Founder / Life Balance

Posted on April 2, 2010. Filed under: startups, venture capital | Tags: , |

This is the first day in about 3 months that I have had trouble concentrating on work.  I have been more or less laser focused on building JumpPost and our new seed fund, to the point where I sit down at my computer at 9:00AM, blink, and it is 11:00PM.  There is a benefit to this level of focus, which is that you get a shitload done in a given week, create value for your shareholders, etc…but there is also a hazard.  The hazard is that when you allocate so much focus toward pushing your professional ambitions forward, you don’t realize how badly you’ve been neglecting everything else that’s worth living for…

Now, I am all for sacrifice in the name of building and creating, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I question the decisions I’m making and how I’m prioritizing the various aspects of my life…but even within the bounds of what I know is important to me at this stage in life, I realize there are times when life can become imbalanced.  Today, it is 4:04 PM, I’m sitting in my office with all the windows open, the sun is shining through and there is a warm breeze blowing all the papers on my desk ever so gently.  It is good Friday, half the world isn’t working because of holiday, and the other half (at least in New York where this is the first Spring day we’ve had in weeks) is checked out and catching some rays, and I am sitting here, staring at a double monitor, a to do list a mile long, and if this were any other day, I’d be cranking for another 4-8 hours…

But, today is a day where I am not focused.  Refreshingly unfocussed for that matter.  Today is a day that I have decided to remind myself that there is work and there is life, and it’s okay for work to be life, but it’s ALSO OKAY FOR LIFE TO BE LIFE.  I think I’ll go buy an ice cream, walk to union square, talk to a few strangers, go out for a nice dinner, find a bar with an outdoor area, meet some interesting people, not check my email all night, and believe it or not…neither my company, nor our fund, nor any other ambition that I have been focused on will fall apart between now and tomorrow morning.

Too often in startup world, especially when the message of relentless sacrifice is drilled into us by fellow founders, investors, and the community at large, we suffer for the sake of suffering…it is easy to get into the mindset of not allowing ourselves any leisure or break from the mission…but as much as you’d like to think you are a machine, and as much as you’d like your investors and peers to think you are a machine, the reality is you’re human, and the sun on your face and a breeze in your hair is an important part of life that is worth grabbing when it presents itself.  Computer off, leisure on.  If you need to get in touch with me and it’s urgent…DON’T.

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4 Responses to “Founder / Life Balance”

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Take that break! Working hard is necessary, but so is not burning out and keeping yourself fresh and inspired! When obsession hits, run with it and let that energy fuel you, but no one should feel guilty when they need to look up, get outside, and take a breather.

Joran, taking breaks and letting work go is extremely necessary. Your marginal production and happiness begin to severely decline and you end up just burning yourself out.

You can put in 2 days of straight, solid work and get half as much done (and be much more unhappy) than if you take a day off, check back into the real world, then work the next day, for example.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

leaving work to get ice cream is always the right choice.

Jordan, you obviously love what you do. When you love what you’re doing, work and life overlap. There’s no weekend, no separation. We’ve chosen to be Founders. As a Founder, you dictate what you do on your own terms. Now of course the irony is that all this presumed freedom to play, we choose to work every waking hour. Honestly, I think part of this is purely a symptom of living in New York City combined with the speed at which tech moves. The other part (the darker reality) is that as a Founder you look at every waling hour at work as one step forward and every hour you’re not as… well, you know.

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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