Since stepping down as ReachNow CEO earlier this year I’m frequently asked “what’s next?” When people watch you building a company it’s easy to assume that as soon as one ride stops you’re ready to jump back on the merry-go-round.
It’s a reasonable enough question. “Serial entrepreneur” almost implies that as soon as one deal is done you have another one ready to go. Yet that’s just not reality. None of us can be in motion forever. Building companies from the ground up is incredibly fulfilling but brutally hard too. You have to get off the ride sometime.
Everyone needs downtime. Research shows that sabbaticals not only benefit the person taking the time off, but help the organization as well. Taking time away from work, as a vacation, a sabbatical or between roles, gives you a chance to reflect and rejuvenate. Instead of the reacting to the next email or crisis you can take a long term perspective on what’s important to you and to your team, now or in the future.
As we finalized the BMW/Daimler joint venture after years of hard work I knew I’d need time, when the deal was done, to rest and recharge my batteries.
So I don’t have an answer to “what’s next?” More accurately I don’t know professionally my next step. Personally I do have a plan for at least the next couple of months.
I’m going for a walk.
April 1st (no joke!) I’m flying to Europe where I’m going to walk the Camino de Santiago from France to Spain. The route is over 1000 years old, taking pilgrims over about 830 kilometers from the Pyrenees to the Atlantic. If you’ve heard of the Camino before it’s one of the most famous of the European pilgrimage routes. Books have been written about it and movies too.
I’ll be taking what’s call the “French Way” or Camino Frances from Saint Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostella in Spain, then going the rest of the way to the ocean at Muxia and Finisterre. You can see a map of the route below.
For me taking the Camino is a chance to reduce the complexity of life down to whatever is in my backpack. A couple of changes of clothes, hiking boots, sleeping bag, a pocket knife. While I’ll take a phone for emergencies the laptop, tablet and everything else will be back in Seattle. I’ve been systemically unsubscribing from email lists and turning off all app notifications. While walking the Camino I hope to be as distraction free as possible.
Since photography is so important to me of course I’m taking a camera. The challenge is choosing which one. To keep the load light and decisions simple I’ve decided to only shoot film, not digital. That creates some challenges (carrying the extra film weight is just one) but I really think it will be uniquely transformative for my photographs. (I’ll write more about the camera, lens and film choices, as well as the hiking and backpacking gear I’m taking no the Camino in other posts before I leave.)
That means no tweets or photos on Instagram from the Camino. While I’m there, I’m there. I’ll take a notebook to capture the stray idea or thought. When I get back I’ll develop the film and publish some photos. There will be stories to tell, but stories can wait until the trip is over.
Finally it’s important to recognize that while I’m traveling alone, I’m not doing this all on my own. The trip wouldn’t be possible without the support and encouragement of my girlfriend and partner, Christine. It was her concern and desire for me to do something both by myself and for myself that started me on the path to the Camino. Its thanks to her that I’m blessed to have this unique experience before putting myself back on the merry-go-round.
When I return I’ll be ready to tackle one of the many opportunities out there. Until then I’ll be checking in with friends and family and getting myself ready for the trip. If you want to touch base before I leave or ask a question about my Camino preparation feel free to leave a comment or drop me a quick email.