Soul searching and a sanity pledge

Ian Lurie

Last week, I went to Tokyo to speak at ad:tech. 20 hours of air travel so I could be there for about 48 hours. I worked on the plane, both ways. Everyone around me sneezed and phlegmed like there was no tomorrow. I was exhausted while in Tokyo, exhausted when I got back on Saturday, and, as it turned out, got badly dehydrated.
Sunday morning I started having pain in my right side. Within about 30 minutes, it went from ‘ouch’ to me curled up in a ball on the bed, unable to move. After another 2 hours of that, my wife drove me to the emergency room. Diagnosis? Kidney stone (likely due to dehydration).

By the way, on the pain scale, a kidney stone hurts about 2x worse than a ruptured spinal disk, 8x worst than a torn ligament, and at least 100000x worse then a slap in the face. It’s like having an Alien tunneling out of you, but you don’t die. It just keeps going. I don’t recommend it.

I literally worked myself sick. Not achoo sick, but run-to-the-ER, IV-in-arm, time-for-a-CAT-scan sick.
Three days later, I’m somewhat mobile, eating again and feeling basically OK, but pretty far from ‘fine’. I can only work about a 2/3 day before getting tired or starting to hurt again.
I’ve also gotten sick at 2 of the last 4 conferences I’ve gone to.
OK. I can take a hint.

I juggle a lot

Professionally, I juggle a lot of stuff: This blog, the Fat Free Guide, e-book writing and, of course, Portent – my company. That last takes up 90% of my time.
Personally, I juggle a lot, too: I do my best to not be one of those CEO parents the kids never see.
But burning the candle at 6 ends at once only gets you so far. And the most successful folks I know don’t work 90 hour weeks. They work 50 hour weeks. Otherwise they don’t last.
Clearly, my approach isn’t working. So, what to do?

My sanity pledge

  1. I’m not going to give any stuff up. I enjoy it all immensely.
  2. I am going to recruit my fellow Portent-ites to write on Conversation Marketing, and for the Fat Free Guide, so I’m under less pressure there.
  3. As Chris Brogan said last week, I’m going to pay myself first.
  4. I’m going to start projects I can finish, and not start ones that will hang over me.
  5. I’m going to focus more on teaching and less on doing. No smart-ass remarks, please. This is about personal scalability. If I can get 10 people around me to handle 10% of my job, I’m way better off.
  6. From now on, if you want me to fly more than 7 hours to speak at a conference, you’ll be pitching in on a business-class ticket. Sounds spoiled, but I have to sleep/rest somewhere.
  7. I’ll be focusing on task management. I already do zero inbox and the like, but only sporadically.
  8. I’ll be taking more advantage of my great staff, and all the ways they can help me get more done.
  9. Oh, yeah: I’ll be drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day, in hopes of drowning any kidney stones.

No drama

I’m cynical and sarcastic, and I poke fun at myself. But I’m not a huge fan of putting personal drama on display. So this post pushes things a bit farther than usual for me. I’m not fishing for sympathy or anything else. I am pretty sure that, by publishing this, I’ll ensure that I hold myself to it, ’cause if I don’t, someone’s going to probably yell at me.
Back to normal tomorrow…

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. Hi Ian,
    Hope you enjoyed your time in Japan. We went there from Beijing last month and it was great.
    One tip I got a while ago re pacing oneself is that success is a marathon, not a sprint.
    Helps keep things in perspective for me.

  2. Well said. I’ve been sick for 2 weeks (probably strep, but I still don’t know), basically because I worked myself into a frenzy over a couple of client-related issues. They worked themselves out, as they usually do, and the ones that didn’t turned out to have virtually nothing to do with me (or what I did or didn’t do) anyway.
    Feel better.

  3. Sorry to hear that, Ian. I know the feeling. I’ll be at about 80,000 miles of travel this year. Conferences and business travel take their toll on your health, your marriage, and your family. Not to mention your sanity. It’s double-whammy-sucky when you kill yourself to make a far-away conference only to go away feeling underwhelmed and under-satisfied, like you didn’t get the most out of the effort.
    Rest easy and hope the kidney passes quickly. A friend of mine just had one, he said it is worst at the beginning and starts hurting less as it gets closer to exit.
    All the best.

  4. Full support of all of that. You and your family come first. Happiness is not success and money. It’s cool when it happens but not at the expense of the first priority. Good luck man. See you in Vegas? (Small giggle there, I had to :P)

  5. @Kate Yeahhhhhh no. I’m not getting on a plane in the next few weeks unless I’m flying somewhere to accept my Cynic of the Year award.

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