How to take a vacation. I'm serious!

You're a founder or a VP, and you need to be there 24–7 to manage your team and run your business, right? WRONG!

Gary Vanbutsele
5 min readJul 31


Aah, July! Sweet summer holidays!

But you haven't taken one in years because you still think that the hustle culture is going to help you make it. Or you think that your team can't do it without you.

Let me help you before you burn out, or, worse, decide to move to an island.

I've been there, so I know what I'm talking about.

The philosophy of taking a vacation

Can you recognize yourself in this story?

…When I started my first business, I clearly overdid it. I had no weekends, slept only a few hours, took not a single holiday or even a day off. I had conference calls until 1 am, started another one at 5 am to overcome time zone differences. I cancelled most of the social events or even coffees with friends and just became obsessed with working on my project. — Entrepreurial story

That was me before I had kids and before I realized I started Whale.

I'm obsessed with my business. I can tell you that there has never been a day where I haven't thought of my business BUT over the years, I've realized that to be more effective, I need to be more effective!

And that means taking vacations.

Yes, this is my gorgeous wife and I on a trip to Egypt

Find a place or person, ideally both, that fuels you and gives you energy. Maybe you love the beach or the mountains? My wife and I love to explore new destinations! It always rejuvenates us and gives us energy.

There's something about traveling to new and far-off destinations and different cultures that help us both (she's also a super successful entrepreneur) to spark our thinking.

Here's what a vacation will show you;

  • The strengths of your team
  • The areas for improvement in your business

If you can't take a vacation, you don't have the right team working in your business. OR your don't have the right processes in place to empower them.

You'll know which.

The point is your job as a Founder, VP or Executive isn't to make sure that the business or team runs. It's to greatly impact the level of growth. And that's a vastly different function.

Vacation should serve to power the growth of the company and a sustainable level of personal productivity.

6 Ways to take a vacation

1. Plan Well in Advance

Start planning your holiday well in advance to ensure a smooth transition. Inform your team and stakeholders about the upcoming break, providing ample time for them to prepare and delegate tasks accordingly.

I realized a long time ago that the quality of my vacation depends on how well-trained my team members are. It's why I built Whale and it's why from day 1, Whale is our pod's best friend!

2. Delegate and Trust Your Team

One of the most crucial aspects of taking a holiday as a founder or VP is delegating responsibilities.

If you don't have capable team members to handle critical tasks in your presence or absence, then you're doing something wrong!

NB. Trust your team to make decisions and solve problems, empowering them to step up and excel in your absence. They've got this!

3. Set Boundaries and Communicate

You can't tell your team that you're taking a well-deserved vacation and then check in every 2 seconds.

No. You need a break and let them do their stuff!

Establish clear boundaries for your holiday. Let your team know how and when they can reach you in case of emergencies but other than that, you don't exist.

Setting boundaries will ensure you get the rest you need to come back fully fueled.

4. Implement Systems and Automation

Once upon a time, which was actually just back in 2018, I was leading an IT Services Firm.

I felt I could never get ahead or actually. I just felt that I was constantly putting out fires. And it was my own fault really, because I was focused on trying to solve the immediate problem(s) at hand instead of empowering my team to solve them. As the team grew, things just got worse.

I knew we’d never be able to scale the business unless I found a way to do this. And so the seed for Whale was planted. And I began to think about systemizing as the way I would be able to scale my business. And that clients could scale theirs.

Systems and automation doesn't just enable you to go on vacation, it enables you to live. To actually have a life as an entrepreneur. And that's something you can't put a price on!

5. Prepare for Emergencies

Even with the best planning, emergencies can arise. Be prepared for unexpected situations by having plans in place.

Share relevant contacts, important documentation, and instructions on how to handle critical issues. By equipping your team with the necessary resources, you can reduce stress and anxiety during your holiday.

6. Relax and Disconnect

Ok! You've arrived. Hopefully, you're reading this before your next round of golf or as you're about to head to the beach. So listen up.

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, allow yourself to relax and disconnect during your holiday!

Embrace the opportunity to recharge, spend quality time with loved ones, and pursue activities that bring you joy. Taking a break from the daily grind will enhance your overall well-being and leave you feeling more energized upon your return.

PS If you need to reply to this post, I'm currently on vacation in France but got one of my team to share it. So if you need to, just contact one of them. They'll have everything you need!

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Gary Vanbutsele

Co-founder and CEO of Whale. Former founder of an IT services company where every day felt like putting out fires. Now obsessed with unlocking growth!