Neil Vogel is the CEO of a 250-person company, About.com, and he cofounded Recognition Media, the company behind New York’s Internet Week, and the “Oscars of the Internet,” the Webby Awards.
But before that, when Vogel was 32, he left the work force for a year. He bought a Ford Bronco for $US3,000 on eBay, took the roof off, and went on a road trip.
His ultimate goal: reach maximum boredom. Then figure out what to do with the rest of his life.
Vogel had been one of the first ten employees at a successful dotcom startup, Alloy Media and Marketing. He was single, didn’t own an apartment, and had no real responsibilities.
“My father gave me great advice,” Vogel told Business Insider in a podcast episode of “Success! How I Did It.” He said, “Look, you’re in a position where you don’t have kids, you don’t have anything. Go get yourself bored and figure out what you want to do.”
By not thinking about much of anything for a long period of time, Vogel says he was able to gain clarity.
“For a couple of months I was trying really hard to think about [my life] and figure it out,” Vogel said. “Then I decided to not think about anything. Then everything became clear. It’s an amazing feeling to have no responsibilities. Just, ‘What am I going to do? Oh, I’m going to drive here and visit my friend.’ Or, ‘I’m going to get on a plane, go to Europe, and hang out.’ It was amazing.”
At the end of the summer, Vogel found himself on a beach. All of a sudden, he couldn’t wait to get back to work.
“I was at the beach with some friends before Labour Day weekend in 2004,” he recalled. “I hadn’t done anything for the whole summer. I wasn’t even checking email. I panicked because I had hit maximum boredom. I got in this truck and I drove back to Manhattan. When everybody was going out to go the beach and have fun, I got on a plane, flew to LA to where my business partner was, and we wrote a business plan. That became the business that was the Webby Awards and Recognition Media.”
Vogel realises most people don’t have the financial means to take a year off work. “Believe me, I know it’s an incredible luxury to be able to do that,” he said.
But if you can swing it, Vogel swears the experience is a game-changer: “I tell people it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life.”
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