As I mentioned in my previous blog post, last week I was on long vacation with my family. We were was off the grid for the most part. We didn’t have cell phone service or internet access unless we drove into town. The cabin we rented had a TV but it didn’t get turned on once. (Well ok, actually we did turn it on once to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part one on DVD as preparation for seeing the Deathly Hallows part two. But we didn’t watch any LIVE television.) We were pretty much disconnected from it all, and it was utterly fantastic. It was down time that consisted of hanging out, catching up on reading, making some great meals, getting in some golf and enjoying lake life. (Jealous? You would be if you saw the pictures.)
Not only was it nice to get out of town, but the time off was also a great way to decompress from work. I was able to get my head out of the Best Buy weeds, so to speak.
Usually when we take a short vacation, I will still stay in touch with the office. I’ll keep up on e-mail and be available by phone if needed. However, it’s not like I am really taking a true break.
One of things I noticed about getting away from it all for an extended period of time was that it reminded me about getting a sense of perspective. By being disconnected and unreachable, I could really take a step back. I wasn’t focused on my to-do list, the retail competitive environment, sales trends, consumer dynamics, macro-economic factors, vendor partnerships, advertising campaign performance, reading blogs about Google+, keeping up on Twitter…well, you get it. I was just able to relax. (And I have to say that my golf swing started to come around too. One of the other benefits of down time and just getting away.)
When we went into town a couple times or talked to other folks at the lake, I noticed something else. Other people around us weren’t obsessing about retail shopping or consumer electronics. They were just going about their daily lives. They were talking about their family, friends, their jobs, or what they were doing that weekend. But nothing really had anything to do with where I work. (Hell, the closest Best Buy to where we stayed was about two hours away.)
Now I’m not trying to make light of my job, the attention to detail that goes into my work or into my colleagues’ work. But I have to say it was refreshing to be able to take a step back. (The crazy thing for me is that I pride myself on really knowing the insights behind the consumer. But sometimes when you get so close to the work, you can lose sight at times.) Not only was it nice to step back, but in doing so I realized that I wasn’t thinking with my brand marketing hat anymore. I was just going about my day as an everyday consumer, if you will. And I think that is something that can be easily overlooked – especially if you’re working behind the scenes at a big brand. We may talk about the “consumer” around the office but I’m not sure we really adopt that mindset on a day-in day-out basis.
I’m not trying to be flippant about this. It’s not necessarily easy to do when you’re putting in the hours and being connected at all times of the day, but I don’t think it should be that hard either. It’s about taking a moment in our day to pause and think. It’s about keeping in the front of our minds that we are consumers first and foremost while knowing that we are marketers second.
(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons license: ChicagoSage.)