Vacation – To Tell or Not To Tell

In the past 3 or 4 days, I have received blog notices from Brad Feld, Fred Wilson and Steve Blank that they are on vacation.  For Fred and Steve, I think the purpose was to let their readers know to expect fewer or no posts while they are enjoying a break (actually Fred’s is apparently a combination of work and vacation).   For Brad, I think the purpose is to share his travel adventures, the status of his marital workings with Amy (his wife), his woes of getting adequate internet access on his phone, and what restaurants he is enjoying :).

All this vacation news got me thinking about CEOs and other executives giving notice about their vacation plans.  While I think it is kind of funny that Brad, Fred and Steve feel compelled to let the world know that they are on vacation, the more important question to me is whether or not a startup board should know the vacation plans of the company’s executives.  Assuming the answer is yes, what level of detail is needed?

I would seem to me that knowing at least a month in advance is probably best.  Knowing where they are going would be good (but some folks might find that intrusive).  But honestly, if someone is visiting Somalia it might impact some planning activities.  I also think it is helpful to know whether or not the executive plans to be online while away or otherwise reachable.

As I write this, it all sounds like common sense.  But I remember one instance where an executive took off suddenly just prior to the closing of a financing without notice.  It caused some anxiety to say the least.

The flip side is true to me as well – key board members should make sure that they tell the CEOs when they will be on vacation.   I will be out the week of July 25th, but will be online and otherwise reachable on my cell.

Anyway, I am interested to know what you think.  Just don’t send pictures from your vacation……

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3 thoughts on “Vacation – To Tell or Not To Tell

  1. I agree that it is important to let key members of your Board know when you will be on vacation and what your accessibility will be on a weekly basis. However, I typically do not communicate my vacation schedule to customers as I don’t want to dissuade them from reaching out to me when they need to contact me.

  2. Zach, your post got me thinking…

    I’m biased out of the gate because I am a CEO. The laissez-faire part of me says as long as the CEO is constantly reachable, then is notice even required? Let your day-to-day operating team know for sure, but the board only if you are going to be unreachable.

    Does the board rely on the CEO in same-day time frames? Most requests from board members to a CEO can easily wait a day, if not more. If the CEO has a smartphone, this is easily manageable in most destinations (not sure about Somalia).

    All of this though is trumped by setting expectations early on. If the board wants a certain amount of notice and they make that expectation clear, then the CEO should comply. It depends on how “hands on” you want to be.

    I’m curious if any LP investors ask for VC partners vacation schedules?

    • I will take the easy one first – LP do not ask for VC partners vacation schedules and for good reasons. first, the whole VC leadership team does not go on vacation at the same time, but more importantly, the LPs have no day to day or week to week or month to month oversight of the VC. That is why they are called Limited Partners. If they got involved, the law (statutes) takes away their limited liability.

      On the other points, my goal is for the board and CEO to form the top level team. Team members at the highest level owe it to each other to tell each other when they are going on vacation. So, your next question should be “Zach, do you tell the CEOs of companies on which you are a board member when you are going on vacation?” Answer is “every time, and in advance”.

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