Going for a run at 5 o’clock in the morning is awesome. There’s no one around other than our local rural mail contractor, the birds are still asleep and all I hear are my footsteps and the crunch of frosty grass.

Ironically, given the fact we were locked down at home with limited time constraints, my routine during COVID was to get up at 5am and run 13km around our local village with my son before heading into a day of Zoom meetings. I guess I’m wired to be a morning person and while to others rising before 5 is torture – I love it.

But over the past year or two, I’ve not needed to maintain this routine. My schedule was sufficiently flexible that my running could happen during the day – better for camaraderie, but poorer for outputs.

You see, I like to keep busy. While I’m lucky that I seem to have a fairly even keel when it comes to mental health, I do find myself getting a little bit despondent when I’m not juggling a bunch of different things. Having to go running at 5am because my days are full is a net positive for me.

I’ve had a varied history. For 15 or so years prior to Covid, I was self-employed jetting around the world commentating and consulting on all things tech. That was an incredibly exciting gig and pretty lucrative. I got to rack up a ridiculous amount of air miles (my carbon footprint is legendary, alas) and visit some really cool locations during this time. But it felt, if I’m honest, a little bit empty. What difference did I really make with my carefully crafted blog posts about the latest cloud infrastructure offering?

And so I made a change, and for the past few years, I’ve been pretty much exclusively a professional board member. I’m lucky enough to serve on the board of a bunch of different organisations in different sectors. From insurance to health, from infrastructure to contracting. It’s an awesome gig and I’ve found my happy spot.

But while I love working collaboratively with other directors, the flip side of collaboration is that any wins are the win of the team and one hasn’t got the ability to really move the needle individually. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to bask in the glory, but at the same time, I want to go home knowing that I’ve personally made a difference.

Recently on one of the boards I serve, I was part of the process of appointing one of the board members as our interim CEO. Since then I’ve been chatting with this gent and been quietly envious of the fact that he has control. Sure, he still has a board to report to, and I’d like to think we do our job of holding him to account, but when it comes to day-to-day control, he’s the man. He’s super busy and is perennially double-booked, but if he were a runner, he’d have good reason to get up early every morning to get his constitutional in.

And so when the opportunity came to have a go at that myself, I jumped at it. Recently I had the opportunity to step up as Managing Director of Cactus Outdoor. Cactus is my baby and has been for most of the 32 years it has existed. But apart from a brief (and fairly lacklustre) stint in the 90s, I’ve never run it solo. While I’ve been on the board all that time, I’ve not had the ability to really make the decisions and drive the outcomes.

So when the chance came, I grabbed it, and in doing so I’ve got another gig to add to the list. I’m going to be busy, but as I’ve said repeatedly, I like that. And I’ve got a whole raft of new challenges to nut out and new skills to learn. I’m amped.

So the upshot is that, if you’re in the habit of wandering around rural North Canterbury before dawn, there’s a good chance you’ll see me out getting in my run before the intense day ahead. Life is so awesome.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

1 Comment
  • I’m much the same; it’s easier to manage my time when there is a lot to pack into it. All the best for the MD gig.

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