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What One Advisor Learned on His Summer Vacation

My two-week vacation to Europe taught me a lot, but I needed the first week to just unwind.

The real benefits of my holiday didn't start until week two.  The impact of that second week -- on a cruise ship off the northern coast of Spain, with no mobile phone access and limited Internet availability -- will be long-lasting. Without my iPhone I had nothing but time to bounce my thoughts off the beautiful Atlantic all around me.


Summer vacation allows us to slow down and do things we don’t normally have time for – and it’s good for us and good for business.

Banks require all of their employees who have involvement with customer accounts to take two consecutive weeks off each year from a regulatory and a risk management standpoint. Many progressive companies urge their people to take time off to recharge. Research shows that it actually takes two weeks to form a habit. So, for those who want to make a change for the better, two weeks should do the trick.


Despite the benefits of doing so, heading off the grid is actually more difficult than you think.  A recent McKinsey study shows just how addicted we are to our smart phones and email:

  • The average knowledge worker spends more than 25% of the day writing and responding to email. (Yep.)
  • 80% continue to work and respond to email after they leave the office. (I do that too.)
  • 59% check email before they go to bed. (Bad idea)
  • I was horrified to read that 38% check email during dinner (Guilty!).


Being unplugged forced me to slow down and think -- a valuable and time-tested tactic.

Bill Gates used to take two “Think Weeks” each year and go to an isolated cabin or resort to contemplate. Peter Drucker in his classic book, The Effective Executive, emphasized that the differentiator between successful and unsuccessful executives is their ability to slow down and think.

Once I was unplugged, ideas big and small – about life, business and family – came to me one after another. 

I realized what an impressive person my oldest daughter has become. (The trip was to celebrate her graduation from high school.) I contemplated who history would recognize as the explorers and artists of our era. And perhaps most important from a business perspective, I was able to improve and simplify my firm’s positioning. 

Without the daily urgency to react to the digital fire hose, my mind and heart wandered to the places it needed to go.

That was pleasant enough.  Equally as refreshing was the reminder that the world didn’t stop when I turned off my phone. My stocks and investments were still there. So was my company.

And one more note: You don’t have to take a vacation to turn off your phone.

Jeff Spears is a co-founder and CEO of Sanctuary Wealth Services, LLC.  Jeff has over 25 years of experience in wealth management as a wealth advisor and as an executive leading the national wealth management businesses of Montgomery Securities, Bank of America Private Bank, and Presidio Financial Partners LLC.

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