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    Entries in travel (25)

    Saturday
    Jul112015

    No access

    I am in Beijing, China for the next few days and as is my tendency to be mostly unprepared as to the details of the places to which I travel, I was surprised to learn upon arriving that access to many of the apps and services I have come to rely upon, (Gmail, Google Drive, Hangouts, Twitter, Hootsuite, Instagram, and a few others), are essentially blocked here.

    So if you are trying to get a hold of me by any of the above means, well, I pretty much won't be reachable until Tuesday or Wednesday.

    If you really, really, need to reach me for some reason you can try to email at steveboese at hotmail, that service for whatever reason is accessible here.

    This is a really interesting place, and I kind of like the fact that I have been able to enjoy it a little more closely and attentively, not being constantly distracted by emails, tweets and the like.

    Have a great weekend!

    Friday
    Jul102015

    Notes from the Road #17 - You should pay more attention edition

    Quick dispatch from Day 4 (or maybe 5) of my trip over to Hong Kong and China to take some meetings and do some on the ground prep work for next April's inaugural HR Technology China Conference. Here are my top 5 thoughts and observations coming from someone who prior to this trip, had never come over to China before:

    1. I travel a lot, but the one thing even for me is that I bet 95% of the trips I take are to somewhere I have been to before. Even savvy travelers forget what it is to actually be someplace brand new, and factor in that new place pretty much totally different than anywhere else you have been before, and that is a recipe for trouble. I go to Vegas so much I don't usually know which hotel I am staying in until I get in the cab at McCarran. That kind of 'Oh, I will just figure it out when I get there' is not a great strategy over here.

    2. American pop culture is everywhere. We had a long meeting here yesterday in the hotel with some of our local partners and contacts, and every so often when the conversation paused I could here the music that was being piped in to the room. I think I heard 'Hotel California' about 8 times during the meeting. Do the Eagles resonate with the average local? I wonder.

    3. Business cards are still a pretty big deal over here. When you come out next April, make sure you have a stack. I am not kidding, this is a much bigger deal than you think.

    4. No matter how many or what variety of electonic charging device converter you bring, it will somehow be the wrong one. This is uncanny. I took along two different charging adapters and for reasons I can't fathom, they do not work. Luckily the hotels I have been in so far have converters in the rooms that work just fine. I just have to ration the power back and forth between my phone and PC all night. 

    5. Expedia customer service will keep you on hold so long you will eventually break down and hang up.

    6. Hand towels folded up in the shape of an elephant is a nice touch.

    7. You sometimes find unusual things in the hotel closet (see pic at right).

    All kidding aside, this has been a really fun and interesting trip so far. You should definitely come some time.

    Tuesday
    May262015

    The Invisible City

    Business travel is (mostly) terrible because we spend comparatively more time per trip dealing with the worst aspects of the process of traveling, (airports, delays, long cab rides, crowds...), and less time actually doing the fun parts of traveling, (sightseeing, trying some local restaurants and shops, meeting new people, catching a ball game). No, most business travel is actually two stressful, periods of 'travel', interrupted briefly by a little 'business' in the middle. And if you are a frequent business traveler you sometimes are faced with pressure from home (partners, spouses, kids, the dog), to minimize all non-essential elements of these business trips so you can get your butt back on the plane and come home. Which might make for some peace on the home front, but does nothing but increase the traveler's angst and to some extent guilt. After all, jetting to San Diego for a meeting or a conference in February sounds a hell of a lot more fun than dealing with the 27th Winter storm of the season back home. Just let's not talk about spending 9 hours at O'Hare after you missed your connection and nothing is going out due to the snow storm.The Invisible City, Chermayeff & Geismar Associates

    But you usually (and usually rightfully) give in to the demands of home and family and work, and minimize the time you spend away. You will willingly take Monday at 5:45AM flights on the way out and red eye flights back home so you are not giving too much of the appearance that you actually might, you know, want to take a little time to have a tiny bit of fun on one of these trips. And you do that so often, in so many places, that after a while everyplace starts to seem kind of the same. Starbucks in every city tastes the same. So does Chipotle. Sure, it would be better to try something unique and local, but the Starbucks is in the hotel lobby and the Chipotle is right next to the rental car drop off. And you need to get home, so if you grab something fast you might be able to stand by on an earlier flight.

    And that is probably the worst part of business travel, especially for folks that travel frequently. That we allow it to become routine and ordinary and mind-crushingly the same no matter the destination. Lao Tzu is said to have said that 'A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving'. Which is the opposite of what we make business travel. We always have plans, we are obsessed with getting in and out as quickly as possible, and eventually we turn these experiences into the mundane, and not the remarkable opportunities they should be.

    And I don't mean just the opportunity to see another conference room or a hotel ballroom or the Starbucks in the lobby. 

    Tuesday
    Apr072015

    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.

    Wednesday
    Mar252015

    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.