Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blog the second 7-18-11 In which I discuss business travel

I'll begin by addressing my friend Heidi’s comment about the first blog that there have to be sacred times when you should be without access to communication devices.  I completely agree and I actually feel that being so connected we have more flexibility to choose not to be reachable.  So take my 24/7 accessibility claim with something of a grain of salt.  As with all my pronouncements, I tend to exaggerate for effect and speak in absolutes.  But if I qualified everything all of my paragraphs would be, well, like this one.

So, onto traveling.  Travel is tough and getting worse.  Ever more security procedures, longer waiting times, packed planes, fewer amenities, delayed flights, and crabby people irritated by all of the above.

On the other hand, there is wi-fi access on many flights now, more electronic devices to pass the time, better in-flight entertainment, better restaurants in airports in which you can wait out those delays.

There are a million tips online for travelers, so I will try to stick to what I think is more unique in my case yet hopefully beneficial.  The first is that I almost never travel for purely business reasons if I can help it.  In the same way that I have to tend to business on most vacations, I also try to fit as much pleasure in any business trip as I can.

But it means I have to plan carefully so as to not get overtired or distracted from the main purpose of my trip.  I try to always get into the first city (usually New York) at least one or two days ahead of my first meeting.  I don’t charge clients for travel days and I certainly don’t bill for the extra hotel nights or expenses.  Those are the things I do for myself to make travel more comfortable and my life richer for more face-to-face relationships that benefit my personal and professional life.

While I usually meet a friend, go out and/or see a show on the first night, I make sure the next morning is clear so that I can sleep in.  I always try to get a full 8 hours while I’m traveling for health and clarity but the first night is especially important to get over any lingering jet lag.

The good news is that noon in New York is only 9 AM in LA so I’m not usually expected by most (except those that follow me on social media!)  For the most part I subsist in the hotel room on energy bars and protein drinks so I don’t have to go out for breakfast and also to keep the client’s travel costs in line.  They also help to get moving without too much reliance on caffeine.

Coffee to me is a necessary and pleasurable evil that must be kept in a box for 3 reasons: 1) my addictive personality, 2) it can dry out my skin and 3) I need it when I need it and if I use it everyday it will lose its effectiveness. 

Besides, I have 8 glasses of water to get in and that is always tough for me. There is enough energy and clarity in a glass of water to get through any non-work or light social situation, especially Vitamin Water.  And of course, people love to meet at Starbucks so it’s not like I won’t have plenty of ops to caffeinate.

OK, so here is the Hollywood Tony Takeaway List for Business Travel:

1. Take care of your physical health. Hydrate. Vitamin     water.  Minimize alcohol and caffeine.  Get enough      sleep.  Minimum bedding standards (for me 400         thread count sheets and down pillows and comforters.
2.   Take care of your emotional health.  Avoid as much direct conflict as possible.  For example, I always ask my vendors to discuss cost overruns or other negotiations with my office rather than distressing me and possibly involving my clients in any disagreements.  I also trust my wife to only tell me as much as I need to know about any fracases at home or in the office until I am back on the ground in LA.
3.   Be comfortable. Loose fitting clothing.  Two pairs of socks.  Simplified dressing.  Athletic shoes that look like business shoes. 
4.   Have a strong tether to the mothership.  If you don’t have a reliable support staff at the controls while you are performing your space walk, your line is going to snap and you will end up floating forever faster than you can say Major Tom. 
5.   Stay in close contact with loved ones.  As much as you need professional support on the road, you need emotional support even more.  You have to be reminded everyday why you’re doing all of this in the first place, and be reassured that however badly you get beaten up out there, loving arms are waiting to help put you back together when you return.
6.   Mix in some fun.  See a show, meet a friend for a meal or a coffee, visit a landmark or museum.
7.   Scope out your Starbucks, your deli, your drugstore.  Know where your resources are so you can relax and focus on the job at hand.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, it doesn't look like my first comment posted.

    Good blog, Tony!

    I don't travel that much anymore, but when I did I really needed to keep a balance for my health and ability to do a good job for work as well.