It happens every year, but for some reason I seem to forget how good it feels to back away from the keyboard every now and then. Last week a read a bunch of books, paddled around the lake and generally did not a lot of anything. Every year we redefine “cottage time” to mean a flexible measure of when the day starts and ends. Somewhere in the middle there is usually “Cocktail hour” and meals happen when they happen.

For those of you who know me, you’re probably thinking that I am making this up. This is not my usual M.O.

This was the first year that it was just my wife and I and that was surprisingly refreshing. There were no late night board games, just relaxing, reading, eating and sleeping. I did get in one 14Km run (The area around the cottage is quite hilly), my feet still hurt.

Where am I going with this? Well that past week has left me with a relaxed and new perspective that catches me by surprise every year. I realize that the rats truly are winning the rat race and I question why I work so hard throughout the year. I had one friend that didn’t take vacations because every time he stopped to think about what he was doing, he decided that it was time to look for a new job.

I think my revelation from this past week is that contracting has been a rush and a great learning experience, but I am not a contractor. I like building things. Hardware things, software things and just things in general. I like working in a fun environment and I am the most productive when surrounded by others who are also having fun.

One reader pointed out a couple of weeks ago that Engineer’s don’t rule the world because if they did, I would still be employed at the previous start up that I co-founded. I’ve had time to think about that and I believe that Engineers do rule the world, but we have to be careful to make sure that we put the right supporting documents in place to protect ourselves from the rats. Founders agreements are becoming popular and I strongly suggest that everyone insist on such documents if you are going to participate in a new start-up.

Founder’s agreements define severances, founders shares and options, roles and responsibilities and make it harder for future management to dismiss your efforts. Start-ups are notoriously bad for not defining jobs which makes it too easy too say that you under performed. Insist on annual reviews and seek external career guidance if it is not available to you internally.

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