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    Entries in travel (12)


    Notes from the Road #16 - ALL CAPS EDITION

    Submitting this brief dispatch from Delta Flight 2316 to Las Vegas where I am heading to attend, cover, and moderate a session at the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference this week. For folks who might not know this, I live just outside of Rochester, NY, a fine place to live for many reasons, but like many mid-size cities in the US, suffers from a lack of direct flights to many popular destinations. It was this circumstance that had me on my first flight of the day - a 6:10AM early morning short hop to Detroit, where I caught the aforementioned flight to Vegas.

    The flight from Rochester to Detroit is short, maybe an hour of total flight time. Add in a few minutes taxiing out and the total time for the flight might have clocked in at about 1:10 this morning. Thanks to the fine, fine folks at Delta, I was upgraded on ROC - DTW flight, in seat 2A. Seated next to me in 2B was your perfectly typical, perhaps stereotypical 'business guy sitting in first class' person. He had the look, the manner, the tech, (iPad and iPhone) of a corporate VP-type. Maybe in consulting, maybe in sales, hard to say for sure, but definitely someone pretty high on whatever food chain in which he resides.

    So (finally) here's the point of the story. For the entire 1:10 minutes we were on the plane from ROC - DTW the guy in 2B wrote emails, starting on the iPhone, switching to the iPad once airborne, then back to the iPhone again once we landed. Non-stop email.  I mean not one minute he was not emailing. It was an impressive feat of email stamina.

    But that was not the most interesting thing about the guy in 2B. Everyone one of his emails, at least every time that I snuck a peak to my right, was typed in ALL CAPS. EVERY EMAIL WAS IN ALL CAPS.

    Insane, right?

    Can you imagine being a person on the receiving end of one of Mr. VP's all caps emails that was sent from a plane at 6:05AM? I have to think anyone who received one of those this morning could not have been all that excited about that prospect.

    Look, everyone knows that emailing in all caps is akin to shouting at someone, and you should never do it. But I think it indicates more than just bad email etiquette. It flags you as having just about no self-awareness, no understanding of what kind of impact you're having on folks, (especially if you are the boss, like I suspect Mr. 2B is). 

    I couldn't not stop thinking about Mr 2B's staff when they fired up their email this morning. They had to have been hoping they'd have a quiet day, since 2B was on a 6:00AM flight and would not be around today to bug them. Instead, they likely received an ALL CAPS blast before they got their coffee.

    Work can sometimes be a drag. In fact, it often can be a drag. It sometimes is hard to tell why. But guys like Mr. 2B are certainly not helping matters.

    If you work for Mr. ALL CAPS guy I feel for you today. Hang in there.


    Notes from the Road #15 - The Five Guys You Meet in the Hotel Fitness Center

    Back out on the road this week while simultaneously trying to stay (reasonably) healthy and what passes for fit for a person of my stature. This combination of travel and desire to not let the half-dozen Las Vegas trips I have on tap for 2015 ruin me have placed me in quite a few hotel gyms and fitness centers of late. And when you spend even a little time in hotel fitness centers, you inevitably encounter at least one of these five types of guys (and yes, these are always guys), along the way. Each type is at best slightly annoying and at worst downright frightening and no matter which one you meet, you will be reminded how terrible people are.

    1. Meathead screamer guy - this guy grabs the heaviest weights he can find in the gym and carries out a cycle of squats and deadlifts while making sure everyone in the hotel hears how hard he is working out by emitting a series of grunts and groans in his best Monica Seles voice. It doesn't matter if the heaviest dumbbell is 20 pounds, meathead screamer guy is going to lift it in several ways and scream about it the entire time.

    2. Making up an exercise guy - Let's see - if we balance on a large medicine ball, hold a 10 pound plate in one hand, and lean forward and try and pick up a 5 pund dumbbell, we have just created a brand new exercise! Decades of research, study, and documentation of the basics of exercise are not enough for this guy. He has to leverage the vast resources of the Courtyard by Marriott Perimeter Northeast fitness center to break new territory.

    3. Extremely tight shorts guy - needs little explanation. Middle-aged, out-of-shape men of the world: Please stop wearing compression shorts in public. I beg you. You are at a sales conference, not prepping form the Ironman.

    4. Michael Phelps of the hotel pool guy - What? The hotel has a 20-yard long, kind of straight pool? That is the invitation for the wannabee Michael Phelps types to don the speedo and those tiny little goggles barely large enough to cover your eyeballs and start their own version of the 400M individual medley. Backstroke, breast stroke, butterfly - this guys has them all and wants to make sure everyone notices. Hey Mark Spitz - I just want dangle my legs in the shallow end and have a Mai Tai without catching the spray from your kick turns.

    5. Try every machine once guy - This guy probably has not ever set foot in a gym since middle school and the chance to experiment with the latest in 18 year old Nautilus machines in the Doubletree is just too tempting to pass up. This guy hits the bicep curl, then the shoulder press, then the abdominal crunch, then back to the bicep curl, and then maybe the overhead press for a few reps. A few rounds of the exercise machine roulette game and this guy is ready to hit the very happening lobby bar for $3 Miller Lite pints and half-price pulled pork sliders.

    Ok, I am out. Back to the grind that is Las Vegas in the spring time. Be careful out there my fellow road warriors. And stop annoying the rest of the world in the hotel fitness center.


    Notes from the road #14 - Things seen and (over)heard

    The better part of the last two weeks on the road as always provides a rich source of amusement. 

    Herewith, presented in no particular order, are 5 random observations from the road...

    1. Overheard in the Delta Sky Club - 'Tell him to take his head and pull it out of his ass.  If he can't do that, then fire him. I SAID FIRE HIM!'

    2. Also overheard in the Delta Sky Club - 'The last four guys who quit have told HR in their exit interviews that the demands of the job are unreasonable. That it total BS. No, I can't meet with you tomorrow. I have a meeting with HR.'

    3. Also overheard in the Delta Sky Club - 'No I have not hired anyone for Japan yet. They keep sending me crap candidates. The last one didn't know that Osaka is not the same as Okinawa.'

    4. If there is a major spill of liquids or such in an airport corridor, the sheer number of folks that get involved is staggering. Retail workers, airport staff, private security, Metro Police, cleaners, other kinds of maintenance people, etc. I saw a pretty large spill of water in the Cleveland airport, (one of those 5-gallon water jugs blew out), and no less than 9 different people had some involvement in the reporting, cleanup, and assigning blame processes. 

    5. If I ever do another 'Ignite' style presentation (20 slides, 15 seconds per slide), I will absolutely not try to tackle as big a subject as Humanity's relationship with technology. I did think the 5 minute talk went well, but as is my typical fashion, I could have gone on for another 45.  But DisruptHR Cleveland was a blast.

    Have a great weekend!


    Notes from the road #12 - On helping each other

    On the road this morning on the way down to the Brandon Hall Group's Excellence 2015 Conference where I am pleased and honored to be a participant tomorrow in a panel discussion on HR, data, and analytics. Hopefully, I will also talk about basketball, craps, and Lucha Libre, (which are all relevant to the HR and analytics discussions, trust me on that).

    Today's Notes from the Road dispatch involves one of the most simple, yet increasingly infuriating elements of modern business travel - the airplane boarding process. As most regular or even occasional travelers know, boarding planes these days is some kind of hellish mix of mosh pit, confusion, violations of personal space norms, and utter despair. Boarding planes today is a test of patience for sure. People crowd the gate area the second that they get a sniff that boarding is about to begin, the folks in first class (me too sometimes), jockey for space in the 'preferred' line, and once on the plane, lots of fighting for limited overhead storage space for bags ensues. The advent of checked bag fees has made the 'I don't care how large it is, I am not checking this bag' mentality even more prevalent.

    So that was the context in which I boarded the 6:00AM flight today. Boarding just in front of me was an older lady, probably about 70 or so, who was clearly struggling with her bags as she made her way down the jetway and onto the plane. She had taken advantage of the call for pre-boarding to take a little extra time to board. About half way down the jetway it became clear to me that she was going to have some issues actually hoisting her bags up to the overhead. By the time I caught up with her, we were just inside the plane and I offered to assist her (since I am of course a consummate gentleman), in carrying her bags on to the plane and then up to the overhead bin. And so I did, and once making sure she was situated and seated, I headed back up the aisle (to my seat in Row 1, thanks Delta), and sat down.

    Later, once the flight had commenced, and the flight attendant in First Class came round to take drink orders she stopped to thank me for helping the aforementioned older lady with her bags. I thought it kind of odd that the flight attendant even noticed, and just stammered 'Thank you'. It was not really that big of a deal. The older lady clearly needed some help. I am (thankfully), still able to lift relatively heavy objects off of the ground, so I helped her. This is not that big a deal.

    But the fact that the flight attendant made a point to mention it to me once we took off, at least 30 minutes later, kind of struck me as a little unusual. Like it must have been unusual to her, like maybe she doesn't see people helping each other all that often.

    Which, if true, is kind of sad. 

    It is hard out there. Especially for older folks, or people who don't travel all that often, or for people that are just a little nervous about the entire experience of airports and planes and TSA and everything else.

    It is pretty hard out there sometimes. And it is pretty easy to help out. And to be kind.

    Happy Wednesday.


    Notes from the road #12 - Heading to #HRTechConf Edition

    Random observations, thoughts, and disposable commentary from yesterday's journey out to Las Vegas for this week's HR Technology Conference...

    1. If you want to save your company or yourself a few bucks on air travel, (and most of either have to or want to do this), you either have to fly really early, (6AM), really late (hello red eye back from the West Coast), or sit around for hours and hours on a layover in places like Detroit or Chicago. Note, I am drafting up at least the start of this post about 60 minutes in to a 3-hour layover in Detroit).

    2. If you fly say about once per month or more, and generally stick with the same airline, then it is definitely worth the $500 or so to buy a airline club membership for the year. I know it sounds like a lot of coin for what you think will only be a few random hours here and there when you'd actually use the club but you would be wrong. Food, drinks, free wifi, clean bathrooms, drinks, (did I say that already?), agents at the front desk that can actually help you, and a relatively calm and quiet place to wait out layovers and delays. The very first time you use the club after buying in you will be kicking yourself for not doing it sooner. Trust me on this.

    3. From the 'I can't believe this is happening' department, in recent weeks I have had delayed flights for two different reasons that in two decades or so of travel I had never had happen before. In the first, we could not leave until the on board oxygen canister was recharged, (it had been used to give some O2 to a nervous passenger during boarding). In the second, the plane was not able to depart because it had been over-fueled and some indeterminate amount of Jet A had to be siphoned out. I have no idea how they actually do the siphoning, but it takes an ETERNITY to do. 

    4. Detroit airport has the only (that I have ever seen), food concession that sells pretty much exclusively peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This may sound like not that big a deal, but if you have someone in your family with a peanut/nut allergy (as I do), then finding places to get a little bit of a PB&J fix is a VERY important thing. I hope my son is not reading this right now.  But I miss PB&J...

    5. No one reads in airports or on planes any more. You are either pounding away on Email (most of the sad-looking middle-aged guys in first class and in the Sky Club), or are cruising Facebook on a tablet, (pretty much everyone else). It seems to me from my very unscientific observations that older women, (think 50+) are the most enthusiastic Facebook users. It's like Facebook has given validation and opportunity for them to be all up in the details of everyone's business (like they always wanted to be, but used to require more effort). I am 95% done with Facebook by the way. I am on Ello though. That I like. Until the big corporations ruin it.

    6. Ok, I am out for now. Need to score that PB&J before my flight out to Vegas. If you are heading to HR Tech, please be sure to say Hi. I would love to meet some folks who read the blog.

    Have a great week!