Is it Still Possible to take a Summer Vacation and Simply Sail Away?

Growing up, taking a summer vacation was easy. We simply packed our suitcases, loaded them into the trunk of our 1967 Plymouth Barracuda and drove to up-state New York; first to visit my mom’s parents for a few days in Rochester and then later in the week to visit my dad’s parents at their summer place on Canandaigua Lake. My grandparents’ place on Canandaigua Lake was the absolute best. Here my cousins and I were totally cut-off from the outside world. We never had a TV or a radio here and although we did have a phone, it almost never rang and when it did, nine times out of ten it was a wrong number. No, here we were in our own world, a world filled with old canoes, tin boats, long hikes, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill and bonfires on the beach at night. It was quite frankly, perfect.

DSC00327Back in the “olden days,” there were no such thing as minivans and as a result, people traveled lighter and left most of their… excuse me, “crap” at home. Yes we were cramped in the back seat of our small car and yes I probably missed my bike that I couldn’t bring with me but somehow, when all was said and done, our summer vacations were always relaxed and filled with lots of laughs and good times.

Today it’s different. For one thing, we no longer go to the same spot each summer but instead bop around from place to place looking for new adventures and places to explore. There’s nothing really wrong with this but there’s a lot more moving around when you go this route which makes for a more stressful, less relaxing vacation. In fact, often is the case that we need a vacation just to recover from the vacation. The real differencewifi-zonehotspot however between then and now, comes down to technology. It’s simply darn near impossible to get unplugged! This is an unfortunate reality because there are still so many great places to visit that are still 100% natural and where “being connected” adds nothing to the overall experience. So I ask the question, is it still possible to take an old-fashioned summer vacation and simply sail away, electronics free?

I am the ultimate optimist so of course the answer to this question is yes. But, it’s not easy to go cold turkey and disconnect and if your spouse is also addicted to always being hard-wired, they need to play along or you’ll never stop and smell the roses again until you’re dead. So, here’s a few tips I found on how to unplug and get the most out of your next summer vacation:

1. Let people you work with know what to expect: It’s not that people will really believe you when you tell them that you won’t have access to your e-mail while you’re away but at least you’ve given them the heads up so when you don’t respond right away, they’ll know why.

DSC003542. Control your smart phone: Like anything in life you have a choice, you can either be controlled or you can take control. Your phone has an off button. Your best bet for taking control of your phone and your vacation is to use that button and turn off the phone and go for a bike ride. If you can’t bring yourself to turn off the phone completely, at least silence the alerts so you’re not beeped, buzzed and vibrated to death. I personally hate alerts. It always makes me feel as though someone is constantly tapping me on the shoulder saying “excuse me, excuse me, I have something to tell you.” Ugh, what kind of vacation is that?

3. Avoid checking your e-mail: Most of your e-mail is junk anyway but of course you don’t know that until you check. I figure that if someone really needs me they’ll do one of three things, they’ll text me, call me, or in the case of a family emergency, they’ll call or text my wife. Bottom line is that most of the e-mails you receive will wait until you return to the office, especially if you were smart enough to leave an automatic “out-of-office” reply message. A word of advice, don’t check your e-mail it’s not worth it!

4. Carry a second phone: I have some friends that simply carry two phones, one for business and one for personal use. I don’t do this but I am leaning in this direction. I kind of like the thought of a clear separation between work and home. Yes, carrying two phones is a pain but it also gives you more flexibility to unplug from work now and again.

5. Don’t bring additional electronics for the kids: I did this last summer when I went sailing in the Apostle Islands and boy was that a mistake! I actually thought that my kids (10, 8 and 6) would get bored and ruin my vacation if they didn’t have videos and electronic games to entertain them. I somehow forgot that kids will find entertainment wherever they go; they’ll swim, pick rocks, hunt for crabs and if all else fails will terrorize one another until something better comes along. Do yourself a big favor and don’t forget to unplug before leaving the dock.

DSC00323Life is too short to sit at the dock as we are fond of saying at Jeanneau but guess what, summers are even shorter. So the next time you hit the road and are headed out the driveway in your minivan all loaded to the gunwales, be sure to control your smart phone and leave the rest of the electronics behind. In the end, you’ll be happy you did.

On we go….

Rush Towards the Ball, Rush Towards Life

DSC01068So last night, my son Will had a baseball game, he turns 11 next Monday, April 29th. This year he moved up from the Minors to the Majors and is now playing with 11 and 12 year olds. Most, if not all of these kids, have been playing baseball for several years and at this point are pretty good. In fact, I was surprised at just how much more intense the level of play was with this older group compared to last year’s younger group. Gone are the days of teaching the kids how to throw, catch and bat and teaching them the love of the game. Now it’s all about how to play well and win games. If a kid isn’t qualified to play first base then he plays some other position, like left field or maybe third base. Will is not a first basemen but he has a decent arm and is fairly good at getting his glove on the ball so he often plays second or third base or sometimes shortstop, occasionally he’ll also play in the outfield.

Will is also a decent batter. He doesn’t have a lot of power but his accuracy is pretty good and when he connects, he usually manages to get the ball over the heads of the infielders and out to the outfield. His real talent however is as a base-runner. Will is fast and willing to take risks which makes him the ideal player when it comes to stealing bases. And, since Will loves to be on stage and the center of attention, stealing bases to great applause is right down his alley!

DSC01064A team is only as good as the coach and this year the coach is especially good. For one thing, he’s especially good at being in charge and giving the boys clear direction of how to do things or how to do things better the next time around. He has a knack for using just the right amount of sarcasm to make his point without going so far as to embarrass the kids. For example, “Billy, don’t you think you would have a better chance of stopping that ground ball if you put your glove down?” “Yea” says Billy in a not-so-sure voice. “Well get it down then, glove in the dirt, glove in the dirt” he’ll shout. Or, “You know, we’d have a much better chance of winning if you guys would actually catch the ball instead of letting it hit the ground!” My favorite however was directed at Will on the first day of practice when he said, “Hey Will, is that a batting stance you have there or are you planning to take a dump on home plate?” All of us parents standing along the baselines that day got a real kick out of that one, especially me!

So the game is underway and our team, the Philly’s, are playing pretty well. Will’s first time to bat results in a walk,  From there he goes on to steal second and third base and then steals home. As I said, Will loves to be the center of attention and there simply is no better way to do this in baseball than hitting a home run or stealing home plate so Will is now in his glory with lots of yelling and screaming and back slapping from his teammates.

Sometime in the 5th inning, a kid from the opposing team knocked the ball out of the infield but well in front of the guys playing in the outfield. The coach was immediately on his feet shouting “don’t just stand there, rush towards the ball, rush towards the ball.” I started thinking about this statement, which was really more of a command, and it struck a chord with me. “Rush towards the ball” I repeated to myself “rush towards the ball.” 

As a marketing guy trying to push high-priced yachts in a tough economy, this concept of rushing towards the ball or in my world, rushing towards the customer or the market, makes complete sense. In a tough market such as we have had for the past few years, the only effective way I could see to possibly win the game was to tune up my advertising, marketing and sales program and run full steam ahead towards the market with the enthusiasm and the attitude that screams, “we’re your guys, buy from us.”

Rushing towards the market, especially a slow one, is not always easy or instinctive. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. One reason for this is that it’s not always clear how to reach the market or more difficult still, what it will take to capture the market. Another reason is that to capture the market and catch the customer, means spending precious resources which you either don’t have in the first place or are unwilling to spend in the second place, especially when there’s no guarantee that you’ll be successful. And lastly, it’s always easier and safer to stay put and let the market come back to you rather than for you to venture out into the field to get it. Unfortunately, the problem with playing it safe is that by doing nothing, you run the risk that your competition might be going with a more aggressive game plan and taking your customers and the market.

It’s not always clear what course to take but history has shown time and time again that those companies that turn up the heat during slow times always come out ahead when better times return. In other words, those companies that rush towards the ball do better than those companies that don’t. For me, the time to rush forward and discover what lies ahead is now.

By the way, during the last inning of the game, Will managed to get a solid hit that was good enough for a stand-up double. One of his teammates got on base with a single and while he was doing that, Will stole third. Another teammate hit a nice fly ball that went deep into center field but unfortunately was picked off by a tall lanky kid on the opposing team. The kid knew what he was doing and immediately threw the ball to the second baseman who managed to tag out the runner coming from first. While the opposing team was busy dealing with the runner at second, Will, who had been leading off third, ran back, tagged the bag and made a beeline for home. All of a sudden there were lots of cries of “he’s going, he’s going, throw it home!” Will dug hard as the second baseman wound up and fired the ball towards home plate. “Slide” the coach yelled, “slide!!” Will did slide, in fact it was pure textbook. That catcher did a fine job and he almost got him but just as the ball was about to hit his glove, Will slid neatly under the catchers arm and got his toe on home plate. “SAFE” the umpire said as he waved his arms over the plate. Again there was lots of screaming and back slapping and “way-to-go” being yelled. The coach just smiled and shook his head. It was a fun moment for sure.

SliderAfter the game, one of the other fathers came up to me with a big smile on his face and said, “Wow, Will sure does like to take risks.”  “Yes he does” I replied; then added, “He always has and I hope he always will.” “Rush towards the ball,” I thought. “Rush towards life.”

On we go…