Futures, the Personal Kind

I’m offline today, mostly spending overdue time with my kids after too much recent travel. Perhaps unsurprisingly, offline time is leading to inward thoughts, which has led to this post, which is, in turn, an unabashed personal digression — which you should feel free to skip over. My feelings won’t be hurt: I’m mostly just trying out some things to see how they feel when I type them.

As most readers of this site know, in my professional life I wear a bunch of hats. Okay, a lot. And that’s generally good, as I learned long ago that I tire quickly of things that become overly repetitive, and I am usually at my best, such as it is, when I have a lot going on.

At the same time, however, this multi-legged beast was originally created for a purpose. I was sampling some things as I thought about next steps in my (for want of a better word) career, and I thought a look-in on a few things would trump committing to any one, at least in the near term, and it generally has. At its best, my portfolio of activities keeps me excited and stimulated, which is all I ever wanted from it.

But that said, I’m started to feel scraped somewhat thin. (Hard to believe, huh?) More importantly, I’ve got a near-overpowering itch to give everything a clearer locus, and I have some specific ideas, generally revolving around the investing that I already do, but doing it in a hybrid form that merges my interests in public equities and private, early-stage stuff. Whatever I come up with, however, it has to be something that affords me the flexibility and freedom to do the things I like to do, and have fun doing it. Almost always, in my experience, that involves me creating something for me, but maybe I’m wrong about that.

I promise not to muse endlessly about this here, but I also thought that, in the spirit of the open way in which blogging works best, I’d just put my musings out there today.


  1. Motts McGregor says:

    Hilarious — you should give Roger Ehrenberg a call since he is thinking about the same things on his blog today.

  2. Is this a job search alert? You write sufficiently vaguely that it is unclear if you’re merely outlining your current status or actively looking for help changing it.

  3. its good to have a day off. sounds like me. I wear many hats. All driven by the things I’m most passionate about. I hope to focus on one thing here shortly however that combines many interests at once, and if it goes right, just might change how I play at everything else I’m interested in, in the future.

  4. No surprises here. It is fatigue. I have gone through this phase numerous times and it will pass away quickly. Just don’t think about it for a week and you are good to roll and rock. Believe me, it works.
    Also, people like can’t focus on single thing. Even if you do, you will end up doing many things. Let us see. Keep us informed. :)

  5. First, “…doing it in a hybrid form..”
    Ironically enough, I sent you and Barry an e-mail message at 7PM EST (way before this post) about a “hybrid” idea.
    Second, “Whatever I come up with, however, it has to be something that affords me the flexibility and freedom to do the things I like to do, and have fun doing it.”
    My father taught me a very valuable lesson a long time ago – everything you do comes with a price, so you have to decide early on what you are willing to pay for and what you are willing to leave on the shelf.
    In your case, you appear to be struggling with choosing between the infinite amount of incredible opportunities in this web era and having the freedom to live an amazing life.
    Both are incredibly rewarding but every moment spent on one takes time away from the other.
    It is difficult to choose between your legacy and your mortality. You want to be a part of so many great ideas with so many great people – but everyday away from your kids/family/friends/self is a day you will never get back.
    This is the burden of being successful and surrounding yourself with so many great people. You participate in so many great things but – at some point – you run into diminishing returns.
    You are going to have to let some things go. Simple as that.
    From the little I know about you, that will mean leaving some opportunity/money/legacy on the table and spending that time enjoying life. The hard part is choosing which initiatives you keep and which you discard.
    Easier said then done? Yep … but my father did exactly the same thing and he is pretty much the happiest guy I know on the planet.
    That’s the route I am taking.
    Don’t know if my musings helped at all but that’s my two cents “in the spirit of the open way in which blogging works best.”

  6. Karthick, you are right that we all go through this “fatigue and rebound” phase…but there also comes a point in everyone’s life where you no longer want to go through this cycle.
    Athletes retire. Entrepreneurs (the smart ones) scale back by picking their best 1 or 2 streams and leaving the rest on the table.
    The person who leaves nothing on the table is more than likely the one with 1 or 2 ex-wives, detached kids and a big belly.

  7. great post! best luck….

  8. Paul,
    I hear you. For me, it’s always difficult to know whether feelings like that are short-term fatigue or a sign that I need to make a change. I think as you listen to this movement going on inside you, it’ll either gather steam and push you in another direction or fade and show itself as short-term fatigue.
    For me the most difficult thing about “leaving something on the table” as George says above is that it can be like losing part of my identity. If I’m not careful, I can become over-identified with the work that I do and it’s always healthy to take a step back, if that’s the case. Often this over-identification can show up as fatigue or burnout.
    Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with creating space (taking a break) and sitting with what’s going on and seeing how it develops for you.
    In any event, I enjoy your musings and appreciate what you do.

  9. take a nice 4 week vacation. Ideally someplace with limited information. It is amazing what you can hear when the noise is gone. I suffered info withdrawal for the first 3 days of a trip to Niger, but then felt quite calm and relaxed.

  10. George, I could not agree with you more. The difficult part of all this is deciding which streams to pick and which ones to leave on that table. Do you choose the ones with the lowest risk over the ones with the most potential?

  11. beau laskey says:

    Contemplate, Prioritize, Decide what’s important, Focus, Execute and Move on…cut out everything else. In this process you have to be ruthless…otherwise, people and things (those that don’t matter) will consume the best of you. Most people will fail at this. Don’t Twitter your life away!
    Best, Beau

  12. Thanks all. Much appreciated!

  13. Beau – well said. Most of all, be ruthless with your own desires and dreams.
    Alex, thanks for the question. For the most part I think you go primarily with bread and butter (lowest risk) because they are easier to execute and enable you to live your life.
    You can pick one “blue sky” item but that can only be something you do as a pet project and whose heavy lifting does not depend on you. Otherwise, you’re back to square one.
    The notion of leaving so many things on the table utterly sucks. You’re surrounded by great people with great ideas that not only make money but also make an impact on the lives of others and further your legacy…but it has to be done or (as Beau said) you get consumed.
    What an amazing thread. This needs to be the focus of further discussion. Paul could probably create a one-day conference out of this and it would be sold out. It’s obviously something on the minds of many people.
    Is Paul Kedrosky the business version of Jerry Maguire? Can we all learn from the moral of the story? I think we want to. I know our families/bodies/souls want us to.
    Utopia comes from leaving some happiness behind.

  14. Thanks George. Funny you should say that. This thread has surprised and delighted me with the heartfelt responses.

  15. Paul,
    I probably can’t add much more than what some folks here have already said, but I hear you.
    Sometimes, it helps to just sit back, relax and take a break from things. Right this moment, I’d like nothing better than take the next four weeks off, stop all my travel and be in some place with warm beaches and margaritas – and if you are in a position to do so, why not!
    Your blog is one of the handful few that I look to for inspiration, and no matter what you do, just make sure you blog about it. 😉
    Cheers and good luck.

  16. Wow…great open post & thread, true to the spirit of the open way of blogging. I cannot help but empathise with you Paul or you George or you Karthik …I kind of feel the moment and the day as Paul writes it. I feel the fatigue as Karthik decribes it, and yet, as they say , hang in there. For what ? One wonders. Is it because one does not have choices, or actully has the one big oneof walking away from it but does not or cannot put aprice to it…kind of like GS’s Level 3 assets …but all in all made me sit up and think and muse in my own way . Goforit

  17. Paul
    You have been a lot of help and one of my “information filters” in the area of finance. I understand that comes at a price, which I guess I did not think of. If you do enjoy all or some of the things you are doing, then the stretched thin concept should not happen right?

  18. I guess I’m just selfish, I just kept reading this post in fear that you were about to announce that you are taking a hiatus from blogging. At the end, I let out a huge sigh of relief and thought, “Oh, it’s just some soul searching and self-reflection, THANK GOD.”
    Whatever you decide to do, I’m sure you’ll kick ass and have something clever to say about it so just pick your aim, Paul.

  19. Throw away all your tech gadgets.

  20. Speaking of the anomie of large hat collections, I had to use Google’s search to find your postings on rifle v.s. shotgun VC models.

  21. Leo Laporte desperately needs a “This Week in Finance” podcast (or some such) to go with This Week in Tech/Biotech/Media/Law podcasts. I’d be an avid listener, promise. http://www.twit.tv, checkitout.

  22. Paul Kedrosky says:

    Stay tuned … :-)