The Yo-Yo Life of a Tech Entrepreneur – A Cautionary Tale

Posted on Jan 31, 2010 | 94 comments


yoyo

TechCrunch ran my article yesterday as a guest post but I wanted to have a copy here for anybody who missed it and for future readers of this blog.  This is a slightly longer version and also has an update at the end.

TechCrunch Europe ran an article in November of last year that European startups need to work as hard as those in Silicon Valley and I echoed the sentiment in my post about the need for entrepreneurs to be maniacal about their businesses if one wants to work in the hyper competitive tech world.

Of course articles like these are going to inflame people because not everybody who is running their own business (or aspires to) wants to believe that you need to go all out to compete and win on a global scale.  I agree that not all businesses require this level of dedication and the lifestyle choice isn’t for everybody.  But … global tech does require an absolute, singular commitment level.

Having been through this all before myself I would like to tell a cautionary tale that can happen to the best of us: The Yo-Yo life of the tech entrepreneur.  Mine started this way …

I started my first company in the “go-go years” of the Internet: 1999.  We were based in London.  We raised a seed round of capital in 1999 and our first venture capital round was the first week of March 2000 (e.g. a few days before the wheels came off of the market).  We were immediately thrust into a globally competitive market for B2B collaboration tools.

Our first big institutional round was $16.5 million, which by any normal standards was too much money.  But this was early 2000 and our US competitors had already closed rounds North of $45 million.  They announced their European expansion plans and put pressure on us to feel the need to keep up.

Within a year I hired 92 permanent staff and another 30 full time contractors.  We built 4 products simultaneously to compete with the perceived need to offer end-to-end solutions like our US counterparts.  I was on an airplane 2-3 times / week meeting potential customers, investors, employees, business partners and the press.  I stayed up late every night after a day of meetings doing email until 3am so that I didn’t feel out of touch with our product and sales pipelines.

Dinners were consumed with customers or in hotels and often past 10pm.  Alcohol wasn’t consumed in enormous quantities (ok, well, occasionally it was) but it was an ever present fixture in our socializing.  It also served as the trophy for any big business win.

We had a $40 million round lined up to close in the Autumn of 2000.  But the stock market continued to tank and one of our investors who had committed $12 million pulled out. So I hustled around and convinced a new investor to put in $18 million.  We were now set to close at $46 million in new capital.  The only problem was that the pesky stock market kept declining and that new investor pulled out.  Fawk!

I canceled my first ever extended family trip to Hawaii less than a week before going.  My family went without me.  This no doubt upset my mom but luckily my girlfriend (now my wife) saw what I was going through and understood.  I flew from San Diego (where I was visiting for Thanksgiving) to New York to persuade investors to stick with us.  I then caught the red eye the same night to Paris to meet our investors there.  I took the night train that night to London to try and hold investors firm.  I didn’t sleep much for days on end.

We worked out a plan to merge our company with another European competitor, raise money from both sets of investors, cut the cost base and live to fight another day.  I had very little cash in the bank yet the stories were still coming out about how we were going to change the world of online engineering and construction.  The investors of our competitor agreed to a merger and we were going to raise $15 million between the two companies.  And at the 11th hour they pulled out.  We were weeks from bankruptcy.  I tell that story in my post about the need for entrepreneurs to show resiliency.

We cut all 30 contractors immediately.  We also cut staff from 92 to 38 in one day and then immediately afterward to 33 employees.  We found a way to make our venture capital last when it shouldn’t have, at around the same time one of my all time favorite New Yorker cartoons was published on this topic.

We found a way to get a round of venture capital closed after all of this.  Our existing investors supported us and a new lead came in.

extremely fatiguedI somehow never really felt stressed during all of this.  At least not externally.  Immediately following the closing of the round I flew out to a big real estate conference in France to meet with prospective customers.  On the trip I nearly collapsed.  I felt dizzy and had an aching in my chest.  I started feeling panic attacks.  I had never had any symptoms like this in my life.

I was now 33 years old.  I had always been very athletic: running half marathons, able to swim 2 miles in a single session, had competed in triathlons, etc.  But a combination of no sleep, late night food, too much alcohol and stress that I didn’t acknowledge started to take its toll.  I had probably gained 15-20 pounds in the previous year.  I had finally appeared on the front cover of a magazine (TornadoInsider – then the top European VC magazine) but I felt so fat in the picture I never sent it to anybody.  I have a stack still sitting in my drawer at home.

I plodded through the conference and went straight to a doctor in London.  I was convinced I was having heart problems.  After an EKG and a treadmill test it turns out that my heart was fine.  The doctor suspected I had ‘acid reflux’ because the symptoms are very similar.

The doctor told me that while I didn’t ever show my anxiety to my friends and colleagues or even acknowledge it myself, my body still went through the stress internally.  How had I let myself get to this point?  If you’re still young I’m sure you think it would never happen to you – you’re fit, right?  Age and life catches up with you.  I was you, too.

I immediately cut out all most of the things the doctor ordered: coffee, orange juice and spicy foods.  I cut down on the volume of food that I ate at any one sitting.  I cut back dramatically on alcohol but wasn’t prepared to totally give up red wine.

My life changed dramatically.  I took up running again.  I woke up extra early (often before 6am) to get my runs in.  I still traveled for work all the time but I planned runs everywhere I went.  It was awesome.  I got to see more of the cities and not from a taxi cab.  I scheduled runs with teammates and even with customers.  It became a social activity.  8-miler in Munich with the CEO of a company we were trying to buy. 7-miler in Dusseldorf with Stuart Lander, my close friend and associate.  10k in Cologne with the CEO of my largest customer.

Then I got engaged to be married in late 2001 and had the motivation to get really serious.  I planned a half marathon, which I crushed in a personal best 1:42.  By the time of my wedding in July 2002 I was super fit.

So I decided to run the London Marathon in April 2003, just 3 weeks before my son was born.  I completed this in 3:57 and was on top of the world.  I’m normally a very upbeat guy but when I’m in great shape I’m INSUFFERABLE.  I carry my soap box with me everywhere and evangelize nonstop on the merits of staying in shape.

But the story doesn’t end there.  April 29th, 2003 my first son was born.  Sleep deprivation kicked in but my work responsibilities did not wane.  My exercise routine was torpedoed but my travel schedule persisted.  We set up a development center in India and I had to be there for three weeks to tour all of the prospective cities.  We opened a US office which increased my air mileage.  We hired a new executive management team that had to be stormed, normed and performed.

Then we merged with a US competitor and I moved from London to Palo Alto.  I started my second company while retaining a board seat at my first company.  I had my second child and commuted every month for 18 months between Palo Alto and London. We sold the first company to a French services company and were racing around getting our second company off of the ground.  About 18 months after building the product for the second company we received an offer to be acquired by Salesforce.com

overweight maleI was now 38 and in worse shape than my previous experience.  The time zones, the travel, 2 kids, pressure, managing the sales process, speaking at conferences  Somehow I had yo-yo’d back to where I was previously.

We had agreed to sell the company to Salesforce.com and between the offer in December 2006 and the closing March 27th, 2007 I focused exclusively on the sale to Salesforce.com.  I stopped doing conferences, traveling or pitching to VCs.

As a result I freed up the time to get back into shape.  I swam every morning and ran every afternoon.  I started “pulling doubles” often doing the swim then run one after the other.  I began bike riding and dreamed of become a triathlete again.  I lost 22 pounds between January 1st and March 27th through a combination of serious exercise and a Weight Watchers eating regime.  I was on top of the world again.

Except that after the acquisition Salesforce.com required that I commute more than an hour each way from Palo Alto to San Francisco.  The work pressure mounted, the food piled in, the sleep disappeared and the exercise was non existent.

I would like to finish this post on a happy note but I can’t.  After I left Salesforce.com I moved to LA and became a venture capitalist (no, that’s not the sad part ;-)) and had a new challenge to prove myself in a new field.  My hours picked up, I worked hard to establish myself in a new city and a new industry.  My wife said to me, “I thought you weren’t supposed to work entrepreneur hours when you’re a VC?”

I lost perspective and my life hasn’t been in balance.  Exercise hadn’t been enough of a priority in 2008-09.  But now I’m nearly 42.  This time it’s for real.  After a recent international trip with limited sleep I went to the doctor with chest pains again.  It’s still acid reflux.  But this time it’s combined with high blood pressure. I’m still in the manageable zone of hypertension but the doctor said I’ve got to change my ways.  He also ordered me to take medicine to control my blood pressure.

So the yo-yo continues.  But with 2 beautiful kids and a lovely wife I have much more to be serious about.  It’s easy in your 20′s to imagine you’d never be in my shoes.  I thought that, too.  One doesn’t have to look beyond the most prominent technology bloggers, early-stage Silicon Valley angels or even some of the biggest names in tech (Marc Andreessen, Reid Hoffman, Marc Benioff) to find people suffering like I have been.

I’ve spoken with many entrepreneurs in their 30′s who are going through some of the yo-yo health issues that I have brought on by work, travel, food choices and stress.  It’s far more productive to make sure that exercise and healthy eating creeps into your routine.  Find something else to cut out – not this.  You know what I’m talking about – it’s far easier to stay in shape than it is to get into shape.

So no prizes for guessing my New Year’s resolution for 2010.  I plan to be 25 pounds lighter by December 31st, 2010.  Based on experience I know I can do this much more rapidly but I care more about that longer term goal of maintenance.

I’m normally too cool to write posts like this.  I prefer to write the December 2010 post about what a great year I had.  Somehow this is more honest.  And the first 2 steps of achieving any goal are to set metrics (“you manage what you measure”) and to make your goals public (it’s easier to shame yourself into compliance than to be the only person holding yourself accountable).

I plan to keep track on DailyBurn to measure my weight through a new wi-fi enabled scaled from Withings.  I’ve written about the technology to lose weight in this post.  Anyone care to join me in this challenge?

Update: I wrote this post a month ago but waited until TechCrunch Europe posted it before I published.  I’m now down 8.6 pounds and working out 5 days / week.  I am not “dieting.” No crazy plans for me.  Just keeping track of daily calories through DailyBurn.  You manage what you measure.  And when you enter in your intake every day you can’t lie to yourself.  You can do it.  Good luck.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I give my wife credit all the time. She's definitely my rock and keeps me sane.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Best to recognize when you're young that these things could happen as you get older. Far easier to stay in shape than to get in shape. Also, I found blogging caused me problems because I was writing at 1am. I'm now restricting myself to blogging at sane times.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    For sure. Good luck getting back on the horse.

  • RA

    Taking care of your health should be your #1 priority, every day, of ever week, of every year. Before your work? Yes! Before your Wife? Yes!. Before your kids? Yes!
    Why?
    Because you can't take care of any of them when you are dead. It's that simple.

  • EricaB

    Thanks for writing this – I can definitely relate and I think it is something that doesn't get enough air time. I know too many entrepreneurs who have gone down this path.

    I'm only 28, but I have been in start-up mode for 5 years. I finally eased up a bit in the last year after acid reflux and anxiety really started affecting me. I never had issues with either before embarking on this journey. I also use DailyBurn and it has been great for keeping myself on track. I find that when I'm writing down everything I eat, I make healthier choices. I also don't 'forget' about days that I skipped exercise.

  • daytulu

    I think sleep deprivation is the worst and the core of the problem. You can find yourself in this terrible cycle where you drink more coffee/energy drinks, eat supposedly high energy food, and sleep less and less. Weight gain is the visible outcome. But lack of focus, not being able to think clearly hurts your performance all day. I have a 3.5 year old and a 7 month old, things are getting better everyday. Not that I am doing this all the time, but being aware of the problem and disciplining yourself to a fixed bed time is the first step. Then build on that by exercising, eating healthier and other tricks. But I don't see getting healthier without sleep.

  • daytulu

    Just read this short piece…

    http://blogs.hbr.org/hmu/2009/01/why-sleep-is-s

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Agreed. My wife said the same. She said, “that's why on an airplane they tell you to put on your mask before your child's. You can't help them if you're dead!”

  • http://thedreaminaction.com/ Ryan Graves

    The hard question…

    Would you have been as successful had you not dropped EVERYTHING else (even health) and gone balls to the wall on your entrepreneurial efforts? Maybe the sacrifice is worth it, at times.

    RG

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    You manage what you measure. That's an important point. I sure wish that DailyBurn would graph a zero on days where you don't exercise. When you graph distance, calories burned, etc. they leave out the zero days. Zero days are motivating if you see too many of them! Good luck with things.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Agreed. Sleep is important. That's why I plan to be an early customer of WakeMate

  • http://twitter.com/Justyn Justyn Howard

    I keep telling myself I'll get healthy when we climb this mountain (figuratively – not like actual excercise). Trouble is I'm always going to find a new challenge, so I better find a way to make it part of the routine now. You know, soon. When things slow down. ;-)

  • http://blog.tumbledesign.com/ Nicky Hajal

    I was wondering something similar:

    Would his company have been better off as a leaner operation, with less investment capital and no layoffs?

    Or, was pushing the company to the brink necessary to get it to where it was and the layoffs an eventual sacrifice?

    As I begin to think about how I will run my company, I like to think I'd keep things under control, make smart, sane decisions, etc. But maybe it's the extreme decisions that lead to extreme success, even if they come with consequences.

    -Nicky

  • EricaB

    I agree – that drives me nuts! They don't seem to be very responsive to customer requests and I think they may start seeing a lot of churn if they don't do a better job of responding to their users. I think a little more transparency would go a long way for them…

    I am thinking of trying the FitBit once they work out some of the kinks (it seems like it isn't very accurate yet.) Have you thought of giving that a try?

    Thanks again for this article and the whole series. I am really enjoying it and find it both validating and motivating.

  • kammyb

    woah… hits far too close to home. Definitely struggle with this yo-yo, aging exponentially during the 'Crush' times.
    Thanks for sharing and reinforcing the warnings…

  • http://thedreaminaction.com/ Ryan Graves

    I think it's also a matter of the times. Now lean is sexy (in a
    company sense, see Eric Ries' stuff); back then raising more was how
    you built a company.

    Mark you agree?

  • mikemcgrath

    I think we might be able to do a DailyBurn challenge as well?
    Re:Wakemate – how does it tell brainwaves from your wrist? The Zeo gives a breakdown of REM, Deep, and Light sleep. The interactive guides give incremental advice to improve sleep that you incorporate easily over time.

  • ian

    Great post Mark. I have run into the same problems with stress and blood pressure. The only difference is I am only 26! As the co-founder of a soon-to-launch fitness startup, I find it hard not to devote at least an hour a day to some form of exercise. I recommend trying to find a partner who can inspire you to workout when everything in your life tells you that you can't. My co-founder (who also happens to be my girlfriend) and I can feed off each other when times are tough in the gym and in business.

  • Aviah Laor

    I'm sure. I'll re-phrase it: some of the successful entrepreneur attributes are typically shared by the spouse, and although not present when pitching to VCs, they are an essential part of the venture :D

  • http://thedreaminaction.com/ Ryan Graves

    I think it's also a matter of the times. Now lean is sexy (in a
    company sense, see Eric Ries' stuff); back then raising more was how
    you built a company.

    Mark you agree?

  • http://markgslater.wordpress.com markslater

    i'm in – i'm at 188 and my optimum should be about 170 – just had baby stella 5 months ago, and am in the broiler on one start-up (concavesports.com) about to announce another……

  • mikemcgrath

    I think we might be able to do a DailyBurn challenge as well?
    Re:Wakemate – how does it tell brainwaves from your wrist? The Zeo gives a breakdown of REM, Deep, and Light sleep. The interactive guides give incremental advice to improve sleep that you incorporate easily over time.

  • ian

    Great post Mark. I have run into the same problems with stress and blood pressure. The only difference is I am only 26! As the co-founder of a soon-to-launch fitness startup, I find it hard not to devote at least an hour a day to some form of exercise. I recommend trying to find a partner who can inspire you to workout when everything in your life tells you that you can't. My co-founder (who also happens to be my girlfriend) and I can feed off each other when times are tough in the gym and in business.

  • Aviah Laor

    I'm sure. I'll re-phrase it: some of the successful entrepreneur attributes are typically shared by the spouse, and although not present when pitching to VCs, they are an essential part of the venture :D

  • http://markgslater.wordpress.com/ markslater

    i'm in – i'm at 188 and my optimum should be about 170 – just had baby stella 5 months ago, and am in the broiler on one start-up (concavesports.com) about to announce another……

  • http://www.twitter.com/alexismichelle alexismichelle

    Wow, incredible post. REALLY appreciate your candor, it takes alot of courage to write posts that arent “cool”. I also really appreciate everyone in this blog community sharing their own experience with the yo-yo life of an entrepreneur.

    I went from being a professional dancer with a daily yoga practice to working for a startup, so I've definitely felt the physical side effects as well. This is the first company I've worked for that I love so much and am so motivated by that I eagerly choose work over working out, when time gets tight (and when is time every not tight working for an early stage company? ;) Its a doubly whammy because not only am I not dancing regularly, but much of my work is sedentary, behind a computer!

    The wiser part of me knows that I am much more effective when I'm healthy, so I've forced myself to return to a daily exercise habit and yoga practice. The other thing I decided to do was take on the challenge of trying a new action sport every month for a year– I figured that would be a fun challenge, and would provide additional motivation for staying in shape. After all, if I have to lift my own weight on a kite board I'll be much more motivated to keep it down ;)

    Anyway, I think community can be tremendously powerful when it comes to things like healthy habit building, so definitely count me in on the challenge as well .

  • ronanvance

    Excellent post, Mark. I have been in the same position many times myself. Not operating at the same startup CEO level as you, but I can relate on the long hours, the young family, and even the trip to the cardiologist for chest pains (thankfully, just anxiety). It is ironic that we are so driven to achieve professionally that we easily lose sight of the most important things we are working hard to maintain and improve, like personal well-being and quality time with family.

    I experienced some disruptive shifts in 2009 that allowed me to gain some perspective on my life and well-being. I spent a lot of time thinking about the things I wanted to change and the plan I could put in place to ensure a more permanent obligation to improved health and fitness. I launched a new program as my New Year's resolution, and I am happy to report that January 2010 was one of the happiest, healthiest months I have had in a long time. I am with you on the challenge. Thanks for the added motivation.

    I also like that you are using technology to monitor and track your health and fitness objectives. Personal wireless devices like the iPhone are just beginning to scratch the surface on delivering truly valuable fitness, wellness and healthcare solutions. Keep us posted on what you are seeing out there, especially around integrating metrics from different sources for a unified personal fitness or health management experience.

  • http://www.twitter.com/alexismichelle alexismichelle

    Wow, incredible post. REALLY appreciate your candor, it takes alot of courage to write posts that arent “cool”. I also really appreciate everyone in this blog community sharing their own experience with the yo-yo life of an entrepreneur.

    I went from being a professional dancer with a daily yoga practice to working for a startup, so I've definitely felt the physical side effects as well. This is the first company I've worked for that I love so much and am so motivated by that I eagerly choose work over working out, when time gets tight (and when is time every not tight working for an early stage company? ;) Its a doubly whammy because not only am I not dancing regularly, but much of my work is sedentary, behind a computer!

    The wiser part of me knows that I am much more effective when I'm healthy, so I've forced myself to return to a daily exercise habit and yoga practice. The other thing I decided to do was take on the challenge of trying a new action sport every month for a year– I figured that would be a fun challenge, and would provide additional motivation for staying in shape. After all, if I have to lift my own weight on a kite board I'll be much more motivated to keep it down ;)

    Anyway, I think community can be tremendously powerful when it comes to things like healthy habit building, so definitely count me in on the challenge as well .

  • ronanvance

    Excellent post, Mark. I have been in the same position many times myself. Not operating at the same startup CEO level as you, but I can relate on the long hours, the young family, and even the trip to the cardiologist for chest pains (thankfully, just anxiety). It is ironic that we are so driven to achieve professionally that we easily lose sight of the most important things we are working hard to maintain and improve, like personal well-being and quality time with family.

    I experienced some disruptive shifts in 2009 that allowed me to gain some perspective on my life and well-being. I spent a lot of time thinking about the things I wanted to change and the plan I could put in place to ensure a more permanent obligation to improved health and fitness. I launched a new program as my New Year's resolution, and I am happy to report that January 2010 was one of the happiest, healthiest months I have had in a long time. I am with you on the challenge. Thanks for the added motivation.

    I also like that you are using technology to monitor and track your health and fitness objectives. Personal wireless devices like the iPhone are just beginning to scratch the surface on delivering truly valuable fitness, wellness and healthcare solutions. Keep us posted on what you are seeing out there, especially around integrating metrics from different sources for a unified personal fitness or health management experience.

  • Robert Sanchez

    Mark,

    Thanks for posting this personal blog entry. I am young, 21, and have been working on my own company now for many years (although only seriously for the past 6 months), on top of that I'm a student (which I know many people like Paul Graham say is a death wish for entrepreneurs), and I just recently transferred into Boston University's School of Management. While I cannot say that I lead as busy of a life as you explained, I am having a hard time finding the balance between my personal mental and physical health, school, my company, learning programming, learning through reading blogs extensively, and TRYING to find time for some kind of fun with friends. It's very difficult and I feel that your metaphor to a yo-yo is very correct. I find that one week, my balance is perfect: I'm working out, up to date on my school work, working diligently on the company, and have an occasional weekend night to have fun. Other weeks are mayhem: I stop working out for one, and my motivation falters.

    If you could write a follow up post tailored to how to overcome these problems, I think it would help a good amount of people. Additionally if you have any personal advice for me in my endeavors, I would be all ears. Take care, I really enjoy your blog. Thanks.

  • http://www.twitter.com/alexismichelle alexismichelle

    I really like how you highlighted the week to week nature of the “yo yo.” It really does feel like one week you are totally together and the next pfft!

  • bsrubin

    I have started measuring everything – both as a personal commitment to improvement and as an exploration of how this data can be important. Watch for a blog on this soon…

    And as for sleep – Zeo or not – its as important as diet and exercise (you are one of the few who gets this – although things are changing).
    We were astounded today when the Huffington Post started evangelizing our tag-line (and product!) as part of a larger trend:
    The More You Know, The Better You Sleep
    i highly encourage you to check it out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/qanta-ahmed/be-yo

  • stevepelletier

    Mark-
    I have been reading your posts for some time now. After reading this one, I finally got off the fence to comment. I am the founder and CEO of FatTail, a SoCal based tech company in the digital ad space. I believe that you know my colleagues Doug Burke and Doug Huntington?

    I am older than you and have always made fitness a top priority even while starting a company from scratch. Sometimes that meant waking at 3 AM for a run. Or turning my garage into a gym that is open 24/7 (with no waiting for equipment).

    I often try to integrate fitness with business as you have. I have taken many a prospect/client/potential new hire on a run/workout/pilates class, etc. It is amazing how well you can get to know someone while they are crying for mercy. I find it more effective than going out for drinks and there are far less side effects. It is also rewarding to learn that, after a single workout, some folks catch the bug and dedicate themselves to this pursuit.

    Regarding your own fitness program, I can offer two suggestions. 1) Pierce College on Sat. mornings at 8:15 AM at the Sheppard Stadium. This is a really fun ‘bootcamp’ type of program that has been happening for over 10 years. It is fun and challenging. 2) Crossfit (http://www.crossfit.com). These guys are all about intensity and getting a bang for the time you invest into fitness. As you point out, time is the limiting factor so using some of the x-fit techniques might help you and other readers squeeze your workouts in around the busy schedules.

    I’ll see you at Pierce on Saturday. Ask for Steve.

    Take care.

  • Robert Sanchez

    Mark,

    Thanks for posting this personal blog entry. I am young, 21, and have been working on my own company now for many years (although only seriously for the past 6 months), on top of that I'm a student (which I know many people like Paul Graham say is a death wish for entrepreneurs), and I just recently transferred into Boston University's School of Management. While I cannot say that I lead as busy of a life as you explained, I am having a hard time finding the balance between my personal mental and physical health, school, my company, learning programming, learning through reading blogs extensively, and TRYING to find time for some kind of fun with friends. It's very difficult and I feel that your metaphor to a yo-yo is very correct. I find that one week, my balance is perfect: I'm working out, up to date on my school work, working diligently on the company, and have an occasional weekend night to have fun. Other weeks are mayhem: I stop working out for one, and my motivation falters.

    If you could write a follow up post tailored to how to overcome these problems, I think it would help a good amount of people. Additionally if you have any personal advice for me in my endeavors, I would be all ears. Take care, I really enjoy your blog. Thanks.

  • http://www.twitter.com/alexismichelle alexismichelle

    I really like how you highlighted the week to week nature of the “yo yo.” It really does feel like one week you are totally together and the next pfft!

  • Shane

    Good for you Mark. I have always sung the praises of the following mantra, a growing waistline does not contribute to a growing bottom line. I always feel better after exercising, and it is certainly a motivating force.

  • bsrubin

    I have started measuring everything – both as a personal commitment to improvement and as an exploration of how this data can be important. Watch for a blog on this soon…

    And as for sleep – Zeo or not – its as important as diet and exercise (you are one of the few who gets this – although things are changing).
    We were astounded today when the Huffington Post started evangelizing our tag-line (and product!) as part of a larger trend:
    The More You Know, The Better You Sleep
    i highly encourage you to check it out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/qanta-ahmed/be-yo

  • stevepelletier

    Mark-
    I have been reading your posts for some time now. After reading this one, I finally got off the fence to comment. I am the founder and CEO of FatTail, a SoCal based tech company in the digital ad space. I believe that you know my colleagues Doug Burke and Doug Huntington?

    I am older than you and have always made fitness a top priority even while starting a company from scratch. Sometimes that meant waking at 3 AM for a run. Or turning my garage into a gym that is open 24/7 (with no waiting for equipment).

    I often try to integrate fitness with business as you have. I have taken many a prospect/client/potential new hire on a run/workout/pilates class, etc. It is amazing how well you can get to know someone while they are crying for mercy. I find it more effective than going out for drinks and there are far less side effects. It is also rewarding to learn that, after a single workout, some folks catch the bug and dedicate themselves to this pursuit.

    Regarding your own fitness program, I can offer two suggestions. 1) Pierce College on Sat. mornings at 8:15 AM at the Sheppard Stadium. This is a really fun ‘bootcamp’ type of program that has been happening for over 10 years. It is fun and challenging. 2) Crossfit (http://www.crossfit.com). These guys are all about intensity and getting a bang for the time you invest into fitness. As you point out, time is the limiting factor so using some of the x-fit techniques might help you and other readers squeeze your workouts in around the busy schedules.

    I’ll see you at Pierce on Saturday. Ask for Steve.

    Take care.

  • Shane

    Good for you Mark. I have always sung the praises of the following mantra, a growing waistline does not contribute to a growing bottom line. I always feel better after exercising, and it is certainly a motivating force.

  • http://twitter.com/siberianfruit Deena Varshavskaya

    Because I have chronic back pain, not exercising has not been an option. So maybe the pain is a blessing in disguise?

    What has worked for me is an elliptical machine in my house and scheduling my workouts with a trainer (currently pilates). Once it's scheduled, all I have to do is show up.

    However, for me managing the stress of being an entrepreneur is not just about exercising. We're in the game of dealing with endless uncertainty and new challenges. This is exactly the game I want to be in, yet I have to work on maintaining/developing a healthy relationship with uncertainty. Obviously, this has to do with fear of failure, etc. I would be interested in reading your take on the psychological aspects of the stress of being an entrepreneur, dealing with a high degree of uncertainty, etc.

  • http://twitter.com/siberianfruit Deena Varshavskaya

    Because I have chronic back pain, not exercising has not been an option. So maybe the pain is a blessing in disguise?

    What has worked for me is an elliptical machine in my house and scheduling my workouts with a trainer (currently pilates). Once it's scheduled, all I have to do is show up.

    However, for me managing the stress of being an entrepreneur is not just about exercising. We're in the game of dealing with endless uncertainty and new challenges. This is exactly the game I want to be in, yet I have to work on maintaining/developing a healthy relationship with uncertainty. Obviously, this has to do with fear of failure, etc. I would be interested in reading your take on the psychological aspects of the stress of being an entrepreneur, dealing with a high degree of uncertainty, etc.

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  • AndyL

    Dude – damn – something about this whole story is just broken. I know your story is common – running running running like an out of control puppet. But for what?? You've got to have have some fun on the way – life is just too short…

    Look – I've done 4 VC funded startups – I know the drill. And I can tell you – the glory days of VC funded startups are over – thank god.

    The good news – the golden age of software is here. You don't need VC money to build a good company anymore. Look at your story – flying to around the world like a dog to beg your VC dealers to give you another fix. Pathetic!! How does any of this contribute to building value that customers care about??

    And furthermore – look at the advice you give in your blog. How to give presentations. How to conduct board meetings. Fucking bullshit!!! Meetings and presentations are simply the biggest productivity killers ever.

    If you don't have a real business that generates real cash, life is going to be stressful. Best thing in the world is to avoid VC dependency like the plague. Fuck the presentations and meetings – spend 100% of your time focused on cash and building value for your business, and I guarantee you'll sleep better at night.

  • AndyL

    Dude – damn – something about this whole story is just broken. I know your story is common – running running running like an out of control puppet. But for what?? You've got to have have some fun on the way – life is just too short…

    Look – I've done 4 VC funded startups – I know the drill. And I can tell you – the glory days of VC funded startups are over – thank god.

    The good news – the golden age of software is here. You don't need VC money to build a good company anymore. Look at your story – flying to around the world like a dog to beg your VC dealers to give you another fix. Pathetic!! How does any of this contribute to building value that customers care about??

    And furthermore – look at the advice you give in your blog. How to give presentations. How to conduct board meetings. Fucking bullshit!!! Meetings and presentations are simply the biggest productivity killers ever.

    If you don't have a real business that generates real cash, life is going to be stressful. Best thing in the world is to avoid VC dependency like the plague. Fuck the presentations and meetings – spend 100% of your time focused on cash and building value for your business, and I guarantee you'll sleep better at night.

  • AndyL

    Dude – damn – something about this whole story is just broken. I know your story is common – running running running like an out of control puppet. But for what?? You've got to have have some fun on the way – life is just too short…

    Look – I've done 4 VC funded startups – I know the drill. And I can tell you – the glory days of VC funded startups are over – thank god.

    The good news – the golden age of software is here. You don't need VC money to build a good company anymore. Look at your story – flying to around the world like a dog to beg your VC dealers to give you another fix. Pathetic!! How does any of this contribute to building value that customers care about??

    And furthermore – look at the advice you give in your blog. How to give presentations. How to conduct board meetings. Fucking bullshit!!! Meetings and presentations are simply the biggest productivity killers ever.

    If you don't have a real business that generates real cash, life is going to be stressful. Best thing in the world is to avoid VC dependency like the plague. Fuck the presentations and meetings – spend 100% of your time focused on cash and building value for your business, and I guarantee you'll sleep better at night.