Yes, a travel bag. I know it may sound a little crazy, but here’s the thing. Part of living the consulting lifestyle means there is some travel, for many that travel may be up to 80%. Some people love business travel and some people want to keep their business travel to a minimum. Regardless of which side of the business travel dichotomy you fall into, there is always a shared struggle about the luggage used. [Read more…]
I’m going to let you in on a little secret, one which flies in the face of the core of being a management consultant.
Flying really isn’t my thing.
Yes, I do it every week but I don’t enjoy it, especially when you’re talking international flights of 7+ hours. Yet, I still deal with it – it’s one of those necessary evil kind of things. If I had to drive everywhere I needed to go, not a whole lot would ever get done, so I travel and get through it the best that I can.
A big part of how I get through the travel is having a routine. Mine was I get on the plane in this tiny seat and fall asleep until I arrive at my destination. Lots of other people seemed to have to deal with a similar commute and something about knowing that made my nook of a seat just a bit more bearable.
A couple of funny things happened though. First, I was having a conversation with one of the partners I worked with who happened to be an Irishmen. Somehow the topic of travel outside the U.S. came up and I ended up sharing that not only had I not been anywhere that required a passport, but I didn’t even have one. It never seemed worth the time to get it since I had no plans of leaving U.S. soil. When he explained how I could potentially miss a great career opportunity or conference abroad because of not having a passport, it was clear I had to get one.
Not more than 3 months later I was on a project where I was going to Paris, France every month. The second trip back from France is when it happened, the moment when my traveling life would change forever. After I hand my boarding pass for usual nook of a seat to the flight attendant, she reaches under the counter for something…another boarding pass, and tells me I’ve been upgraded to business class. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time since I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but that was about to change in a hurry.
The term business class doesn’t do this thing justice – people should call it “luxury class” or “business elite” as +Delta uses on its official menu shown above. Anything you could want or need is available to you there and it’s so absurd you might actually forget you’re on a plane. Let me break it down some of the amenities for you:
- 3-course meal
- fully reclining seat
- full sized pillow
- real blanket
- excessive amounts of legroom
- wines, spirits, mimosas, etc. to your heart’s desired
- noise cancelling headphones
When you talk to people that work in client service type of jobs, they will always tell you travel is part of the job and if you don’t like to travel, you should choose a different career. I agree with that for the most part, but there’s such a thing as traveling too much. If you find yourself nodding your head to any of the below symptoms, you can safely say you travel WAY too much for work:
- The dry cleaner guy in a city you don’t even live meets you at your car with your clothes: I don’t know of any drive thru dry cleaning service but this was pretty close. I was riding into the client site with one of my colleagues and we pulled up to the dry cleaners to pick up his shirts for the week. As soon as we pulled up, the guy comes out with shirts in hand, which is even more impressive because it’s not like we drive the same car every week. Now that’s what I call customer service.
- The rental car shuttle driver knows your schedule a bit too well: I had a stretch where I traveled to Boston so much that if I skipped a week, the rental car shuttle driver would make a comment like “we missed you last week. Getting to know the people that work at the rental car lot isn’t a bad idea either when you’re looking for a different car which may not be on the menu.
- The airport parking shuttle driver asks if you’re parked in your usual spot: This happens just about every week. My wife got a chance to see this in action and couldn’t stop laughing. First on the way out one shuttle driver says “Oh, this must be a personal travel this week. You have your family with you.” On the way back another shuttle driver asks, “The usual spot, sir?” Yup…usual spot. Always the same spot.
- You’re on a first name basis with ALL of the hotel staff: Getting to know the hotel staff is always smart – they can help you get rooms when the reservation system says no or help you get your company’s rate when technically all of the rooms for that rate are already sold out. Not having to show your ID and credit card every time you check in adds a nice touch as well. I have to admit I still miss my friends from my favorite hotel in Waltham, MA that I stayed at for 2 years! But we all have to move on sometimes.
- You only have a barber in the city where you work: I used to have a barber shop in the town where I live and then they all split up and I figured why bother. I never went there anyway because I was always on the road and the little time I had at home I didn’t want to spend getting a haircut.
- When you get home, your daughter says “I’m so glad you came over”: Click here to read the back story to what happened to me but if your child thinks you’re just “coming over” when you get home, you may want to try to spend some more time there…
- Your son imitates you by doing this: this picture speaks for itself…
What do you think? Do you have other ways you know you’ve been on the road too long? Let me know in the comments below.
|Consultants love hotel points and free food|
No, this is not about Cheers. As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, relationship quality is often the key difference in all types of business decisions – vendor selection, buyer selection, employee hiring – you name it. In consulting, that increasing competition directly impacts your ability to find a project internally. You can click here to read about the “airport test” that consultants often refer to when talking about how managers decide who to staff on their projects. That’s a decent start, but it can take a while to get to know people if good airport convo is all you have in your bag of tricks. If you really want everybody to know your name, you need to brush up on your negotiation skills, and I’ll tell you what I mean by that.
The fastest way to get your name out there on a consulting project is to broker a deal…a hotel deal, and I’ll tell you why:
- Your firm loves it because you just did some major community building. Instead of all the battling factions (Marriott, Hilton, SPG) arguing over who has the best perks, all of a sudden everyone is skipping along hand-in-hand headed to the same place after work, which makes further networking much easier to do.
- Project management loves it because you just contributed a tangible financial benefit. Think about this. If you have a team of thirty people that travel each week, you saved the project $20 (room + parking) * 30 people * 3 nights * 4 weeks = $7,200/month. That’s not too shabby if you’re a fresh face trying to get some exposure. I’d also argue that if you really wanted to, you could reduce the number of rental cars based on point number 1 above.
- Your peers love it because you hooked them up with free food, which makes that per diem go just a bit further than usual.
- Consultants love hotel points so whenever you can get double points, it’s a borderline orgasmic experience for everyone involved.
My friend @jondobz inspired this cartoon but I failed to mention the fact that he got us a free movie every week and access to the lounge and internet for everyone (usually reserved for those with platinum status). Jon is a veteran consultant but the beauty of this type of initiative is that anyone at any level can proactively do this. You might be surprised at what you can accomplish just by asking.
Anyone have a deal they made on a project or other networking idea that helped everyone to know your name?
|photo credit: Cult Gigolo via photopin cc|
My wife and I just got back from a weekend in California visiting our old high school (Thacher) for alumni day. This time we went without either of the kids and it was a powerful reminder of what we want to prioritize for our family. We got the chance to re-connect with old friends and further connect with a new friend (+Bruce Sallan). My wife and I left after the weekend feeling refreshed. We missed the kids but this was our first weekend actually going away together since our honeymoon almost seven years ago. We’ve had a few date nights scattered here and there but nothing like this. We squeezed in so much, it felt like we had been gone much longer than we were, the sign of a trip well done.
As we were getting ready to take off, I started to think…taking an adult vacation for mom and dad is a lot like the instructions the flight attendant was giving on use of the oxygen masks. Think about it:
“Secure your mask before helping others”
The whole point behind this guidance is that you’ll be much better equipped to support those around you if you take care of yourself first. The same principle applies to parents taking a break…TOGETHER. Taking some time out to recharge, relax, reconnect with your significant other, or whatever it is that makes you feel like you’re ready to take on the world is priceless, especially if you have children. Happier parents make for happier children and a happier family. So we committed that once a year we’ll take the time to go back to Ojai for a weekend and refocus on the things that are most important in our life. It won’t be the most lavish of vacations but nothing could give a better return on our investment. After all, this is the place where we first met almost sixteen years ago!
How are you making sure you help yourself before trying to help your kids?