The Eagle Has Landed… In Texas

After an adventure that resembled something close to Chevy Chase’s Vacation, although no Christie Brinkley tailing us in a Ferrari, we finally made it to Austin.  Baby Jack did pretty good save for a few end-of-day meltdowns.  We made it manageable for him by capping our daily mileage to 425 miles over 4 driving days.  Now we have to hang out until Saturday when the movers arrive to relieve us of Inflatable Mattress Back Syndrome.  Finally, I’m looking forward to settling in to my new role as President of Blacklocus next week!

A sad note, unfortunately we lost our beloved Shetland Sheepdog Jackson during our stopover in Scottsdale.  His health had seen a rapid decline over the past month and he got to the point where he couldn’t keep any food down, so we had to say goodbye and send him on his way to the Rainbow Bridge while we were in Scottsdale.  Jackson was a faithful companion for Renee over the past 10 years, he will be missed.

Klaus and Jackson hangin' at Venice Beach

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Mission Accomplished!

Jack seeing me off just before the race

This past weekend, we took a family trip to Las Vegas for three reasons – to visit some of Renee’s family, to do a “dry run” of having Jack in a car for a 5-hour stretch in anticipation of our upcoming move and finally, so that I could participate in the Las Vegas Gran Fondo, a road cycling race through the Red Rock Canyon area.  Believe it or not, we actually had a great, energizing weekend on all fronts.

Jack did great… as long as the car was moving.  He only started to get fussy when we returned to LA and hit the inevitable stop-and-go traffic that defines this place.  Renee really enjoyed seeing members of her family, including some that she had not seen since her childhood.  And I had a great race on Saturday, completing 100 miles and 8000 feet of climbing in just over 6 hours.  Somehow, I managed to finish in first place among roughly 60 riders.  Jack wanted to enter the race as you can see, but was disqualified since he had 4 wheels instead of 2.

 

Jack disqualified for using 4 wheels

All in all, a wonderful trip which gives us some confidence for our upcoming cross-country move  to Texas 9 days from today.

Travel Lockdown

Now that Renee is nearly 36 weeks pregnant, I just completed my last travel until after the baby is born.  I’ve been traveling incessantly over the past year, particularly over the past 6 months to/from our San Francisco office.  Lucky for me, most of my travel has been “easy” with direct and short flights.  I was reviewing my TripIt account this morning, here are my travel stats for the past 12 months:

  • 32 separate trips; 21 of them since January 1
  • 25 business trips, 7 personal trips
  • 95 nights sleeping away from home; 127 days gone
  • 66 individual flight legs; 132 takeoffs/landings
  • 72,227 miles flown
  • 16 unique cities visited; 3 countries

I’m looking forward to having more time and energy over the coming weeks to read, write, work and help Renee as we prepare for the arrival of Baby G.

 

Connecting With Friends

Handsome crew, right?

I’ve been off the grid for a few days after a great “guys” weekend in Chicago.  This was our annual trip for 11 of us who originally met in graduate school (Kellogg) almost 17 years ago now.  Hard to believe its been that long although we probably acted much closer to our ages 20 years ago this weekend than our current ages!  Typically we go to Charleston, SC for a golf weekend but this year we decided to mix it up and go to Chicago to watch the Chicago Cubs take on the Giants at Wrigley Field and also go back to some of our Chicago haunts when we were together at Kellogg.

It’s funny how our conversations change over the years when we get together.  17 years ago most of the group was still single, partying a little harder and was, well, just generally more immature.  Our common bonds were based on the “fun” times we shared in business school and that’s what dominated most of our conversation.  But today, we talk about family, kids, our professional challenges and get advice from one another in addition to reminiscing about the more rambunctious times.  Of the 11 of us that were together this weekend, 7 are married and 4 are single.  And among the 7 married guys, 16 children and 1 in the oven (mine!) are represented in ages ranging from 9 to 2 years old.  Maybe that’s why everyone looked so tired?  I’ll soon find out I guess.

I find I always come home from these trips energized (although physically tired!) and connected and wishing I did a better job of staying connected throughout the year with this group of friends.  They all have a lot to offer.

It has me thinking about many other friends who have come and gone throughout the years who would be additive to my life but somehow I’ve lost touch with.  Life is busy, we go our separate ways, geography separates us, we make new friends, we have less and less discretionary time it seems.   While technology such as Facebook has enabled us to “view” what is happening in our friends lives, it certainly doesn’t by itself promote meaningful relationships.  That still and will always require effort.

So that’s what I’m going to do, really make a point of reaching out to a select few that I’m closest to and have lost touch with in order to develop more meaningful bonds than just a few yearly conversations.

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”.

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

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