Thursday, 21 August 2008

I haven't had a holiday for 12 years

Whenever I read profiles of entrepreneurs who proudly boast how they haven't taken a single days holiday for 12 years straight, I feel so stressed out on their behalf I immediately take a holiday for them.

But should hard driven, venture funded technology entrepreneurs take holidays? Yes. Two weeks minimum in the summer. And I mean minimum. Three weeks is better :-)

Where to go, though? The answer is obvious. You should go on holiday with your family to Silicon Valley, like I have. If you are smart, you can disguise it as a holiday to San Francisco and providing you do some touristy things like cable cars and drive over big red bridges called Golden Gate you may never be found out. Hey, throw in a bit of Hawaii at the end and no one will ever know.

I have perfected this strategy after many years practice. Fifteen years ago, when I got married, I was into interesting emerging branches of science called Chaos and Complexity Theory. I admit that being "into Complexity Theory" may put me in the nerd bucket, but one of my boyhood heros, the Nobel Prize winning Physicist Murray Gell-Mann, was involved from the start and where he led, I followed (from a distance...a great distance). Murray and a bunch of other Nobel Prize winners set up the first ever complexity institute, the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, USA. So, clearly the only place to spend my honeymoon was Santa Fe, New Mexico. Fortunately when we got there (a) it turned out to be a really cool town, a mix of high technology and fine arts and (b) after a few days together constantly, my wife was more than happy to have me disappear off to "some silly maths place". I even got to meet Murray Gell-Mann himself. He said "get out of the way whoever you are, I want to use the photocopier". Awesome!

So this year off we went to "San Francisco" and we went on a tour of the area, taking in places like Palo Alto, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley etc. etc. We popped in on a few friends here and there and I actually got a pat on the back for taking my family to visit Facebook's HQ thanks to a good mate of mine there.

Actually, I do switch off when I go on hols and I think entrepreneurs should carve out big chunks of time to recharge the batteries. If you have the sort of business that will fall apart if you are away for a week or two then you don't have much of a business anyway, so fix the underlying problems and then take a proper holiday.

I keep in touch via email, once every couple of days, but that's about it. Except of course for the hour long call with a journalist for a profile piece, whilst my family hung about looking slightly annoyed. But that's it. Except for the call at 6am whilst I was standing on a beach in Hawaii watching the sunrise, after performing my Tai Chi routine (much to the amusement of the hotel ground staff) from a national newspaper in Canada. But that IS it. No more. Switch off completely.

Except for a little blog update....

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