To the great outdoors
To the great outdoors
Name: Matt Heaton
Age: 29
Law school: St. John's University, 2008

Matt Heaton realized early on that Big Law wasn't for him. Even though he knew the tradeoff going in -- "all of your time for a big stack of money" -- the expectation to be available "whether it's business hours or Christmas, Passover, whatever," was still hard to get used to.

While he was working on a deal in Beijing for his AmLaw 100 employer, Matt was expected to be working on both New York and China time. "[The senior associate] literally told me at one point `Don't go to sleep.'" Heaton spent the week working round the clock, squeezing in naps between beeps on his Blackberry. A week after the deal closed, he was diagnosed with shingles. "They asked me to work from home until I recovered."

But it wasn't just the hours. It was the culture. "Being angry or giving the appearance of anger is what's demanded in the job. But when you're yelling at perfectly good people with perfectly reasonable positions just for the sake of getting the better deal for your client, it gets to be troublesome...."

When I spoke to Heaton, he was on Day 27 of the cross-country road trip he is taking with his wife as they move from New York to San Francisco, and he will begin a training course with the National Outdoors Leadership School in Wyoming this month, where he will learn how to lead groups on hikes, camping trips, and other outdoor adventures. "Even though I don't know where all of my student loan payments are going to come from, even though things are less certain now than they've ever been, I'm at a way happier point than I've ever been. I feel luckier than I ever have."



By Deena Shanker, contributor @FortuneMagazine - Last updated July 17 2012: 11:15 AM ET
Join the Conversation

The following startup founders decided to take the scenic route -- as opposed to the eight-lane highway -- toward business success. Here's what they were thinking.

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.