Thanks for Some Time Off

Last night I was talking to Comparison Engines‘ and SingleFeed’s Brian Smith. He mentioned in passing that he had seen an article on Wired about an entrepreneur’s life and marriage that had been essentially ruined because all he did was work. (It’s actually Fortune [thanks Brian], here.) I was also reading TechCrunch this morning and saw Michael Arrington’s call for a vacation for bloggers.

A week ago I was talking with a friend who is a consultant to several Internet companies. He was complaining that his clients expected him to be available all the time. No time for sickness, for family emergencies, relaxation, etc.

We’re all pretty chronically overworked, which is why fantasies such as “The Four-Hour Workweek” have so much power. It’s also the reason that the Internet is killing traditional media in part: nobody has time for anything anymore . . . I myself have been struggling with work-life balance issues now for about six years, largely without success.

When I ran my final Kelsey conference, in March of 2006, I did so with pneumonia and the inability to hear from the stage out of my right ear. Indeed, I left the Kelsey Group partly because of relentless overwork with no end in sight. (I have to take much of the responsibility for overextending myself.) But I was planning two conferences a year, running an advisory service, writing reports, blogging, taking press calls, responding to client inquiries, speaking at events and other stuff. Now, wisely, the company has allocated those responsibilities to three separate individuals.

I have struggled to say “no” more often and limit what I do these days. But the pace and culture of the Internet and blogging makes it virtually impossible. Most of what I do is “necessary.”

The very culture of Internet startups and the Internet more generally is both accelerated and distorted, like an ordinary industry on amphetamines — or crack.

During Web 1.0, I remember people at AllBusiness.com, where I was an “executive producer,” saying effectively that they were going to kill themselves for a few years and then, they anticipated, they’d have enough money to work on stuff they really liked or not work at all.

That fantasy is back in a big way.

Unfortunately – but fortunately for you if you’re one of the few — there are enough people making enough money to fuel the dysfunctional fantasies of easy wealth and the broader workaholic culture we’re all now involved with. Make no mistake, I’m something of an addict too. But in my more rational moments, I recognize there’s a good deal more in the world than technology and making money – although I’d be hard pressed to tell you what at this point 🙂

Anyway, for Americans, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I suggest stepping back and thinking about some things that you’re thankful for: family, friends, health, for example. As someone who had a brush with cancer during 2006, I can tell you health is quite a bit more important than almost anything else.

There’s a bigger picture out there and it makes a lot of sense from time to time to step out of the myopic world of our little technology fetishes and think about some of the larger questions and issues.

___

I recommend reading a novel or doing something entirely self-indulgent and “frivolous” over the holiday.

11 Responses to “Thanks for Some Time Off”

  1. Local SEO Guide Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Greg. I thought you would enjoy knowing that I am reading this while sitting on my in-laws couch and kids running around everywhere watching ESPN and generally pretending that I am not working.

  2. brian smith Says:

    Greg,

    Hope you have a great Turkey Day! The article was in fortune. Here’s the online version: http://money.cnn.com/2007/10/30/news/newsmakers/confessions_ceo.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2007110205

  3. Neal Says:

    have a good break Greg. U certainly are due.

  4. Dave Schappell Says:

    heh — I loved this part of your post “I did so with pneumonia and the inability to hear from the stage out of my right ear”, as my own earache has been steadily growing over the last few weeks/months, and I’ve continued to push myself a little bit harder on a regular basis. It’s amazing how much can be accomplished when you stop doing things like watching football games, going to movies and eating (ok, maybe just the first two). But, I admit that I’m looking forward to 2-3 of the next 4 days off the computer, Interweb and the like.

    I wish you a great Thanksgiving — hope you get to enjoy some quality time with your friends and loved ones.

    Then, get back to your computer quickly and catch us all up on what we’ve missed!

    Dave

  5. Pat Says:

    Have a terrific Thanksgiving, Greg, and enjoy the time away from the computer. And thanks for all of your insights and perspective…you do make a difference.

    Pat

  6. SoniaC Says:

    Nice post Greg. In this industry we have a lot to be grateful for. Part of the “rush” of information is because of the people we get to share it with. Once in a while it’s nice to come up for air and realize we’re all in it together.

    Happy Thanksgiving and good luck with the Wolfang Puck recipe.

    Sonia

  7. Ben Saren Says:

    Family, friends, and health. That’s what’s most important. At the end of the day nothing else really matters – only family, friends and health. We all need to disconnect and remind ourselves sometimes. That’s what’s cool about the holiday season I think – not the gifts, the greed, the b/s that comes with it – but the reminder we all get about these most important values and relationships.

    Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving Greg.

    P.S. – I challenge you not to blog until Monday!

  8. mark mccormack Says:

    i only responded to two emails (and this blog) today. We appreciate your tireless efforts … don’t go tilt too far in the other direction!

  9. Rich Hargrave Says:

    A well deserved break Greg – but I know the feeling. It’s such an exciting time to be in this business, it seems we’ve been waiting so long for things to take off – broadband penetration, usage and technology are all finally coming together, and the advertising dollars are starting to follow.

    My attempt to get away was a camping trip to foxboro MA – deep fried turkey, great weather, and quality outdoor time with the family. Brought the laptop “just in case” and believe it or not; free wi-fi accress across the entire 100+ acre park! Good thing: Boston’s Duck Tour only sells their tickets online, so I had a legitimate excuse to log-on.

    Getting away is never really “getting away”… but that’s ok.

  10. Will Scott Says:

    See, this is why I’m a poor blogger. In the list of priorities blogging comes (not quite last but pretty darn close to) last.

    Better still, I’m a poor blog reader – hence my late comment.

    You’re not alone. Interestingly almost everyone I’ve spoken to feels like they took some time off over thanksgiving — I know the truth — they switched to a 4 hour workday for a day.

    Oh, and I’m thankful for the fact that my mother’s Verizon broadband box came with built in wi-fi 🙂

    She wondered all this time what that antenna was for.

  11. Doug Mehus Says:

    This post is eerily visionary in a dark way. Were you aware when you posted this of D&B’s pending buyout announcement of AllBusiness.com? It’s odd – yet kind of cool – you mention that old site (which, I must admit, had never heard of) just weeks before their buyout.

    Cheers,
    Doug

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