In 2012, I started my second company--a venture capital firm called Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. Becoming an entrepreneur again has been a ton of work, but incredibly rewarding. In a year, I went from an idea and a track record to more than $5mm of limited partner commitments, six investments in incredible entrepreneurs (to be announced when I get my new website up), and a ton of opportunity to create innovation in New York City.
I couldn't have done it without some habits that have served me well--and so while I double down on the practices that have gotten me where I am, I'd love to share them with you in case you're trying to figure out what to resolve in 2013.
1) Run faster
In the middle of 2011, I started following the Four Hour Body diet and exercise routine. Not only did I lose ten pounds, but I got a lot leaner--and nowhere else was this more evident than in my running. I don't actually like running, to be honest. I see friends of mine sharing digitally quantified evidence of 1000 miles run in a year--but I only did about 120. Running is boring for me--but racing... a race is something I can get fired up about. It's something to measure yourself up against and feel yourself getting ahead of the crowd.
It's a metaphor for me. When I was in my 20's, it used to be about getting bigger and stronger. Being big seemed to be what it was all about. I peaked at 195 pounds, but it seemed empty. I wasn't a fighter, so it seemed like I was training for an event that would never come. Besides, you can only get so big before your loss of speed becomes a net negative. It's not optimal, and it's not sustainable. Size for its own sake, in many ways, doesn't have a place in this world of efficiency and sustainability. I started thinking more about flexibility, agility, and speed. I measured myself more in race times and resting heart rate. I do yoga twice a week. I'm now at 175 pounds and I can run a half marathon faster than I was previously running half that distance. I'm more flexible, feel healthier, and much more adapted to my environment.
It doesn't much matter if you want to become a runner or not. Being faster doesn't take lots of running practice. It means you start cutting out what you don't need--what doesn't move you forward. It means you start optimizing around a body that will last you long into the future. Being faster is the evidence that you've reached a goal--and that goal should be to restore the balance between the parts of you that move you forward and the parts that are just dead weight.
2) Get to sleep
There's a legendary tale of the sleepless entrepreneur--the individual pushing his or her own physical limits to the point of defying what nature requires. It's bullshit. More accidents and injuries are traceable to lack of sleep than any other cause. If you want to be a sloppy entrepreneur that makes a ton of mistakes, doesn't know how to delegate responsibility, and can't build a team around them that enables everyone to share enough work to live with some semblance of balance, go ahead. That doesn't seem like a sustainable way to run a business or a life.
I fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow--which is also a function of being able to let things go. I never pulled an all-nighter in college. There were many times, however, that I started to slow down, and I decided to get some sleep in before continuing. Being able to do that meant reminding myself that the best thing I could do for myself was to get some rest, and for the next six or seven hours, there was nothing I could do about my work to move forward except to let it all go.
I know how much sleep I need, and I track it everyday. You're not going to improve the situation unless you start to measure it. I've been using Sleep Cycle on the iPhone and it's terrific. More sleep in 2013 will have mental health effects beyond the time investment.
3) Invest in your real friends
It's all too easy to start forgetting who your real friends are. The bar for "friendship" is so low these days--and we've been taught that digital attention is an able substitute for in person relationships and actual effort. Attention is too easy to give these days in small doses, but who has actually gone out of their way to help you? Start paying them back--or start investing in people that you hope to be better friends with using real life action. Make it a point to share a meal. Make an introduction. Learn something about things they care about. Help them succeed.
I've only gotten to where I am through the efforts of people who have gone out of their way for me--and I'm very focused on the delineation between them and people who just "follow". When we forget that, people become a commodity and you lose the quality relationships that will propel you forward.
4) Let go.
Some things just aren't working. It feels brave to keep pushing forward on them, but it's often more difficult to accept failure. The quicker you can do so, the quicker you can move on to a better investment of your time. Life is hard enough as it is--the last thing you need weighing you down is fear and self-punishment over things that were worth pursuing that just didn't see the light of success.
5) Be curious.
Never stop learning about new things. Diversify your interests. I'm a big believer in the idea that innovation comes from the cross-pollination of ideas. You'll never find the next big thing if you aren't in the process of adding lots of new small things into your field of view.
I set out a three hour block of time each week called "Diversifying Interest." It could be anything--even just reading something I wouldn't normally get to. It could be a talk, a class, or a new skill. If I'm ever going to find and support true innovation, I've got to make it a practice to get outside of myself and my own head--and continue to be open, no matter how heads down I am in my own work.
Feel free to share your own and open source this resolution business.