Mar 032011

Come Fly With Me

Come Fly With Me

I do a lot of travel for work.  That means I spend a lot of time on planes, some of which is “wasted” – or at least time that can’t be productive for work in the traditional sense of being connected, or in a lot of cases, of even reading.  One thing I’ve always appreciated in my career but have grown even more attached to of late is traveling with colleagues.  Any time I have an opportunity to do so, I jump on it.

First, I find that I get solid work time in with a colleague in transit.  A check-in meeting that isn’t rushed with a hard stop, interrupted by the phone or visitors, and in-person.

Second, I find that I get more “creative” work time in with a colleague on a flight, especially a long one.  Some of the time that isn’t in a structured meeting invariably turns to brainstorming or more idle work chatter.  Some great ideas have come out of flights I’ve taken in the past 11 years!

Finally, my colleague and I get more social time in than usual on a plane.  Social time is an incredibly important part of managing and developing personal connections with employees.  Time spent next to each other in the air, in an airport security line or lounge, in a rental car, “off hours” always lends itself to learning more about what’s going on in someone’s life.

Don’t get me wrong – even when I travel with someone from Return Path, we each have some “quiet time” to read, work, sleep, and contemplate life.  But the work and work-related aspects of the experience are not to be ignored.

Jul 162007

Starbucks, Starbucks, Everywhere, Part II

Starbucks, Starbucks, Everywhere, Part II

In 2004, I blogged about Starbucks’ implausible Forbidden City location (post includes picture) in the heart of one of China’s most prominent national monuments.

Today, under pressure from the Chinese government, Starbucks announced that they’re closing the location, reflecting “Chinese sensitivity about cultural symbols and unease over an influx of foreign pop culture,” according to a very short blurb about this in today’s Wall Street Journal.

It must be indescribably different to live in a society that’s so tightly controlled.

Jul 012006

A Better Way to Fly (to London)

A Better Way to Fly (to London)

Eos Airlines is a new airline that has a single route, and but one flight per day (each direction) — London-New York.  And boy, did it do the trick.  I was able to get a complimentary ticket, but let me tell you, even at $3,250 (about their normal fare), it’s worth the price if you have the money for it.  And a spot check of BA and American’s sites shows that a first class or even business class ticket on those carriers can run as much as $5,000-$7,000 if you’re not using miles to purchase or upgrade.

It’s a new concept in airlines.  Their marketing materials call it “what Starbucks did for the coffee experience, we’re doing the airline experience” (or something like that).  But the reality is that it’s more properly expressed as “what a massage did for a sharp poke in the ribs, we did for the airline experience.”

All seats are SERIOUSLY first class.  48 passengers per plane in a plane that normally has 220 seats.  21 square feet per passenger (think about that one for a minute).  Private pods.  Full reclining beds everywhere.

Eos_cabin

The rest of the experience is MORE THAN first class.  People who whisk you through security and to the plane at the last minute, without that “please show up at Kennedy four hours before your flight” warning.  Great airport lounges.  Airplane personnel who aren’t airplane personnel but more like customer service representatives.  Fantastic food and drink.  Bose noise-cancellation headsets and comparable personal entertainment centers.  Regular power outlets at each seat.  Fancy pillows with good lumbar support.  Landing at Stansted in England instead of the beastly Heathrow is great — we were, no lie, 10 minutes from touchdown to car, including taxi, immigration, customs, baggage and walking time.

Eos_meal

The one element of the experience that cuts both ways is Stansted.  Countering the benefits above — it’s further away from London than Heathrow or Gatwick.  I’d say at a busy time, take the Stansted Express train instead of fighting traffic with the admittedly great Brooklands limo service unless you have LOADS of time to spare.

I hope the folks at Eos open more routes (and of course, that they lower their prices for my next paid fare!).

Filed under: Travel

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Mar 162006

A Study In Contrast

A Study In Contrast

We just visited India for a great two weeks of vacation (with one quick business meeting thrown in for good measure).  The most striking part of the country was its seamless transition between  old and new.  Bumpy dirt roads and new, gleaming highways give way to each other at random intervals.  Streets in many cities and most smaller towns are filled with trucks fighting for space with cows, oxen, camels, elephants, dogs, and donkeys.  Ads for cell phones and new Internet cafes are mixed in with storefronts prominently advertising land line phones, since almost no one in outlying areas can afford or has electricity to power an in-home phone.

Anyway, if you’re up for a quick travelog on our personal web site, you’re welcome to have a break and visit India with us.

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May 182005

How Much Blogging is Too Much Blogging?

How Much Blogging is Too Much Blogging?

After being completely (and blissfully, I might add) offline for 11 days, I have returned to find 247 new postings in my Newsgator folder.  Only a short year ago, I would have come back from vacation to too many emails…now I get to sift through too many emails AND too many blog postings.

On the bright side, I have at least these two images of the Barolo wine country Barolo_landscape_largeand the Amalfi coastAmalfi_coast_large solidly etched in my brain to ease re-entry to work. Anyone interested in a brief travelog of the Italian countryside, click here and follow the top link.

Filed under: Travel, Weblogs

Feb 272005

A Different Take on The Gates

A Different Take on The Gates

We went up to Central Park today to see The Gates.  We thought it was ok, but boy was it a madhouse up there. 

Anyway, we were struck at some angles by the similarity between the gates of the gates, and one of the most famous gates in the world which we saw on our trip through Asia last year:  the O-torii.

The O-torrii is one of the most recognizable images of Japan.  It is a 53 foot high vermilion gate rising out of the sea in front of the Itsukushima Jinja shrine on the island of Miyajima, off the coast of Hiroshima.  It was built out of trunks of local camphor trees in 1875.  Due to its location, it was one of the few landmark structures we saw in Asia that hadn’t burnt to the ground at least once or twice.

Check this out – perhaps it’s not entirely coincidental?

Miyajima_gate_side_smallThe_gates_002_small

Filed under: Travel

Oct 052004

If Only International Relations Were This Easy

If Only International Relations Were This Easy

Iceland is one of those weird places on earth where two continental plates meet — and you can see it. Here we are, me on the American plate and Mariquita on the Eurasian plate, with the earth seemingly coming apart at the seams in between.

Hands_across_continent_small

If anyone’s interested in a short travelog to Iceland, here it is.

Filed under: Travel

Aug 022004

The Land Without Blogs (Can You Imagine?)

We just spent three days whitewater rafting in Glacier National Park, Montana.  It was great fun for many reasons, but one thing that really struck me is how rare it is to completely unplug these days.  No cell phone, no email, no TiVo, no electricity.  Not even an iPod.  Just a raft, a tent, and an open fire for cooking.  And I’d venture to guess that of the 15 other people on our trip besides the two of us, not a single one even knows what a blog is, let alone writes one.  In many ways, those three days of being unplugged were as refreshing as two weeks on many other vacations.

Filed under: Email, Leadership, Travel

Jun 292004

Starbucks, Starbucks, Everywhere

A while ago, Fred Wilson wrote a posting about the incredible ubiquity Starbucks has achieved in recent years. I wrote a comment at the time, but I never know who actually reads blog comments other than the author.

The comment was:

Talk about ubiquity…my wife and I were just travelling in Asia and saw many Starbucks there, which was not a surprise. The one that WAS a surprise, however, which completely blew me away, was the Starbucks located in the middle of the Forbidden City/Imperial Palace in Beijing, the 600+ year old home of China’s emperors from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. To be fair, it was tastefully done (no big green awning), and if it weren’t in its particular location, some other refreshment stand would be in its place, but still, I couldn’t help but feel like the conspicuous American in the crowd as I walked past it.

Anyway, now that Mariquita and I have finished our vacation web site, here’s the image of the implausible Starbucks Forbidden City location, in all its glory (even without the big green awning).

If you want to be tortured by a full complement of China and Japan pictures and the accompanying travelog, feel free. From the Wall to temples to big Buddhas to a well-chronicled sashimi dinner, it’s all here.

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May 102004

Oh, And About That Picture

My Photo

Yes, that’s me. I’m in an ice pocket inside a glacier on Antarctica, the most interesting place Mariquita and I have ever been, and I think the most interesting place on earth. We were there last winter with a great tour company called Adventure Network and had the trip of a lifetime.

And yes, the picture does have something to do with the theme of the blog, You’re Only a First Time CEO Once. :-)

Filed under: Travel

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