Today’s a travel day – in fact, this week is a big travel week. I start my Monday in the air, bound from LA to London. Before I left yesterday, I started my Sunday off with organizing my papers and other assorted bag-filling objects in my apartment, including my projector. While this special little three-pound plastic-and-glass contraption costs about $450 to buy (smaller, fancier ones are more), the hotels and clubs where my company, the ILO Institute, holds its events typically charge about $600 for one-time use of the projectors they’re happy to “lend” their customers.
This week, I’ll be flying with my projector from LA to London, London to Toronto, Toronto to San Francisco, and San Francisco back to LA. I’ll also have a big bag with clothes and folders, along with folder-stuffing papers, for about twenty event participants in each of my three stops. I’ll have to check the big bag en route to London – something I hate doing and try to avoid at all costs – but by my next leg it will be light enough to carry on. I could lighten my load further by doing most of my photocopying on-site at the event locations, but that adds more time pressure and cost. If spending an hour or two at the photocopy machine seems like drudgery to the typical professor, just imagine facing a bill for $300 each time you do it.
So I’ve spent some time at the Fedex Office near my house over the weekend doing the high-volume black-and-white-copies, and put in a couple of hours with my little desktop printer at home spinning out color copies (slow, but better than paying $1 a page at the Fedex), and now my bags were ready to go by lunchtime.
I don’t go to our shared workspace about a mile from my house over the weekend – I don’t actually go there much at all. Our little company’s research director and operations manager are there most days, but I enjoy working from home and like the chance to sit on the couch and make some calls in the midday quiet.
Before sliding my computer into my travel backpack, I added a couple of new slides to my presentation “deck.” I never work through all the slides when I present, but show three or four key slides, and then pop a few others up on the screen as our event participants drive the conversation – including a link to a new video. The video’s important – we spend a full day in a conference room, so breaking up the rhythm and adding some visual energy is a must. Lately I’ve been showing a terrific video from Spain that revolves around a seemingly impromptu orchestral performance of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, and will likely use that again this week, but we do have some folks who’ve been to our other events recently, and I have to keep the material fresh, so I’ve found a nice new video as well, about an interactive public art installation in a subway station. The connections in both cases to innovation in large organizations are a bit unexpected, and fun. They lighten up the day.
Like a lot people who travel frequently, I try to pay attention to seemingly minor airline and flight details that can make a big different in-flight. I’m excited today that I’m trying out seat 53J on my Air New Zealand flight to London – a 10 ½ hour direct flight. I fight hard always to have an aisle seat so I can easily get up and move around, and while J is usually a middle seat, row 53 is just at the point where the plane’s body tapers toward the tail, so it’s an aisle seat in a two-person row almost big enough for three seats, with the extra room creating a little pocket of space in the aisle.
Way too much detail? Maybe so. Happily, my seat neighbor was a no-show, so I have both little seats in row 53 to myself, and manage to sleep for a few hours. By noon London time, we’re heading into our descent – London’s looking pretty good from 53J.
We land around around one o’clock, I take the express train from the airport to Paddington Station, and gave myself the gift of a little time to make my way to my hotel by foot – a couple of miles through interesting neighborhoods. I bought a decent rolling bag some time ago specifically to make these kinds of perambulations possible. I’m pretty worn out by the time I’m set up in my room and sleep for a couple of hours, happy to spread out on a real bed. In the evening I wake up, organize my papers and walk about a mile to the meeting venue – another hotel (the Bloomsbury Hotel a posh and lovely place, great to host events in, though I skip the $400 room rent there by staying down the road).
I check out our event room – one of my favorites – and set up the folders at each place setting, along with the projector. In the morning, I’ll just walk over and the session will be ready to go.