We wrapped week 1 at the accelerator with a team happy hour at KC Crossroads hangout “Snow & Company.” The icy cocktails were a welcomed retreat from the week’s intensity and a warming midwest climate. Each of the companies took time over the weekend to reflect on week 1 and visit some KC hotspots on their own (Brookside Irish Parade, Westport, Grinders and much more).
Week 2 kicked off today with what is known as “Mentor Madness.” Today, 6 mentors came into the space and had time with each company to talk through roadblocks, opportunities and general advice. The sessions can be intense and there’s a lot to learn from them….but we’ll cover more about Mentor Madness in the future.
Today’s mind blowing moment happened at 6pm. After a long week of trying to properly set up our video conference system, it was put to good work when it lit up on the other end with Brad Feld staring at us from his office in Boulder, CO. In a pre-scheduled appointment, Brad spent time talking to us about proper work/life balance (admittedly an anachronism, he instead referred to it as a work/life harmony) .
He kicked off the talk describing some of his successes dating back to the early 90′s that were soon clouded by a personal failure of a divorce and depression that followed. His personal and professional life has since rebounded, famously so, but he had some words of wisdom for our entrepreneurs who are all embarking upon a stressful journey.
His realization of a work/life harmony came after a horrible dinner party with his current wife and some friends. She was by far the most important thing to him in life but he found his words didn’t match his actions. His wife asked about the technology he was carrying (*paraphrased):
“Does that palm pilot have a calendar on it?”
“Does it record appointments?”
“Can it record recurring appointments?”
“Then put 2 hours on there once a month for the two of us to spend some time together.”
After this conversation, Brad Feld and his current wife have kept this appointment on their calendar still to this day. While this works for him, he had a single piece of advice for everyone in the room:
Do something for yourself…every day. It doesn’t matter what it is, but take 5 minutes to an hour each day, turn everything off and take care of you and the things that matter for you. It doesn’t matter if it is a favorite TV show, eating chocolate ice cream or taking a few minutes each day to write a postcard to someone you care about (something that I thought was great because it could also serve as a personal catalog of the Techstars journey).
His message of taking time out to act upon the things that you say are important resonated with me and the others in the room. We get busy here and it’s easy to think you can keep a certain pace 7 days a week, dozens of hours every day. Taking a step back from time to time has helped people like Brad through times good and bad and we can all learn something from his failures and ultimate success.