As we conclude week three of sheltering in place and self-quarantine in the Silicon Valley, I am blessed to be surrounded by my family. As we all re-assess future prospects in life and in business, personally I am reminded that my family and friends are the source of my greatest comfort. Indeed, whatever success I experience is through their eyes and in their hearts.
For many of us, the global pandemic has temporarily interrupted our path to success, and for many, this path will be dramatically and forever altered. We may indeed be traversing only the first of a series of cascading crises. How do we adapt our business, family and personal life to the changing circumstances? How does it impact our definition of success?
Success is defined by the person who experiences it. For me, feeling successful is not something that I can define by a single goal or objective. Success is a feeling I have experienced, sometimes fleetingly, through a balance of achievements and a barometer of positive indicia in my professional career, in my many friendships and in my family. The accumulation of these achievements and indicia in all of these spheres combines to make me feel optimistic, positive and creatively motivated to achieve more meaning and substance in my life as a whole.
Professionally, as a business lawyer in the Silicon Valley, I am an enabler of technology, life sciences, medical devices, healthcare and clean energy businesses and their investors, and I derive enormous satisfaction in the achievements of my clients. Whether it’s forming a new venture, funding a new business plan, acquiring an adjacent business or disrupting a market with new technology that improves our quality of life, I am driven to help others in these missions. As I look forward to the balance of 2020, I know that funding these businesses will become more exponentially more difficult, cash will be harder to come by, and some will fail. Success may lie in navigating business failures with minimal damage, or in restructuring businesses to do more with less. I will feel successful if I can be there for my clients in the hard times like I was in the good times.
Personally, as the father of two teenagers and a spouse recovering from cancer, I am trying to impart a sense of both security and comfort, even when I am sometimes feeling anxious myself. I am trying to share that it’s okay to feel scared, it’s okay to grieve about months of school, sports and social events cancelled, and it’s okay to be concerned about what will happen next. I am trying to remind family and friends that “future tripping,” or imagining scenarios that would be uncomfortable, breeds anxiety and unhappiness. I am also trying to stay present in the now by talking to friends on video, reading, studying, exercising, and focusing on how to redesign my daily life post-quarantine with greater intent and purpose. I am trying to re-imagine a future that is purposefully designed. Time away from the office allows for reflection. Who hasn’t realized that they have somehow become reactive to the forces around them rather than proactively designing their lives with purpose and intent?
As I look forward, I am reminded that my mentors who I perceive to have achieved the most success appeared to co-exist in their professional, personal and family lives and to have unity of purpose in all.
In my professional life, I am motivated to work with more healthcare technology entrepreneurs like the two clients I am working with who are feverishly working towards birthing new vaccine platforms for COVID19 and its progeny. I am excited to participate in healing the wounds of the economic crisis by helping them raise funds, do smart deals and bring new solutions to market. I am more inclined to collaborate with others in doing so. I have also recently started my VideoBlog #AskASilcionValleyLawyer series on YouTube to share insights and help businesses. Feel free to check out my video: How to Raise Venture Capital By Louis Lehot.
In my personal life, I am hoping that family dinners will continue, that we will continue to play board games and watch movies together, and to stay better connected with my friends. I want to reproduce the good feelings from 20 person zoom calls with more in-person gatherings that became too infrequent and disconnected with all of the busy-ness.
Success is not a singular enterprise. It is a feeling when unity of purpose is experienced across all parts of life.