The Need for Rest

Renee and I just finished a weeklong vacation (honeymoon) in Cancun.  It was much needed for both of us and incredibly relaxing and just great for us to have time to connect given our hectic lives.  There was a time when I was terrible about taking time for myself and my family – going multiple years in between any real time off – and I’ll never do it again.

I know there will be those entrepreneurs and early stage veterans who will say that doing early stage work is all consuming and you have to do “whatever it takes” and there simply isn’t the ability to take time off from a startup.

I disagree.  I’ve lived on both sides of this fence and there’s one fundamental truth – there will always be more to do than you can get done.  And I’ve never taken a vacation when the timing was right, it never is.  And I’ve also never taken a vacation where my absence resulted in a catastrophic event for the business.  To the contrary, time off rejuvenates, enhances focus and most important, it’s an explicit pronouncement of your priorities, not just to yourself, but to your family.  I learned my lesson the hard way as a result of all those years without taking time to remind my family of my priorities.

And I’m not suggesting that in a startup you can disappear into the ether for 2 weeks at a time.  When I take vacation, I still check email once per day and respond to any urgent issues.  This frequency still allows me to relax and focus on vacation, not work, for the bulk of my day.  That is simply my personal balance and one that works just fine for Renee too.

I do realize there are exceptions and I also realize that startups require obsessive, compulsive, even paranoid behavior, but not enough of any of these to avoid putting vacation plans on the calendar in advance and not enough to repeatedly cancel vacation time.

So take some time off.  Disconnect if even just a little.  Connect with your family.  It will all be there when you get back.

There’s a great article detailing a well respected VC’s struggle with the same issue “Do More Faster”.

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Airport Security – CLEAR

Today I flew back to LA from Denver and noticed the CLEAR program being marketed heavily in the security line with 4 or 5 kiosks, yet very little traffic going through the CLEAR line itself.  I was there at 5:30am and it looked like largely a leisure crowd going through an already steadily increasing security line.  Perhaps a bit early for the road warrior Monday morning folks.

I couldn’t help thinking that if I lived in Denver this would be the first thing I would do (after purchasing a new set of skis) – enroll in this program if the price point was reasonable, say $200-250 per year.  My experience with DIA is always greeted with long security lines because security is centralized in one location for the entire airport.

Once I actually landed in LA and dug into the research, this is actually a re-brand and launch of the failed Clear program across 18 airports that ended in class action lawsuits and bankruptcy back in 2009.  A new investment and management group has purchased those assets and is attempting to revive the program.  There are only 2 current participating airports (Denver + Orlando) but their presence at DIA security was prominent – multiple kiosks, attendants – you couldn’t miss it.

The program is $179 per year with an additional $50 family plan and this program is completely privately run, using biometric identification, same as before.  I think its a great idea provided there is a large enough ACTUAL time savings from the first class security lines to offset the cost of the program for the target consumer, which I assume is the frequent traveler – who will likely have access to first class security lines.  Perceived benefit I’m not sure gets you there, it’s gotta save time for the business traveler.

I think Denver is a great place to have this program.  Problem is, the only way I’d join the program is if my resident airport participated.  It will take a load of $179 subscriptions to pay for the operation I witnessed today, I’d like to see behind the curtain on those economics.  Particularly for airports where security is NOT centralized, like LAX and dozens of others.  The additional cost of hardware for convenient placement in a distributed airport, with more than 5 disparate security locations, has to quickly add up.  Well, I hope it works out and that LAX is next on the list!  Check ’em out at www.clearme.com

iPhone is changing my life!

Wow, received my iPhone yesterday after a long unsatisfying union with Blackberry. I was always wary of switching away from the button keyboard since I’m such a heavy email and text user on my mobile device. But here I am on day 2, writing this post on the plane and, by the way, doing so on the airline’s wifi. Try doing that on your Blackberry. The keyboard is actually pretty good due in large part to Apple’s autocorrect technology. The iPhone web experience is captivating especially compared to the unusable interface on the BB Tour. Literally unusable.

And the apps! Some of my favorites:

Dropbox – a must for accessing and syncing all of your files

Yelp – especially if you travel. A great location aware app.

Tripit Pro – for road warriors keeps track of all travel and points and monitors flights real time.

Google – pretty cool picture recognition technology that enables search.

Google voice – read or listen to your voice mail, for free of course.

Nirvino wine and beer ratings – separate apps with huge databases

I have much more to explore but I’m hooked. Here’s a (humorous) good review of how I’m feeling.

A Great Ride!

I finally had a chance to get out on my bike today after a 2-week hiatus, which is a long time for me.  The combination of work travel and illness has put a real damper on my fitness routine.  My commitment to cycling, running and generally staying in shape is important to me and its taken a back seat lately.  I’m an avid cyclist, it is by far my favorite hobby.  Last year I cycled in France during the Tour de France, an amazing experience I will never forget.  It was a gorgeous day today, 70 degrees and not a cloud to be found.

I did one of my favorite routes today – roughly 50 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain over several canyon climbs in the Santa Monica mountain range.  PCH, Topanga, Fernwood, Stunt, Piuma, Saddle Peak.  Being on my bike, alone and suffering, is where I have the largest blocks of time to think.  About work, life, whatever is occupying my energy at the time.  I really enjoy riding alone for this reason.

Today I took a different approach.  I’ve been pretty stressed and preoccupied lately so today I focused my energy on NOT thinking about all the things going on in life.  Rather, I focused on enjoying being outside, my rhythmic breathing, the scenery, getting to the top of the next climb – all the things I’ve been unable to think about over the past few weeks.

It was truly a breath of fresh air.

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