Can we please buck the trend?

Vacations, our reputations as Americans, and what might be different now. Also: trivia contest winner, Understandably Live, and 7 other things worth your time.

Hope you had a great weekend. First off: Video interviews! Here’s Friday’s interview with Annie Korzen. (I had a lot of fun with this one.)

And don’t forget that TODAY, at 1 pm ET, I’ll be interviewing Dr. Joel Mier, one of the original marketing directors at Netflix, who now teaches at the University of Richmond’s MBA program. We’re talking about his recent article on the early history of Netflix—and how it became the juggernaut it is today.

Want to sit in on this one (and suggest questions via chat)? Click the button below before 12:45 pm ET and sign up. Then check your email. I’ll send a Google Calendar invitation with the Zoom link.

Understandably Live TODAY 1 p.m. ET


Bad at vacations

It is a truth universally acknowledged that American workers kind of suck at vacations.

Oh, there are exceptions to the rule. In fact, I envision that at least a few people, right now, might be reading this on your phones over morning coffee at some incredible resort or rustic paradise.

But statistically speaking? Seriously, we’re bad. Let me throw numbers into the mix.

  • First, Americans get less paid vacation than comparable workers in other countries: as little as two weeks (really, 10 days) a year to start in many cases—if that.

  • Next, according to HR platform Zenefits, requests for vacation time are down by 26% in 2021. It’s not quite as big a decline as in 2020—but honestly, where were you going to go in 2020?

  • Third, even at companies that offer supposed “unlimited vacation,” many employees feel as if they can’t really take time off without appearing undedicated.

  • Finally, as an added bonus, “unlimited vacation” means employees can’t store a bank of paid time off, which means they don’t have to be paid for unused PTO if they leave the company.

One theory: Maybe workers are trying especially hard right now to demonstrate that they’re committed to their jobs, when working remotely might make it a bit tougher to show that commitment, or to get feedback.

Or the other argument: Maybe there’s a tendency to think that taking time off means “wasting” it, if you’re already allowed to work from anywhere on the planet.

Or maybe they’re just stuck in the culture of busyness that permeates so much of the American experience.

The thing is, nobody can keep this up forever. And thankfully, there’s now a bit of a counterindication. Two reports we came across recently indicate that even if they haven’t done so yet, rising numbers of US workers say they do plan to take vacations this summer.

  • First, as The Atlantic reports: “Something weird is about to happen. This summer, the stars seem to be aligning for vaxxed-up Americans to go PTO wild. [D]omestic travel bookings are going bonkers ... It might have taken a global pandemic, but Americans for once seem poised to summer like the Europeans do—that is, if our bosses will let us.”

  • And a study by The Points Guy and Healthline Media finds that “half of US adults are likely to take at least one vacation this summer … Interest … rises with those who are likely to get a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine or are already vaccinated … Of those who aren’t taking a summer vacation, more than 2-in-5 say they can’t afford it (41%), the most popular reason overall.”

So, my fellow vacation-deprived Americans, let’s join together this year and buck the trends. Even for just a few days, if that's all that's practical.

There are scads of studies showing that taking a break from work improves performance, engagement, and general well-being; all work and no play makes Jack and Jill a couple of burned-out wrecks.

So call for comments: How about you? What are you not doing this summer, and is it different from what you didn’t do in summers past?

Leave a comment


7 other things worth your time


Contest winner

Congratulations to our weekly (I guess it’s weekly now!) trivia contest winner, Mike Couture of Concord, NH. Correct answers:

  • What part of the brain controls our attitudes towards good and bad possibilities? The anterior cingulate cortex.

  • Which Seinfeld episode was ranked the 6th best of all time by Vulture? The Pen.

  • Who won this year’s Nathan’s hot dog eating competition? Bonus points if you know how many times this person has won overall. Joey Chestnut (14 wins total).


Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay. I wrote about some of this once for Inc.com. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.