The Art of Unplugging, Carving Your Own Path, and Riding the Entrepreneurial Rollercoaster | Brad Feld on The Tim Ferriss Podcast

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Key Takeaways

  • In his 30s, Brad Feld worked so much that his wife nearly left him. He had two realizations consequently:
    • His words weren’t matching his actions (he told his wife she was the most important person in her life yet he was taking work calls when the two of them were hanging out)
    • He needed to spend more time with his wife so they started taking a one-week off-the-grid vacation every quarter
  • Brad learned the following lessons from his mentor Len Fassler: “They can’t kill you and they can’t eat you” 
    • “That moment of I’m at the absolute bottom of this, but I’ve still got shit to do and him just sort of saying, ‘Just suit up, let’s go,’ was a powerful moment for me.” – Brad Feld
  • Two important questions Tim learned from Jerry: 
    • “How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?”
    • “What is being said that you are not hearing, or that is not being heard?”
  • Remember that there’s a difference between hiring a therapist and a coach:
    • A therapist helps you to understand what’s going on in your life and how your current behavior plays a role in it
    • A coach helps you to get better at your craft
  • When Brad and his wife fight, they have 3 rules:
    • No physical violence
    • Don’t shut down while it’s happening
    • When the argument is over, both of them apologize
  • It’s okay to be bored in life, you don’t have to fill every single second with some activity:
    • “And it is really helpful to sometimes just sort of look out the window or sit in your backyard and feel like, ‘I actually don’t have anything I have to be doing right now other than be right here.” – Brad Feld

Intro

Books Mentioned

Marriage First, Then Work

  • In his 30s, Brad worked so much that his wife nearly left him. He had two realizations consequently:
    • His words weren’t matching his actions (he told his wife she was the most important person in her life yet he was taking work calls when the two of them were hanging out)
    • He needed to spend more time with his wife so they started taking a one-week off-the-grid vacation every quarter
  • Every Friday evening, Brad will turn on an email responder that tells people to email him during the week because he doesn’t read any emails he gets over the weekend

Keep On Fighting

  • Brad learned the following lessons from his mentor Len Fassler: “They can’t kill you and they can’t eat you” 
    • When Brad’s company was falling apart due to the burst of the internet bubble, he thought about just giving up but when he was near rock bottom, Len came to him and said: “Brad, they can’t kill you and they can’t eat you. Suit up.”
      • “That moment of I’m at the absolute bottom of this, but I’ve still got shit to do and him just sort of saying, ‘Just suit up, let’s go,’ was a powerful moment for me.” – Brad Feld
        • Always remember that in the business world, no one can kill you or eat you (at least not literally)

Dealing With Depression

  • Since his 20s, Brad has struggled with anxiety and depression
  • 3 major events that sent Brad into a deep depression:
    • His first marriage blew up
    • He got kicked out of MIT’s Ph.D. program
    • He got incredibly bored with his business
      • Fortunately, Brad started to go to therapy and was diagnosed with OCD and was treated with CBT and medication
  • Brad’s friend, Jerry Colonn, helped Brad cope with his depressive episodes by telling him to stop holding back and start talking about his medication and therapy and to not be ashamed of it
    • “I’m going to let go of this shame in an active way. If that’s helpful to the people I work with and the people that I support, that’s a good thing.” – Brad Feld
      • It’s important to recognize that all of us are flawed in some way
  • Jerry Colonn is the author of Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up  
  • Two important questions Tim learned from Jerry: 
    • “How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?”
    • “What is being said that you are not hearing, or that is not being heard?”
      • “We’re in complete denial of how we’re creating those conditions that create our unhappiness. Create our happiness, that’s good, but create our unhappiness, create our limitations, create our, put whatever box around, and put a negative sign in front of it.”Brad Feld

Going To Therapy

  • If you’re looking for a therapist, you don’t need to work with the first one that gets referred to you
    • You can always ask your doctor or a general practitioner if they know any good therapists
      • “What you’re really doing is you’re shopping. And you’re asking even the people you’re talking to, who they think you should talk to.” – Brad Feld
  • Remember that there’s a difference between hiring a therapist and a coach:
    • A therapist helps you to understand what’s going on in your life and how your current behavior plays a role in it
    • A coach helps you to get better at your craft
  • If you’re interested in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Tim recommends the book The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy by Donald Robertson

Relationship Advice

  • Brad and his wife go out to dinner on the first day of every month, they’ve been doing this for about 20 years now
  • When Brad and his wife fight, they have 3 rules:
    • No physical violence
    • Don’t shut down while it’s happening
    • When the argument is over, both of them apologize

Additional Notes

  • Because of Brad’s OCD, he is obsessed with the number 3
    • He has to turn the shower on and off 3 times before getting in and 3 times when he’s getting out
  • It’s okay to be bored in life, you don’t have to fill every single second with some activity:
    • “And it is really helpful to sometimes just sort of look out the window or sit in your backyard and feel like, ‘I actually don’t have anything I have to be doing right now other than be right here.” – Brad Feld
  • Why did Brad move to Boulder, CO?
    • His wife wanted to be next to the mountains and Brad doesn’t like cities
  • What would Brad put on a billboard?
    • “Breathe”
    • “Don’t believe your own bullshit”
    • “They can’t kill you and they can’t eat you”
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Notes By Alex Wiec

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