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Adam Kleinberg

Why we have a Burning Man policy

by Adam Kleinberg

Why we have a Burning Man policy

On page 10 of Traction's employee handbook, right in between the sections on "Voting Leave" and "Military Leave," is a little section called "The Burning Man Policy."

This policy states that Traction will prioritize requests for time-off—even if people have no vacation time left—to attend events that inspire or enhance professional and/or creative development such as Burning Man or SxSW.

This is part of our contract between our company and our employees. Our lawyer made us change the word guarantee to prioritize because sometimes client work is client work. But it's written down in ink in our company HR manual because it's something we value—and in the 10+ years since we started this company, I don't think a single request for time off for Burning Man has ever been turned down.


Some think it's just because we like naked people. That's true. We do like naked people. But there's more to it than that.

Burning Man, SxSW and other events that inspire creativity, innovation and original thought... these occasions are rare opportunities to light the fire of creative energy that fuels this business. 

That spark is what makes us special. It's what enables us to generate ideas. To think outside the 468x60 pixel box. To have a culture where people can embrace their own individuality and contribute it to a collaborative mechanism for the manifestation of creativity. To have a company that is ten years old and less than ten people have ever chosen to leave.

Have fun on the Playa.

Jim Reed

Now I just need some Burning Man tickets.

Candace Locklear

Adam-- many thanks for posting this and inspiring me to build a similar HR policy. I have been going since '96 and just started my own PR agency, and one of the big reasons for being your own boss is calling the vacation shots. Burning Man is at the top of the list. I always come back inspired and more comfortable in my skin and with clearer goals to move ahead. Bless you and maybe see you out there!

Adam Kleinberg

Candace... glad it was inspiring. That's the whole point! I haven't made it out to the desert for a few years, but keep threatening to go. We'll see about next year...


Adam, I'm sitting at my desk now, looking around at my workmates and I am certain that if there were more Burners here we would not only be more capable of contributing creative ideas to provide innovative solutions, but also, and I believe more importantly, we would be able to work much better as a team. This is why it is so difficult to come back to the default world... specially hard these first few days... I try to convey concepts of solidarity and some of our principles, but unfortunately this professional world works by competition and not collaboration and greed not generosity. So kudos to you Adam, for encouraging participation, your team is very fortunate as are you to have them bring back that energy. Cheers, Aurora ...how I wish I could work for you, too bad you're in S.F. and not New York ;)

Matt Gates

Oh Captain my Captain! Love that you chose shots of the BigRigJig for this piece. After the Burn of '07 a picture of that adorned the home screen of my iPhone for the entire following year. I saw it recently over at American Steel- but it looked so tiny and sad, split into pieces in its dusty storage crates. Here's a creative idea: let's see if the artist wouldn't mind installing that in courtyard of the new Traction office!

Adam Kleinberg

I'd love to put that in our courtyard. Not sure it would fit, but we could just climb through the cab to get into the office. A

Corey Dimond

I love this and agree entirely with the importance of these events. There's an old Buddhist parable that says something like, one moment in a holy place is equal to a thousand meditations. Last year, the week of Burning man, my company had their biggest deadline of the year and with most deadlines the time had been mismanaged so we were working 12 hours a day 7 days a week by the end. That's typical in my industry but I hated that job. Not because of the hours or the work but because I felt like my colleagues simply hadn't lived. That sounds horribly pretentious but I'm sure you know the feeling. It's not easy living in the default world after having your mind blown wide open by Burning Man or international travel etc. Anyway, as soon as the project finished they laid everyone off. I'm looking for work now with the right company and am intrigued by yours. I'm an animator and artist. Please see my portfolio at coreydimond.com Thank you kindly. Corey


Nice to see a CEO who cares about their employees creative spark. Being on the playa is definitely an amazing place to experience. Come back home soon!


i appreciate burner-freindly businesses- i help run one myself. I gotta say though- one of the things I like about BRC is escaping advertising and marketing for a week, so it is a bit off putting to see Burning Man being used to help market an advertising agency (with the big homepage photo feature) :/


robrob.... I appreciate your point, but it's something we believe in, something we're proud off, something we stand for. Adam

bishop joey

the burny man org has a similar policy for its employees for st stupid's day parade on 4/1


Mr. Bishop, They actually invited me by BM HQ to talk about how we came up with our policy b/c they were thinking about creating similar ones. Adam


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