|12 Dec 2014|
|WM Winter 2014 edition|
Before I ever had an adult life of my own, my father (who one year hadtaken over 220 flights)always told me that traveling extensively and staying in 5-star hotels while being treated like royalty by local hosts wasn’t what it seemed to be. It was fun, but it wastiring and difficult. Thelack of sleep, the work around the clock (when you have teams working on all 5 continents) and the constant packing/ unpacking, checking in/ checking out were particu- larly taking. I questioned his opinion and thought “what a piece of cake? Jetset here, jet set there,” only to discover slowly but surely that it could only be done enjoyably by mastering it like an art.
Let’s take a step back and see how I came to that realization. I am cur- rently a Director of Risk & Compliance at Dow Jones, based in New York (yes, the city that never sleeps). My work consists of meeting with C-level executives of Fortune 500 companies, partners, principals and the like, and providing advice and tools to ensure compliance with OFAC Sanctions, AML reg- ulations, FCPA legislation, KYC/CIP requirements etc. In plain English, my job is to make sure my clients don’t get fined $8 billion dollars like BNP did, or don’t get defrauded by thelikes of Madoff (alleged to have lost at least $50billion through his Ponzi scheme). In this function, the only way to succeed is to always be impeccable.
You walk through the door of your client’s 5th Avenue high rise and you have 10 minutes to make yourfirst (or last) impression,and to bring in a couple million dollars in revenuefor your firm (or go homewith your tail between your legs). Needless to say that the top level executives at the large financials allknow each other, and can either recommend you to everyone or kindly advise their peers to send busi- ness to another 'vendor,' – that resonating term that constantly reminds any external consultant that, no matter how good your relationship may be with your client, you are only as good as your last performance.
I am also a social butter-fly. I love traveling, party- ing, entertaining, discovering, venturing... you name it. And, when you havelived in 8 different countries around the world, attending an event – whethera “vernissage”, a moviepremiere, or a life event (of which there are many when you are in your late 20s) – usually meanstaking a flight as soon asyour obligations are fulfilled in one place, in orderto make said event that’s being held that same evening, effortlessly andfashionably late.
It also usually means you will be seeing friends you haven’t seen in ages (per- haps since AISB or even before) and the last thing you want after people seeing your Instagramfilled with weekends in Bali (I’m actually heading to Soekarno Hatta International Airport as I write this), Knicks games from our Madison Square Garden suite, and Tesla driving in the Hamptons, is them saying “I saw herlast week, she’s not all that!” because you didn’t bring your A-game.
By now you probably think I’m exaggerating, so let me give you my schedule over the past 2 weeks as an example. Last Thursday, I was supposed to leave the office at noon, headhome to pack for Mexico City, in order to take a3pm flight and make the opening of Museo Jumex, the city’s most acclaimed museum owned by a dear friend of mine. My 11am meeting that day got pushed to noon and finished at1:30pm; I was forced to head straight to JFK. I spent a weekend in Mexico that I can only describe in pictures and anecdotes, took the red eye back to New York, landed at 7:30am on Monday and headed straightto the office. That sameevening, I took the Acela to DC. Over the next 48 hours, I traveled to 3 States (DC, MD and VA) to attend a conference and meet with clients. I came back to New York very late on Wednesday night. Thursday afternoon, after asking the UBER that took me homefrom the office to waitwhile I unpacked and repacked, I left to Paris for the weekend to visit family and friends. That Sunday, flew to Indonesia for anoverdue week-long vaca- tion, only to get back to New York the following Monday at 4:30 pm to make the NY Jets vs. Miami Dolphins game that evening, to which I was taking clients. Believe me now?
So how does one do it while staying sane andhappy? How does one fita hectic work schedule, filled with back toback business meetings and a social calendar only rivaled by that of the First Lady’s (OK, that was an exaggeration), while sleep- ing only a couple of hours a night and barely knowing which time zone you’re in? Here are my 5 rules, tried and tested:
Rule 1: Always, always, always set your biological clock to the time at your destination. I don’t care if you’re tired, wait until the evening (or as late as humanly possible) to go to bed. As much as you’ll hate me to start with, you’ll thank me later.
Rule 2: Do not get dehydrated. Drink lots; the composition of the drink should be a func- tion of the purpose of the trip and the duration of the flight. Needless to say, long hauls require stronger liquor (and perhaps a little help from the medi- cal department) to ensure sleeping profusely until you hit the tarmac.
Rule 3: Make sure from the very get go that any neighbor (at the lounge, inthe flight etc.) knows who’s boss: “Yes, both armrests are mine. No, I don’t want to talk. And, trust me, you really don’t want to make excessive noise, gesticulate or do anything else that may disturb the couple (or more) hours I have to myself.”
Rule 4: Your iPhone is your best friend, uncon- testably! Passbook, dope tunes and apps that enable you to make/ cancel/modify reservations seamlessly; at the very minimum SPG, Open Table, Ticketmaster, andall frequent flyer apps area must. But to ensure a long-term friendship that withholds the trials and tribulations of traveling, treat your iPhone like yourself: it must be fed on a regular basis and it sometimes needs to rest.
Rule 5: Finally, if you really need something, use and abuse of what I like to call 'the medical excuse.' If you need to use the bathroom during landing, take the aisle seat (instead of the middle seat) or whatever else suits your fancy, make up some medical need that requires immediate atten- tion. Asthma works great! But no, do not use Ebola; saying you just got back from Sierra Leone and have been feverish for 3 days will only succeed ingetting you off the flightand out of circulation for at least a week.
So, with that said, sit back, fasten your seatbelt, and enjoy the ride.
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