It’s always amazing to look back on your life and see what you have done in the past 12 months. That is probably what I love most about the new year. It’s not the aspirations to make my life better, but taking the time to think about what my family and I have done, and how we can keep making our lives and those lives around us better.

2011 brought a lot of greatness to my life. Great friends, great memories and great opportunities as well. None of this is designed to be bragging, if you know me you know that is not my strong suit. And you will also know that one of my weaknesses is a terrible memory. This post is mostly for me. I want to remember all of the things I have done. So with that, let me remind my self today of 2011…

Fitness

Staying in shape, finding new friends…

Ran the Fangtastic 5k with Matt, Rachel, Matt & Nick

Fangtastic 5k Team

Cycled Over 1,000 Miles & Raced a 100 Mile Race

Prepping for our 50 Mile Ride Last Weekend

Battled (and Beat) the Warrior Dash with Amy and Nick

Amy, Ferf and Nick - Warrior Dash 2011

Ran the Cinco in the Gulch 5k
5k in the Gulch!

 

Friends & Family

The ones I love, and the things we did…

Sold our Country House, Bought a City House

Sold our Country House, Bout a City House

10 Years Strong of Being Married to My Best Friend

Ferf & Amy - Misty Wedding in Salt Lake City

Watched My Sister Get Married in Salt Lake City

Wedding Photobooth

Celebrated the Life of Eli Witt (RIP 2011)

IMG_1050

Celebrated the Life of Tim McGovern (RIP 2007)

Life always gets harder near the summit.

Visited Mexico, 1 Week, No Technology

Infinite pool. Ocean. Mexico. Tequila.

Visited Florida with Matt, Rachel & Nick

princess hats

Built Furniture for Rail Yard Studios

Making the Bed. Literally (at Rail Yard Studios)

Entrepreneurship

Managing Director of the JSF, Launching 6 Companies

MDs at Jumpstart Foundry Investor Day 2011

Raised the First Round of Funding for Checkd.in!

"Don't spend it all at one place..."

Built Amy and Nicks First Startup – EverydayBetter.com

My Wife's Startup

Invested in 6 Kickstarter Startup Companies

PadPivot - In Action

Attended TechStars Demo Day in NYC

Doin' Time

Learned Tons About My Grandma Southworth

Grandmas Photos: joe & barb, 1960

Funding and Growth (Doubled in Size!) for Change Healthcare

 

Season Tickets to the Preds with the CH Nerds

 

What’s in the Future?

I can only hope I continue to be blessed with great friends, a loving family and good fortune. I know not every moment can be glorious, as I found out in the past year. We remembered Tim on the four year anniversary of his death, donated oars and planted a tree for Eli Witt after his death from battling Lymphoma, and then finding out that my grandma has pancreatic cancer just to name a few moments.

But find the good in the bad. I realize over and again how important friends are. How important family is. And how important it is to try to live every day to the fullest. I’ve learned how to listen, how to help and how to care. I have also tried to teach more and more as I met with 100’s of startup entrepreneurs and mentors in Nashville and across the country helping them work on their companies.

 

My number one lesson in 2011?
Live life, appreciate your friends and family
& love what you do.

 

Life always gets harder near the summit.

Every day I sit in my office and this photo is there. The picture is of Tim McGovern, Nathaniel Saylor and myself at the top of a mountain where we always hiked and climbed in college. Inside the frame I added a fortune I got from a Chinese restaurant a few years ago that I think fits quite well. It reads “Life always gets harder near the summit”.

I have a pretty good life, but that does not mean that there are not challenges. I work hard to make myself and others around me successful, and that is why I love this photo so much. Not only does it remind me of my friend Tim who died in Iraq 4 years ago… but it is a source of inspiration to keep on striving to be the best. To not let work get in the way of friendship, love or life. That hard work means you are doing something that matters in some way. And that you never know when it all might end.

Tell someone you love them today. Do something that you love today. And remember those who gave it all so we can do these things everyday.

On August 25th, 2011, the start-up accelerator I have spent the better part of the last year planning and working with is having their grand finale, the Jumpstart Foundry 2011 Investor Day! 6 companies were chosen and given 14 weeks, $15,000 and a hand picked group of 60 Nashville mentors (who are rock stars in their own right) to build their companies. Would you like to watch this awesome bunch of start-ups launch their companies right here in Nashville? Signup today to attend the Investor Day (limited seating, sign up fast)!

What can you expect to see? Well, I don’t want to give too much away (you can read a bit about the companies here), but let me tell you – this is an amazing bunch of entrepreneurs! We took submissions from companies all around the world to come to Nashville and work with the JSF. Over 100 applicants, 8 countries and 25 cities applied! It was hard to whittle down the list, for sure. Lots of reading, exchanging 100’s of emails, flying around for meetings, skype meetings, in person meetings, and lots of internal debate. Needless to say, I am absolutely amazed by the companies we chose and how far they have come in the last 13 weeks.

The JSF is in it’s second year, and last years start-ups are doing amazing things! Check out some of the following 2010 companies if you don’t believe me: Bizen, SourceYourCity and SplitSecnd (see them all here). This is what I consider to be a historic event for Nashville – 6 start-ups exploding out of an intense accelerator program, primed for investment!

Don’t miss your chance to attend Investor Day, get your name on the list today! RSVP Here.

As a final note, if you are a technologist, startup or entrepreneur looking for a way to accelerate your company, you should check out the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. If you are on the brink of a great startup idea and think the 2012 Jumpstart Foundry accelerator might be right for you – we will start accepting applications soon. Hone your presentation now!

I had the opportunity to sit with Nashville great Mark Montgomery yesterday for a couple of hours and exchange life stories. For as interesting as he is (read: very), what was most interesting was his straight forward approach to getting the info he wanted/needed from the conversation. An interesting example of this, and the reason for this blog post, was because of a very pointed question he asked…

“As an investor, if I was looking at your company to invest in and saw all the things you were involved in outside of that company, that would scare me. How do you get away with all of it, and why?

 

My answer was simple: “I take my work life as serious as I take my personal life“. At first he looked at me like I was a little full of crap, but then I went on to explain.

Loving What You Do

Most of us have hobbies or things we LOVE to do: gardening, biking, playing music, mentoring, volunteering, mountain climbing… you name it. Because we love these things, and because (for the most part) we don’t get to do them as much as we would like, we can become obsessed with them. We read articles, write reviews, enroll others, buy gadgets and in some cases fundamentally change our lives for these personal life things. That’s pretty serious. I take my job that serious.

I love what I do. I love where I work. I love the people I work with. I take my job as seriously as I take my hobbies. I approach each day like its that one week a year where my friends and I get together to hike into the woods and camp, climb mountains and tell stories by the fire. I love my job. Everything in my life is part of one story. My personal life bleeds into my work life. I believe it should be that way. When you are a well rounded person, you are a better employee, a better friend, a better spouse, a better parent. Don’t believe me? Ask the people I work with. It’s a shame I have to call them “people I work with” because for the most part, these are my greatest friends and people I share most of my personal and professional time with.

Work Life Balance is for Wussies

Some people call what I have explained here “work life balance“. That is such a politically correct way of explaining peoples lives in this world. Why would you not work for a company you believed in? Why would you not love your job? Why would you not work with people you would call family? Work life balance to me says “I know you hate your  job, but if you have hobbies and friends that will make it better.” I know I’m making generalizations and stretching the definition, but whatever. I have no work life balance and I love it. There is no line between where work ends and life begins.

About My Imbalance

I am a founder (or founding member) of many companies, some here in Nashville (Anrovia Design, ShirtsBymail, Podcast Alley, Mevio/PodShow, CarlSays, Checkd.In, Jumpstart Foundry, Change:Healthcare, EVBE, etc). This is my work, and my life. No balance. I love my startups, as a matter of fact I love many startups (Im a mentor for Source Your City and NextGxDx, and others too). I also love being outdoors, gardening, cycling, motorcycling, family time, creating things with my hands, and more. My work life balance is so out of whack, but that IS my balance.

 

I work hard because I play hard.

Work/life balance is for wussies.

I take my work life as serious as my personal life.

Do You?

 

In Summary…

Mark, thanks for the time we spent together. To anyone reading this, I would love to talk to you more about this topic and help you find a way to work as hard as you play. Most importantly, don’t let people tell you about you. You decide who you are, what you love, and what you do… not others. Don’t be afraid to go balls out.