“I bet most people don’t remember an average week at work, but I will always remember every week I’ve been away and why,” hospitality industry veteran and Collective Hub advisory board member Paul Schulte tells us.
The concept of killing two birds with one stone has never been more attractive than in the combining of work and a holiday, and with the rise of the digital nomad, it’s increasingly more common to bump into someone who’s taken their office with them to their hammock haven. In the first of a series of chats with the partner of Hospitality Brand Creators, SITE, we found that Paul was in total agreement of the power of the vocational vacation and that ‘being on the move’ can be more than personally beneficial to a creative entrepreneur.
“I don’t agree that you need to go into the same spot every day, sit on a chair and stare at a computer screen to maximise your value and help take your business to the next level,” Paul agrees. After putting his theory into practice during a break to the UK, he’s more certain than ever that it’s possible to fuse work and play and see dollars come out the other end. There is a clear distinction though.
“There are two styles of travelling,” Paul importantly points out. “One: sit on a beach and do nothing and two: see new things, educate yourself, get inspired and both are completely essential for the mind.”
Citing Virgin’s dismantling of the four-weeks-a-year leave rule, Paul insists that the more permissive attitude towards annual leave that’s sweeping companies as big (and not-so-big) as Netflix, Semco, Sailthru, Inventium and Stylerunner, is a both an example of how forward thinking companies are reframing the idea of a break, and also acting as a “catalyst” for others to become part of the wider discussion.
“I personally spend all year collating information from international blogs, websites, anything that will give me a hint on what’s the best and what’s new and different,” Paul explains. So, he insists, why not do that on holiday?
Having just returned from a five week ‘holiday’ himself, Paul is the living example of how this can actually be achieved.
“I worked every day, I answered emails as quick as I would if sitting in [my office], but I saw things that you can’t pick up on a website,” he says. “I’ve been back one week and have already been engaged by five different companies to get them the next hottest ideas and design what I saw. The trip has been paid for in one week.”
As an entrepreneur Paul says, you never “switch off”. So, combining your passion for your business and the opportunity to take a step out of your everyday is the perfect antidote.
“I met chefs that have dreams of coming to Australia, I met companies that don’t know anything about this market but see it as a dream to be here,” Paul says. “I now have these contacts and future partners that will add something to this country and market that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t go.”
Unlike a traditional holiday, Paul gave himself clear objectives to fulfil, planning exact places to visit, saving time on ‘unnecessary’ travel but still allowing for the opportunity to explore. He kept a tight schedule of places to visit in order and the reasons why he wanted to visit, along with hundreds of photographs, pages of notes and countless contacts. In the case of his hospitality business, Paul also gave himself specific ‘travel targets’ to help keep him on track (but still inspire).
“I spent a day on style, a day on venue specifics, a day just eating and trying new things. Then I repeated this all over.”
Sounds like a holiday to us!
“Not only did I see things to bring back here but I saw holes in the market in countries I hadn’t been to and met people who want to collaborate with the ideas we have,” he says.
“Do you call this a holiday, do you call it travel or do you call it work? I don’t really know,” Paul concludes. “What I do know is if you are an entrepreneur and you love what you do and you believe in it, then it kind of all starts to blur.
“I’m now motivated, filled with ideas, energised, excited. I have jobs lined up to start putting what I saw into practice, plus building some brands of our own that will change the way Australians eat and drink.”
That’s reason enough for us.
Here are a few ways you can secure some holiday high-fives when you take the leap into mixing business and pleasure.
Keep a logbook (of any kind).
You know how when you’re trawling various sites for inspiration, you note the ideas down, save a link or two, or send yourself a screenshot of some brilliant ideas? Make sure you do the same on holiday. Always keep a log of ideas (and their potential extensions) wherever you go – whether it be a dedicated Instagram page that’s set to private with interior ideas or an Any.Do section with any clever phrases you hear from entrepreneurs doing great things on your travels.
You’re aiming to have a fistful of fabulous ideas by the time you hop on that plane home (where you can invariably use the forced hours of solitude to start collating them into actionable tasks).
Plan ahead (but leave room for exploration).
Like Paul, you want to make sure you’re making the most out of your experience abroad by meeting with any number of people who do what you do – or perhaps, do what you’re hoping to do. Organise a minimum number of meetings per day (set yourself an achievable target of two or more) and work your exploration in around that. Take the metro or a wander in the area where you’re meeting them to get a feel of life in the area. Between the structured and non-structured aspects of the trip, you’ll have both avenues of inspiration covered.
Do both conscious and unconscious searching.
Don’t consider yourself to be creative? Think again. Thinking creatively doesn’t just apply to working in a traditionally creative industry – it’s about being able to cherry pick a few ideas from other places and see how it works within your own job or industry. For that reason, it’s important to look specifically for inspiration (as Paul did in dividing his days into ‘venue specifics’, for example) where you might benefit from structure and then, also allow unexpected things to inspire you.