59 thoughts on “Off Topic: What the Past Three Months Have Taught Me”

  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.



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

  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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. Great post Om. Understand where you are coming from. It’s creatively doing less and getting more done.
    Battling cancer, I have found that life indeed is boiled down to just the essentials. The essential people, the essential sustaining life activities, the essential work.

    Moderating activities is more or less forced upon you, but helps to make things more clear.
    All the best in your recovery and your ventures.

    Keep doing what you are doing!

  7. Om, let me know if you ever want a walking partner, some of us meetup at the Palo Alto dish and walk the hour long trail, it’s a moderate to light workout.

    You’re always welcome to join us.

  8. @ Mike, thank you for sharing your story. If you tell that to one friend in SV a week, you know we could almost get people to take this whole overwork/stress/health problem issue seriously.

    Please rest up and do things that make you happy – not obsessive. Thanks again for reading and sharing.

  9. @ grfx…. my friend, thanks for your words of encouragement. And right back at you. Hope your recovery continues well. We are going to be cheering for you and let us know if we can help. I hope this message of moderation is one others take to heart (no pun intended.)

  10. Om I read your past as I get ready to come back to Palo Alto from 4 great days skiing in Tahoe with my wonderful family. You nailed it. Taking the time to savior the things that matter like family and health.

    ongrats for having a great team over at giga media 🙂

  11. It has been good to see your team, keeping this site as useful as it was before. Congrats to each one of them.

    and on a sidenote, I sent an email sometime back, asking you about redesigning your avatar to omit the cigar at hand. did you get that?


  12. I’ve never had an experience that compares with yours, but I know that the smaller experiences that I’ve had certainly caused me to re-examine things in my life. I hope you have many healthy years ahead.

  13. Personalizing the website is never a problem. I recommend it – even if it tweaks a few readers. Maybe they haven’t a personality that survives direct communication with other human beings?

    Glad to see you’re back – and your doctor agrees. Changing lifestyle is something we should do – our whole lives. Sedentary minds are as dangerous as sedentary bodies.

    GigaOmTV downloaded, last night. We’re looking forward to watching that part of your life, tonight.

  14. This is a nice and important follow up. It’s just too easy when you’re balancing work and family to neglect yourself, thanks for the reminder.

  15. Om
    Firstly, good to hear you are on the road to recovery. I wish you peace and good health.

    I too suffered a similar fate, 2 1/2 yrs of a start up, 18 hour days, always saying I need to cut back and do the right thing, but never doing it, and then traveling.

    Mine was a little worse as I had the attack while traveling to Hungary. Good care, but a long way from state of the art that our beloved insurance allows for here in the USA.

    Diet change, soccer twice a week, 14 bhour days 4 days a week, sleep a lot on sunday and donot go near the computer until 8pm to try and get a head start on thw week.

    It is the little things that will make a difference mate.

    Take your time, GigaOm has a good team and you will succeed.


    Ritesh Patel

  16. Om, it’s been six months since my open-heart surgery (a chance X-ray showed an aortic aneurysm about to burst so I got a new artery graft, a value job and minor by-pass) and rest assured it gets better from here on out. The first three months were a bitch (got pneumonia around week six) and then I started to have major turns for the better. If you’re offered a cardio-rehab exercise program find a way to do it. You’ll be better than before in ways you might never have imagined. Best of luck and good health. FYI I blogged my experiences at http://heartsupport.wordpress.com. – Peter

  17. Glad to hear your back. It is amazing how much we can eliminate from our lives and focus. I have just quit my job to focus on doing “my thing”. It is challenging to do that when you are working from and one has to learn to eliminate the unecessary distrations. I posted about some of my techniques to help me focus on doing what I should be doing. You can read my post on my blog.

  18. Om, Great to hear that you are recovering and that your lifestyle has changed so much for the better. Since you have kicked the dangerous smoking habit, might make sense to remove the cigar from your avatar! 🙂


  19. Om, what a great reflection. My dad dropped dead at 65 several years ago from an aneurysm of the aorta; that was my wake-up call to enjoy every day and live life to the fullest. We’re all human, and then we’re gone. Glad you got a second chance!

  20. Thank you for sharing your experience and lessons. Your posts help remind me that taking care of ourselves is most important and that work, while important and satisfying, does not define who we are.

  21. Well, Om, when I was in my 40’s I owned a big PR firm and I was always stressed and miserable. I missed much of my children’s growing up, and only when the heart palpitations took me to the ER did I decide it wasn’t for me. So I got out of the biz and went to Intel. That was even worse. Luckily, I always exercised, but I was stressing myself out by running marathons in the middle of all the other stress.

    Then my husband died.

    Bereaved and depressed,I quit my job, and that moderated my life. I have never felt better. Anyone who doubts the connection between mind and body is crazy.

    No one is irreplaceable. Joyce does a great job on the GigaOm show, and the blog is great. So who cares about anything else?

  22. I think the problem that many of us have is that we feel that we are indestructible, until something major goes wrong with either our bodies or minds. I suppose realising that we all can’t keep on pushing ourselves to the limit and expect that nothing is going to break. Finding time to exercise, meditate and rest are things that must be done in order to stay mentally and physically healthy. I wanna live for ever!

  23. Om, I would be interested in information about symptoms of heart disease and other heart-related problems, from your point of view.

  24. Om,
    As someone close by who saw a lot of you before and after, I can say that your energy, clarity and perspective are higher now than at any other time I’ve known you. It is fantastic to see you so driven and rested (!!!!). Don’t ever lose that balance.

    Great to have you back, my friend, and anytime you need a run in those groovy GigaOm-embossed Nikes, just give me a ring.


    PS: And yes, you do have a world-class team. they rock.

  25. Om,
    Great read. I am so thankful for bloggers I highly respect who share personal insight.

    Regarding delegating I adopt a simple rule. Two types of problems, the urgent ones, I delegate, and the important ones, I take the time to think through. What is urgent is rarely important and vice versa.
    Food for thoughts…

  26. Almost dying was the biggest learning experience of my life too. Keep dying to keep living. Om, your blog is wonderful, but make it survive you, and not kill you.

  27. I had my heart attack 7 years ago now. I owe it a lot. One thing that really astonished me was the final and total end of any interest I had in smoking. Now, I had been a pack-a-day guy for maybe 30 years, except for periods ranging from two weeks to five years one time where I quit successfully, only to start again. But this was different. I had always battled with the demon nicotine to quit. But this time, on my way out of the hospital, there was a guy having a cig by the door. It sickened me so much I nearly vomited. Suddenly, I was intensely aversive, and I never spent a moment yearning for a smoke. Still smoke-free, but it’s not even worth mentioning. Previous periods of abstinence had required will power. This did not.

  28. Om, a great piece. Having gone through the stress of several startups, and of “commuting” to Microsoft in Seattle from NYC for several years, luckily without a cardiac incident, I sympathize with you. I think you’ve found a wise path. Your site is still great, you have great people working with you, and one of these days we’ll be at a Coburn ventures dinner together 🙂

  29. Om, thanks for the post mate. It reminds me that I forget every now and then – Being healthy is what matters most. Good luck. I am going to get a doctor’s check up done soon.

  30. Thanks for such an informative post which is full of knowledge about how we can our heart healthier and which food food stop the fear of heart attack.
    Thanks for time to write this post.

  31. Historically and culturally, consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, otherwise known as fish oils, has been thought to help the human body fight off heart disease and heart attacks. Today, more and more studies are showing that there is a strong correlation between Omega-3 fatty acids and markedly lower instances of cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attacks, among many other health benefits.

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