By Gary Griffiths, CEO
We closed a deal yesterday. A big one. One that we’ve been working on for a long time. Almost as long as I’ve been CEO of iPass. The cycle of a deal usually follows the same path: peaks of high expectations followed by valleys of deep despair – the days when you fall asleep exhausted, knowing you’ll be wide awake at 2 a.m playing back the nuances and trying to figure out if you’ve still got a chance or the deal is dead. It’s a rollercoaster in an endless loop: exhilaration, frustration, panic. Repeat. Until it stops – on either the peak or the trough.
People ask me why I’m still working. It’s certainly not for the money. It’s for days like Friday. The thrill of the deal, of accomplishment. That feeling of elation when the efforts of a team working for months on a common goal are realized. I don’t believe you get that same satisfaction doing anything in retirement. Not a great golf score. Not even a hole-in-one. Not a bigger fish. And sitting on a board? No way. A board is disconnected from the daily ebbandflow, the give-and-take, the subtleties and depths. I would know – I’ve sat on both sides of the boardroom . What about grandkids? Yeah, they’re cool. But I’ve got ‘em, working or not. And if retirement means seeing them more, I suspect they’d go crazy long before I did.
I’ll say, “Man, I’m so glad it’s Friday. Been a brutal week.” And I’ll often hear, “But Gary, if you were retired, every day is the weekend.” But it’s not – then every day is the same. Work is good because there is anticipation: a Friday is still better than a Monday. But Thank God I Still Have Mondays. And Saturdays still rock. Days without meetings and obligations are only special if there are still days with meetings and obligations for comparison. I think it is good to keep working on goals, goals that involve a lot of people (as opposed to “putting.”) Cycles that include getting excited about down time. Cycles that include a lot of pressure. And yes, stress. Stress in underrated. I think when we’ve succeeded in removing the stress from our lives, we die. Probably why I’m not one of those “life coaches.”
I had a wise boss once tell me, “Enjoy this day – the deal will never look as good as the day on which it’s signed.” I’m not sure I believed him when he told me that, but 30 years later, I know from experience he was right. Now that the contract is signed, more work, more frustration, and certainly some disappointment lies ahead. But also enough satisfaction – a brass ring or two – to keep us going. To keep us working.
Live. Work. Enjoy.