MeetMindful is excited to introduce a new series of articles by Brad Feld, author of Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur. First, a Q&A-style introduction to the man behind the book.
Meet Brad Feld: entrepreneurial guru and happily married man.
Since the late 80s, Brad has been on the front line of entrepreneurship and early stage investing; the companies he has seen to fruition include Mobius Venture Capital, Intensity Ventures, TechStars and Foundry Group. Since that time, Brad has co-written Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur alongside his wife, Amy.
In Startup Life, the duo breaks down what it takes to nurture a loving relationship amidst the throes of a chaotic entrepreneurial lifestyle.
Brad was kind enough to answer a series of questions about his lifestyle and his happy marriage.
1. In Startup Life you are clearly very intentional in creating a successful relationship with Amy. How does this translate to more success in your professional life?
Having a life partner who is supportive of me, and whom I can support, is a powerful foundation for my life. Each of us has enormous respect for the other and as a result I have my greatest fan and supporter living with me. When I’m down, struggling or under incredible pressure, she’s there for me. When I fail at something, it’s OK—she’s still there for me. When I’m trying to sort through something and need someone to talk to that I completely trust is looking out for my interest, she’s there for me. Overall, our relationship brings me immense joy, which translates into all aspects of my life, especially work.
2. In your book you share a number of tools you and Amy use to keep your partnership strong. What is the single most important habit you and Amy have implemented over the years?
Life dinner (take a look at this and this). Every month, on the first day of the month, we have dinner together. It’s not date night, we have plenty of those—it’s a quiet evening for us to reflect on the previous month and talk about the upcoming month. We start by exchanging gifts. We have committed to be open with each other about anything on our mind—good and bad—and when one of us is unhappy about something, we use Life Dinner to figure it out and clear the air so that nothing ever lingers.
3. Falling in love can be distracting. What advice you do have for someone entering into a big life change (ie. a new business venture) who suddenly finds themselves falling in love?
Roll with it. Being in love is awesome. Starting a new business is awesome. They are both stressful and have wild ups and downs. Just roll with it—don’t try to control it.
4. You been writing recently about your evolving meditation practice. Does Amy have any personal spiritual practices? If so, do the two of you explore this together and how?
She meditates as well and has been for a long time. She’s been on several 10-day silent meditation retreats and has been very supportive of me exploring my own meditation practice. But we do this separately, with no pressure on each other in any way.
5. Do you think that vulnerability plays much of a role in your relationship with Amy? If so, how?
Definitely. But I think vulnerability—and my willingness to be vulnerable—plays a broader role in my life (see a piece I wrote on vulnerability here). And, it’s not enough to be vulnerable in select situations—you have to embrace that idea that vulnerability is not a weakness.
6. Do you consider you and Amy to be in a “conscious relationship”?
Yes. Early in our relationship, we talked a lot about it. I was coming off a rough divorce in my mid-20s and struggled with a long, two year depressive episode. After being together for a decade, we almost split up. We work hard at our relationship on a regular basis.
7. What is the #1 way you two handle conflict?
We communicate. Rather than avoid the difficult discussions, we have them. We try to have them in a calm, kind way, without escalating emotions. I know, unambiguously, that I can’t win a hostile and angry argument with Amy. She is much fiercer than me and will always escalate faster and further. So, rather than escalate, I try to de-escalate back to a place where we can discuss what’s going on. She has her own version of this—she knows that if I’m not engaged, I won’t care about the discussion. So she makes sure I’m engaged before we go deep into something that is causing us conflict.
8. Do you believe in soulmates?
Absolutely. And I’ve found mine.
[image: via Rocky Mountain Joe on flickr]