It was Sunday night at 11PM, and I heard the phone ring. The second I heard the phone ring I knew my Dad was dead.
My Mom told me the paramedics were at the house, but Dad was gone. “I need you here tomorrow,” she said.
Blossom and I hurriedly arranged to fly down to Los Angeles on the first flight Monday morning. We arranged for our two year-old daughter, Avery, to stay with my in-laws.
My Mom was waiting at the front door of the house when we got to her house. I was barely holding myself together, but I just started crying when I saw my Mom.
There was laughter too. That night, my brother and I watched the Chicago Bears make an improbable rally against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. Dad grew up in Chicago, and he was a huge Bears fan. We laughed that Dad had blown Arizona’s last-second field goal attempt wide of the goal posts.
I cried several times over the next couple days as we made the various arrangements we all need to make when someone close to us dies. It was really tough.
Losing my Dad paled in comparison to selling my company.
I know it sounds shocking, but it's true. Losing my Dad paled in comparison to selling my company.
You know your parents are going to eventually die. It’s heartbreaking, but natural.
Nothing in my life has knocked my on my ass like the aftermath of selling my company.
Probably the closest thing to the aftermath of selling a company is being fired. I’ve been fired twice, and being fired is really tough.
Maybe it is because we wanted to go forward and one of our investors forced us to sell.
Maybe it is because the surviving business has done really well since it was sold, and I know it would be REALLY fun to be running the company at this stage.
I don’t know.
You are the hub of everything when you are CEO of a company. Running a company is a real high. Even the bad days are good, and, believe me, there were many bad days.
So you go from being the hub of everything to, well, not being the hub of everything.
The reality is that a piece of you is removed from your soul when your company is sold.
You can never get that piece of your soul back.
You can learn about yourself when you are fired, or you quit your job, or you are forced to sell your company like I had to do. So, here are 20 positive things you can gain:
- You are more resilient than you realize. You have just been punched in the mouth, but you realize you survived.
- You can reconnect with your family. I was so focused on building my company that I was spending just about every waking moment focused on the company. It’s the price of success, but it comes at the expense of your family. I’ve gotten to spend a lot more quality time with my family this past year.
- You can go on walks with your wife. Blossom and I walk together two or three times a week now. Just the two of us. More time to reconnect and spend quality time together.
- You can learn about another industry. In my case, it is the online world. I’ve spent my whole career on the hardware side of things. I have spent part of the last year learning how the online world ticks. It turns out it’s not much different than hardware.
- You can write about your experiences. Writing is great for the soul. You don’t have to publish your thoughts like I do, but writing in a journal is very therapeutic.
- You can read more books. You can also take advantage of audible.com. Go for a run, listen to a book, and learn at the same time. Fantastic!
- You can educate yourself through the world of podcasts and YouTube. Watch a Ted talk and learn, or listen to a podcast while on the go.
- You can talk to your brother more often. I do. Russell and I were always close, and now we are closer.
- You can take your daughter to school every day. I used to take Avery to school once a week or so. More often than not, I now get to take Avery to school. I get to hear her practice singing on the way to school – she’s got a damm good voice!
- You can lose 25 pounds. I did. I went on the LeBron James diet. What is the LeBron James diet you ask? Meat, fish, fruit, veggies, and nuts. I had crazy dreams at the beginning about the chocolate cake I was missing, but it was worth it.
- You can still accomplish amazing things. Yes, things have changed, but anything is possible. In my case, my friend Cathal and I convinced an investor to invest $70M based on an idea we had over coffee at Peet’s.
- You can start another business. I am. I don’t know the number of businesses that get started because someone’s job situation changed, but I’ll bet it is a very large number.
- You realize success is not measured by what others think. Success is measured by what you think. Eventually, your self worth comes back. You realize you are a success, and you are good.
- You can learn about meditation and mindfulness. All it takes is 15 to 20 minutes a day. Your mind slows down, and you feel fantastic. Read, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind if you are interested.
- You realize you need to continually challenge myself. I need to push myself to be happy. I am unhappy when I am not challenged.
- You can mentor a lot of people. I’ve gotten to work with a lot of talented people in different fields than mine during the past year. You realize your skills are not limited just to your narrow field of expertise.
- You can give a talk to your friend’s entrepreneurship class. My good friend Dave asked me to speak to his entrepreneurship class at the University of San Francisco. Very cool. It felt great giving back.
- You can learn how to sleep without Ambien. Yes, the “other” blue pill. I was so stressed because of the fights we were having with one of our investors that Ambien was the only way I could get four hours sleep.
- You can become a Fitbit fanatic. Our friends Rob and Sue gave us Fitbits for the holidays. The only problem is Blossom is ALWAYS is ahead of me in step count. Pisses me off J
- You can grow an inch. I took my annual physical last week. The first thing the nurse did was measure my height. “5’11” she said. You’ve grown an inch.” Cool! Now I just need to grow one more inch and I’m back to where I was when I was 30.
I don’t know how things will turn out.
None of us do.
I do know this:
I have more good days than bad days.
I am happy.
Wrigley Field, Chicago. August 2007.
My Mom, Blossom, Avery, and I are in left field, near the warning track, about to scatter my Dad’s ashes in the outfield. My Mom engineered this through connections a friend of hers had.
All I could think was, “This is really cool!”
My other thought was, “Did my Dad just enter purgatory? He’s going to see a lot of misery.”
I had never been on the field at Wrigley before.
My childhood flashes back in an instant: There we are. My Dad, my Grandfather, my brother, and me taking the “L” to see the Cubs play at Wrigley.
“Let’s play two!” I said to myself.
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