OK, so here's the plan. Start a company, work 100 hours per week for a few years, exit for millions, and then, only then, start the rest of your life. If you're single, good. If you're married, your role is now bedwarmer. If you have kids, they'll understand when they're older. It's cool. It's #startuplife.
Within my close circle of founder friends, one young father wound up in the ER with chest pains, another fell into a dark depression, and another lost his marriage and CEO position. These are rock stars--CEOs of unicorns, or at least of companies you know.
I did it too. While on the VC warpath, I woke up at precisely 3:35 a.m. with anxiety attacks and nightmares in PowerPoint. Caffeine replaced sleep. Facebook comments replaced friendships. FaceTime replaced family time. My libido dropped from lion to lichen.
Then I started searching for life in startup life.
I found shelves in bookstores and magazines filled with guides on how to grow my business faster and make more money. But how do I run my startup while packing a healthy lunch, hitting the gym, cutting out at 5 to build a treehouse with my kid, cooking a delicious dinner, reading historical fiction, and getting 8.5 hours of pillow-time? Of the thousands, I never found a single book, article, or podcast that made me say, "This is exactly how I must live!" Instead, I collected my own Council of Wisemen who have each taught me key lessons in designing a lifestyle that put life far ahead of startup. Here are some highlights--I'll go into greater detail in the coming articles:
Prof. Clayton Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life?: "Intimate, loving, and enduring relationships with our family and close friends will be among the sources of the deepest joy in our lives."
Peter Adeny, MrMoneyMustache.com: "This is not about being cheap, minimalist, or extreme. It's about using logic and science to design a Slightly Less Ridiculous Than Average Lifestyle in order to live more happily."
My Uncle Igor, laundromat owner: "They're putting quarters into my machines while I'm not there."
Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad: "To spend your life living in fear, never exploring your dreams is cruel. To work hard for money, thinking that it will buy you things that will make you happy is also cruel. To live a life dictated by the size of a paycheck is not really living a life."
Tony Robbins, Personal Power: "The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you're in control of your life. If you don't, life controls you."
Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: "This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be."
Michael Gerber, The E-Myth Revisited: "If your business depends on you, you don't own a business--you have a job. And it's the worst job in the world because you're working for a lunatic!"
Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover: "We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like."
Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek: "Becoming a member of the new rich is not just about working smarter. It's about building a system to replace yourself."
I'm not a guru. I don't have it all figured out. But I think I'm on the right track. My real estate startup has tripled each year since 2013 and I've designed it to work around my life. I spend six months in Boston working 50 hours per week and six non-consecutive months traveling and work 10-20 hours per week. While inspired by Tim Ferriss's philosophy, I needed more than a four-hour workweek. Life without work is meaningless and work without life is slavery.
My goal in this series is to share how I've designed a lifestyle that creates meaningful work and an abundance of time to savor my life. It's a work in progress.