Working On Vacation

The title of this post sounds like an oxymoron. But it is a fact of life for me and probably many of the people who read this blog.

The idea of a ‘get away from it all’ vacation is a romantic notion that I cannot seem to achieve as much as the Gotham Gal and my kids would like me to.

This week, for example, I am in the middle of assisting two of our portfolio companies close on very senior hires. I am helping with the negotiations and trying to keep the rest of the board in the loop. And we are closing a deal which requires some attention on my part. And we are working with all of our portfolio companies to ensure they have their cash invested wisely. None of these efforts will or should wait for next week

I do have partners and a very capable associate to back me up and I rely on them a lot more when I am on vacation.

But the reality of venture capital is that its a relationship intensive business. You can’t just disengage from a complicated negotiation and say ‘my partner is taking over for me for the next week’. We all wish it was so, but its not.

So what do I do to manage? First, I block out 90 minutes in the morning when my family is asleep for emails and phone calls. Hawaii makes that easy because at 6am in hawaii, its 9am in the bay area and noon in NYC. I schedule all my calls for this time slot.

And I keep my blackberry with me but try to keep it off unless we have some down time like waiting for a tour to begin. I have gotten very good at quickly scanning email to see if there is anything urgent.

I also find time to do stuff, like post on the eliptical trainer, where I am not taking time from the family and the vacation

Most of all, when there’s a question between family and work, family wins. That has to be asbolute

I’ve heard of some amazing tricks. A friend of mine listened in to a board call where he is an observer while skiing with his wife. He had the call on mute and the headphones under his helmet. We’ll have to ask his wife what kind of company he was on the hill that morning but that’s the kind of mutli-tasking we have resorted to at times

My friend Brad Feld does ‘go off the grid’ for one week a quarter every quarter. I’ve asked him how he does it and I honestly can’t see myself pulling it off. I wish I could.

But one things for sure. We all need vacations and we shouldn’t let the need to work ruin them for ourselves and our families.

Posted from the eliptical trainer