Brad Feld

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Deep Calm

Jun 23, 2009

I’m sitting in the early dawn light in a cabin in Tabernash, Colorado drinking a cup of coffee and getting ready to go for a run in the mountains. 

I’ve just spent the last 18 hours with my Foundry Group partners at our quarterly retreat.  This is an approximately 24 hour affair that includes staying overnight somewhere in Colorado within driving distance of Boulder.  We’ve been doing this quarterly since we conceived of the idea for Foundry Group.

Our retreats aren’t “portfolio review sessions” nor are they complex travel boondoggles.  They are a simple, focused, 24 hours away together to discuss our business, reflect on how we are working together, and explore ways to improve things.

In Feld Technologies (my first company) I used to do this monthly with my partner Dave Jilk.  We lived in Boston at the time so we had our retreats within driving distance of Boston.  Same drill – leave in the morning of day 1; return in the afternoon of day 2.  Spend the time talking about our business and how we were working together.  Deal with any hard issues head on and try to figure out what we were going to do about them.  Dave and I managed to do this 10 out of 12 months a year (we’d occasionally miss) but when I think back on Feld Technologies, these were some of the most important and satisfying times we spent together.

While my life is frenetic, the world around us is chaotic, and as I like to say “something in my world somewhere is totally fucked up every single day”, I generally achieve a very deep calm.  On the surface I appear to be extremely busy, but at my essence I hear the birds chirping and think of fields of golden retriever puppies.

I woke up thinking about this and realizing how incredibly powerful it can be.  The lights on one’s existence go out suddenly and often unexpectedly.  There are endless (and daily) twists and turns in the path to happy, whatever you define happy as.  I’ve often said anxiety and fear are useless emotions in most contexts; a deep calm helps counteract them when they arise.

I encourage you to ponder this as you go about your day.  Time for a run.