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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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Surviving the Startup Life: The Toll of Merging Identity and Work

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My close friend Jerry Colonna is giving an extraordinary seminar in Boulder on 4/19 with Parker Palmer called Surviving the Startup Life: The Toll of Merging Identity and Work. Jerry is the best CEO coach I know, a dear friend, and one of the best investors I ever have gotten to work with (we did a lot together in the 1990s when Jerry was partners with Fred Wilson at Flatiron Partners.)

Context on the event comes from Jerry’s blog post titled The Hand of A Friend:

“A distraught client emailed me the day after Jody [Sherman] died. So many people were hurt by the news–whether or not they knew him. I tweeted, emailed, reached out to friends. I wrote to Parker [Palmer].

My request was simple: Help me help them. We decided the best way to respond was to embody what we believe: that speaking about the existential difficulties, being authentic even in our collective guilt, pain, and fear, is–as Parker coined it in Let Your Life Speak–Leading from Within.  We would have a conversation about the ways in which this merger of self and work exacerbates the pain as well as Parker’s notion of the Tragic Gap. We’d invite others to join us.

The conversation is sponsored by Cojourneo and the Center for Courage and Renewal and will be in person on April 19 at 2 p.m. at Naropa University in Boulder.

It’s free. Register here.

Friday Community Hours At Boulder Book Store for Startup Life

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Order me, email Brad, and maybe win dinner with Brad and AmyAmy and I are going to be hanging out at the Boulder Book Store on the Pearl Street Mall on Friday from 4:15pm to 6:00pm. We’ll be signing copies of Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur and talking with anyone who shows up about the challenges and joys of a startup life.

Our friends at the Boulder Book Store will have plenty of books so come by, (buy a book), (get it signed), ask questions, get feedback, or just say hi. Hugs welcomed!

Startup Life Interview With Sandy Grason

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I’m in San Antonio, in a rush to go participate in the Global Accelerator Network monthly call, where I’m talking with Richard Florida (the brilliant creator of the concept of the creative class) about Startup Communities, followed by a full day at TechStars Cloud and – well – I need a shower because I got to my hotel room at 12:30pm and I smell kind of like Huck from Scandal.

So – today you get a short eight minute interview of me and Amy with Sandy Grason where we talk about Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur. It’s a really wonderful interview – Amy told me this was the first time she’s done something like this and I thought she was awesome.

Enjoy!

Go Fill Up Some Gas Tanks Today

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I’m spending the day working at Yesware. I’ve been an investor from inception and love what this company is doing. I also love the culture – I wrote about it in my post The Monastic StartupIf you use Gmail and Salesforce and are not also using Yesware, take a look at email for salespeople right now.

It’s an atypical day for me. I was supposed to be in DC all day today and tomorrow. I had full days of meetings, including two Startup Communities related events – one with the World Bank and one with a Congressional Caucus on Innovation. I had a few company meetings along with some stuff I was exploring. And I was going to drop in on 1776 and check it out.

Congress decided to shut down for the week because of the pending snow storm so the two events I built my trip around (the World Bank and the Congressional Caucus) were cancelled. So I decided to punt on going to DC and stay in Boston. I decided to have a “work at one of the companies I’m an investor in” day and get caught up on some stuff.

Last night before dinner I had a phone call with someone who gave me a great metaphor about “filling up your gas tank.” We were talking about the introvert / extrovert dynamic and how always being in “give / support mode” drains an introvert like me. He suggested that I make sure I do things on a daily basis that fill up my gas tank. Yup – that makes sense. But then he said something that was a new thought to me.

“Encourage everyone you work with to put some gas in someone else’s tank every day.” 

It’s totally consistent with my give before you get philosophy, but it’s got a nice twist. Rather than being random, be deliberate about doing it, but random about how you do it.

For example, when a friend of mine had testicular cancer last year, I called him every day for 60 days during his chemo regimen. While I only talked to him every two or three days, I always left him a message. I was filling up his gas tank a little each day.

Another example is that I try to randomly call a different CEO of a company I’m on the board of every day. I don’t manage to do this every day, but I try. These are short calls, often voice mails that just startup with “Hey – thinking of you – no need to call me back.” I then often offer up an observation about something positive I see going on.

I like to be impulsive when I’m on the road. After lunch (I took out the Yesware team and yes, I paid) I stopped by Kinvey‘s new office on 99 Summer which is around the corner from Yesware. Kinvey went through TechStars several years ago and while we didn’t participate in their venture financing, I love the company and especially the CEO Sravish. I surprised him, gave him a hug, got a tour of the place, grabbed a few tshirts and some stickers, and headed back to Yesware. He sent me a link to a new post they just did titled The Boston Startup Map: Visualizing the City’s Tech Scene so I could do more random drop ins if I wanted.

bostonstartupmap

These aren’t programmed, scheduled calls in that I’m being deliberate in advance. They are just me filling up someone else’s gas tank with some random positive feedback in the midst of an otherwise chaotic life. And it makes me feel good.

So – go fill up some gas tanks today. And tomorrow.

The Ebb and Flow of Work and Life

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The phrase “work-life balance” is a vexing one. Some people think it is impossible. Others strive for it. Many entrepreneurs, and pundits about entrepreneurship, reject it as impossible. Others believe that figuring out how to balance work and life is a sign of a more enlightened entrepreneurial perspective.

In Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur Amy and I talk about many of the tactics we use to integrate work and life, which Amy loving refers to as “all the time that I’m not working.”  We don’t often use the phrase work-life balance as we aren’t striving for a balance between the two, but rather an effective integration of them. I’ve been using the word “equilibrium” lately which feels different to me than the word “balance”, but I know many people will equate the two.

The challenge is that we are dealing with a very dynamic system that ebbs and flows continually. It’s early Saturday morning – I’m at the John Wayne Airport waiting for my flight home. I have an absurd amount of email backed up from the week. I’m currently on top everything in my portfolio, so I feel good about that, but I’ve got a long writing backlog. And there’s a bunch of things I’d like to explore. So I have much more work than I could possibly do this weekend, even if I spent the entire weekend working.

On the non-work front, I haven’t seen Amy (except for several times a day on Facetime) since early Tuesday morning when I left for Seattle. I miss her and Brooks the wonder dog. We have dinner with my brother, my partner Ryan, and their wives tonight. I have a 2:10 hour run on Sunday morning (I have a marathon next weekend) and a massage in the afternoon. And I want to watch last week’s episode of Scandal.

There’s no way to “balance” all that stuff or achieve any semblance of balance. But I can get to an equilibrium where I’m happy, Amy is happy, and I have fun. Sure – I’ll work some, but I’ll rest some also. I’ll spend some time by myself (mostly during my run) and I’ll get to go to bed and wake up with Amy each day. I’ll be in Boulder, a town I love, with friends who are dear to me. And I’m sure I’ll spend some time laying on the couch snuggling with my dog.

Next week will be completely different than this last week. Next weekend we are in Arkansas and I’m running a marathon. Amy will be there. Then I’ll be off to Boston for a few days. then DC, then NY. Alone again. I won’t be striving for “balance”, but I’ll roll with the ebb and flow.

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