Posts from Family

The Work-Life Balance Revolution

Yesterday, I had a gap in the middle of the day. So the Gotham Gal and I took an hour-long walk with our dog Ollie. It cleared my head and when I got back to work, I was full of energy and clarity.

I’ve been working exclusively from home since the end of November 2019 when we left NYC to go to LA. It has been a stretch of incredible productivity for me.

I am not arguing against going back to the office. As I’ve said in many posts recently, I can’t wait to go back to the office. But I am sure that many of us have had the same experience that I have had working from home during the pandemic. It has its advantages.

And in that realization exists the possibility that we are on the cusp on a revolution in how many of us can find work life balance going forward.

My friend Tom wrote this post last week suggesting that a husband and wife can now work a total of 50 hours a week between them and have two full-time jobs and raise a family. This part sums up the idea pretty well:

Why do I think 25 hours/ week is the equivalent of a 50-hour week (counting commuting)?

Given a nine-to five schedule with an hour for lunch, the 40 hour work week was only 35 to begin with.

As an ex-CEO, I think that at least ten hours of each workweek go to socialization, surfing the internet, checking with the spouse or checking up on the children, chatting on smartphones etc. (Mary thinks only five).

Meetings and travel to meetings waste a huge amount of time and money. One reason that Zooming appears not to have reduced productivity is that many of the meetings weren’t productive to begin with.

Office space and often parking are expenses to the employer but they are not income to the worker. If office space and all its attendant costs can be drastically reduced, employers can afford to pay more dollars in salary for the same productivity.

Commuting expense including perhaps even the second car, daycare, clothing and dry-cleaning bills, and paid before and after school activities whose purpose is to supervise school age kids are all expenses which go away when parents can work from home. Even if the WFH employee has less gross taxable income, he or she will have more cash at the end of each month.

Even if Tom is off by a bit with his math, he makes a terrific point. Companies can ask for less of a family’s time, pay them more, and get the same amount of work done using the techniques we have perfected during the pandemic.

I realize that not all jobs lend themselves to this approach. But maybe more than you think. Take doctors. We used to have to go see doctors in their offices. Now with digital health services like those offered by our portfolio companies Brave and Nurx, the doctors are seeing the patients from their homes (or wherever they are).

Teaching is another occupation that presents a lot of opportunity to rethink time and location. Many teachers have been learning how to help their students master new things from their kitchen counters over the last year.

I want to say it again. I am not suggesting that we won’t be going to offices anymore. I am not saying doctors won’t have offices anymore. I am not saying teachers won’t be in classrooms anymore.

What I am saying is that we can and should be asking how much of our work time needs to be in person, face to face, and how much can be virtual. And I am certain that we will be asking that. In our year-end reviews at USV, we heard again and again from our team that they wanted to ask those questions. They should. Commuting and business travel are not the necessities they were last century.

And, naturally, this coming work-life balance revolution presents tremendous opportunities for new products, services, and companies. We have been seeing many of them crop up over the last year and have invested in a few of them.

From bad comes good. This pandemic and all of the things that have come with it has been awful. But I believe it will unleash all sorts of new behaviors and businesses that will be for the better. If you squint, you can see them coming.

#climate crisis#economics#employment#enterprise#entrepreneurship#Family#hacking education#health care#management#VC & Technology

Thank You Everyone

I knew that sending an email and tweet to hundreds of thousands of people saying that my father had passed away this week was going to generate a lot of replies. And it did.

My inbox, messages, etc are chock full of an outpouring of sympathy and wishes for me and my family and I am so grateful for them.

I was talking to my friend Jerry last night and I mentioned to him that I had spent most of the day replying to all of that and had not made much of a dent in it. He said “Just thank everyone in a post tomorrow. You won’t have to answer everyone. And then rest up.”

So I am taking Jerry’s advice. Which is always a wise move.

I want to thank everyone for reaching out over the past 24 hours. It is quite something to behold. I appreciate it so much. Thank You.


General Robert Maris Wilson

My dad, General Robert Maris Wilson, or Bob as most people called him, passed away on Monday at the age of 92. He had been in failing health for the last few months and moved on peacefully.

My dad was a quiet and reserved man. He wrote those words about himself in four pages of biographic information he provided to us for the purpose of writing an obituary. He was a planner. He was never unprepared. Even in the end.

His greatest accomplishment was the epic love affair that he carried on with my mom for almost 65 years. They were made for each other. She brought out the social side of him. He provided for her and all of us. You could always count on my dad and we did. This is my mom and my dad at our wedding.

My dad was an Army man. He was born into an Army family, raised on Army bases, attended West Point, and spent 33 years of active duty in the Army. He spent the last decade of his Army service at West Point, where he ran the Department of Mechanical Engineering. My dad was also a teacher. A terrific one.

I remember sitting in on one of my dad’s engineering classes at West Point during my college years. The cadets sat in a square. My dad stood at the front of the room. At the start of class, he told four cadets to “take boards” and they each worked out one of the homework problems in front of the rest of the class and then took turns explaining how they solved the problem. My dad would interject when appropriate. To this day, I have not seen a better method of teaching by doing.

He also had a distinguished military career. In the four-page biography he gave us, he dropped this little bit “During the last half of his tour (in Vietnam), he headed a small group of officers assembled at the direction of General Abrams to plan for the initial withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam.” That was my dad. When you needed to figure out how to get an Army out of somewhere, he was your man.

I love this photo of him retiring at West Point, surrounded by his beloved Corps of Cadets. Standing straight as a rod.

His quiet, reserved nature, and his failing hearing, and ultimately failing mind late in life, always made it hard to be close to him. That said, I always knew that he loved me.

Losing a loved one during the pandemic is hard. We could not see him at the end. But I was able to visit my parents once during the pandemic, on my mom’s 90th birthday. This is the last time I saw my dad and how I will remember him. Maybe it is best that way.

I will miss you dad. I love you.