Life is short. You can, if you work hard and are lucky, get more of almost anything, but you can’t get more time. Time only goes one way. The average American has a lifespan of less than 30,000 days. So how you choose to live matters.
That’s the topic of this book. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I’m still learning every day, and many of the good ideas here I’ve picked up from other people either directly or by reading. But this is what’s worked for me.
Like life, this book is short. Many books I read could communicate their ideas in fewer pages. So I’ve tried to be brief in line with the wise person who noted: “If I’d had more time I would have written a shorter letter”.
I don’t think brevity implies lack of content. The concepts here have improved the quality of my life, and I hope they’re useful to you as well.
Using these concepts, I have created a life I love. My job doesn’t feel like work. I love and respect the people with whom I spend time. And I’m also passionate about my life outside work. I’ve learned how to create a balance that makes me happy between work and other interests, including my family, friends and exercise. Sadly I think that’s rare. And yet, while I know I’m lucky, most people can work towards those goals in their own lives.
My interest in making the most of my life began when I was just starting college, but when I was in my mid-thirties a boss I admired died of cancer. He was young. He had a great wife; he had three young children; he had a fantastic career — he had everything in life. He just didn’t have enough time. So, while I’d often thought about how to get the most out of life, the death of someone so young and vital increased my sense of urgency to act on it.
One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was to work for myself. As a result, I left an exciting job at Microsoft in 2001 amidst the Internet bust to found the investing firm I now run. It was hard to do, both financially and emotionally. When I left Microsoft, many people – friends, family, and even some of the press – thought I was deluding myself to start a fund focused on Internet-related companies during a market crash. A press quote from the time said: “Call him a little crazy. Call him a little nuts.” I’d never seen that type of coverage before. And, in a sense, the press was right; the business wasn’t easy to start. Fortunately, from a vantage point of ten years down the road, it’s worked out quite well.
A key part of my job is reading and thinking about a broad variety of topics. So writing this book was relatively easy. It’s even easier to read. But, like many things in life, actually executing each day on these concepts is extremely difficult. With thanks to Thomas Edison, life is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Even so, I hope you have fun perspiring.