In the heart of last Summer’s sweltering dog days, I had a sudden premonition. I foresaw with urgent clarity that by the time February rolled around, I would be in dire need of a warm-weather vacation. This should come as no surprise to any annually embattled New Englander who knows his or her way around a thing called a “roof rake.” Bostonians fleeing the bitter cold and breathtakingly aggressive snowstorms fill JetBlue’s flights to Mexico and the Caribbean islands each Winter. With a few minutes of research and three well-placed mouse clicks, I booked flights, an Airbnb cottage, and a rental car—whatever Winter apocalypse was coming our way when the calendar flipped a few times, we’d be escaping to Barbados come February.
Fast forward to the first months of 2017, and sure enough, I definitely needed some one-on-one, warm-weather time away from New England. I also realized I needed a genuine break from work and the relentless water-torture of the prevailing political discourse. As our departure date approached, I proposed something that I’d never suggested to my wife Julie in all our years together: “Hey, what do you say we totally unplug on this trip?” I wasn’t talking about acoustic versus electric guitars, either. I meant that we should each put down our iPhones for the entire time we were on vacation—no email, no Twitter, no Facebook, and no newsfeeds. Skeptical that I’d stick to it, Julie immediately agreed, and sure enough, from the moment we left the house for Logan Airport until the morning after we got back to Boston from Barbados, we had no idea what was going on in the world, and I had no idea what was going on at Rainier, the agency I am responsible for leading as CEO.
It’s an act that is simultaneously simple and terrifying for a business leader to just say “no” to any and all contact with the world back home while you’re on vacation. It means accepting and embracing having zero knowledge of what’s happening with the business you’ve perhaps started from scratch and nurtured for months, years or even decades.
What's the key to doing this successfully?