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One Reason Your Summer Break Could Be Better This Year

By Bryan Miles, Co-Founder of BELAY

WARNING: The following may make you uncomfortable. Anxious, even. 

It’s not often when executives or business owners share messages like the one below, and we apologize in advance for any discomfort or temporary paralysis it may cause. 

But in an effort to maintain complete transparency, we thought it would be best to share the message, in its entirety and unedited.

Here goes. Godspeed.


From: B. Miles

Sent: Wednesday, July 3, 2019 12:54 PM

To: John Smith

Subject: Sabbatical Out of Office … Re: Can we connect?

Thanks for your email.

I am excited to announce that my wife and I, after years of company growth, are taking a sabbatical with our kids. As a result, I will be out of the office, not checking my emails until Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019. In our absence, our COO will be acting in our place while we are away.

During our sabbatical, all emails will be forwarded to my amazing and capable assistant as they arrive in my inbox. She will review these emails throughout the day, but if your question is urgent, please reach out to her directly in a separate email.

Please note: ALL messages will be deleted from this email account as they arrive.


  • So I don’t return to an inbox full of messages that have already been resolved.
  • So I am not tempted to check email while I am gone.
  • So I can fully disconnect and be present for my wife and kids.

If for some reason your issue is not resolved before I return, please resend your message after Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019.



Feel free to take a moment to compose yourself and reach for the nearest paper bag if you find yourself short of breath. It wouldn’t be the first time one of our business practices shook the establishment to its core.

We’re used to it, in fact.

Because this wasn't always possible.

The Rat-Race Impetus for BELAY

BELAY was created with every person who had become disillusioned with working in an office in mind. For all those who considered leaving to take care of their families but always felt something was missing.

Who wants to sit in a stressful, nonproductive, 45-minute commute each way for a job they hate? Who wants to sit in an office and listen to people they don’t like? Who wants to do unnecessary stuff they feel is meaningless? Who wants to miss their kid’s soccer practice? 

We wanted to precipitate a change so that our clients wouldn’t miss out on their lives, so we sought out to provide solutions to employers by matching them with virtual employees.

So on December 1, 2010, we went all-in on all-virtual.

Now, the world knows what we knew those many years ago: Remote work is here. And we’re proud to lead the charge in disrupting the status quo and dismantling the ‘way things have always been done.’ The future is now.

And the more people told us we couldn’t create a virtual culture, the more we believed we could.

Big Gamble, Big Reward

It’s been a wild-but-incredibly-successful ride since that day. We’ve managed to grow a thriving company with an award-winning culture and an entirely virtual workforce. We have no office space – not one square foot of it. We firmly believe working virtually is the future, and want to bring our clients and world-class contractors along with us into the virtual revolution.

The rewards for us have proven far greater than we ever would’ve imagined and beyond exceeding our financial expectations, it has afforded us something far more invaluable: a life.

So back to that email.

That family went on sabbatical that summer. And no, their choice of wording wasn’t to be braggadocious or dramatic or impressive. It was literally ‘a rest break from work.’

And, unsurprisingly, it was glorious.

And one defining moment – or rather three defining sentences – put that fine point on what we wanted to do with our lives and, subsequently, work.

“You don’t own anything. The day your business doesn’t need you day-to-day is the day that you own the business. Until then, you run a business.”

That. That one sentiment, shared with us by a close friend nearly eight years ago, has informed so many of our decisions. From that day on, we knew we wanted to really own it and not run it. And while it’s a key mindset shift, it requires real courage because to get there, you’ve got to spend money – money that is likely in short supply.

But allow me to be perfectly candid here: We realize that these leaps take a lot of faith. And courage. And capital. We’re not so removed from our origin story to recognize and appreciate that. 

However – and this is a huge however – we were willing to take that risk and spend that money in exchange for that which all the money in the world couldn’t buy: time with our children and time as a family.

No email, no deadline, no anything is more important. So that was the carrot we dangled in front of ourselves those many years ago.

And for us, every decision we make, from who we hire to how we delegate, is a means to that very end. To own and not run.

So, what about you? Do you want to own or run your business? You can’t do both. What decisions are you making today that’ll set you up for the future you want?