Posts Tagged ‘quitting jobs’

Backpacking in the News: Google CFO Quits Job to Go Backpacking

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

Patrick Pichette, former Senior VP and CFO of Google

I wanted to blog about this when the story broke two months ago but life got away from me.*

Confirming my previous statement — to truly be free to fuck off and travel for an indefinite period of time, you must either a) just finish school, or b) quit your job — Google CFO Patrick Pichette chose Option B.

On March 10, the 52-year-old Pichette posted a resignation letter of sorts to Google+, saying he simply couldn’t tell his wife it wasn’t “their time” any longer. The experience that set this realization into motion was a recent trip he and his wife, Tamar, made to Tanzania. While watching the sunrise atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tamar asked him why they wouldn’t simply keep going, on to other parts of Africa, and then East to India, the Himalayas, Bali and beyond. His response at the time was that he wasn’t ready.

“I could not find a good argument to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road.”
– Patrick Pichette, Former Google CFO

“It’s not time yet,” he wrote, in hindsight. “There is still so much to do at Google, with my career, so many people counting on me/us: boards, non-profits, etc.”

A few weeks later and back at work, the Montreal-born Pichette says he couldn’t shake his wife’s question. Their kids are grown up: two are in college and another already graduated. He realized he’s been working for 25-30 years straight. He also pointed out it will be his and Tamar’s 25th wedding anniversary this summer.

“Allow me to spare you the rest of the truths,” he wrote. “But the short answer is simply that I could not find a good argument to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road — celebrate our last 25 years together by turning the page and enjoy a perfectly fine mid-life crisis full of bliss and beauty, and leave the door open to serendipity for our next leadership opportunities, once our long list of travels and adventures is exhausted.”

He goes on to gush about his peers at Google and wax philosophical about balancing family and a career (*the irony that I delayed blogging on this topic because I was too busy is not lost on me), only to end his frank and endearing letter with two words: “Carpe Diem.” Yep. He fucking wrote that. I mean, good for you, man. But come on.

I hope Patrick and Tamar don’t get matching Carpe diem tattoos on their anniversary, but they probably will. It’s a mid-life crisis after all.

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47. Missing Sports

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Happy I get to watch this guy play right now.

Happy I get to watch this guy play right now.

Whenever I’m traveling, I tell myself it’s good to be disconnected from home. And it many ways, it is. More often than not, backpackers are excited to escape from home — school, a former job, a breakup, whatever — so being overseas (in some cases where you can’t even speak the local language) is refreshing. (See 44. Finishing school/Quitting your job.) Not for sports, though.

Missing sports makes me homesick.

I realize my opinion has been colored by the following:

  • I’m North American and apart from basketball, the professional sports I like to follow are not widely played overseas.
  • I’m not a hard-core soccer fan and don’t pretend to be (see 41. Soccer)
  • I’m not a holier-than-thou hippie who strums his guitar pretending he doesn’t care about sports, to pick up girls (see 18. Guitar)
  • I’m back home, living in a city whose team is on a Stanley Cup run.
  • I went and saw the Heat-Blazers game in January, which the Heat (currently the Vegas favorites to win the NBA title) won in OT. Beenou.
  • The NBA Playoffs are fantastic this year.
  • I didn’t have to wake up at 3 a.m. local time to watch the Super Bowl in Spanish this year. And I wasn’t in Vietnam drinking by myself when the Riders were in the Grey Cup (which I wasn’t able to watch anywhere) either this year.
  • I watched basically all the March Madness games and went to Vegas to watch the Final Four, in what was one of the best tournaments of all time. Or did it just seem that way because I was actually home to watch the whole thing? I dunno. Beenou.
  • I just slept in, made breakfast and watched a wicked E:60 piece on Carl Crawford. Found out he’s a stud all-around athlete from Fifth Ward Houston. I wouldn’t be able to watch that in Paris. I mean, I’d be in Paris… Yeah, I wouldn’t have seen it, nor would the MLB standings mean anything to me there.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, it’s good to be home and watch sports. Friends, family and 1st-world infrastructure are all right too, I guess.

All of that said, I can’t wait to go on another trip.

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46. Rolling Solo

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Six years ago, it was my first time backpacking on my own and I thought I would like it. I was visiting my brother in Manila and since he was busy with work for a couple weeks, he spotted me some cash so I could venture out and explore the Visayan Islands by myself.

“Ooh yes, this will be a great way to see more of the Philippines, get in touch with my inner self, keep a journal and do a bunch of reading,” I thought. Indeed, it ended up being all of those things, but it wasn’t the same. I was lonely.

I just dug up an old e-mail I sent my friends on that trip. It read:

I’m in Cebu City right now in between island hops and not getting laid. Haven’t yet met many tourists, even at the resorts. Just disgusting old men, strolling the beaches with young Filipinas who wouldn’t normally be caught dead with these scumbags. I’ve heard Thailand is even worse for this. But the Visayan Islands are awesome and I’m thoroughly enjoying the last bit of my vacation/lazy-bum-stuck-between-finishing-school-and-finding-a-real-job-and-getting-a-life stage (see 44. Gap Year).

I always thought traveling alone would be a fun exercise in self-discovery, or some cliché shit like that. Some people actually prefer traveling alone. After about a week of doing so, I’m convinced I’m not one of those people. I find myself taking in awe-inspiring landscapes and gorgeous sunsets by myself, without anybody to appreciate them with me, nobody to simply look over and say, “Fuck, is that ever beautiful.” Instead, I’m smoking a lot of Marlboro Lights.

Was I bitter that fat old sexpats were clearly getting more tail than I was? Certainly. But there was more to it than that.

Here are a few reasons why rolling solo isn’t for me:

  • I’m socially dependent. It’s who I am. I’m not the quiet guy brooding in the corner. I’m not wired like that. I’m drawn to people and people are drawn to me (beenou). Even when I set off on my own to travel Southeast Asia a couple years later, I made it a total of four days before latching onto a group of Chilean dudes, two of whom I proceeded to travel with for six fun-filled weeks. My Visayan trip was different because I really didn’t meet ANY other backpackers. I suspect it’s different now and more young people are traveling to the Phils, but it’ll never get the kind of traffic that Thailand gets, which is kinda nice.
  • I’m always on a tight budget. Hopefully that will change in the future, but on all my overseas trips to date, I’ve been scraping by day to day. That’s not to say you can’t have fun if you don’t have money. But had I a bit more cash to work with, I could have done more than simply reading in my nipa hut, tanning on the beach or smoking cigarettes. I could have learned how to scuba dive (more on that in a later post), gone on a group tour/jungle trek or gone zip-lining. More importantly: activities like these are ways to meet people.
  • Great experiences are worth sharing. Like I said, I’m a socially dependent person. Still, having seen and experienced some unforgettable things by myself and with friends, the with-friends memories are better. The food tastes better, the music sounds better, the sporting event is more exciting, the sunset is more breathtaking. And the next time you see that co-traveler, you have something to remember together. Looking back, the disasters are funnier and the redemptions are sweeter.
  • Safety. Do people go camping or go on remote hikes by themselves? No, because it’s just plain dangerous. Unless you’re a complete nutjob like Grizzly Man or the dude on Into The Wild. Neither story ends well.
  • Keeping up appearances. Try going to a bar by yourself some time. It’s terrible and you look like a total loser. But at least it’s introspective.
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Backpacking in the News

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Link to article: Backpackers trek the globe with tech toys

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as applications like Skype, are allowing backpackers to connect with family and friends more easily than ever before, wrote Natalie Armstrong of Reuters (Dec. 7).

Armstrong describes Canadian traveler Dave Arnold, who is on a one-year trip after taking a buyout from his telecom employer (see 44. Quitting your job). Carrying about $9,000 worth of electronic devices, Arnold is a walking Price Is Right Showcase for third-world muggers. He’s also an example of what’s become known as a “flashpacker” (see Backpacker Types, by Nomadic Matt).

It appears the folks over at the L.P. finally heard our call (see 8. The Lonely Planet; and The L.P. on iTunes), making their guidebooks downloadable to iPods and iPhones. Arnold has 100 downloaded guidebooks on his iPod, plus 10 books and his entire music collection.

In fact, Armstrong also writes about a South Korean girl who used her iPhone 4 for everything old fogeys like I used to use the L.P. for: maps, hostels, and information on local sights, food, etc.

All this is fine and dandy, just as long as you don’t slip and fall into a swimming pool or something while carrying all your gear.

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44. Finishing school/Quitting your job

Friday, October 29th, 2010
Oh, what to do with my life...?

"Oh, what to do with my life...?"

Taking a gap year, whatever you call it. People of my generation love not knowing what to do with our lives. A buddy of mine said to me the other day, “We’re so different from our parents, man. It’s like we’re too distracted. It’s sensory overload.” Well put. We are too distracted.

I just spent an hour watching Zach Galafianakis’ hilarious Absolut Vodka ads/videos on YouTube**, when I probably should have been sleeping, ‘cuz I have to go to work tomorrow. But NOOOOOO, I simply had to watch fat, bearded Zach in all his ridiculous, awkward, spazzing, infantile glory. (They are awesome, by the way, and I can’t

Taking a gap year makes you walk out into a mountain field, hold your arms out and breathe in deeply.

Taking a gap year makes you walk out into a mountain field, hold your arms out and breathe in deeply.

believe they’d been posted since 2008 and I just saw them for the first time tonight. Goddammit! So much media to consume, so little time.) This is the kind of shit I’m talking about. We’re posting/creeping on Facebook, tweeting, fiddling with our smartphones until we basically walk into each other like imbeciles (I love how the new Windows Phone 7 ad shows an old man who drove into a lamppost ‘cuz he was presumably so engrossed by his smartphone that he could no longer drive in a straight line, while [on the TV version] “This is a dramatization” pops up in fine print at the bottom of the screen. It’s not fake. Oprah is on a big campaign about this. People are dead because of this. Still kinda clever marketing, though, ‘cuz it’s true… See what I mean? I can’t even focus for five minutes to write this post.)

gap-year-02

"Having no responsibilities is awesome."

I have ADHD. Everybody does (see recent Globe and Mail article).

Our parents didn’t have these distractions. They got a job (“not a career, a job — there’s a difference” according to Chris Rock). They got married. They had kids before they turned 25. (Are you kidding me? I was on my third or fourth backpacking trip by 25, beenou, and with no offspring in sight.) They accepted responsibility. My generation, the Millennial Generation, as we’re often called, is allergic to responsibility.

We consume everything. We’ll do anything short of tattooing a fricken barcode on the backs of our necks to not miss out on the exciting digital information and sensory experiences out there waiting for us. We stay up late, we eat out, we party, we spend all our money and max out our credit cards, we travel and we never, ever grow up.

We are useless. Comedian Louis C.K. nailed it with a bit he did on Conan O’Brien, saying (about how people take technology for granted): “We live in an amazing, amazing world and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots that don’t care.”

gap-year-03

"And now to find me an obnoxious Aussie guy."

We have no discipline. Haven’t we all heard that before? And kids are getting worse (imagine that). Talk to any public school teacher you know. The kids are monsters, they have ADHD and you can’t use the strap on them or fail them, so they don’t listen to teachers anymore.

Somebody wrote all this about kids in the ’60s, granted, but they didn’t have PVR, wikipedia, Wired magazine or YouTube back then. They weren’t watching Mad Men and sitting there astonished at the idea of smoking in an office building. They also didn’t have 1,733 airlines worldwide at their fingertips. (They didn’t have Google either. I just googled that airline stat.) And they certainly didn’t go backpacking around the world. (The Lonely Planet wasn’t founded until 1972.)

We live in a globalized society. We see stuff on TV, or we read Eat Pray Love (ick), or watch The Bourne Identity, whatever, anything nowadays, and we think, “Man, I gotta get outta here.” Anthony Bourdain eats something somewhere and you can’t stand the thought of that smug prick having one on you, so you vow to go there one day and eat that.

(Insert gap-year caption here.)

(Insert gap-year caption here.)

I started writing this post about how when you go backpacking, everybody you meet has either a) just finished school or b) quit their job because there’s no other way (unless you won the lottery or are born rich and have zero responsibility) you could simply fuck off for six months to a year. Or more. But I ended up writing about how my generation doesn’t want to grow up and why. For all of those reasons, we backpack.

Maybe (before you finished school and came on this trip) you went back to school because you didn’t know what to do with

One more time now, into the sunset.

One more time now, into the sunset.

your life. Maybe (you’re here traveling to take a break from where) you’re teaching English overseas. Maybe you’re reading this blog because you posted “FML” as your Facebook status today, googled “backpacking” and by some twist of fate you found this blog. And you couldn’t leave. And you told your friends how great this blog was and made me famous and rich, so I could quit my job and go backpacking.

*Note: Every photo in this post was found on Google, upon searching “gap year.”

**OK Go music videos on YouTube kept me at the office late today (Nov. 2). There is no escape.

Nov. 10: Upon reading this post, my buddy Dan sent me a link to this hilarious video. Check it out: Gap Yah***.

Nov. 10: My fellow young travel blogger, Lil’ Fel, sent me a link to a NY Times article about our generation’s inability to grow up: What Is It About 20-Somethings?

***Dec. 15: Guy Stagg of The Telegraph, writes that the YouTube film ‘Gap Yah’ is a comedy phenomenon, but it’s also an important lesson in how not to behave on a gap year.

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4. Nobody Gives a S***

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

I don’t. You don’t. Nobody does.

You come back from a “life altering” trip and want to tell your friends all about it. “OMG! You have to tell me everything!” they say. That is complete bullshit. They don’t want to hear everything. They don’t care about the travel minutiae, pointless explanations about how cool this Irish guy you met randomly and traveled with for three raucous days of shared self-discovery was or how insane it is to take a piss in a bathroom with geckos running across the wall.

People are haters. It’s not malicious. Most of the time, it’s unintentional, subconscious even. They don’t care to read the book, just its synopsis. Don’t print them out the full job description; hand them a business card.

“How was it?!” they ask excitedly, when you run into them at a bar. Although they genuinely want to hear how your 6 months overseas were, they only wanna hear it summarized in five sentences: “It was awesome. I covered 12 countries on two continents. I got laid four times. Saw Radiohead in Prague. Sucks to be home.” Note that the five sentences explain a lot: awesomeness, geography, sex, the highlight of the trip, and confirmation that the listener is missing out big time. That’s all they want. If you give them more, they’ll zone out and start checking out some one night stand candidate across the room.

Sorry, but people are caught up in their own lives. And fair enough. Reality is not spent sleeping in hostels, eating pad thai on the street, screwing foreigners or hopping from bus to train to airport terminal and back to bus again. It’s spent in a mind-numbing litany of commutes, cubicles, grocery stores, TV programs and beds. We lock into monotonous routines, not exhilirating spontaneity. Everyone can’t just quit their jobs, pack up and go on a big trip. We need to keep our jobs, move up in the company, pay the bills.

“But keep in touch, OK? Take lots of pictures and send us e-mails! I wanna read all about it,” they say. They won’t read it. They’re too lazy to. Just send pictures. Feel free to e-mail updates, but don’t expect more than a 2 percent response rate.

They won’t read the book, they might even pass on the synopsis, but they will watch the “movie.” YouTube and Facebook killed the e-mail star. While Facebook is a convenient multimedia delivery mechanism for both parties, it may very well be the most self-indulgent invention in the history of mankind. Even more self-indulgent than this blog. It’s also as gay as rollerblades. More on that later.

Don’t take it personal. It’s just that your journey of self-discovery was precisely that – for yourself and about yourself. That’s why it’s more irrelevant to others than you’d often like to believe.

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