BITN

BITN: 3 Pandemic Consolation Prizes

Posted on: Thursday, April 1st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, BITN | Leave a comment

Could the dark clouds be clearing? For real?

We’ve endured more than a year of pandemic pain. But, as the interns in charge of this periodic post say, let’s also look for the bright spots. After all, this era may move on soon—or at least go to the bathroom. And then what? Some say a reboot of the Roaring 20s! Some say more plagues, possible inflation, a return to Times Square by millions of drunk tourists.

Only time will tell. Meanwhile, here are 3 newsy items that demonstrate the upside of this downer of a time…

Got Zoom fatigue? Does your vision still function? Have dark circles grown under your eyes? You’re not alone. And as a preacher of Unplugging, BreakAway abhors screen obsession and encroachment. So thanks, Citibank, for recognizing the damage done to employees by the blurring of work/life lines and over-Zooming. May other firms follow their smart lead. 

  • Bourdain is back

RIB (Rest in Bliss), Anthony Bourdain, who left us June 8, 2018. And here’s a toast to the crew who combed through his writings and collections to launch a posthumous book, “World of Travel: An Irreverent Guide.” Critics are crowing; fans and friends are elated at sage travel advice like, “Drink some wine, walk around a bit more, eat, and repeat. See, it’s easy.”

Sooner than later, we’ll be ambling in Paris or wine-touring in, well, anywhere. Here’s a great book for whetting that appetite in preparation.

Ever hit the road in a motorhome? My experience is limited, but the memories are epic. And its place on my bucket list remains high as the ‘take your time’ mantra grows in appeal. Winnebago took advantage of C-19, with soaring profits and booming sales as people discovered this relatively safe, easy, and potentially affordable way to wander the world.

Executives believe the boom started before the pandemic. After all, not everyone loves airplane-based travel. And lifestyles often shift, not to mention the baby boomers moving into retirement but not necessarily the nursing home. What’s not to like? Your home, stuff, and edibles travel with you; the outdoors is always just a window away.

  • Spring has sprung

Spring is always lovely. But this year comes with the added bloom of a post-pandemic reality. The 3 blurbs above remind us that even dark days have their upside, and that we must endeavor to…

Keep the faith.

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BITN: Celebrity Sabbatical Shuffle

Posted on: Monday, February 8th, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN | Leave a comment

Most likely, today’s noted vagabonds will reside in fancier digs… 

  • Trump Escapes to Mara Lago

The interns have been busy again, and joyfully bring us a fresh installment of BreakAways in the News that focuses on some famous folks are seeking a hiatus, starting with…

That man who was once the most powerful, most omnipresent, and most outspoken person in the world is taking a break. Lucky for him, he owns his own luxury resort in sunny Florida, among other places. We hope he is recovering from his exhausting stint in DC, a place he never much liked anyhow, and finding time for family, friends, and deep reflection.

On the other hand, some—including the NY Daily News—have proposed that the Ex-Prez should have been shipped away, like the ancient Greeks did to disruptive citizens. Yep, a 10-year timeout-sabbatical would happen, via their voting process. There was no incarceration, no torture, no drama. And you could quietly return to Athens after 10.

Who needs impeachment? I think the Greeks were on to something. And we might all enjoy making a large list of candidates worthy of a ten-year disappearance.

  • The Archbishop of Canterbury Sneaks Away

Across the pond a few months ago, The Brits were abuzz about the controversial timing of Archbishop Justin Welby taking a 3-month sabbatical amid a crippling pandemic, crumbling economy, and political mess. Opinion writer Karen Armstrong backed up her disdain by chronicling how Jesus and Buddha worked their butts off, and that such lame leadership may help explain why regular church attendance in the UK has dropped to 8%.

Of note: Many people defended the Archbishop’s right to time off, and the debate yawned on. BreakAway has no official stance on this issue, other than to ponder that, if a Somebody of such importance and power can simply shrug and slink off to a secluded vacation, shouldn’t we Nobodies?

  • Pamela Anderson Signs off from SM

Brace yourself: Baywatch actress and Playboy model Pam A has taken a serious sabbatical from SM, stating, “I am genuinely inspired by reading and being in nature. I am free.” She signs off with thanks and blessings and, “Let’s hope you find the hope and inspiration to find your purpose and try not to be seduced by wasted time.”

BreakAway applauds ALL of that—loud and long clear—with real noise, not just emojis of claps and fireworks and balloons.

But wait, there’s more… Turns out that, some months ago, Ms. Anderson became the new creative director of a platform called ‘jasmin,’ which connects users with influencers and celebrities who can help you with, uh, well, issues and aspirations and stuff. Oh well…

  • We Await Our Turn…

In conclusion, BreakAway wishes a robust bon voyage to these 3 famous wanderers—and hopes that those of us lacking such fame and fabulousness will somehow soon follow in their sidesteps.

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BITN: Gap Years, Resume Gaps, & Killer Perks

Posted on: Monday, November 2nd, 2020
Posted in: HR FYI, Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

  • Pandemic lemonade: Take time off

An FA group out of SF is encouraging their Gen-X clients to consider a shift into Gap-Year mode during these helter-skelter times. Yep, the Advisory Group of San Francisco proclaims to their 40-something investors that, “midlife is now even more intense.” And that research shows that age 47 trends to be the low point in the lifetime happiness curve. So…why not? A 16-p guide is available for the asking.

Midlife is now even more intense

AGSF also mentions “gas pedal risk,” that go-go faster-faster feeling that can happen when life brings maxed-out demands like kid-rearing, peak career loads, and … so much more. Nice idea, a mid-life gap year. BreakAway applauds and of course advocates exactly that (your children will thank you!) along with gap years (or months) most anytime throughout this “one wild and precious life.”

  • Um, about those lost years…

Okay, back to work! Last summer, MoneyTalksNews ran an article about a common theme that continues to grow in attention: How to explain gaps in resumes. The challenge thickens given that many firms essentially have robots that screen resumes via “tracking sytems.” Said bots may flag and dislike breaks! (After all, robots never rest.)

So what to do? The author suggests being upfront and giving a reason for the gap in both cover letter and resume, as research suggests that approach alone can up the odds of your info making it past the bot-bouncer by 60%. Mention any training and networking you’ve done. And of course, keep the focus on your key skills and talents.

At BreakAway, we fearlessly ask: Hey, doesn’t everybody need (and deserve) a pause now and then? Or are we really supposed to work from age 22 to 67 with nary a pit stop during the rat race? Besides, people who take time to raise children, help family, and travel curiously are just plain more well-rounded and worldly.

  • Best workplaces serve up juicy bennies

Comparably is a savvy site “Comparing Employers, Brands, and Salaries.” A recent and impressive post lauds 11 companies that offer innovative perks to keep employees content, motivated, and loyal! 2020 and its shifting work realities make such bonuses particularly useful and no doubt appreciated.

Examples include a home-office stipend, mental-health help with easy access, debt-free degrees, and (my favorite) virtual happy hours with at-home drink delivery during the pandemic.

All great, but what about FREE time? Here you go—just some of the ways that innovative employers are keeping their staffers savvy and sane…

·      Unlimited paid time off

·      Extended holiday weekends

·      Company-wide recharge days

·      1 mental-health day per month

·      Summer Fridays off

·      One-month sabbaticals after three years service

One month off after three years? If that doesn’t make recruiting and retention easier, we’re out of ideas! As countless prospective employees are likely saying…Sign me up!

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Kimmel & O’Connor Commend BreakAways; Wilderness Swamped

Posted on: Thursday, July 9th, 2020
Posted in: HR FYI, Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN | Leave a comment

Have you been tuning in to the late night comedy-talk shows? I hope so. Because even though Kimmel, Colbert & comrades have been recording in their home offices (and rec rooms and garages) they’ve been creating some of their best work. Absent the cheesy crowd noise and adulation, the hosts work harder and end up showing more star power.

More comedic relief, too. The summer we all want to forget (and survive) gets punched in the gut-laughs nightly, with crisp and daring monologues and occasional skits—often including family. Speaking of, Jimmy’s daughters are darling; they join him for a feature on Fridays. Their girly giggle-attacks are more contagious than the Coronavirus!

But Jimmy needs a break. According to the BoGlobe, he’s taking his longest break (a few months) after 18 years and 3,130 episodes. We’ll miss him. And hope that when he returns, he has a crowd to cheer him on. But now we know: If not, well, he’ll still provide essential laughter therapy.

  • Justice O’Connor’s 5-year break transformed her future

Sandra Day O’Connor’s career is legendary, with top-tier positions in all 3 branches of government and, ultimately, a long stint on the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet she speaks of the 5-year break to raise her 3 sons as perhaps the most game-changing chapter of all.

A babysitter quit; could happen to anyone. But this was the early 1960s, and daycare options were virtually non-existent. So O’Connor became a homemaking mom, and eventually had to volunteer, scheme, and fight her way back to employment. Boy, did she!

Her story gets sterling telling thanks to Carol Fishman Cohen, founder of iRelaunch, an admirable advocacy of career breaks and workplace re-entry. Her TED talk offers a touchstone for our vital cause, with millions of views to prove it!

Justice O’Connor’s trail-blazing example proved what was possible: that a career break is not a permanent roadblock, but rather a life-changing, character-shaping step along the way.

Our thanks to both of these innovators for their great work and, especially, for their BreakAway leadership!

  • MN wilderness is swamped

The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed most travel dreams, and likely countless simple summer vacation plans. Here in MN, however, the camping and outdoor getaway business is booming. State parks report a 62% increase in day traffic over a year ago. And popular places like Lake Superior’s North Shore have become so busy that ill-mannered neophytes are a problem

Knowing that people are finding a way to escape their 4 walls and 55 worries to absorb the great outdoors offers a ray of sunshine in gloomy times. But really, people? Cutting down pines to increase your view? Throwing trash in Boundary Waters latrines? Emptying an RV septic tank by the side of the road? Hmmm. Maybe these morons should stay in lock-down!

As one outfitter theorizes, “The world is in a disruptive mode, maybe people are caring less…the world is coming to an end so we’ll do whatever the hell we want to do.”

Sad. Because these attditudes can become self-fulfilling destinies. And don’t we have enough to lament and fret about without engaging in reckless, recreational destruction?

Yes, we do. So go. BreakAway. Get your yayas out. But please, people: Clean up after yourself. And be kind.

Keep the faith.

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BITN: A Royal BreakAway, Travel Trends, & Back to Work

Posted on: Monday, November 11th, 2019
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

The interns never sleep at the BreakAway HQ. Here are 3 ditties that caught their wired eyes, and why…

Yes, even the Royals, in their own words, get “tired and even burnt out.” So they’re doing the right thing, and taking 6 weeks off—having endured the birth of their second child, a rigorous travel schedule, and (of course) relentless media attention.

Meghan referred to their whole rigmarole as, “existing, not living,” when they recently appeared on an ABC interview. It’s easy for us commoners to scowl at their ills, perhaps coveting their fortune and popularity. Still, they just want to focus on their family, their missions in Africa, and finding sanity in their incomparably complicated reality. We emphatically approve of their majestic yet humbly human aspirations.

Sure, Travelers Today may not be T&L, but we like their observations—like these rising trends: Green; Canada, solo, and nomadic.

The nomadic approach seems to be appealing to families—who like to pack it up, leap into home-schooling, and take advantage of a key benefit of the growing freelancing economy: Freedom. Freelancers and nomads rarely know exactly where they’re going, and that’s exactly the point.

Having been there (all over) and done that (going wandering with family), I personally offer a standing O and advise everyone who can conceive of the notion to keep that faith alive. Life offers few profundities that compare. Your children will be forever transformed and, whatever may happen in the hectic years that follow, you’ll cherish those ever-vivid memories.

Yes, this topic fills the sabbatical nets, and typically focuses on women returning to the office after family leave. I politely like to remind these influencers that men also take family leave and BreakAways of various kinds. (That said, most of the advice, if not the approach, is rather gender neutral.)

Target market or not, Jennifer Gefsky has published a book, “Your Turn: Careers, Kids and Comebacks—A Working Mother’s Guide.” Her Fast Company “5 Minute Read” offers these tips: Revisit past successes; Put yourself in your kids’ shoes (and stay positive for their sake and good modeling); Take a risk (request a big meeting, speak in public); Tell a friend (take on an accountability partner); Don’t over-question yourself—because sometimes the answer really is, “I don’t know.”

  • Who knows?

She’s right. “I don’t know” may be the answer to many of life’s hardest questions. Will we save the planet? Will America ever encourage career breaks, family leave, and nomadic escapes? Will YOU embark on the BreakAway of your dreams? Will I…again, and if so when?

I don’t know. But let’s keep asking, writing, photographing, and chasing dreams. For fun, for art, for life, and for Mr. Chekov…

‘If you want to work on your art, work on your life.’ ­

– Anton Chekov

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BITN: Savvy Swede Sails; Vacations Develop; Sabbatical Sculptures

Posted on: Tuesday, August 20th, 2019
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN | Leave a comment

Our interns and executive assistants never sleep. At least since we brought on free coffee as a perk. So here are some recent BreakAways in the News they’ve found worthy of inclusion in this ongoing series…

  • Young Swede sails for change

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate-change activist, has been generating a LOT of attention lately as she sails from Europe to New York as part of her campaign to increase awareness of and action re: climate change. She arrived today—on a zero-emissions sailboat with her dad a crew of 3 others.

Now THAT is one impressive journey! As one of our Sabbatical Suggestions, we state to “Accept Your Mission” when on a BreakAway. Could be to lose some weight. Might be to rekindle romance. Play guitar, learn a language, bake bread. Greta thinks bigger, like, save the world.

Beyond humbling and inspirational, this story brings new profundity to the ending of Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

  • Use your vakay for career dev’t

An upbeat career-coaching site called Thrive/Global offers a fresh take on vacation: Use some time while relaxing to boost your skills. At BreakAway, we cheerlead loudly for people to take ALL their vacation time—and might prefer breaks that prioritize the vacate and the shun. Still, whatever works. Right?

Author May Busch offers 5 tips, including set up an easy win for when you get home…set aside time each day for reflection about work stuff that may otherwise get inadequate attention…and, my favorite, think on paper.

It’s trendy, of course, to go paperless (if that’s possible). But Ms. Busch points out what many of us old-schoolers know and practice: You spark fresh ideas—and activate different parts of your noodle—by noodling creatively on papyrus.

  • “Sabbatical” sculpture ignites Burning Man

Burning Man is happening right about now on a dessert filled with tripping seekers and trippy happenings. But you knew that.

We’re unsure of just WHY one of the buzzy sculptures is named Sabbatical by Neophyte Nexus. But it is, and it’s cool. So the interns got excited and are begging for a company junket to the Festival next year. The motion is under consideration.

Meanwhile, check out these top 5 BM installations, including Sabbatical. And maybe—must maybe—we’ll seeya at Burning Man next year!

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BITN: The Unretired; SM Anxiety; Blackface Sabbatical

Posted on: Saturday, July 13th, 2019
Posted in: BITN | Leave a comment

Summer is super-active; even the loons are busy dodging looping boats. The interns keep chasing after more BITN bits—just ahead. And I’m attending a retiring party tonight for an educator who walks away with full bennies + pension at 58. Not bad, eh? Especially compared to story snapshot #1…

  • Retirement? It’s not happening…

The AP tackled a mountain of stats this week further confirming the present economic boom works for some more than others—for whom WORK will remain a key piece of their long-term survival. They hope.

23% say they don’t expect to stop working—EVER. Only 29% over 50 believe they are extremely or very prepared. And 56% of younger adults say they’re unprepared to retire.

The article is loaded with stories and stats that, according to the MYBA Armchair Economist, are nothing short of distressing. Not mentioned (as usual) but most important is the exploding income equality gap: The top 10% now hold 70% of the wealth in the USA. Beyond that, the AP story discusses stern retirement realities including health problems, longer life spans, caring for sick family, expensive healthcare and cost of living, and, of course, a crazy little thing called aging.

Good luck, everyone. We may need it.

  • SM mania making many wired

The MYBA interns are tech-savvy, of course, so we take advantage of that AND have mandatory unplugged times daily. That’s a good idea, says this Philly Enquirer story about e-stress, which confirms, “ Several studies have linked social media use with depression, envy, lower self-esteem, and social anxiety.”

To deal with this onslaught of self-induced stress, the article offers some common-sense (yet perhaps unhip) suggestions like:

  • Limit when and where to use SM
  • Avoid SM before bed; you’ll get better sleep
  • Schedule MULTIDAY breaks from SM, and/or limit your daily time
  • Trust your feelings (Luke); if SM brings you down, get up and turn it off
  • AND BEST OF ALL: Pay more attention to your REAL-LIFE relationships

The article also acknowledges the potential upsides of SM and tech as tools, like, some folks find meditation apps effective. Others find online communities that help with various struggles. And some, we hope, get a laugh a day out of some silly post (though the article didn’t mention that)!

Hmmm. Just a few days ago, the AP reported that a PA school principal wore blackface (to portray a TV star) to a team-building exercise. This was eventually deemed not okay, so the principal was given a one-year sabbatical, and a future position as a teacher—not an admin.

A one-year sabbatical sounds pretty good right about now. So as punishments go…could be worse (as we say here in MN). As I try to think of a final comment to this odd story, I can only come up with: No comment.

Stay tuned for more BreakAways in the News. The world is watching us…

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BITN: Americans Stressed; Kids Over-Screened; Senior Workers Rock

Posted on: Saturday, May 4th, 2019
Posted in: BITN | Leave a comment
Kirk Horsted, Copenhagen
Kirk Horsted, Copenhagen

BreakAways in the News remains a full-time job for several part-time interns. And we are pleased with the latest highlights—all of which confirm that those of us preaching the gospel of balance may be crazy, but we are right. And smart!

  • Land of the tense, home of the crazed

NYT and a gazillion other media outlets reported the not-fake news that Americans are whack (do people still say that?). Yep. Not only are we Great Again, but we are also at the top of the heap of categories like: the most stressed; the most worried; the most angry. These findings come courtesy of Gallup’s annual poll of 150,000 people worldwide.

Lest we cry alone in our celebration beer, other nations’ peoples are also having some bad days. Anger, sadness, and worry reached all-time worldwide highs, making 2018 the darkest year for humanoids in a decade. There are bright spots, though, like Latin America. They bask in not only sunshine, but also some of the highest numbers for positive experiences and other metrics—despite problems like murder, poverty, and corruption.

Career break in Ecuador, anyone?

  • WHO screams, “Put that device down, kids!!!”

Parents, take note. The World Health Organization recently joined a long list of smart institutions stating that children have got to stop playing with their digitalia. Specifically, kids under 1 should NEVER do videos, games, and online stuff. And children 2-4 best do no more than an hour a day. WashPost and pretty much all surviving, credible media took note.

Experts cite some serious risks: Kids may impair development of interaction and social (not to be confused with social media) skills; brain development may blortz; and creativity (and learning) may feel like an outsource-able, rather than personal, pursuit.

Though many of us barely remember life before device devotion, these phenomena are new enough that research is still, uh, young. That said, the findings clearly conclude that development, exercise, sleep, and much more are at risk for families everywhere. So stop reading this story and go play in your sandbox!

  • Hey, Geezers: We need you!

First of all, we’ve got to stop using lingo like geezer, fogey, and old farts. Why? Because we need those folks to work, not nap, what with unemployment hitting a 50-year low of 3.6% yesterday. And we are also in (what BreakAway believes) is a reboot boom of Baby Boomers (and beyond) rising new levels of accomplishment, innovation, and creativity.

Today’s WSJ features an essay by Rich Karlgaard, author of the recent Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed by Early Achievement.” Mr. Karlgaard explains that brains and skills develop throughout a lifetime—and that many people peak in potential and output in later life, not just in the roaring 20s. “Precocious achievement is the exception, not the norm,” he writes, “The fact is, we mature and develop at different rates.”

Mr. Karlgaard uses neurology and numbers to make his case, and asserts that creativity (among other talents) actually increase with age. And that idea that young people can perform most tasks and challenges better than folks with more maturity? Balderdash! So Gatsby was wrong, not Great, when he stated, “There are no second acts in American lives.”

Economist, author, and radio star Chris Farrell has been also touting these ideas. Stay tuned to BreakAway for a look at his uplifting POV and his breakthrough book, Purpose and a Paycheck: Finding Meaning, Money, and Happiness in the Second Half of Life.

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