With the added pressure and stress of the deliverables at Vaporware Labs, the team and I have been working a lot harder. We crunch a couple of nights per week, and usually spend time like tonight,  putting in another couple of extra hours. But what is the cost of all this time and effort? Is the reward really worth it?  My dad recently sent me a link to a NYTimes article entitled: The Sandra Bullock Trade. Here’s an excerpt:

“Two things happened to Sandra Bullock this month. First, she won an Academy Award for best actress. Then came the news reports claiming that her husband is an adulterous jerk. So the philosophic question of the day is: Would you take that as a deal? Would you exchange a tremendous professional triumph for a severe personal blow?”

I can absolutely guarantee there are a lot of people in Silicon Valley that would take the personal blow in exchange for a major exit. Certainly we all want great success, but at what emotional and personal cost? The article goes on to say this:

Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. This isn’t just sermonizing. This is the age of research, so there’s data to back this up.

I would add another quote from a former senior leader of my faith. He said:

“No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

Having done the startup thing for 9-months, I uniquely understand why John Doerr said his ideal entrepreneur was both smart and single. It is an incredible grind. Sometimes overwhelming. I read a blog post a few months ago from a founder who while working on his first startup had lost his marriage due to him choosing to push through the work over taking care of his new bride. What a tragedy. What a waste.

A very wealthy and wise VC friend recently told me that it was critical in my startup to plan and schedule regular time with my family. Without that balance we struggle to juggle all the many balls necessary. Here are the tips he suggested:

1. Plan to be home every night at the same time for dinner (6:30pm-7:00pm).

2. Turn off your phone.

3. Spend a couple of hours with your family and then start working again if needed.

I think this philosophy makes a lot of sense, and I think it still allows you to work hard, and stay ahead of the competition. I love working hard. I love hard work. But there’s a time and a place for everything. As much as I want my startup to succeed, I want my life to succeed. My family will always be number 1 in that regard. Someone please punch me in the face if I loose sight of that. But don’t be fooled, this doesn’t mean we’re not working through the night.

“The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.”

[UPDATE] There are exceptions to this. For example, if your wife turns out to be bat crazy you will probably want to figure something else out. Don’t worry, it happens.