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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The Vomit Moment

Comments (82)

I’ve had my share of vomit moments – both in business and in life. It’s that moment where a specific thing happens that causes you to want to run into the bathroom and vomit, which you sometimes actually do.

Some of my memorable vomit moments including the night that I asked my first wife if she was having an affair and she nonchalantly said “yes.” Or when I woke up at 4am in the morning and realized Feld Technologies would be out of money in two days if I didn’t go collect some of our accounts receivable – primarily from customers who were clearly stalling to pay because of their financial issues. Or when I finally came to terms with the fact that the only real option for Interliant, a company I had founded and had gone public, was to file for Chapter 11 because we simply couldn’t service our debt. Or when I got sued for $150 million for fraud and read through the first filing which had my name on every page at least 10 times (after three years the suit was settled for for $625,000 and there was no finding of fraud – the other side spent $3m to get $625k – ultimately not a good plan for them.) Or when I got a call that a close friend, who was a CEO of a public company at the time, and his wife had been in a near fatal car accident and were both in surgery (they ended up surviving, recovering, and are doing great.) Or when I got a call that an acquisition of a company I was an investor in, which we had struggled through for months and was an outstanding outcome for everyone involved, had been called off because it wasn’t approved at the board level of the public acquirer. Or when I was on an airplane with my three Foundry Partners coming back from NY and we were diverted to Colorado Springs because of a massive storm in Denver and as we were landing I literally threw up – for the first time ever on a plane – because it was such an excruciating landing.

Some of the vomit moments, like the last one, are tangible. Others are conceptual. But they all share one thing in common – an intense moment of anxiety which is followed by the passage of time. Whatever caused the vomit moment either resolved quickly, or is something you have to go deal with for a while. While you may be paralyzed in the moment, I’ve found the most powerful thing is to realize that time will continue on and that you almost always can address the issue that caused the vomit moment and get to some sort of resolution. This resolution won’t necessarily be an external definition of victory, but it will allow you to move on to the next thing you need to address. The worst thing you can do is stay paralyzed, or go into a phase of explicit denial about what is going on.

At the Feld Men’s Chautauqua in Aspen this weekend, my cousin Kenny asked us all what our favorite quotes were. Mine was “It’s not that I don’t suffer, it’s that I know the unimportance of suffering.” (John Galt in Atlas Shrugged). Understanding that the vomit moment is part of life (and business) and accepting it, rather than fearing it, or denying it, results – at least in my opinion – in a much better life.

We will all have our vomit moments. But we will usually survive them. And taking action after they happen is the best approach.

What are some of your vomit moments?

  • CliffElam

    When the doctors grabbed the emergency c-section cart for my wife after 47 hours of labor with our first born. (All fine, he’s 17 and a gentle giant.)

    When the UK company that acquired my startup suddenly announced bankruptcy a month after closing with a 10M quid term sheet negotiation ongoing. (I was smart enough to have NOT purchased the $4K diamond ear-rings for my long suffering wife that morning when we reached terms with new investors.)

    When my parachute didn’t open properly on my first solo jump. (I got ‘er done b/c I was trained well, I guess there was really no time for anxiety.)

    -XC

  • http://twitter.com/AcorgInc Acorg Inc

    Hi Brad

    Really insightful. Thanks for sharing.

    I like to remember things like “this too shall pass” and “the only thing that stays the same is change”.

    When owning a retail bulk food store, nearly everyday was a “vomit moment’ in the end. Dealing with the financial side was terrible. I hate those moments in life where it’s like you are on a cliff and afraid to step back or off.

  • J

    A few:

    1) Where I discovered the company I was working for was clearly committing fraud and that I’d had both an investment as well as a series of business relationships go down the tube.

    2) When I was pushed out of my family business by my father. The moment I realized it I couldn’t eat for days and every time I did eat it was another vomit moment.

  • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

    You already know the details of one of mine – the salient part has me sitting at a conference table at Wasserstein Parrella in April, 2000, going over terms while my deal guy’s beeper went off repeatedly.

    He excused himself to go the bathroom a couple times, each time coming back looking like he’d been beat up. He had been, in fact, in the bathroom throwing up. His beeper was delivering position / value change reports to him – he was lossing his ass, in real time, during the meeting.

    Turns out I lost my ass – and for all practical purposes, my company – during that meeting as well. I was sick in the hotel room most of that night + the next 3 months were positively brutal, in every way imaginable.

    Stand up, dust off + go at it again.

  • Emily

    When I read the title of this post, I thought that you were going to talk about the metaphorical vomit moment — that point when you can’t hold back any more and just have to spew. And you feel SO much better after? I have had my share of those to be sure — I like to refer to it as pyscho-barfing. I have to imagine that this happens regularly in your world – with founders and others. Good topic for a post…. hmmm.

    But as far as the real vomit moments go, the ones that have to do with emotional hurt are simply the worse because you don’t feel better after. Been there. But my favorite vomit story is driving my Mom’s car home one summer morning after a night of partying at Penn and trying so hard not to let her know how sick I had made myself. Didn’t happen. Vomit moment came right as I was pulling in our driveway and I spewed all over the dashboard. Busted. I have since become 1000x more sophistimicated. :)

    Who’s ready for lunch?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-R-Mosby/1176981657 William R. Mosby

      I worked for a guy whose bride had just such a moment not long after starting off from the wedding reception. He was driving, she had just whispered “I love you” into his ear when the flow started. He turned her head away from him but not in time. The windshield defrost vents took weeks to get back to normal, he said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=746800077 T .S Vineet Devaiah

    Great post Brad. I have been through these Vomit moments so many times now that I have taken it in step with life. The same goes for highly exciting times – if something amazing has happened it is going to be followed by something so dismal that I will Vomit :) . It helps keep a steady head

  • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

    The first time someone threatened to sue us and I realized that we had a sure win, but didn’t have the resources to fight would probably be my first professional Vomit Moment. Making the business decision to settle in the face of a sure legal victory made me about as sick as anything else in my business life.

    It is a decision that I’m sure many startups face at some point, but it is definitely tough to overcome.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      And while totally offensive, it’s a good example of playing the long game on your part.

      • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

        Thanks Brad. I appreciate that.

    • http://mattamyers.tumblr.com/ Matt A. Myers

      That would be a hard bullet to bite. Would have owning a patent in this case, for defensive purposes, have helped any?

      • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

        Hey @mattamyers:disqus – This was about content that was posted by a user that was essentially a negative review of a company. In this case, a patent would have been useless. We did what we could, but in the end, settling allowed us to move forward. Had we fought, we likely would have exhausted our resources at the time and may have had to go out of business.

        This kind of thing happens all the time, and unfortunately it rarely comes to light.

        Being in a stronger financial position allows you to stand up to this kind of nonsense. Just thinking about it makes me want to vomit all over again for me and everyone else who has faced a similar situation.

        • http://mattamyers.tumblr.com/ Matt A. Myers

          Thanks for your explanation.

          I wonder if a subscription service as a sort of insurance, pooling money by entrepreneurs / startups to get coverage for certain specific legal situations would be successful. I’m not sure what the cost would be, but I imagine 1,000s, if not 10,000s of startups, paying $35 a month would create quite a powerhouse and may alone scare certain lawyers from attempting frivolous suits. It could be a way to streamline and therefore reduce the costs of administration, etc..

          I’d be willing to pay into it. I imagine even established businesses might want to join into it, whether to support the pool for smaller startups, or even to take on some of the smaller legal cases that would fit under the coverage umbrella.

          • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

            That’s a fantastic idea. I know several other entrepreneurs who have been in a similar position to me, and something like this would have absolutely been invaluable.

            I’d absolutely be supportive of such a thing.

            Ready for a new startup to build???

          • http://mattamyers.tumblr.com/ Matt A. Myers

            I already have way too much on my plate for the resources I currently have access to, it might not be a bad thing to propose on Hacker News though. Perhaps someone is already working on it or has access to resources that would allow it to work. It shouldn’t be run by lawyers though – you don’t want that pool of money locked in with any specific firm, at least not permanently – making contracted agreements for say 2 to 5 years of work seems safer as to not be getting overcharged.

          • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

            I’ve never posted there, so I wouldn’t be presumptuous and start with something like this. That said, it is a great idea. If you decide to post, let me know and I’ll jump in and support it. I too just don’t have the bandwidth…

          • http://mattamyers.tumblr.com/ Matt A. Myers

            http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4448424

            That’s the discussion thread for the thread I started, I entitled it:

            “An idea that started off with talking about vomit – legal service for startups “

  • http://twitter.com/simon Simone Brunozzi

    Wow, now that I think about it, I had my fair share: a few “romance”
    ones (including a girlfriend cheating, etc), a few business or money
    related, although I was never under such a pressure (150 millions?
    Argh!).

    Perhaps one of the worst moments in the last few years was when PR
    called me and I just discovered I was in deep trouble. It took weeks for
    that feeling to go away. I was afraid of losing my job, my credibility,
    and in general I felt like a little kid punished in the corner of the
    room. I didn’t vomit, but the feeling was there, day and night, for
    weeks. That feeling of “everything is wrong”, just because one single
    thing is wrong.

    I agree with you: accepting that these moments are part of life is a good way to cope with them.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=18847600&trk=tab_pro BillMcNeely

    After my vehicle was disabled by an RPG in Afghanistan in an ambush and then seeing 6 Afghans killed a few minutes later from the safety of a ditch my thought was we need to lay down a base of fire and get moving or I may not make it.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      The life and death examples always drive it home for me. You can’t vomit when you are dead.

  • http://markosullivan.ca/ Mark

    I had one of those vomit moments a number of weeks ago, and I discussed it briefly with you recently. I know exactly what you’re talking about, and it all comes down to something that a good friend of mine recently quoted to me: You have two choices in life: to accept your current circumstances, or to accept the responsibility for changing them.

    • http://twitter.com/KoryKaai Kory Kaai

      I agree with this quote, you either accept what is given to you or do something to make a change, which hopefully ends in your favor.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      That’s a powerful, and very accurate statement.

  • http://bottomlinelawgroup.com/ Antone Johnson

    Great post packed with wisdom. I have to take issue with the quote, though. Galt (Rand) is wrong: It’s not that suffering is unimportant, but rather that it’s no excuse for giving up. The hero’s journey is one of the oldest, most universally recounted stories in mythology and world literature. The protagonist endures suffering, faces challenges, ultimately overcomes them and emerges a stronger/better person as a result. You’re absolutely right that accepting the “vomit moment” in the short-to-medium term is key, but in the long run, if we were to accept the notion that our suffering was unimportant, it would logically follow that we learned nothing and gained nothing from the experience (or at least nothing important).

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I choose to interpret the John Galt quote differently. I view it from what some might call a more buddhist perspective – one of what really matters in life. I go one level deeper and – by realizing that my suffering is unimportant, it allows me to address it, deal with it, and learn from it.

      It’s like the run I’m going to do later this afternoon. Yesterday I did a 10 mile run – first 5 miles uphill through Four Mile Canyon and the second 5 miles downhill. The uphill was hard, but the downhill, while easier at some level, was harder since I increased my pace by over 2 minutes a mile. At about mile 8 I was suffering, but I no one else cared (it was unimportant) and that if I wanted to understand how to run downhill for a long period of time, which I’m going to do in a month at the St. George, Utah marathon, I’m going to need to suffer some, even though it is unimportant.

      Or – if you want to go full on Buddhist, study the Four Noble Truths:

      http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html

      1. Life means suffering.2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
      3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
      4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

  • Murtaugh

    Vomit moments are tough, but I like to say that I would never want a job where I didn’t get the *&^% scared out of me once a week. As I get older and have a family maybe I would take once a month now, but the point being that the real growth and opportunity of life comes from uncomfortable moments. For example, I suspect Brad wouldn’t trade that uncomfortable conversation with his first wife for anything because absent that he probably wouldn’t have Amy. So I guess perspective and a long view is the key, which isn’t easy either.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Correct – even though my first marriage was a disaster, I learned an amazing amount that I could apply to my relationship with Amy. Looking back 20 years later, I value the experience, even though many aspects of it sucked.

  • http://abdallahalhakim.tumblr.com/ Abdallah Al-Hakim

    thanks for sharing your experiences. I love the quote you used – “It’s not that I don’t suffer, it’s that I know the unimportance of suffering.” (John Galt in Atlas Shrugged)

  • http://twitter.com/NycCrowdFunding CrowdFunding

    Feld, You are such a refreshing cat – not one other person in the segment has your personal touch and connectivity. keep up the puke stories – I am a fan. Only 2 times – first was when I got hammered by an illicit SEC/FBI investigator and did 2 years in the joint because all my defensive documents vanished, and second was when my 9 year old died. I doubt life will ever again serve up a confusing event so terrible I cant handle it.

  • Roberto Livo

    Very good post with informative information

  • Paul

    My primary vomit moment has been becoming an entrepreneur mid-life after concluding I could not stay at my big company job for another minute. Bootstrapping a startup when you have a family/house/obligations results in a small vomit moment every day. I call them ‘freakout episodes’ too.

    When I have more free time I would like to form some sort of support system aimed at aiding the more experienced/mature first-time entrepreneur. Families are obviously not “cheap to keep alive.” ;)

  • http://twitter.com/nbarron Nick Barron

    Last week, when I discovered the name I’d chosen for my company had recently been put to use by another brand. You feel like such an idiot, but worse you worry if your little business you’ve been putting hours and hours into can survive such a mistake.

  • nninoss

    No matter what vomiting moment you go through
    weather it is financially or mentally, Near Death experience or should I say “Looking
    at Death in his Face” is “The Mother of All Vomiting”. I was standing outside my room in one of the
    U.S. Army Bases in Iraq, and suddenly, we are being under 8 to 10 Rocket
    Attacks! Those seconds between each Rocket being landed nearby is the most
    painful seconds and longest seconds of my life. That sound of explosion coming
    near you is the most painful experience. Then all of the sudden, everything in
    life does not matter anymore. And I agree with you saying ” I’ve found the most powerful thing is to realize that time will continue on”

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Deep wisdom in that statement.

      • http://www.facebook.com/nyoukhana Ninos Youkhana

        Thank You Sir

  • http://twitter.com/techguy John Lynn

    I like the idea that “Time is an amazing healer.”

    I’d say my biggest vomit moment was when my wife had postpartum depression. I had the thought, “This isn’t my wife.” Then, I asked myself the question, I wonder when she’ll come back. Thankfully she did and so far we’ve avoided a repeat with our other 2 kids.

  • http://petegrif.tumblr.com/ Pete Griffiths

    Being told me wife’s sister was dying of cancer and knowing when my wife got home I was going to have to tell her. Not good.

    But as you rightly point out Brad. We all have these moments. And it goes to the heart of parenting. If you shield your kids too much they don’t learn resilience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaredbroad Jared Broad

    Great post! The personal stories are always the best.

  • http://www.itdatabase.com/ Travis Van

    Great post.

    When I got a call from wife of co-founder (lead engineer) of company, informing me that he’d passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. You have these ideas of making it to the finish line with the same people you started with. Having that taken off the table, losing a great friend, the crippling fear of knowing how much knowledge and skill that he had that I did not – it was like having my guts ripped out. Trying to find the perspective to keep going – easily the biggest abyss I’ve faced in life, business or otherwise.

  • http://www.cheepmonkey.com/ Kyle Van Pelt

    The most prominent ‘vomit moment’ I remember was driving home from work after I had just been laid off and thinking about telling my wife, who was staying home at the time. How were we going to pay our bills? How would we survive Christmas? yuck, worst feeling ever.

    However, it was the moment that led to me working for my first tech startup and there is nothing better.

  • http://byJess.net/ Jess Bachman

    Wow Brad, thanks for sharing. Don’t know what else to say.

  • http://twitter.com/davidcowan davidcowan

    Accidental REPLY ALL.

    (Still McNeely’s Afghan ambush might be a wee worse.)

  • Founder

    My vomit story is titled, “Will you swallow your own vomit to save your company?”

    A bit of context from 12 years ago. We had burned through our seed round of funding and had trouble making payroll for a few months. The founders went over 12 months without a paycheck. We did make payroll to key employees but forgot to make some payments to a certain government entity. This inadvertent “financing source” discovered the oversight and sent us a note saying they were planning on “padlocking our door” in 60 days if they did not see the dough plus 50%. (Turns these oversights are very illegal – Don’t do it!)

    Having exhausted our seed funders’ patience, we had only one way to get the money – from closing a big customer. I setup two customer prospect meetings outside Newark to demo our product after providing a proposal. My flight from Detroit connected in Chicago before going to Newark. I grabbed some breakfast at Detroit Metro airport. First mistake. My flight was late to Chicago. I had to sprint through O’Hara to catch my flight and just made my connection as they were closing the door. As I sat in my seat, I was dripping sweat from the workout run. I was confident we had a good shot at getting the business at one of the two prospects and not particularly stressed as the last 3 years had numerous similar “make or break” moments. It was the norm.

    Then my stomach started to turn. I put it out of mind. After landing at Newark, I grabbed a shuttle bus that would take me to my first presentation at a large publicly held pharma company. I sat in the back of the shuttle – second mistake. The 45 minute ride at the back of the shuttle through the winding roads had my stomach turning. I only felt like this once before after I had some food that had gone bad.

    After I arrived, I was greeted by my contact at the company who walked me down a long corridor to the conference room. I asked to use the restroom, but it was too late. I hurled into a Recycle container in the hallway. Then I went to the restroom and vomited deeply for 10 minutes. I removed my vomit stained tie and the vomit stains from my suit and walked into the conference room full of people and still feeling like I could hurl again. I had to get through the pitch. I got halfway into the presentation and started to have puke come up and fill my mouth. I held it in and swallowed it. This happened repeatedly. I finished the presentation without puking on the conference table so I considered it a success. The CEO of my company and also a co-founder didn’t agree and bitched me out for getting sick. Swallowing one’s own vomit didn’t count for much.

    Then I went to the next appointment at a publicly held IT company feeling a bit better after my inspirational pep talk from the CEO. This time no conference room – just a 1:1 with my contact. I apologized for having a suit without a tie. I explained I just vomited dramatically at the previous presentation and my tie was collateral damage. He saw the humor in it and said we were one of 25 companies they were considering for the deal and showed me their spreadsheet itemizing all of it. I asked him what he need on price to get the deal done. He named the price and I said, “done”, as it was enough to pay off our balance owed and keep the padlock off the door. He said that he liked how I did business and we were done in 5 minutes. I later found out his company had just invested $5million in one our competitors but the “right hand did not know what the left hand” was doing so that was the icing on the cake. We later got significant funding from investors and sold the company several years later.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Awesome! I have a super power – swallowing my own vomit. I’ve done it numerous times and while gross, it’s saved me major embarrassment in a few similar situations.

      • Founder

        After hearing you and Jason speak at Michigan Law School (and drinking beers at the bar that evening), you entered hero status for me. Now, knowing you possess this super power you are officially elevated to superhero. Wish more VC’s had your authenticity and accessibility. Not something we see here in Michigan VC’s.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          We’ll be back!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-R-Mosby/1176981657 William R. Mosby

      My father once recounted an incident in which a subordinate apologized to the boss for being late, but he had vomited blood that morning. Said the boss without humor, “Doesn’t everybody?”

  • http://reecepacheco.com/ reece

    classic quote from Atlas Shrugged. a favorite of mine…

  • Barry Culman

    Hi Brad- this brought me back to the sale of my company, that was a division of GE (I think you know the name). Sitting down with my new boss, the CEO of the acquiring company, and he very matter of factly told me that I was “too honest”. Coming from GE, where INTEGRETY is non-negotiable, to an environment where one can be too honest, was a sickening feeling!!!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Uh huh! One can never, ever be too honest. There is no such thing.

  • http://simplifilm.com/ Chris Johnson

    Brad-

    Entrepreneurship is walking the razor’s edge between vomit and victory.

    On one of our first major deals, a client was being prickly because I waited for permission before I looped her in. She became difficult and she requested changes. She dropped the normal manners of first class companies and treated us like lackeys. One night she knew we were pulling an all nighter and she requested a 8:30 con call.

    The con call was unnecessary.

    She sent an absurd email “I REQUIRE YOU TO BE THERE, YOU MUST MEET YOUR CUSTOMERS REQUIREMENTS.” At the time it seemed like all the money in the world. She was torturing us at the end out of revenge.

    I agonized. What to do. Part of me wanted to send the check back (that would have ended Simplifilm).

    I realized that we had them by the “short and curlys” too. They needed the videos for a trade show. That gave me relieve, and I did offer a refund. “We’ll be respectful or we’ll have a refund. Either way is fine , and unless I hear differently, we’ll assume that you’ll be respectful moving forward and this incident won’t be repeated.”

    A refund would have been a disaster, but we got through the project with only one other tantrum. Now, we approach vomit season 2012, as we have more work than we can handle.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Great example – rather than react emotionally, you addressed the issue head on and gave the client an option. And you were ready to deal with whatever decision they made.

    • http://mattamyers.tumblr.com/ Matt A. Myers

      It’s amazing how respectful direct speak can snap things back to calm reality, bring some humility to a situation.

  • DJ

    That Rand/Galt quote is great, and I’m not even a fan of the book.

  • DaveJ

    At your 40th birthday in Cabo, the oysters on the last night were bad and later I talked to Ralph on the Big White Phone. That’s the only time it’s happened since college.

    As a more general description of the phenomenon, I think you’re describing strongly negative epiphanies – the moment when you realize that things are going to be very, very bad for a while.

    This relates to a topic I’ve been discussing with BenC recently, the idea of “passionate detachment.” One advantage of avoiding attachment is that you don’t have these vomit moments. But then it’s challenging to have the requisite passion. It’s a balancing act.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Passionate detachment is a great phrase. Viewing your existence from a third person perspective and being detached from the specific outcome, but still be passionate about the engagement and experience, can be transcendent.

    • http://mattamyers.tumblr.com/ Matt A. Myers

      Would passionate detachment be the same as learning how to roll with the punches?

  • http://twitter.com/EspreeDevora Espree Devora

    The honesty in this post in impactfully refreshing… yes I know I just made up that word, but I couldn’t think of a better one. I needed to hear this and I needed it now. Thank you.

  • Pingback: The Vomit Moment – SchemaByte

  • http://www.justanentrepreneur.com Philip Sugar

    What a great post, I love hearing the tough stories not just the easy ones. I always ask people about this in interviews….what was your toughest sales loss, etc. I know its not PC or gender correct, but for me its feeling like I got kicked in the nuts.

    Have had the same discussion not with a wife but a long term girlfriend.

    Had one a long time ago when our attorney convinced us we should sue but not serve a Fortune100 company we were dealing with where the CIO was being a complete a-hole and telling us they were going to sue us, if we didn’t refund some money (we should have charged them more for scope-creep). What a complete dumb-ass I was for not jumping up and down saying no, we were going to get venue? What a moron I was even though I was in my early twenties. I knew it was wrong, and when they found out the CIO put his head in his hands and said why would you ever do that? They never would have sued us, but once we started they ended. They kicked our ass.

    Another was when I found out a company I was on the board of after I sold our company to it, didn’t pay witholding, health insurance, and 401k. I couldn’t resign fast enough, but sweated like a m’fer thinking about how I was going to get sued. That turned to rage after I found out that the CEO tried to enforce a non-compete that he made everyone of our employees sign on a person that quit in disgust, she blew the whistle. The VC’s in the deal paid the money and bankrupted the company (standup move). I held a lot of paper, still have those certificates in my safe.

  • http://twitter.com/andyidsinga andyidsinga

    i was riding my dirt bike on the road FAST … must have been about 13 or 14. passed the cops coming from other direction – *vomit feeling 1*

    They promptly pulled me over made me walk the bike home ( miles) and went ahead to talk with my dad.
    As I came within distance of our house i saw my dad on the porch waiting – *vomit feeling 2*.
    not surprisingly ..he was pissed, i lost a lot of bike privilages, but he wasnt too hard on me. He started teaching me how to drive his van on the road (country roads) not long after :)

  • http://twitter.com/quidavoto David La Motta

    I’ve had several in my life, like many of others here. But my most recent one is because my sister and her family have decided to “ride out the storm” [Isaac] from their home in New Orleans. I have a pit in my stomach, fearing for the safety of my family.

    Call it stubbornness, or a sense of “nothing is going to happen”, who knows what their decision process really was, but for all of us who have family that are deliberately placing themselves in harm’s way… thank you for the vomit moment.

  • http://www.internetinc.com/ Eric Shannon

    really enjoyed this post. it’s easy to forget that everyone suffers, even the stars.

    I’ve had a handful of those moments in business. getting served notice of a lawsuit at home after dinner with the kids at the door. turned out to be simple harassment (no merit), but still shocking.

    the only time I felt like my body was reacting entirely on animal instincts was when my wife was being induced to deliver our second daughter. the doctor had commented that some patients respond badly to pitosin. 15 minutes later he was gone and we were alone with the nurse listening to the baby’s heart rate when it started to slow down. over the course of about two minutes it got progressively slower and slower. she tried to reach the doctor using intercom but could not get him and she ran out of the room leaving my wife and I alone.

    then, the heartbeat seemed to stop entirely. it might have only been a few seconds of silence but I experienced a paralyzing wave of adrenaline unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, even when my life was in danger. perhaps it was so traumatic because I felt powerless and did not have any apparent way to respond to the emergency. fortunately, the doctor rushed in a moment later, removed the pitosin and my daughter’s heartbeat became normal again.

    a half-hour later, a hot water pipe burst in the ceiling and scalding water began gushing onto the floor just outside our room but they moved us and my daughter was delivered healthy!

  • http://www.freezecrowd.com Eric Leebow

    The people with the most or the worst don’t want to mention, or probably won’t mention them publicly. “Vomit moments” aren’t an appealing topic. Sometimes people just want to let you know they’ve read your post, and it’s an interesting one. We all hiccup, but nobody wants the real vomit. The more successful you are, or the harder you try, the more vomits you probably have, as there’s always someone else who wants to puke on you!

    The general vomit moment is when you work or partner with someone, they don’t tell you something straight from the start, and you then tell you later. They just let you down. There’s always someone who will let you down, and those who say nothing are usually the ones. They are the ones who let you down, but don’t even give you clear warning. It happens in relationships. Someone will want you to pat them on their back, and later will let you know they aren’t able to come through.

    • http://mattamyers.tumblr.com/ Matt A. Myers

      This is why I absolutely hate wishy-washiness and non-answer answers, avoiding giving straight-forward answers. It’s mainly when people aren’t sure of something, haven’t decided yet, or they don’t want you to know / benefit by not telling you the truth / being honest. The toughest part is learning how to properly protect yourself and set boundaries against these situations.

  • Eric Neef

    What a great post. So many of us have had these moments and don’t realize that most people, at any level, do also.

    Appreciate the candor in sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/jimmiebooth Jim Booth

    An emergency c-section birth for my son. It ended well with everyone healthy, but it was by far my worst vomit moment. I was ordered to stay put at the OR door while the nurses and OB doc ran my wife and son into surgery. As the doc ran in he stopped for a short moment to grab my arm and say, “We will do everything we can. I will keep you updated.” In those few seconds he managed to telegraph a confidence that I needed to hear. Giving up control and putting your complete trust in a stranger to save a life, or fix any big problem, is difficult.

  • http://www.charliecrystle.com Charlie Crystle

    yeah, I’ve had plenty of those. and that’s when you find out just how much you can take, and how much tenacity you have to get you through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fdemmler Frank Demmler

    Being in this business for almost 30 years, the Vomit Moments are many. I used to let them eat at me, I’d struggle to “fix’ what was essentially unfixable. I would be miserable and people wouldn’t like to be around me, family in particular.
    My solution has been to have a short conversation with myself. It goes something like this:
    “In five days [or whatever the appropriate timeframe is], will you be getting up and do whatever it is that you do?”
    “Will [the problem] be resolved?”
    “Yes.”
    “How?”
    “I haven’t got the foggiest idea, but life goes no.”

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  • S Esfahani

    Really a wonderful entry. I think people tend to forget that all problems have some sort of solution or at least an outcome. Acceptance seems to come with experience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vlad.ciurca Vlad Ciurca

    When i organized my first Startup Weekend and was on the stage at the event ending and over 100 people applauded me and the rest of the team. Or before presenting my license paper and i was extremely nervous.

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  • Anon for this one

    Brad—-love your writing, candor, voice. Rediscovering your website after a couple years. “What are some of your vomit moments?” Well – a friend/mentor of mine popped out of the woodwork that I had not talked with in several years. It was, in fact, a rather unusual time for us to reconnect as a lot transpired since the last time we spoke. I told him to fasten his seatbelt and fired off this synopsis. Prologue— company sold, still with same girl, starting new venture. Count the number of vomit moments… –> I finished working on that audio tech only to discover how jurassic

    and confined the pro-audio market is trying to create and license
    technology. The entire effort started as a way to differentiate an
    application to MIT’s Sloan Fellowship program and help pay the
    tuition. When I was shopping it around I kept meeting these brilliant
    audio (DSP) engineers who would spend 3-5 years working on products
    then try and live off sales of 3-5,000 units. I decided that starting
    a prosumer audio company wasn’t what I wanted to do and the time
    investment wasn’t going to pay off. So, I went back to work doing
    at and started taking classes again.

    In November (about a year later) life took a completely unexpected
    turn. started seeing a 47-yr. old investment banker where she
    worked and I watched my marriage completely evaporate inside a 3 week
    period. Last time I saw her, was standing in rain (in pajamas with a drink in hand), banging on cab window asking where was she going??? moved in with the new guy, became pregnant 6-months later and we spent the next year and a half working through the terms of the divorce. Of course, the baby was born, she and her boyfriend (now husband) were both fired from the job (non-frat policy), and
    lives in the Boston ‘burbs. I quit working, sold everything that
    wouldn’t fit in my , left Cambridge and moved to Florida
    (Operation Sunshine — a recuperative plan to play golf, spend time
    on the beach, kick a newly acquired chain smoking habit that started
    when left, and figure out what I was going to do with the rest
    of my life).

    In Florida, I met a television producer from Hollywood and starting
    flying back and forth to visit her — sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.
    While in LA, I hooked up with some old colleagues from San Francisco /
    Valley and joined their videogame production company as .
    We have produced several titles and work closely with and
    doing games for film and mobile. On a flight back to in 2008, I met this girl from Miami Beach — model, television personality, philosophy savant
    recruited by to study divinity, been to nearly every
    country/continent in the world. Brilliant, beautiful,
    hyper-articulate — I was smitten. She moved to with
    me a couple years ago and helped me work through all the divorce crap,
    inspired me to start taking photos / be an artist, and look toward a
    very unexpected, unplanned future.

    So, I’m here, in – enjoying the weather, making art and
    video games, planning to travel with for a
    couple years when the company sells. Living the next chapter.

  • Stephen Buck

    I’ve had a few, but none come close to when my 4-year old son was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor and I realized that there was nothing I could do to save him and later when he died in my arms. As time passes, you tend to focus more on the good times and positive things that have happened, but at the time it seemed like the vomit would never stop.

    Vomit moments are horrible, certainly, but they often bring about a positive change or strengthen one’s resolve. Building a startup or climbing a difficult route on a mountain are a few of the ways I’ve willingly put myself into the vomit zone, but I always seem to come out the other side wiser and stronger. It does suck when it happens though!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Super powerful Steve – thanks for sharing.

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  • My name is Anna

    I just throw up my pancakes, i tought they were really good but i guess not the second time. Im high on advils and benadril, i hate Canada. There was snow yesterday dawm..

  • My name is Anna

    I didnt read the post at all i just saw vomit

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