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Monday, June 18, 2007

Workload 101 (before vacation)

This time next week, I'll be on a plane with Vivian and Eric to Israel, via Milan, Italy. We decided to take this 3 1/2 week vacation back in December, just as the business reached the 'inflection point' described in the earliest blog entries.

Leaving a business for a vacation -- especially a business that is in the early stages of rebuilding -- is not quite the same as leaving a job. But I'm confident everything will go well. Our small team of employees and contractors has a good grasp of their responsibilities and I expect the values and culture of this business -- respect for individuals, family, and teamwork -- will prevail when I am a few thousand miles away.

Operationally, the biggest challenge is I haven't hired a full-time editor yet. This means I must write a pile of stuff, right up to the day I leave, and then rely on a competent local freelancer (with help from the rest of the staff) to co-ordinate the final copy editing and review for this issue; and to take charge to ensure that the content is mostly ready for the next issue (I'll return just before the production deadline for the August issues.)

Interestingly, I am far less anxious leaving for the Mideast this year than I was staying at a cottage just an hours' drive from the office last summer. Then, even with a staff editor, the business truly was in a distress state -- there were tensions, hostility, lack of trust, discordance, and all-around anxiety throughout the organization. I couldn't leave my desk for a day, I thought, without dire consequences. (These glum assessments proved right, at least partially -- as the crisis reached its peak, we ultimately needed to lose virtually all of our employees to hit 'bottom' and begin rebuilding.)

While I'm away, of course, I won't be totally out of touch. Israel has a well-developed and inexpensive cellular network. In fact, I ordered two phones (one for me and the other for Vivian) online -- they were delivered Expresspost by the company's agent in suburban Toronto. When we arrive in Israel, we plug them in and when we start using them, pay $1.00 a day per phone plus quite low per-minute rates. With a $10.00 adaptor plug, I'll be able to use my laptop -- however, I will need to research wireless services and set up communications when I am there.

As for this blog, I'll take a vacation -- I've registered another blog, which, I expect, will report every day (or at least every day I can find an Internet connection) on my discoveries during this long vacation. I've posted a couple of entries there already.

This week, as we prepare to leave, my blogging may be lighter than usual, as well. I've got to compress a couple of weeks' writing into one week; and of course, in addition to my personal travel planning, must make the arrangements for staff to work effectively in my absence.

But it is fun, and satisfying, to be able to take some time off,, and it is refreshing and exciting to look towards the future.

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