From the Blog

9 lessons learned from taking a “careercation”

If you could go anywhere in the world for six months, would you? In our latest installment of our Limeade expert speaker series (LESS), we heard from an entrepreneur that inspired us to do just that.

David Niu is a successful entrepreneur and the Founder of TINYhr. Before TINYhr David co-founded BuddyTV and NetConversions. In 2012 he took a giant leap of faith and embarked on a “careercation” (career break) for 6 months with his wife and baby girl. In just 6 months David visited 7 countries, over 20 cities and interviewed over 30 international entrepreneurs in New Zealand, Australia and Asia.

During his “careercation,” David reached out to interview other entrepreneurs in the cities he was visiting to satisfy his itch to continue learning and connecting during his travels. He asked each interviewee what they were most proud of as well as what was making them lose sleep at night. He found that no matter what size the company, leaders were always worried about getting resignation letters from their most talented people and not truly understanding why.

This insight compelled David to launch his next company – TINYhr. The first product was TINYpulse, an online platform that gives business leaders a pulse on how their employees are feeling. By collecting quick and anonymous feedback from employees on a weekly basis, the product gives leaders an ongoing pulse on what’s going on in their company and allows them to address those issues quickly.

We may not be able to take a sabbatical from work – but we can take David’s learnings to heart. Here are his 9 Lessons Learned on the “Careercation:”

1. Define your own dreams and rules

You don’t want to have regrets at the end of your life! The most common regrets are:

  • I wish I had a let myself be happier
  • I wish I stayed in touch with friends
  • I wish I had the courage to express my feelings
  • I wish I didn’t work so hard
  • I wish I had the courage to live life true to myself

In the end you don’t just want to live your life, you want to live an extraordinary life.

2. Suntan doesn’t equal refresh

We’ve all seen coworkers go on vacation and come back with a great tan. Sitting on a beach for a week is awesome – but to truly recharge, you need to completely unplug from work. David argues that you can’t do this without at least three weeks off,  preferably longer.

3. Set intentional mission, vision, and values

Some leaders are so focused on building their business that they neglect their company culture. He reminded us that a culture forms on day one whether you nurture it or not. He urges leaders to be mindful of how their mission, vision, and values come to life every day in order to harness the strength of your employee talent.

Our leaders are well aware of this here at Limeade, and do a wonderful job instilling our company values in every employee. Every goal, project and employee interaction circle back to our mission, vision, and values.

4. Bake values into the hiring process and live them

One great way your company can live its values is by reaffirming them in the hiring and onboarding process. Ask them to give you two examples of how they actively live the values.

Each person we interview here at Limeade is evaluated on how they fit with each of our values in a post interview survey. This ensures that our new employee is not only a great fit for Limeade, but that Limeade is great fit for the employee.

5. Embrace anxiety and push boundaries

Pushing your inner boundaries can be an extremely uncomfortable process, but it’s the biggest gift you can give yourself. Whether that’s bungee jumping in New Zealand, or starting a conversation with someone outside your direct network, take a chance!

6. You can always control expenses

As a leader there are certain things that you ALWAYS have control over. One of those is expenses. Don’t learn the hard way – embrace cash flow positive learning early on. Be mindful of remote employees travel expenses as well as the cost of onboarding a new employee. These costs can be controlled.

7. Give and get

Giving back is so important. TINYhr donates 1% of its time to the community. One percent can make a life changing difference.

8. Wells of strength

During times of turmoil and high stress, you can surprise yourself. You are more resilient than you might think. Whatever you choose to do out in the world, it can be lonely, but when you reach down you’ll find your reservoirs of strength.

9. Ask others in your life what THEIR dreams are

Everyone has a life dream. Take the time to learn what your friends, partners and co-workers really want in life! You just might be able to make them happen.

Thank you David Niu for your inspiring presentation! I know we all benefitted from hearing about your achievements and struggles. You gave us a sense of empowerment in our lives and left us asking ourselves “where would I go on my ‘careercation’?”

So now we want to know about YOU! Without factoring in time, money, and probability, where would you go on your “careercation”? Let us know in the comments below.