Brad Feld

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Back From Sabbatical

Oct 01, 2016
Category Personal

Amy and I just got back from a month off the grid in Aspen. If you are an Atlas Shrugged fan, think of it like the annual trip to Galt’s Gulch.

Since 2000, Amy and I have been taking a week of the grid every quarter. I’ve never been a good moderator with anything, especially work, so it has been a way to get a cold reset every twelve weeks or so.

Three years ago my partners and I at Foundry Group decided to experiment with a month off the grid. Each of us goes away for a month and the other three (now four) cover for him. It’s been remarkably successful for us, both individually and as a partnership.

Let’s start with the individual stuff first. My brain is cleared of cruft, I’m extremely content, and my energy level is high. I’m in great physical shape, as I slept around 10 hours a night, ran about seven hours a week, and took almost daily naps. I’m in great emotional shape, as I meditated almost daily, spent lots of time with friends who came to visit, ignored almost everything going on in the world (although I got sucked into the election a few times), stayed completely off social media, and read a book a day. I’m in great relationship shape, as I got to spent 24 hours a day for a month with my beloved.

Professionally, having now been through this three times, I know that all my responsibilities were in good hands with my partners. As a bonus, they just spent a month taking care of the companies I’m primarily responsible for, so they know what is going on in my world – the good and the bad. Spending a month disconnected is, in some ways, the ultimate display of trust, and it powerfully reinforces the idea that we all work together on everything.

And – no email. No Twitter. No Facebook. No calendar alerts. No Voxer. No Slack. No phone calls. No conference calls. No Google Hangouts. You get the picture.

We did watch Season 2 of Narcos (awesome). We watched a bunch of movies. We watched 24 Second Edition (also known as Designated Survivor.) Amy and I ate dinner together every night. We held hands a lot as we walked around and enjoyed a splendid fall in Aspen. We missed our dogs (they were staying with our Rover sitter who they love), but this let us stay up late and sleep until 11am some days.

I know it’s a huge privilege to be able to take a month of the grid every year. I’ve fantasized about this since I read Atlas Shrugged when I was 19. Thanks Jason, Seth, Ryan, and Lindel for helping this become a reality. Most of all, thanks Amy for sharing this time with me.

That said, it’s good to be back. I look forward to reconnecting with everyone – starting now.