Brian Goldsmith Never Checks His Phone From His Bed

The political consultant to Yahoo on his relationship with his phone.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Brian Goldsmith: Stretch, drink water and coffee, check email.

TG: What gives you energy?
BG: My four-month-old daughter, Eliza.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
BG: A standing desk. I can’t believe I used to sit all day.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
BG: Here are two: “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt — the first novel I truly loved. “What It Takes” by Richard Ben Cramer — the best book I’ve ever read about presidential campaigns (and the deepest, and the most fun…read it for the Joe Biden section alone).

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
BG: No, shamed by Arianna, I moved it across the room so I can’t look at it in bed.

TG: How do you deal with email?
BG: Not very well. But I do two smart things: I mark as unread emails that I want to go back to, and stop checking after 10pm.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
BG: Ideally: call my wife or take a walk outside. Too often: deal with email.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
BG: After we sold our startup. Partly it was all the work that went into building the company. Partly it was a realization that I was no longer passionate about what we were doing. I switched back to work I loved — covering policy and politics — and haven’t felt burned out since.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
BG: Well, this is a quote that helps me keep perspective, from my wonderful rabbi Steve Leder:

“Inconvenience: you’re stuck in horrible traffic because a police car and ambulance are on the freeway. Problem: it’s your loved one in the ambulance. Inconvenience: you complain to the waiter that you specifically told her you wanted the dressing on the side. Problem: you are scrounging in the dumpster behind the restaurant for something to eat. Problem or inconvenience? Learn the difference and you will have a better, happier life. A lump in the oatmeal and a lump in the breast are not the same lump.”

Brian Goldsmith is a political consultant to Yahoo. He’s also co-founded an investment startup and served as a producer at CBS News. You can find him on Twitter at @GoldsmithB.