On Youthful Exuberance: Breakfast is at 8

On Youthful Exuberance: Breakfast is at 8

The shots of DC mornings have been rolling in from friends this week with cherry blossoms in full bloom. Got me thinking.

I once had a great mentor in Washington DC who simply adored Johnny Walker Red. Pounded the stuff, well into his seventies and deep into the night. Though we were 50 years his junior, we tried to keep up while he showed us around the social scene of DC in the 80’s: big ballrooms full of taffeta gowns, art auctions with amazing numbers, crazy black gas guzzling limos. We made a lot of noise. Thankfully, he paid.

But, he had one rule: breakfast is at 8.

Now matter how late the night went, no matter how far we walked with Johnny Walker the night before, we all got to the breakfast table by 8, and to work by 9. He went off to practice as a partner in a very large law firm. We were in school. But the bargain stuck.

And so, I’ve gone on to my world of creating, building and leading start ups with some great co-founders over the years – most of them slightly younger than I. We often blend their urgency with my long range vision, their naturally updated thinking with my tried and true processes. Their tequila to my Burgundy. But somehow, it works, and often the work spills deep into the night. And the next night. And the next.  Much like those parties in Washington I remember so well. But every morning as the sun rises on our start up and every other throughout the country, we have to answer the bell. Make the great pitch. Push the next release. Counter the next punch from the marketplace. There simply is no room for sleeping in. No tolerance for being less than sharp when presenting or hosting at trade show or conference. No excuse for being late. Sorry, doesn’t work that way.

Yes, the late nights of my younger days marauding through the streets of NW Washington had some enduring value. But only because of that one hard truth: the bill is due in the morning. So do what you must to blow off steam. Enjoy yourself, often to the fullest. But never, ever let that effect how you perform the next day, or how others see your performance.

It wouldn’t be right.


(this was written well before 8 btw)


I mentor two kids and several entrepreneurs. Similarities are coincidental.