It’s not often that I write about my personal life and my family, but as my life significantly changed over the course of the past year – I felt the need to share my insights and personal reflections about these changes.
Early 2017, we’ve decided to start working on our penetration to the US market. Now, as any CEO would know, penetrating a new market requires several things to exist: a clear and concise go to market strategy, a dedicated and loyal team to take the effort forward, the trust of your employees – and most importantly, the calm and support from your family and friends. With this post, I would like to talk about the last one, family and friends.
What can we say, we tend to take our family and friends for granted – while we are globetrotting 10,000 miles sitting on our heads, they are the ones left behind. Your wife left home with 2 kids in early grades, your aging parents that sometimes require your assistance, your friends who normally rely on your advice and support – all of those, the minute you walk on that airplane, are put on pause in your head till you get back. But truth is, life doesn’t pause – it never pauses. Even 10,000 miles away, if your daughter needs you she will call you on the phone, she will whatsapp you from here to tomorrow and of course, Skype video is now her best friend. It’s very easy for us, the CEO’s to forget, specifically when we are in a totally different timezone – but you should never forget.
So, here are my small insights and advice for the upcoming globetrotting CEO:
- Don’t disappear
It’s so easy to completely disappear, especially when your new timezone is 7 or 10 hours away. You wake up, your family and friends to go bed. Dude, don’t be in such a rush to bed, nothing will kill you if you start talking to your family at 1AM – you didn’t plan on sleeping anyway, so don’t tell me a stupid story.
- Don’t Overcompensate
On your first trips you will overcompensate. You will spend your entire per-diem budget on finding gifts for your loved ones. Don’t say you won’t – you will, trust me, I know. Overcompensating works for the 2-3 first trips, afterwards it becomes the norm. Your family needs you, not your wallet – make sure you are available for the really important stuff. Btw, don’t take into every new fad that kids have, it will drive you insane.
- Escape the rush
When travelling, it’s very easy to work yourself to death. You are doing it because you are away, you want to make good use of your time – while at the same time, without knowing, you are punishing yourself. Don’t do that, find some time to simply put your head down and relax a bit. Something I’ve learned from my wife, always find something that you enjoy and try to do it. For example, I try to go see a movie on every trip. Yes, there are plenty of movies on the plane and I can surely stream with Netflix, but nothing beats the experience of sitting in a proper theater. Besides, watching Avengers on 42″ or IMAX isn’t even a choice, is it?
- Make it your home
You checked into your hotel, you open the door – and there it is, your room for the next 5-10 days. If you are staying anything beyond 2 nights at a hotel, make the room your home. Go out, get some drinks and snacks you like – and stock up your mini-bar accordingly. It’s always nice to come back to your room after a full day and finding a cool drink you like.
- Be a walking pharmacy
This is something I learned on my last trip – always, but always, bring your own medicine on your trips. Even if you are not sick, make sure you travel with the medicine you are used to taking, for the various common issues. For example, on my last trip, I caught a flu that literally dropped me to bed for 3 days – it was awful. Imagine going an important business trip, with meetings set up and you can’t hold them, because you are sick. You can always walk into a pharmacy and start buying stuff, but if you need to stand around the store with your smartphone, searching google for every medicine derivatives – you’ve done something wrong.
- Walk, don’t ride
If you are inside a large metropolitan area and you have meetings in various places, check if you can walk the distance. One of my favorite head clearing techniques is to go to a meeting, then after the meeting, walk back to my hotel – even if it’s 10 miles away. Why? exercise is good for you, it stimulates your body and releases endorphins. As these are released into the body, you will be able to process your meetings better and come up with solutions to challenges and issues. On my last trip, I found myself walking from Brooklyn, over the Williamsburg bridge into Manhattan and then all the way up to 30th St.
- Don’t be stingy
Yes, roaming charges are expensive – but travelling without proper communications is literally death. Make sure you have a good roaming plan, you have a local SIM card as well and that your phone is able to carry video calls – trust me, it’s worth every penny. You really don’t want to miss your daughter doing her first cartwheel, or you miss her music recital – simply because you were away on business.
Here is the last piece of advice and I believe it is the most important one – find a confidant you can talk to. You are on foreign lands, away from your family and friends – and in many times, you don’t have anyone to talk to and share your thoughts. Finding a friend or colleague in foreign lands isn’t easy, but as your globetrotting stabilizes, this is a must. I’ve been coming in and out of Manhattan during the past 14 months, almost every 5 weeks. It’s somewhat crazy when you think about it, i’ve travelled almost 150,000 miles in one year. I’m grateful that I have both family and friends in Manhattan I can talk to, as it makes each trip easier to tackle and digest.