CEO explains why he takes a one-week vacation every month and how it helps his employees, plus a quote from T.S. Eliot.
"In our age . . . men seem more than ever prone to confuse wisdom with knowledge, and knowledge with information, and to try to solve problems of life in terms of engineering." -- T.S. Eliot, from On Poetry and Poets
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As you struggle to squeeze in a couple of long weekends this summer, give a thought to Don Taylor, founder and CEO of Personnel Management, a seven-year-old company in Shelbyville, Ind., with projected sales of $25 million and 80 employees. It has grown 70% a year for the past four years. His secret? "Vacations," says Taylor. "Lots of them. I'm off about a week every month -- and these aren't working vacations. I go to St. Thomas for a week, or to Utah or Colorado for skiing, or to the upper peninsula of Michigan to go snowmobil-ing. Some companies are into corporate diversification. This is personal diversification."
In the beginning, Taylor says, he feared his staff couldn't manage without him. "As a kind of test, I started taking a few days off at a time. You know what? People were so enthusiastic about working on their own that business would pick up. Billings would actually increase when I wasn't around." This discovery did, of course, have a downside. "I thought, Gee, maybe they don't need me. But then I realized that if I could take vacations, I could also focus on the real job of a president -- planning for the future -- rather than worry about whether we're doing things right today.
"I want to tell you," Taylor adds, "this has really been fun, and good for everyone else as well as me. When I come back, I'm on a much more even keel. There are times when my staff practically tells me to go on vacation. And I go, with thanks. I mean, this is why I left corporate life and started a company in the first place -- to have more control of my time, to have freedom."