In my last blog, I talked about making time for what’s important to you. The short version is that if something matters to you and helps you be your best, it’s easier to balance multiple priorities and areas of your life—work, family and friends, mentoring, other hobbies—you name it.
But before I dive in, let me preface this by saying I’m not sharing my schedule to show off my expertise in prioritizing or a superhuman ability to balance multiple things at once, but simply that I stay busy. And for the many of you who also jump from meeting to meeting and try to find more hours in your day, I hope to inspire some mindfulness for you to consciously manage your stresses, health, work, and life.
So, what does a day in the life of Neal Dempsey actually look like? Every week and day is an adjunct of new tasks, meetings, and to-do items coming up. Recapping this particular week, I was returning from five days in Rome—getting home at around 10 PM on Sunday. This is an example of going from travel, adjusting to the time difference, and getting over jet lag to getting back into some semblance of normal.
Morning: Despite being exhausted, I still got an early 6 AM start to the day at the gym, which was much needed for me and helped to re-energize me. As I mentioned in my last blog about routine, I hit the gym in the morning daily. After that and getting ready for the day, I had a compensation committee meeting with one of the boards I serve. Because of my recent travels and packed schedule, I had limited prep time, but it was still a productive discussion, and two subsequent meetings came from this conversation.
Afternoon: I headed into another board meeting with another one of my companies, where we discussed launching locations overseas in Asia. We jumped on Zoom calls with people in Shanghai—a 16-hour time difference from us. Because you can’t talk face-to-face, it’s critical to maintain high communication and ensure everyone is on the same page, which often means more touchpoints and sticking to a strict agenda.
Evening: It was a long Monday getting back into the groove of things, but I still went out for a bike ride to feel better, grind through the rest of the day, and settle back into my routine at home. Tonight was an early night to kick the jet lag.
Morning: Hit the gym early AM as usual, then today, I was on the Pathway to Silicon Valley panel, talking to 40 Canadian entrepreneurs who are part of the Canadian Women’s Network here in town. Two other VCs and I mentored these women for about an hour and a half, which resulted in many LinkedIn connections and follow-up emails. I’m always happy to lend a hand to people who are building relationships and working hard to sort their stories to raise capital to expand their businesses.
Afternoon: I had a couple of conflicting plans scheduled, which isn’t uncommon for me. When this happens, it comes down to deciding what’s essential, prioritizing, and communicating with the CEO or people involved to share your attendance or absence. This afternoon, I had a company meeting up against a physiotherapy appointment. I called the partners at the board meeting and prioritized my personal care because I knew my body and mind needed it after Rome. If something is important to you, you’ll make time for it; you will always want to fit in taking care of yourself.
Evening: Late afternoon spilled into the evening with more meetings queued up, which included some of my volunteer work with the UW. We had a Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) meeting to discuss the policy allowing student athletes to receive compensation for work, followed by a board meeting with the Chairman. The final meeting was also with the UW: after seven years, 2023 will be mine and Eileen Odum’s last year of teaching, so we have been looking ahead and finding candidates to take on the class after us.
Morning: My morning movement at the gym was followed by more focus on my health. After my physical a couple of months ago, I was directed to use a chest strap medical monitor to measure my heart’s activity for any off-behavior. This morning, that was getting set up, and in two weeks, I’ll be sending it back for analysis. As I’ve already mentioned, health is a serious thing you never want to ignore, so I’ll always carve time out for self-care. Outside of that, I had a call with the company whose meeting I missed yesterday, so I got caught up on what I missed and contributed to items moving forward.
Afternoon: I met with an ex-student for coffee for 1:1 mentoring. I’ve been in touch with this fellow since he was one of the best in my class five years ago, and we get together frequently. Then, I met with the Dean of UW’s Honors Program. I love getting involved with this program, getting to know what these exceptional students really want to do, and mentoring them based on their passions. Each of these talented students has unique stories, so it’s fascinating to provide direction to them and see where their paths lead them. And finally, I joined one more Zoom board meeting to wrap up the day.
Evening: Along with the moments of fresh air and exercise I regularly sneak in throughout the day, I enjoyed the rest of my evening going for a bike ride and winding down with my wife, Jan.
Morning: My morning workout transitioned into a busy day of meetings, today started with an important board discussion: we are looking for experienced board members and advisors for this company. Not only is this task at hand a big job, but I’m also incredibly passionate about this topic. I then had a marketing meeting to chat about podcast updates and content on my website.
Afternoon: Lined up next were two more meetings that are regularly on my schedule with people I check in with weekly. The last meeting of the day was a conference call with financial investors about year-end.
Evening: With the year coming to an end, things are inevitably busy, and some work responsibilities have to happen in the evening. I am always conscious about trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance, though. I spent time getting ready to be back on the road: I’ll be heading to Spokane, Washington tomorrow.
Morning: I was off to Spokane for a quick day trip. The main purpose of the trip was to see an old friend and his wife, who is suffering from health issues. Good to see these two, as I hadn’t seen them in a couple of years, but there was also a UW event that I attended, thanks to convenient planning.
Afternoon: As I mentioned, it was just a short visit, so I was up and back home by the evening.
Evening: Friday night is reserved for Jan, and we had plans to get together with longtime friends of ours. Regardless of the long week it has been, I always enjoy catching up with friends.
I love weekends—I usually try to keep work and business out of the picture if I can to focus on myself, my wife, and my friends and doing what I enjoy. This weekend had a mix of running, bike rides, and just taking it easy and relaxing. Depending on the season or schedule, I like going to professional or college football or basketball games and events. In the fall, I’m at football games almost every Saturday in Seattle.
So, there you have it: a snippet of this week. My daily life is a balance of responsibilities that revolve around the companies I invest in, mentoring, teaching, exercise, and spending time with loved ones—the things that matter most to me. Like most people, my weeks and days are unique and change with new things all the time, and luckily, I have my executive administrator, Kim, to help me plan, communicate, and keep everything in order. Some weeks will be more work-heavy; other weeks may be more family-oriented, and we’ll see the kids; sometimes, things are simply unpredictable.
The key to not going crazy is adapting and making the call for what you choose to make time for. Where do your priorities lie?