Good riddance 2014! And yet…

Daryl Hatton Personal

There is no doubt that 2014 was a very challenging year for me and my family.  I encountered many situations that would be considered “difficult” all on their own and almost overwhelming when they occurred all at once. Here is a partial list:

  • We lost my step-dad
  • We lost a good friend and neighbor
  • My step-sister had breast cancer
  • My father had open heart surgery and a quad bypass
  • My mother started to experience some serious health challenges
  • I had a heart attack and complicated quad bypass surgery.
  • My startup business was challenged by my need for time off to recover at a time when we were facing disruptive changes in our markets that required 150% of my attention
  • And many, many, many more.

I’m apparently far from alone in feeling like this because many of my friends are rating their year as challenging as well. Checking on my news feeds it sometimes seems that wherever I look in the world, be it at family, friends, my business, our local or global community, the situation is tumultuous. It’s not very uplifting and easily a bit scary as well.

I’ve caught myself saying things like “I can hardly wait for this year to be over” and “Hey 2014, don’t let the door smack your ass on the way out.”

But as I contemplated the “year that was” on New Year’s Eve I started to realize that this way of thinking was hurting me. For one, it violates one of my core tenets that says it is crucial to always move “towards something” and never “away from something”. Moving away from something that is big and frightening without a clear sense of direction can be dangerous as it can lead into even more difficulties (e.g. think of looking over your shoulder at a near accident and driving off the road). And it was starting to sound suspiciously like I was falling into a “victim mentality” for which I have little patience in others and none in myself. It also seemed like I was forgetting another of my core tenets that all challenges are gifts in disguise.

With those things in mind I set out to give myself some acknowledgement for handling the challenges, to try to discover what the gifts were, and then to figure out how I can best use them moving forward.

I think one key lesson I’ve taken from this year is that I have to finally acknowledge that I’m not a superman and that I can’t just solve any issue that comes my way by dialing up my energy and attacking a problem head on until I wear it down. This has definitely been a pattern for most of my life until now. I wasn’t a great ice dancer but I compensated by working harder than others. I had no idea how to play let alone coach lacrosse but with some extra effort I got some good results with my teams. I haven’t had the same skills, training or education as others in my career but I’ve definitely had the work ethic that helped me overcome and create some unexpected successes.

This year was different in that to overcome the challenge of my heart attack and surgery I had to do the opposite of what I’ve always done and dial my life back to let myself heal. The doctors told me that healing after heart surgery takes three to six months before you start to feel “normal” and much longer before you are “yourself again”. I heard “three months” and set out to be a “poster child” for recovering from heart surgery. Funny, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Just over five months into recovery I’m still not feeling like I can handle a full regular work day let alone the 12 hour days I was doing before my heart attack. And where I’d normally just dig a little deeper into my energy reserves to power through the issue, in this case my energy was already low with no way of getting it up without hurting myself and making the situation worse. I was stuck. Frustrating!

After thinking about it a bit, the way through this mess seemed to be to focus my efforts on what is truly most important and therefore direct my limited energy into solving the most crucial issues in my personal and business lives. After trying to do this for a little while I’ve come to the conclusion that I actually suck at focusing. I’ve always said that I’m a bit ADD but this is something more. In the past, I’ve apparently given lip service to the need to focus and then gone ahead and done way more than I should because I couldn’t figure out what were the most important things to do. Doing it all was simply the easier way to handle the situation. Now that I can no longer just power through issues this deficit in my skills has become a big problem for me. I think that without the health challenge I would have been able to keep fooling myself about my abilities in this area and would have continued to suffer the insidious failures that creates.

So one takeaway from this year may seem obvious to everyone reading this post but it is simply, at a deep level, to acknowledge that I have more work to do on the concept of “work smarter, not harder” and must proactively make changes in my life so that I don’t fall back into old habits. I’ve had the gift of seeing for the first time two major dysfunctional behaviors that hold me back in both my personal and business lives and I have been able to identify how they need to change.

Breaking habits is hard to do. We rarely change behavior via the carrot; it is most often a result of the stick. One lingering side effect of the heart surgery is that when I push too hard and try to do too much I physically hurt. This is as good a stick as any to help me change my habits and is kind of a “bonus gift” if you will.

The thought that is very encouraging in all this is that when I resolve my issue and learn to focus more effectively (I won’t say “correctly” because I may never be good at it) and when I’ve had time to heal and rebuild my energy level, I’ll be even stronger and more capable than ever.

I’m looking forward again and moving towards something new.

Look out world, here I come!

What balance?

Daryl Hatton Personal

I had a heart attack followed by open heart surgery recently. I handled it really well and have been recovering rapidly. This has allowed me to head back to work relatively quickly. Which is good because my business needs my help. It has survived my “incident” reasonably well but market conditions and increased competition are causing “challenges” and I need to spend as much time as I can helping out.

Here’s the rub. The #1 thing I can do to improve my physical health as quickly as possible is to rest and take my time getting back to work. And the #1 thing I need to do to protect my financial health is to spend every ounce of my energy on my business.

Essentially the needs of two major aspects of my life are diametrically opposed. Where is the perfect balance? Does it even exist?

Many people would say “focus on your health”. And that makes tons of sense. Except that having started a business just a few years ago my personal financial situation is precarious – I’ve put everything I own into making this business work. If it fails it will cause me massive amounts of stress and duress. My heart attack was caused by a genetic predisposition accelerated by stress. Serious amounts of stress would not be good for me at all in the long term.

So my quandary? How do I find the balance between reducing my workload to reduce my short term stress and therefore heal more quickly and increasing my workload to reduce the potential for business catastrophe and huge long term stress? I’m an experienced entrepreneur who has been through some major ups and downs in my career so this is not the worries of a neophyte – the potential for business failure is very real.

So what do I do? At the moment, I’m deciding day-by-day, doing as much as I think I can without overdoing it, hoping it is enough to keep both me and my business healthy.

Fingers crossed I’m doing it well.

Take 6: Things Learned Over Three Weeks

Daryl Hatton Cardiac, Health, Personal

Coming home – selfie at VGH just after discharge…

Things I’ve learned over the last three weeks:

  1. We have an amazing health system in BC. Like everything it has challenges but my results were excellent – well beyond expectations. No complaints. None.
  2. When faced with a life changing decision and little information I chose well. On Friday night July 11th I was driving back to the North Shore after starting to experience some mild chest pain. My plan was to get closer to home so it was easier on my family to help me if I had to spend the evening in ER getting tested to figure out whatever was causing it. But along the way I called my dad. He didn’t say anything specific that changed my plan but just the fact that unconsciously I wanted to talk with him made me realize in greater depth what I was experiencing. At the last minute (literally) I turned left on West Georgia instead of right towards home and committed myself to what I instinctively knew would change my life forever. I drove to Thurlow, parked, plugged the meter on my phone, and got out to hail a taxi in the touristy area of Robson. I asked the driver to take me to VGH because, frankly, I knew the drill there from my dad’s surgery in Feb. I walked into ER and did something very uncharacteristic – I barged to the front of the line and said two words: heart attack. I’d set the machine into motion and there was no stopping it; I was now a passenger on a roller coaster, not a driver. And it has been quite the ride.
  3. When I’m feeling empty and out of gas, helping someone can counterintuitively recharge my batteries. At one point I was feeling quite down; in pain, low energy, very emotional, worried about my condition. I walked the hall and came on a new patient, just admitted, waiting to hear when he would have his surgery. I’m my mother’s son and that compelled me to start up a conversation with him. We talked for a few minutes about the procedure, my results, his issues, the health care team, the tricks for eating well in hospital, and our fears. When we parted he had more color in his face and less fear in his eyes. My gas tank was not full but not on a warning light anymore. Since then I’ve used this technique twice more with even better results. If I treat it as precious and don’t abuse it, I can see it helping out many times in my life in important situations.
  4. I can be quite silly around pain meds and sometimes deny that I need them. I’m sure there is something interesting going on in my psyche but it doesn’t matter; “why?” is the booby prize. I’ve just learned to suck it up and take them. Lower pain promotes healing. I won’t be on them forever but for now, bring ’em on.
  5. I’m still a Type A and will need to be closely monitored and self-aware over not pushing ahead too hard in my recovery. Last night Myra and McKenna joined me to watch the fireworks. They were spectacular! But I was “done” about 20 minutes in. I should have gone to sit down but I didn’t want to step away. Silly because when I did sit down I hurt. It was a great low-cost mistake that I can use to help me avoid big-cost mistakes. For that I’m grateful. And obviously an idiot.
  6. I’m extremely proud and grateful for my FundRazr team. Not many startup companies can survive the unexpected loss of the CEO for an extended period of time. Our sales keep flowing, our bills get paid, our customers are supported, our partners get activated, our features get tested and deployed and people even can still take vacations. Wow! This just confirms a feeling I’ve had in my gut for a while that this team can scale up to do even greater things. And I get to come along for the ride. Sweet! When you see FundRazr as a great success please think of this great team and recognize that they are why it worked.

I’m a lucky man. I’ve just come through a massive life changing event and while I didn’t pass it with flying colors (there are lots of complications working themselves out) I’ve done very well. Many have asked “Is he for real? His updates sound so positive and yet he just had heart surgery…” Let me assure you that I’m being honest with you about how I feel. For some unknown reason I’m blessed with a character flaw that when faced with the “half full / half empty?” question I CANNOT see the glass as anything less than 3/4 full. And I live “out loud” and need to talk about it. For me, this really helps deal with tough situations.

Some want to know how I learned to be like this. I think I’ve been the lucky beneficiary of a lifetime of “big” experiences that helped build/challenge/test/reward my belief system. I know my life took a huge sharp turn away from mediocrity when I took the Excellence Series from Context 26 years ago. I’ve been able to take some of the techniques and philosophies they taught and REALLY apply them to my life. I still marvel that I use so many of them each and every day. Ask me anytime if you ever want to know more about them.

One of those philosophies is: To be truly successful, surround yourself with people who genuinely want you to win and who are winning in their own lives. In that aspect, I’m truly wealthy. I am massively grateful at a deep, soulful level for all of you. You are a great group of people and I’m honored to be able to call you my friends. Your encouragement and good wishes and funny comments have really helped make this journey much easier.

Thank you from the depths of my newly refurbished heart.


Take 5: More Learned Overnight

Daryl Hatton Cardiac, Health, Personal

Here is more info we learned overnight at the Cardiac Hotel.

  1. The best laid plans for long periods of uninterrupted sleep can be easily destroyed by a tiny yellow Lasix (diuretic) pill.
  2. The more time spent preparing for comfortable long sleep (removing bandages required for walking, etc), the more urgent the situation on unexpected premature awakening.
  3. A post op man with a heavily bandaged arm trying to get out of bed in a hurry probably resembles a turtle placed on its back: lots of limb action flailing away until eventually the physics/engineering puzzle is solved and the organism finally reaches the desired position. Upon reaching this position both probably feel like they escaped a near death experience. I’ll let you know as soon as I can check with a turtle.
  4. Big purple bruises turn alien yellow/green as they heal. I always wondered what I’d look like with film industry special effects makeup. Now I know.
  5. A compliment from someone I respect is a huge bonus. I was saying some nice things to one of the incredibly talented nurses about her skill and she said, “I googled you. FundRazr and what you do are amazing!” I was pain free for at least an hour, even though she had to inject heparin into my bruised belly fat.
  6. I’m more emotional right now. It is not unexpected but not always comfortable. It does have some benefits. See next point.
  7. If traveling across the hall at VGH for viewing a spectacular sunset over English Bay, recommended emergency equipment should include Kleenex to the reduce the chance of a biohazard liquid saline spill. Exquisite.

Today may be tough but I hear you all cheering for me. I’ll make it work. Put me in, coach!

Next up: Learned over three weeks

Take 4: Learned Overnight

Daryl Hatton Cardiac, Health, Personal

Here is what was learned overnight about the breaking story at the Cardiac Hotel.

  1. A hot shower is one of the most unappreciated luxuries in our lives. My first one post op last night was an almost spiritual experience.
  2. In medicine trying to solve one problem frequently creates another. In this case the result was “thrush” which I don’t think I’ve had in 25 years.
  3. It is a strange experience to look at a damaged body part and have trouble believing it is part of you. My left hand/arm is so swollen it looks like a cheap prosthetic from a B movie. Hopefully the swelling will come down quickly. For scale my Dr thinks there is at least two kilos of fluid in there as part of the bruising. [breaking news] – they now wrapped it a Coban compression bandage to squeeze the fluid out. We’ve gone from Chainsaw Massacre 10 to Thriller 2 just like that!
  4. I don’t do narcotics well. My dreams last night rank 11/10 on intensity of color, sensation, and other tactile scales. I mean, feeling myself flying through tropical water on my back (think of me as the jet ski) and feeling the warmth of the water, the pressure as I cut through it, the sparkle of the sunshine off all the spray, the freedom of motion, etc. was magnificent! Sadly, the plot was a 3/10 and only reached even that high from an absurd humor angle. Come on – running away from modern day pirates??? What a wasted opportunity! Fortunately the pounding in my heart in the dream did not transfer into real life as my ECG was normal. Third strike – you’re out! No more narc pain meds…
  5. Hospital pajamas with weak waistband elastic fall down unexpectedly when you pin a remote heart monitor to them. Just sayin’

Predicting my return home in the next two days…

Next up: More learned overnight

Take 3: By The Numbers

Daryl Hatton Cardiac, Health, Personal

Here are a few numbers that describe the current situation at the Cardiac Hotel.

100% satisfaction with progress to date

6 : nurses on this floor I could fall in love with

2 : nurses I could marry

2 : nurses here I don’t like – had both of them assigned to me yesterday (just my luck or more likely just how I felt?)

7 : meds I take every day not counting stuff for specific short term issues

1 : fancy chest protector – looks like I might have separated my breast bone

8 : hours I slept first night without help from meds

4 : highest number of hours I’ve been able to sleep since they started to “help”

3 : number of psychedelic dreams I’ve had with “help” – do people really do this for fun? Doesn’t compute in my reality…

2 : number of days I expect I will be able to stay here

0 : number of minutes I have felt unlucky to be me with all this incredible support from family, friends and our medical community around me. Sorry for any typos – screen is a bit blurry from the salt water right now…

Next up: Learned overnight