Brad Feld

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The Rhythms of My Life

Mar 26, 2009

I was in a board meeting yesterday with a company planning a major commercial release of their product “at the end of summer”.  We managed to turn this into 8/31/09 at 11:59:59pm pacific time (since I don’t believe you can release something unless there is a time/date stamp associated with it.)  As part of this discussion, we spent some time discussing the notion of a daily / weekly / monthly rhythm for both the CEO/CTO as well as the product team.

This morning, I read through an interview I recently did with Brian Roger (I’m the MyVenturePad Blogger of the Week.)  Why my mom assures me that she’s proud of me for accomplishing this status in life (i.e. “Blogger of the Week”), I was intrigued by the amount of “rhythm” Brian incorporated into his interview.  While some of the quotes make me sound like an overly rigid tool (e.g. “Each day he’s up at 5 a.m. – ‘regardless of the time zone I’m in’ – to begin ‘a two-hour information routine.’”), I’ve always felt that the notion of a strong rhythm was a critically important part to how I operate.

When I think of rhythms in my life, they break down into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, and decadal.  Here are some examples of how I think about it.

Daily (M-F): Get up at 5am every day.  Spend the first two hours of the morning in front of my computer (a) consuming info and (b) catching up on any email.  Exercise (usually a run.)  From 9am on, follow my calendar until the day is over (which my assistant Kelly manages – it’s very dynamic – and I try to schedule every phone call and meeting.)  When I fly somewhere, I try to do it either first thing in the morning or at the end of the day and I try to sleep on the plane from take off to landing.

Weekly (S-Su): Sleep until I wake up.  Hang out with Amy. Go for a long run.  Catch up on email.  Stay off the phone.  Go to a movie.  Read a book.  Relax and rest.

Monthly: Life dinner with Amy (on the night of the first day of every month) – exchange gifts, review the previous month, and talk about goals for the next month.

Quarterly: One week vacation completely off the grid (no phone, no email) with Amy.  36 hour offsite with my Foundry partners (both backward and forward review as well as 2x / year facilitated performance reviews of each other).  Deep review of all financials (personal and for every company I’m involved in.)

Annually: Once a year three day weekend trip with my dad.  Once a year “Feld Men’s Trip” with my dad, his brother, my brother, and my two cousins. 

Decadal: Personal review of my life (usually happens over a few months.)  I’ve done this at age 30 and age 40 and expect to keep doing it.

Now, these are not complete (e.g. there are plenty of other specific things that happen in each rhythm interval), but they should give you a feel for what I mean.  While this won’t work for everyone, I find that it has a huge impact on me and helps me focus on what is important, gives me plenty of time to reflect and process what is going on, and allows me to have plenty of rest and recovery time.