E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

The Joy of Business Travelling

France - NiceAfter a couple of days back home, unwinding and relaxing a bit from quite a hectic schedule at work, it is that time again for yours truly to be on the road again. Every year, they keep saying that October and November are conference events months, now that the summer holidays are over and it is “time to get back to work” (As if we ever stop, right?) and judging from my current current travelling schedule till mid-December I am beginning to believe on that one pretty badly. I have just gotten started with another business trip, this time around a bit longer than usual since I will be going through Madrid, Apeldoorn, Amsterdam, Brighton, Montpellier and then back home again, and I couldn’t stop reflecting about what’s the main reason why I am falling in love, once again, with business travelling: carpe diem.

Indeed, I have been working in such a large corporate world as IBM’s for over 15 years and during the course of that time I have been fortunate enough to live through periods of time where I truly loved business travelling, specially, in the late 90s, and then again there have been plenty of other occasions where I wasn’t very fond of it. Yet, I am realising that over the course of the last few months I am enjoying it quite a bit, once again, and since a bunch of folks have asked me offline why has that happened, what made it tick, I thought I would share a couple of the reasons as to why, specially, when, perhaps for the majority of people out there, it is no longer an enjoyable experience as it used to be.

To start off, I am not ready just yet to kill my day job, as Rolf Potts once beautifully described over at this delightful read on “How to Kill Your Day Job and Travel the World“. I am not sure whether you may have read his article, but if you haven’t I can strongly recommend you go through it. You will find plenty of reasons in it that would confirm why travelling the world is perhaps one of the most fascinating activities that we, humans, once unbeatable and untireable nomads, used to master above any other species, before we became sedentary, changing completely plenty of our daily habits and routines.

It will also help you understand how, in my own case, I am one of those lucky people who instead of quitting his job to start travelling the world, it’s the job itself that I have and the stuff that I do on a daily basis as a social computing evangelist, helping spread the word on Social Business across the world, both internally and externally, that’s allowing me to have that flexbility and freedom to travel along where work would want to take me. Remember when I wrote not long ago that work is no longer a physical space, a traditional office, but more of a state of mind? Well, that includes travelling as well, which is what I have been doing for a while taking that traditional concept of the office with me, wherever I may well be going, as long as I have got my MacBook Air or my iPad and my iPhone and a live Internet connection.

The interesting thing though, and perhaps the main reason why I wanted to put together this blog post in the first place, is because I am not too sure how long it would last, or whether it would be far too long before the time arrives where I would have to stop it. No, I am not referring about quitting my job any time soon, or just move on to something else that would prevent me from travelling again on a more or less regular basis. I am still having a blast, I still believe I have been enjoying, all along, my dream job. I love what I do. What I am referring to is to the fact that things, global events, intrincate happenings are starting to take place out there with such complexity in their unexpected outcomes that I am beginning to sense travelling in general will turn out to be a luxury very very soon for just a few, more than anything else.

And that’s why I am taking the opportunity to seize the day, i.e. carpe diem, and travel as much as I possibly can now that I am still relatively young, understanding how, seeing how certain global events are developing further, there may well be a time when travelling in general would no longer be that easy, accommodating nor comfortable, never mind somewhat affordable.Spain - Tarragona

However, adapting to that new mentality towards business travelling, where a while ago I decided to just take it as it is, hasn’t been easy. It’s taken quite a bit of adaptation, becoming more flexible, understanding, condescending, relaxed and a whole bunch of other things I am sure most of you are already familiar with. I had to continue building on my patience levels, understanding and embracing that at any given point things could go wrong and that when life gives you lemons the best thing you can do is make one heck of a delicious lemonade for everyone to enjoy, not just for yourself, which is probably my own way to keep up with blogging, while on the move, hoping to share some of that lemonade with those interested in reading further along.

And in helping me understand and embrace that new mantra of enjoying, once again, business travelling I just couldn’t help reflect on a recent article put together by my good friend Ross Dawson that has helped me tremendously on not only understanding the advantages and disadvantages of business travelling, but also come up with strategies to help me get the most out of it, time and time again.

In “Travelling for work: 7 principles for productivity and value” Ross put together some of the main principles that he has adopted for when he is on the road / air to get the most out of his travelling experience. No, I am not going to reproduce them all or anything, I would encourage you, instead, to go ahead and read further along, but I surely would want to share with you a teaser by just listing a couple of notes over here, so that you can see what you would be able to find in his rather insightful article:

  • “Travelling is the ultimate learning experience
  • Travelling allows you to open up your perceptions and thinking
  • Travelling is about connecting
  • Have big-picture projects to work on
  • Focus on health and fitness 
  • Work out your personal jet lag strategy
  • Ensure everything you need is in the cloud

I can certainly relate to a few of the things that Ross indicated on that article, like the overall massive learning experience, like how travelling helps you open up your perceptions and thinking not just to other countries, but also to their cultures, customers, languages, traditions, etc. etc. how, specially, travelling is all about connecting with other people, meeting old friends, and new ones, about enriching experiences with face to face meetups over a lovely meal, or drinks, that surely make it all up worth while living through them. They help you become a better person, to grow further; they help you understand why people behave and do things in a certain way, they help you become a whole lot more tolerant about things and people around you, which is something that I can certainly see the world needing plenty of it at the moment. All of that without neglecting the work you are supposed to be getting done while on the move or looking after your health and fitness to ensure you can get the best results from each and every single business trip. And if you can learn how to fight that jet lag all the better. Perhaps one day I will share a short blog post highlighting how I learn to deal with it and how I haven’t experienced it a single bit in the last 10 years or so. France - Paris - Opera

It’s really fascinating though how, subconsciously, after having read his article a couple of months ago, I have been taking into practice plenty of his advice and many tips, along with some additional other key learnings, hints and tips, tricks, etc. etc. I have been incorporating over time myself as well, and how by adapting to the circumstances one finally gets to comprehend how humans were designed for travelling after all. Our innate ability to adapt to the medium, regardless of how tough it may well be, while getting the most out of it and its circumsntances, is just remarkable and once one starts embracing that the end-results are ever so much better, to the point where one begins to even enjoy it.

And that’s exactly what I am doing at the moment. Yes, I know, it’s a crazy schedule. Yes, it’s frantic at times. Yes, it’s incredibly complex to figure out how to make it all work, but it is also rather accurate how rewarding it can well be facing up all of these challenges and opportunities to keep up with one’s learning curve of life, to reach out and connect with other people, to get to know the world a little bit better, to continue treasuring that unique opportunity of being in on country, one culture, one language, and then the next day in another, completely different altogether. And eventually at some point head back home and enjoy the little pleasures of what you have built up over time in your little corner of the world…

Yet, I know that business travelling is not going to last for much longer. I’m sensing things are going to change and rather drastically far too soon, seeing how tough certain things are getting, i.e. the current financial econoclypse we are going through, the geopolitical complex world we live in, the rampant conflicts growing at a rather alarming pace, combined perhaps with our lack of being a bit more understanding and tolerant with those around us, our unwillingness to help others in need, our selfish attitude and envy of what others half, while we see others suffering and so forth somehow it is, finally,  confirming, for yours truly, how the days of travelling for the vast majority of us may well be numbered over the next few months. Sadly.

Spain - Barcelona - SitgesAnd that’s perhaps the main reason why this year I decided to embark myself on that lovely boat of business travelling, hoping to seize that opportunity to see the world, keep spreading the message on all of that social business stuff I have been rather passionate about for a good while, sharing across what I learn and build further along on it, meet up with plenty of those people, whether work colleagues and plenty of other good friends around the world, who share that very same passion, hoping that as a result of that continued learning experience, one, living and embracing a much more interconnected, networked, intelligent and smarter world, can continue helping make a difference, not just for myself, but with whoever else would want to change the world to become a better place.

For everyone.

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  1. Luis,
    Thank you for yet another well written post. I think you are extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to enrich your life doing global travel as part of your dream day job. Not many people in this world can claim that ! Glad to see you are enjoying it 🙂

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