October 24, 2013
Last Saturday I was stranded in the Cartagena Colombia airport for almost six hours. I was not alone. Early that morning, the radar system at the Panama City airport went down, causing all flights in and out of it to be delayed. As it's the hub for the entire region, which meant that all travelers in Cartagena would wait in the gate lounge until the situation clears up.
By 3pm, we were all tense, tired and stressed out about our connections. The silence was deafening. Then, something magic happened. Members of the University of Richmond symphony whipped out their instruments, tuned them quickly, and launched into an impromptu concert for us.
Within seconds, the mood at the gate lounge was transformed from misery to ecstasy. At this moment, I realized that music is one of the most powerful forces in the world. It can soothe our soul and make us forget our problems. When they finished, there were smiles all around. People begin to strike up conversations with each other and by 4pm, we got the good news that the Panama City airport was back up and running. Many of us talked about the power of music and vowed to listen to more of it ... especially when we were stressed out during times of travel.
I shot a video of their first song. Note how loud the applause was, and how surprised they were at the positive feedback. VIDEO: THE AIRPORT LOUNGE SYMPHONY.Tweet
October 08, 2013
It's that time of year for professional speakers, when we live out of suitcases and travel non-stop on the fall lecture circuit. A few weeks ago I reached a milestone: Ten flights in a single week. My travels took me to Chicago, Jackson Hole, Phoenix and Colorado Springs. I spent as much time in planes and airports as I did hotels and conference centers.
When I got home on Saturday night, I must admit, I was taxed from the multi-segment week. But I survived. As a seasoned road warrior, I had a plan for my 10 flight week. It worked as well as any plan works for a human going through this much stress and strain.
1. Plan Well So You Can Mosey -- The secret to a wall-to-wall week of travel is to take it easy. If you are constantly rushing around, the stress adds up quickly, and can take your health with it. I plan, double check the plans, and then rehearse them mentally during the weekend leading up to the trip. I leave padding in each segment of the schedule, which results in a little more gate time than I like, but it beats running through the airport. Whenever possible, when I arrive early enough to consider an earlier flight to my next destination, I put myself on the standby list.
2. Sit Towards the Front -- My favorite seat on a plane is the second row (behind the dreaded bulkhead seat) in the section. On American long haul flights, that's 9A (window). I don't get bumped when the plane is loading and I'm one of the first people off the plane. It makes a big difference.
3. Talk To People Sitting Next To You -- Sitting in silence makes flights longer, and the whole traveling experience more unbearable. I usually strike up a pleasant conversation either as we taxi out or better yet, when we are descending to our final destination. In many cases, I've made friends and valuable business contacts.
4. Don't Forget Your Health -- I never pass a water fountain in an airport. I eat oatmeal or simple eggs every morning before I board my first flight. I wash my hands whereever I can find hot water and soap. I program days to ensure 7 hours of sleep (I'll post something later on how I sleep well on the road). If you get run down, sick or dehydrated, the whole travel experience can turn on you quickly. When I get home from a long travel week, I rehab with a massage and plenty of good food and water.
What are your travel secrets for an action packed week? Share them in comments!Tweet
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.