Stephen Perkins emailed me about Space Imaging – Visual Information. Visible Results. — great satellite imagery site.
An article in this week’s Economist got me going and i posted to the Lead21 Blog that Polarization is a Myth.
Though the country is closely divided by those who identify with either the Republican or the Democratic party, I don’t think people are actually wedded to a party. People are still very persuadable.
This is an article entitle Intellectual Sabbaticals: An Entrepreneurial Alternative that I wrote for EntreWorld (the publication of the Kauffman Foundation).
I have reprinted the article here:
Intellectual Sabbaticals: An Entrepreneurial Alternative
In October 2002, when I sold my third company, BridgePath, I was faced with the decision about what to do next. After five years of working 90-hour weeks to build my enterprise software firm, I knew that I wasn’t ready to jump right back in to another company.
Yet a sabbatical, with its image of unstructured time on the ski slopes or golf course, didn’t appeal either. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I need to feel productive.
I could have been stuck in a self-imposed limbo save for one factor. I’ve had a deep and long-standing interest in a topic other than entrepreneurship: foreign policy. And I had always envisioned at some point pursuing that dream.
The Case for Structured Time Off
So I used my interest as base to design a different type of sabbatical, which I have come to call an intellectual sabbatical. Rather than being unstructured and open-ended, my time off was highly regimented, with a fixed beginning and end, and designed to set me on a new course.
It’s a formula I’m now ready to recommend to other entrepreneurs, especially those who’ve long nurtured a passion for something other than company building. Of course, in my case, it helped that I was young –- I was 28 when I sold BridgePath. I didn’t have a family to support. And given that I had just sold my company, I had the financial resources to support myself. I was planning on taking three years off.
In constructing my sabbatical, moreover, I had a perspective from which I could draw, plus a goal and a plan. My perspective had been whetted as far back as junior high, when I was the type of teenager who would read biographies of Henry Kissinger. In college, I regretted that requirements for my engineering major kept me from taking public policy courses.
Even as an entrepreneur, with a grueling 24/7 schedule, I found time to join foreign policy organizations and start a few of my own. I also launched a blog, Summation, to have a platform for airing my views on the subject.
Clear Goals, Careful Planning
In pursuing my sabbatical, I wanted first and foremost to earn what I call an unofficial masters degree in foreign policy. My goal was to be able to assist on the world stage. I also wanted to be able to introduce others, specifically business people, to a field they otherwise might not pursue on their own.
Careful planning underscored my time off. I considered myself the CEO of me, and, in fact, friends have joked that I worked harder at that job than I did as CEO of my company. I set daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals.
I determined, for example, that I would read 40 pages a day of policy books, manuscripts, reports, and Web sites. I met weekly with at least 20 people who could enable me to broaden my thinking. I vowed to attend at least one foreign policy conference a month.
As a guest at conferences sponsored by think tanks, the military, and even individuals who held meetings in their homes, I was almost always the resident dummy. I felt honored to be invited. I could see that the contacts I made would lead to new opportunities. I got the chance, for example, to visit all four branches of the military and to spend a week as a U.S. delegate monitoring parliamentary elections in the Republic of Georgia.
My sabbatical, which I had thought would continue for three years, actually came to an end within a year, when in 2003, I launched my fourth company, Stonebrick Group.
Just as in an entrepreneurial company, I felt the need to evolve the company of me after it became clear that my learning curve wasn’t as steep as it had been at the beginning. I wondered, given that, whether I could continue to justify the time spent.
In addition, I was learning that, at least in part because of the knowledge I had gained, individuals and companies were interested in retaining me to arrange introductions that would facilitate their business interests. I discovered that I enjoyed that type of work, which is what Stonebrick does. Currently, I have six clients, four of which have interests outside of the United States.
Ultimately, my intellectual sabbatical, because it was structured, limited in time, and designed to help me figure out what I wanted to do, has enabled me to incorporate my passion into my work. I firmly believe that indefinite vacations can become too stressful for entrepreneurs and can lead to skills atrophying.
Sabbaticals, of course, are supposed to provide opportunities to reflect on life and make choices for the future. It’s ironic that structured time off fulfils that mission better than months on the ski slopes, but I believe that it does. So use your down time wisely. By spending your sabbatical in regimented learning, you will be taking the time to learn what you want to do next.
In today’s Business > Your Money > The Tech Lobby, Calling Again” href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/25/business/yourmoney/25lob.html?pagewanted=print&position=”>New York Times, Gary Rivlin writes a piece on “The Tech Lobby, Calling Again”
interesting article about the evolving clout of Silicon Valley. Worth reading. Good article. Quotes me in the very last paragraph.
This is a great form of advertising: Subservient Chicken
Erik Peterson from The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has put together a web presentation on the Seven Revolutions affecting our future over the next 20 years.
worth checking out…
Sonia Arrison writes another terrific piece on Tech Central Station – Tech’s Immediate Future — worth reading.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported on a phone Love-Detector by the Israeli company Nemesysco.
You purchase software for $50 that analyzes a conversation between you and your significant other. This software will apparently chart any random conversation and let you know how much the person is in love with you.
If you live in California and you drive … SIGALERT is the ultimate site:
this site uses data from the RFID chips in all the FASTRAK passes (for California tolls) and monitors the average speeds of passing cars. Based on this, you can see speed reports from every section of every major highway in California. It is awesome.
This study does not bode well for early over-achievers:
McCann’s research, published in the February issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, concerns what he calls the ”precocity-longevity hypothesis.” McCann analyzed the lives of 1,672 U.S. governors who served between 1789 and 1978 and found that those who were elected at relatively tender ages generally died earlier than their less precocious counterparts. Even when he controlled for the year that the governors were born, how long they served and what state they governed, the pattern held. No matter how he sliced the data, ran the regressions or accounted for various statistical biases, the story remained the same: governors elected to office at younger ages tended to have shorter lives.