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I began the ride down from our mountain homestead to the Emigration Canyon Road, the main pass leading to Salt Lake City. In those muted early morning hours, I estimated thirty minutes to reach the city limits, and another ten to complete the fourteen-mile ride to my downtown office parking lot. The familiar, companionless commute typically provided me quiet time to consider client strategies, arrange the pace and importance of my daily schedule, and in this case, devise an excuse for announcing a sudden work leave lasting approximately ten consecutive business days.

At the risk of my being confronted by authorities before making it across state lines, I considered it my duty as owner of a bustling ad agency to stop by my office, clean up my to-do list, explain to employees I would be out for two weeks, and part company without shedding any clues as to my hidden motives. To my advantage, the loyal and close reports on my senior management team were always after me to take a real vacation instead of the customary day here or there, as is typical of entrepreneurs who feel their vision must be executed to the highest standards at all times, and directed by them.

I knew the general employees considered me a control freak, but for the most part, such common mannerisms go hand-in-hand with business leadership. For sure, my demanding personality would wear on people at times, but stress comes with the territory of competitive advertising, marketing and public relations. Busy marketing communications agencies thrive on a sense of controlled chaos. Fortunately, our financial results prove the modus operandi positively works.

Luckily for me, my staff would welcome my departure as an offering of some relief from non-stop pressure and commotion. Nevertheless, I defended our methods of success against our competition, and my employees clearly understood I would not tolerate mistakes, omissions, or surprises during client presentations. The rule of thumb was to consistently and carefully prepare recommendations based on thorough research backed by incontrovertible statistics until there was nothing more to anticipate. It was a formula for winning more and more business.

Naturally, I was not sure how individual senior managers would view my abrupt disappearance, but I assumed they would collectively think it was based on pure impulse, to please my wife, or in reaction to a doctor’s order for immediate rest. In any case, I had to let them guess.