My French friend Cyril receives Status-Q updates by email, and after yesterday’s post concerning hobbies, he sent me another quote about holidays:
“Les vacances, c’est la période qui permet aux employés de se souvenir que les affaires peuvent continuer sans eux”. — E.J Wilson
“A vacation is the time that allows employees to remember business can continue without them.”
I love this. I learned a very important lesson many years ago as the CEO of a small, fast-moving technology startup…
I think the company was only about six or seven people at the time, and we were in that classic startup mode: working mostly from a garden shed, having conversations every other day with investors or potential investors, watching the cashflow very carefully while convincing potential customers of our robust credentials and our ability to deliver.
But I wanted/needed to take a short holiday. Having gone from one startup to the next, I hadn’t had one for quite a long time and for various reasons I needed to take it now to coincide with other family plans. But I was torn: could I really leave this small team without their leader at such a critical time? What would the investors think? And so on…
In the end, I did decide to go, had a wonderful few days’ break, and came back to the office in some trepidation to see what had manage to survive my absence.
“Hello everyone!”, I said. “I’m back!”
The team looked up from their desks, puzzled for a moment, and then said, “Oh, yes, you’ve been away, haven’t you?”
It was a humbling and enlightening experience, and I’ve never forgotten it. Nobody is indispensable. Even you.
Anyway, there’s a nice twist to Cyril’s message. When I looked at it more carefully, I realised that he hadn’t just found a nice quotation to send back to me.
It was the first line of his vacation email auto-response.