To be honest, the frequency with which these things come up in conversations borders on the ridiculous.
You would think that after a few years doing this that people would find something else to talk about, but that is not the case. If you are lucky enough to standout in one of these areas, you will definitely earn the respect of your peers.
1. Computer Bags
One of the first things I learned after getting into this job where travel is the rule rather than the exception is that nobody EVER uses the firm-issued computer bag. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ve met a lot of people on this job and I can remember only one person that was still using the bag they were given at orientation.
While not using the default bag as your mobile office is of the highest importance, it is a not decision that should be rushed and taken lightly. Judgements inevitably will be made based on the bag that you choose. For example, the first manager I worked for in consulting opted for the Swiss Army backpack. This says “function over style” to everyone with whom he comes into contact. Basic yet durable. And if I had to choose a colleague that I thought would give me the best chance to live in a “survival situation” it would be that guy simple because of the bag he choose. In my mind Swiss Army = Eagle Scout = most likely to know what to do stranded on a deserted island. To quote Charles Barkley, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.”
On the other hand, you have the type that goes with the brown leather briefcase that must be carried by hand. This says, “I want people to look at this bag and know how professional I am.” The brown color seems to be just to draw attention but to be fair, this may be what’s fashionable these days. As for the briefcase style, when you’re on the move this much, why else would you choose a big requiring you to have a hand occupied at all times. Not practical at all and results if you asking people if they can help hold or carry things way more often than you should… You can make your own conclusions.
I personally chose the Briggs & Riley bag below. The backpack design allows me to be hands-free, and distributes weight across more of the body, which must be good for the back. I haven’t seen the research on this, but I’m sure it’s out there… This particular bag is TSA friendly (quick-release butterfly flap so that I don’t have to remove my laptop from the bag for the x-ray), which is a big win when you’re going through airport security twice a week. So if the “very professional” guy wants to claim this is juvenile, I’m ok with that, because I’m not the one that will be paying outlandish chiropractor bills down the road.
|After (a few trips across the pond later…)|
|3000 SPG Points in one shot is nothing to sneeze at|
Most people don’t stay in hotels often enough to even notice the hotel points you accumulate and the various offers that hotels make in order to improve their position in a highly competitive market. That being said, believe me when I tell you that consultants take their hotel points very seriously. This is how are able to go on vacation at a reasonable cost and somewhat rationalize being away from our families an absurd amount of time.
To give you an idea of how real this is, I worked with a guy who would check-out of his hotel every night and check into another hotel within the same group of hotels to accrue more “stays” and accelerate his progress to the highest hotel status.
There’s not much worse than the feeling I get when I find there is a double points promotion that I missed, while my colleagues are basking in the glory of double or triple rewards points.
Luckily, I know how to play the game much better now, which basically just means I have to read every single email that comes through from SPG, but it’s worth it.
3. Frequent Flyer Miles
Consultants love frequent flyer miles almost as much as they love hotel points. The thing with frequent flyer miles it that airlines don’t negotiate, and depending on where you live, you don’t have much say which airline you’re flying on in the first place. Still, will I throw it out there that I just got 3 tickets to LA for nothing and still have more miles left than I can do anything with at the moment or how I got upgraded to first class this morning? Absolutely.
Frequent flyer miles are battle scars for consultants – I worked with a Senior Manager that had over 1 million miles remaining. That’s what I call battle tested.
4. The Holy Grail
Anyone who travels knows that the worst part of the travel is getting through security. This little gem is a new development in airline security and essentially allows you to walk right through the airport because you’re the man (or woman).
TSA Pre can be found right now in only 16 airports, and even then it is only with select participating airlines. Once you have this on your resume, you can officially say you’ve “made it” as a consultant.