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Summary:

It’s exactly three months to the day since I had my heart attack. What has followed has been a life-altering experience, forcing me to learn some hard lessons about life, myself and of course being a first-time entrepreneur. I have had to institute numerous behavioral changes […]

It’s exactly three months to the day since I had my heart attack. What has followed has been a life-altering experience, forcing me to learn some hard lessons about life, myself and of course being a first-time entrepreneur.

I have had to institute numerous behavioral changes over the past 90 days. But what I found was that some of my worst and most deep-seated habits were among the easiest to overcome — smoking, for example, as well eating a meat-rich diet and avoiding exercise. It’s the little things that have proved to be a challenge.

Simplification Through Elimination

I was reading a review of the Macbook Air over on Macworld when I realized that the machine and post-recovery me have a lot in common. I have to be very careful as to how I use my mental and physical resources, for there is a high risk of relapse. Similarly, the Macbook Air comes with miniscule amount of storage space, so one needs to be careful about how to use it. The machine’s battery power limitations remind me of how much time I have to devote to work on a daily basis.

It has been hard to use the Macbook Air as my primary computer, just as it’s been hard to change all those pesky “little things.” Indeed, the Macbook Air is an acquired taste. It’s also an apt reflection of an effective “simplification through elimination” strategy.

Three months on, I am looking to eliminate a number of things from life: excessive public appearances, too much travel and many, many RSS feeds. I am going to cut down the effort I spend on certain projects and focus on making the most of what we have at hand. Stay tuned for more details.

Empower To Power Up

One of the upsides to my health setback was that I discovered the amazing abilities of my team. When faced with adversity, each one of them picked up whatever they felt comfortable with and ran with it. From editorial to sales to the company and everything in between — the team executed on our strategy. Batteries Om not included.

I think one of the biggest problems I had as a first-time entrepreneur was an inability to let go; I was always second-guessing every decision not made by myself and was obsessed with minutiae. Three months on, having seen the Giga Gang at work, I realized what a mistake that was. You empower people, and in turn they power you to do good things. Now I am finding more time to focus on writing, reporting and spending time on projects like our upcoming conference, Structure 08.

Anyway folks, thanks for reading — and please don’t forget to get your cardiac check-up. Many of us in Silicon Valley refuse to acknowledge that we live a high-stress existence and are prone to all sorts of problems that stem from an 18-hour-a-day, non-stop lifestyle. Cardiac disease is one of the deadliest silent killers of the modern age, and I urge you to learn from my mistakes. (More information on this @ the American Heart Association web site.) Please let me know if you want me to post information about symptoms of heart disease and other heart-related problems. And if you need help, I am just an email away.

By Om Malik

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  1. There is a Buddhist axiom about Crazy Wisdom. Sometimes from standing on the edge and staring into the abyss, there is a moment of clarity and understanding; a new set of muscles manifest, and through skillful means, the recipient is suddenly able to carve new paths that heretofore were sight unseen.

    It sounds like you have embarked on such a journey.

    Cheers,

    Mark

    My Blog: http://www.thenetworkgarden.com

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  2. Om, the shock of the news of your heart attack is at least partially responsible for a major lifestyle change of my own. After having been at a high-octane startup for 3-1/2 years, working long hours over nights, weekends and holidays, I began to feel past the point of burnout. No longer was I just feeling mentally fogged – I was damned fatigued and the symptoms weren’t pretty. Recuperative sleep was rare, my joints ached, my acid reflux had flared up, digestive issues abounded and, to top it off, I was having chest pressure and numbness in both arms. Feeling I was having or about to have a heart attack, I ended up in the doctors office, scared shitless that I might have overdone it. Fortunately, it wasn’t a heart attack, but, rather, several minor conditions that added up to what was seeming like one. But all of them were caused by the stress of carrying what felt like the world on my shoulders.

    Well, that pretty much did it for me. You never fully internalize the phrase ‘nothing can replace your health’ until you start to feel it slipping away; I resigned and am now taking a brief hiatus while I decide which opportunity to pursue next.

    I feel that with every startup you get to a point where there probably isn’t much more you can contribute and feel as if it’s time to move on. In my case, it was that, combined with my health issues and the shock of reading about yours that pushed me to stop and smell the roses.

    Take comfort in knowing that at least one person who was headed down the same path as you has diverted himself as a result of your experiences. I sincerely wish you the best in your recovery.

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  3. Nice post Om, good to have you back in a healthy state.
    Nearly time to refresh here also, big changes must come soon.

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  4. [...] those heading into the weekend, don’t miss this post from tech blogger Om Malik (pictured here, but the cigar is now a thing of the past), assessing his life and work three months [...]

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  5. It’s good to have you back OM.
    Thx for the note.

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  6. Om, my Air too has inspired me to eliminate. There’s something about simplicity. It’s becoming a huge meme (perhaps partly Jobsian inspired). Further, a down economy helps. Glad to hear you are on the mend. Hope to see you soon – in your hometown, not mine.

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  7. Hey this is a really nice reflection on process (as opposed to substnce. Long ago, Drucker had a lot to say about such process and the issues you raise in particular. Interesting that delegation and empowerment problems still haunt us!

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  8. Lars and I had the shock of our life in the middle of the Australian dessert, when we heard the news about your heart attack. Only a few days before we had a merry dinner in Paris…and every now and then we still have a laugh about it, it was just too great! :)

    Good to hear that you´re not back on (old) track and that you´ve chosen a new way in and for your precious life!

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  9. too bad you never meditated your whole life… not too late to start

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  10. I don’t think its “off topic” :). Hope we can too learn somethings from you.

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