Justin Kan is the founder Justin.tv, a broadcast service that streams videos online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It makes sense then that he would want to tune out for a few days every so often. So in May of last year, Kan spent four days in Vancouver by himself embracing nature. "I left my phone and computer behind and went kayaking and mountain biking," he says. "I didn't talk to anyone the entire trip."
You could call Michael Arrington obsessed with breaking tech news. So much so that he devised a points system to track whether his blog TechCrunch breaks more stories than everyone else. Yet when Arrington traveled to Hawaii for a month without a computer, the site's page views continued to climb. "That helped me realize that I am not nearly as important as I thought I was—and that the team I hired is really good," Arrington says. "I've really let go since then."
Blake Mycoskie, founder of Los Angeles-based Toms Shoes, travels a lot for work, visiting children who receive free shoes as part of his company's offer to donate a pair for each that are sold to consumers. But he also makes time each year to go on a big trip that involves surfing in Costa Rica, traveling through Uruguay, or fly-fishing in Colorado. "Getting away from work helps me sustain my passion," he says. "And I do my best thinking when I'm on vacation."
Sometimes you need an immediate break from the office. "When I'm personally on the ledge, I call my director of human resources, who is also my best friend since high school. I say, 'Katie, I need to go for a drive,'" says Kim Kleeman of Shakespeare Squared, a Glenview, Illinois education company. Kleeman will drive around with her longtime pal for a while, venting her way through the stress.
To find design inspirations for her Los Angeles-based apparel and accessories company, Kathy Ireland Worldwide, the former supermodel sometimes sets aside days to go out and find ideas in everyday events. "My best ideas come to me when I'm out in nature," Ireland says. When she can't fit hiking in her schedule, Ireland will designate time to visit museums or malls in search of inspiration.