In this blog post, the Digital Media Zone presents a piece by one of its entrepreneurs, Kanika Gupta, the founder of SoJo:

Back from a wonderful vacation, I started this week beaming with energy and excitement. As entrepreneurs, we often don’t give ourselves space to breathe, let alone permission to take an extended break. I initially had apprehensions when booking my tickets, but now thank myself.

Kanika Gupta, founder, SoJo

More than ever do I appreciate the importance of giving yourself permission to have a break, without the guilt. There is always work to be done. With such a grandiose vision, it is hard to feel like you ‘deserve’ a vacation, as all you can see is the work that still needs to be completed. When you’re at the helm it is scary to leave a team that has been so dependent on you. Timing will never be perfect for a vacation, however a vacation at the right time allows you to work smarter, and not harder. My past two weeks were a mix of relaxation, sleep and recharging the body combined with inspiration, fresh perspectives and strategic thinking.

Being disconnected from email and all incoming communications was a treat. Part of me still wishes I had my “out of office” message on in my inbox. With all the chatter and inflow of communication, it is difficult to shut off the mind, give it a break and decompress; going to the countryside with limited connectivity forced me to do so. Biking (and getting lost) through winding cobblestone streets allowed me to get inspired by the history and beautiful architecture that surrounded me. Having breakfast in a park with a passionate social activist hearing about the effects on the economic crisis gave me better insights. Spending my days in Parisian cafes people watching, observing my surroundings with an open mind allowed me to think and imagine new ideas.

Breaking free of my daily-grind in Toronto to do the above will undoubtedly add value to my work with SoJo.

SoJo is at a really good place now: We’ve officially launched our public site and now get to do the fun stuff of reaching out to users, building our brand and making SoJo known. In parallel, I will now focus my energies on conceptualizing and developing SoJo’s next product. Going back to a clean slate and imagining possibilities is exciting and exhilarating. That being said, this next phase of growth with be equally challenging and I’m ready for what lies ahead.

I used to have this attitude, and among my entrepreneur friends I hear this all the time “I don’t have time for a vacation / break, I’m too busy, I have too much to do, etc…”  I have no idea where the past year has gone, and as such, it is upon us to make the time to reset our mind and body. If we do not consciously make the time, it will slip through our fingers without second thought.

Kanika Gupta is the Founder of SoJo, a team incubating in the Digital Media Zone. SoJo (short for Social Journal) is an interactive online platform that provides information and support to social innovators. It guides them through the process of developing and implementing their ideas, leaving them time to focus on addressing unmet social needs and environmental challenges. Social innovations can include, but are not limited to, social ventures, projects, programs or product developments. For more information about SoJo, visit http://digitalmediazone.ryerson.ca/team/sojo/ or www.thesojo.net/.

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Lauren Clegg
Opened in April 2010, Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone is a multidisciplinary workspace for young entrepreneurs infused with the energy and resources of downtown Toronto. Set atop Yonge-Dundas Square, this hub of digital media innovation, collaboration and commercialization is home to both entrepreneurial startups and industry solution-providers. With access to overhead and business services, students and alumni can fast-track their product launches, stimulating Canada’s emerging digital economy through spending and job creation. Since its launch, the Digital Media Zone has incubated and accelerated 45 companies to launch more than 88 projects. Currently the Zone houses 184 innovators in 45 teams. For more information on the Zone, visit www.ryerson.ca/dmz.