Let me start this blog post by saying that I am not good at vacation. I don’t yearn for travel and find that a three day weekend or leaving early for a concert recharges my batteries more than a week away. I dread the idea of coming back to a huge pile of work more than I look forward to going anywhere, except somewhere fun with my kids.
Because two of my kids were off from school last week, we went to Club Med in Sandpiper Bay, Florida for the week (which I highly recommend!). The weather was amazing and there were only two problems with the trip: my miscalculation on the amount of sunblock needed the first day, and my phone. I figured out the sunblock, but never quite figured out my phone.
The problem wasn’t the battery life or reception. The problem was me. The phone was always in my pocket or in my hand. It didn’t matter that my away message was on, alerting those emailing that I was out of the office and would get back to them as soon as possible. While I did a better job than I normally do of reminding myself that things can wait, I answered as many calls as possible, participated in conference calls and stayed up late answering emails.
If I had a dollar for every call or email that I received that started with, “I know you are on vacation, BUT…” I could have paid for the vacation. However, that’s the kind of vacation works for me. It doesn’t work for everyone. I always tell myself that I am a service provider and if I don’t provide my clients with the service they expect, they will replace me. But if I am giving them great service, will they understand a week away? In my mind, some will, while others won’t.
My friend and founder of The News Funnel, Michael Beckerman, is better than anyone I know at unplugging while on vacation. He is simply unreachable and had the same approach when he was running his PR firm and was a service provider.
As I have written before, we live in a fast-food society. We want everything immediately. We are programmed not to wait. Clients are the same way. I am the same way and as you skim this, you are probably hoping I get to the point soon.
As a young broker, this is simply a warning. If you want a different vacation experience than the one I described, you have to manage your clients differently than I do. Engage partners and have them cover for you and only respond to calls or emails if they’re crucial. I think I have the greatest partners in the world, but hate the idea of making them pick up my slack while I sit in the sun. That’s just me.
I realized that last night when I discussed vacation with my son’s tee-ball coach. He’s headed out of the country for a week and he’s told his clients that his phone won’t work because he won’t have reception. Brilliant.
The lesson here is that you can have any kind of vacation experience that you want. You just have to actively work towards making it happen by managing expectations and making sure that someone has your back while you are away.
I find comfort in knowing that I am still engaged and my clients can reach me. I feel that way now, but there were certainly times last week when I wish I didn’t hear the phone ring. I guess I could have just left it in the room. I was on vacation, BUT…