Go Ahead, Take That 4-Week Vacation You’ve Been Dreaming Of

If you’re a leader and you can step away, it means you’re doing something right.

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“Two years from now my family and I will be living in Italy. We will be sipping on limoncellos from our apartment balcony overlooking Rome.”

When Greg Redington made that announcement to our mastermind group during our perfunctory pre-meeting personal updates, it caught everyone’s attention. It wasn’t what we expected to hear. When one of us asks, “Anything cool going on?” the replies typically are one of the famous three: “Nah, nothing new,” “All is good,” or “I’ve got this weird pain in my [fill in the blank].” But Italy? Huh? WTF?

At first, we thought Greg was joking, that he was just making a flippant comment. When we realized he was serious, we were all taken aback.

“Greg, do you mean Italy, Italy? Like the boot-shaped country? Or are you talking about that new Little Italy neighborhood popping up in your town?” I asked, still confused about the prospect of leaving his booming business in New Jersey to head to another country, permanently. Or at least permanently enough that he was going to declare Rome as his new hometown and the Pantheon as his favorite stop for a morning cup o’ joe.

Greg is the founder of REDCOM Design & Construction LLC, a commercial construction management firm serving New York and New Jersey. He had grown his business into a substantial company, earning $25 million in annual revenue. He enjoyed the work tremendously, but the business was still dependent on him. Greg wanted more out of life and more time in his life. He wanted to be released from serving the QBR.

Greg’s gift is meticulousness. You see it in the way he dresses, the home he keeps, even in the way he talks. He is specific. He is detailed. He is exacting. REDCOM has built its reputation on that meticulousness. In an industry where construction errors, redos, and on-the-fly changes are commonplace, REDCOM does the project right from start to finish. They build magnificent structures, perfectly . . . you know, like the Pantheon, but in New Jersey. But up until this point, Greg was serving the QBR. As the final step of designing his business to run itself, he had to step out of serving the QBR. And he wanted to do it in grand fashion, by living out a long-held dream.

When my fellow masterminders pushed Greg for more details, he explained that he had wanted to move his family to Rome, Italy, for a year. To do that, he committed to the final stage of establishing a Clockwork business. He removed himself from his business, to a point where it had to stand on its own. And the result was astonishing. Greg returned from Italy after two years, to a business that was now double its size, doing $50 million in annual revenue and with double the staff.

That’s what I’m working toward, and what I call on you to work toward. Not the number, but the freedom where you can leave the business and have it still drive forward. You’ve already made significant headway in that direction. You’ve gone through the seven-step process, and hopefully, you’ve already started to see improvements in business efficiency. You’ve calmed your mind and developed systems. Heck, just by reading this book all the way through you’re further along than most entrepreneurs. It is time to schedule your four-week vacation.

You can do this. I promise you, you can. And sure, maybe some people will think you’re joking when you tell them your plan. You may get pushback from your friends, who may be jealous because, for whatever reason, they are not able to take a four-week vacation. You may get strong pushback from your family, who may be nervous about money. And you may—scratch that, you surely will—get pushback from your colleagues, who don’t believe that taking a four-week vacation is possible or deserved for business owners. It’s okay. In my experience, pushback from others is usually a sign that you’re doing something that challenges the preprogrammed, drone-like mind-set that asserts things need to be the way they always were. Of course, you’ll want to address your family’s concerns about money so that they can enjoy the vacation (cough, read Profit First, cough cough), but ignore the rest. You’ve worked the system, and now you’re going to reap the rewards.

Even if all you do with your four weeks off is sit in your backyard and watch the squirrels, you and your business will be better for it. After all, if your business can hold its own—and even experience growth—with you out of the picture, how much easier will it be to run your business when you get back? (Answer: Heaps. Tons. Loads easier.)

Excerpted from Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz with permission of Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Mike Michalowicz, 2018.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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