Nov 18 2009

Living Life While Working Hard

I had a 19 hour day yesterday – it started when I woke up at my hotel at 26th Street at 5am and ended when I hit the sack at midnight.  I had a bunch of meetings, a few scheduled phone calls, was on a panel, and stayed on top of my email throughout the day.  I even managed to keep my FishVille fish fed and got my Cafe World food served before it spoiled.

When I crawled into bed, I was toast.  However, when I woke up this morning, I had this deep happy feeling from yesterday.  As I took a shower, I remembered four great things that I did in the midst of a very busy day.

The first was a thirty minute tour through the Guggenheim Museum to see the Kandinsky Exhibit.  Kandinsky is one of my five favorite artists and Amy encouraged me several times over the past few weeks to go see the exhibit.  I happily paid my $18 (I have a reciprocal membership with several other museums but I prefer to pay for special exhibits to support the museum), turned off my iPhone, and spent 30 minutes slowly walking up the Guggenheim ramp to the top, spent a few minutes at the top looking down at the crowd, and then wandered back down slowly.  It was a really special 30 minutes.

Improvisation 28 (Second Version) (Improvisation 28 [Zweite Fassung]), 1912

At 1:15 I was on a panel at Columbia University for NY Entrepreneurship Week.  My dad went to Columbia (‘59) so when I got to the campus 30 minutes early, I called him from the cab to have him guess where I was.  I gave him the address (64 Morningside Drive) and he immediately said “Columbia University!” I put him on speaker phone and he told the cab driver where to take me to give me a tour of Columbia and Harlem.  As we drove around, the cab driver told me his story.  He moved to the US from Israel in 1970.  His parents were Rumanian and were concentration camp survivors during World War 2.  They were rescued by the Russians and his dad was conscripted into the Russian army.  A year later he “escaped”, found his mother and her young child, and emigrated to Israel.  By the time the cab ride was over 30 minutes later, I both had a great tour of Columbia and had made a new friend with a deep emotional connection.

After my panel, I got together with a long time friend Len Fassler.  Len and his partner at the time Jerry Poch bought my first company in 1993 and both have been incredible mentors for me.  Len and I have invested together, succeeded together, and failed together.  He’s a special guy and sitting in a restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue just catching up and being together was wonderful.  We didn’t have any particular agenda – we just sat, drank tea, and talked.

Finally, at 8pm, I joined up with Fred and Joanne Wilson and Matt and Mariquita Blumberg at Convivio for our annual dinner.  This is a tradition – which includes Amy, although she missed this one because she didn’t come to NY with me this trip – that we’ve been doing at the end of the year for the past five or so years.  Fred and I are both investors in Matt’s company Return Path and have been since 1999/2000.  But more importantly, we have all become very close friends as we’ve worked together and grown together.  Our dinners are long and delicious, the conversation is a mixture of catching up combined with talking about what’s going on in the world, and as we left the restaurant around 11pm, I decided I’d finish off the day by walking 20 blocks back to my hotel.

When I look back on yesterday, it’s typical of my life.  I worked extremely hard and covered a lot of ground.  But I didn’t forget to live my life during the day.  I encourage you to find at least one special moment for yourself today, and every day.