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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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How’s That No Travel Thing Working For You?

Comments (29)

I stopped travelling mid-May (I arrived home in Boulder from San Francisco on 5/17). I’ve decided not to travel at all for the rest of 2013, except for three personal trips (my parents 50th anniversary, Amy’s birthday, and my birthday.) After travelling 50% – 75% of the time for the last 20 years, I needed a break.

It has been awesomely mindblowingly great to not travel.

I’ve had three other periods of extended no-travel in the last 20 years. I stopped travelling for three months after 9/11. Two summers ago Amy and I spent 60 days together in Europe (half in France / half in Tuscany) just living (no travel). Last summer we spent 90 days at our house in Keystone. It’s clear I had a taste of this, but nothing like where I am right now.

Even though it has only been seven weeks, when I look forward to the rest of 2013 I feel huge amounts of open space and time in front of me. I know this has helped me come out of the depression, which I just wrote about in an article in Inc. Magazine, that I struggled with for the first part of this year.

But it’s more profound than that. In a few short months, I’ve changed my work pattern a lot. I feel so much more rested and alert. When I’m doing something, I’m in the moment. The companies I’m an investor in are all over the place, but I feel like they are actually getting more of my attention because I’m not being torn in a zillion different directions.

I don’t feel like I’m constantly trying to jam in the “work” around all the friction time – in airports, in taxis and cars being driven to things, before I head out to yet another dinner on the road, or late in my hotel before I go to sleep. My environment is familiar and comfortable and things just flow.

I’m mastering video conferencing – I’ve now got every configuration a human could need. I figured out three big things that solve for 99% of the strangeness of it.

  1. Make your video conference full screen – don’t have ANYTHING else going on your computer other than what is in the meeting.
  2. Use a BIG monitor – seeing heads that are normal size makes a huge difference.
  3. Make sure your audio and video are on channels with enough bandwidth. Shift to a conference call for audio while keeping video up if you are having performance issues.

I’ve also started using my Mezzanine video conferencing system extensively – it’s just incredible. More on that in a separate post.

I love Boulder and I’m finding myself running a lot again. It’s hard to run as much as I’d like when I’m on the road – early morning meetings, fatigue, and being in random places gets in the way. But here, I just put on my shoes and head out the door for one of my favorite trails. With or without Brooks the wonder dog.

On that note, I think I’ll go for a run right now.

  • http://MeetInnovators.com Adrian Bye

    i’m also a fan of not traveling

  • http://www.pointsandfigures.com/ pointsnfigures

    Colorado, you move there for the skiing and stay for the summer!

  • http://www.feld.com bfeld

    Actually, I moved here in 1995 because Amy said “I’m moving to Boulder – you can come with me if you want.” And I did.

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

    Yes! Exactly. Loathing hitting the road soon for the next startup but plan on keeping it to a minimum.

  • craig taflin

    Great article.. taking care of yourself is critical.

  • John Fein

    That’s awesome you did that for yourself and Amy. For me, extensive travel alone can make me depressed, for the reasons you cited above plus being away from my family. I personally don’t think a “million mile” badge is a badge of honor, especially with a family back home.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I view my United Million Mile thing as a badge of shame!

  • http://www.moneyblog.com/ Paul Rubillo

    Brad, we all search for that right balance, but unfortunately success tends to swing us more toward burnout more than we realize.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yup!

  • http://www.startupmanagement.org/ William Mougayar

    Ditto!

    I haven’t left home for 3 weeks for a personal reason, BUT my work productivity has shot way up. I’m servicing everybody I need to, scheduling calls instead of coffee talks, doing video calls, not being interrupted, saving lots of time not being transported somewhere, getting things done, and shipping stuff out, Love it.

    Funny I had 2 calls last week requesting we use https://join.me. It was new to me. Skype screen shares sucks and they are losing out.

    I will try Mezzanine. It looks fantastic. Have you tried http://www.uberconference.com/ ?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I’ve tried them all. I don’t fine Uberconference to be particularly useful, especially since I use MobileDay for all my conference calls.

      • http://www.startupmanagement.org/ William Mougayar

        thanks. i will try mobileday.

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          Tell me what you think.

          • http://www.startupmanagement.org/ William Mougayar

            I just played with it, and I like it. It’s very well done and I like how it integrates all the calendars. That was an issue for me previously. I can see how SF users will love it. It’s a keeper.

            Can I choose to take some calls on the landline & it calls me back 30 sec prior?

          • http://www.feld.com bfeld

            It doesn’t have the callback feature – yet.

  • http://www.earwolf.com jeffearwolf

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been recalibrating my thoughts on work-family-sanity-health-etc. and it’s great to hear what other people are trying too (especially when it works!). I was such a disaster of a workaholic that I couldn’t just fix everything at once. I have had some success with starting small, though. For the past two months, I’ve been starting most days at 6:50 with 30-40 minutes of hiking followed by some plain oatmeal with bananas and some time playing with my daughter. KISS. Then it’s off to AA or meeting with my sponsor or writing a blog post. Only after those things are in the books do I start working. I’ve lost weight, lost some depression and am more focused on high impact stuff with my businesses. My original inspiration was Brad’s interview with Jonathan Fields for The Good Life Project. Can’t recommend it enough: http://www.goodlifeproject.com/brad-feld/.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Awesome – glad you are doing well.

  • MoonPieMike

    I think I learned this while in the Air Force. Since then I’ve really enjoyed less travel and felt more productive. Recently I’ve had a week trip to a trade show in vegas and a two 2 week trip to china. It’s GOOD to be back.

    BTW, I read both the Hertling books during the china trip, thanks for the tip. NOW I NEED THE 3RD ONE!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      It will be out soon! If you email me I’ll connect you with William – I’m sure he’ll give you an advanced copy.

  • netanel

    Brad, its so good to hear you doing this. I’ve been in the eternal travel hell for years. However, most of my travels have been too long : From Israel to SFO, China, Japan, EU and Seoul and back. Mostly 10 days trips each time. That changed when I got my 4th kids. I left a CEO position I didn’t want any longer and took a 7 months travel break. My life quality totally changed: I could mountain bike 3-4 times a week which I absolutely love. I could spend time with my kids and family not worrying about the next trip. I became a better thinker, more relaxed and with more distance rather than on auto-pilot. And the best thing of all: I did not loose out. Like you said, video conferencing is an amazing tool. I’ve even done Google Hangouts while on a mountain biking trail. I think people get stuck in the old routine of self-imposed travel. True, you have to travel sometimes. But most of the times you probably don’t. We are fortunate to live in a time where we can set our own rules for how we want to live and work. Unfortunately, too many people in our industry are slaves to a life/work style they think they have to live. Looking forward to hear how it develops. Keep all the good stuff coming!

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

    I’m ok with a ton of travel…..BUT

    I cannot imagine the life of getting on a plane on a set schedule.

    So my version of hell would be going to bed Saturday either knowing I have to travel on Sunday or get to bed early to travel on Monday and know I get back Thursday night late if everything goes well.

    So twelve flights in a week??? Ok, but if I know that I might not get on another plane for a month.

    • Nick Ambrose

      Yeah, I got a little taste of it for 3 mo or so last year (getting up at 345am every tuesday for a 2 hr flight, then directly to the office, and flying back on the last flight on a thursday)….

      Even for that short period it was pretty brutal. I never seemed to know if I was coming or going.

  • http://theleanstartupmachine.com Trevor Owens

    Glad to hear it’s going well!

  • Jeffrey Hartmann

    I lived in Steamboat Springs for awhile, but I never got into skiing. As a born and raised flatlander who waterskied a lot as a child, I just never could get the hang of putting my skis in a wedge. You do that behind a boat and well, it wouldn’t be pretty. Plus I hate the cold. Actually perhaps hate is too weak a word.

    BUT, the summertime in Colorado is unmatched in my opinion, you are totally right that many people decide to stay once they have experienced the summers there. I would love to live in Colorado for the summer and somewhere nice and tropical or mild for the winters like maybe San Diego, Florida or somewhere in Brazil (my wife is from Brazil and I love many of the cities and towns there, equally as awesome as Colorado imnsho.) The bonus for South America is if you time it just right you could live in continuous summer, which is so much better than having to deal with the ‘icky white stuff’ as I affectionately call snow.

  • Nathan Paul Womack

    Brad, great tips above… I do a bit of video conferencing, and these three (if followed) would definitely aid in effectiveness!

  • http://bsoi.st/ bsoist

    So glad to hear this is helping you, Brad. Take care of yourself!

  • brgInRedSidis

    yay!

  • bradhugg

    Glad to hear the travel break has worked for you. I certainly saw a big difference in my quality of life after not being on the road M-F. Lot’s of introspective posts from you this past year. Obviously very personal feelings and thoughts that you are sharing with your readership which is great. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.frivmini.com/ friv

    I like to travel as well, but I can not afford to do it regularly. Thank for share

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