The Future of Sabbaticals: A TEDxEdmonton Interview With Todd Babiak | By Emerson Csorba

A sabbatical. What an obscure topic, I thought, as I called Todd Babiak in preparation for an interview about his June 15 TEDxEdmonton presentation. Out of all the potential topics for an accomplished writer, a sabbatical just seems Рodd.

It would become clear to me, however, that Todd Babiak’s June 15 TEDxEdmonton discussion about sabbaticals is anything but obscure. ¬†Instead, it is a testament to travel, to relaxation, and to creativity. And at the heart of this is a personal story. In 2009, and marred in financial ruin, Babiak decided to move – along with his wife and two daughters – to Paris. His father had recently passed away. Babiak worked in the journalism industry. But in a ‘religious moment,’ Babiak made the move to France. In hindsight, the decision was brilliant. A gamble, and a tremendously risky one at that. Years later, the sabbatical in France is the foundation to a TEDxEdmonton presentation.

Though Babiak and I chatted for only fifteen minutes, it seems that his TEDxEdmonton presentation stresses the necessity of risk. Babiak remarked that it is easy to become entrenched in one’s own culture, developing a certain tunnel-vision that prevents one from experiencing so much of what the world has to offer. In taking a sabbatical – a one-year trip abroad, most-likely without pay – one escapes from the zone of comfort found within a familiar city. For Babiak, the sabbatical in Paris was not paid for by a newspaper, but it sparked an idea that soon after formed Story Engine, his uber-successful company that has made waves in Edmonton.

But how does one take time off in such a fast-paced world? Our lives are hyperconnected: there is a constant need to be tuned-in, to respond to emails and text as soon as they arrive and to spend most waking hours in a ‘productive’ state. Taking a sabbatical, then, could be detrimental to one’s success, if not utterly destructive. Because of this, Babiak calls the sabbatical a “counter-intuitive” idea. It is intuitive, in that it is a gateway to creativity – to original and clear thought. However, sabbaticals break away from the predictability of everyday life.

I’m excited for Babiak’s presentation, and to see how audience members react to his out-of-the-blue idea to uproot his family and establish themselves in Paris.

To learn more about Babiak’s presentation on “The Future of Sabbaticals,” click here.

CC photograph courtesy of mastermaq (Mack Male) on Flickr. 

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