Career Advice

Don’t drop off the grid if you support my customers

Sometimes I can be a hard ass.

We have a very flexible vacation policy at FirstRain, but I also have a deeply held principle that customers come first, ahead, even dare I say it, of vacation. Preparing for the break this year (when I encouraged everyone to get some down time) I also had to give some pointed input to my customer facing team. I have no problem with our R&D guys dropping off the grid. I do have a problem with customer facing employees dropping off the grid unless they have several layers of backup to make sure customers are supported – and if they are on the grid I do expect them to check email once per day to check for customer critical issues.

Here’s the note I sent to the sales and support team on checking in during vacation… if you touch our customers in any way…


I want to be clear with you on my expectations for customer and sales support during the break.

It is imperative that our customers, and our sales team if they are working on deals, have uninterrupted support from the pre- and post-sales team. This does not mean you do not take a break, but it does mean you need to be organized about their support.

Some ground rules

– check your email at least once a day. We are a small company where customers form personal relationships with you. If they contact you by email you need to see it, so not checking your email is not OK. If you see a customer request forward it on to the person who is covering for you and ask them to respond to the customer and service their request. Likewise with sales.

– do not put an out of office message up that customers would see – if they are working so are we.

– if you cannot check email once a day then forward your email to someone else to cover for you so the email to you gets answered promptly

Your time off is important but you need to do it in a sufficiently connected way that customers are always supported, and if you cannot stay connected then you must forward your email to someone who has agreed to check it for you.

Any questions – call me or email me.


I take vacations. No question. I love spending time in warm locations with my family. But I am connected almost all the time and if not (I was off grid on a kayak up a river yesterday) I check before I leave – and give a heads up if needed so someone can cover for me.

Yes, maybe I am a hard ass, but customers always, always come first.