Go Away to Get Ahead
I never thought I could go a week without email, until I finally did. I started my business 15 years ago when I was a senior in college. Since then, I’ve taken many vacations, including personal trips, long weekends, an 18-day honeymoon and more. But this past January was my first “real” vacation since I started the business. Let me explain why that’s a big deal for me.
In 2000, I started Tabush Group, and have since evolved it into an IT business focused on managed infrastructure and cloud services. IT is different from other service industries in that emergencies are part of the deal. There’s no “closing the office for a week” or telling a client, “Let’s work on the issue next Tuesday.” Our clients rely on us to be available pretty much 24/7.
Like all entrepreneurs, I was always mentally “at work,” regardless of where or when. Before 2003, I would check email remotely via a VPN, terminal server and even a dial-up modem (remember those?). But as we all know, Blackberries, smart phones, Wi-Fi and international roaming only further fuels our “always connected” habit. Taking time off is important to everyone. After all, isn’t that the reason why we work and save money— so we can enjoy it? In January, I decided to do just that.
As my family and I packed for a week-long vacation to Mexico, I announced to my staff that I was not going to look at emails the entire week. Most of my management team has been with me for years, so I couldn’t imagine what could happen during my absence that they couldn’t handle. At the same time, I figured that if something really does go wrong that would have required my involvement and couldn’t wait a week, then I would have bigger things to worry about and probably deserve the outcome.
The night before we left, I set my out-of-office message, asking people to contact the office for any emergencies, and turned off email on my iPhone. Eight days later, we returned home from warm and sunny Mexico to bitter-cold Brooklyn, New York, USA. It wasn’t until I got back to the office the next morning that I opened my email. It was the first time since I started my business that I went eight straight days without “checking in.” And do you know what happened while I was gone? A lot, actually. We landed a new client, dealt with hundreds of support tickets, got a few leads, managed proposals, etc. In other words, it was a typical week and everything went just fine ... without me.
Why am I so proud of this? First, because it proved to me that the business can run day-to-day without me. As a business owner, it gives me the confidence that I really can work “on” the business, not “in” the business. And I’ve been doing just that ever since, focusing my time and energy on Boxtop, our newest offering. Second, it gave my team a chance to shine and prove themselves to me, which I’m sure all of the HR consultants out there would agree is good for their morale. Finally, it made me enjoy my vacation more than I ever had in the past. I came back to the office recharged, chock-full of ideas and ready to rock and roll. Who knew that simply going away could help you get ahead?
Morris Tabush is an EO New York member who loves technology and recently started Boxtop, which helps companies move to the cloud, simplify their IT and focus on growth. Contact Morris at