Blogs & Comment

Can't stop thinking about your business?

Here's how two top executives clear their minds and recharge their batteries.

Bombardier Inc., President and CEO Pierre Beaudoin, left, and chairman of the board Laurent Beaudoin attend the company’s annual general meeting in Montreal, Wednesday,  June 1, 2011. (Photo: The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)

Sometimes it’s hard for managers and executives to disengage from their business affairs and get the rest and relaxation they need. The same can be said of people in high pressure jobs. I’ve been gathering material for an update to a book I wrote back in 2002, and have come across some interesting perspectives on how two of Canada’s top executives do it.

When Paul Tellier was CEO of Bombardier, he vacationed in June 2004 in Corsica, birthplace of Napoleon. The Mediterranean island is rugged and mountainous; the narrow roads twist treacherously through the countryside and along tall cliffs overlooking the ocean. Tellier spent five days alone there, riding a rented motorcycle along those roads, where one wrong move could take you over a cliff and into the ocean thousands of metres below.

“I couldn’t think about Bombardier,” Tellier told the Globe and Mail’s Konrad Yakabuski in 2004. “If I had, I wouldn’t be here now. That is some very, very dangerous road.”

Laurent Beaudoin, chairman of Bombardier, likes to fish, hunt and snowmobile. Now in his ’70s, he also owns some horses that he rides for relaxation and to clear his mind. “You have to put your attention on the horse when you’re on it. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself on the ground,” he told Canadian Business’ Joe Castaldo in 2008. 

So, the trick is to find an activity that commands your full attention, and then do it. But, of course, the less dangerous, the better. …