I was flying to Las Vegas to attend the biggest trade show in the industry with ten colleagues. I was upgraded. After boarding, I realized my neighbor for this flight. The new VP who joined the company two weeks ago was sitting next to my seat.
I walked up to her with a smile and sat down. During the short flight, we chatted about our experience joining the company and naturally, our upgrades.
When we landed, we soon realized that out of ten people, we were the only two that did not check luggage for a two-day business trip.
The VP suggested that I join a taxi ride with her and go to the hotel first. We walked through the airport, zipped through the taxi line and hopped into a taxi. There we had our second, casual personal conversation. We discovered our mutual hobby of miles and points, our love for travel and our families.
From the conversation, I sensed her ‘cut the crap’ leadership style, which I really like. I’m sure she learned a lot about me too. One can learn a lot about a person from the way she travels.
The next day we had back to back meetings with our biggest vendors. The night before, my colleague who had been in the role for over two years stayed up till midnight. She was editing PowerPoints for the meeting, updating numbers, fixing formats and emailing if anyone needs a hard copy at midnight.
Me, in contrast, after reviewing the names of the people I would meet the next day, I went to sleep at 11 PM.
Two of my colleagues were late. One was busy looking for breakfast. She didn’t check the night before hence didn’t realize that a hotel breakfast only opens at 7 AM. The other colleague was looking for coffee for the same reason. We don’t function without coffee. For the next 30 minutes, we were wandering around the area looking for Starbucks and bakery.
At lunchtime, we had a team briefing. The VP asked everyone how was their evening. One colleague said: “Oh I was so exhausted so I just ordered room service for dinner. But when I put the tray out, I locked myself out of my room. So I had to go down to the lobby in pajamas to get a new key!” The other colleague added: “Me too! I went to the lobby twice because I forgot my ID on the second trip.”
This was the first time the VP had a personal casual conversation with her new team. Yet these were the stories she heard from their own mouth.
By late afternoon our meeting with the biggest vendor started. I arrived at the meeting room ten minutes beforehand. Though I had never met this vendor before as a new hire, I was able to call him by his name as I walked up to him, with a bright smile and a warm handshake.
The VP walked straight into the room and sat next to me. My colleague who stayed up till midnight barely made the meeting. She came with copies of presentations that nobody looked at for the entire meeting. Why? Because this meeting was to introduce our vendors to the new management, to hear vendors talk about their business concerns and ideas.
How one day can make or break compared to a year in the office
After returning to head office, I noticed something different. While everyone was anxious about new leadership changes and preferences, I was able to build rapport with the new VP over a two-day business trip as a new hire. When we met each other in the hallway or in the meetings, we would casually tease and joke with each other.
I couldn’t help but wonder, in the everyday office setting, all my colleagues are capable professionals. However, over a short business trip, there is much difference in how we manage travel and energy, which reflected in performance and productivity.
Business Travel, Energy, Efficiency and Style
This is why I want to write about business travel experiences: how one day can make or break compared to a year in the office.
I have traveled to 27 countries in 5 continents on business trips. My travel involves me hosting client events in a cocktail dress, or talking to media and negotiating million dollar contracts, all in a few hours after landing an overnight flight to Paris.
This is what you will get after reading my posts: Achieve productivity, strike an impression and return recharged in style.
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