Posts Tagged ‘sabbaticals’

From Career Breaker to Expat
Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Having spent the majority of my twenties studying for my international business degree and climbing my way up the career ladder in a London marketing agency, my opportunities for ‘real travel’ had been limited to a few, weeks in Thailand, India and Morocco with the rest of my trips abroad taking the form of long weekends escaping London to visit European locations like France and Spain.

Like many people I had always been torn between two lives; my career ambitions and longing for stability and a comfortable life was constantly battling against my love of travel, living life to the full and breaking the mold. I decided at age 29 that it was now I never. I needed to stop fighting the latter and give my adventurous side a chance to explore. So, I agreed to a six month sabbatical with the director of the marketing agency and headed to South America, planning to travel for three months, (and here’s where my sensible side refused to totally give up the fight!) and put the rest of my time to gain a skill, trying to learn Spanish in Buenos Aires.

My first three months went by like a dream. Traveling with friends, acquaintances and total strangers, I fell in love with South America, its incredible landscapes and fascinating variety of cultures, whilst also becoming increasingly obsessed with getting to grips with Spanish. When I landed in Buenos Aires, my home for three months, my quest to learn Spanish intensified. Taking private lessons at Expanish, reading books, watching films and translating articles.

After a month and a half, and with the clock ticking on my time in Argentina, I began to worry about going home, and then my worry turned to panic and sleepless nights.

Going home is always tough but it’s an inevitable part of traveling and just something I was just going to have to deal with. But this felt different. I had an incredible three months of traveling behind me and had made some headway in my quest to learn Spanish, but the thought of going back to England, back to the same job, sitting at the same desk made me feel as if it might all have been in vain. I didn’t feel ready.

Once I admitted to myself that I didn’t want to go, my ambitious and sensible side began fighting back. I had to find a job and learn Spanish properly. So that’s what I did. I got a marketing position in the Spanish school I had been studying at and spoke to my very understanding boss back home, informing him I wouldn’t be coming back as planned.

Making the final decision to stay wasn’t easy, as one would expect I went through many periods of doubt, questioning my decision, speaking to my friends back home on Skype to get their advice and questioning my new found friends in Buenos Aires. But ultimately the decision at this stage was one I needed to make myself.

The numerous questions going round in my head included:

– Why am I giving up such a great job back home?
– Will I still have a career when/if I decide to go back?
– How will I deal with missing my friends back home who are so important to me?
– Will I be able to make new friends?
– How will I cope with the huge salary cut?
– When will I next see my family?
– Can I cancel by British Airways flight?

However, once I had secured a job, and a flat, and made the final decision to stay, the transition from being a traveler on a six month sabbatical, to an expat living and working in Buenos Aires, became a whole lot easier. I was on a high, exhilarated at the thought of living in such a wonderful city on the other side of the world. Having time to explore it properly and become a local was exciting. Enjoying the beautiful weather, days by the pool, evenings on roof terraces meant I felt like I was on holiday all of the time, even during my walk to work. I was doing something I had always wanted to do but never thought I would.

Don’t get me wrong, there were times when I struggled, I missed having a solid group of friends, learning Spanish became challenging and frustrating, and the low wages and relatively high living costs in Buenos Aires meant I had to go back to basics. No more Saturday clothes shopping trips and nightly dinners out. But I have never once regretted the decision. If, and when I go back to London, I will go back a more confident person, with many new and wonderful friends and some great work experience under my belt. Plus I can speak Spanish, which has opened up a whole host of living and job opportunities!

Becky Hayes is a Londoner living in Buenos Aires and working for Expanish Spanish School in Argentina.

Tips for Negotiating a Sabbatical vs. Quitting
Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Abandon your career? Are you crazy?!

There was nothing scarier for me after the decision to travel around the world than the aspect of leaving my career.” — Warren Talbot of Married with Luggage

This is a frequent comment we hear from people contemplating career breaks.  People take career breaks for different reasons – are you taking a break to change careers or explore new careers – or do you simply need a break? Granted, it’s not necessarily that simple, but you will need to examine deep down whether you want to leave your job behind or try to simply put it on hold while you take a career break.

There are endless possiblities on what can happen with your career when you take a break, but before you leave, you have to normally consider one of two things – quitting your job or trying to negotiate extended time off.  We’ve pulled together some resources on both options and tips on how to handle them.

QUITTING

If you think you want to cut ties with your current job, then go about it carefully. Consider how much notice you need to give, and always keep in mind that burning bridges is never a good solution. We’ve met career breakers who actually quit their jobs to travel for a year and then were actually hired back by the company when they returned.   Even though you may not want to work for your company or your boss again, you may need their assistance when you return in building up your network, contacts, and references when looking for a new job. You know your company culture the best, so really think about how much notice you need to give, and how you will explain to them why you are leaving. Always try to put a positive spin to why you are leaving.

What’s the best way to go about quitting – here’s a few tips from how Warren on how to leave your job gracefully.

  1. When you give notice, provide your boss with recommendations for how you will spend your remaining time. Let them know you will remain motivated to work hard. Talk about helping to recruit your replacement and get them trained and up to speed before you leave.
  2. Make sure to focus the discussion about your desire to explore the world. Do not turn this into your opportunity to explain all the ways they have disappointed you in your career. Remember, you may want to get back together with this partner.
  3. Read your situation – every scenario is different, so be sure to have an idea at how your boss will take the news. Be prepared for the worst case scenario (walked to the parking lot and start your trip earlier than expected), but plan for the best. Provide you employer with reasons why keeping you on is going to be good for them.
  4. Always keep the door open to the future. For most people, this is a “career break”, and as such there is at least a “plan” to return to the corporate world. Keeping your options open and remaining flexible is generally a good strategy. Make sure that you could return to the company if possible.
  5. Not everyone will understand – this is something I faced immediately after giving notice. People simply could not grasp why I would even consider doing “something this stupid”. It is inevitable you will come across this at work and will spend many hours trying to explain. This is normal. What you are doing is odd (sadly), but you are following your dream and your heart. Explain why you came to the decision, and remember why it is so important to you. Your career will likely be there if/when you return.

Read about what happened to Warren a year after being on the road.

Even the best-laid plans of giving notice don’t always go as anticipated and you may have to adapt your plan quickly. Watch what happened to career breaker Val Bromann when she decided to give notice.

Want to see where Val ended up…well…she’s still traveling and now doing freelance work – check out her website here!

SABBATICALS OR UNPAID LEAVE

A sabbatical is simply getting an extended leave from work to pursue a break. The first thing to do if you think you want to take a sabbatical is to do your research. Find out if your company offers any type of sabbatical or leave program. Many times companies offer these, but they aren’t necessarily publicized, so don’t be afraid to dig into your HR manual or sit and have a talk with your HR rep to learn exactly what the options may be.

Granted, your company might not have a formal sabbatical program, but consider the fact that you can lead the way in requesting a sabbatical and having them start such a program. You get nothing if you don’t ask.

Sherry Ott interviewed Barbara Pagano, who wrote the ebook  Negotiating Your Sabbatical, to get some tips on the steps to approaching your employer about taking a break. In addition she shares advice on deciding quit vs. sabbatical, and tips for job hunting when you return.

BARBARA PAGANO INTERVIEW (Part 1 Runtime – 14:23)

Interview transcript:

  • 1:00 – Barbara took her own sabbatical – what did she learn?– Reset the ‘challenge meter’; found that challenges in business seemed to be less of a challenge any longer.– Improved decision making skills – they are extraordinary now!– Need to have confidence in selling your career break experience.
  • 3:53 – How can you decide whether to quit your job vs. asking for a sabbatical from your job?– You need to look at your long-term career goals.– In this economy it’s the best time to negotiate a sabbatical.
  • 5:55 – Why do some companies offer sabbaticals?– More are ‘getting it’ – Large and small companies are looking at sabbatical programs as a way to develop the talent of their employees.– The company benefits by seeing just what kind of leadership they have in the pipeline and it develops your employers further. More and more companies area looking at it as talent development.
  • 8:03 – What are some tips for negotiating a sabbatical at a company who doesn’t normally offer one?– Understand the pre-work you need to do before you go in and talk to your boss.– Know who else is giving sabbaticals and why they are doing it. It allows you to talk intelligently about sabbatical programs. Arm yourself with knowledge.– Understand what you are good at and what you need to strengthen. Determine this before you decide what you want to do on sabbatical.– Treat it seriously and formulate your business proposition. It’s not about you, it’s about the company and how they can benefit.– You have to educate people! In addition, put it all in writing so that you can talk intelligently about it with your boss.
  • 12:14 – How long of a sabbatical should/can you try to ask for?– The average sabbatical occurs about every 5 years for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks. The average sabbatical is 1 to 3 months in length.– It also depends on how long you’ve been with the company. Know that a sabbatical should not be a one shot experience; they should be interspersed throughout your career.

BARBARA PAGANO INTERVIEW (Part 2 Runtime – 13:45)

Interview transcript:

  • 1:00 – If you are looking for a job change, then look for companies who value the idea of breaks/sabbaticals.– Look on YourSabbatical.com for a list of companies that support sabbaticals.
  • 2:00 – Can anyone ask for a sabbatical no matter what their position? Is it more difficult if you are not a company leader?– Try to link your sabbatical to your company’s values. Alignment is key.– Consider how the current conversation in the company potentially applies to the break you want to take. Find ways to benefit the company – no matter what level you are at.
  • 4:25 – If you do want to actually leave your job and take a break (as opposed to a sabbatical), then you can still use all of the research you’ve done and incorporate it into your resume when looking for a new job.
  • 5:40 – Should you hide the fact that you left your job to take a break? No!
  • 6:05 – Tips for job hunting: Make sure you negotiate a sabbatical into your new job if you are changing jobs.
  • 6:50 – Can you negotiate unpaid sabbaticals or with other perks?– If you are willing to take an unpaid sabbatical, then negotiate benefits and securing your position when you return.– Some companies use unpaid sabbaticals to alleviate costs.
  • 9:52 – Look at your sabbatical as a standard negotiation – start high and know how low you are willing to go.
  • 10:15 – What do you do if it doesn’t work? You have planted the seed and let people know that it’s important to you as an employee.
  • 11:28 – Don’t look at your sabbatical as a gift that the company gives you. Instead look at it as a company developing and keeping talent in a company therefore making the company successful in the future.

What is your plan?  Quit vs. Negotiate Time off?  Have any tips to share?

 

 

Photo Friday: Expedia President
Friday, December 16th, 2011

Meet, Plan, Go! Co-Founder, Sherry Ott had the opportunity to meet with some travel giants this week in Seattle. She is pictured here with Scott Durchslag, the President of Expedia.com.

I spoke with Scott about sabbatical travel and the recent Vacation Deprivation study that Expedia conducted and was thrilled to hear Scott say, “Travel increases people’s productivity.” He felt strongly that it was not only important to ensure that employees are taking their allotted vacation, but he also had positive things to say about sabbaticals.

He is a big believer in the transformative qualities of sabbaticals. He told me he takes a sabbatical every 5 years and immerses himself in experiences and cultures. I was enthralled listening to stories of his past sabbaticals and took a few notes for ideas for my future travels! He’s an avid mountaineer and has climbed peaks in Tibet and Africa and has spent extensive time in China. However, the highlight of my time with him was hearing that my nomadic lifestyle and Meet, Plan, Go! work was an inspiration to him!

The message? There’s hope for our career break movement!

It is good to know that there are business leaders who embrace and believe in the many benefits of travel and sabbaticals. It is leaders like Scott who will hopefully bring more attention to our career break movement making the idea of extended travel acceptable and part of our career path.

Want to see your photo here? Check out our easy submission policy!

Kick-Ass Host: Kirk Horsted
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

All of our local kick-ass Meet, Plan, Go! hosts have inspiring stories of their own career break travels. In the time leading up to our National Event in October we will introduce them to you so you can see why they are part of our team.

Meet our Kick-Ass Minneapolis Host: Kirk Horsted

Inspiration Can Come in the Strangest of Ways: A faded article in a throwaway file

I’m a lucky soul—because I’ve had four career breaks over the last 20 years. But I will say this: It gets harder every time. With the last one, I wasn’t certain it would happen until I was zipping up the luggage in those final moments before the airport cab arrived. Let me share with you the angst—and a-has—that led up to that point.

The timing was (nearly) perfect

When’s the perfect time for a sabbatical? There isn’t one! But when my son entered 6th grade and my daughter started kindergarten, I knew a short window was wide open—because all my sources warned that when my boy started middle school the following year, the “Powers That Be” would put up resistance to an extended absence.

As for our elementary school, however, the principal was wildly supportive; her only complaint was that we were unable to bring her along! We did need to take on home schooling, though—which was fine, since I’d always wanted to try it. But frankly, that proved to be the biggest challenge of the trip.

But what about activities, ETC!

To be sure, not everyone supported our radical sabbatical. My son’s traveling basketball team was not happy. A few clients also cried foul. And Daisy, the cat, yowled for weeks at the notion of having only a part-time cat-sitter to feed and spoil her. But we schemed away, anyway.

Great! (But where to go?)

We determined the dates. We scored a sweet airfare deal that took us to the U.S. Virgin Islands just before Christmas—and home out of Puerto Rico 69 days later. We nailed down a budget and a wish list of experiences, accommodations, environments, priorities, and ideas. We stayed focused on the kids’ needs, because if they ain’t happy…

And then we froze. Literally—because it was October in Minnesota. But even worse, we got stuck in cold, confused indecision about where we would spend the days in between. We knew it would be in the Caribbean/West Indies. But beyond that, we were clueless.

Web research devolved into dizzying drifting. Brainstorming sessions turned testy. And every possible location featured some unacceptable imperfection. Climate. Crime. Transportation. Language. Too crowded. Too expensive. Too fancy. Too too too… It was too much!

Then an old file appeared

Then one boring Sunday, while throwing out some old files, I came upon a forgotten folder marked, simply, TRAVEL. Despite my desire to remain productive, I sat down, opened it up, and found a 1994 article about the island of Grenada. The pictures were sublime. The stories alluring. The history fascinating. The review was a rave.

Ever had one of those moments when you just know, “This is it!”? Well, I did. I could practically smell “The Spice Island,” hear the calypso music, and feel the waves crashing like fresh ideas into my brain. Inspiration can arrive in the strangest of ways!

Who? Where? When? How long?

555 questions remained unanswered, of course. But suddenly, the wind was at our back, and we were on course. Within days, we created an itinerary that included time on the islands of St. Vincent, Bequia, and Puerto Rico—and one luxurious month exploring Grenada.

On makeyourbreakaway.com, the blurb about that career break sums it up like this: “2008-9: The Great Escape. 69 days in the West Indies & Caribbean. Mission: To show my children another way of learning and being, escape winter, chase destiny, and launch this website.”

Yes, Grenada was like Harry Belafonte’s Caribbean—beautiful, safe, proud, polite, and lost in time. And oh yes, my children swam in waterfalls, helped in an impoverished school, went fishing with brawny natives, and got an A for effort in home schooling—as evidenced by my son’s own travel blog, BreakAwayKid.

Zip up the luggage and fly away…

Nowadays, I dream of the next Big Break, comfortable with humble uncertainty about when, how, and (of course) where. Yet I keep the faith—and a file. Because I now know that something as simple as a clipped newspaper article may contain my destiny.

And when taking a career break, isn’t seeking a sweeter destiny what it’s really all about?

Check out the Minneapolis event details.

Travel and the Rewards of your Goals
Monday, May 16th, 2011

For Richard Yang, it’s not about the destination – it’s the journey that matters most. And he now applies the lessons he’s learned from travel to his life and career goals.

Rewards of your Goals

Appreciate the process of reaching your goals

Traveling is a passion for me and I’m fortunate to be working on launching my own travel related startup. However, this is only the beginning of the journey and I look forward to the challenges. But what I want to share is not about travel related entrepreneurship; but instead the “process” from where I was to where I am.

In 2000, I graduated college and entered the world of consulting. In 2005, I decided to take a sabbatical to travel. After returning to my job and working for 3 additional years, I moved to Spain for my MBA at IE Business School. But what does all of this have to do with traveling or anything at all? It turns out everything.

When to start traveling is always a hard decision for anyone. There are obvious time advantages in terms of age and family in the decision factor; but leaving a secure job is difficult within the American social norm. I was advancing professionally and had reached my initial goals in making manager at a global firm.

While proud of my accomplishments, the sensation was fleeting. Working diligently and logging long hours, I’d forgotten to take in the process. All I knew for so long was I wanted to make manager.

I also knew I wanted to take some time to travel around the world sometime in my life. Just like my managerial goals, I approached it logically. I wasn’t getting another title change soon, so why not start my journey.

It took me a long time to adjust to the travel life. I felt antsy with the thought that I had to “accomplish” something everyday. If I didn’t, I wasn’t taking full advantage of my time off. I believed I must succeed in a new goal everyday. But as any traveler knows, this is impossible. Through time, I learned that the world does not run at NYC pace, let alone American pace. Through the journey I learned little lessons about my travel style, when to go and when to stay, and who and what to trust. I put little thought and even less appreciation into the fact that I was learning. The transformation from binary thinking to process appreciation wasn’t planned or recognized. I didn’t set out to travel to contemplate, it just happened.

Only by the end of my journey did I begin reflecting on the five previous years as a consultant. I realized why the manager title was fleeting and why saying I traveled around the world meant nothing. What mattered was the little step-by-steps you take to get to where you are. Learning from your mistakes, accepting failure, and picking yourself up again. Goals change, and will constantly change, but how you as an individual reach those goals matter more. Making the conscious decision to appreciate the process becomes valuable in everything you do – be it the initial overpacking for your journey to starting your own company.

Rewards of your Goals

Sometimes you don't know what to expect

Re-entering I had a new recognition of my goals. Within a month of returning, I was asked to relocate to India, where I stayed for 7 months. Upon finishing that project, I began working in Munich. I took the opportunities that others feared taking because the role wasn’t in the eyes of the partners or professionally glamorous. I wasn’t successful at every turn; but, with the new approach I realized the failures were no longer black marks. This philosophy encouraged me to attend an MBA outside the US. It also led me to turn down monetarily rewarding job offers around the world to pursue launching my own business.

In travel, from beginning to end, and the re-entry to home and career, think of every moment and the steps you need to take. They will be difficult & frustrating and nothing will go according to plan. But by appreciating the process and understanding that it’s part of the goal, the rewards become evident, leading to your own happiness.

As for this moment, launching my own startup isn’t like what you read in the newspapers or see in movies. Many talk about the benefits of working for yourself in making millions or having more free time; but few talk about the multiple failures before reaching success. But the process of learning and adapting has been amazing. I expect to fail somewhere. I expect to get a rejection on a daily basis. This relates beyond entrepreneurship and into everything – from traveling to even finding that next career. You will get lost. You will have to change your plans. But by appreciating the step-by-step of your journey will make the rewards personally meaningful, which only carries forward socially and professionally.

Richard YangRich Yang is a NYC based travel tech entrepreneur who founded Street Mosaic, a social, real-time travel guide. Integrating the social interaction and photography element of travel, Street Mosaic gives users a fun way to share their spontaneous discoveries with other exploration-minded individuals. Users simply log on to discover what’s interesting, nearby, and recent and we help get you there. Simply take a picture, write a caption, and share with the community.

Rich checks his twitter often and loves to hear from you. Find him at @yangwave. Street Mosaic is still in developing and testing and open for product testers. Look for our free app in the iTunes App Store and on twitter @streetmosaic.

Negotiating Your Sabbatical or Career Break
Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Negotiating Your SabbaticalNot everyone is lucky enough to work for these companies…the companies that understand the value of unplugging from your career and taking a sabbatical. There are many people who love what they do and the challenges of their career, but they feel burned out. They feel if they don’t step away from the position for a bit, they may lose the love for their job. Most of these people don’t feel like they have any options.

This is where Barbara and Elizabeth Pagano come in. They are teaching people how to negotiate a sabbatical with their company. This mother-daughter duo are no strangers to sabbaticals. They took their own sailing career break; learning new skills, and getting some much needed time away from the 9 to 5.

Barbara and Elizabeth’s typical 9 to 5 is yourSABBATICAL.com – a firm that partners with businesses to deploy programs that attract, retain, and accelerate top talent through the use of structured leaves of absences.

However, through their eBook Negotiating Your Sabbatical, this time they are working directly with the employees – helping them lay out a plan to ask for and be granted time away for a career break or sabbatical.

The book walks you through the steps to going in and having ‘that’ conversation with your boss. All the bases are covered:

  • Building the foundation
  • Creating the proposal
  • Engaging in negotiation

In addition it includes an appendix which houses templates and Q&A.

Their advice? Don’t be spontaneous! Yes – you heard me right. Don’t decide at the spur of the moment to talk to your boss about a sabbatical, your chances of succeeding are about as likely as the US embracing healthcare reform. What this book teaches you is to plan, prepare, and practice asking for a sabbatical. Sabbaticals aren’t whimsical, they are serious. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun on your desired sabbatical, it simply means the conversation with your boss should be serious!

The book states:

“The most meaningful sabbaticals are planned ones, with specific goals and objectives – even if one of those goals is simply to recharge.”

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Workplaces for Sabbaticals
Monday, November 29th, 2010

Elizabeth Pagano, a partner at yourSABBATICAL and co-host of Meet, Plan, Go! Atlanta shares insight on companies who recognize the power of time off.

Workplaces for SabbaticalsAfter my mother and I returned from our sailing sabbatical and we realized the impact that time away from work had on our business partnership and our individual careers, we wondered: Are companies recognizing the power of time off?

Indeed, some are – and the trend is growing. The company-sponsored sabbatical began in the 1960s with the likes of McDonald’s and Intel. Work for one of these companies, and you’ll get a sizable chunk of time away from the job (often fully paid) every so many years (the average is five) to fulfill a lifelong dream, travel, or do something you’ve been longing to do but couldn’t in a week’s vacation.

Even in an economic downturn, companies like Deloitte and General Mills rolled out sabbatical programs for their employees. And it’s not just an offering at big companies; companies with fewer than 20 employees are also on yourSABBATICAL.com’s list of 100+ companies that regularly offer career breaks to employees. And we continue to add to the “Workplaces for Sabbaticals” list of forward-thinking companies.

Like the folks at Briefcase to Backpack, we’re working hard to impact the way we work and live, believing every career should include meaningful “pauses” along the way. The old model of educating ourselves and then working hard for 45 years BEFORE we can go and do something that we dream of doing no longer makes sense.

The companies that realize this and nurture their workers with holistic approaches, valuing both the professional and personal lives of their contributors, are worthy of recognition. They’re typically great places to work – so check them out, if you’re in the job market.

Reflecting: How Travel Reawakens Your Passions
Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Extended travel offers an inspiring break for more than just those stuck in a rut in their career. It is also great for those who need to recharge their lives – like Teresa Gotay and Mike Tieso from Art of Backpacking. They share with us how travel reawakened their passions and set them on their life paths.

TERESA:

Teresa Gotay

Teresa in Peru

When life give you lemons, you don’t always have to make lemonade. What if you’re in the mood for iced tea? You envision your life to go one way, and it ends up another. All my life, I envisioned a cookie cutter lifestyle of going to school, starting my career and getting married before the age of 25. As my 24th birthday recently passed, I have yet to complete any of the three.

In early 2008, in my Senior year at St. John’s University, I lacked financial aid, decent credit and the motivation to finish school. For years, I was surrounded by the notion that you had to finish school as soon as possible before the rat race began. After working countless 9-5 jobs, bartending in between, moving in and out of many apartments in New York City, my life battery needed a recharge.

2010 became the year of travel and self-discovery. I spent 5 months traveling through South America getting a taste of the backpacking experience. It left me with a craving for more and the appreciation of people, culture and travel.

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Breaking Into a New Field or Industry
Monday, April 19th, 2010

Ask A CoachWhether you are returning from a career break and trying to figure out your next steps or are contemplating a sabbatical but don’t know where to start, our career coaches are here to help.

Barbara Pagano of YourSABBATICAL answers the question:

I’ve realized I no longer want to go back to my old career. In a market with high unemployment, how can I make myself noticed or create opportunities in a new field or industry?

[singlepic=1762,125,,,left]Congratulations on being a risk-taker! Staying in a career that no longer fits your needs can be one of the most debilitating moves away from future happiness. Plus it robs your potential. Here are three ideas to break into a new field or industry during a sabbatical, even in these trying times:

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Barbara & Elizabeth Pagano’s Sailing Sabbatical
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

[singlepic=1664,250,,,right]Barbara Pagano & Elizabeth Pagano are the mother-daughter team behind yourSABBATICAL – a firm that partners with businesses to deploy programs that attract, retain and accelerate top talent through the use of highly planned and structured leaves of absences. In 2001, they took their own leave of absence during a 6-month sailing sabbatical that set them on a new course for their lives. “Our sabbatical has had lasting effects. Today, our business partnership thrives, in part, because of our co-captaining experience.” Here they share with us the importance of that sabbatical.

What made you decide to take a sabbatical?
Each of us had different reasons. For me, life was good – but predictable. I had been successful in my career, had a nice home and marriage; yet I wanted to put myself in a challenging situation to “see if I could do it.” My daughter, Elizabeth, was in her mid-30s and had a string of life and career questions stretching in front of her. She hoped that time away might offer clarity… and maybe even answers.

What were you doing beforehand career-wise?
As an executive coach to leaders worldwide, I was busy with corporate client initiatives on leadership and developing a reputation as a facilitator and speaker. Elizabeth was a newspaper reporter before spending a few years working for her father’s manufacturing business.

What was your sailing experience like prior to your break?
This question always makes us laugh! We had sailed for 15+ years as second-mates and galley queens with my husband, Herb. We’d never handled a boat alone and certainly never sailed at night. So, Elizabeth went to a week of sailing school in Key West, and I went to navigation school (and flunked the test).

We practiced docking for a couple of days and watched the mechanic change the engine oil once. Seriously, we weren’t very experienced, and we knew we’d learn a lot along the way. But we had confidence in our ability to learn quickly, and we promised people we’d make good decisions. We put a whole lot of books on “bad weather sailing” and “boat systems” onboard, just in case!

Desire outranks skill and experience. If you really want to do something, you’ll learn what you need to know.

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Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go