Welcome to IT World Canada’s community slideshow! Every month we’ll be asking the Canadian technology company leaders that we write about so often about a topic so that we can all get to know this community just a bit better. This month’s topic sticks to the summer theme of vacation habits.
Here’s the question we asked: “What is your approach to staying connected when you’re on vacation? How important is it to keep in touch, or do you make sure you’re offline. What devices do you bring with you, if you do at all?”
We received a lot of great responses, and for part one we are sharing what the vacation habits of these 13 Canadian CEOs.
Part 2 – 13 Canadian executives on their vacation habits
Some answers are edited for length.
Geeman Yip, CEO and Founder of BitTitan
“My philosophy has changed and I would like to not stay connected. I have a device with me 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I even have it when I’m sleeping. When I go on vacation the focus is on family. The device is a detractor to my focus and I am a guy that lives on outcomes and that’s not the right outcome for a vacation. The outcome is to get close to family and kids. I go completely offline, no texting and I go dark. This does not mean I won’t read anything, but I will not reply. I’ll always have my mobile device on me.”
Dan Latendre, CEO of Igloo Software
“Throughout the summer, I always try and find a bit of time to get to my cottage. I’m always busy around the water and spending time with my family. My cottage is a fairly easy drive from the city, so I’m almost always accessible. Committing to disconnecting for days at a time isn’t always an option, so I typically make a point to disconnect for one day or for several hours.”
Carl Rodrigues, CEO, President, and Founder of SOTI Inc.
“For me, it’s all about balance – I fit things in when there’s gaps. If I’m at a theme park for example, and everyone is waiting in line for a ride or takes a break to get a hot dog, I will use those windows of time to quickly check in. As a business owner I cannot disconnect completely, but as a family guy with two teenage sons, I understand the importance of being present.”
Allen Eaves, CEO and President of StemCell Technologies Inc.
“Right now summer vacation is not really a vacation. This is because my four kids rotate through our home with their kids – and expect me to play grandfather! With a total of 11 grandchildren, I find the grandfather role to be much more stressful than being CEO! Specifically, it is really stressful remembering how to play Go-Fish, Crazy Eights, Monopoly and chess. So it is often a huge relief when my cell phone rings, or my computer peeps, with a trivial company issue. I am then momentarily rescued from the embarrassment, and fun, of losing to kids who are not yet even teenagers!”
Michael Tamblyn, CEO of Rakuten Kobo Inc.
“Unplugged time is critical. So many good ideas show up when the digital noise subsides. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the reasons I love ereaders. I get the convenience of reading on a device, but with none of the chatter of email, texts or social. I can lose myself in a book, which is how I love to spend my vacation. I also used to bring a separate suitcase full of books with me, so that’s much easier now. In a day or two, I can get myself down to an email and Slack check morning and night with a super-secret protocol for emergencies, aka ‘Call my cell phone’.”
Nick Van Weerdenburg, CEO of Rangle.io
“In Rangle’s first two years, I worked three-six hours a day while on vacation. Now, I have an experienced executive team that allows me to fully disconnect for one vacation per year (and keep lightly in touch on the others). It’s also important to know yourself. If I’m not jumping out of bed and excited by work, more often than not I need to disconnect and regroup.”
Corey Herscu, CEO of RNMKR PR
“Staying connected is always the bane of my existence; it’s hard to disconnect as a business owner! I used to be really bad, taking my phone with me everywhere. I have made more effort recently to disconnect and spend time with my wife and daughter – literally putting my phone on silent or in another room. But, to answer the question, when I am connected iMessage and Hangouts are the two most used mediums I use for staying in touch with my team and clients. It’s very important for the client to know you’re around, but they must also respect boundaries and the need for personal time.”
Derek Luke, CEO of Interaxon Inc.
“As an executive at Blackberry, I use to receive 3,000 emails a day! A vacation was necessary to mitigate the onslaught of the constant interruptions in my life. I would put on an out of office, yet still, get bogged down on replying to the endless stream of emails. Now I keep my notifications silent and check my email a few times a day. I spend my time on meaningful engagements with the people in my life. Life is about finding balance every day, not just on vacation. I carry the same devices on my vacation that I use daily, my iPhone and my Muse.”
Sachin Aggarwal, CEO of Think Research
“As the CEO of a medical tech company, my heart lies within our offices, even while on vacation. At Think Research we pour our heart and soul into our work, genuinely caring about the patients that are impacted by our software. We know that our software effects each and every one of our lives in some way, whether personally or through friends and family. For me, staying on call is important to help keep our the Think Research heart pumping and aids our team in providing clinicians with leading clinical content & knowledge-based tools they love to use so that they can keep their patient’s hearts pumping.”
Derek Ting, CEO of TextNow
“I learned early on that to be a good leader you need to step away and take time for yourself, so I am an advocate for vacations and traveling. I do like to stay connected or at least have the ability to check in while I am away so I bring my phone and my computer with me when I go. When I travel outside of North America I buy a local SIM, and with TextNow and a Wi-Fi connection I can use my device just like I do at home.”
Mike McDerment, CEO and Co-Founder of FreshBooks
“When I’m on vacation, I don’t carry my phone or laptop, and I don’t do work or check email. I do however provide a few colleagues with a phone number where they can reach me in the event of a true emergency. When I really want to power down, I go on a canoe trip in remote locations for a week, places where devices simply do not work.”
Sam Sebastian, CEO and President of Pelmorex Corp.
“I actually find it easier to unplug, when I’m slightly still plugged in. I have teenagers who sleep in, while I tend to get up early and enjoy reading, checking in on some email, thinking about big projects, etc. early in the AM. Then I put all the technology away once the family is up and I’m all in for my family for the rest of the day. This balance seems to work for me. I have my time where I can think and stay plugged in, which actually relaxes me a bit, but then am 100 per cent engaged with the family after that.”
Adam Froman, CEO of Delvinia
“My feeling about staying connected when you are on vacation is, thank G-d they invented smartphones! As a CEO of a company that is scaling, while my day-to-day operational responsibilities have been reduced, I often have to make timely financial and strategic decisions to ensure a project is not held up. So, when I go on holidays, I always have my smartphone with me and I am always available. While I want my team to disconnect from the office when they are on holidays, unfortunately, I hold myself to a different standard. However, with that being said, my team usually only reaches out to me when they really need my input. Otherwise, when I am out it is a great opportunity for them to take ownership of what they are doing. I also have final signing authority in my business, so if I cross over a pay period, I usually have to take my computer and my banking fob with me to ensure I can sign off on payroll and any electronic payments. However, other than that, I don’t typically use my computer when I am away on vacation. But I do use my phone to keep up on all of my news feeds.”