Ramblin’ Man (or Woman)

Dec 30, 2002

Some principals in A/E/P and environmental firms have roles that don’t require much travel. Some practically NEVER have to stay overnight on business. Others are gone all of the time— in some cases 20 or more nights a month. I can remember one year not too long ago USA Today gave its award for the road warrior who logged the greatest number of miles to an executive in an A/E megafirm. I have had years where I flew 180,000 miles or more. In any event, in this my 15th year as a management consultant to A/E/P and environmental firms, I think I am traveling more than ever. It’s not a badge of honor or anything I am particularly proud of. Traveling constantly is generally not a healthy lifestyle. But there are some things you can do to make it easier on you. Here’s some of what I do: Bring a book. Face up to it— you will be delayed, you will get sick of talking to the grandmother sitting next to you, and you will get tired of Spectravision movies. A good book is portable, provides escape, and may actually stimulate your brain. Don’t leave home without one. Get an e-ticket. These are the way to go. It’s like using an ATM versus having to deal with a teller. Just like early ATMs, the public is wary of e-tickets! But they shouldn’t be. Leave early vs. going the night before. Why lose valuable time with your family? I like the first plane out. The parking is good, you can doze, and you still have that valuable evening before so you can maintain some semblance of a life! Sleep on the plane. Some people can’t do it. Some take drugs to do it. Others bring blinders and white noise machines. While I wasn’t this way when I was young, today, as soon as I hit the airplane seat I get sleepy! Go to bed early at night. When you are where you are going, why stay out all night? Some clients think that it’s your obligation to party with them, but most will understand if you explain that you need your rest so you can do a good job for them the next day. I like to hit the hay early. It’s easier to do that on the road than it is at home. Catch up on your sleep! Use dual alarms. Never, ever, ever trust the hotel wake up call. I have been let down too many times. Set the alarm clock and bring one of your own also. You don’t want to be the loser that has to be called and awakened by a co-worker or your client. Call home a lot. Let the folks back home know you haven’t forgotten about them. I call about a half dozen times a day. Call back to the office, too. Get a Blackberry and leave the laptop at home. It’s so much easier using a PDA like a Blackberry than it is lugging that notebook computer around. You won’t have to take it out of your bag for security, either, and that speeds things up. Look for a hotel room with high speed Internet. If you do bring your notebook, look for hotels that have high speed Internet access in their rooms. It’s so much better. You can actually work and get something done! Pack light. That way you can avoid checking. Checking bags increases the chances that your bag will get lost and takes lots of time at both ends… waiting. By the way, Boston’s Logan Airport is the worst airport in the country when it comes time to get your bags! Bring a mini-pharmacy. You never know when you will get sick. Advil is the single most important travel accessory. Pepto Bismol is important, too— get the tablets. And bring dental floss, antiseptic cream, and cold medicine of some sort. Nothing is worse than being sick and not having the medication to help you through it! Originally published 12/30/2002

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.