Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Ultimate Telecommuter

We'd like you to meet the man who calls himself "the Mobile CEO" - Scott Leonard runs a multi-million dollar corporation from his boat, on which he is sailing with his family of five for three years...

Scott Leonard, "The Mobile CEO", onboard his boat (his home for the next three years) with his kids.
It looked as if Scott Leonard had a pretty good life - he started (and continues to run) a successful financial services firm that works exclusively with high-wealth clients; he has also taught finance courses, and has provided financial commentary on media outlets that include the LA Times, NBC Nightly News, and NPR's Market Watch. He lived in California with his wife and three children, enjoying sailing and surfing in his spare time; but seriously... did he really have any "spare" time?

Scott realized that he wanted to be able to spend more quality time with his family in the present rather than waiting until after he retired.

He also had a lifetime dream of sailing around the world.  

I think you know where this is heading...

The Adventure Begins
Four months ago, the Leonard Family – Scott, Mandi, Griffin, Jake and Luke – embarked upon a 3 year adventure of traveling around the world on their 50 foot sailboat, Three Little Birds. During this trip, Scott continues to run his financial services businesses remotely from the boat. When the Leonards submitted the following article to us last night, we were introduced to their adventure - and found ourselves combing through the four months of posts on their blog (threelittlebirds.org), so we thought we'd pass the article and their story along to you...

Balancing Act on the High Seas
Guest post by Scott Leonard with Zoe Alexander
When was the last time you played hide-and-seek? Or built a sand castle? Imagine your daily calendar as follows: snorkel, read the morning paper, email office and clients, build sand castle, conference call, play hide-and-seek. That’s my work/life balance.
Photo courtesy of the Leonard family's adventure website, threelittlebirds.org

It’s easier than I thought to mix work and family. And, as our lives are much simpler – no after-school commitments, TV, or play dates – we have more time to spend together. After dinner we take walks along the beach.

Photo from the family's Facebook page
Technology has really liberated me in how I approach a work/life balance. My office on the boat resembles a little nook at the Mac store. I am connected to the California office via my iMac, iPad and iPhone. Being connected this way enables me to handle the boat and the kids while being available to the office. This multi-tasking energizes me because it keeps my contact with the business lean and focused and I am able to participate in most of the boys’ daily activities. Our days are structured around their school, which starts promptly at 8:00 AM. Jake and Griffin have Math first, so I sit between them, read the Wall Street Journal on my iPad, have coffee, and help them when needed.

A big part of our days are spent at the family table, either with school or meals; and it is where the Leonard family multi-tasks best. We eat most meals together, so we use that time to review school assignments. Many of the boys’ assignments provide discussion sections, so Mandi and I lead the discussion topics, and the boys bounce ideas off of us as well as each other. This process has helped build critical thinking skills in the boys - a valuable skill to encourage at any age. The “round-table” nature of these discussions also really helps ensure that they grasp the material.

We have always been an active family, and discovered that morning exercise helps the boys sit through school. That job has fallen to me. Also, during the school day, we try and take a recess to expend some more energy. Again, my job. And it’s a win-win because I get to exercise with the boys. Yeah, I could drink coffee and greet the day in front of a screen, but this routine brings harmony to the day. Some of the activities we enjoy are walking around the local towns, kayaking, stand up paddleboard, Pilates on the boat, swimming, snorkeling and water polo.

One of the best parts of our trip- and it is by design – is that there are so few life distractions that we just spend time together. I love walking down the beach at night, holding hands with my boys. Or when we sail at night and one of the boys can’t sleep, we watch the stars and contemplate life on other planets. And, after we put the boys to sleep, Mandi and I have time to be together to talk. Sounds simple, but we rarely did that on land- we were either too busy or too tired. Striking a work/family balance involves navigating each day by what is truly important, and being able to wear many hats. You’d be surprised how efficient balance is if you take time to think it through. Trust me, it’s worth it.

If you enjoyed this article, check out the family's regular adventures on their website: www.threelittlebirds.org

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