to highlight one thing this year it would be copying your idea of instituting a regular dinner with my brother.

    There was a lit of good stuff in this post too eg living in a different city for a nonth a year is something I might try with my wife when the kids get older.

    There was one thing that troubled me though. In most everything you write you come across as someone who values tolerance and diversity and who loves people generally. The “no assholes” point somehow runs counter to that, at least a little. I get that life is short and if its only fun if you have fun people around you, but people change and develop, and they have bad and good periods, and bad and good sides. The no assholes idea somehow sems a bit simplistic and that it might not give people a chance to give you and the world their best, or a second chance to do the same. There aren’t enough hours in the day to give people too many opportunities, but categorising people as assholes seems to write off their chances of improving altogether.

    • Good point on the no assholes rule. I don’t really define it in this post – I describe this more in Do More Faster ( where I describe what I refer to as the “Fuck me once” rule. I basically give everyone a yellow card (via a soccer metaphor) – if they screw me over then I confront them, forgive them, and move on. But it only gets to happen once – the second time it happens I’m done dealing with the person.

      In some ways this is a tight corollary of the no asshole rule. I get to define what an asshole is, but I’m tolerant up front, but when I get tired of the person’s “assholish behavior”, I’m done.

      • I remember reading that now. In this post I had interpreted asshole as meaning generally annoying rather than someone who had attempted to screw with you.
        Sent from my Android phone using TouchDown (

        • Annoying is ok. I view asshole as much worse than annoying.

  • Great to read! I turned 33 the day before your birthday and I have been following (mostly successful) the “no assholes” rule for 5 years now. And this year will be the first one that I’ll implement the “live in another city for a month” rule in. It will be Maine in August, whereas normally it’s Brooklyn. What tools do you typically use to find lodging for that period? AirBNB?

    • I’ve been using various web services – mostly local rental things. So far I havent really found the inventory I want on airbnb.

  • Stephen

    Per your “210 -> 190 lbs” comment, I’ve had better luck getting into shape with weight lifting, as gaining muscle helps regulate insulin/body fat better than just burning fat via endurance exercise. Body By Science is a great book that covers the metabolism involved at a level of detail you would probably enjoy.

    If you haven’t tried it before, I’d suggest starting out with a really good personal trainer–someone who cares about their craft and will make it something you improve at and enjoy instead of just supervise you going through the motions each week.

  • Anonymous

    Happy Birthday and we also are looking forward to the next 45!

  • Brad, Curious about your diet. Have you considered Paleo / Primal? Magical for shedding points and putting on muscle. 

    • I’ve thought about Paleo but I know it’s not sustainable and I’m looking for something that I think is long term sustainable.

      • I guess it depends on how you define it… certainly constricting in many ways. Also Tim Ferriss’s slow carb with 1 binge day per week (more or less primal plus beans) seems to have produced good results albeit no personal experience.

        More info on primal if you’re curious

  • cynthia ferrer

    happy (belated)  birthday brad!   Dec 1st is my birthday too – except I’m 4 years older than you.   😉  It’s been a while since I visited but I was checking to see how you were progressing on your marathon goals.  5 in one year – your endurance must be off the hook!   congrats on your 3rd fastest in Philly – that’s super cool!!! 

    • Don’t cut me short – I got six done this year! Happy birthday to you also.

      • cynthia ferrer

        whoops!  wow – 6 in one year is truly amazing.  awesome job!   jeesh…you’d think at the age of 50 someone would know how to count by now!   

  • Happy (belated) birthday, Brad! Thanks for all the time and thought you put into this blog.

  • Sagittarius !!

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