Well, not really.
I haven't truly "been away" since the year 2000, when I was also known as "Trial 14."
That was my identifying name for the BlackBerry prototype given to me (it was the 14th test unit in the country at the time) at a Toronto press conference in May of that year because of my lofty position at mobile media pioneer Airborne Entertainment.
Since then, because of said device and others like it, I've been "out of the office," "on vacation," "incommunicado" even...but never really "away." Since that late spring day at the turn of the millennium, requests, responsibilities, cries for attention and/or calls for action have followed me everywhere.
Because of that, I've never been one to lay down one of those "Out of Office" auto-replies, because I knew what everyone else knew--it was a lie. I had access to email, and people had access to me, 25/8. But no regrets, it was my choice, and I lived with the consequences, both good and bad.
So here's where I'm going with this--on Friday last week, I sent out three emails to people who DO believe in "Out of Office" notifications. Here are two of 'em verbatim, the first friendly and routine, the second terse and almost blaming me for having the nerve to send an email (identities hidden to protect the innocent):
I am currently out of the office on a business trip and will be returning on Monday, April 26. I will be checking emails periodically. Should you need immediate assistance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 310-555-1234. Thank you for your email.
My regular work week is Monday - Thursday.
Now there are two ways to do just about anything: the boring-standard or the innovative-exciting. The first two subscribe to the former.
Here's the third one, which I'm not only envious of because of its creativity and personality (including its subject line, which was "Yanik has Left The Building,") but because of the guts of the kindred spirit who sent it. When Yanik Silver is away from the office, he's REALLY away:
Thanks for the note - I'm currently off email until 4/26. So in order to not have a bazillion emails (yes, this is a scientific number, I counted) when I return - your message has been deleted.
But have no fear -- if you need an immediate response, please email my Rock Star assistant, Chasity - chasity@
or just shoot me a note after April 26th.
However, if you really need something urgently - text my cell phone or try bribing Chasity to find me. (I hear she likes chocolate!)
So what's the lesson here?
First of all, I don't see the need for messages the variety of example #1 or #2 anymore. They're obsolete. If you're checking your email periodically, or are going to be back in the office on Monday, trust me, we can live with the delay of your response. What's more--and what's worse--is that the onus is on you to deal with me, and the deluge that awaits you, upon your return.
But in Yanik's case, he flips the funnel. In a way that's cheeky yet honest, he puts the onus on me to deal with him. I decide--assistant, text message, or re-send after April 26th. I'm now on his schedule and playing by his rules. And by the way, uh...I've been deleted ;)
But here's what I really learned this week:
I learned the difference between "Not Here" and "Away," and more importantly, that you CAN truly "Get Away"...if you want to.
Gonna have to try Yanik's way sometime soon.
P.S. Who is Yanik Silver?
He's an Author/Entrepreneur/Adventurer with a whole lot more guts than most of us and who's had way more fun than practically anyone I know.
I called him a kindred spirit earlier in this blog, but that's a compliment to me; but I'm actually in awe of his accomplishments and his online sales savvy.