Once in a while work takes us outside of our office. Good luck to me for the next few days! #businesstrip

Made with Instagram

Please fire me. When I agreed to spend two weeks travelling with a “high-power businessman” as his “personal interpreter” during “global strategy meetings about environmental issues” (he seems like he should be in advertising), I did not know that would include going to dinners with him and him alone and spending 35 minutes reading and translating his entire menu every single night. Good thing I went to school for 22 years and got my PhD.

Great question from X230

After 20+ years of business travel I think I’ve mastered the art of staying fit on the road.  

  1. Plan to train.  My running shoes are the first thing I pack and I bring gear for every night I’m going to be gone.  I’m disappointed if I get back home with clean clothes.
  2. Set the expectation with your coworkers that you’re going to train every day.  My colleagues know that I’m always training for a race, I’m going to go to the gym every night and they no longer have any expectation that I will be joining them in the bar.  They know that I’m not happy about client dinners that take longer than 2 hours. 
  3. Don’t work out, train.  Everyone tells themselves they’re going to work out, but few actually do.  Working out sounds optional. Training for a race on the other hand, commands respect.  Colleagues will try to talk you into skipping a work out but are more likely to encourage and compliment you for sticking with a race training plan.
  4. Have a non-negotiable goal before you go to the gym.  Before you step into the gym you should know what you’re going to accomplish.  My non-negotiable goal is always to train at least an hour and to sweat.
  5. Alcohol is the enemy of training.  Drinks are a great social lubricant for get togethers with clients and employees, but they eliminate motivation.  Stick with club soda and a twist of lime - most people will assume it’s a gin and tonic and not hassle you about not drinking.
  6. No excuses.  Don’t stay at hotels with crappy gyms or else be willing to pay a few bucks for a day pass to a real gym.   Yes, you can work out after eating, just don’t stuff yourself.  Yes, you can sleep after working out, just take a shower and give yourself 30 minutes to relax first.  These are habits just like anything else - I now have a hard time sleeping if I haven’t worked out in the evening.
  7. Try not to eat like shit. I’m good, not great at this one.  Fortunately I travel enough that eating out on an expense report isn’t a big deal any more.  I’d much prefer to get something quick for dinner at Subway than order a giant steak, etc.   And I usually bring plenty of protein bars so I’m not tempted by the mini-fridge in the middle of the night.

It’s absolutely possible to train and race effectively for marathons (I’ve run 25) and triathlons (including Iron distance - I’ve done 6) while traveling for business 3-4 days every week.   Speaking of which, tonight I ran 6.5 miles in an hour at the LifeTime Fitness in Allen, TX. and it was the best part of my day.

Sometimes Being the Stay-Behind-Parent Really Sucks

So, I’ve been the solo parent for the past 12 days, working on birthday party planning for the twins, doing all the scut work required for the day-to-day maintenance of kids (cooking meals, making snacks for them to take to school for recess, getting them to school, picking them up from school, etc.), and dealing with OlderTwin’s recent illness. 

DynaPapa breezes back from his trip bearing gifts, so, of course, the kids see him as the exciting parent. 

To his credit, DynaPapa makes a point of telling the kids what an awesome thing I did by being the stay-behind-parent and handling everything in his absence. So, for those of you who travel, be sure to remember to do likewise. It’s up to you to help your kids understand and acknowledge what the stay-behind-parent did in your absence. It’s not nearly as glamorous as returning with gifts but it’s equally as important as the work you did on your business trip. 

Place your bets (in the comments)

This morning’s 6:25 am flight from San Jose to Minneapolis was delayed on the ground due to a minor mechanical issue - the pilot said that one of the static wicks on the wing had broken and had to be repaired.  No big deal. Even small aircraft have numerous static wicks so I was surprised the one at issue had to be fixed before we could fly.

The flight got interesting 15 minutes after take off when the captain announced that all 3 aircraft pressurization systems had failed and we had to divert to SFO.  I wholeheartedly supported that decision as I’m quite fond of oxygen.  A fully loaded A320 is quite heavy and as it turns out the maximum take-off weight of a plane can exceed the preferred maximum landing weight.  That wasn’t the case here, but we were heavy enough that fire trucks were waiting in case the brakes overheated.

The gate agent announced that a new part had to be flown in and hopefully our flight will depart around 2:00.  The alternative would be to grab the very last crappy seat on the only other SFO-MSP direct flight departing at 3:30.

This is the frequent traveler’s dilemma.  Take your chances on an uncertain repair or choose the certainty of an alternate, later flight.  (Of course all of this assumes you weren’t stupid enough to check a bag in which case you don’t get a choice.)    

I chose to stick with the original flight and am enjoying nuts and a diet coke in the Delta Sky Lounge.  What you do think?  Did I choose wisely or poorly?  Place your bets!


Adventures in Business Travel

How sad is it that I was looking forward to Friday because it’s BACON day at the Allen, TX Holiday Inn Express? The Bread sign makes me feel like I’m really being naughty by eating a bagel.

Occasionally Avis gives me a really nice car even though I only reserve an intermediate; this time it was a BMW. The gear shift is completely electronic - the gears could be arranged in any order they choose. So why does BMW put Park in the middle of the tree thus requiring the driver to push the shifter forward to get to Reverse and pull backward to get to Drive? I got that wrong all week and feel that @trivialbob would share my irritation at this unintuitive engineering.

Of course the best part of Friday is getting to go home and despite a 4 hour delay due to a mechanical issue I finally made it.

Hilton Is Making The Invisible Traveler -- Like Me -- Happy

Hilton is about to earn my loyalty again. I had a Hilton Gold for a few years back in the ‘90s when I was traveling quite a lot, and had a corporate expense account to lean on. But now, Hilton is catching my attention for another reason than frequent stay rewards: the company is investing huge in a ne mobile tech infrastructure:

Craig Karmin, Hilton Books Upgraded Technology

Guests already can check in and check out with a few punches on a smartphone or tablet-computer screen at all of Hilton’s hotels in the U.S., the company said. By the end of summer, travelers will be able to see the location of and select their own rooms by mobile phone at six brands, from the midscale Hilton Garden Inn to the luxury Waldorf Astoria.

Next year, Hilton says, arriving guests can begin using their smartphones to unlock the doors to their rooms, rather than waiting on any lines clogging the front desk to pick up a key. That feature will be available at most of the company’s hotels world-wide by the end of 2016.

To make this real, Hilton is dropping $550 million in an arms race with other chains, like Starwood, Marriott, and Intercontinental Hotel Group.

I am the quintessential example of the silent or invisible traveler. I’d rather channel all interaction with a hotel via smartphone app – to the extent possible – without waiting in a line at reception. 

I really want to be able to choose my room, to make sure it’s quiet and has a desk, and to simply walk to the room and open the door. All without the smiling faces in the cheesy uniforms. No offense.

But the big breakthrough is yet to happen, which is unbundling the hotel. Instead of a monolithically controlled experience, an interesting future hotel would be more like a city, with shops and cafes, coworking and cohabitation working areas, and a diverse range of spaces to hang, eat, talk, and work. This is something like the unbundling of work spaces (see yesterday's  Beyond The Office: Workplace As A Service). 

San Francisco

I’ve been here since Friday and will be here through next Friday.  

The view outside my hotel window faces the bay….The hotel is near the SF Airport and the airplanes come in on what looks like a jetty from my window, but is actually a tarmac.  At first I thought, “Wait.  How the heck am I going to get any sleep?”  

Actually it’s not bad at all.  Falling asleep is easy-peasy, but it’s staying asleep. This is no plane problem, but something I experience on a regular basis.  So I’m good.

Of course I’m here for business.  I really need to make time to play instead of working too much.  However, until I figure out how to do that, I try to insert some play into the work moments.

My friends and I went to Union Square and did some shopping.  I tried my very first Moscow Mule and it was delicious and had the best veggie burger ever.  I invested in a couple of  nightcaps; absinth and French Persimmon Vodka.  A friend told me, “Whoa absinth!  It will let loose all your sexual inhibitions!”

Honestly, I don’t think I need a drink to do that.