Behind the scenes

The Lunch Debate

It was our last editorial meeting of the year, and we were going through the articles. I was skimming through Peter Cauton’s ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Yet!)‘ and noticed a line about working during your lunch hour.

“Hey!” I said. “Peter’s totally contradicting my article on rethinking lunch!”

“It’s good to have different points of view,” Candice, Homegrown’s EIC, said.

“I should go have lunch with him. Bring him over to my side.”

Candice’s eyes lit up. “Do it.”


So here I am, sitting at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, having a debate lunch with Peter Cauton.

Peter laughed when he found out we were here to debate. I chuckled a little, but I didn’t want to make it seem too funny. I came in ready, my argument sound in my head; the mental equivalent of bursting in guns blazing.

BUT. I forgot.

Peter is a compelling speaker.

My argument? Fell to pieces in minutes.

Okay, let’s backtrack a little. I wanted to discuss why it was important to have lunch.  My battle-cry was: BREAK FOR LUNCH! Give yourself a midday break. Not only does your body need to refuel, but studies have shown that giving yourself a break, be it lunch or the ten minute power-nap, will help you work better. It also promotes creativity! Those problems you couldn’t figure out a solution to? Go have lunch, watch a cartoon, get your mind off it, and when you get back to work, you may see something you hadn’t before

Sounds good right? I thought so.

Peter answered me with one word, his own ever-famous battle-cry: PASSION.

Let me expound. Or, rather, let me relay how Peter expounded.

He started telling me about his own startup experience. In the beginning, he was able to dedicate roughly four to five hours of each day to his startup by setting up a home office, which was conveniently near the office of his day job. This gave him the chance to do a bit of work (on his startup) before going to work, as well as head back to his home office for lunch and a bit more startup work. “It was not tiring,” he said, and he claimed to never feel the need to take a break from his startup. He never minded foregoing lunch or working through lunch because his spirit was evoked and his passion took all his tiredness away. “Working on my startup became my break,” he explained.

To this day, he doesn’t mind adjusting his schedule or not having a fixed break. “So long as you are results oriented, there is no more lunch break. You do what needs to be done and you do it because you love it.”

Passion fuels you? How was I going to argue with that?

“Balance!” I said after a short period. “What about balance? You’ll end up a workaholic!”

“If you’re doing what you love, balance comes naturally.”  According to Peter, full-time startups have more balance than any corporate job. He would know, he worked corporate–HR to boot!–for years. “Most of those in corporate jobs they don’t enjoy find the need to balance themselves against the corporate structure,” he says. “Choose what you love or you will never find balance.”


“For example,” he said. “If I were to tell you that you can just sit here and write whatever you want to write or do whatever it is that makes you happy, would you follow a fixed schedule?”

Okay. I saw his point perfectly. He was right. If I told you that I would let you do what you truly loved to do and I would pay you for it, you probably wouldn’t follow a fixed schedule either. You would let your body and your mind somewhat dictate your schedule. When the creative juices are flowing, when you are in the zone, you won’t feel the need to stop for lunch. Your body will signal when it needs to refuel. It will find its balance.

“Yeah…” I said. “But sometimes when I’m writing, I hit a wall, or when I’m editing and I realise that I’ve read the same sentence twenty times, I know that I need to go watch some cartoons or something.”

It was Peter’s turn to be quiet.

“I guess it also depends what industry you’re in,” he said. “The nature of the startup counts. Some things can take more out of you.”

Aha! We have entered the realm of compromise.


While my lunch with Peter Cauton was more than just the bits of conversation I was able to piece together here, by the end of our debate, we did come to one conclusion: Lunches and breaks are necessary, but they need not be scheduled. To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to know yourself well and recognise when productivity is going down because that’s when you need a break. Everyone works a little differently, and you just have to know your limits and don’t compromise with your mind or body.

Long story short? We were both right.


Throughout our discussion, Peter unknowingly gave me (and all other startup owners and entrepreneurs) points to consider or remember:

1) Passions are many and broad. Don’t limit yourself or be too specific about your passion. Find a variety of things in your general areas of interest.

2) Your startup will always need attention. You and your partner/s will have to adjust and “make each other salo“. You yourself can’t go to all the meetings, especially if you have a day job and attending meetings means taking a leave. So adjust to your baby’s needs.

3) Before starting, consider the jobs that need to be done and how many partners you really need.

4) In line with #2 and #3, hire someone for the gaps in your business. That way, you always do what you love. For example, if you can’t stand admin work, find someone who can!

One thought on “The Lunch Debate

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s