I’ve felt many things in my life. Peace is my favorite. It’s the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding.
In my teens, I felt a great deal of turmoil. The usual adolescent stuff.
In college, I felt a great deal of personal growth, but, also, uncertainty. Will I flunk out? Will I get a good job? Will I fall in love?
When I eased into the workforce, I felt anxiety. In my investment banking and management consulting jobs, I felt that I always was “on call.” The amount of work was infinite, and you were constantly being monitored and evaluated.
Business school was a well-needed period of reflection and recalibration. I actually almost didn’t go. But, I did. I tried to get into the start-up world after graduation, but in those pre-Internet days, if you weren’t an electrical engineering major, there were very few options.
So, I went back to the long hours of management consulting, but, this time, in Asia. I was newly married at that point. And, I was still anxious. My hours were longer, as our offices were understaffed and the travel was non-stop, international, and grueling.
Our first child arrived. I felt incredibly happy and overwhelmed all at once.
Then, I entered the VC world. Accountability continued, but I relished the operating freedom. I was learning a great deal, and it was fun. We bought a house, and the thought of all that money I owed to the bank was pretty frightening.
I decided to be an entrepreneur. I started Kepha. Fundraising was a short process, but I felt incredibly vulnerable. In some meetings, I felt like a piece of meat. Thankfully, most meetings weren’t like that. And, it all worked out.
I don’t think I was prepared to be an entrepreneur. I don’t think anything prepares you for the pressure. I felt incredible responsibility to the LPs. They were giving a lot of money to a single person. But, I felt great joy. I drafted a Mission Statement and Operating Principles for this firm that comprised of one person.
Ed joined. Then, a few years later, Eric joined. We edited the Mission and Principles. We learned how to work together. And, we have been united on our purpose and strategy. It is a feeling of alignment and strength to have partners whom you like and respect and trust.
Over time, I began to feel more peace. Our children began to grow up and become honest people with a strong work ethic. I felt like I knew who I was, and this sounds corny, but I began to realize the reasons why I was born.
We raised Fund 2 quickly, fortunately. The sense of pressure to “do well” for our LPs and entrepreneurs, frankly, grew.
I got shingles. From stress. I started to re-think what I was doing in my life. And, I realized that I was doing the right things and just doubled down. But, I was being way too hard on myself.
I brought on an executive coach, and that was transformative. It forced me to articulate out loud what I wanted to be in my personal and professional spheres. I learned to be less critical of myself. I learned to be more intellectually honest about my strengths and weaknesses. I learned to be proactive about creating happiness.
Now, some of our Fund 1 companies are doing well. Company-building is a long process. Some investments have not made it, which causes tremendous stress–but, that is the VC business. Our Fund 2 companies are still early but offer great hope.
And, when we compare our entrepreneurs with those other VC firms are backing, we feel really good about the attributes and values we see in our folks.
Our children now are older, and they’re very independent. Our oldest child has heard from colleges. He has some good options that fit with him.
Mrs. T. and I have learned to be more open with each other, to speak truths with compassion. We both have grown as individuals and as a couple in a way that only comes from a long-term partnership. We are aligned on our values.
So, gradually, peace has entered my heart. The desire to succeed, and the anxiety that comes with it, is still there. But, it now is commingled with a firm sense of this: I am not perfect, but I’m doing my best and I overall am very happy with the decisions I’ve made. I feel that, overall, I’ve behaved honorably.