I’m Disconnecting and Pressing Pause in Ethiopia for Perspective

Aaron Blank / May 29, 2016

 

Woliso Care Point Visit with Childrens Hope Chest at Emmanuel Church on May 25, 2014.
Fearey CEO Aaron Blank and his family last visit their sponsored Carepoint site in Ethiopia on May 25, 2014. (Photo by Jemal Countess)

I’ve written a lot about work and life balance because it’s something I think about a lot. Being the best father I can be, giving back to the community, leading our company to success, personal and professional growth are the balls I’m always trying to keep in the air. It’s the juggling act at which I continue to try to master. There is no way I’m there yet but I’m sure you can relate.

Catch, throw, catch, throw, eat, breathe, repeat. Days go by, weeks, months, and yes, by most measures I am doing fine. But for the next two weeks, I’m going to do something crazy: I’m going to let them all drop. (At least I am going to attempt to do so.)

I’m turning off my phone and going to Africa. Ethiopia, to be exact. It’s a place very close to my heart, the birthplace of my son and a kind of second home to my family. We’ll be there to oversee the progress of the Carepoint we helped set up a few years ago and I’m bringing one of our Fearey staffers, Chris Guizlo, with me. This time, we’re hand delivering more than 200 care packages full of small supplies from the people who were kind enough to sponsor these children. (Thanks to ALL of you who’ve supported this project over the years!! You know who you are.) And we’re also going to check up on the clean water latrine we helped bring to the site this past year. (Thanks to all of you who provided additional donations to make this happen! We’ll report back on the progress.)

While we’ll be extremely busy supporting our Carepoint site team in Ethiopia, an important aspect of this trip is the part where I do nothing at all. In unplugging from the world for nearly ten days, I hope to gain some perspective and observe the state of my life and company from a bird’s-eye view. Ethiopia is a good place to do this. It’s hard to take anything for granted when you’re surrounded by unimaginable beauty and a totally different way of life in a third world. Forget the lack of a consistent, solid Internet connection.

And unless we disconnect for a moment in time, life will go by way too fast. “Doing nothing” has been shown to actually increase productivity when carefully applied. I’m very excited to clear my mind and calendar to see what it brings.

I’ve always believed a good leader is at home in the trenches. It’s one of the things I like best about our group; we all keep our sleeves rolled up and our heads down — locked on to our team goals and committed to success. Nobody is perfect. But acknowledging the growth pattern is critical.

Leadership is also about learning. I know from my previous trips to Ethiopia that the people there are humble, friendly and caring. Part of the benefit of going there is to learn from the culture, and the people. Last time it was about how each community and village works collaboratively for the greater good. While they have their challenges as a third world country, the people are united. The country is on the rise as a whole.

By stepping out of my own life, I’ll be letting the world in. The sights and sounds, the lives of friends and strangers and the pulse of an enormous, distant continent will be channeled in because I’m making room for it. From the moment we board the plane, I’ll be clearing the way. I’m going to be more by doing less. It’s time.

Stay tuned for the next chapter.

Woliso Care Point Visit with Childrens Hope Chest at Emmanuel Church on May 25, 2014.
Fearey CEO Aaron Blank and his family, along with the 200 children of the Carepoint site in Ethiopia sing and dance in 2014. For the next few weeks, Aaron, his family, and Fearey staffer Chris Guizlo will be back at the site. (Photo by: Jemal Countess)
Using social media, The Fearey Group, along with Aaron, his wife, Lacey Yantis, and other U.S. families, got funding from more than 150 people to fund the Carepoint site. Each month, every person donates nearly $40 a month to provide for these children. Photo by: Jemal Countess (http://www.jemalcountess.com)
Using social media, The Fearey Group, along with Aaron, his wife, Lacey Yantis, and other U.S. families, got funding from more than 150 people to fund the Carepoint site. Each month, every person donates nearly $40 a month to provide for these children. (Photo by: Jemal Countess)

Comments (2)

    Abbie S. Fink avatar

    Abbie S. Fink May 30, 2016, 4:06 AM

    Safe travels my friend!

    Carol Boucher avatar

    Carol Boucher May 30, 2016, 12:44 PM

    God bless you all and safe travels.

    Marie-Josée gagnon avatar

    Marie-Josée gagnon May 31, 2016, 7:05 PM

    Aaron, you are an inspiration! Enjoy your trip!

    Anne Green avatar

    Anne Green Jun 2, 2016, 5:01 PM

    Have a wonderful and safe trip! :)

    C.L. Conroy avatar

    C.L. Conroy Jun 3, 2016, 10:34 AM

    It is so great to completely unplug and I'm so glad you have the opportunity to do so.

Aaron Blank

CEO, Owner

Aaron has been engaged in the conversation since the late 1990s, where he discovered his love of media while working at local radio stations. After five years as a radio reporter, anchor, producer and promoter in New York and Connecticut, he and his wife, Lacey, ventured west to begin his career in PR. Soon he caught the attention of industry legend Pat Fearey and the rest is history. Two decades later, as CEO and owner of The Fearey Group, Aaron leads with tireless enthusiasm and contagious drive. He takes his breakfast at 4:30 AM and never eats lunch alone. You can find him working to connect the next business with tomorrow’s leader.

Personal philosophy: do something amazing every day!