Work Life Balance

We’ve been in Europe since Oct 2nd. We are on a cross Atlantic flight returning to NYC today. In those 18 days we spent a week in Paris with our oldest daughter who was installing a show there for two artists she works for, a long weekend in Berlin with two other couples, two days in London, and wrapped with a long weekend in Paris and a board meeting yesterday before coming back.

The passport control agent in CDG today asked us if we were in Europe for business or vacation. The Gotham Gal answered “both, of course.”

If there’s anything we’ve mastered since our kids left home and headed to college and on to adult life it is the art of mixing work and time off.

Last night we had dinner with a friend in the VC business in Europe. The Gotham Gal had drinks with him and then I joined for dinner. They had a seed/angel discussion over drinks and we had a wider ranging discussion at dinner.

It is also great to do business travel, particularly long range business travel, with your spouse. I find being half way around the world in a hotel jet lagged to be a disorienting experience (Lost In Translation captured it well) and having my spouse along for the trip makes it much better for me.

I am happy to get home. I’ve missed my routine, my yoga, my local coffee shops, the Mets and Jets and Knicks games, my colleagues at works, our friends, and the creature comforts of home.

But being away makes you appreciate those things so much. There’s a world full of business opportunities and culture and things to enjoyed that you have to get on a plane and fly overseas to enjoy. We do that three or four times a year and it’s a great thing to do.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Tony Salazar

    You haven’t missed the Knicks game a bit. They will perform the same like like last season..if not worser. Expect Phil to get fired midway

  2. jason wright

    did you upload this from the plane, and how’s the bike riding going these days?trivial fact comes to mind. there are 440,000 French citizens living in London.has anyone purchased the Nexus 5X? the new HTC A9 looks like it might curb my icuriosity.

    1. fredwilson

      When I landed

  3. Andrew Lee

    Fred you should use Airbnb for your business trips. A more home-like feeling!

    1. fredwilson

      We have our own apt in Paris. So that’s even better

      1. Salt Shaker

        Is there a FredBnB?

      2. Dave Pinsen

        Is there an unofficial version of Airbnb among folks in your circle with multiple homes? I assume your daughter is staying in your Paris apartment while she’s working there, but what happens to your beach house in Long Island or your ski house in Utah when neither you nor anyone in your immediate family is using it? Can, say, Mark Suster’s brother-in-law crash there for a few weeks? Or does it just stay empty when no one in your immediate family is there?

      3. Andrew Lee

        Haha, can’t argue with that logic!

      4. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Don’t suppose you let it out – I know a great little rentals startup that can earn you an extra bob – its mentioned elsewhere above I think 🙂

    2. LE

      Who wants a home like feeling? I don’t. I’d rather have the maid come in everyday and have a full set of hotel services at my disposal (even if I never use them). And fresh towels. Mint on the bed (which I don’t eat). Reason why some high end buildings are now built on top of hotels. Neat, precise and clean. It may surprise some people to know that there are those of us out there that actually, get this, like staying in hotels. And don’t want to crash at a friends place (even if it’s a nice place) or use airbnb. To me at least, the additional overhead and perhaps anxiety of not being in a hotel simply kills the buzz.

      1. Salt Shaker

        I hate with a passion feeling like a tourist when vacationing abroad. Sure I’ll visit museums, historic sites, explore things of cultural significance, etc., but that’s where it ends. When staying in a hotel I don’t just ask the concierge for dinner recommendations, I want to know where they dine. I want to know where the locals go for a good meal, a glass of wine, etc. Nothing worse than dining out in a rest full of Americans who were herded like cats by local hotels. That to me is a buzz kill. Mind you, there’s obviousky nothing wrong w/ being pampered in a high end hotel, hard to complain there, but Airbnb surprisingly can deliver a far more immersive cultural experience than a hotel, particularly if you’re located in a nice residential area that’s not off the beaten path. One feels far more like a local than a tourist. I also prefer when traveling abroad a balance between city and country, the latter delivering a different, and often better, cultural experience. Fred’s post today def stimulates my desire to book a trip.

        1. karen_e

          Not sure there are any two-star slim profile, family-owned and -operated hotels left in Paris, but that was my secret recipe back a few years. Plenty of charm and hospitality, served up low-key.

          1. Salt Shaker

            My experience in Paris is to splurge a bit on a higher end hotel. The star ratings in Paris are overvalued. Last trip to Paris we did VRBO and ended up w/ a fab rental. Of course, when you’re younger you don’t care as much. A couch and even a floor will do.

        2. awaldstein

          Nice share.I’m with you with my own twist.Few things are as pleasurable as renting a house be it in Tulum, outside Sienna, the heel of Italy and having feasts on local fair with a house full of friends and family.For cities I’m forever whittling away at my literally millions of Starwood points that never it seems get smaller.

        3. Dave Pinsen

          Sometimes the places hotels send tourists are also local favorites. In a recent lunch w/ the FT interview with MacArthur Genius award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates, he and Simon Kuper, both now neighbors in Paris, ate at one of Coates’s favorite local places, next to a table of American tourists.

    3. Lawrence Brass

      The only way to have home feelings travelling is to carry around your le cat. No le cat, no home feeling.(le beer moustache)

  4. Wyatt Brown

    “I find being half way around the world in a hotel jet lagged to be a disorienting experience” — Does this affect your productivity and business clarity substantially? Do you require more asana, and more coffee? 🙂

    1. fredwilson


  5. Jonathan

    Fred, love this post. You can find life balance everywhere, at home or abroad. I usually take one week off to ‘train’ muay thai boxing (and yoga) in Thailand but this year, I’ve opted to go three times without missing a beat at work.

  6. William Mougayar

    Well said. Being in Europe for a while is like charging your batteries.

  7. Ronnie Rendel

    The unique nature of the VC business is that a casual dinner with friends is also an opportunity to develop or check your “thesis”, discover new opportunities, etc. I was a senior in college in 2001 when all the Kellogg MBAs were ditching I-Banking to become VC associates. This is why. Not that working for a VC in 2001 was fun, but you get the point.

    1. LE

      I was a senior in college in 2001 when all the Kellogg MBAs were ditching I-Banking to become VC associates. This is why.Unclear to me what you mean here? What is the “this” in “this is why”? Do you mean you can have more of a work life balance as a VC vs. investment banking?

      1. Ronnie Rendel

        🙂 yes, although that’s only true for a partner. I imagine VC associates don’t experience a better work/life balance then I-banking associates.Come to think of it the best work/life balance is attained by coders, with VC partners a close second.

  8. BillMcNeely

    My friend @takyanlo formerly of TechStars London thinks it’s Work Life Flow not Balance I tend to agree.

    1. Ronnie Rendel

      I just saw his post. Is it me or is 70% of his work involved “email”? Fred’s 90% of “work” is probably “meeting” (am I right?) I would like to hear more about what are the inner “flows” within @takyanlo “catch up on email”, “work through email”, etc. What objectives is he working towards, how is he facilitating others to reach their objectives, what weaknesses is he compensating for, what opportunities is he looking for?

      1. BillMcNeely

        He was facilitating work for TechStars London Cohort member firms. He was the Program Manager/Director there.Presentations, advice etc

  9. Ana Milicevic

    Nice. I’ve always been very nomadic and although New York and I continue our great run together, it’s so nice to be able to pack up and be somewhere else for a while. Every trip is an opportunity for both business and pleasure: in that spirit I added my 6th continent this year (penguins, I’m coming for you next!). It’s exciting to see the makings of strong innovation ecosystems across the world first hand. At the same time it’s funny how similar very different parts of the world have gotten over the last few years so it’s easier to stick to a semblance of a routine regardless of geography.My least favorite part of travel are border crossings — if only someone could disrupt that for good…

    1. Lawrence Brass

      So true. Customs and security officers at the airports and crossings don’t smile too much. Until you are checked you are considered a potential hostile, it is difficult to change that part, after all that is their job. I once had this experience with an officer: I was leaving the US as a visitor and was passing through the detectors. On the other side was this 6 foot plus guy waiting and staring down at me with his arms open. My instincts made me stop right there, blocking the detector. I hesitated.. until he gestured at me with his hands and said in a loud accented voice and with a big smile: “c’mon big guy, sho’me what ya’got”. Relief… he was a professional searcher. It must be difficult to learn how to make someone feel good about being searched.A viable way to change this could be to set up incentives for good and friendly service that would depend on a continuous polling rating system, where the travellers could vote.Or perhaps just wait for the world John Lennon imagined.. to materialise.

    2. jason wright

      Schengen, but when millions of Syrian migrants head to Europe the idea loses political support.

  10. kenberger

    I agree so much that my family is doing this in the other direction this year– living in Europe and visiting the States.I’m leaving Las Vegas now, a city that is as extremely USA as it gets, quickly helped me to OD on indulgences I missed (mostly foodwise) and reminds of what I love and don’t love of my home country.TSA precheck is an absolute magic trick that I miss on my frequent intra-Europe flights.

  11. TamiMForman

    Two things I’m looking forward to: 1. Mixing business travel with family travel when my kids are a bit older (right now, at nearly-8 and nearly-6 it’s just a little too hard to contemplate) and 2. Mixing business travel with husband travel when the kids are gone. The first one may always be a fantasy, but the second one seems very realistic.

  12. Paul Sanwald

    Just last week my wife and I both went to the AWS re:Invent conference for our respective jobs (we both work in software) and even though it was busy, it was way more fun than being out there just myself or with just colleagues. Traveling is just way more fun for me with my wife, I find it pretty tedious when I’m by myself.

  13. karen_e

    Welcome back, compadre.

  14. Tom Labus

    Welcome back to NYC. Beautiful Fall day here and more to come.

  15. PhilipSugar

    I love traveling with my wife. I have her pick a destination each quarter and join me. That doesn’t always work out because our kids are younger than yours.Fortunately I don’t get jet lag. I am awake when its light and asleep when its dark. I think the key is being able to go back asleep after you wake up, that means no checking the phone ever. It also means you have some rituals like where you put your bag (bottom right side of bed), and stupid stuff to know you are not at home like leaving the bathroom light on but the door closed so you can find it no matter where you are staying.My challenge though is my calendar tends to be very full when I travel. Therefore it is easy for her to feel I am ignoring her.

  16. Ginevra Figg

    I love your message about how bringing your spouse with you helps improve your experience during business travel. The deeper idea there is that work life balance is not about compartmentalizing the two. Usually the advice is to turn off work and make time for life. But this resonates with me more because you’re talking about living – uninterrupted. Instead of separating the two experiences/investments, you bring life with you… you connect the dots and make it one big experience. Refreshing.

  17. pointsnfigures

    I need a cheese mule to go to Europe for me. Any takers? Really dislike that the FDA/USDA prohibits the best cheeses.

    1. WA

      Miss a good guryere. Always.

    2. William Mougayar

      go to quebec or ontario; it’s closer 🙂 we have unpasteurized local cheeses.

    3. ShanaC

      If you find someone can you give me some from your stash

    4. awaldstein

      Tons of great unpastuerized raw cheeses from NJ to everywhere available at every green market hereThough I agree there is nothing like a bottle of Poulsard with chunks of raw Morbier and Comté, sitting and chatting with the Clairets at their winery, Domaine de la Tournelle in Arbois soaking in the charms and tastes of the Jura.(Damn that sounds nice! My favorite producers in the Jura btw.)

      1. pointsnfigures

        In the US, they won’t allow you to sell unpasteurized milk cheese before a 60 day aging period. I like Arnold’s idea.

  18. awaldstein

    Title might have been ‘Work Life Integration’

    1. WA

      Most certainly. Less of a chance of falling out of balance when integrated instead. Perception being reality, love it.

    2. Cam MacRae

      Or simply “life” as it’s known in much of the world.

  19. Semil Shah

    I liked this post as it has a sort of “Up In The Air” movie rhythm to it, with the caveat that you don’t travel alone now. When you say mixing life and work, it doesn’t seem like your “work” is work to you — it seems to just all blend together.

  20. Mike O'Horo

    Mets? Definitely. Jets? Maybe. Knicks? Seriously? You expect us to believe you miss watching the woeful Knicks?

  21. Douglas Crets

    I know the feeling of missing your yoga. You can take your practice with you, but it’s not the same as being in the community.

  22. george

    Like most great experiences or ventures in life, it takes a great partnership. So glad you always acknowledge your wife and often others for helping you to create the balanced lifestyle. I feel that same way…

  23. creative group

    Fred:glad to read that you enjoyed your business/leisure trip.It was hard to digest you are a Jets and Mets fan. The refreshing fan support was for the Knicks will have to suffice. You can’t be perfect in all your choices Fred.

  24. creative group

    Fred:what are your thoughts of MassChallenge?Great Britain is an optional stop depending on carrier when traveling to Europe.

  25. Prabodh Jain

    Your post is insightful and motivating; thanks. Also, the idea of work life integration and work life flow instead of compartmentalising the two seems like a worthwhile goal.

  26. OurielOhayon

    was nice crossing your path 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, that was great

  27. fnc

    I recommend the Yoga Studio app for travel.

  28. Henry Yates

    I love Lost on Translation “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time”

  29. Darren Herman

    Love the post. I bring my wife when I can. Makes the trips much more enjoyable. Welcome home!

  30. Gaston Pat


  31. kskobac

    @fredwilson:disqus & AVC community: I’m headed to China next week and trying to figure out the best way to watch Mets baseball online. How did you do it when you were traveling?

  32. fredwilson

    I’ve been doing yoga regularly for a decade or more. I do a lot of it in LA but also NYC. It’s one of the things I don’t like about travel. Infindnit hard to do yoga on the road

  33. JimHirshfield

    Try a yoga mat. Much softer than doing yoga on the road.

  34. fredwilson

    Very funny!

  35. Salt Shaker

    Consumer Reports slammed Tesla’s Model S today. A host of reliability prob identified by surveyed owners. Stock dropped 15 pts. Won’t retard interest, though.

  36. Wyatt Brown

    Never thought about that…. No Tesla sales, or charging in EU? :/

  37. jason wright

    BMW i3?