Take a Month Off

Take a Month Off

This is what I am suggesting to all of my members this year. Shocked? Don’t be. It may be the best advice you receive all month.

“You try it,” you say. I have. This will be my fourth year. One of the best business and personal decisions I have ever made.

Why should you consider taking a month off this year? Here are three good reasons.

#1. You need it. You have worked very hard all year. Maybe even longer. More than likely with little time off. A long weekend here and there. Maybe a week at the beach with the family. You called it a vacation. Was it really? A cellphone attached to the palm of your hand. A laptop computer always within walking distance. Family members wondering if you will ever really shut it down and enjoy the time off.

How do I know this? I was there for over thirty years. It always took me several days of business “detox” to begin to enjoy my vacation and then several days to prepare to return to work. I was left with one to two real days of vacation. Are we having fun yet?

The past three years I have taken off a full month in June. I have called it a sabbatical because I was embarrassed to call it what it was…a real vacation. I have had very little digital contact during this time. In fact, very little of any contact. I have shut off television, radio, etc. I have gotten very quiet for the majority of this time. It’s been amazing. I have come back each time truly energized about work and life in general.

#2. Your business needs it. At some point, you will exit your business. Alive or dead. Is your business ready for your exit? How do you know?

The best test of your company’s readiness is your absence for a significant amount of time. Let’s say a month. What will happen? First of all, you will have to spend 4-6 months preparing your business for your time off. Implementing policies, procedures, and systems that will allow the business to run effectively without you. Is this a bad thing? Of course not. Even if you choose not to leave, imagine the positive impact this effort will have on your growing business.

Now you are gone. Your key people will have to act on your behalf in your absence. Making difficult decisions. Taking on additional responsibilities. Growing an “owner” mindsight. Is this bad? Of course not. All very positive in fact.

Every business owner that I know who has done this has come back to find a business prospering and in much better overall condition than when they left. It’s an excellent test of your executive team and the design of your business.

#3. Now is the best time. Your business is growing. You have good people. Steady cash flow. The economy is as good as it’s going to get get for a while. It will never be any easier. Why wait?

Have a great month off!

Dave Isay: Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear

A Beautiful Question, written by Warren Berger

As an executive coach, one of the most powerful tools I have is a good question. In seventeen years of formal education and many more years of informal schooling, I have had very little training in asking questions. As a result, the past two years I have undergone my own self-study and have worked hard to improve the depth and wide of my questioning.

My most recent reading, “A More Beautiful Question” written by Warren Berger, has given me a wealth of information on questioning that I look forward to employing with my clients as well as friends and family. It’s amazing to me the impact a good question can have in almost any type of conversation or interpersonal engagement. Questions help us identify and solve problems, uncover great ideas, and force us to challenge conventional thinking.

Author Warren Berger studied hundreds of very successful innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions. He found that most of these people were expert questioners. In his book, he shares their stories and how their lives and those around them changed by starting with a “beautiful” question.

One of the first questions Berger poses in his book is why questioning is not taught in school at an early age? He cites a study that found that four year olds on average ask over four hundred questions a day and than as they get older they practically stop asking questions. Research has also uncovered that as children ask fewer questions, their academic performance declines.

Many business leaders see questions as being inefficient. They instead are overly anxious to act and do rather than to inquire. Not enough time to stop and question. Berger cites several studies in his book demonstrating that the most successful business leaders are expert questioners. They challenge the status quote and even their own assumptions with tough questions. These great leaders also have realized that in today’s internet world, answers are a commodity. Easy to find. On the other hand, a great questions is invaluable.

I loved this book. Not only did it reinforce for me the power of questioning, it also gave me a whole new arsenal of great questions to pose to my clients. I highly recommend this book.

Distractions at the Dinner Table

As the kids were texting at dinner, Dad’s response made Mom burst out laughing! – The family is having dinner when their son’s phone beep and they start texting. Dad asks, “pass the salt” and ends up getting the pepper. Dad breaks out an old typewriter and starts hitting the keys. As the kids looked dumbfounded he makes his point clear about being distracted.