Most tech CEOs have heard of the bi-annual ritual of Bill Gates known as "Think Week." This was a seven-day stretch of solitude where he took the time read, review ideas of his team, and think about the future of technology. After returning from this time away he would share those thoughts across the Microsoft organization. Some of these thoughts are now what we take for granted in the technology space.
In the March 28, 2005 article from the Wall Street Journal where the first journalist to visit Mr. Gates on “Think Week” in many years on the condition that the location be kept secret, wrote of the daily rituals of Think Week:
"He starts the morning in bed poring through papers mostly by Microsoft engineers, executives and product managers and scribbling notes on the covers. Skipping breakfast, he patters upstairs in his stocking feet to read more papers. Noon and dinnertime bring him back downstairs to read papers over meals at the kitchen table, where he has a view of the Olympic Mountains. Thursday's lunch was grilled cheese sandwiches and clam chowder. His main staple for the week, he said, is a steady stream of Diet Orange Crush. Four days into this Think Week, Mr. Gates had read 56 papers, working 18 hours straight some days. His record is 112 papers. "I don't know if I'll catch my record, but I'll certainly do 100," he said. Among the unread papers: "10 Crazy Ideas to Shake Up Microsoft."
Check out the rest of the article from the Wall Street Journal - http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB111196625830690477
It does not matter whether you are a tech CEO or not – the habit to establish your own “Think Week” is a must. To find 3-7 days where you can be by yourself to think, read, review ideas, and read some more. We all have a library of unread business books on our kindle or on our desk. I call this the stack of guilt. This is a great ritual to establish and ensure that at least on an annual basis, you are getting the time you need to think about your business.
As we are closing out 2014 - This is the time right now while planning for 2015 to book this in your calendar. Find 3-7 days that are non-negotiable – where you are going to get away to think. Share this with your team as an example to your commitment to the business, your team and yourself.
Great books that I recommend: