This is from the Daily Telegraph in 1996: "Jon Cousins is enjoying a spectacular mid-life crisis, shutting down his £12m-a-year advertising agency and taking a year off to travel the globe. Cassandra Jardine celebrates the escape of a typical Eighties achiever."
I'd be very happy to talk about the logistics of escaping! There were lots of practical things - from staying in touch with former clients/customers while being away for a year, through to starting up again doing something totally new.
I've founded a business called http://www.moodscope.com/login" rel="nofollow">Moodscope and am running it with a small group of others.
One in four people will be diagnosed with a mental health problem and I was one of them. In 2007 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was at my wit's end. The usual treatments would be medication or psychotherapy but I felt sure there had to be another way.
So I invented http://www.moodscope.com/login" rel="nofollow">Moodscope.com, a new online depression tool that was inspired in part by Weight Watchers. If people can lose weight by measuring and tracking it in front of others who can support them, I wondered if a similar process might be able to help with mood. It seems it can, and we've found that people who use Moodscope for 6 months see an average mood improvement of over 50%, without resorting to drugs or therapy.
Moodscope saved my life - we want to do the same for thousands of others.
My first career was in advertising, and I started and ran a London ad agency for ten years. It was a successful business, winning awards and working for clients such as BT, the Royal Mail, Capital Radio, the NSPCC and Penguin Books.
As I approached my 40th birthday I sensed the need to look for fresh challenges and new projects. So on my 40th birthday I closed the company, helping the staff to find new jobs and the clients to find new agencies. Then I set off for a full year's travel, looking for inspiration for the next chapter of my life.
I started the Moodscope project as a way of simply managing my own mental health and there was never any idea that it might also help others. Gradually friends asked to try it out, having seen that it had worked for me, but it was still a spare-time project for me.
My moment of truth was on Tuesday April 13th 2010 when The Times ran a big story about me and Moodscope - and 1,000 people signed up as a result. It generated huge amounts of feedback from users, and loads of supportive messages. That's when I realised that we were on to something, and that it was time to give it my full focus.
I self-funded the project, having taught myself programming in order to keep the costs down. I have a brilliant business partner Caroline, who takes care of all the day-to-day stuff so I can focus 100% on bringing the vision to life.
In terms of positives I'd say that getting emails from people telling us that they've been helped by http://www.moodscope.com/login" rel="nofollow">Moodscope to the extent that they've not taken their own life must rank at the very top. But standing on the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square for an hour in 2009, getting people to share their moods via text message, was pretty good too.
The only negative I can think of is being disappointed in not being able to raise funding from the health service. We tried hard, but I think Moodscope was too new an idea for them. Fortunately private investors are taking a very different view.
Many years ago an old boss told me to start up on my own rather than taking someone else's money to do so (which I was on the verge of doing). It's surprising how much you can do without money if you put your mind to it.
That's advice I'd pass on. I don't think I'd quite expected there to have been so many mistakes and failures on the way, though. In retrospect, we've learned masses from this, but when you first start encountering failure it's difficult not to be disheartened.
What I wish I'd known is: You will fail. Pick yourself up and carry on.