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The August downshift

I have been struggling with this post. I deleted a few drafts over the last week or so.

But today I am going to try again. It feels like the right time. This time I’m going to do it in one take and see how it works out. 

When I started out early in my career, I was a tireless workaholic. That behavior didn’t change as the years continued. When my first daughter was born, I was at a startup company and I took exactly 1.5 days off. I am not proud of that fact, in fact I’m ashamed of it. But I’m sharing it for a reason. 

As the years continued, I ended up doing a lot of business with venture capitalists. Many were quite older than me — in those days, partners at VC firms were for old(er) people. And I was told and witnessed that August was a dead month.

Sheesh, don’t these people have any work ethic. Slackers, I thought to myself. 

Then in my late 30′s I helped start a venture capital firm and I’ve been part of that firm ever since. Eleven years later and I find myself at the end of another August.

This time it has been different for me. I have slowed things down considerably this past August. I have been reachable on demand by my partners and founders in our portfolio. But otherwise, I haven working towards some real balance. 

I am spending much more time with my Lauren and our kids. Lauren and are have learned how to sail. I feel healthy physically as we are running 4 times a week and our long runs feel great. My mind feels better too. And I have taken a break from business travel. 

As I look back, I wonder why taking some extended breaks has such a bad brand. It feels awkward even talking about. But then you start paying attention. Several people in our industry have died of a massive heart attack in their late 40′s just this year alone. My father in law died of a massive heart attack at 50. And Foursquare provides a sober reminder that my life has been spent on the road. 

Today is a day when it especially hits close to home for me. Today my oldest daughter starts high school. I can recall the exact day when she started kindergarten. It was like yesterday. Truly. To say that time flies is perhaps one of the greatest understatements ever.

So as this month comes to a close I am taking this moment to be grateful for the quiet of August.