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A CEOs (control freaks) checklist before going on holiday

beach-laptopMy wife will tell you I’m absolutely crap at going on holiday. It’s probably the control freak in me that has an innate fear of being out of touch but they’re are absolutely necessary (he says having cancelled 2 days of leave last week and another one today).

I think this will be a trait that a fair few of us share so I thought I’d write about it and share my checklist of preparation before going on leave.

To give this post some perspective MediaVision is the agency I founded in 2003 with Tom and it currently employs 21 people on two offices, one in Cape Town and one in London. Its growing nicely but we have been going through the transition of me overseeing everything to establishing a solid head of department structure to ensure that everything progresses without me overseeing all of the detail.

This will be my first holiday with all of that in place and I am really confident that it will make a marked difference.

So here is my current checklist before I go on leave this week. If you could let me know of anything I’ve missed that would be great!

1.      Clients

First thing is to let any clients that you manage know you’re going to be off for a few days. Cue a huge amount of last minute stuff that absolutely needs to be done before you go. It comes with the territory.

2.      New Business

Since you’re going away on holiday you can guarantee that deal you were working on for a few months will get hold of you the day before asking for a timeline as they want to kick off next week. Getting hold of them the week before helps alleviate that to some extent but it still happened. It comes with the territory.

 3.      Banking

Luckily my long suffering business partner will be around for this but checking cash flow etc for any upcoming surprises is a good idea, that’s the last call you want on holiday. Luckily far less of an issue these days than in the early days but a few missed paid search invoices by clients and you slide back pretty quick.

4.      Internal Chess

I often compare running a business to playing several concurrent games of chess. From HR to Finance, project delivery to R&D each sector of the business is a separate game with small and large decisions to be made. Now that I have my HODs in place this is way easier than in the past but it’s really important to make sure no one is waiting on feedback from you before your week starts so they can carry on carrying on.

5.      Take my director of  loyalty for a walk

Our director of client loyalty needs a lot of TLC. We love him even though he drools a bit and has some seriously inappropriate grooming habits. For those confused here is a link to his bio. :p http://www.mediavisioninteractive.com/our-team/milo/

6.      Switching off

This is the toughest part for me bar none, again probably the control freak talking but being out of touch is really tough for me.

I’m going to do the following this time:

  • Disable all syncing on my phone (Mail, Calendar Facebook the lot). This means that I’ll be contactable for emergencies but not for anything that isn’t a full blown emergency.
  • Making sure I keep myself occupied. If I get bored, thoughts will go to work so I am going to play loads of garden cricket, fix the boat, finish the spitfire (that’s taken me seven years to complete!)
  • We’re going camping in the middle of the new forest. No electronics for miles, early mornings, mountain biking and good friends. And our director of client loyalty #needy

So that’s my list, as ever I’m sure there will be something I didn’t plan for but with great people around me it’s time to let that go (a little 🙂 ).

Please let me know of anything I’ve missed, would be great to add a “leave checklist” to the site as a useful resource!



Louis Venter is the founding director and CEO of MediaVision, a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) company specialising in all areas of search. His particular interests are organic search marketing, paid search marketing, conversion strategy and online PR.
  • Ralf Haberich

    Hello Louis,

    I like this list, but two things missing in my point of view: 1.) employees and 2.) representative

    To 1.) As important as letting your clients know you are away it is to let your employees know you are not reachable. So, they should be informed upfront several days and need to make sure they get all answers and actions from a boss they need during his absence. This way, they will stay efficient.

    To 2.) Who is doing your job when you are away? Maybe tasks and deadlines cna be postponed but still there will be issues you as a CEO have to deal with: who should be nominated as your representative. I suggest to have someone from Top Management and not one of your employees unless you want to specifically test this scenario.



  • Great list, Louis! Switching off is a tough one and I think what you suggest about technology is a must. All the other points are indeed important to make that move though.