Saturday, February 20, 2010

Think Week

If you haven't heard of Bill Gates' Biannual Think Weeks, this is going to sound pretty crazy: he actually takes off, unplugs, and hides in a cottage twice a year to read books.

I know what you're thinking "Read books? That's so...old fashioned."

Yeah, he's done it for years (well, since he was able to afford a cottage in the hills). It used to be that he would read lots of weird books (really geeky stuff) on Computer Programming, and Financial Instruments, and Business Models, etc. These days, he reads an insane amount of stuff that all comes internally from Microsoft.

Managers at the software giant have 'homework' to hand in to Gates, who spends a week in silence, sipping Orange soda and making notes.

To me, the idea of this guy, worth about 60 billion, trudging up to some remote cottage to 'mark papers' from his employees of 'average intelligence' is just hilarious, and at the same time, inspiring. Even now, he still feels he has a tremendous amount to learn and still strives to be the smartest guy in the room.

So alas, there I was, pondering what to do with my Chinese New Year 'holiday.' I could go to Thailand or Japan, or Sanya, etc. All places which would be expensive/packed for the holiday, and I wouldn't be able to check emails if I was having too much fun, etc. Then it dawned on me... where can I go, where I'll have peace and quiet, and can actually do something productive, ala Gates?

If I stay at the apartment, its way too noisy, and I'll get sidetracked with Internet, Movies, Friends etc.

I actually found a middle ground: I got a hotelroom on the outskirts of Shanghai. A nice one, with internet on the first floor, and room service, out in the far west (near the airport). Minimal disruption, minimal fireworks (99% of the time), and I took a bunch of books.

And you know what? I can probably get away with doing it twice a year. Like I said, I can check emails daily, in the morning, survive off room service, and the amount of time I have devoted to just reading great books (preferably about your line of work, keeping up with the very latest trends in your job, or big picture stuff, like Gates) can be of huge benefit to your company.

One thing I will say, the amount of 'Wow' great ideas I've gotten from this week is astounding. That's how the brain words, you fill it up with 'information' and then it digests it over the course of a few days. It'll rattle around up there, and suddenly BAM, you get the answer to something that was puzzling you (about business strategy, about time management, or about how to get financing on the next big project).

Think about it... you could worse than emulating one of the richest (and smartest) guys alive.

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