Vacation time

Jun 26, 2022

This is the time of year many of us, and many of our clients, will take a family vacation, so do what you can to step away and enjoy it.

Summer is here and it’s the time many of our clients and friends will take a family vacation. We are heading out this morning for a little beach time at Panama City Beach, Florida, with our 11-year-old daughter, Hazel, and her best friend, Lilly, as Hazel’s 16-year-old big sister, Olive, is in Thailand for a high school conservation trip. We used to go to Ft. Lauderdale a lot when my older kids were young, but PCB is closer and cheaper, and is supposed to have a great beach, so we are going to check it out for change.

When I was active in the business, I used to fly 100,000 miles a year routinely. I’m sick of it and it holds no excitement for me anymore. Plus, air travel went from dirt cheap to really expensive in a matter of months, so we are driving. Driving is better anyway, because my wife does it all (aren’t I lucky?), and she allows me to work from the heated and cooled passenger seat (good for my recent back injury) the whole way if I need to. Plus, we can carry as much baggage as we like, come and go at our convenience, and have a vehicle to use when we get to our destination.

Some people in our industry go on these family or couples vacations and completely check out. I have found the only time I can really do that myself is either riding my motorcycle or cutting our grass. You will never get an “out of office” reply from me. Out of office replies connote a lack of service as far as I am concerned, so I just refuse to use them. It takes very little time to check for calls and emails at least two or three times a day, and I have always managed to do just that.

I make all of our travel arrangements on Travelocity.com and have for years. It’s the Amazon of travel and super convenient. You can comparison shop flights or hotels in minutes. All of your frequent flyer and credit card info is stored, and hotels are all rated, so if you read the comments – particularly the most recent ones – you will probably get what you expect. You can see where everything is on a map, which is helpful. And if you have any problems or get any refunds or credits, they all stay in your account. For example, we cancelled a trip to Austin during COVID and thought we lost our money, only to find out we had a large credit sitting there that we used a year later. I really like Travelocity.

Packing has always been easy for me. We have bags for all sizes and types of trips. I keep my toiletry bag stocked so all I have to do is grab it and go. I can pack for anywhere in 10 minutes or less. When I travel for business, I have found I can keep everything on hangers and roll it up and it still fits in a single carry-on. Then when I get to my destination I hang it and turn the shower on hot and it all looks perfect.

One good thing about traveling is it gives you a chance to read. I have a stack of 10 books next to the bed and I will take three along with me. Those of you who know me know I dislike most business books. They make everything sound too easy and the cliches annoy me. Everyone is “leaning in” to everything these days. We have all “pivoted” and “deep dived” enough. But I better stop here or I will find myself once again writing a treatise on cliches and buzzwords – something I feel obligated to do every couple of years! I prefer fiction as it gets me out of my work mode better. That said, I will have a new book coming out later this summer. Confessions of an Entrepreneur is one I am very excited about. I promise an easy and entertaining read, and something you or anyone who owns or is considering starting a business could benefit from. But more on that in the future!

Whatever you do this summer for your vacation, my advice is to keep it simple! Don’t try to go too many places or do too many things, or it will not be relaxing and you will need a vacation after your vacation when you get back! This trip is one of several we plan to make this summer. We started going out to New Mexico on our adults-only, no kids trip every year. My sister-in-law lives way out in the middle of the national forest near Santa Fe, and we have a quiet little inn we like in Taos (The Inn on La Loma Plaza), which is really off the beaten path and sort of downmarket. A great place to shift gears into a slower lifestyle.

Happy summer to you all! Stay positive in spite of the many current and future struggles you could worry about. Everything will be OK if you can keep your head on straight and your emotions in check. We live in an amazing time and have so much to be thankful for! 

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.