What if you protected personal time as "family time"?


While you’re at it, can you please stick bicycle spokes in my eyes?

Bob Cramer has taken six tech companies to successful exits, IPOs or acquisitions. Here is how he negotiates family time, from “The Secret Life of a Serial CEO” in the January 2008 issue of Inc.:

“He recounts how he recently considered taking the CEO job at a database company with big potential. But the second round of interviews spilled into a schedule family vacation, and he refused to change his plans. When he returned, he learned the company had gone with someone else. He was a little surprised and disappointed but felt he had made the right decision. After all, he was just following another of his rules: ‘Never regret doing a family thing over a business thing,’ he says.”

Some people are excellent at protecting family time, but most are terrible at protecting personal time.

How would your quality of life change if you safeguarded personal time like Bob safeguards family time, even if you’re single?


Odds and Ends: More videos from Buenos Aires – Taxis and Tango

Crossing under the “obelisco” and flying across the widest avenue in South America, 9 de Julio.

This is the famous “La Viruta” tango club in Buenos Aires. It is 4am on a Sunday night (Monday morning), and these 100s of people have to work in a few hours. God, I love cities designed for night owls!

Posted on: January 2, 2008.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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31 comments on “What if you protected personal time as "family time"?

  1. …..Nice clips on Buenos Aires. I can’t wait to see that stuff first hand in Feb. It is important to set boundaries, this helps to keep some sort of order to your life. I think having a system for almost anything is key.
    Cool post!!!!!!!

    Siempre Feliz

    Jose Castro-Frenzel, Tx.


  2. At my current company personal time barely exists. As a consultant we’re expected to work late, work from our hotels, check email on Saturdays, and work while we fly. We also enjoy a 25% turnover rate annually. Perhaps the two are related.


  3. You hit on something really important here, Tim. Many companies, coworkers, clients, etc, believe that those of us who are single with no children should, or even want to, fully devote ourselves to our jobs. After all, we have nothing else to do, right?

    I wonder if Bob Cramer would have had the courage to keep his plans, and be honest about them, had they been for a 2-week holiday in Buenos Aires, without his family?


  4. Family events such as vacation, school, activities, etc, are usually known in advance and don’t happen daily do they? I protect my personal time by scheduling it daily. What counts as personal time? Some include the gym, the power nap, the walk to get some fresh air. I try to schedule it as a routine which makes things a lot easier. If I am going to be reading a new book I’ll schedule that time as well but I usually give it a gap between 9 and 11pm where 11pm would be the last ‘start time’ for that personal project. When it hits I’m gone and that’s how it has to be.


  5. Tim,
    Nice to see you are enjoying yourself down there… I added BsAs to my goggle home page weather a few months ago and I must say, I’m jealous! :)

    The picture on this post with your “bicycle spokes in my eyes” comment cracked me up this morning!

    hey, where is the pic of your new Argentinean haircut?



  6. Wise words, young warrior. I learned this the hard way, when saying “yes” too often landed me in the hospital with six feet of bloodied intestine. Nothing like having a colorectal surgeon sketch out a picture of the new rectum he’s going to build you to wake you up.

    Of course, old habits die hard, so like smoother, I’ve learned to schedule in downtime. And when I say “no” to things, I no longer feel obligated to add an explanation: a simple, pleasant-but-firm “Sorry, but I can’t” suffices.


  7. I love this blogging style. Meat in the main section and then extras below if people want to read on. Love it. Love it Love it. In fact, I love it so much I’m going to do it myself.


    Thanks, Scott! The format is something I’ve been experimenting with and unsure of for some time, but I find this combo fun to write (and I hope fun to read).

    All the best,



  8. Everyone (except Becky) is missing the larger point. It’s not just a matter of finding balance for yourself. It’s that saying “I have to pick up my kid from daycare” is a perfectly acceptable reason for anyone to leave work on time or not take that last-minute meeting (especially if you’re a man, in which case you will be praised as a saint on earth).

    Sick kids, a dance recital, a soccer game – if you are leaving early or working remotely for any of those reasons, it is 100% A-OK!!!

    If you don’t have kids, all bets are off. There is no reason you can’t stay, you don’t have a family!

    If you don’t have a family or children, then there is no reason at all that is ever judged as acceptable enough.

    Not every company is like this, but most are. The only way you will ever find a company that doesn’t think like this is:
    1) the company is one in a million
    2) the company has an executive who does not have children

    And the problem is, even if your company thinks this way, your clients won’t. and if you don’t own your own company, you can’t choose your clients.

    I’m not inhuman. Obviously a single mom has to get her kid at daycare. But the only time I ever left work on time was when I was a member of a vanpool to and from work & public transportation wasn’t an option. Concert tickets, dinner with friends, medical appointments, thousands of legitimate reasons to leave the office on time… it doesn’t matter.


  9. This message is for Allen. Good Observation, now that you are even more aware of how things are, it is time to decide what actions you are going to take to change things. All work and no play is no fun. Life is meant to be enjoyed, if stress and our jobs consume our lives then we become lost. I wish you the best and keep us posted on any changes you make.

    Viva la Vida,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel


  10. This story is very timely (personal time / family time) as my wife and I are both entrepreneurs / independent contractors. This year we’ve resolved in addition to family time to each include ***personal*** time on the calendar. Family is great, and we’ve always held that in high esteem relative to work (which is why we’re big 4HWW fans), but we’ve also realized that with two home based businesses and a child, it’s just as important to have personal time on the calendar as well.


  11. I like what Tony Robbin’s says on this matter: that the most successful people break down the distinction between work and play. I’m not sure if that is possible for all of us, but it’s an ideal to strive for.


  12. Food For Thought, Used the simple notebook paper folded into fours. Calls to make, Emails to send, Places to go, And things not to Do. The result: Got it all done in 2hrs. Not too bad at all. Thanks again and I will keep you posted as I experiment with these different concepts.

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    PS oh Steve: what T Robbins says is so true. This goes back to the simple principle of focusing on one event at a time.


  13. Thanks Tim! I’ve really taken the 4HWW to heart. I took a job that only requires working 6 hours a day (even the management). I used to have one that required hours like other people have mentioned.

    I’ve also taken steps to ramp up my blogging business and I will be company free by the end of 2008. That’s in big part to reading the 4HWW.


    Congratulations, Cory! That is awesome and means a lot to me. For reals.

    Pura vida,



  14. Awesome Cory!!!!!!

    I love hearing about people breaking through the glass of society. A cool place that I wanted to suggest to everyone is Nicaragua. It is actually considered one of the safest countries in latin america. There is more rain forest there than in Costa Rica, this is a fact. Anyhow, thought I might throw out some cool place to vist.

    Everyone keep yourselves pumped and enjoy 08!!!!!!!!!!

    Jose Castro-Frenzel