It’s January. Happy New Year!
My last post was December 17 – nearly a month ago.
I miss blogging because it serves as a great repository for me of my current thinking, as a way of organizing my thoughts and clarifying what I think and as a conversation started with so many of you (as Hunter Walk elegantly said, “Blog not to show how smart you are, but in the hope of soliciting feedback from smart people. That’s how you learn.”)
Where have I been? It was a particularly rough December in what proved a difficult 2012. I spent the end of December horizontal (per this NY Post headline, it seems that many on the East Coast are experiencing this!), the 1st week of January in decompression and the second week getting caught up with work.
What I love about writing is that you inadvertently say what many others are thinking and just knowing that somebody else is thinking something similar can be reassuring.
Example: Fred Wilson writing his end of 2012 post wrote
“I’ve wanted to write a year end post for days. I actually wrote one and stored it as a draft. But it comes across as a whiny complaint about the shitty year that 2012 was. And it was in many ways a shitty year for me. But the reason I couldn’t publish that post is it didn’t capture the greater picture that 2012 represents for me.”
I felt that way exactly. After all, you’d have to be a really big baby to complain about being a VC. [first world problems and all] But I did feel like 2012 was particularly tough for me having closed out 2011 losing a close family member and dealing with cancer with both family members and close friends. Some responded very well and are in recovery. And some are heart-breakingly no longer with us.
And as you may have gotten a taste in my Entrepreneurshit blog post, I spent too much of the year on the road, in random hotels, stuck in airports waiting out delays and dealing with the same stresses you deal with – fund raising. I’m so happy to have put much of that behind me.
And yet as I reflected this week on December/January board packs that highlighted the year many companies I’ve invested in have had it is pretty mind boggling. On the inside nobody felt euphoric or victorious but reading the year-over-year progress it is mind-boggling how much progress some of them have made.
So what to make of a year? Progress and shit. Huge leaps forward but stress. Celebrations and fights.
But I prefer openings rather than closings. I’m not a December guy. I’m a January one.
Overall I’m pretty proud of what has been achieved but it takes January to really feel that. To be recharged and ready to accept the results for what they are while pointing at even loftier goals ahead.
You’d imagine your favorite founder, VC, blogger, political figure, billionaire, whatever has a stress free life pontificating about how to build the next really cool, society-altering product or changing a city, state or country. But of course life isn’t like this. We all face demons and stress.
Never was that more clear than in this short, but tear-inducing post from 2007 by Aaron Swartz, who you probably know took his life last week at the full-life-in-front-of-him-but-didn’t-feel-that-way age of 26. As a society it’s clear that we need to de-stigmatize depression, treat it and be aware of our colleagues & family who may be experiencing it.
For most of us it’s likely stress more than depression that is our demon. But as an entrepreneur (and VC) you need to be aware of your own stress levels, the consequences of bottling that stress and the impact on your families & friends. I wrote a cautionary tale about that here as an entrepreneur but it equally applies to running a VC firm.
So I spent much of December with a severe flu, then bronchitis, then a pinched nerve in my neck and felt the worst I have felt in a very long time. And as I moped in self-pity the last 2 weeks of December and reflected about how much I hate December I came across this blog post by Brad Feld that really spoke to me.
I wouldn’t have written it – it wouldn’t have occurred to me to write it. But it spoke to me and spoke to how I was feeling in late December. And it lifted me up a little bit and it reminded me that writing and putting thoughts out that can do that for people. And I was glad to count Brad as a friend.
I hate Decembers. I always have. Not because of Christmas (which I didn’t grow up with) but because December is about closure. It’s about closing down activities so that you can go away on a vacation that you’re expected to really embrace and come back recharged. I’m never recharged January 1st. Never.
I hate the fact that my routine is thrown off. I hate that it’s hard to get things done because everybody else is making their plans, too.
I hate the cold. I hate the travel with everybody else in the world at the same time. And their fucking sniffles and coughs and hacks and … flus.
I hate how the news programs get super boring and the TV schedules suck. And your favorite bloggers stop writing. And nobody releases products. And in fact the whole (Western) world seems on hold. Waiting. For the year to end. So that we can start the new one.
I hate the extra chocolate around the office. I hate the 6 extra chocolate chip cookies you ate because “why the fuck not, you’re going to eat too much at Christmastime anyways?”
I always hated the expectations that you had to have a perfect and romantic New Year’s Eve. It has to be Harry Met Sally. It has to go to 11. And it never really quite does.
I love January!
It is filled with possibility. No binge eating. No obligatory cocktail parties. Back to our routines!
January is filled with planning. The year to come! January is where we find our most optimistic selves in our resolutions. Our goals of getting organized. Of doing things differently this year.
Fred Wilson touched on some of this in his post called “Home”
“I’m hoping that having the routine back will lead to a burst of creativity and output. I can say for sure that I struggled mightily to keep it going the past 10 weeks.”
In Fred’s case it was the ravage of Hurricane Sandy that forced him from his home and routine.
But the sentiment of, “having the routine back will lead to a burst of creativity and output” that resonated the most with me. December is about getting out of your routine and for me that has always sapped me of my creativity and output.
And I never fail to bounce back in January with my huge leap forward.
I’m so excited about what this year is going to bring for my firm. Our plans have been underway for much of 2012 (one of the things that greatly weighed upon me) and now I see light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t wait to share them all with you in the months ahead.
And I wish you a happy, optimistic, fulfilled and mostly a healthy 2013.
P.S. Maybe I unfairly love January because I live in Los Angeles Here is a shot from January 5th and my 7-year-old Andy. Who of course made me go in the water also.
But what a difference 2 weeks makes!
[top photo is with my brother-in-law, Jeff McLellan in Annapolis, Maryland]