May 25, 2011
Biggest question I get: How do you do it?
My name is Tim and I'm a road warrior. I've flown almost five million miles since 1999, and for the last month, been out of town five days a week (one city a day). For many, this sounds like a hell-on-earth, something you could only play in a movie (like Up In the Air).
But, like anything else, it's really a design issue. I can't say that it's 100% enjoyable, but I've been able to find ways to make it highly bearable. Today, I'm holed up in the Admirals Club at Chicago O'Hare. My flight's been cancelled, and I've got five hours to kill - so I figured it was a good time to tell you 'how I do it.'
1 - Logistics: First things first, you have to travel with the right gear. I use a TUMI suitcase and TUMI T-Pass nylon briefcase. The briefcase rocks, because it's got a TSA approved design where I don't have to remove my laptop at security! Next, get a CLEAR card to skip the security line (really!) at Orlando and Denver. Many more airports to be added soon. I carry Richard Solo power backups for my Apple gear (the Mophie juice pack doubled the weight of my iPhone, so I returned it).
For practical issues related to appearance: Carry your home blow dryer, as hotel ones are not dependable and can give you frequent bad hair days. Make sure and keep the dry cleaner plastic around your suits/shirts to avoid wrinkles - and whenever possible buy no-iron dress shirts.
2 - Health: Wash your hands at every step of the way, and carry sanitizer. Avoid sick people, move if you have to and use the overhead fan on planes to divert their germs. Drink water often and carry your own filter/bottle solution (I use a Clear product) to avoid depending on $$$ bottled water. Avoid sugar, as it breaks down resistance.
Sleep is important on the road, so here's my tips: Make your room really cold (I like 65 degrees), because being hot will wake you up and make you sleep fitfully. Request a room far away from elevators. Carry your own alarm clocks (a real clock and your iPhone, set to Airplane mode). Unlpug the hotel alarm clock or make sure the alarm is off (as the previous guest has it set to wake you up at 4am.) Don't watch ANY TV or drink liquids within an hour of going to bed. If you wake up, don't look at the clock, instead, count down from 200 using 3 at a time increments (eg., 197, 194, etc.).
3. Mind: Make friends, especially when you are trapped on planes (read my NYT feature on this: A Chatters Guide To Easing Anxiety). Sitting there in silence with your iPod on will keep you from meeting others. They are key to making trips more pleasant, especially during interrupted travel. Be gracious to TSA security, servers and attendants. You'll get back the same energy that you give them. Be grateful for each city you visit, walk around the block after you check in to take in the sights. Call your significant other, often, and tell him/her "I love you."
Lastly, prior to a hard trip (multiple segments, red eyes, hard projects), rehearse your 'dance moves' mentally the day before the trip. Visualize a challenging but successful journey, going through the scenarios in your head. Relax, realizing you've got the gear, the plan and the purpose to make it all work.
Share this with anyone you know that's a road warrior too. We are all in this together.
July 14, 2010
Each day, at 2pm, the stores of Born would close for lunch - to reopen at 5pm. The metal doors that pulled over each stores entrance served as a canvas for artists. Some were commissioned, and painted the metal doors according to the owner's wishes. In several other cases, graffiti artists treated shop doors to works of art.
I asked one owner why he had this graffiti on his door, instead of a black or silver paint job or something he designed. His answer: "Because it's art. It was good, why destroy it?" This is a human retail Wiki, where most of the work is volunteered, and only 'the good' remain for long.
In some cases, layers of artwork, covered up to be recovered or repainted, make the doors a mixed media masterpiece. This one in particular is striking:
Take a look at the entire collection of doors, four dozen in all, that I photographed over a few days time of walking around. This is a great example of the organic nature of art, the collaborative nature of community and the enduring value of human expression. Life would be boring without these transactions.
July 05, 2010
Every time I visit a new city, especially abroad, there’s a familiar process, a ritual I go through every time: Arrive disoriented, afraid I’ll get lost and never find my way back to the room. Alone, with no friends, often not speaking much of the local language.
Within a few days, everything changes. I find my way around and discover, for myself, the wonders of the locale. Not from the pages of a travel book or word of mouth from a friend, for myself, I discover a new place. I learn several words and phrases, even pick up a little of the accent, and within a few days - I’m a temporary resident of the culture.
From the shop doors of Born in Barcelona to the Loop stroll in Cape Town, you’ll find energy and vitality that you learn to make your own, as if you were the only person in the world that noticed it’s uniqueness. At first, I take pictures like a photog on assignment, then later, just relax and take it all in, storing everything in my subconscious memory, to likely withdraw on my deathbed as a moment I could never forget - part of this rich life I’ve led.
Every place has it’s beauty, it’s awesomeness and of course, the lovely people that inhabit it and make it the special place it is. I’m glad to say that I’ve learned how to drink from this cup, and fill it up every time. I take all of this, and pour it into my sense of gratitude for my job, that flings me around the planet with a purpose: To give a speech.
My friend Nick Morgan, a guru to guys like me, says, “the only reason to give a speech is to change the world.” And to that I’ll add that the only way to do that is let the context of the situation change the speaker, giving content and inspiration from the very place you were booked to visit and serve.
I love my customers, who book me to speak at their events and trust me with their people -- my audience. I love the wonderful life their trust affords me and I'll pay it forward with everything I've got. In Cape Town, I gave all to a group of Brazilian retailers on behalf of Univlever, giving them dozens of ways to green up their business and boost their bottom line. In Marbella Spain, I'll do the same for a group of executives at a global company. I'll talk about team work and building community, with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.
My name is Tim Sanders, and I’m a man on a mission.
December 08, 2008
I speak at conferences for a living, usually in a suit and tie.
November 25, 2008
I had a feature in today's New York Times!
September 11, 2008
Airports, hotels and ballrooms are my life-venues.
How do I cope? Through a sense of purpose, laced with intense curiosity. When I visit a new place, I'm always looking to learn something new about its culture. This drives me out of my room and into the wonderful world of the new.
When I sit on a plane, I'm interested in the person sitting next to me. This drives me from an iPod induced state of (rude) silence and into a conversation that may very well be life changing.
This picture (above) is the theme for one of Copenhagen's famous contemporary art museums. It sums up a fabu philosophy about overcoming the fear of the unknown -- and turning painful business travel into joyous globe trotting.
July 17, 2007
Today I gave a talk in Baltimore. Right after the talk, I hustled to the Balitmore airport and after getting my boarding pass I got in a loooooooong line for security.
How long? A few football fields' worth! Signs claimed that I would only be in line for about 30 minutes, but the line was very intimidating. On top of that, everyone was completely stressed out about missing their flight. You could read it on their faces. Babies screamed. Businessmen cringed. It was a cacophony of chaos.
What did I do? I fished my IPOD out of my briefcase and popped in ear buds. I put on the Shins (Wincing The Night Away) and ignored the whole experience. I smiled, enjoyed their record, and in about 45 minutes I cleared security and sauntered to my gate rather unaffected by the whole security line fiasco.
Lesson learned: When stressed out, let your music save you. While others heard noise, I heard music. Don't let travel stres get the best of you when you have so many alternatives for your attention. I will never suffer in silence again at the airport.
June 15, 2007
When I think of Austin, I think of good people, good music and good food.
In that order.
I was in Austin on Tuesday to speak at a meeting for Texchange (a group of Austin execs, investors and leaders.) I just love Austin. But the people stand out the most.
I spent some time with my friends JB and Sandy at the Mix on their morning show. We goofed, opined and tried to help some listeners make themselves even more emotionally attractive. Later that night I drove up the Austin Country Club and talked to a few hundred close friends at the Texchange event.
When in Austin: Check out Emo's on 6th Street and the Continental Club on Congress. Get world class Mexican Food at the original Chuy's on Barton Springs. The super cool hotel in town is the San Jose.
February 09, 2007
Many of you travel for your business life. We have very similar business related demands (early appointments, flights that cannot be missed, etc). Over the last few years, I've been collecting advice tips on how to travel with fewer hassles or calamities.
One of my techniques I call the Two Step Safety Dance. The concept is simple; redundancy doubles your chance to get it right. I got the idea from Tom Peters. He mentioned to me once that in his suitcase he always has two alarm clocks -- one electric and one wind up. Much like Jerry Seinfeld, he can't make his bets on the front desk (or the supplied alarm clock) getting it right. And if he misses a gig because he's overslept, he's outa business. Now I carry my own trusty travel alarm and have a wakeup call scheduled with the front desk. I ask them what time they have and syncronize my travel alarm to it. I have the wake up call, then five minutes later the alarm clock will go off as a backup. If I get the wakeup call first, I turn my alarm off. The other day, I had a speaking gig until 10pm in Houston and needed to be in Orlando the next day for a talk at 1pm. Tight. Gotta wake up at 4:30am, get a car at 5:30am, get to the airport for the 7:30am flight or miss the next gig. Fortunately, the wake up call came as promised, but I slept much better knowing that there was a backup plan. (NOTE: I THINK WE ALL LOSE SLEEP WHEN WE HAVE TO GET UP EARLY, WORRYING THAT WE'LL OVERSLEEP. WE WAKE UP AN HOUR AHEAD AND JUST TOSS AND TURN.)
The other two step safety dance (redundancy) has to do with flights. If you have to make a flight to make a meeting, don't stake your bet on one plane. Buy multiple tickets, the first non-refundable and the rest fully refundable or changeable. You cannot safely assume that if your first flight doesn't go (equipment, weather, destination city issue) that you'll be put on the next one. It may be sold out.
NEVER use the same rewards account number for any two flights you book. Use different credit cards if you book to flights on the same airline back to back. If they see duplicate reservations in the system, they may throw one out. Yesterday, I had a ticket on the 7:30am flight and also owned a seat on the 8:45am too. Good thing, the 8:45am was the most popular flight and sold out last week. Fortunately, my flight went on time, I called the airline and they refunded the money on my cancelled second seat. I don't do this all the time, but there are certain occassions where I cannot trust mother nature or an airline to get me to the church on time. And when you need it, the two step works like a charm in your harried gotta-be-there business life.
PS -- Unplug the alarm clock in your hotel room. It is not reliable. Many are hard to figure out. Some have alarms already set to go off at 3am -- waking you up in the middle of the night.