Ep 55 // How to Take A Holiday as a Founder/ Solopreneur/ CEO

Ep 55

If you’re a CEO, founder, or solopreneur who thinks it’s impossible to take time off, or you’re afraid of missing out on money or helping a client, this episode is for you. Leadership coach Akua Nyame-Mensah is back from vacation, and she’s ready to share how she prepared for her time off so that she could return feeling re-energized, rested, and not overwhelmed with a backlog of work. 

Learn what Akua feels she did well in prepping for her holiday, how to make the most of your own vacation, and what to do upon return to ensure you won’t feel like you need another break to recover from your vacation! 

 Understanding yourself is the most important thing you do to make your business profitable and productive - this goes for taking breaks as well. Knowing what recharges your batteries and visualizing what a restful holiday means for you is the best way to start planning for some time off. 

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What's Covered in this Episode About Taking a Break

  • Akua talks about reflecting on what a restful vacation looks like for you. For more on what this means, check out this episode  Akua did on the subject of rest.
  • The importance of figuring out how much you want to engage in your business while you’re on a break.
  • Ask yourself what will continue running while you’re gone (like social media and newsletters) and what you’ll take a complete break from (like client meetings).
  • Make it easier on yourself by easing out of work. Don’t start any new projects before you go on holiday.
  • Letting your clients and support staff know you are going on leave well in advance is crucial. Some people like setting up an out-of-office reply as well.
  • Be intentional about how you want to spend your time on your vacation. Akua talks about her goals from her break.
  • In order to stay in vacation mode, Akua went to a place that had no internet or no tv, allowing her to unplug completely for several days.
  • Traveling with people and family can be tiring, so it’s important to give yourself a buffer to rest before going back to work.
  • If you don’t have time to take a holiday, you can always start with a couple of days to rest and recharge.
  • After your break, don’t forget to take time to reflect on what went well and what didn’t so that you can do things even better for your next holiday!

A note from Akua: Enjoy this podcast content and guests? These are the kinds of conversations (and amazing humans) we will have in my new community and container. If you are an action-oriented and accomplished professional who is pivoting into service-based entrepreneurship and are ready to get out of theory and into practice, join my waitlist to cut through the noise and get to the money here: www.akuanm.com/cheatcode

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "Reflect on all those elements, what needs to be potentially delayed? What needs to be removed or deleted? What maybe needs to be delegated? What are all those elements, make sure that you create space prior to taking the holiday to reflect through that and really break that down for yourself." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "Block out your calendar, even if you're not someone who's handing out your calendar to others, make sure that everyone who's aware needs to be you know, is aware." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "Give yourself permission to be bored, because you best believe I was bored on parts of my holiday. And that was the point just sitting and being by myself or even when I went to the beach with several friends, I spent time by myself and I enjoyed it because I was doing nothing." -  Akua Nyame-Mensah

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 55 about How to Take A Holiday as a Founder- Solopreneur- CEO

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time, and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this week's podcast episode of the open door conversations podcast. And this week's episode has been inspired actually, by my summer, I'm not sure if this is actually going to be the name of the episode or not. But initially, the topic I wanted to cover in today's conversation is how to take a vacation as a solopreneur. As a founder, as a CEO or as a managing director, I find that a lot of the things that come up for me now as a solopreneur, primarily, are very similar to what came up for me when I was a managing director slash co founder or whatever title I wanted to give myself when I was working for a fast growing startup, I really felt like I was going to miss out on something I was going to miss out on money, right, I was going to miss something or someone wasn't going to be able to cover for me. So if any of those things resonate with you, this is the podcast episode for you. Because I'm going to be reflecting on the two weeks I took off this summer, and do a little post holiday talk through and really work through some of the things I think I did well, with the support that I have to make sure I feel comfortable taking those two weeks off. And also, most importantly, he's back into work. So let's get into it. Do you ever feel like you take a break, and then once you get back into working, you need another break? Because you literally walk into work, or start work up again and you feel like there's a million fires, you have to put out a million things you need to do a million emails you need to respond to Has that ever happened to you? And if so, what did you do? Alright, so from my perspective, that's one of the biggest things that comes up for me. And truly, I had to deal with that a bit this summer. But beyond the fact that coming back to work can sometimes be overwhelming. What are some of the things that stop us from taking a real break? Right? And these are things that I even had to deal with this summer as thinking about what do I want to do? What is a break look like? And I think that's actually what the first step is, you get to define what taking a break is. So if you want to have a better understanding about what I mean around this, please take a listen to my podcast episode on rest, where I talk through the different types of rest. And so if you are going to take a break from work, I really recommend that you reflect a little bit on what type of rest you think you need, and how you can get that. All right. Another thing that you maybe want to define or decide on as you take a break is how and when and whether or not to engage, right. So that's something that I also had a conversation with my VA about, and we actually decided that we were not going to engage at all. Alright, so what does that actually look like? What does that mean for my business? Specifically, I'm going to let you know. And then most importantly, one of the things I think that sometimes stops us from taking a real break or makes it feel like we never really took a break is the fact that we don't allow ourselves to ease back into work. So that's easier said than done for some people. But if you're someone who has, for the most part, complete control over where you focus your time and energy, you really have control over the resources and the teams that support you, you can definitely ease back into it. And if you're someone who maybe isn't a founder or CEO or have your own business, you can still easily back into work if you leverage relationships appropriately, and you set expectations appropriately. So as I talk through sort of my reflections, my post-holiday reflections, my hope is that you can walk away with one or two thoughts or ideas on maybe something that you can do differently. And you're also more than welcome to reach out and let me know some of the things that I can do differently moving forward as well. All right, so let's walk through some of the things that I kept in mind when I decided to take about two weeks off, right. So one of the reasons why I took two weeks off is because my VA is actually getting married. And I thought, well, this is actually a great time for me to take off as well, because it's actually around my birthday. And last year, I think I took about one week or so off around my birthday. And this week, I was like, Let's do two, right. So the first thing I really did was I made the decision to take two weeks off, or eight, I wanted to take time for myself. And I also want to spend time with awesome humans as well. Right? So the first thing I made that decision, right? What does it actually look like in practice, I blocked off my calendar for the break. Because if you've been listening to my podcast for any length of time, you know that I let people schedule on my calendar directly, I have a whole process and tools and things I use. And so I needed to make sure that that time was blocked off. So one, I couldn't schedule anything and that no one else could schedule anything, right. And my you know, my calendar updates automatically based on that. All right, I also blocked space to reflect on what needed to be done and completed or delayed because of that holiday. And for me that included several pieces, core pieces to my business, including my social media and social media, we decided that we would keep it going but that it all would be scheduled in advance. So if you've been receiving any of my newsletters, if you've seen anything on social media, all of that was scheduled in advance. All right, another thing that we decided to do was my podcast was going to go on a break, right. And we kind of ended on a high because we ended with going over 50 episodes, we've been doing it for over a year, it's the perfect time to take a break, right. So we actually took a full break from the podcast, right. And so this was really the biggest pieces of my business, I think I had to keep in mind. And then the last thing was, because I've decided that I wanted to think about how else I could diversify my business, especially since so many people were talking about the recession. And I also wanted to get an idea of what it'd be like to work with other organisations as part of their training pool or facilitator pool or coach pool. I was going to be going through a training during this time, but I let them know in advance that, hey, I might not be able to join or Hey, because of where I'm going, there might be terrible internet. Because I had these two weeks that I was taking off. And I decided I wanted to go somewhere. So you really just want to make sure right that once again, you want to reflect on what needs to be done, what needs to be completed prior or what needs to be delayed. Because that holiday that you're about to take and you want to inform the appropriate humans, right the right people, right, your business partners, your clients if necessary. If you're part of anything external to you, especially if you work for yourself, it's really important that you keep them all up to date. Right? Once again, because of how my business is built. I actually didn't need to really let anyone know, because that just comes down to scheduling. And if a client asked me, Hey, why can I schedule during these two weeks? I'm taking a break, right? But there are some people who are happy with out of office messages, we'll talk a little bit more about what informing individuals and companies can look like. Okay, so I made the decision, I blocked off my calendar, right to reflect on what needed to be done. And I did that in partnership with my VA, I then blocked space to ease into the vacation as well. So I also decided that I needed to work less prior to my holiday. And it was very weird, because I was like, I don't have anything to do I want to make work for myself. And I had to remind myself is like no, I'm going on holiday. That's why I don't have work to do. Because it doesn't make sense because I'm ramping down, right. And it was really hard for me to do. But I just had to remind myself and I found some other projects and fun things to do. And then I also blocked space to ease back into work. And I also block space for new content creation. So I'm actually recording this during a week that was blocked, to ease back into work. Right. So I had a week last week where it was really difficult for me to start but you know, schedule a few meetings, you know, had had some time to reflect on what I wanted my content to actually look like, you know, for the rest of the year and into 2023. And now I'm starting to actually implement that. So I actually outlined this conversation I'm having right now. I'm recording right now last week, but I'm recording it now. So I can ease back into starting this podcasting journey. And in addition to that, I also made decisions about wanting to be about two weeks in advance I have my podcast as well, once again, to just ease the burden of creating podcast episodes. So those are all the things that I tried to keep in mind prior to this vacation. And now I'm finally implementing some of these things that I decided in advance. All right, what did it look like to actually inform the individuals and companies that worked with me or support me? So the biggest one, of course, was making sure that my podcast manager knew, you know, making sure I was on the same page with my VA in terms of how we actually wanted to communicate, and what did it actually look like if things didn't go? Well, I also told a few of the companies that I partnered with that, hey, I wouldn't be available to start on specific projects, clients who I had recurring meetings with. So those are meetings that were already scheduled on my calendar, I let them know and that they needed to move them. And I gave them additional dates for that. And the last thing on here, I put just to let people know, but you can also make sure that you have an out of office message, right and Oh, message. Personally, I'm not a fan of them. But I've seen some really great ones this summer. And I'd recommend that that's something that you keep in mind, if you feel like you want to make sure that people can get in touch with you have a response sooner rather than later. Personally, the way I approach it, you just won't hear from me until I'm available. It's pretty straightforward. So these are some of the things that I tried to keep in mind in terms of preparing for my holiday. And I think overall, it's really been helpful because I am starting to finally ease back into work. And I will say it's a bit difficult, because I'm so out of practice, I guess, with doing some of these routines that I've had in the past. But in addition, I've also moved to a new space. So one of the things I'm also doing these two weeks that I've given myself to ease back into work is building new routines, and building new habits in this new space that I'm in. So that's a key thing that I've tried to keep in mind, as I you know, get back into work, get back into doing things online. And next week, I think I actually start with my new podcast episode will be coming out or you'll be listening to this, I think. And I think I will also start lives as well. Right. So just getting back into that as well. So the key thing I really just want to you know, just hammer down on or help people keep in mind is that a vacation or break can actually be very tiring. If you're not intentional, as I mentioned earlier on, when you're making that decision to take a break, it's also really important for you to define what rest or that break looks like. And so yes, to some extent, I set goals around how I want to spend that time. Earlier on in this conversation, I mentioned that I wanted to spend time by myself. And I know for some of you listening to that, that might sound a little crazy, like why would you want to go on vacation with yourself or by herself. And for me, it's really important because there was a time where I couldn't really be by myself, I had a lot of negative thoughts. And so I thought, you know, being around others, and you know, surrounding myself with other people and other people's thoughts, and, you know, their voice would be better for me. But ultimately, I want to make sure I'm okay. And so when I'm by myself and I you know, don't have a lot of negative thoughts. And I'm really excited to do things by myself, I feel like I'm usually in a great place. So for my vacation that was an important part of the quote unquote, goals I set for myself spending time by myself, and spending time with other people that also are you know, that also renew me and also make me feel good as well. And I think I did a pretty good job on both those ends. And so a key thing to keep in mind. And this is just me reflecting on my experience taking holidays, especially holidays that involve leaving because you can take a break and a holiday in your own space if you want. But travelling with people and family can be tiring. So if possible, make sure you give yourself a buffer. And so I described it as giving myself that ramp down and giving myself that ramp up, right. Making sure you give yourself a buffer. So if you're travelling during the week, make sure you have that weekend to come back to and really rest before you start again. If you're travelling during the weekend, can you take that Monday off before you get started, just to make sure that you're well rested because travel can also be tiring as well. Another thing that I kept in mind to really make sure that I was even able to spend very little time online was that I chose to go to a resort in the middle of the week, not only because it was cheaper in the middle of the week, but I went to a resort because this particular place had really bad internet. And it was great because yeah, I could do WhatsApp calls and I could WhatsApp every so often, but not all the time. So I really loved that. And then the last thing I just put in here around me being intentional and setting goals for myself around my holiday or my break was I went somewhere that I could really rest because I chose someplace that had no internet really. And it also had pretty bad mobile internet actually. So you know it was hit or miss sometimes no TV. I loved it. I absolutely loved it. It was great. So you know just once again, if you want to have a better understanding of the different types of rest that you might need, make sure you listen to my podcast episodes about the different types of rap Just just to get you started, because not being around, a lot of technology was a huge part of it, I don't think I took my laptop, I did have my iPad, and I had my phone, but I wasn't on it all the time, I actually read quite a bit on my Kindle. So those are just things to keep in mind. Right, as I, you know, sharing my reflections, my post-holiday reflections, some things, I think that worked well, for me, what sort of being intentional and setting goals around what my holiday or my break really was going to look like. And you know, you can do that too, right? If you have those stories where you're telling yourself like, I can't take a break, because I'm the only person who's making decisions and the only person within my business, I really would recommend that you take a second to reflect on that. And you know, start small, you don't have to take two weeks off, right, you can start with just a day, you can start with a week, it can be a lot shorter, but making sure that you're taking time for yourself and that you surround yourself with people who really help to make you feel good and don't take anything from you is really important to be able to come back feel refreshed and excited about whatever you're going to be doing. So here's how you can do this, right? If I can do this, you can do this. Alright, so this is how you can do this, right? Just a quick recap of what I shared, because I felt like it was slightly rambley. One, make sure you make that decision, make the decision to take a holiday decide on how long that looks. Right? Define what that looks like for you make sure you block out your calendar, right? Even if you're not someone who's handing out your calendar to others, make sure that everyone who's aware needs to be you know, is aware, right? Reflect on all those elements, what needs to be potentially delayed? What needs to be removed or deleted? What maybe needs to be delegated? What are all those elements, make sure that you create space prior to taking the holiday to reflect through that and really break that down for yourself, and then inform the right stakeholders and collaborators who are going to support you with that, right? Is there someone you can outsource something to to something needs to be automated? When are they going to do that work? Right? Because it should all be done prior to your holiday. All right. One of the things maybe that you have to review before going the next thing I have on here is building the processes and batching the elements. And that's probably very specific to my business, it might look a little bit different for you, but what are the processes that need to be built? What are the things that you need to approve prior to leaving? What can you do before you go and make sure that you're actually you know, trying to plan that out in advance. And so it doesn't all happen that last week before you leave because that last week before you leave, you want to be ramping down. Okay, for me, right, that includes that social media piece that includes batching, my newsletters that were all done in advance. The next thing I have on here is take your holiday and give yourself permission to be bored, because you best believe I was bored on parts of my holiday. And that was the point just sitting and being by myself or even when I went to the beach with several friends, I spent time by myself and I enjoyed it because I was doing nothing. All right. And then of course, the last thing I recommend is kind of what I'm doing right now. And it is a bit of a stream of consciousness. But I hope that you've been able to pull out some interesting bits that you can actually apply to what you're doing in your life and your business. Check in to see what can be improved next time. All right. And also right, make sure your next holiday if it's scheduled outside of the regular national holidays that we get is already scheduled. And you best believe I've already scheduled my holiday for the rest of this year. So I'm doing something in November. And of course, I blocked out most of my December. And I've actually already put my two weeks in for my August next year as well. So I've already put it in my calendar, and I'm already working and planning towards it. All right. So check in right do a quick reflection to see what went well. And what didn't go well. I know one of the things that I'm hoping to do better next time, is just being a little bit more polished with my content. I feel like I could have had a bit more of an edge to it. But I'm really happy with what we were able to create. And I'm really glad that it didn't involve me or my VA having to go in there and do that much. So that's really what I wanted to share with you with this first podcast episode back. Once again, if you have any thoughts, any questions, feel free to reach out. But please make sure that you take a break sooner rather than later. And make sure you ramp down and ramp up and give yourself time to reflect on what went well and maybe what can be done better next time. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, stay safe and stay sane. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you You so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane


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