I’m wearing out the keyboard on my laptop, literally. It’s just over a year old and I’m missing the F7 key (really? F7) with many other’s ready to jump. Thing is, I have a Dell with a good keyboard. Point is, I’m on my laptop a lot. Like many my age, when I’m unwinding in front of the TV at night – I have my laptop.
With the amazing improvement of productivity and access to information comes an increased dependence on, or rather addiction to, consuming it. There’s also an increased ability to become a work a holic because you can be productive from wherever you are.
But now, I’m back in my hometown for my wife’s sister’s wedding. Access to the Internet is limited despite being just two hours to the Bay Area (my mom just got access to DSL 3 months ago) and 3G is sparse. So while I’m home I’m finding myself disconnecting, going outside, spending time without a screen in front of my face and I’m finding something interesting – perspective.
My generation, and most of the people in cities like Seattle who embrace technology to the fullest, get very caught up in the web and the information available “out there” and we lose sight (not site) of what’s important “right here.” Each morning we’ve been staying at my in laws who have a garden and I’ve gone out and eaten about a pound of berries for breakfast, I get to watch my son pick berries and strawberries enjoying each bite and getting red juice on his face (and clothes). We are creatures who are made to spend time out in the world, often with nothing to occupy our thoughts so we can let them wander, not just consumed in our own little worlds.
Getting a chance to unwind and dealing with getting over my withdrawals (from the reduction of information consumption) is helping me to spend some much needed time thinking about priorities, where I want to go, and who I want to be. It’s easy to choose a course, get on the road and never stop to check your direction because you’re too busy making good time but when you take a break to take stock of things it sure feels like a good investment.
Let me start by reiterating that I do not believe an MBA is a requirement to be an entrepreneur. That said, there are a lot of reasons an MBA is great for an entrepreneur.
You see, lately I’ve found that my classes have really been getting in the way. I’m working on this startup, things are going well and I have “better” things to do… well things that will more directly lead to my being able to generate revenue and then eventually take a salary. But the great part about having to stop and entertain distractions is that you get perspective.
I’m continually reminded of how important this perspective is but especially in a startup where you’re so busy running you might not realize you’re running in the wrong direction or right past a great opportunity.
So I was in my Ethics course yesterday and we had Dan Bross, the Sr. Director of Corporate Citizenship, at Microsoft visiting. He was sharing how Microsoft organizes their citizenship efforts help Microsoft be as effective as possible in the communities they serve i.e. everywhere. While our startup isn’t explicitly about corporate citizenship the conversation covered a lot of ground and in the process a slew of new ideas and opportunities that are aligned with our startup were cultivated in my mind. A couple of hours later I was on a conference call and there was a point of intersection between what we were discussing on the call and the ideas that flowed from my Ethics class so as we’re preparing to go to market we have added to the ways we can deliver value to customers
I truly believe an entrepreneur needs to constantly be running what-if scenarios and various game theory models in their minds and that a key enabler of this is a constant infusion of fresh, new perspectives. I still don’t have enough time in the day to do the MBA-thing, work on the startup, and spend time with my family but it’s things like this that help me work just a little bit smarter and turn what feels like a time-sink into a valuable time-saver.
What do you do to step back and get perspective? Do you run, do yoga, take long leisurely drives?