If Your World Is Your Office, You Won't Learn or Grow

You Can't Drive Success From Behind Your Desk

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In December, I made a New Year's resolution to get out of the office 25% more in 2011. So far, so good.

In the month of April, for example, I have been away for 50% of the time. Some business, some pleasure. But both serve my agency and clients well.

On a recent April retreat with CEO's from other industries, it was truly reinvigorating to hear about challenges other leaders were having in their companies -- and how they were approaching their solutions. You don't have access to that kind of fresh thinking if you stay at your desk. And last week, I was away with my family for spring break. There's nothing like walking along the beaches of the Newport Coast to wipe your mental slate clean and infuse new thinking and perspective.

My job is primarily to steer this Brownstein Group ship in the right direction. I focus on agency strategy, building our brand, making sure we are delighting clients and bringing in new ones. Imagine if every day was routine: same drive into town to the office; sitting at my desk; meetings in our conference rooms -- you get it. Now imagine a break in that routine by spending more time with thinkers from other industries. Consultants. Attending conferences. Hearing alternate points of view. Meeting new and fascinating people. Seeing advertising in other parts of the country and around the globe. All of these experiences help improve my perspective on how I run my company differently. The strategy may stay the same, but the approach and the tactics change. And that 's the beauty of it.

I also want to touch on technology and its impact on getting away during a vacation. There's the school of thought that , in order to truly relax, you lock your smart device in your hotel room's safe, and don't look at emails or take business calls for as long as you are on vacation.

Then there's the school I've been attending lately: just keep the darn thing on you, look at emails, respond to them, even take a call or two, and when you arrive home you won't be surprised or stressed. I won't advocate what is right for you; it's just that I have become more comfortable knowing what's going on at the office while on vacation. It's my new normal.

Marc Brownstein is president of The Brownstein Group, Philadelphia
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