Bloomberg Businessweek

Survey: Five Executives on How They Unplug

June 24, 2016

We asked plugged-in people how they unplug. Only one threw his phone into the ocean.

“My family has been going to a lake cabin around the Fourth of July for almost 20 years. We don’t have cell reception except at the top of a huge hill. One year I was pitching a large client and needed to participate in a conference call, so I went to the top of the hill and had hourslong conversations in 95-degree heat, with mosquitoes, biting horseflies, cicadas buzzing, sweat coming out of everywhere, and red-winged blackbirds divebombing me. Now if I really have to be online, I drive into town and find a truck stop that has Wi-Fi.”

Todd LaBeau 
Senior vice president for digital marketing and social media, Lindsay, Stone & Briggs

“I had a period of about six weeks when I was overseeing several campaigns all launching at the same time. I was attached to my phone 24/7, and it was constantly blowing up. One morning I woke up to hundreds of e-mails and felt like I couldn’t turn off my phone, so I put it—screen facing away from me—on my windshield under my wiper blades and drove to work. I knew the e-mails wouldn’t go away, but for the 20 minutes of my commute, I felt better.”
Thom Gruhler
Corporate vice president for apps and services, Microsoft

“I went to Bali and wanted to decompress, so I asked the front desk to lock up my iPhone and BlackBerry in the safe during my stay. It was very hard at first, but after a few days I got used to it. Somehow, it shifted my perspective away from always being connected and distracted to being able to focus on relaxing—a new thing for me.”

Sonita Lontoh
Vice president for marketing, Siemens Digital Grid

“I was on vacation in Greece aboard a yacht and found myself answering three business calls and 10 texts per day. This didn’t bother me until one day a client threw a hissy fit. I was so annoyed, I punted my phone off the back of the boat. It felt so liberating.”

Curtis Boyd
Acting chief executive officer, Future Solutions Media  

“I was in Italy with my then-boyfriend, trying not to check e-mail. That became a nonissue when my phone fell out of my back pocket and into the toilet two days into our trip. I was in an all-out panic and am embarrassed to say I desperately fished it out and tried to dry it out. We got some rice and tried that method, hoping it would spring back to life, but nothing happened. At first I was really uncomfortable being so out of touch, but the disconnectivity allowed me to focus on the guy I was with and realize he wasn’t right for me. I was clearly meant to focus on that reality, not my e-mails.”
Brenda Reynolds
Founder, BKR Consulting

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Katie Morell specializes in feature writing, breaking news and corporate communications.