There is a constant conversation about minimal living and digital detoxing among my friends. It’s something I have never understood. Each day, I spend hours working, reading, enjoying my digital devices. Not once have I felt that they have reduced my standard of living.
Until November 13, 2014.
That was the day, for the first time in my life, I had surgery. Not a small one apparently, but one that required a surgeon to cut my spine horizontally across four vertebrae and insert titanium spacers (and probably a listening device, an RFID device, and Mario Kart) to ensure that my spine was no longer compressing the spinal cord. The upshot is that my hands now have both feeling and strength.
I was told that I would have to be in the hospital for at least two days. My goal was to be out in one. I left the hospital four days later. Two months of downtime? Easy, I’d be 100% in mere weeks!! Three months later, I am still feeling the affects.
I was shut down.
I couldn’t spend much time sitting, let alone at a computer (like minutes at maximum). The medication made me fuzzy, so writing was out.
But thinking was in, and boy did I think. I spend days thinking about all kinds of things. If it can be imagined, I thought about it.
As I got ready to return to work in January 2015, I realized one thing: I didn’t want to stop thinking.
So after a couple of days, I began the process of unwinding myself from my work responsibilities, and while in mid-January the decision was made, my retirement began on February 2.
(I joke about retirement. Really, the plan was to take two additional months to think it all out.)
While I was wrapping things up, a friend called me and asked if I had ever thought about working at Amazon, specifically AWS. Nope, I said. I’m a startup guy.
Turns out that the job was working with startups to help them be more efficient and to be a resource to the founders to help them understand how to scale their businesses and become better founders — whether they used AWS or not.
Yes. I was in. It was time to go back to the beginning. To do what I enjoy doing more than anything — engaging and supporting founders.
On February 9, I ended my retirement and joined AWS in SF.
The worldwide team is the gnarliest group of folks I have ever worked with. Everyone is a serial entrepreneur or 5+ years in venture. More importantly, there is a deep love and respect for startups and the startup ecosystem, and (most importantly) an intrinsic understanding of the lives we founders lead.
I could not have made a better choice. I dedicated my life to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship, and working with AWS is the best way I know how to achieve that at scale.