Holidays aren’t just for people with nothing better to do

by Ivan Mazour

20130612_170310In companies like mine, holidays are seen rather differently than they are by the rest of the world. Rather than excitedly looking forward to being able to get away from the monotony, or the incessant stress, of work – as it seems almost all of my friends want to do – we worry that we will either miss something going very wrong, or miss out on something amazing that happens while we are away. It’s like a movie that’s so good that you don’t even want to leave the room to get a snack. The snack seems nice, but the movie is better.

But a change of scenery brings its own unexpected benefits, and sometimes you have to be forced into doing it in order to understand quite how valuable it is. I recently spent a week away, and although I was hesitant at first, it has proved to be a great learning experience, as well as the pleasant break it was supposed to be. Every morning I would wake up early and meditate and do yoga under the sun, and in the afternoons I would read, even finally finishing the biography of Steve Jobs which took a whole 30 hours to get through.

One of the first things I realised as I sat on a beach with my Macbook, was that things still happened without me. With a team of 4, which was the average size for my previous companies, I was vital. If I didn’t get involved, or didn’t check on people, things wouldn’t get done. And if they did get done, it wouldn’t be in the right way. But at Ometria, we have a team of 9, and it turns out I’m actually pretty redundant. A week passed, I did a couple of hours of work every day, but really I came back and things were still under control. It’s something I am both very proud of since it clearly means I have the right team, but it’s also something I’m slightly sad about, as it means that my role is changing – from someone actively involved, to someone who just guides strategy and our growth.

And even more importantly, on that note, during this week I came to realise that I’ve been focusing on entirely the wrong things. Every entrepreneur out there is living funding round to funding round. They want a higher valuation each time, so they can feel satisfied that their efforts have somehow been “scored”. And they want an exit, maybe for the cash, but maybe just so they feel good about getting top marks.

Either way, this is how I was looking at the progress of Ometria for the past year or so. I had a clear plan that got us to a large Series A at the end of next year, and a number of potential exit opportunities. But taking some time away, not having to focus on product, or marketing, or these kinds of financial questions, made me realise that there was a much better approach to both running, and growing, a technology company.

We are in an industry that’s huge, that’s growing fast, and that’s definitely not going anywhere. E-commerce is the future of retail, and there is no doubt about it. And it’s going to become ever more reliant on technology, and increasingly more data-driven as time goes by. What we are doing isn’t only relevant at this exact moment – it will remain relevant forever. We have an opportunity to build a global and long-lasting business – to be the technology which powers the growth of all successful e-commerce businesses of the future. Who ends up owning the company isn’t what’s important. What our competitors are doing isn’t what’s important. The only thing that we need to worry about, is giving our customers exactly what they need – everything else will fall into place.

So from now on I’ll be scheduling regular holidays, and taking time out to really gather my thoughts and make sure that I’m going in the right direction. Even if you absolutely love what you do, and can’t imagine a day without it, it turns out that taking a break is the best thing that you can do – for yourself, and for your company.


Find out more on the about Ivan Mazour page.
And watch Ivan Mazour's TEDx Talk - "Why we shouldn't be scared of sharing our personal data".

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Andrew June 22, 2013 - 11:08 am

You deserve a holiday my friend!! Even if we both know your by no means redundant! Love your blog, especially my reduced feeling of guilt in taking a week off myself in August! Great article, came across very sincere.

Ivan Mazour June 23, 2013 - 6:18 am

Thank you Andrew. Let’s hope that we both stay necessary – enjoy your holiday in August!

Doug June 26, 2013 - 9:15 pm

The more time away the more you will see the wood for the trees.

Ivan Mazour June 27, 2013 - 7:12 am

Absolutely – sometimes you need to let go to do that. But you need an excellent team that you can rely on to do things even better than when you’re around!

Deepak Pathak July 4, 2013 - 2:10 pm

You scare me a little now, I was just thinking this and came across your post!

I hate the way that entrepreneurs have been encouraged to give up on life and do nothing but work – as a result I have seen a generation of entrepreneurs who regret having focused too hard on their work. I don’t want to be that guy, I want to totally work hard but also enjoy the ride, without feeling I ever wasted years of my life if things do not go as planned.

It’s great for your soul and balance of all things in life. It’s perhaps even more important for your business because as you say, it gives you a chance to look at your business with refreshed eyes.

Right, guess I need to book my first vacation!

Ivan Mazour July 4, 2013 - 5:49 pm

That’s so true – there is that whole generation that has now realised that the most important things are family, friends and health, and now it’s too late to do anything about it. I’m definitely enjoying the ride, but I’m always a bit concerned about not spending enough time with my friends. My family still takes priority, and I’m extremely focused on my health (blog post to come at some point..) but I do feel that my friends don’t get enough attention and need to start doing something about it.

Book that vacation Dee! And let me know how it goes..


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