John Gaddis sabbatical

Unplug to Recharge: John Gaddis’ Sabbatical Story

It sounds counterintuitive if you’re talking about your laptop, cell phone or many other essentials of day-to-day life, but with people, the concept is proven: Allow your team members to completely unplug for a time, and they come back more energized and productive than ever.

The KO team committed to the important practice of providing planned sabbaticals more than 10 years ago and the program has consistently paid dividends in employee productivity, engagement, firm performance and client satisfaction ever since.

Most recently, KO partner John Gaddis enjoyed an 8-week sabbatical in Central Europe, where he and his family explored Croatia, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Krakow and Munich, followed by Ireland, England, the Netherlands and Belgium in the West.

John was nicknamed “Rick Steves Jr.” by his kids as they tried to follow his “Europe Through the Back Door” philosophy and travel casually, with just their backpacks, meeting locals and trying to experience the local culture.

“This time with my family was priceless,” says John. “We tried to laugh at many of the wrong turns and bad restaurant choices, remembering that some of the ‘worst’ moments of the trip will make the best stories in the future.”

In addition to their navigational and dining adventures, the beauty of the Western Coast of Ireland was a highlight, which they were able to experience over the course of about 10 days by car, as they traveled from Westport in the North down to the Dingle Peninsula in the South.

“Every few minutes during the drive someone would point outside the car and exclaim how beautiful the views were,” John recalls. “The island is so green and lush, and we loved the Connamera, Conor Pass, the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands.”

In Central Europe, two of the Gaddis family favorites were Budapest and Krakow. “Budapest is fantastic. It’s an exotic mix of European (and some Asian) cultures, and the thermal baths must be experienced to be believed,” John recounts. “The food is unique to Europe (if you haven’t eaten a warm chimney cake, you haven’t lived), and the city architecture mixes old world elegance with Soviet-era Brutalism.”

The family also enjoyed Krakow for the largest, and possibly most beautiful, town square in Europe. “It’s a city straight out of a Disney movie – cobblestone streets lined with carriages, 1,000-year-old churches, and beautiful squares,” John notes. “We also liked that we didn’t have to fight millions of tourists in Krakow – it’s definitely not as touristy as Prague or Vienna.”

From a work perspective, the trip was really energizing for John. “I was excited to return home and get back in a routine, and am now rested, ready and excited to work with our clients,” he says. “I’m so thankful to KO for offering this benefit, and to my colleagues for chipping in while I was out of the office.”

The sabbatical program at KO is open to all team members, including non-attorney staff, who have worked at the firm for more than 7 years. Learn more about how KO’s culture and approach drives their success here. Read about Jon Taylor’s sabbatical.

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