Cruise ships, or: why people become entrepreneurs

Why do people leave behind the comfort of big corporations to set out on a lonely, hard, journey as an entrepreneur? Chris Zacharias does a good job of explaining that in a blog post.

Zacharias was a well paid employee at Google (YouTube). You know: the place with the great offices, the free gourmet food, the 20 percent of your time that you’re free to pursue your own projects. As Zacharias says, “Google is the best place in the world to work and they do pay very well.”

So why would anyone leave the cushy corporate environment? Because of a trip to Stockholm, away from the safety of the Google mothership (and it certainly seems like an eventful trip):

I was trapped in Stockholm for 9 days due to the Icelandic ash cloud. I was a successful stowaway on a train from Copenhagen to Hamburg. I had a girlfriend break up with me during a rendezvous in Bruges. Strangely, throughout both the good and the bad, I just kept thinking about how fun it would be tell these stories to my grandkids one day.

The decision to leave Google hit me while on a train through the Swiss Alps headed towards Milan. I had just been mugged the night before in Zurich and lost about $600 USD. It certainly was not a fun experience, but it added yet another crazy story to my list.

I sat in the dining car thinking back on everything that had happened. To cheer up, I remember saying to myself “Well, I would never have had these stories if I had played it safe and gone on a cruise.” And that is when a thought occurred to me: Google is a cruise ship.

It’s the best cruise ship in the world, but still: cruise ships aren’t exactly a thrilling environment. So Zacharias decided to quit:  ”Given my plans for my life, I realized there was only a small window where I could reasonably afford to take big risks. By staying at Google, I became very worried that this window might pass me by. So I left.”

Since leaving, Zacharias was accepted into YCombinator and founded imgix, a SaaS solution for online images.

[read more: Cruise Ships][Photo: Flickr]

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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